After reading that paragraph, ask yourself what percentage of people had a baby for even a half-decent reason or are even are fit to have one at all. There's no official statistics on that one, but it sure ain't 8 out of 10 people I know. (I'm not even sure it describes me, even though I actually have one...but then, that wasn't my call.)
That's right, many people--I'd venture to say most--bring new humans into the world for some extremely stupid reasons. Babies are admittedly cute...well, most of them anyway...but like any pet, they don't stay that way forever. You'll have an adamantium-hard time convincing me that the majority of people considered the magnitude of volunteering to take full responsibility for the world's deadliest animal from birth before deciding to have a kid. Indeed, I question whether half as many people would reproduce if the common term was "raise an adult" instead of "have a baby".
It seems as if our odd fascination with developing humans leads us into some pretty irrational decisions, like wanting one of our very own simply because we've reached a certain age, because we deeply care about another adult of the opposite sex, or just because. The fact is that we as a species don't need quite so many offspring period, and those that are made should be created and raised by two (or more) stable and willing people with the goal of sharing their lives and raising a reasonably well-adjusted adult like their parents did.
Instead, we go around making kids for dumb reasons, such as just wanting to see what they look like or because "that's just what's next". There are a lot of extremely common and very bad reasons to replicate one's DNA, a few of which are below:
1) To keep a relationship together. Keeping a relationship together by having a baby is like a failing company trying to keep its' doors open by opening more stores. If you two could barely handle the day-to-day functions of a committed relationship, which is much like a living organism, for a couple of years how do you expect to team up and adequately manage something that's exactly like a living organism (because it...y'know...is one) over the next couple of decades?
That's not to mention that a baby will require that a significant amount of both your attentions be redirected to the baby. This may overtax an already strained scenario, and make a bad situation worse...and permanent. There's no quicker way to ensure a house will fall down than by building it on a sinkhole. If you want to be absolutely sure your struggling relationship will eventually fail and fail big-time, bring kids into it.
2) To consummate a relationship. So, you really like the person you're with, eh? They're everything you ever dreamed of in a partner, and I think that's just great. That doesn't mean you automatically need to have kids, though. In recently breaking news, the only two people that are needed to validate a relationship are the two people in it, and having a baby just for the sake of having a baby will not grant the love between you any special status. It's not an accomplishment, 98% of mankind can do it...it's a luxury like any other, and both parties should be absolutely sure they're willing to take it on before entering into it.
Even worse are those who already have children from a previous relationship and want one together "to make it official", as if the existing kids are somehow less valid. Once born, children become as much a facet of what makes a person worthy of romantic consideration as their sense of humor or their face. If someone can't accept it all, they shouldn't get any. Kids aren't just a party favor to be given to every new guest, they're a lifelong responsibility...and one you now know for a fact might have to be handled with someone who won't be around that long.
3) To make somebody "grow up". Another pretty retarded reason to reproduce is to make someone (or yourself) into a father or mother. Nobody should be born with a job, and that includes to make someone else a better person. Besides, it backfires more often than it works, and odds are the only growing up will be by the kid with one or less parent. For evidence, I point to the 33% absentee father rate in America (which spirals into an abysmal 70% in certain communities...like mine). I'd be willing to bet that many of the women involved in those situations gambled on the guy "growing up and doing what's right" instead of waiting until they had a willing mate.
4) To "continue a legacy/name". If your mark on this earth is not such that it stands on its' own merit, what makes it worth carrying in the first place? Do you know who Ceasar's descendants are? How about Alexander the Great's? Can you name Benjamin Franklin's kids offhand? MLK's? Henry Ford's? Roger Staubach's? I'm sure we'll remember the name Barack Obama long after he, his daughters, and his daughters' great-grandkids are gone. These men did great things and will be remembered for their contributions to society. Not so much for most other people. Deal with it.
5) To give an existing child a playmate. Because there's such a shortage of healthy, able-bodied human children around for your rugrat to interact with, you have to make one from scratch just for that purpose. That makes perfect sense.
6) To get the right kind of baby. I can understand wanting one of each. Honestly, if I hadn't gotten a boy my first non-try (lucky me, right?) I would have probably tried to get one some distant day, when my life status had improved at least enough to consistently support the first child. However, to try over and over and over just because you want a specific sex of child is how you end up with a house full of synchronized feminine cycles or sports equipment piled floor to ceiling. Besides, what happens to all the kids you apparently made wrong in between? Unless you want to make like China and drop kids with the wrong plumbing down a well somewhere, consider carefully how badly you want a specific gendered baby.
7) Religious beliefs. Despite the best laid plans, accidents happen. Thing is, just because someone gets pregnant doesn't mean they have to stay that way. There are a number of steps one can take to correct an unplanned pregnancy, especially for those who are in no position to raise themselves, let alone children (who cost around a quarter-mil each to raise to 18...and that's if you catch all the sales). It's not fair to anyone involved to add extra expense to an already underfunded situation.
If you're that concerned about what your belief system will say about making a logical decision, just remember that you probably already violated it by participating in the activities required to even make a fetus. If you're not in a place in life where you confidently feel you can eventually produce the kind of person that doesn't belong in a cage, why try? You don't have to suffer forever for a single bad decision...unless you truly do believe, in which case you'll be doing so anyway for making it in the first place.
8) To increase your government benefits. Be it bumping up your tax return by increasing your exemption or getting another kid's worth of stamps, it's not worth it. Yes, it works, but as an investment, children are a very poor choice. Not only do they cost more to maintain than they could ever make (legally), there's also the emotional and mental investment of multiple children in a short period. There are few things worth sacrificing your sanity for, and least of all a few extra bucks.
9) To get attention. It's true, babies and children tend to attract a lot of attention. When you're pregnant, people will ask how far along you are and do everything but chew your food for you. When you have a baby, you couldn't keep people from touching it if it were somehow electrified. Post a picture of your kid on a social network for instant comments and approval. I get the concept, but the problem is that you can't just put your baby away when the show's over. Parenting is a full-time job, and this is a part-time benefit at best.
10) To quell that "baby fever". Possibly the least grounded of these groundless bases for committing to the lifetime duty of producing a somewhat healthy member of society is this. Most people who say they have "baby fever" say so because "I want something new to dress up and pet for a while" isn't as cute-sounding. Sure, sometimes women trying to beat the biological clock buzzer might say something like this, but more often it's spoken by people who already have kids and don't really need to have those.
Raising a full-fledged adult is a burden so large, I'm not sure the English language has words for it. "Colossal", "monumental" and "immense" come close, but not quite. The desire to do so shouldn't be something that one just has sometimes like it's some kind of fad, because the baby (and eventual whole person) will be there long after your fever subsides. Hell, the terminology itself implies that it's just a rash decision made by a delusional person.
Who will be the other responsible party? What will you do when the baby stops being a baby and starts being a whole person? When did bringing a new human being into the world of today become as casual a decision as getting a new kitty? Where do people get the idea that "because" is a good answer to "why do you want kids"? Why in the world would someone create a permanent solution to what's likely a temporary feeling? How are you going to make sure life is as easy as possible for all three (and usually more) people involved? Who cares...the new shipment of infant clothes came to the Children's Place. Baby fever!
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but in my opinion, people make the longest-lasting decision in life with much less rationality than the situation deserves. Having kids is (for some reason) widely regarded as a mark of maturity, an indication of the capacity to sacrifice for the well-being of another person when usually, it's just something two people decided to do one random day or even worse, did by accident (which a woman can never really do, but that's a separate post) with no real contingency plan beyond "gee, babies sure are adorable". I guess I can't pontificate too damn much about it, having a baby--and eventual manchild--of my own that I have very little idea what the hell to do with right now...but then, like I said...that wasn't my call.