You Probably Think This Kid Is About You Part 4

This is the 4th and final part of this 4-part parenting series. The first post covered your relationship with your partner or partners and whether it was a solid environment for raising children. The second post covered your personal feelings, thoughts, etc. around raising children, coping with stressful situations, and the importance of learning parenting skills (and ongoing therapy) before and while raising children. The third post covered your expectations of parenthood and the relationship you want to have with your child as they are growing up. In this 4th post, I am going to talk about the option of not raising children at all. Often having babies is pushed as the end all, be all, and I want to talk about other ways to build a family, have security, make accomplishments, and leave a legacy.

It’s OK to Not Want to Raise Kids
It’s OK to not want children right now. It’s even OK to never see that in your life plan at all. I know it’s rare to actually hear/see someone say that, but seriously, you don’t have to have kids. Children are a choice, not an obligation – No matter what everyone is telling you. There’s nothing morally wrong with you if you have other priorities. You’re not biologically broken because you just don’t want to go down that path. People with uteruses especially are constantly pressured and shamed for not wanting children and it amazes me how entitled people feel towards bodies that ain’t even theirs. Again, children are adults-in-training and their parents are their supervisors/trainers. And being a trainer is expensive. It costs energy, time, money, and resources. Nobody’s gonna have to carry that fetus for 9 months but y’all. Nobody’s gonna have to deal with the pain of labor, but y’all. Nobody’s gonna have to pay for hospital bills, diapers, day care, babysitters, etc. all before the child is 5, but y’all. And then there’s the cost of school, medical bills, and the emotional cost of raising a child in a bigoted world. No one will have to deal with all that and more, but y’all. And the way our society is, you won’t get that much help, if any at all. Child health insurance (CHIP) has been taken away, other social services are being cut from budgets, and people will shame you for starting up a gofundme for yourself. All this noise and pressure to have kids is followed by radio silence when you’re struggling to raise this child and need help. 
 

Do you (and your family) have the energy, time, money, and resources to raise children? And do you enthusiastically consent to spending a huge chunk of your energy, time, money, and resources on training a mini human on how to be grown 24/7? It’s okay if you would rather spend all that on something else. Like I’ve said before in this series, just like not everyone is meant to be a coach, teacher, trainer, supervisor, etc., not everyone is meant to be a parent. Everybody ain’t meant for every job. I’ve seen so many people have children because they feel that it was expected of them and they didn’t think they have other options. There are other options.

Other Options
One of the main reasons people say they have children is to build a legacy/continue their name. It’s very human to want to find that kind of immortality: to be remembered even after we’re dead. Throughout history, people have used raising children as a way to keep their names in people’s mouths. But like I talked about in Part 3, raising children ain’t about your personal life goals. It ain’t really about you and when you come at parenting like you’re doing something for yourself, it has an impact on your personal relationship with your child and your ability to guide them effectively. Something to reflect on: what is making you feel like you gotta use your child and their life so you can feel successful? Children are mini humans, not tools. And because they’re not mini-you and they’re not slaves, children are not guaranteed to be who you want them to be. You can have all the dreams and expectations for this child in the world and they can still grow up to be someone outside your expectations. And there’s nothing you can really do about that without damaging your relationship with them on some level. What’s the point of using all that energy, etc. to raise children just to push them away and have them resent you? 
 
Okay so kids can’t be used to build your legacy. What else can you do? Again, it’s totally human to want security for your and your family’s future, to want stability, and to want to feel successful/accomplished. At the end of the day though, you can’t control other people. But you can control yourself: What can you do in your own personal life to feel more fulfilled? What is missing in life for you? It’s never too late to find other ways to have some extra meaning in your life. Be open with yourself. Be realistic about your life, your current situation, and your limitations. Think about finances, your age, your energy level right now, physical and mental abilities, etc. to figure out what your next move could be. Focusing on yourself and growing yourself is probably gonna end up being more rewarding than putting all your hopes and dreams on children who might just do whatever. 
 
Examples:
  • Making time for some hobbies
  • Taking free and/or low cost classes and workshops about something interesting
  • Joining online groups and forums to learn and/or find community
  • Volunteering to work with youth and/or with families
  • Starting a new career involving children, if you love nurturing children, but they don’t fit into your personal life
  • Building close relationships with your extended family – being the best aunt, uncle, godparent, etc. you can be
  • Fostering teens: Maybe raising children wouldn’t work for you, but fostering a teenager would
Another reason people say they have children is to avoid being old and dying alone. It’s interesting to me how choosing to not have kids is somehow seen as damning yourself to being a lonely old person. It says a lot about how society sees children and how many people prioritize the relationships in our lives. Again, children are not slaves, born to be your home health aide when you’re old. And like I said before, there is no guarantees that your child will take care of you when you’re old (See Part 3 for more on this). Beyond that, where are your friends and other loved ones? It’s very Western, very colonizer, to rely on a nuclear family (spouse and kids) for everything. Our ancestors were community-minded (I’ll probably write a whole post about this in the future). Build your community of loved ones and other people you trust so y’all can support each other over the years. You don’t have to “die alone”. You and your squad could build a supportive chosen family together, live together, share finances, check in on each other’s health, etc. There are so many other ways to build and customize a life that truly fulfills you.
 
I want people to live life with more self-awareness. Know yourself. Just because something is expected of you, doesn’t mean it is the best fit for your life. Reflect on your personal feelings and expectations around having children. Think about what you are bringing to the table as the child’s parent. Look at your relationship and your family unit. Is this a stable, safe environment to raise a child in? What needs/wishes/desires do you think raising a child would satisfy for you? And what could be some other options for satisfying those needs? Because at the end of the day, raising children is about the children, not you. It’s about nurturing a future generation and training someone on how to be grown so they can live their best life, whatever that looks like for them. 
 
Thanks for reading. The next post about how to set boundaries will be published on Sunday 8/12/18. 

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