To Have or Not to Have...?
Kind of interesting that the reasons NOT to have children outnumber the reasons TO have children. Sadly, the older I get, the less I want them. And it doesn't help having a significant other who doesn't want children either. Also, being a first grade teacher is the best contraceptive/sterilization method on the planet. Maybe someday I'll adopt...if I'm feeling particularly bored with my life and want to give up all my freedom. We'll see. I'm young. Thanks to mom and dad for getting together though!
20 Reasons Not to Have Children
- Birth. Imagine pushing a grapefruit through your anus. Imagine it taking ten hours. Imagine that after ten hours of trying to push a grapefruit through your anus and failing that doctors cut a big hole in your belly to remove the grapefruit. Don’t believe anyone who says that they forget all about it in a few months.
- Responsibility. All of life’s prior responsibilities pale in comparison. If you decide to have a child, that new person must absolutely be your top priority. As your child will remind you when he or she is older and something goes wrong, “I didn’t ask to be born.” A child is a life long commitment to a person who is innocent of this choice.
- Diapers. Disposable diapers these days absorb lots of liquid, and they don’t leak. But you still have to change hundreds of them. Often they contain more than liquid. As the child gets older, diapers become smellier and bigger tasks. Then there is toilet training, with its inevitable setbacks and accidents.
- 3am wakeups. Caring for a child takes a lot of physical and emotional energy, made all the harder by babies that only sleep for ninety minutes at a time. Many parents of much older children seem to forget how hard the first few months were as they look at the past with rose colored glasses. Don’t believe them. Parents need sleep to work well, and they often can’t get it.
- Hard on marriages. A baby takes so much time and attention that spouses must already have a great friendship and work well together before the baby arrives. It is a certainty that one spouse will disagree with the other about decisions on how to care for the child. It is likely that one spouse will resent the lost time with the other. A marriage with some difficulties will get much worse when a baby is crying and the parents are sleep deprived.
- Advice. Total strangers leap forward to offer advice about how to raise your child. Most of the advice is contradictory and flat out wrong. Strangers will be much easier to ignore than your friends and family, many of whom have raised children quite successfully. Some advice you may want, but lots of it will be unsolicited and unappreciated.
- Changed relationships. When your family expands by the addition of a child, your relationships with everyone, and I mean everyone, changes. Your child is at the forefront of most of your thoughts, and those people without children cannot relate. Those people with children are finally happy to see that you can relate. Everyone will watch how you raise your child and will at some point cluck and disapprove, including those who raised ten children and those who raised none. Some strong bonds will weaken, some friends will not been seen again. Some may improve, but with your energies and devotions directed towards your child, that is much less likely.
- Free time. You will have none. Most time not spent with your child will be spent catching up on work you need to get done. You and your spouse must carefully plan any time away from your child, and very little can be done spontaneously. To pretend otherwise is probably neglectful of either your child or your spouse.
- Worry. Parents always worry about their children, monitoring how fast they reach each milestone and how well they grow, eat, sleep, crawl, walk, read, make friends, and so on. And yet there is little a parent can do beyond allow a child to proceed at his or her own pace. It can be frustrating and scary when your child isn’t eating well, or cannot read at his or her grade level, or is socially inept.
- Money. Children are expensive in several ways. One parent loses wages while caring for a child. Children need to eat and be clothed. They need toys with which to explore the world. They need health care, they need education, they need activities and hobbies. They will need car insurance. The proper raising of a child is not cheap.
- Laundry. Children do not contribute to household chores until they are older, and even then they generate more work than labor. Having a child means that your living space will need more cleaning than before, not only as your child makes a mess of it but also because you cannot let your child crawl around in dust and dirt. Your child will find all sorts of vile things to put in his or her mouth in the cleanest of homes. Your laundry and dishes will double, and you will do all the picking up after your child for many years.
- Tantrums. Many times you will tell your child that they cannot have what they want, and they will scream to get you to change your mind. You will need to avoid saying “no” as much as possible, but then stick to your decision when you do. Otherwise you will encourage tantrums. However, younger children cry because that is the only way they have to express themselves, and you need to be attentive. It becomes difficult judging when a child is having a serious problem and when he or she is having a tantrum. Tantrums are not just for two-year-old children, they will continue for years in many different forms as your child will attempt to change your mind. At some point children figure out how to get what they want despite you, and that opens another can of worms.
- Rebellion. Children need to assert their independence and individuality. All will feel stifled in some way by their parents or other authority figures, and they will attempt to subvert the dominant hegemony. Didn’t you? It usually isn’t pretty.
- Dissonance. Lots of adults do not get along with their parents. Perhaps they forget all the work that their parents put into raising them, or perhaps they resent that the work that their parents did was not enough. At some point your child will probably be very angry with you, and may even hate you for years. This is not uncommon, and you know it because you can name a dozen people who don’t get along with their own parents.
- Pain. Your child will cry and you won’t know why or how to fix it. You will mess up and let your child get hurt. You won’t be there and your child will get hurt. Your child will get really sick. Your child will fail at something and feel humiliated and worthless. Guaranteed. The world is a hard place on everyone, especially small, naive, fragile people.
- 6 billion. The world is already overpopulated. Do you really have to add to it? Do not answer this question lightly. Every new human draws on our limited resources, tramples over previously undamaged land, creates more waste, and accelerates worldwide instability.
- Failed expectations. You may expect your child to be interested in things that fascinate you, and then be disappointed. You may be brilliant and your child may be dull. You may be athletic, unhappy to discover that your child has trouble walking a straight line. Your child may abandon your religion or main beliefs. Your child may grow up to be someone you have very little in common with. In fact, your child will definitely not be a little version of you. Any thoughts about what kind of person you want your child to be are wasted thoughts, and probably detrimental.
- Lost freedom. People without children can easily pack up and move. They can be without work or change careers. They can break up with their partners and find new ones. Children, while often flexible, must be accounted for in all major life changes. In fact, they demand that the world not change around them so fast while their own understanding of the world grows and changes at the same time. Stability and routine allows a child to explore life from a vantage of safety and consistency. You must be willing to give your child such stability at the cost of your own freedom.
- Hard work. Raising a child takes more than love and time. You must concentrate on all methods of communication that your child attempts so that you may properly understand his or her needs and wants. You must introduce your child to new stimulation and situations regularly. You have to figure out best ways to teach your child at each age, what to teach them, and when to teach. You must be available and responsive to your child even when you are tired or sad or very busy.
- The unthinkable. The death of a child, while unlikely, is devastating. It often destroys marriages, as both spouses need comfort that the other cannot provide. Frequently one parent will blame the other. So much emotion, time, and energy gets poured into a child that to lose it all at once is crippling. Many well meaning people say hurtful and stupid things in a misguided attempt to help. This is one case where it is better to not have loved at all than to have loved and lost.
10 Reasons to Have Children
- They’re cute. In fact, your own child is adorable. Every sigh, every laugh, every motion is bliss. You fall in love with them.
- Re-experiencing childhood. Regardless of how good your own childhood was, your child allows you to vicariously relive childhood. Usually it’s much better the second time around, when you have all the wisdom of age but can enjoy the energy of youth. Playing with a two-year-old feels like being two years old again.
- Learning. Watching your child learn is fascinating and fun. Each new skill or idea or word learned is a little victory. If you watch carefully, you will see that something new is discovered or conquered every single day. Your child will need to learn a lot from you, as he or she starts without much knowledge at all except for perfect sense of his or her feelings. While you are busy teaching your child about practical aspects of the world, your child will be teaching you emotional sensitivity. The active teaching and learning process is rewarding and fulfilling.
- Reflection. Everything that you already can do probably take for granted, but your child will remind you that all those skills had to be learned. It reminds you of how far you have come in life, and shows you the sorts of difficulties you probably had when you were your child’s age. Your child will also notice things that you have long since filtered out. I didn’t realize how many birds there were outside my house until my daughter showed me.
- Reincarnation. Your genetic makeup is a small part of your identity. More important are your ideas, beliefs, manners, and stories. All of these things will be taken up by your child and then changed around. Your child will never be a clone of yourself, fortunately, but instead will be a new variation of you and the other people that raise him or her. If you like yourself then this is very satisfying.
- Socializing. Every society has a subculture for people who raise children. At every age you can find people also raising a child in a similar situation. You can make many new friends with whom you have a lot in common. The comradely and shared experiences ease some difficulties.
- Control. You must not tell other people how to raise their own children. However, if you raise your own child, you get to do it your way, which you presumably believe is the right way. People might disagree with your methods, but if you have thought at great length about it–and you should if you plan on having a child–then you probably have good reasons for all the decisions you will have to make. When you find that your methods are not perfect, which you will, you can change them appropriately.
- Adoption. There are lots of children in the world without parents. Adopting a child is an excellent way to greatly improve the life of someone who would have a very hard time otherwise.
- Entertainment. Children have lots of energy and can be lots of fun. They develop imaginations, a sense of humor, and lots of excitement. Little kid laughs are infectious. Playing with children is very enjoyable.
- Love. You are the center of your child’s world, and as much as you may love and need your child, he or she will love you more. Children that are shown love and affection show it back many times over