Monday, February 18, 2013

Having a Family is Overrated

I am fully aware that my title would outrage millions of people. Everyone likes babies. 90% of the people I've asked said they want to have children in the future. A photography teacher in my school said that married, childless couples were the most selfish people living without meaning in their lives. Wow. Really? I beg, kneel, cry to differ. C, a guy I was sitting in front of in my last two weeks of philosophy class, also expressed the same views. Something along the lines of "life only has meaning when you have children" or whatever. "What's the point of life if you don't have kids?" I said, "How about adoption?"

"Nah, I want my own kids. It's different."

Oh, so you call that selfless.

When there are millions of poor, hungry children in the world, you'd rather impregnate someone else to have a fresh new batch of babies of your own DNA. Very selfless.

So I find that people are merely using the excuse of "making life meaningful" for having children when in fact, they're just being typical human beings who want to extend their family line. It's instinctive, it's normal. Yes, I don't despise them for that. But even after trying to reason with them about all the benefits of not having children, they don't even bother to refute my arguments. It all goes back to, "People who don't have children are self-absorbed. I want children because it makes my life meaningful." Blah, blah, blah.

Perhaps it is my own history that influenced my view on families. But I also think it might just be my personality but I'll never know. It has already been done. You see, I am currently not financially supported by either of my parents. They are divorced. They hate each other's guts and they're both refusing to take responsibility for the disintegration of this family. I am the second and last child, my mom had two miscarriages after me and I think it was best that it happened that way. Imagine that, if she didn't have enough money after the first one, to let three more children suffer and fend for themselves?

The love that has sustained me were from friends and family friends who morally supported me. They are the people that I consider family. Of course food is important, the only thing I owe my relatives for is food and shelter (even though my aunt has kicked me out twice and threatened it several times more) but what really makes family? What is the definition of family? I would say sincere love. Care, compassion, coaching... you know, all the feelings and actions that help build people up not shove them to the ground?

I'm very certain most of my life I've always treasured my friends more than my biological family. The truest ones have brought me joy, expressed concern, helped or at least tried to, gave constructive and progressive advice. I remember every one of them. And I regard them as my brothers and sisters, not that Christianity stuff, but really, as people I love so much for giving me so much love when I was merely a friend or an acquaintance to them. I've had a church leader fail me before so I don't count on church for much help. They may preach much but they may not do much.

So I'd like to explain my strongly held belief of never becoming a mother, at least not a natural one, in the most unoffensive way possible.

1. Marriage

Let's not kid ourselves with forever love. Relationships are the hardest shit to manage. I've heard 51% of all marriages end in divorce. It's very common for newly weds to produce a child within the first three years of marriage and that's cray cray because the first two years are the "honeymoon period" where everything's all chill and good and then bam, comes the routine and boredom and irritation with your spouse. I was in Human Growth and Development and I remember for my ISU research about adoption that the majority of marriages that fail end within the first five years. (Then the child either gets put on the re-adoption list or lives with one of the parents.)

So if you want children, wait about five years to be sure that you truly love your spouse. It isn't fair for the child to be in a broken home and needing to deal with custody disputes, choosing between parents and homes.

Romantic love is shaky enough and to risk having a baby in the midst of the uncertainty is too much for me. OH! Also, in my research, I read that many times in a traditional relationship which still exists today, the breadwinner (typically male) resents the shift of attention and affection since the focus is all on the newborn. The baby forever changed the dynamics of the relationship. They no longer feel like lovers, only caretakers. There's also less time for sex, hobbies, or relaxation and if the breadwinner were to lose his or her job... that leads to my next point.

2. Money

First of all, screw all of you parents with babies that are on welfare. Great work of making a child grow up in the projects. You should have thought it through before keeping that baby. I hate to see innocent people suffer, it angers me so much. The irresponsible person should be alone in the suffering, not demanding help by blackmailing the government with a dependent baby.

But that is not important. I'm putting this in the context of a more normal family situation.  It's not about unexpected teen pregnancies or reckless sexual lifestyles.

You decide to have a child, and bear a child but then you finally realize how overwhelming it can be to care for a child. Yeah, a baby is a bundle of joy but also costs a bundle of money. If you're like most people, you're not middle-class, you can't afford a nanny, you just got a house or apartment and the monthly mortgage is burdensome. Diapers, lotion, powder, clothes, food on top of the normal necessities you and your partner need. It is a huge financial commitment to provide for a baby and the baby's development and health the next sixteen years, legally.

I've also heard of parents who have mutually agreed to kick their child out at the age of sixteen. That's a shitty thing to do.

I guess if all goes well, the working parent or parents eventually get a promotion or salary increments, it could very well work out. But if the market crashes or whatever unfortunate happenstance (like a parent dying) then they should be prepared for that. Insurance is a great idea but insurance is also expensive. I don't think I'd ever get insurance.

So my advice would be, make sure both parents can individually support a child on her or his own first before having one. (Sorry for not being inclusive of LGBT relationships in my sentencing but it really applies to all kinds of relationships.)

I also think it's better to be well-off than working class (definition: "meeting the bare minimum", there are many definitions of working class, I didn't mean to be patronizing). I am envious of my friends who get to go on cruises, fly to Paris in the winter holidays, ski, learn music, go on a vacation three times a year, go to cottages in the summer, or even just drive to the States to shop on a whim.

Those are really nice experiences. It would be great if everyone had the chance to enjoy them. I had the privilege of going to a cottage last summer because of my boyfriend. I am reeeeeeeaaaalllllyyyy grateful for that. I also got to waterboard, ahem, WAKEboard because of my boyfriend's mom's ex-boss. The many exciting trips in my life were mostly from sponsors and friends and I want to thank them so, so, so, so much.

Give your child an exciting life, don't overindulge them but don't let them lack in exploring the world. So please, be financially secure before you think of having a baby.

3. Environment & Species

The world is overpopulated with people. Seven BILLION human beings and thousands of endangered and critically endangered species. Do you see the connection? I think we should be fair and work towards a balance between humankind and nature. Think about the animals too. I don't think it's fair that we keep urbanizing rural areas or deforesting to clear land for housing developments. It's not fair. In the Bible, God told us to "multiple and fill the Earth". Yeah, the job's been done, Mother Earth is pretty full of people right now so we can stop for a bit.

Plus, human activity takes its toll on the environment. More people = more damage.

I'd rather devote my life to protecting animals and trees than having my own child.

4. World Poverty

Kinda self-explanatory?

You could say that it isn't fair for you to be giving money to help OTHER people's children when they are clearly uncapable of providing basic necessities. I feel the same way. Why are wealthy countries constantly donating millions of dollars to developing countries to take care of their hungry children? How about STOP producing babies and asking for money?

But while such situations are complex and will take decades to solve, we can right now sacrificially help others in need. If you're using the reason of "having babies are meaningful", why don't you adopt?

5. Higher Goals

Most of the time, although it is now changing because of recent flexible workplace parental leave, a parent, usually the mother, decides to give up her aspirations and dedicate herself to soley raising the child and taking care of the household. If that was what the parent has always wanted, that's fine by me. I'm not saying you're an underachiever. But for those who had bigger plans for their career or have always wanted to do something else, it's a big bet that it's not gonna happen anymore. Unless you're lucky enough to afford a nanny or a babysitter such as your parents and relatives who can help out.

For many, the baby becomes their world and prevents further achievements and that is something I do not want happening to me. Family really depends on your definition. The whole world could be your family, you can give your love to others and not just to people you're closely related to. As a young, childless woman, I do not understand the pride of mothers telling other people that they're mothers. Don't you realize they do that a lot? Those parents that write in their occupational description "Father, accountant, blogger, loves Queen" or "Mother, former model, writer, reader, has a dog named  Biffy", whatever. How good of a parent you are is what I want to know.

So those are my reasons and I'm very happy with them. I think they're logical and perfectly acceptable. It wasn't a stupid bias expression like, "Aw, I HATE KIDS. They're such BRATS and in high school, they do DRUGS and DRINK and get messed up." I remember I heard someone say before, "I hate kids, they're so annoying" and that was their justification for hating children.

Well, I pray to God I won't ever have children. I just feel I need to develop myself more. I could be ready to adopt when I'm 40 years old. I want to make my life complete before I become responsible for another life because I've realize the tragic family cycle where troubled people have children, and they're just really unfit parents and the children end up being troubled and unwhole themselves and it goes on and on.

I want to correct that. It takes a village to raise one child. Let me be part of that village. Let me help out and make it better. I can be the Big Sister figure who could meaningfully have a positive impact on someone else.  Stop telling me to have my own when I clearly have no desire and can only see the deleterious effects.

I will be the change I want to see.

*Edited and updated on Nov. 19, 2014


suanie said...

I think you're absolutely right. Too many people go on the parenthood path not prepared at all. Though I must say that some grit their teeth and tried their best to make it work.

Zoe Yve said...

Yeah, I think people should take parenting courses at least. Parents don't know what they get themselves into; I have no sympathy for poor parents. Did they think raising children would be cheap?

So it angers me when other people label childless, married couples or even just older independent individuals as selfish. They're being responsible, they're doing the world a ton of good and should get credit for that. No one should be pressured into having a family or receive less respect for choosing the childless path.

wooton said...


I TOTALLY agree! Thanks for putting it all out there completely, with NO APOLOGIES - because people who have kids need to hear the other side!

Keep on being as bold as you are.

Alice Vague said...

Hey Zoe. I randomly came across this article on the internet. I have to say YOU JUST SPEAK MY MIND, especially on the soc-called selfless yet instinctive and animalistic claim, as well as the the impacts on lovers. After
all, all human decisions are selfish, so childfree people should not bare the blame! Anyway I noticed this article was written few years ago. I wonder if you still think the same way today :) nice article, inspired me a lot.

Zoe Yve said...

Wooton- Thank you so much for your kind encouragement! I'm glad my straightforward and offensive nature can be used for good sometimes, hahahaha.

Alice- Oh, that's crazy! How did you stumble here? I'm glad someone like-minded expressed support, thank you. I do, I do still think the same way. This was an issue with my ex-boyfriends. Both of my ex-boyfriends spoke of wanting children in the future while I didn't. It wasn't the sole factor in our breakup but it was definitely in the back of our minds and reasoned in passing.

I'm glad it did, that is wonderful!

Jeremiah Dicharry said...

Zoe- Keep on thinking the same way and find a man with the same beliefs. I've been married for 5 years and my wife and I both mutually decided to never have kids even before we met. Having kids seems way too overrated anyways!

K D said...

Well written and well said! This is one crazy world and given our severe over-population and ridiculously limited resources, it is hard to justify bringing more beings into this planet. As I have watched my colleagues, their kids, and their child-rearing "skills," it has become overly apparent that these people had children for entirely the wrong reasons...self-edification and compensation. They make a habit of sneering at my partner and I for our choice to not procreate and we are labeled as selfish and self-absorbed. I like the color of the grass on this side of the fence just fine :)