There’s been talk in the news lately about genetic engineering and its effect on unborn babies. Scientists are predicting that people will soon be able to decide which sex they want their unborn child to be and perhaps even which traits they want the child to have.
I remain not only skeptical, but a little uneasy by this idea. Yes, it’s probably a good idea to use it to eliminate genetic diseases, but to decide the sex or even the eye color of a child? This is where things get iffy.
People are not meant to know what the child will be like until after he or she is born.
The point of being a parent is to be pleased and surprised by what your child grows up to be, and no matter what the child’s like, you are supposed to love your kid no matter what. To decide what the child’s characteristics are is to play God, and exercise a measure of control over the child that shouldn’t be there.
Even if you do have a “made-to-order” baby, babies grow up, and when they’re teenagers and young adults, they have a way of making up their own minds, and those choices may clash with your idea of the “perfect child.”
You may fancy yourself a modern-day Joseph Kennedy and have children tailor-made to achieve greatness in certain high positions, and by the end of your life, your children are average citizens, living in the suburbs, none of them president or an actor or anything important.
To have a made-to-order baby is a perfect scenario for setting yourself up for disappointment.
Parents are supposed to be pleased and surprised by what their children grow up to be or do. During the pregnancy, they may or may not know the sex, but they hope that the baby grows up strong and healthy. After the birth, every little trait discovered is like an early Christmas present found all wrapped up in the mailbox and labeled, “Go ahead and open me!” If they discover that the baby likes music, they’ll laugh as the child plunks away on a plastic xylophone. The sight of seeing a round, chubby face morph into features seen in the mirror or on your spouse’s face is a joyful thing, and you become surprised by seeing your mouth with your spouse’s nose, perhaps even with eyes that are a throwback to a grandparent. You may even see traits in the child that neither of you possess, and you love the child more for being unique.
Made-to-order children take most of the delightful surprises out of parenthood, and what surprises are left are usually unpleasant ones, things that clash with the parents’ image of what the child should be. All the parents are doing in this case is setting themselves and their child up for heartbreak. Children should not be made for the purpose of carrying out your grand vision, but because you are ready to love and care for a child unconditionally. Parents are supposed to love their children no matter what.
Allison Chase is a junior Creative Writing major. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.