Why did you become a parent? The answer could help you be a better one

Story highlights

  • Beyond evolutionary and societal drives, personal ones lead people to make other people
  • Knowing why you became a parent can give you the insight to improve your parenting

This essay is part of a column called The Wisdom Project by David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness. The series is on applying to one's life the wisdom and philosophy found everywhere, from ancient texts to pop culture. You can follow David at @davidgallan. Don't miss another Wisdom Project column; subscribe here.

(CNN)Have you ever asked yourself why you wanted (or want) to have children?

Those who wrestled with the decision or struggled to conceive a child have probably thought about it a good deal. And some have always known the answer, maybe since they were kids themselves.
    But for many parents and would-be parents, the question may seem odd or elementary -- which makes it a great question to tackle.
    One answer is that we, as a species, harbor an evolutionary drive to propagate. Our small part -- at its most basic, perhaps unconscious and even (by design) pleasurable level -- is to carry on our DNA to the next generation. If enough of us do that (and we avoid destroying the planet), human beings will thrive.
    Another answer is simply social and cultural norms. The majority of the people you know, and most of those you don't, are doing it. This is why people who don't have kids often have an answer to "Why?" at the ready: because everyone asks them. Rarely, though, are parents asked what motivated them to have kids. There's little need to explain behavior that is typical and expected.
    But even with evolutionary hardwiring and societal peer pressure as part of the equation, that usually doesn't fully explain the unique, individual drives that lead people to want to make other people.
    Whatever your reason, it says something important about you and about the kind of parent you are or hope to be. I think it's worth exploring.

    You are the parenting expert you've been looking for

    Why did you decide to have children? Why do you want one, or a second or third? What is it about your personal desires, history, influences and beliefs that led to such a major life decision? Why spend so much time and money, and take on all that additional stress, anxiety and responsibility?
    Knowing why you got into this game can give you the insight needed to play it to the best of your ability. You are your own best guide to navigating the million and one parenting questions, conundrums and choices you will face from here on out.