Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bad reasons not to have children

There was an article in the Times by a woman who has two children who appears to regret it rather bitterly. There's a nice fisking at:

I think I know why this woman is so bitter. It is because she thinks that motherhood entails sacrificing all sorts of important aspects of ones autonomy - physical (childbirth, breastfeeding, children climbing all over one), intellectual (as expressed in having a career, and childless-adult-dinner-party kind of conversation), and emotional (tension in the new nexus of relationships between the two couples and their children).

I think people - both men and women - should embark on parenting with as much seriousness as they would embark on any other creative project. I don't mean that children are a project (urgh), I mean that being the best parent one can be, and having the most possible fun in the process, is the way to approach it. A woman wants intellectual stimulation beyond the interests and needs of her 6 year old? Fine. Find a way to get that stimulation, don't blame the 6 year old for existing, or for their supposed limiting of opportunity. It boils down to optimism. Er... and TCS, I guess.

The self-sacrifice memes are at the root of that woman's book and article. She does not know that one can have, or at least approach, an autonomy-respecting relationship with one's children. I'm not surprised - self-sacrifice is deeply engrained in most women - we learned it at our own mothers' knees - and I think that learning to express what one actually wants oneself is one of the biggest hurdles to happy motherhood (it's certainly my biggest hurdle).


Clare said...

You're so right, Emma. It's about how you see life. Self-sacrifice or an exciting change in lifestyle? Giving things up or starting new things?

Leo said...

An article like that is not very useful.

The only good reason is you get into a responsibility you can't easily quit. That can be quite stressful.

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