Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Is Parenthood Losing Its Luster?

There's a discussion going on under this title on VSB's blog. Click here to read. I'm finding out that many people in my demographic aren't in favor of having kids. My immediate and lasting reaction was shock. This stirred a bit of emotion in me that I can't shake.

Three of the comments that hit me the most are the following:

When I read that most don't want children, I had this emotion that I couldn't explain. This was what I was trying to express but couldn't.

"This is making me sad. I’m always pro child-free living for the individual… but to see it collectively… to see the vast majority completely opting out… makes me so.entirely.sad.
It’s like… if it’s a few folks, it’s a personal choice…. if it’s an entire population, it’s cultural suicide."

There are so many comments dedicated to why it's not a good idea to have kids, but then I read this and said WOW.

"Even though I have a son, I can understand those not wanting to have any kids, and have no desire to condemn their ambivalence. Some people are just not meant to be parent’s and I applaud those who are honest with themselves about it, as opposed to squeezing some out to please other people.
But then again not wanting to have kids doesn’t necessarily stop you from having them.Even birth control isn’t a complete fail safe, shout out to my BFF on baby #3 while on the IUD. If you hump, they will come…eventually.

Truth be told, I never wanted kids or to be married, then I looked up at 21 and found myself with both. I guess that Paul McCartney song is right, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans, and stuff.”

But I didn’t really have any rigid life plans before I had my son, I’m not really good with structure, so my son’s birth didn’t really interrupt anything besides my plans to own a 69 Mustang.

True enough children do change everything about your life. When I wonder about what my life would be like if I didn’t have a child, I figure I’d have nicer things, more free time, and less stress. And yeah that’s nice, it seems real nice since all three are scarce commodities when being a single parent. But I honestly, feel that nicer things and more free time , pales in comparison with what my son gives me. He’s the first human being I’ve ever been able to maintain a stable loving relationship with, and the only person who motivates me to be a better person, the only person I’ve ever felt accountable to. In a lot of ways he taught me a lot about myself, and what I’m capable of. I wasn’t confident I could be the maternal type. I owe a lot of who I am now, to having a child, though it is the most challenging, sometimes hair pulling , and tequila guzzle inducing experience I ever encountered, and eventually he will turn into a teenager (which I am not looking forward to). I’m sure I’ve had 2 mini strokes already, but I wouldn’t want a life without him, I never known anything so significant, then again I didn’t know that when I was childless. So for those who are kinda “meh” about it, that’s not abnormal, a lot of parent’s were “meh” before having kids, but you’d be surprised how much you learn to kinda like the lil buggers once they enter your life."

And then I read this... Why can't more men be like this? sniffle.

"Both of my parents are from the south and almost since birth I was made to understand that the most important thing in life is family and that the MOST important thing a REAL man can do is to protect, cherish, provide for and love his family. The idea or notion that man abandon’s his family or doesn’t want a family is beyond me and one that I just can’t grasp; while I do not knock those that don’t share the same values regarding family that I do, I just don’t understand. Not having a child is not going to be the end of my life but I know and have known for a long time now that I wanted to be a father."

Some people don't understand why this is such a big deal to me. This is simply put a topic that really means a lot to me. I can't explain it. It just is what it is. The attachment to this is real. I can't help it just like I am who I am.


Anonymous said...

I read the blog and the responses, and I'm stunned almost to silence. There were some REALLY good reasons presented for not wanting children, amidst the selfish, invalid ones. I can say this: I have one, and it's hard. So hard that I'm making the choice not to have any more, because so much of my energy and effort and money and sweat and tears goes into properly rearing the one I have. I can't knock anyone for saying they don't want kids. Too many people have them who don't want them or shouldn't have them and end up being awful parents.... and awful parents ruin childrens' lives. If I didn't have Michael, I doubt I'd want children. I didn't want them before I had him. I wouldn't change a thing now that he's here... but if I had it to do over... Well....


j.a.j. said...

Really?! I didn't know you felt that way! So why are you stunned?

Jenn Will said...

You've always known my stance on kids.

I'm surprised by the amount of people who still want kids out of some sense of "its what we're supposed to do" or "to see what their kid would look like". I think those are selfish and invalid reasons to produce a human into the world.

We are a generation with more options than our people have ever seen. Think about how the world looks these days, there was a time when ONLY the US and parts of Europe were first world. Now that so much more of the world is livable (for our uppity American standards) why not go live in Dubai for a while, or see what Australia is like, Spain, Brazil, etc.

Not only that but with all of our fancy advanced degrees, what was the point of them if we end up as stay at home moms. Obviously education is its own reward, but many of us enjoy being professionals and have identities tied to that. Embarking on motherhood requires an incredible amount of balance, hand wringing, sacrifices, and a constant sense of being inadequate at one or both roles. Or so I've heard.

I totally get why men want kids, its another notch in their belt/accomplishment. If they do it well they are lauded for doing what they are supposed to do and it takes nothing away from their other identities. Obviously this is in traditional-non stay at home dad-type families.

I think if you want kids have them. If you don't, know that and don't do it. Often times despite your best laid plans for or against, you may end up in a scenario not of your choosing.

Anonymous said...

Im stunned because of how many women don't want them. There was a time when a woman was seen as strange for saying she didn't want kids. So I'm shocked that it's so wide-spread.

Let's meet up one day soon for drinks and a talk. I haven't seen you and I'd love to go more into detail with you over something delicious. :-)


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