To Have, Or Not To Have Kids, That Is The Question

It took me a while to find the energy and a subject I was passionate enough about to get to writing, without taking too much effort and endangering my work energy. But I’ve finally found one, and that subject is…

… kids.

That’s right, I’m passionate about kids. And especially about not having them. There’s just so much I have to say about this subject. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to fit it all into one cohesive blog post. But I’m gonna try regardless.

Right now, I’m 26, I’ve got my boyfriend of almost 3,5 years living with me.

Not because we wanted to move in together, but because of corona-related circumstances and closed borders. He’s found himself a job now, and he’s about to start looking for a place of his own.

(And to be fair, we’re two headstrong, independent people. People with a desire for private space. You can’t expect living together in a one-room loft of 40m² for nearly five months to work).

We’re childless, and very consciously so. When I was younger, I always said I hated kids, even while I was still one myself. My mother told me, as did many other adults (who were also parents) around me, “just wait until you’re older”.

And now I’m older. About four or five years older than my parents were when they got married. And I still don’t want kids. I don’t hate them as much as I did earlier, but I haven’t started liking them either.

I had to think about a proper header photo for this blog post. The logical thing would’ve been to drop a picture of some kids up there. But I dislike kids enough that I just didn’t want that hanging around on my blog.

The sight of babies makes me rather uncomfortable. And if they’re anywhere on my screen, I’ll scroll until they’re out of view. Or I’ll even hold my hand over the picture just so I don’t have to look at it.

I remember a day at school, during Biology. Our teacher, who had been on maternity leave for a while, brought her newborn kid to class for a visit.

I remember that almost everyone, at least all the girls, flocked to the front of the class. They were crowding the teacher and her baby, cooing and squealing and gushing over how cute he/she was.

But I, on the other hand, stayed firmly put in my seat and just started doodling in my notebook. I truly couldn’t care less.

So there, that’s my honest confession.

Couple of things I’ll need to address before I get to the whole ‘having or not having children’ thing.

I’ll say right up front that I’m going to skip over the huge environmental impact children have. That’s also a valid reason not to want children, but I won’t get into that here.

I notice that a lot of parents take it as some sort of personal insult when I tell them I don’t like kids, and I especially don’t want to be around babies.

I’m always very careful to make sure I talk in general terms about all babies, not specifically theirs, because it truly isn’t specifically their baby I don’t like.

I get the feeling that a lot of parents interpret this as an insult either way, not because I said something about their baby, but because it means that their baby isn’t cute enough to be an exception. And to all those parents: I’m sorry, but no. Your baby is no exception, and that isn’t personal, I just really dislike the way babies are, and I’m happy for you that you’re happy with your baby and I wish you all the best.

Secondly, I’m very often met with statements like “you’ll like children when you’re older, just wait and see.” Or “having children is the most amazing and special thing ever, just wait and see.”

Or the one that bugs me most: “just wait until it’s your children”. That one seems to imply that you should just have children regardless of whether you like them or not. And that’s just plain wrong.

Well, I might be only 26, but in those 26 years I’ve seen plenty of parents that had children while they didn’t want them, and still didn’t want them after the fact.

And what happens then, is a dramatically increased likelihood of those children growing up unloved and unwanted, with all the many, many, many psychological consequences that often brings.

There’s a whole slew of mental health problems that growing up to parents who didn’t really want you can cause.

All around the world, children are neglected, abused, mistreated, assaulted, and abandoned.

Children are beaten, are being seen as a burden, as the cause of all their parents’ troubles.

Sure, hormonally we’ve been primed by evolution to especially love our own children. But that mechanism doesn’t seem to function all that consistently.

Sometimes a mother still doesn’t love her child after having gone through the entire hormonal cocktail circus that usually accompanies giving birth.

And then there’s the issue with children born to a parent or parents who might love the child, but are unable to support them financially, emotionally, or even physically.

And then there’s the issue of children being born from rape or abusive relationships.

I could write a whole ‘nother blog post about how children mimic their parents during their development, and how long it takes for children to realize that their parents’ behavior is not okay.

Even if it’s just mild verbal abuse, the child will unwittingly grow up with that behavior being normalized in their brain, and is liable to repeat that behavior when they are adults themselves.

And just imagine, if a rape victim accidentally got pregnant, and was forced to carry the child to term because societal, religious, legal or financial restrictions prevented them from having an abortion (please just legalize it, people), how likely are they to then love and accept the child that is half theirs, but also half their rapist’s?

So here’s where we get to the point: not having, not wanting, even not liking children is perfectly okay.

There’s nothing wrong with us, and we don’t need to be converted or convinced otherwise.

Some people, almost invariably parents themselves, are confused by people like me who don’t want kids. They tell us we’re missing out, like we’re depriving ourselves of some immense joy.

But not every parent in the world thinks having children was the best thing that happened to them. Some people just don’t like children.

You might find it odd (I do) that people like me find babies of other animal species far cuter than those of my own. But it happens, and it happens quite a lot.

And even though I don’t particularly like the thought of having children, I truly and honestly wish for each child to live a happy, healthy life. A life full of love and acceptance, and guidance and wisdom to help prepare them for the mean and unforgiving world that is adulthood.

And let’s be honest. People who really don’t want children, or who don’t have the means to properly support a child financially and/or emotionally, are not as well equipped to give children those happy, healthy lives.

I know I’m currently venturing into dangerous territory here. But this is my blog, and it’s my decision. And I’m deciding to just go ahead and say what I’ve been thinking for a long time: sometimes, having children can just be plain selfish.

There are absolutely a lot of parents that so desperately want children because their hormones are all up in their business that they go ahead and have children without having the proper means to support that child.

They think that just how much they’re going to love the kid is going to be enough. Regardless of the fact that they might not even have enough money to provide for the kid, or might not be emotionally or cognitively equipped to properly raise a child.

And when they decide to have children regardless, aren’t they doing it more for themselves than for the child?

Because yes, there’s a lot of behavioral issues that present themselves in adulthood that are the result of inadequate parenting. Even if those parents love their child more than anything in the world.

Spoiling a child is a good example – and also something I could go on about for ages. But suffice it to say that spoiled children don’t learn how to cope with getting a ‘no’. And getting a ‘no’ is something that happens rather a lot more frequently than getting a ‘yes’ in adulthood.

I know these parents have the best intentions. But they’re raising children to run into problems once they’re out of the house and on their own.

They’re missing the fact that your task as a parent is to start preparing them for adulthood before they’re an adult.

They don’t realize that you can’t just magically hope it’ll happen on its own.

So it was fun to shower the kid with love and what-not while they were under your roof. But once they’re off to fend for themselves, they’re remarkably ill-equipped to deal with resistance, failure, and rejection.

I’m actually proud to say that my parents hit that sweet spot. They made sure they absolutely didn’t spoil me, without ever once giving me any reason to doubt for only a second that they didn’t love me loads.

It’s very, very possible to say ‘no’ to your child and give them rules and restrictions without loving them any less than a parent who spoils theirs.

My parents let me make my own mistakes without coddling me. They let me experience my own failures without removing all my obstacles for me. My parents prepared me for a life as an adult, without taking away my childhood.

They didn’t allow me to just do anything I wanted to as a child. I had rules, I had restrictions. They taught me not to scream and yell in public places. They taught me not to run in front of people’s feet, but to behave.

I learned a lot about good and bad parenting over the years, and I’ll say my parents did a stellar job at it. They did a lot of stuff that the more cuddly-coddly parents would consider ‘too strict’ or ‘not loving me enough’.

But I’ve never doubted for a second how much my parents love me. I’ve never felt like those rules and restrictions meant they loved me less. In fact, now that I’m an adult myself (though it doesn’t really feel like it yet), it rather feels like they loved me so much that they prepared me for adulthood in the best way they could. So that I would not only have a good life under their roof, but also during the rest of my life.

I know my parents are reading this (hi mom and dad!). But rest assured that I’m not just saying all of this to please them. I value authenticity and honesty above all.

Of course they made their mistakes, of course they weren’t perfect. Of course they have their flaws. But I’m still proud and immensely thankful for the way they raised me. I’m not saying this because they’re my parents, but there’s a lot of parents out there that could use a lesson from mine.

Even though I learned a lot from my parents, and also learned a lot from other people around me, I don’t feel like I’m properly equipped to give a child the life they deserve.

I can’t guarantee my full commitment and devotion. I can’t guarantee that I’m emotionally stable and healthy enough to care for a child and give them the right example. I’ve barely got enough money to support myself, let alone another human being.

I’ve got way too much to figure out in my own life, way too much I still want to achieve in my own life before I can even begin to think of devoting my life to a child.

Children are not some kind of side project, they’re not like a pet. If you want to raise them right, they’re going to take a significant chunk out of your regular life. And you’ll need to be prepared.

So in a weird way, it’s not just that I don’t want children because I don’t like them. It’s actually mostly because I wish for any child to have a better life than I can currently provide for them.

And you know what? That is perfectly fine.

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