I am a communicator and wish to further elaborate about something. If you’ve read my memoir, The Wellness Diaries this concept will be familiar. I learned from a young age that kids of my own were not something that I want. (Don’t get squirmy on me;)I like others’ kids and I can appreciate the miracle of life; but at the time I realized this, being only twenty years old and in Canada for a few years, I have known for a long time that having children of my own was not for me.
Having and raising children is not for everyone; and for those who know that children is not something they want, the person often realizes this quite early. While this is often seen by others as merely a ‘phase,’ ‘something wrong with them’ selfish, or a rebellious streak, the person has their reasons; and these reasons should be given merit and seen as valid. Throughout my life, people have said: “Oh, but if you had your own child, you would love and adore it.” This would undoubtedly be true. However, I choose a different set of priorities in life, and from life, I want other paths. Why is that part of what I tell them automatically disregarded? It is automatically invalidated as if I actually don’t know what I want in my life.
There is nothing wrong with a person realizing that having and raising kids is not for them.
Where I live it is common for recently married couples to be asked the question: “So, when are you having kids?” Whether in jest, or asked seriously, it is based on mere assumption, the assumption that everyone automatically just wants to raise a family.
‘Do I want children?’ It is a fair question that everyone should ask and that everyone is (or should be) entitled to the choice. This seems logical; after all, it is one of life’s big decisions. Having children and raising a family is expensive. It is taxing, stressful, and can be very uncertain at times.
What is noteworthy here is that people who know they want to raise a family usually report it being one of their greatest joys, and one of the most rewarding parts of their lives. On the other side of this then, those who know they want children, should be free to pursue this of course. But any form of coercion for individuals to have children is encouraging something that the individual may not be prepared for, for a myriad of possible reasons: mental illness, poverty, health problems, addiction etc.
Still, I have personally heard it all from people through the years about my feelings on this issue. Isn’t it good though that I knew this young and that I didn’t just blindly obey because it’s ‘just what you do?’ My 15 year hell through a biological brain disorder (mental illness) as partially described in my memoir, The Wellness Diaries would have been impossible. I cannot even imagine.
An equally important consideration is what it is like for the child. An emotionally unstable home environment is detrimental to developing children and youth. Youth are more likely to turn to illicit drugs, unprotected sex and alcohol at a young age when the home environment is one of emotional turmoil, or there is inconsistent or ineffective parenting due to one or both parents who have a mental illness (Substance Abuse and Prevention. 6th ed. Our Sexuality. 2015 Crooks and Baur).
So which is selfish, the parent who has a child with the expectation of that child filling a void, or because it is ‘just what you do?’ Or, the individual who chooses to forego parenthood in this life because they know they are unable (for any and all reasons that only the individual can answer) to provide the quality of life that that child deserves? Maybe they are each selfish in their own way, but very differently.
It is a worthwhile (and refreshing) consideration that children simply may not be everyone’s calling in life. There is nothing wrong with this, and any form of forcing individuals or societies to have kids creates major problems and has global impacts; individual to societal.
Collective humanity is now diverse enough that not everyone is expected to (or should) live the same exact way. Diversity is healthy, it is a very good thing! Diversity is something that we people really do have going for us. Humans, living slightly differently, helping to reduce competition amongst ourselves and in doing so, learning and practicing modes of cooperation is obviously a very good thing. We people number nearly 8 billion. I do not believe that it is automatically the calling of everyone on the planet at this point to continue to ‘multiply and replenish the earth.’
I have many nieces and nephews and I feel that I have helped to raise my share of kids in the world. 🙂 Growing up has been an adventure.
Despite the twenty+ years of comments and the rocky climb, I am glad that I was honest with myself and stayed to my truth about this and that I didn’t just do what everyone else was doing because it was ‘just what you do.’ I made mistakes in other ways following everyone else that made up for them. 😉
Those are my thoughts for the day.
Thank you for reading.