Sooner or later most people will want to have children. What are some of the most common psychological reasons leading people to want to have children? What are their motivations and expectations?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow, I have tried asking this one before (on Parenting.SE) Good luck getting any kind of answer out of anyone! Parenting seems to be some kind of sacred cow, and any reference to it will draw a firestorm of criticism. I would like to know the answer to this question as well. I never felt qualified, and yet now (around age 50) numerous people tell me I would have made an ideal parent. "Conscience is self eliminating" apparently. Note that in about 50% of cases, it "just happens" - half of all pregnancies are unintended. So really we only need an explanation of the other 50%. Should be easier. $\endgroup$ – user9634 May 16 '16 at 2:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This seems too broad when trying to answer objectively, otherwise primarily opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris May 16 '16 at 10:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why do you want to eat, drink and breath? Sex and care of offspring are genetically programmed into humans and other animals (particularly long-lived mammals) as a way to increase the likelihood of our genetics surviving. This is a primary characteristic of living things; we try to survive and have our genetics survive. Evolution drives this basic circuitry to provide us with innate motivation so that the species can survive. So, there is no "psychological cause". In Freudian terms, this is a primary process. $\endgroup$ – John Yetter May 18 '16 at 17:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But a species can survive even if not everyone in that species reproduces, so what you are saying is not true for everyone. The drive that got is to reproduce in the past was desire for sex, but now we have birth control so things changed. $\endgroup$ – Jack Maddington May 19 '16 at 9:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JackMaddington You are correct. Not every single individual wants to reproduce, perhaps due to our ability to reason. However, the fact that most of humanity still wants to reproduce is the result of evolution. Without that drive to make new little humans, humanity would stop to exist. So we can reason against our primal instincts, but that doesn't mean those basic instincts are gone. A longing to eat is also the result of evolution but if you are dieting you can postpone/argue against this will to eat. Same as urinating, you can postpone it to avoid awkward situations. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer May 25 '16 at 9:27

There are many reasons why people want to have children :

  • Some want to have children because they hope it can save their declining marriage / relationship
  • Some want to have children because they feel instinctively driven towards it
  • Some want to have children because they feel they're supposed to
  • Some want to have children because they feel they're missing "something" in their lives
  • Some want to have children because they want to learn more about themselves
  • Some want to have children because they want to learn more about the man or woman they love
  • ...

Still, I believe most reasons why people want to have children are perfectly captured by this single quote :

Nevertheless, if you ask me, most people have children just as their own enthusiasm about life begins to wane. A child allows us to revisit the excitement we once felt about, well... everything. A generation later, our grandkids bump up our enthusiasm yet again. Reproducing is a kind of booster shot to keep us loving life.

― Chuck Palahniuk, Damned

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Friends have told me the quoted reason, so I believe them. For your answer, I slightly differ with what you are saying: #1 horrid #2 so it is a drive, not a want #3 so other people want it, not them #4 they want the "something" not the child #5 I would bet that this is exceedingly rare #6 even more rare... And so the Winner is! #7! But thank you for providing a list. (Just don't try to ask this question on Parenting.SE.) $\endgroup$ – user9634 May 26 '16 at 1:32
  • $\begingroup$ Cool post/answer. I want even more reasons (the ...). Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Jack Maddington May 28 '16 at 19:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JackMaddington Stack Exchange (SE) is not intended to poll opinions on certain topics from users (and definitely not Cognitive Sciences). This only constitutes an answer in pointing out that the answer is 'primarily opinion based'; a close reason for questions on SE. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jun 2 '16 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris : I don't see how this is more opinion based than why is the sky blue? or How does the brain process sensory input?. The OP isn't asking for anyone's personal opinion but for a general, broader understanding of what drives members of the human species to reproduce themselves. I don't see how that's anything but perfectly on topic here. Are you really saying that topics dealing with the analysis of what motivates the human species to act as they act is out of place at cogsci.SE? Because - if you ask me - that is EXACTLY what Cognitive science is all about! $\endgroup$ – John Slegers Jun 3 '16 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ You might add, "because one wants to study their own child, while composing the child's characteristics to those of their parents", or "to see the effect of raising a child differently than one was raised, according to someone else's raised model". Yes, the possibilities seem infinite, but having a list seems nice. $\endgroup$ – Jack Maddington Sep 27 '16 at 22:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.