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The Case Against Having Children, Hardcover – September, 1971
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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While the book is a bit dated (published in 1971) I believe its message is still important today.
But still you wonder...
Q: Are you thinking about having a baby, but you're in doubt?
A: I would humbly suggest, `when in doubt, there is no doubt.'
Unless you are 100% prepared to face the hardest job EVER invented, don't even think about tackling it.
And I don't mean 'prepared' financially etc, I mean PSYCHOLOGICALLY.
Unless you have gotten over your insecurities and feeling unloved, unworthy, unlikable - don't even think about it.
Unless you are prepared to devote the next 20 YEARS of your life to the being that you're contemplating bringing in to this world - don't even think about it.
TRUTHFULLY - are you having a child just to show your mother that you can? Just to live up to your family's expectations? Just to leave home? Just to answer for yourself the question `What is the meaning of life?' Just to negate your feelings of uselessness? Just to show other people that you are a `real' woman? If ANY of the above apply - don't even think about it.
Unless you can say with ABSOLUTE honesty that the ONLY reason you are wanting/having a child is so that you can love it, support it, cherish it, nurture it, adore it, help it grow, help it live in this crazy world AND help it to help this crazy world, then DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!
Your needs will always come second, the child's needs come first. ALWAYS. Wakarimasuka? Unless you understand and LIVE that, you will be unable to be the parent you'd like to be.
Q: How do you think serial killers are formed? Sadistic rapists? Wildfire starters? Bullies? Wife batterers?
A2: Or were their parents, their upbringing, their environment, so corrupted, inept, ignorant and fearful that there was no other possible outcome?
It does take a whole village to raise a child, and unless you have one in your back pocket, you are going to be STRUGGLING; and feeling guilty about the struggle between parenting and work, between coping and not coping, and feeling like you are not doing good enough, or even just enough, and feeling like maybe you made a mistake, and feeling guilty that you are thinking like that, which in turn makes you feel even more like you are not the world's `best' parent, and that you are a failure. Which brings you to the depths of despair and depression.
As Geddy Lee from `Rush' says: `working at perfekt, got me down on my knees'.My Favorite Headache
Q: Do you need to be a `perfect' parent?
A: Depends if you want the `perfect' child. (- And don't you all?)
And if you accept that you can't have/create/mold the perfect child, what level of imperfection are you prepared to accept? What level of parenting or parenting `failure' are you prepared to tolerate?
And should your intended child be subjected to your `tolerable' answer?
Should our community, our planet, be subjected to that answer?
Regarding the issue of people not having children being regarded as `selfish', well this has been totally discredited elsewhere. So one may need to ask rather, is wanting to HAVE children the selfish view? (I want a friend/I want someone to love/I want someone to love me/I want someone to do ballet because I didn't get to do it/I want someone I can teach to be the next Bruce Lee because I wasn't good enough/My ego wants to know that I made that/I want to be immortal etc.)
So, if you're thinking that when you have a child, you'll be: more likable, more lovable, more worthy, more successful, a better person, more sociable etc. then isn't that just you wanting to `improve' your life, specifically, by having a child?
And wouldn't you agree that that would be selfish? Isn't that about YOU, and not the child. And thus, is that a valid reason for wanting to have a child?
6.7 billion of us and counting. Too many people for the mismanaged way the corporations run this planet. Your child is another burden on the planet. It will eat meat, use electricity, be driven around in a car, live in a heated/air-conditioned home, sit on furniture made from the forests cut down around us - in short it will be a consumer of the world's resources, just like you, just like me. And just like the other 6.7 billion others. Though the poor ones don't have furniture, or cars, or air con, or meat - in short it's WESTERN kids who are killing the planet - but I digress.
Have you thought about these points below?
WORKLOAD - tremendous. Mainly by THE MOTHER. Partner won't be around, or even if he is, won't do enough. On housework alone, it's estimated women do 70%. Changing diapers, getting up to feed, bathing, wiping, cooking, nursing, lullabying, reading, cutlunching, hoovering, cleaning the toilet etc. etc. - no matter how well intended hubby/partner might be, or says he is, it's always going to be the MOTHER'S burden. HER responsibility.
FINANCIAL - estimates go as high as over 300 thousand dollars to raise a child to 18 yrs of age. (I know what I could do with that!)
HEALTH - for the mother: there is the risk of death (yes, even now, some women still DIE giving birth) or other `complications' during childbirth, I won't gross you out here, but do your research on `what can go wrong?' Then there are the lifelong effects on the mother of any of those complications. Then there is the very real prospect of PostNatal Depression; which affects a vast percentage of new mothers. Who then feel guilty that they feel that way and thus seek no help and spiral down into a grief that can sometimes last for years.
For the child: what if you drank alcohol while you were pregnant, or coffee, of had a joint, or lived near high power electrical lines, or near a chemical factory, or near a freeway - in short, all the pollution that you were subjected to during your own life, and during your pregnancy WILL affect the health of your new born. And then if there are problems, these could be minor or major. Temporary or lifelong. And what if there is a genetic strain in your family's DNA, that results in a problem of some kind. Between pollution and genetics what if your child is born with a mutation, abnormality, defect? Are you prepared for that? And, in that unfortunate instance, are you prepared to give your life over TOTALLY as a `CARER'? With little or no government/community support? Can you imagine what kind of DAILY hell that would be?
Once again, it's down to you. It's your responsibility for bringing this being into the world.
WORK - time off work. How long? Can you afford it financially? Can you afford it intellectually? Can you afford it socially? Most people are validated by what they do, by their work. Are you prepared to give that up for the short/long term? Will you be employable in 1, 2 or 5 years time after having `raised' your child?
SEX - you love it now, but wait till you've been up for 22 hours nursing a sick child. You won't have the energy, the time, the inclination. Or if you do, he won't. Men can easily be put off sex, and things like baby poo smell on you, or seeing you on your hands and knees wiping up the latest mess etc. etc. can make Mr Happy, Mister not interested tonight. Then, when you do manage to get around to do it, in comes a crying child, saying that they want to sleep with you tonight. Or you hear a sound half way through, and your concentration immediately goes to the child in the next room. Or you're afraid of waking them up. Or...fill in the blanks.
SOCIALIZING - get used to baby talk for a few years. Get used to not talking about adult things for a few years. Get used to not being able to go out to a movie tonight on the spur of the moment. Or going away for the weekend. Or even if you find the time, having the ENERGY to do those things is another thing altogether. Or what about catching up with friends? Who may not have the time, the energy, etc. because they are PARENTS too. And your single friends? What single friends, they've all DISAPPEARED.
SLEEP - one word, deprivation. And all its consequences. Just don't operate any heavy machinery for the first two years. Like a car. Oh, and maybe defer any emotionally charged arguments with your partner as well. Things said cannot be taken back, and if you're tired, we know how things can sometimes come out wrong. And something as major as this, is no doubt one of the reasons why 50% of all divorces happen within 5 years of a child being brought into the, loving, `family unit'.
FEAR - `you don't know what fear is until you become a parent.' Heard that before? Fear of anything, EVERYTHING going wrong.
Fancy living on a knife-edge every time the little one's temperature goes above 99 degrees? Is home late from school? Starts choking on a sausage? Runs across the road without looking? Goes to a party with `friends'? EVERYTHING will set you off and you'll end up in a sweat driven panic. (This apparently lasts for the child's entire life.)
BABYSITTER - how easy is it going to be? Do you have that village? If not, do you really want some stupid 16-year-old cheerleader and the boyfriend she sneaks over, to watch over your child while you are out on your official `date night'. (- you know, the night that is supposed to get you and your partner both interested in each others bodies/minds again)
BODY IMAGE - whoa! A whole new world awaits you, the MOTHER. (`Daddy' surprisingly will have no ill effects from the pushing out and breast-feeding of mini-me)
Welcome to sagging breasts (take photos now so you can say how great they USED to look), expanded pelvis/hip/bottom area, erratic skin texture, hair LIMP and dead, bone density has left the building etc. etc. Not to mention that now wayyy stretched bit your partner likes (or used to like?) best. Your body will NEVER be the same again. On every level, right down to the cellular, your body will change, HAS to change, to accommodate, feed (inside), push out, feed (outside) the new unit.
But, maybe you can be like Madonna or any of those other celebs and get yourself a couple of nannies to help you out yeah? (- and maybe a surrogate to do the actual push out too?)
TEENAGE YEARS - are you a masochist?
WORLD - with global warming an ever darkening reality and its devastating effects just beginning, and social, financial, chaos looming at every turn, do you really want to bring someone new to that party?
I'll finish now with PRO points to having a child: