In the light of the Pope’s latest ramblings about children or rather about couples that decide not to have children, I found myself in a heated online discussion about the matter. While some opinions were more about how our society makes it hard for people to decide to actually have children, others were much more extreme. One guy claimed that couples that do not have children by choice should only get a reduced pension because they have not added to the future pension payers! He even wanted to scale it, the more children, the more pension! I was shocked, really!
Being a woman in my mid-to-late 30s, I have naturally thought about the matter before and increasingly lately. What really bugs me is that in discussions like these, is that it is always parents against non-parents. Parents seem to think that people without children do not have the right to have opinions at all. Here’s news: I do have opinions, and I even think I have the right to do so!
My absolute pet peeve argument is that people who choose not to have kids are selfish. Choosing a career over children is selfish. Enjoying your life by yourself is selfish. But is that right? Or, is that wrong, rather?
To clear up one important thing: I love children! But, until recently, I have never felt I was in the right place to have kids. The reasons for this a manifold and personal, one big part being that I never had a relationship that felt stable enough to start the adventure. As I said, until recently.
But here is my question: isn’t having children a selfish act, too? There are so many people out there who have kids so they don’t feel lonely. Children are born in order to patch dysfunctional relationships. Children are born into already broken families and these kids suffer so much! I am pretty sure there are millions of children who wish they had never been born. And even if loving couples decide to have a baby, it is a selfish act. They want to make their happiness complete. THEY. THEIR. Possessive. Selfish.
Who gives anybody the right to judge people who decide against kids? If somebody has worked hard on his or her career, why not stay there and enjoy it? If someone is struggling to get his own life together, why not put all energy into fulfilling your own pursuit of happiness? If your parents did a really bad job and you had a horrible childhood, why put it onto the next generation? If you don’t know how long you will have a job, why risk not being able to feed a little human being?
Our society makes it harder to decide pro kids. Contract work, insecurity and the eternal urge to be better and perfect. And when I look at the pressure that is being put on children these days, I get sick! There are so many parents who try to fulfill their own shattered dreams through their children. I remember the guy who used to play handball in my brother’s team. His father would stand in the corner of the pitch and constantly give out to his son. He was never good enough! The kid got more and more scared and obviously started to misdirect passes and lose the ball. And then he got more shit from his oh so loving father. Ten years later, the kid ended up in jail after robbing various petrol stations. His father was a cop, by the way! So everybody should have children? I don’t think so!
And talking about the selfishness of building a career – Is it the men who cut back on their career? No, it’s still mostly the women! Very easy for men to come up with the selfishness blame! A lot of employers are reluctant to hire women in their late 20s because they could have kids and be less productive.
And again: children are great! And the more I approach biology’s closing door, the more I feel pressured to make my final decision. I have met my love and I can see myself having children with him. But you know what? I can see us being happy without them, too! Which is good, because even if we tried now does not mean it would work.
The thing I really wish for is a lot less of “us versus them”. More respect. I have all the respect for people who try their best to give their children a loving foundation for their lives. I also respect if people decide that children are not for them. We are all somebody’s child and we all deserve happiness!
Yours truly, madly, deeply!