What People who Aren’t Childfree Really Want and Why They Deliberately Insist on Having Children
A response to the Brightside.me post, What Childfree People Really Want and Why They Deliberately Refuse to Have Children
Most people have encountered someone who wants to have children, or someone who has already had children.
People who are parents may or may not have made the conscious decision to have children, but society is hardly ever suspicious of those who either consciously or thoughtlessly bring (or are about to bring) new life into an environment that could be anything from loving to fatal.
This means parents, or those who plan to be, are never called upon to aggressively (or otherwise) defend their choice, and, unfortunately, this only ends up proving disastrous to many children and un-parenty parents around the world while somehow miraculously leaving the image of parents unsullied, the myths about them begging to be explored.
This post seeks to dispel some popular myths about those who aren’t childfree.
Myth #1: People who have children love children.
Well, sure! Some of them absolutely love children and look forward to getting to know and help care for them, want to protect them and teach them self-discipline and kindness and compassion and responsibility. These people can probably even envision caring more about the child’s well-being than their own needs, and they see having children as the choice it is rather than as a “sacrifice.”
But people are complicated. You’ll find that many other parents or parents-to-be are actually ambivalent about children. They have them because they find themselves pregnant or having impregnated someone else, or they have them because they feel pressured to have them and feel either regret or resentment (or both) as a result, and still others who have them consider them a nuisance and do terrible, unmentionable things to them.
It’s really a mixed bag!
Myth #2: People who want children try to persuade others to have them.
This may not be a myth as much as it’s something that can’t be expressed as an absolute.
There are many fine people who know that it does potential parents or their potential children no favors if parenthood is the consequence of pressure or guilt-trips. These same fine people would be quicker to ask their independent, or child-ambivalent, or incredibly selfish but still fun to party with friend, “Are you suuuure you want a child?” before they would ever say, “Great idea! You should totally do it!”
When it comes to peer pressure, women, however, tend to push other women more than men push men. Occasionally an article will appear online about how much a man loves fatherhood, but rarely will you see men daring to slyly chide or criticize other men for not wanting/not having children the way Ann Brenoff and Kathleen Parker have done to women. (Girl power!)
We also have to take into consideration region and culture. People living in a more metropolitan area and/or a more progressive environment are less likely than those living in rural areas/traditional families to be coerced into White Picket Fence-dom.
Myth #3: People who have children are mentally ill or trying to compensate for mistakes their parents made with them.
All right, this probably isn’t a myth anyone has heard of, but neither is “Childfree people are either infertile or mentally ill.” Does anyone actually say that? I’ve been childfree for decades and have not once heard this myth.
But, to dispel the myth about parents being mentally ill or desperate to right wrongs, it must be said that while some parents are of course mentally ill (as is a certain percentage of any demographic), and while others certainly are trying to be the good parents their own parents never were, there are surely just as many people, if not more, who have children for reasons having nothing at all to do with mental illness or a personal trauma. We assume.
Myth #4: People who want children want to “keep” a partner, are longing for unconditional love, or want a ready-made caretaker for when they get old.
Men and women have both been guilty of sabotaging a partner’s birth control in order to force a pregnancy and thereby force the relationship to last (at least a little bit longer — this is not an effective long-term plan, nor is it a cool way to express love for your future child).
And judging by the number of people who ask the childfree, “Who will take care of you when you get old?” and “Aren’t you afraid you’ll be lonely?”, there is evidence that at least some people do have children because they don’t want to be lonely, or because they believe their children will house them and care for them or keep them company when they’re old.
But there are plenty of others who deeply discuss the decision to have a child, and who have no plans to burden their children or would feel absolutely terrible to be a burden/the cause of their child’s grief. Because they love their children.
Myth #5: The point of life is to have children, so a person who has children is to be given automatic respect .
The meaning of life/the point of life is a question that can never be answered.
However, that most humans (and earthlings in general) are capable of reproducing doesn’t mean we’re obliged to reproduce.
Those who don’t want to shouldn’t, and those who do responsibly reproduce are 1. copulating, which most of us can do; 2. Carrying a pregnancy to term, which is a task carried out by all creatures on earth with the same ability; and 3. caring for the product of their act, as is reasonably expected of anyone in that situation.
So, those who choose to have children and do their best to raise them definitely merit the same amount of respect as we give those who choose not to.
Myth #6: People who aren’t childfree don’t care about overpopulation.
It’s doubtful that people who have or want children do it while consciously thinking, “Screw the whole ‘overpopulation’ thing!” But it’s possible that if you were to ask someone planning to have children whether they’ve thought about population growth or the environment or the planet’s sketchy future in general, their answer might be, “I know, I know. But I really want one.”
We as people want what we want. What can we say? If the human race were dying out, if there were only 79 people left, would the childfree suddenly come around to having children in order to save the human race?
Myth #7: Parenthood is forever.
Parenthood does not have to be forever, contrary to the scary threats people hurl at fornicating teenagers.
If the baby is born, one parent can technically leave and decide not to participate further, or both parents can leave — there are lovely people everywhere who can’t produce their own children and are aching to adopt.
People can change their minds about parenthood for any number of reasons. (It’s complicated once the child is born, but…hey.)
And it can happen for many reasons! Maybe they’re finally forced to confront what parenthood really means and decide, “I do not enjoy this.”
Or maybe they realize parenthood was a choice they could have made, and not an inevitable life stage, after all.
Whatever the reason, different people have different interests, and those interests change all the time.
(But, for the record, it’s better to be a childfree person who has a change of mind — and it does happen, but rarely — than to have the child, first. Once the child is born, if you change your mind, you’re affecting someone else, now.)
What are some myths about parenting you’ve heard and would like to dispel? Leave them in the comments!
What if abortion and birth control were criminalized in order to protect the unborn? What if parenting required a license in order to protect the born? “An intriguing look at a future that feels frighteningly possible.” — Journal Inquirer | “It’s rare to find a novel that portrays childfree women at all, and if they do, they are often assigned very stereotypical characteristics. This is not the case in The Age of the Child.” — Brittany Brolley, The RinkyDink Life