I am not tall. My Husband is probably considered average height for a man. When you put these things together you are probably aiming for a shortish child.

Mission accomplished. My daughter is short.

I used to joke that I wanted to marry a tall guy specifically because I wanted a kid that didn’t need to spend their life climbing on things in order to reach other things. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick out the traits that you want your child to have?

Wouldn’t it?

Or would that be the worst thing ever done in the name of science and advancement?

We are entering a world where parents may be able to choose the characteristics of their children.

Yay science.

About 30 years ago a trend started- leaving your kids back in school, from the onset of their school years, so that the child would be the oldest in the grade. The reasoning was that the child would be bigger physically (sports) and have a more mature mind (intellectually). This would give a kid an “edge” over their peers…

So now, my daughter who just went along with the grade she was supposed to be in, has some classmates that are two years older than her, and incoming Freshman who are older than her. She is routinely asked if she skipped grades…

If we’d held her back, would she have graduated number one in her class instead of eighth? Would she have played first singles instead of first doubles? Would she have missed 0 questions on the math SAT instead of two?

Was I a bad parent because I let her go with her grade? Was I a bad parent because I didn’t give her an edge?

Did the trend of having children start kindergarten at six help them out? I have no idea. But for a little bit I did think we would have kindergarten classes where the average age was ten…

You know parents…

Anything to give their offspring an advantage.

But let’s get back to science…

If parents were willing to hold their kids back from formal schooling, what other lengths will they go to?

Many parents have expectations of their children- this happens before they are even born. Maybe they want them to be a beauty queen. Quarterback. Doctor. President. And many parents are saddened when their children fail to reach the expectations set for them…

If you have the money, would you try to engineer your child?

Would you write down a list of all the qualities that you want your child to have?

Are we about to see a world of tall, blonde, athletic children?

Does this remind you are any point in history?

(you get it all with my blog- sociology, science and history)

Genetically engineered children…

How far do we go to make the perfect person?

Who determines what perfect is?

What happens if every child has the exact same attributes? Will there still be kids who don’t make the team or finish first in their class?

I mean really- there are still only nine on the baseball field, five on the basketball court, six on the rink- I don’t know anything about football so you have to tell me how many are actually on the field…

Is the entire grade going to tie for valedictorian?

What do you think about designer children?

95 thoughts on “Designing Girls…and Boys

  1. I encouraged my kids to follow their interests, I fed them, exercised them, drove them to various things. I talked to them, made them think and generally annoyed them. I lectured them on a number of moral points and then I set them free. It’s a bit like raising small animals. They grew up fit and healthy, and slightly taller than me and don’t need to stand on anything to reach the top shelf. . They both won things, played junior sport at a high level and grew up to be decent adults.

    I won’t go on about their brilliance as I already know my kids are better than yours without listing the reasons. I also won’t list them because it’s part of their story, and they did the work. All I did was feed them. 🙂

    As for all that manipulation to get better grades or sports results – you are bringing up morally bankrupt kids who are afraid to fail. It’s not a recipe for success in life, which has to encompass all sorts of experience – good and bad.

    I tend to take the view that all kids are perfect. It’s the parents that need to get a grip. I think I already sent you a link to a poem on this subject. 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Yes you did….but you see how my mind goes from one idea to the next. But if you really ask me about the problems of the world…I’ll tell you 95% of them are poor parenting

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Sounds like a nightmare. And really…. Einstein didn’t talk until he was four. Emily Dickenson was extremely socially withdrawn. John Clare was incredibly short…. but their talents were once in a generation, unable to be planned for. Give me the variation and unplanned brilliance of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yet…under the guise of “ridding disease” we are embarking upon a world where this is a reality…I do wonder if anyone has actually read Frankenstein…people have done far less in order to be the best

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shudder! A class full of Barbies? No, thanks. I’m sure there are a number of horror stories about designer children in the future.
    Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Born yesterday’ is what I believe in.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think eugenics has ever really gone away. Not talked about, but it’s out there in secreted little labs backed by billions from those who want a perfectly perfect human society…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My personal view? While I don’t doubt there are people who would want to design away all the horrible diseases and birth defects – and who wouldn’t when it’s someone you love – I’m not so blind that I cannot see how that form of science could be harnessed by those who are seeking to breed “perfect humans” – in the same way as other forms of scientific & technological advances have & are diverted for to their potential as weaponry. But when less than 10% of people who get breast cancer have the BRCA 1 or 2 gene, clearly we’ve got a long way to go with identifying the causes of breast cancer – a cancer where vast amounts of financial resources have been poured.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s exactly my point. There being no certainty about the cause (or even multiple specific causes) for breast cancer, means it’s unlikely to be easy to map one or more specific genes with a high degree of certainty for things like height, body shape, colour hair or eyes, looks etc – and if you’re paying for a designer baby, I’d imagine that certainty would be expected.

        As to whether we’d do something about it – again, there has to be a high enough degree of certainty about causality. While lifestyle choices are almost certainly a large part of the picture, until that can be proved with a high level of certainty, it’s unlikely people will chose to live limited lives. My cohort during treatment was a mixed bag, none were BRCA1/2, at least half had always maintained a healthy weight & exercised, none smoked, some were teetotal, and it included a few lifelong vegetarians & some new vegans. From that group of 30 women, it was impossible to define which lifestyle choices were positive and which were negative. And that’s the problem. How much would you be willing to limit your life if you didn’t know for certain there was going to be a problem? Would you give up meat, dairy, alcohol, HRT, sex? You might if you knew for certain that you were pre-disposed to cancer, but when you don’t…

        A friend who had bowel cancer went on the cancer diet in order to increase her chances of avoiding recurrence. When it did recur, she said she wished she’d not given up cheese to no purpose, and ate it till she died. Quality of life matters, and we all make decisions about those aspects which matter to us personally.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I hadn’t thought about it that way “designer children”. I’m sure with rich obsessive parents it has already been happening.

    I am focused on letting my child actually have a childhood. A childhood where he is not loaded with extra activities and has the time to get bored and use his imagination. I will try my best to support him with what he wants to do vs. mold him into what i want him be. He will be who he is, and I will support him while guiding him to be a decent kind human:) That’s a pretty lofty goal! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have many thoughts about this topic. . First of all, I’m the shortest sibling in my family. My mom was 5 ft 2 and her mother was 5 ft 6. And my great grand mother was about 5 ft 7. So at the turn of the twentieth century I had tall women on my mother’s side. My maternal grandfather was of average height. My father was 5 ft 9 which was average in his day. His mom was barely five ft. I was about 5ft 3 and 1/2 but always wore heels so everyone thought I was much taller. Now I’ve shrunk so I’m about 5ft 2 . It bothers me but mostly because I don’t wear much heels anymore and if I want to wear boot cut, flailed, or straight leg pants I have to hem them. It’s become a fashion dilemma. Ugh! Short isn’t as easy to wear clothing properly .

    But… back to your topic. I grew up hearing how much my dad hated that he skipped grades. My father was against pushing his children ahead. You see my dad was brilliant. In Mensa and he graduated high school at not even 14. He said it was awful. He was the youngest kid in his class, had the highest academic placing, but he couldn’t date because he was so young and the girls looked at him as a kid.. He was born in 1919. So in the early 1930’s when he graduated high school he was too young for college, and had to support his family during the depression. And so d he wanted to do more with his life but his age prevented opportunities . Therefore he refused to let his children skip grades. Graduating on time never bothered my siblings or I . We had heard how that affected our father adversely. Even when he went into the army during WWII . He took an entrance test, got a perfect score and became the youngest officer in the local regiment. Being really, really smart, And young pushed him into combat in charge of men. I can only imagine how he was forced to grow up quickly. ( He grew a mustache to look older and command respect. Ironically it worked and in his army pictures he looked just like a young Clark Gable).

    My own children were in gifted programs but I didn’t push my children ahead either. My older son was a June baby so he was always a bit younger. My other son missed the birthday cut off and I figured being a few months older wouldn’t hurt him. It didn’t. I’m a teaCher. It’s NEVER good to put kids ahead. Children are rarely emotionally ready to be ahead grade wise. It’s frustrating for them . Case in point, my granddaughter is a September first baby. She is ALWAYS the youngest child in the entire class and often times the youngest in the whole grade level . But she’s very bright and her parents didn’t want to hold her back. Intellectually she’s always at the top of her class. But she’s young. I know she’s not emotionally on par with some of the other girls. She’s in 5th grade this year. Her classmates are now acting like mini teens and she is clueless. She’s still a little girl.

    I personally think you did the right thing. A child’s emotional IQ IS just as important as their intellectual IQ. Parents need to think of the whole child. Not their own ego. You did that. Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Excessive tinkering with the natural phenomenon of baby making is certainly going to be detrimental for the future generation. What about evolution, natural selection and survival of the fittest, then!! The designer babies or humanoid robots?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve often pondered about the unfairness of people getting horribly ill from diseases due to inherited genetic traits. There are three well-known artists I can think of off the top of my head who died prematurely due to forms of cancer and Parkinson’s disease. And then there are the millions of poor souls who suffer in obscurity. I see leveling the playing field in this regard with genetic engineering as a good and necessary consequence of advances in medical science. The other part about “designer babies” is definitely fraught with ethical challenges. There may have to be laws around what is allowed and not allowed with genetic engineering.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. David that’s a great point. Where genetic testing is truly beneficial is in the study of disease. As someone in cancer treatment, my oncologist did testing before operating on me. Being of Eastern European decent it was interesting to analyze my genetics. It affects my treatment. Ashkenazi Jews are prone to certain diseases. During biopsies I was relieved that my grandchildren won’t inherit certain types of diseases since I don’t carry them in my blood . But, there ARE CERTAIN genetic propensities that my sons need to be aware of and my cancer biopsies allowed me to participate in certain studies to help treat my type of cancer. So genetics can be very helpful in weeding out inherited family diseases. And in treating certain forms of cancer. I’m alive because Israeli scientists study genetics and cancer treatment. Fascinating stuff.

      But, there are no perfect people. Or imperfect ones for that matter. I’m reminded of the film Boys from Brazil. That didn’t turn out as planned…

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Totally understand and respect your POV. But I always wonder if it’s possible to change one thing and not have it effect anything else. Maybe we get rid of cancer A, but what do we get in it’s place. I think every time we try to fool with nature, we aren’t always totally happy with the results

      Like

      1. Getting rid of disease is a good thing. Would you want your daughter to have had to deal with polio, diphtheria, small pox? etc.? Curing disease and creating vaccines is nowhere near trying to create better athletes, artists, musicians etc. there is no guarantee when procreating. Some children are born with birth defects. Many of those can be operated on in utero. But science to save lives? That is progress. You can see what happens when people ignore vaccines. .that’s why we now have another new variant.
        There will always be nefarious people, .vain nuts, or those who are ignorant. But most people aren’t going to try to create babies who have blue eyes and blonde hair. HG Wells knew that if we go too far into the future we might wind up going backwards in our humanity. It’s up to us to make sure a conscience doesn’t disappear as we progress forward. We created rules on the road when we invented the car. It can be done. We just need to elect leaders who aren’t selfish dictators. As long as we keep our humanity we will be fine.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I definitely want to cure disease. But look at things done in the name of progress that have backfired. We think something is going to be revolutionary and don’t think of the bad things. And we will never rid disease. We just get new ones.

        Like

  10. I’m going to say that this particular trend apparently never filtered into the mid-west as I’ve never heard of it. If you are too much older than your classmates, it is assumed that you were held back because you didn’t get good enough grades to pass a grade or two.

    As for engineering your children, it’s tempting to say I’d want to eliminate any negative traits that could be problematic for them, like the OCD and anxiety that seem to run rampant in the genetic pool my husband (or the ex) and I passed on to our kids, or even genetic health issues like cancers or diseases. That said, seeing my kids grow up with their own unique quirks and skills, I can’t imagine taking the risk that whatever I chose to attempt to tweak would end up taking any of those other amazing things away.

    I’m very much the “Don’t mess with Mother Nature” kind of person when it comes to a lot of these kinds of things. I see the purpose when it comes to certain areas like I mentioned above, but I can also see how ugly it can end up because Humans can’t just take the good. They have to find a way to twist that good and use it for something horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Our last child was a mid August birthday. All the teachers said he was ready for kindergarten. By 2nd grade we wished he had waited a year. He was always the youngest in his class and a year behind his peers in sports. But once he hit college it didn’t make a bit of difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In other countries they abort for Down Syndrome. Maybe they do here? My son tested positive in a screening for Down Syndrome when I was pregnant. It turned out he did not have it and in fact became valedictorian. I think the idea of designer children is horrific.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Of course I’d love to know that my kids wouldn’t have some horrible disease but other than getting a sonogram during pregnancy with my youngest because by that time I was 42 and the risk factor was higher, I wouldn’t dream of interfering in God’s process.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I was one of the younger birthdays growing up in my class—but also was the tallest girl or sometimes even the tallest person even in my homeroom to about age 12. In my child’s mind I found this mortifying–what if my parents would have held me back a year it would have been worse. It seems silly now but I remember myself slouching sometimes to try to blend in more. I was also one of the ones to go through puberty first which was also mortifying in my child’s mind. If my parents would have held me back a year that would have made the experience extra mortifying. So that was definitely in my mind with my own kids.

    My husband, myself and our two kids all had birthdays that were a little bit late in comparison to the kindergarten cutoffs. We all managed to graduate from high school okay.

    I used to belong to a moms message board years ago. The consensus with many of the moms was that if your kid didn’t meet every milestone at a given time—social behaviors, perfectly using scissors zipping up your coat, etc—-you should hold your kid back. My daughter was a little bit slower with the fine motor skills but was way ahead socially at age 5 compared to her brother. My son, despite being left handed was way ahead with the fine motor skills but still needed to fine tune his social skills a bit. My point is that every kid is not going to mature in all of these developmental tasks at the same rate. I guess I never saw anything compelling enough to hold my kids back to possibly give them an edge in school.

    Probably more with my son’s friends than my daughters I saw a few kids that were a full year older or more than my son. After learning this I would then have a fleeting thought about why that kid seemed more mature in one way or the other. For some of the kids that are older than their peers I wonder if this can cause other problems like boredom and acting out.

    I live in a Midwest college town—this is definitely something some people do, especially with boys.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This discussion reminds me of plastic surgery, I’ll just tweak this or that, and you end up looking like you’re in a state of perpetual shock. No thank you. Leave the tweaking to Mother Nature! She’s shocking enough, C

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I also think of plastic surgery too. My daughter had a friend from elementary school. Adorable. I saw a picture of her last week…she went abroad and got so much plastic surgery she literally looks like an anime character

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, unless it’s to help a defect or an accident, then plastic surgery is really vain. I was hit in the face in middle school while playing soft ball. My nose was shattered. My parents had to take me to the ER for surgery to fix it. Not for beauty but to correct shattered bones. A plastic surgeon kept as much of my nose as possible and repaired what they could fix. It changed my looks very slightly. I will never forget a priest and a Rabbi coming into my hospital room to pray for me. They thought I’d been in a car crash because of my bruises and bandages. I got scared that I was dying. That experience made me realize I’d never elect to have plastic surgery. Surgery should only be used to save lives. But that’s just my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. The future will bring many ethical dilemmas as far as death and designer babies and which diseases to cure first and so on . The mRNA Covid vaccine is just the beginning of a whole new world of genetic tampering, er, medicine. It might take some time for most people to afford to pick their children’s traits , but remember not everyone could even afford a TV when they came out and 10 years later 80s of households had them. https://americancentury.omeka.wlu.edu/items/show/136

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Interesting story: Chinese doctor was sent to prison for illegally altering genes in embryos to try to prevent the babies from getting HIV. They said it was illegal and premature of him . Meanwhile, an HIV vaccine is being researched and developed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read several articles . He seemed to be legit trying to see if he could successfully alter a gene to make the babies resistant to HIV and hoped to use it to prevent HIV in China . He even bragged about it which is why he got in trouble.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. The whole idea about designer children is scary. I took genetic engineering as a minor course in my studies and the complications with this method are never ending. We are already struggling morally and economically, then you put this scientific idea, you will get a disastrous outcome.This type of perfection wouldn’t lead to satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I think when we tamper with Mother Nature there is the tendency to have unintended consequences such as the result of China’s one child policy.

    If I had something like Huntington’s disease(a devastating genetic neurological disease) in my family maybe I would consider a designer baby.

    I have no doubt that my children have an increased chance of getting some sort of cancer, and without being too specific it saddens me for their futures. Would that be something one could screen for? I also strongly believe that my sister and my dad have something innate in them that caused them to be more likely to abuse alcohol that my mom and I did not have. Could we screen for that–would it be worth it.

    But I don’t think we will ever know everything about Mother Nature—-if we tried to design a baby with certain traits that we found good would there be a chance this came with unintended consequences.

    As for “tampering” etc—- I am glad we have the vaccine. Other sorts of DNA “tampering” with bacteria have allowed better sorts of insulin to be produced instead of relying on beef and pork insulin like we did in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually certain dna tests do health tests too. Just like when someone is pregnant they take blood tests to determine pre disposed illnesses that are prevalent from various cultures. For instance the likelihood of my Filipino daughter in law having Jewish diseases is nil. But since my son is Jewish they took his bloodwork . My second husband was not Jewish but his father was Portuguese. So, They tested his bloodwork for all the same Jewish diseases as they did for me. The reason was because there is a high percentage of Portuguese people with Jewish ancestry who converted during the Spanish Inquisition. Years later my younger son did his dna on ancestry with me. It turns out he had Jewish ancestry from both his parents. I had amneo anyway when I was pregnant with him since I was 40. I just wanted to be prepared. (I actually had no desire to terminate). But I wanted to know. There is also a higher propensity for gifted (bright) children with older moms. The data in the past actually over stated downs syndrome with older moms. The reason was in the past less women over 35 had babies in the past. Today it is the norm. Women have children later in life these days. Today’s data shows a high amount of bright children with older mothers. So scientific data can change the more we know! I love science!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Love science. Love stats. Don’t like when we abuse science and math. Remember in the 70s we brought forth plastic bags, because we didn’t want to cut down trees for paper bags? How’d that work out

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! Yeah I think when the public gets involved with money making companies we often jump the gun. I don’t like or eat red meat. But I wonder what’s in plant based burgers. I eat veggie burgers and turkey burgers but I am Leary of some of the other stuff out there. Who knows what is in that fake stuff. 😳

        Liked by 1 person

  19. “Back in my day…” (cue the old codger voice) I was not advanced ahead of my class because my parents considered me socially immature. Heck, I still am! I still wish they’d moved me up a year.

    Funny how what we perceive as science fiction first later becomes a reality. If it can be done, someone out there will do it, legal or not. If it eventually becomes widespread, humanity will be the worse off for it. I don’t see that being a deciding factor, at least not in the US. We love to have and do things that are bad for everyone, as long as they’re good for us, personally. Social conscience is a dying quality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think people get an idealistic idea, and don’t bother to look at the repercussions. To me, better to explore the options before things get to far. Once something is out it’s very hard to put it back in

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I just threw up a little reading this. I think, though, we just don’t want our child to be the one left behind. But I definitely see where you are going. I’m the one that chose to not hold my child back. He has a June birthday. And it definitely had an impact on sports as he reached middle and high school. We never thought twice about sending him to Kindergarten, because he was emotionally and academically ready to go. And I am a former teacher, and know that there ARE very good reasons to hold children back a year before starting school. Some simply are not ready, especially boys – yes, they really do age differently! Silly us, right? It’s really wild what the word prioritizes! Great post! Very well written. 💕

    Like

  21. I’ve never even heard of holding your children back a grade….wouldn’t they be bored? Here you are slotted in based on your age and birthday……period. I do remember when schools used to let smarter kids skip grades, and some of my friends did mostly at their parents insistence, but even that isn’t allowed anymore. I had some classmates in first year university who were barely 16 and certainly not mature enough to handle being away from home at that age.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. 11

    Alright, sociologically and psychologically, the idea of engineering children, people, is problematic. It’s the typical we want to have perfection, let’s make it so. Humans have been working on this forever, in many forms through many cultures. It doesn’t work. There will always be problems. Nature does not follow the human will. In fact, it’s the other way around actually. All that happens with these types of ‘quests’ is harm; of the child, and each other. That’s all I got…well, for now…😉

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Custom designing children is a horrifying idea. And. yes, it does remind me of a particular period in history. While holding kids back a grade if they fall close to the cut-off because of immaturity or that they just aren’t ready for school is one thing. Intentionally holding them back to try and achieve academic/athletic success is something quite different. Advances in science and testing is a double edge sword if it’s being used to tamper with nature for the wrong reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I have some personal experience with the moving forward vs holding back kids in school that I will not bore you with here. Same w/genetic predispositions re height and other physical features.

    Also took a class based on a book where a big part of the discussion was about genetic engineering in both the areas of designer children and creating improvements in certain products like food sources as well as diminishing or fixing flawed genes or sequences.

    The biggest takeaway from the two combined was that most traits and features are caused/controlled by more than one gene. So yes trying to genetically engineer something, like designer babies, can be sort of like trying to fix plumbing – you fix one problem and something else down the line breaks. Some of those related genetic interrelationships have been pinned down but in those cases they can generally, at least so far if I remember correctly, only be adjusted on an individual basis. And, thanks to evolution, it may be that those smart scientists think they’ve fixed something based on figuring out all those relationships until they come across somebodies or somethings whose genetic sequences have evolved away from the “old” norms.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. First of all I love it, secondly thank-you for writing this… It is so necessary for parents to know that it’s better to let their child be themselves only and enhance themselves in what they are good at rather than wanting them to excel at everything. And I liked the way you portrayed it as Designing Children.
    Keep inking :”)
    ❣️

    Liked by 1 person

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