Pursuit of Happiness: Are Kids the Answer?

Pursuit of Happiness: Are Kids the Answer?

We have all heard: “Children are a blessing.” Let’s see if it is just a clichéd expression or the words pass the litmus test. The idea that ‘sans kids, happiness would remain a dream for a married couple’ has been around since the time immemorial. Bring up the topic of children and 99 percent of the population in this part of the world will endorse the idea, arguing how presence of a little child magically transforms a home into a place of pure bliss.

Ask them as to what they are basing their opinion on and they will open up, sharing their own experiences. They will go ‘children are the best thing that has happened to us, since they are the ultimate source of our fulfillment and glee’. Some would go to an extent to say children are a sole reason of their existence.

“When I return home after a busy day at work, a single glance on my smiling son/daughter (or children) swiftly assuages my fatigue, making life worth all the hard work and struggle,” are expressions all of us are familiar with.

The above expressions, despite being true, focus only on the sunny side of things, totally skipping the flipside, whose probability is as strong as that of the other side. This is because the moment a child opens his eyes into this world, it leaves parents with no control whatsoever over circumstances that are going to shape up his life in the days to come.

In the context of practices witnessed in this part of the world, one begins to wonder as to how one individual’s behaviour becomes a mirror image of another’s, particularly, when it comes to expanding a bloodline. The answer isn’t too complicated. What forged this pattern of behaviour is simply the hundreds-of-years of conditioning, something that has been practiced and preached generation after generation.

In almost 100 percent cases the couple in Pakistan would make a decision in favor of having kids. There are many reasons that lead people to act on this repetitive pattern. Parents’ insecurity of being alone in later years of life; maintaining a hold on property; sustaining a legacy; religious motivations; enriching parents/grand parents life with ultimate joy; to strengthen the bond of parents’ marriage; (for women) to make the husbands more responsible etc are mostly the reasons.

Every innocent child that is born into this world is destined to undergo its share of pleasures and the inevitable pain. Generally, the pain remains more dominant over the course of one’s life, or so is the general perception. Don’t forget that for anybody his/her perception ends up being his/her reality. What creates this perception is very much explicable. Any form of physical pain or mental suffering is, undoubtedly, an unwanted feeling and despite all the efforts that one directs towards actions to somehow avoid, eliminate or ease it, mostly prove fruitless, creating a lasting frustration. Ultimately, every individual’s life ends up being irregularly punctuated with the unwanted agony, no matter how ‘lucky’ one is considered to be in the eyes of the people around him/her.

Look around and you would notice that there is more suffering in this world than there is joy. This statement, undoubtedly, holds more water when analyzed in the context of realities of the so-called developing world, Pakistan being very much part of it.

No one can deny that the parents’ satisfaction and relief becomes closely tied to the well-being of their kids. The parents suffer more when their children are sick, in distress, anxiety, mental or physical torment which are bitter yet unavoidable realities of everyone’s life. So, believing that a child can become the biggest source of parents’ happiness is like looking at the spectrum of life through a fraudulent lens that only focuses on the brighter side of things.

I have seen many couples who are not, as most people would put, ‘blessed’ with a child. But their life becomes a perfect model of misery for everyone else to see not because they don’t have a child but by the constant prying and sympathy of the family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances around them. As if the ‘unfortunate’ couple has a plan that if a child gets born, they would give it away to others to bring ‘blessings’ in their (others’) homes.

There is absolutely no hideaway for this couple, as the onslaught of pitying from their kith and kin would never come to a halt. They will make the couple feel as if they must have committed some kind of a grave sin in their earlier lives that now they had been deprived of God’s one of the best blessings.

Here is another case. If a newly wedded couple is extracting maximum joy out of their life without having children and is devoid of plans to go for one in the foreseeable future, nothing could be more agonizing for the people around them. That’s because, in my view, the visible happiness of the couple ultimately ignites jealousy among the people around them. Then these restless souls, in an attempt to feel better again, jump in and intercept the couple busy in enjoying their post-nuptial life, reminding the two lovebirds that their life is far from being complete without having laughs and cries of an infant in their home. And this repeated reminding will not cease until they hammer home their opinion and get the relieving assurance that there is a bun in the oven.

No matter how absurd it sounds but to them bringing up kids is the ultimate purpose of their sorry lives. Not just that. If they could, they would ensure that all the couples across the world should pursue the same goal.

Ironically, if you ask a parent to point out the toughest task of his/her life, they will invariably respond: parenting. One would feel inclined to ask: Weren’t the children meant to make parents happy?

Take a keen look at the lives of people around you and see what is more visible. Is it pleasure or the exact opposite of it?

Where honestly would you put a mark of your life’s contentment on a 100-notch scale? How fulfilling all the days and years of your life have been for you? Do you believe that you really belong to the place where you are? Do you feel you were naturally made for doing things you have to do in your routine life? If you were given a choice, would you be excited enough to come back and lead exactly the same life?

Your candid answers to these questions should provide you with a foundation on which to base your future decisions in connection with bringing an innocent soul into this cynical place we call world.

By the way, I read somewhere: ‘A human being’s life-long struggle to feel happy and contended is bound to culminate in a tragic failure and, worse still is the fact that in this selfish pursuit of happiness he ends up perpetuating misery’.

It goes without saying that no matter how old one grows in age one continues to remain a child in the eyes of his parents. On this premise, we can conclude that Adolf Hitler must have been the apple of his parents’ eye as long as they lived.

Today, what do you think has put the survival of planet earth and all the life form present on it, at risk? Isn’t that us – children of our respective parents?

Mazhar Bughio can be followed on Twitter @mazharbughio

Mazhar Bughio

Web journalist/ writer associated with Geo News/ The News International.

  • Sarah B. Haider

    This is a very meaningful write-up. I agree with most of the points the author made here. My take on the topic is:
    1) Children are not parents’ walking sticks;
    2) They are individual human beings, not by-products of a marriage; and
    3) For parents procreation is a beautiful biological
    and emotional experience and every couple has a right to decide when they want
    to procreate. It shouldn’t be a mere obligation to pass on one’s bloodline just
    for the sake of it!

  • M.Saeed

    Children are source of happiness only for those who can raise and nurture them in true concept that, “each child is a leader of a new emerging generation” and should be raised as an ideal human being. Besides, newly wed pairs are only concerned on this count who are only a small percentage of the society at a given time, while general happiness covers an entire spectrum.

    General happiness in people comes from a variety of reasons, Each class of people have their own set of reasons. Like, a filthy-rich gets satisfaction on adding each million into his coffers, while a pauper gets happiness on each satisfying full stomach.

    Personal success and fulfilling expectations for satisfactory family life are factors for happiness of average citizen in he developed world while any source of joy like watching good movies, listening to favourite music or even visiting a picnic spot with family and most importantly, some glimmers of hope that the things are getting better for their well-beings, would bring happiness to the people of developing world.

  • Anonymous

    I think that the points are certainly all well-made, but that an important dichotomy in the concept of happiness is missed which would change the whole flow of the discussion. This was essentially introduced 2 1/2 millennia ago by Aristotle, the separation of the eudaimonic from hedonism.

    Hedonism, selfish-pleasure based happiness, as recent studies have determined, is really a relief a temporary escape from depression,but it actually adds to stress in a number of ways, and has even been found to do epigenetic damage to one’s DNA independently of the particular form of hedonism. In other words, the psychological effects of the hedonistic pursuit itself. –Now this isn’t to say that some basic hedonistic pleasure, some joie de vivre, is not crucial even to even basic existence–and different people have different levels. I may consider a vacation a luxury, while your health and very sanity (depending upon daily life’s vicissitudes) might depend upon such a total break now and then. The question is seeking out unnatural levels of hedonism as a cure to boredom or an anti-depressant.

    On the other hand, eudaimonic happiness is what is known as “true happiness,” a long-lasting or permanent state of well-being induced by good connections–deep relationships–with other people, and in giving there and outward towards the world, finding a strong sense of purpose. strong relationships with people
    and through these a sense of bestowing–purpose, is a true happiness, with long
    terms stable mood, health, family and social benefits–probably even business
    success too as a recent study on “optimistic realists” has shown.

    So coming back to children–the first thing to realize is that while pain is the opposite of hedonistic pleasure, it is not at all a contradiction to eudaimonic pleasure, in fact it generally often par for the course of feeling that you are accomplishing something. Sadness, meaninglessness–void–death (not for a cause, but a lack of one), such is the opposite of eudaimonic happiness. As such, the pain of child rearing is a point of depression only to those who would have children, or at least raise them, for hedonistic reasons. This includes avoiding the pain of social pressure, or the fun of Mommy’s dolly or Daddy’s new Play do Fun-Factory android. It is only such a person that might raise a Hitler and remain satisfied with him. [Hitler likely is a natural result of the "ideals" of the home in which he was raised--the acorn not far from the tree. Yes, unlikely as it is, the eudaimonic could end up raising a Hitler--but they would disown him, and likely do more than that if the power were in their hands to do so.]

    Let me just close that in my personal pursuit of happiness, I found something coming down line of potentially tremendous value in helping the modern mobile
    person along these lines, that will hopefully help to prove the words of the old
    song, “The Best Things In Life Are Free.” I would recommend a look
    at http://www.y55happy.com to learn about a new mobile app freeware project to train people in this kind of true lasting happiness and sense of well-being. It will use several techniques including some of the neuro-plasticity based game learning methods that, for example, the commercial online service Lumosity employs for intelligence enhancing exercises.

    To the extent that money can by happiness, these people could use a bit of financial assistance for the project. They are listed as a project on Indigo, the y55happy site will direct you there if you would wish to be part of bringing the happiness trainer app to fruition. But in any case, definitely do check the site out.

    • M.Saeed

      We are the “low-tide” type of people always looking forward to the next tsunami to be a good news. The promised tsunami never comes and the population tsunami continues to strike with ever increasing strength as the perpetual hallucinated happiness.