Review

Shelter

Honey, Badger Don’t Care

Shelter dramatizes the travails of caring for kids who have no regard for their own safety.

By Derrick Sanskrit • September 3, 2013

I was furious. My face is hot, and I had been shouting expletives at my computer for the past hour. “Stupid babies, why won’t you stay close to your mama? Do you want to die? Is that what you want, you little shits?!” The continuous storm clouds of rage briefly parted to make way for a sunbeam of mortifying shame. I had become that which I most dread: the exhausted and potentially violent parent who can’t keep track of their kids at a park, mall, or carnival. All these years I’d silently judged these parents, I admit. Now I understand. Now I know the truth: Children are awful.

Shelter

I learned this while playing Shelter, a game where you take on the burdens of a mama badger, leading her five babies through the forest. Babies are kind of dumb and helpless, so it’s Mama’s responsibility to feed and protect her group of badgers, known as a “cete.” In the tensest moments of Shelter, you stealthily lead your cete past forest fires, river rapids, predatory birds, and whatever unspeakable horror lurks in the dark of the night. The most consistent threat, though, is starvation. While food isn’t exactly scarce, Mama always needs to be on the prowl for weaker animals to hunt and vegetables to dig up for her cubs.

Mama can’t even trust her babies to let each other eat—when you drop a piece of food, whichever cub is closest to it will selfishly dig in, ignoring how hungry his brothers and sisters may be. A responsible mama will watch as the young members of her cete line up, begging for scraps, and choose which of her darling little offspring gets to eat and which have to keep waiting a little longer. These moments can be agonizing as the cubs grow pale, whimper, and almost begin to dance for your attention, as if to say, “Don’t you love me?” It’s a dark and personal version of The Bachelor’s rose ceremony mixed up with Toddlers In Tiaras, only somehow worse because these aren’t people desperate to be on television; they’re a family of cute animals just trying to stay alive.

Shelter

As the game progressed, I realized that the mothers of the world are probably doing the best they can—it’s just that children don’t understand how to not die. Ducking between bushes, I picked out a carrot and carried it with me in anticipation of the next moment we could slow down to eat. One of my cubs, excited about lunch, hopped out into the open, danced around for my attention, and was promptly snatched by a monstrous pair of talons. She disappeared into the sky, never to be heard from again. In the pitch black of night, the cubs would step on a twig, freak out at the sound, and run away screaming. From their mother. Into the darkness. I swear, these kids must like getting murdered.

That’s not to say Shelter is all dark and depressing, far from it (but nobody ever said parenthood would be all rainbows and butterflies). There is a good deal of serenity and satisfaction to be found here. The warm strum of a guitar when your cubs are fed is gratifying and rich with a sense of fulfillment. The gentle pastel color palette of the woods presents a nuanced ambience of breath and life, and the charming papercraft aesthetic of the world evokes a child’s diorama sprung to life. These quiet moments that are worth cherishing.

Shelter

Shelter explains parenting—the hope, the frustration, the trials of nurturing selfish little brats—without saying a word. Judging by how frequently I wanted to throw my keyboard at a wall, I’m pretty sure I’m not quite ready for kids of my own just yet. I am, however, ready to call my mom and thank her for all the things I’m sure I never noticed.

Shelter
Developer: Might And Delight
Publisher: Might And Delight
Platforms: Mac, PC
Reviewed on: PC
Price: $10
Rating: E10+

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60 Responses to “Honey, Badger Don’t Care”

  1. DrFlimFlam says:

    This sounds like a game for all judgmental non-parents. You don’t know anything until you’ve had a kid of your own. You don’t. Know. Anything.

    Seriously. It is exhausting. And you will plumb new depths of patience and frustration and self-pity and shame and regret.

    But if you manage to navigate it all and succeed, no feeling on this earth can touch it.

    For the record, I don’t know that most people are ever ready for kids, or ever don’t wish they could do it all over again, but BETTER. You just decide to dive in and try the best you can and fervently hope that’s enough.

    And if you do manage to do all right, they up and leave you, the most cruel reward for dedicating your existence to a cause above your own selfish needs. You pour out at least 18 years of your life so that they can rip your heart out and leave it on the doorstep. That’s a job well done.

    • Ack_Ack says:

      See?  This is why I don’t have children.  That and the whole “finding a woman who will put up with my idiosyncracies long enough to even consider having a child with me” thing. 

      This game sounds pretty interesting, but also frustrating.  I have no patience for badger babies who are uninterested in self-preservation.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      While this game does appear to encapsulate the stresses of parenthood perfectly, it doesn’t capture that particular joy of having your three-year-old singing along with Kraftwerk’s “The Hall of Mirrors” as you drive her to daycare.

    • Girard says:

      I’ve worked with kids for a long time, and even just walking a line of them down the street – on the sidewalk – is an exercise in knuckle-whitening terror. I almost never yell at my charges. As a result, they know that when Mr. ‘Girard’ is yelling, something super serious has just gone down. One of the only times I’ve yelled at one of my kiddoes was during an outdoor walk when one girl, appropos of nothing, broke from the line and dashed into the middle of the street. It was completely arbitrary, no one’s fault (unless you can fault a 4-year-old for having low impulse control or a teacher for taking their kids outdoors), and no one got hurt, but it totally freaked me out.

      I babysat one of my preschoolers and his little toddler brother for a while, and my first time doing so – which was an over-night babysitting gig – made me empathize with my mom in a way I never had before. Being alone in the house with these two tiny fragile things for which I was responsible was kind of nerve-wracking (especially when, say, the little one needed a change, or I had to cook dinner, and had to weigh the risks of not having both kids in plain sight 100% of the time versus dragging everyone into the kitchen or the changing room or whatever), and made me realize that, while I was doing it for a weekend, that situation was pretty much my mom’s LIFE for the entirety of my brother’s and my childhood. She’s already one of my favorite people ever, but that experience made me hold her in even higher esteem.

      I snapped this game up from GOG right away, though I haven’t played it yet. I am so looking forward to doing so.

    • BobbyMcD says:

      Wonderfully put DrFlimFlam.

      I will add that having children is a net neutral on average in terms of happiness. Some people are incredibly happy they had kids and some are deeply unhappy they did and for some it is a wash. But it is not a consistent predictor of whether people are happier or not.

      I think that’s an important thing for people to know. That having kids is not some magical gateway to fulfillment and delight. Not even close.

      My partner and I do not have a children and although we have thought about it and see many great reasons why we would like to, we also take seriously the tremendous strain it puts on human beings and the incredible stress and that outweighs the good for us.

      We also have a close friend who decided to have kids (in vitro) on her own. She ended up having twins, they’re now 9 and both a bit spectrum-y and it is obvious that it was a really, really bad decision for everyone. She is completely overwhelmed and despite being very intelligent (bachelors from Bryn Mawr, Masters from UCLA) she didn’t think her decision through and way underestimated the time and money demands that children place on a person.

      Shelter sounds like a nightmare game for her, one she already plays every day. I think it would literally make her break down in tears. For me and my partner it sounds like an interesting, sweet and very challenging video game. 

    • aklab says:

      I have 4 kids.
      “Go crazy? Don’t mind if I do!”

  2. CNightwing says:

    It’s funny how they picked badgers for this game, since their young don’t leave the sett that early in life, and tend to be quite social animals. I’m curious how they represent the different senses a badger relies on – in particular I see that the night is dark to you, when a badger would probably be using its sense of smell to ensure it stayed away from predators and definitely fires.

    There was a good show about badgers (and rabbits, water voles and moles) on the BBC recently in three parts, ‘The Burrowers’, which gave me at least a completely different impression of badgers than this game appears to. They might have done better with rabbits if they wanted flighty youngsters and mama-centric care.

  3. huge_jacked_man says:

    $10 for a 1 hour long escort mission? Where do I sign

  4. Merve says:

    This game looks so pretty but so frustrating. Thank heavens I’m nowhere near parenthood.

  5. boardgameguy says:

    I’m not sure if this review did a better job of scaring me away from playing this game or from parenthood.

    Note: The review does a good job of describing a game whose mechanics and game play I wouldn’t enjoy.

  6. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    I could eat that art-style for breakfast!

    Seriously, Might and Delight should license whatever graphics engine they put together because if there were a 3-d Platformer or a Zelda-Clone with that art style I would be on it like stink on a horse.

    As for this single-mother-simulator, I’ll probably pick it up when I pick up Papers Please, Guacamelee, Gone Home, and all the other awesome indies floating outside my backlog, which is to say, when I go binge-shopping on another Steam Sale.

    • Between Papers Please, Gone Home, and Shelter, you’re likely to have a nervous breakdown (though Guacamelee would be a pretty smooth palette cleanser there). Still, all four are definitely worth the experience if you can afford it (yay, Steam sales!).

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        Someone should totally play Papers, Please for at least four hours (a part time shift) and then follow it with Shelter for as long as it takes to need a drink.

        • The_Misanthrope says:

           Add Cart life to the mix and you got the triple crown of soul-crushing games.

          You might infer from the previous statement that I recently picked up Cart Life and you would be right.  I had such a mixed reaction to it that I posted a lengthy spiel about it on the Steam group:  http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gameological/discussions/0/846963165543500921/

          Between the discussions on this game and Killer Is Dead, it makes me wonder just how much we are willing to let games screw around with gameplay in order to make a point?  The standard line is “That doesn’t sound fun”  or “I play games to escape/relax”, but is there room for games to be more to be more than those statements might apply or does the player’s active involvement in the process may that a tricky proposition?

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          It’s a question I’ve been asking myself as well. Many of these games with a message sound interesting, but I very rarely dive in, and I don’t know if it’s because of what I’m looking for in my free time or because I’m stuck in what games have always been, not in what they can be, which is beginning to take baby steps to where film, literature, and other forms of art are at, when the main purpose isn’t just to thrill or delight but also to provoke and think. Can games do that well? Can they be compelling without involving the defeat of others?

          I’m not ready to buy into any of these at list price, but I’d be interested in finding out when games like Gone Home and Papers Please hit a more reasonable price point.

        • Merve says:

          @The_Misanthrope:disqus: I know they’re both in the AAA space, but Spec Ops: The Line and The Walking Dead are two other recent soul-crushing games that turn the notion of “fun” on its head.

          The indies are where the big risks take place (well, there and DLC), so that’s where we’re seeing lots of subversion of traditional gameplay elements towards nonstandard ends. But some of that experimentation is starting to filter into big-budget games, and I think that’s super-exciting.

      • Girard says:

        When I get around to those games, I expect to use Pathlogic as my palette cleanser.

        I probably should not be around any sharp objects when this all goes down.

    • Merve says:

      The game was actually made in Unity, which I know is hard to believe, because it’s one of the few Unity games I’ve seen that doesn’t look cheap and/or shitty.

    • Girard says:

      Their graphics engine is just Unity, I believe.

  7. Fluka says:

    Most anxiety inducing game since Amnesia.

  8. Enkidum says:

    Five years ago, on Christmas Eve, I realized that I’d only gotten my wife a fairly shitty present and the kids had wanted to get her something as well, and I needed to get some stocking stuffers. This was during a very rare severe winter snowstorm (in Vancouver), with most of the side roads unpassable, but nevertheless we took the bus to the big mall about half an hour away and found a couple of nice things. Of course taking young kids around a frigging mall is frigging awful at the worst of times, and this was the busiest day of the year. The snowstorm was only getting worse outside.

    I wanted to get some sort of craft-y things for the kids to make something for her in the evening, so we went into the dollar store. I found a couple of things, and lost my son. Turned around for less than 30 seconds while I was looking for some ribbons, and he was gone. Wasn’t going to panic – this sort of thing happens, he’s usually just found something that attracts his attention and is staring at it round the corner. I went through every aisle in that store a good four or five times, asked the staff, went outside the store and walked by every place we’d been near – no kid. He was just fucking gone.

    So I get security to come, they take details, half an hour later (a good 45 minutes since he went missing) someone announces over the PA that no one listens to that if *** can hear this can he please come to a customer service desk. Which is I suppose all they can do over the PA, but it felt astoundingly useless – the kid’s five, even on the off chance he’s listening to the PA he doesn’t even know what a customer service desk is. And of course I’m walking around with my 4-year old daughter who doesn’t really get what the hell is going on, but she’s beginning to worry about her missing brother too. And it’s a mall, a couple of hours from closing time, on Christmas Eve.

    We go down to the security office in the garage and take more details, I have to call the cops and give them the information, then I have to do the thing which, honestly speaking, made me feel worse than the kid going missing, which was calling my wife and telling her. She… wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit over this one. She takes the bus over, by the time she arrives it’s been… oh, close to two hours since he disappeared. I’m trying to think about suspicious people who might have been around at the time – but it was the frigging dollar store, which is just full of crazy people who obviously want to whisk my children away. My daughter’s hungry, my wife isn’t speaking to me, and I’m in a mall which I hate without our son.

    It ends not with a bang but a whimper. After two and a half or three hours, security calls us and they’ve found him downstairs, a good half-kilometer away from where he disappeared, watching Mario Kart games at Toys R Us. He had just wandered around all over the place until he found something interesting. We grab some more food, my wife shouts at my son and I for a while (eh, she was stressed, we had both screwed up, and she’s Chinese – yelling at your family is kind of like breathing).

    Then of course we can’t get a cab back because the whole city is going nuts due to the snowstorm, so we manage to get on a packed and severely delayed bus, and get home around 11. My wife goes to bed without speaking to me, I spend a couple of hours half-heartedly wrapping presents, filling stockings, and drinking scotch. Kids wake up the next morning fine and ready for Christmas good times, by the time lunch rolls around my wife is even kind of speaking to me again. It’s a Christmas miracle!

    What I’m saying here is, never have kids, and if you do tie the little fuckers to a post until they’re 18.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      That’s terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

      I always assume that Minority Report is what will happen the moment my child does not have direct supervision.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Holy balls.  I got intensely stressed out just reading your post.  If you give me your address I’ll send you ten bucks for the experience.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Fucking hell, it’s good to be a homosexual. So damn good. So thoroughly good.
      Wait, I could potentially adopt! All it takes is a few moments of madness. Better make myself a visibly unfit parent so that never happens.
      -cracks open Vicodin and Vodka, tattoos “Psycho” on forehead-
      Just to make sure.

      • Enkidum says:

        I did everything I could to make it clear that I was unfit to be a parent but they still let me have kids.

        Next time I’ll tell y’all about the time the social worker came to our house because someone reported that we were chopping my daughter’s fingers as a form of punishment.

        Spoiler alert: we weren’t.

      • Girard says:

        I’ve taught kids with two moms, Eff. She was even the biological kid of one of the moms. You could totally, TOTALLY have a little spawnling running around driving you crazy.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          You take that back! You take that back right now! I want to keep sleeping off a weed-induced haze until 10 in the morning if I want to! Stop infringing on my rights!

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      If that comment doesn’t end up picked by Soupy, I’ll eat my hat!  Well, first, I’ll have to buy a hat and then I’ll eat it!

      When I was young, I had a habit of getting bored and wandering off.  I was likely old enough to know better, but I did so anyway.  One time, when my mom was showing her purebred Shelties in a local dog show, I decided to pull my vanishing act and walk downtown to a small grocery store where I stood and watched the attract screen for Mr Do! for a while.  Needless to say, the police were involved in the search by the time I made my way back.

      I don’t have kids myself, but I have enough friends that are recent additions to that not-so-exclusive club that I can understand how that could really be a harrowing experience.  I like to idealize the child version of me as an irrepressible scamp, but really, I was a egocentric jerk.

      • Enkidum says:

        Spoiler alert: “irrepressible scamp” = “egocentric jerk” in the final act. Pretty much always.

    • Girard says:

      I hope Soupy’s listening. You might get some benefit out of this whole kid racket, yet!

    • WarrenPeace says:

      Good god, that’s a scary fucking story. I’ve occasionally been in a slight panic when one of my daughters wanders out of my sight for a few minutes in Target or somewhere; I can’t imagine it happening for multiple hours, in a crowded mall, on Christmas Eve, in the middle of a snowstorm. I don’t think I’m ever going to take my eyes off my kids in public again.

    • Citric says:

      From the opposite end:

      Once, upon a time, a young Citric was dragged by his parents to church every Sunday. On one Sunday, this particular church service was to be followed by a brunch. Church brunches were, no exaggeration, a little private hell for young Citric, a long period of long noises and stupid lines, where there was nothing to do but sit at long tables and listen to your parents tell a bunch of stories you’ve already heard and didn’t care about the first time either. To this day, I hate buffets because of those damn church brunches, but that’s slightly beside the point. So, after my pleas to just go home and not attend this damn thing were ignored, I hatched a plan, I would not attend this church brunch, I would go home.

      Home is about 5 miles away from said church, I was 8 or so. 

      So, immediately after the mass, I set out on the road. I walked all the way home, the whole time driven by a certain anger about having to attend these stupid events. Turns out 5 miles is significantly further away than you expect when you’re a young kid, but I was determined, no brunch for me! So, I walked until I got home and then sat on the couch and watched TV – I believe the Diane Keaton comedy Baby Boom was on – fairly worn out. I had a kind of pyhrric victory, though in my mind at the time walking all the way home was much better than stupid brunches. Then my brother came home to check something before, er, resuming the search for me. He was not pleased to see me sitting in the house.

      Yeah so it’s a small town, and the entire town attended church, meaning the entire town was out looking for me. Naturally, they would never find me, because I wasn’t in town, so it took my brother coming home to actually know where I was. Also, I didn’t tell anyone. When I saw how legitimately worried everyone was I did realize what I did was a massive dick move. I kind of knew all along it was a dick move, but the extent of my anger had kind of clouded my mind to how much the dick move would affect others.

      I don’t think I’ve ever apologized enough for that one. On the other hand, since I effectively demonstrated how much I hated these damn things and the lengths I would go to in order to not attend, I was later allowed to bring my gameboy or just go to a non-religious friends’ house. Small victories!

      • Enkidum says:

        I fully sympathize both with young Citric’s desire to get the hell out of the brunch (never been to church other than a couple of weddings and as a tourist, never wanted to either) and with young Citric’s parents in their fear/rage (because, seriously, holy shit).

      • BobbyMcD says:

        Warning: this isn’t a story with a happy ending.

        When I was 15 and had my learner’s permit, I was driving my Mom and I to church. I didn’t really want to go. We were late and as we got close to the church we started arguing about whether we should go in or not. It sucks to walk in late even more than going on time. It’s embarrassing…plus I wanted to get home and get ready for the Vikings game at noon.
        Well, now I was the one driving, I had a power I never had before. So I drove past the entrance to the church. All the while my Mom yelling at me to turn around and go back. I finally relented and at the next stop light I pulled into the left turn lane to make a u-turn. This was out on a country road that, unbeknownst to me because we had never driven past the church before, turned from a 30 MPH road into a 55 MPH road. I pulled into that lane and looked down at the shift knob, I really wasn’t a very good driver at this point, and then looked up at the oncoming traffic, then back down at the shifter, and started my left turn – BAM! – an oncoming car was going much faster than I realized and hit us head on.

        I’ll spare you the details, but my Mom was very seriously injured. Life threatening. I, of course, felt horrible and one of the things I dealt with years later in therapy was the guilt I felt about it. Yes, I was young and a terrible driver then, but my Mom nearly died because of what I did. She recovered, but it took years.

        I’m sharing this story because your story reminded me of what happened when I didn’t want to go to church. And because I have a deep appreciation for my Mom and all that she did as a single parent. It definitely didn’t fully hit me until I had friends who started having kids and I got to see how it affected them.

        You might think that I would attribute the car accident to God or some divine retribution for trying to skip church, but I didn’t. Quite the opposite. As an adult I’m not in the least theistic and I really think it’s awful to force kids to go to any kind of church. My mom, and I’m sure your parents, were trying to do what they thought was good (make sure your kid goes to church), but I’ll be happy when humanity moves on from what I call the “Dark Age of Religion”.

        One final thing: kids are difficult, but they also know a great deal. They know that school is stupid, because it is. And they know that church sucks, because it does. They haven’t drunk the kool-aid of civilization yet.

        And I’d bet there are alot more people who have stories about trying to get out of church and what happened as a result.

  9. DrZaloski says:

    I’m honestly not sure if I can even handle this game. As a combination of being easily stressed, working poorly under pressure, and having an extreme sympathy for animals, this game sounds like it’ll put me out of order for at least a weekend. I’ll wait for a Steam Sale on a convenient weekend to cry myself to sleep.

  10. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    I’m going to be that jerk: I have no sympathy for parents.  No one forced them to have kids.  Birth control these days is really really effective.  If you choose to put yourself into a situation, don’t whine when others cast you nasty looks.  Its not like the world needs more people.

    (I’ll be going into hiding now)

    • Penis Van Lesbian says:

      Is this meant to be trolling, because it just sounds a bit thick.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         No, its really not.  But whatever, I can’t say two words on this site without being accused of that.

        • Enkidum says:

          Does it happen all the time? I’d only noticed the time Teti went off on you, and now. The former was… well it was its own thing. This… well this one you have to admit you were edging towards trolldom – “I’m going into hiding” and “jerk-rant” aren’t exactly indicative of you expecting to have a reasonable discussion, are they?

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

           @Enkidum:disqus I suppose I was anticipating that my comments would be taken negatively, so it may have been a case of self-fulfilling prophecy.

        • Enkidum says:

          Yeah, that was kind of a crazy thing and I can see why you wouldn’t want to revisit it. Sorry for bringing it up. 

          FWIW, I don’t think of you (or Teti) at all in terms of that, and I don’t think anyone else does either. You can both be ornery sons of bitches, but you seem like cool enough people. Despite your stated desire to kill and maim all the parents in the world and eat their babies.

          EDIT: and who cares if the reaction is reasonable or not – it’s not something you can pretend isn’t there.

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

           @Enkidum:disqus ” Despite your stated desire to kill and maim all the parents in the world and eat their babies.

          Ah, now there’s A Modest Proposal!

        • For what little it’s worth, I largely agree with your stance, though I wouldn’t phrase it so strongly myself. There are a lot of, for lack of a better word, unwanted children who never did anything wrong and effectively have the entire world against them for the rest of their lives unless they luck out somewhere along the line, which only happens in movies and romance novels. It’s not that making babies on your own is selfish, but it’s somewhat blissfully ignorant. That and, as someone who has lived most of their life in and around metropolises, I generally dislike people simply because of how many there are, and it’s impossible to expect a pack of a species that size to all behave well, especially the less-experienced members who never learned better. When I see kids acting up on the subway or in a mall or something, I do give the exasperated parent a bit more leeway in their capability to deal with the situation. They don’t deserve sympathy or condolence, just a modicum of elbow room to do whatever works in their situation. I will, however, shoot a wicked glare at the middle-aged dude in the business suit who yells at them to shut up. That dude’s an asshole.

        • PhonyPope says:

          I wouldn’t worry too much about the Likes thing – I’ve seen a a fair amount of foul, ignorant posts get a lot of Likes.

          (I don’t know what Teti posted, just speaking generally here).

    • Enkidum says:

      When you say “I have no sympathy for parents” do you mean “I am actively hostile towards parents”? Because (barring adoptive/foster parents) that’s kind of what it sounds like.

      Not sure what you mean by “whining when others cast you nasty looks” either – the only reference I can find on this page to people getting annoyed at parents is in your post. Which suggests (spoiler alert) that the issue was inside you the whole time!

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

        from the article: “All these years I’d silently judged these parents, I admit. Now I understand. Now I know the truth: Children are awful.”

        from another’s comment: “This sounds like a game for all judgmental non-parents. You don’t know
        anything until you’ve had a kid of your own. You don’t. Know. Anything.”

        edit: how does not having sympathy equal actively hostile? Its just means I don’t share the majority view that parents should be praised for putting up with their own kids. No one asked them to have any. That doesn’t mean I go around punching them or something.

        • Girard says:

          I can have empathy for someone dealing with a difficult and thankless task, even if that task is voluntary, and even if that task isn’t especially laudable. Regardless of the context, suffering is suffering, and can still elicit pity. Even if the parent bending over backward to help out some foster kid is more “morally laudable” by some subjective metric than a parent bending over backward to take care of their little spawnling, the difficult reality of the immediate situation, and the sacrifice involved, etc. is the same.

          “Serves you right!” seems like a pretty obnoxious and adolescent response to another human’s hardship, even if that hardship is the other person’s fault.

        • Enkidum says:

          Ah, well, fair enough – I’d missed those quotes. 

          So… you’re not completely off topic. Just kind of weirdly grumpy.

          Seconding what @paraclete_pizza:disqus said. I mean, being a parent is basically 100% guaranteed to put you through a great deal of emotional pain, total exhaustion, financial hardship, and quite likely physical problems to boot. Not to mention occupying a huge chunk of your life for 20 or 30 years. Perhaps it might not be necessarily worthy of praise (although, honestly, it is in much the same way as running a triathalon is – it’s just something really hard that people, as you say, choose to put themselves through). But  actively stating that you refuse to be moved by that situation – I dunno, don’t you feel sympathy for homeless drug addicts, or just people in pain generally? Because parenthood is fucking painful, a lot of the time.

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

           @paraclete_pizza:disqus It may be a function of my religious upbringing where having kids was serving the community and not having kids was seen as somehow selfish, whereas I have come to exactly the opposite viewpoint.  I do contend that reproduction is not only optional but immoral.  There are enough children without people to take care of them in the world that creating more instead of dealing with the ones that exist now is repugnant.

        • Enkidum says:

          Hmmm… so to be fair, you ARE actively hostile towards parents, or at least towards some kind of abstract concept of parenthood.

          Which, well, in some sense so am I. But I’m also actively hostile to modern monocultures that exist largely to support our obsession with eating meat, but I’m not a vegetarian, and I’m in principle against the raping of the seas to drift-net tuna, but damn I love me some toro sushi, and I hate what resource extraction does to the earth, but I’m pretty fucking far from having no possessions.

          But I dunno, it seems a hell of a lot of effort to go around hating all the hypocrites in the world.

          (The whole religious upbringing thing makes sense, although may I respectfully suggest that you’re going a tad too far in the other direction?)

          In the case of parenthood, you might try focussing on a more results-based viewpoint? If you actually want to reduce population growth, and by extension the number of kids without adequate parenting, the best proven strategy seems to be to make your society rich and relatively equal. Make the society rich enough and population actually stabilizes or even declines. People just don’t want to have that many kids. The morality or immorality of specific cases seems kind of irrelevant in the face of that, to me at least.

        • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

           @Enkidum:disqus hmm, I wouldn’t have considered that “actively” since I don’t do anything with that belief but talk about it, but I can see that.  And I agree with you that for the most part its not the most effective battle to pick and that I may be being a bit reactionary in picking this one issue to harp on.  Its not like I bring it up all the time.  But the act of genetic reproduction is often considered an inherently good end-to-itself. I don’t mind letting people know that at least one loser in the corner of the internet is questioning whether that’s always true.