Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Having kids shouldn't be about self-fulfilment

The bottom line is if you want to know whether children will make you happy or lead to a meaningful life, then you're asking the wrong question
While some parents may find solace in the fact that their choice to breed now has expert backing, perhaps we should instead be wondering why we need a bunch of experts to tell us that having children improves happiness?

The bottom line is if you want to know whether children will make you happy or lead to a meaningful life, then you're asking the wrong question.


Because you're treating children as a means to your own self-gratification and self-fulfilment - and no one, least of all your children, should have to shoulder that burden.
. . .
The truth, as any parent will tell you, is that, yes, having children can be wonderful, fulfilling and fun.

But it can also be painful, boring, repetitive and dull.

Mothers with young children, in particular, are more likely to suffer from depression or be diagnosed with a mental illness than at any other time in their lives.

Listen in to any mother's group and you'll hear stories of diminished sex lives, sleep deprivation and thankless domestic drudgery.

Husband-and-wife marriage therapists Steven and Sue Simring report that extramarital affairs are common after the birth of the first child.

Let's stop looking to experts to find out whether children make us happy or not. If you're having kids to fill a happiness void, then you're on a fast track to disappointment and unhappiness.
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Anonymous said...

I think a large percentage of people have kids because they think it will be an easy, sure-fire way to self-fulfillment. I've talked to at least one woman who was extremely depressed, and suicidal, who had no money and an emotionally-distant husband, but wanted children. That was her goal. I think she was just so desparate for something to cling to.
Maybe it's because life is scary, and every person is afraid of not getting the most out of it? Perhaps they think that children are supposed to be *the* accomplishment in life? Something foolproof?

I don't know, but it makes me sad. I'm terrified about having a good life, too, but I didn't want to use children to fill it.

This article also reinforces the fact that most people don't give much thought to parenting until they already have children. I guess we're just not encouraged to think about what it means to us and our partners.

CM said...

I don't know... I think it is about self-fulfillment, selfish as that sounds. But I don't think any survey or expert can tell us what we will find personally fulfilling.

Personally, I have children and I do see them as an essential part of my life that gives my life meaning.

There are other things that other people see as essential and meaningful that I have no real desire to do (e.g., be part of a church, live in a foreign country, have pets).

All of this data about whether kids make people happy or not is a red herring.