Home Concepts Adult Development VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

VIII.Generativity One: Raising Children and Engaging Projects

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Should We Raise a Child?

Many of the people we interviewed early in their adulthood decided to have children, thereby replicating the standard family-oriented social structures of our society. In most cases, these men and women gave birth to one or more children through an intimate relationship with their life partner. Others decided to have children through adoption or in-veto fertilization; these people clearly moved outside the standard social norms and structures. In some instances, couples cannot give birth to children themselves. Others decide not to have children, either because they have their own careers to pursue or because they simply didn’t want the awesome responsibility of raising children. In other cases, young adults live in areas where it is very difficult or impossible to adopt children, or have decided that the available avenues for having children (adoption, surrogates, artificial insemination, etc.) are too problematic or emotionally disturbing to pursue.

The decision of whether to have a child is often of central concern to contemporary couples, for child-rearing is no longer an automatic requirement of marriage or other long-term relationships. Given the liberalization of adoption and in-veto fertilization rules and regulations, gay and lesbian couples and heterosexual partners who are not married are not freed from the decision about whether to raise children.

Many young adults and couples also confront the issue as to whether to independently or jointly conduct some long-term (even lifelong) project, such as starting a business or participating extensively in an avocation, hobby or recreational activity. In some of instances, the men and women we interviewed decided to begin a joint project in lieu of having children; In essence, they turned to “rearing” a mutual project and investing it with the emotional commitment and caring that is usually associated with child raising. In other cases, the decision to begin a project had little to do with the decision about raising children; these young adults either decided on a project in addition to raising children or started their project prior to child-rearing.

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