This is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately, so here we go. First, we should examine what it actually means to “owe” someone. We should not confuse “owe” with “appreciate” first off. To owe someone insinuates that there was an exchange of something that was done as a favor, or done with the expectation of reciprocation.
For example, if someone was to give you ten dollars you are most likely going to assume that they want to be paid back in full. That is, unless it was some sort of gift (quite a mediocre gift if so). If someone acts in a way that benefits you, but does not commit said act with you in mind would you say that they have done a favor for you? For instance, if someone drops five dollars and you find it, I do not believe that it could be said that their act of dropping was done as a favor.
I would like to assume now that we can agree that owing someone is the result of a act done by someone, to your benefit, and with you in mind.
Now, let’s examine the case of procreation. Whether you are a psychological egoist or not, I would like to posit that the decision your parents made to have a child was 100% selfish. Now stop, do not equate selfishness with being “bad.” I’m very dismayed at the fact that a strong connotation has evolved between selfish acts and wrong/bad acts.
So, did your parents decide to have a child with you in mind? There simply is no entity to even try to commit a favor for. Your parents could not have wanted the best for you, when in fact you did not exist. Your parents could not have had you in mind if there were no you. Simple. How happy or sad were you in your state of non-existence? You were neither.
In a state of non-existence there is nothing you “need.” There is no favor to be done for someone that does not exist. What is the reason that someone would bear a child then? There are a variety of possible reasons, whether it is to add meaning to their life, to be loved, to leave a legacy etc. None of these reasons are necessarily bad per say, but the reasons should be recognized.
You do not owe your parents. It is more arguable that your parents actually owe you. They took it upon themselves to bring a person into existence. This is a world where suffering and pleasure are variables that are constantly morphing and cannot be foreseen pre-conception. The question of whether parents have the right to expect praise should be asked.
Recognize that an act cannot be carried out with a non-existent entity in mind. It was the pleasurable thought of bearing a child that you had in mind in my opinion.