Tuesday, September 20, 2016

An Old Sci-Fi Standby


At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Through the ages, science fiction has shown some different types of family dynamics. One that's fairly common is the one where children are raised in a sort of factory system, not within a family unit. Many times, these children were not born to parents per se.

The thought that flitted through my brain, though, did not start with factory-born children. In this case, they were born the traditional way. And they weren't taken to some sort of institution, either. It was more sort of a wide-spread adoption requirement.

This is a long explanation for a very short question:

What if we didn't raise our own children? 

It's a weird thought. A weird question. But the underlying question is: why is our society structured the way it is?

23 comments:

  1. That would be interesting. Its really hard to answer this one because it would be such a different society than what we have now. I would want whatever was raising them to have the same values I would have, but then in a society like this, there could potentially be different values or no values. I don't think I would want to be part of that society myself.
    b
    etty

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  2. What if they were fostered out to others? If it truly was a village raising a child, it could work.
    Some parents barely raise their kids now.

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  3. This has happened actually. I just read that Doctors (I think out west) accidentally switched babies and so the parents raised the other's baby. Shocking to say the least. I don't think it would work well because if anyone tried to take us away from my mom, there would be hell. On the other hand, some kids would benefit if they were not raised by the biological parents. When you see how some parents treat their kids, either by abuse or just giving them whatever they want, you wonder if the kids would be better off somewhere else. Some people would like to take some kids away from their parents who are on assistance and, although, i can understand in some cases, but in others it would be horrible. This is a deep question to me

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    1. Yes, you're getting to the heart of the question. It's deceptively simple, but in practice not so simple.

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  4. Well, they might not be biologically our children, but if we raise them then they become our children. But I'd definitely like to imagine what would make a world be this way. Perhaps "qualified" parents raise children? Which raises questions as to what qualified may be...

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  5. I think in reality science is going in a different direction. They've figured out how to manipulate genes in the lab to make sure people get the baby they want. Certain traits could be created...but then you get into "designer babies," which is controversial. Most scientists are talking about just going in and manipulating genes when there might be abnormalities or birth defects.

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    1. Oh, this has nothing to do with reality. It's more of a thing-of-how-society-would-be-different exercise. It makes me think of all sorts of ways that worle would work.

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  6. lol I have no clue what to say to this one. I feel like a lot of parents don't even raise their kids now. *shrugs*

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    1. But what about those that do? How would it change the way we think about child rearing?

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  7. Actual most rich people can aford nannies. But Hillary Clinton did write a book called "It takes a village" to raise a child...Once my kids was preschool age I send them to puplic schoo. So other people in the world had an influence on my childern.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Yes, but they still came home to you.

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  8. The answer to the why is easy. The answer to the what if is harder.

    We are structured by both an inherent need to reproduce (and thus produce our own offspring) along with instinctual tribalism that really could do with dying out at this point. It's what leads to many people have a natural feeling of "me vs the other" that perpetuates a ton of the messed up stuff we do.

    With regards to what if, I imagine we'd actually have a much more open society with a lower rate of overall inner-species hatred. But maybe that's just me being optimistic.

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  9. I guess it would very much depend on whether the children were mix.ed around through choice or compulsion. I can see only subversion if the babies were being forcibly removed from mothers

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  10. My first thought went to the era when slaves were raising white children in the south. It hasn't always been that parents would raise their own children, or at the very least, the elite wouldn't. And it's still possible that the elite continue to not raise their children – they have nannies, sitters, tutors, maids, teachers, etc… to pawn their kids off on. At the point in which the kids aren't getting any parental time, are the parents *really* the parents? Yes biologically, but if they haven't had anything to do with raising their child, can they really be considered true parents?

    But of course in this scenario you are talking about adoption which is entirely different than pawning your kid off on someone. I'd have to ask for more details. How would this system work? Could you really not adopt your own naturally born child? Could a family member? Do you have a choice in the adoption process at all? What do the powers that be do when no one is interested in adopting? Or does the government just give you the children and force you to adopt? Lots of details missing in this scenario. Definitely sounds like a lot of the sci-fi/adventure movies that have been coming out lately.

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    1. Since I didn't specify, you get to choose the answers to those questions. This was kind of my point here. That one little thing creates a myriad of different ideas. Which, hopefully, generate stories.

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  11. well, interestingly, in medieval times boys often went to live at another lords house to be raised and taught, which helped create loyalty between the various factions. So...perhaps this is a way to avert war. All children have to go live somewhere else, maybe even another country, maybe even a country you wouldn't want your kids to live in, which might make society more invested in peace.

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  12. I wish I could remember the title but I did once read a book where this happened. Basically the way it worked was that babies were born and passed on to another family who raised them for a year and then passed them on to another family and this continued as they grew up. There was a reason behind this and I think part of the plot may have been that when he was a teenager the main character was actually being raised by his birth parents but he didn't know it (I forget whether they were aware of it).

    What I know now of early years and attachment theory, this would probably be a very bad idea as the child would struggle to form proper bonds with people, especially knowing that after a year they'd be moving on anyway. It's something which is seen in foster kids already.

    I imagine parents might not want to get too invested in a child if they knew they'd just be getting another one and passing the current one on at some point. On the other hand, you might see it as your duty to teach the child a particular skill that no one else had so you'd want to instruct as many kids as possible.

    As someone who's trying very hard to just get one child, I'm not sure I'd fancy putting all this effort into having a baby and then having to hand them off to someone else.

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    1. Most of my questions have been answered before in other stories. I'd be curious to read that one.

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  13. There are already examples throughout history although, perhaps, not in the sense you mean. One recent example: The Stolen Generations of Australia - aborigine children forceably taken from their parents and adopted out into white families, as just one example. This was done with Native American children, too. Social workers would just show up, grab the children, and drive away with them and they would end up, without warning, with brand new families. We are only now starting to recognize, and help, the adults they now are.

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    1. I hadn't thought of those historical examples, but that's a good point. What if it was only one segment of society that this happened to?

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  14. I didn't read all of the comments but not uncommon in upper class especially historical times when kids (boys mostly) were sent away to school. Not at birth but at a young age And then raised by nannies/governesses/tutors before that. May have lived at home then but parental involvement was a minimum.

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