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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When It Comes to Having Children

I am 22 years old. I have a long time before I, personally, will ever think realistically about having a baby. And right now, I don't know if I ever really want one. I know that this gives me a certain amount of privilege and bias. And these are my fears and feelings right now, when I am not mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. able to support a pregnancy and child, who knows what they will be when I get to the point in my life when I would consider having a child.

My aversion to bearing children has many roots.
There is the fear of pregnancy itself. While I think it is realistic to say that I have had this fear since high school, it became very prominent in college during my anthropology class. In this class, my professor talked a lot about fetuses as parasites, which, while very extreme, really stuck with me. Of course, she had her own opinions about pregnancy, which were obviously very negative, but what she had to say about it really influenced me and spoke to me.

Then comes my fear of bringing another child into this world when
a) the world is so messed up, b) there are so many children that already need loving homes, and c) I just don't know if I want to be a mother. Let's start with c. Right now, I don't know if I want to be responsible for another human being. I know that I might change my mind about being a mother as I get older or enter into a serious relationship, but right now, I can't really picture it.

Now, on to a. There are so many things wrong with the world right now, I don't want to be responsible for bringing a child into that. But one thing that I never really thought about, as the F Bomb pointed out, not having children can have benefits for the environment. Cameron Diaz has declared herself a "non-breeder" for the environment. This post points out, "one U.S. person is equal to 20 tons of CO2 per year and 24 acres of productive land."
So not having children can really be considered an environmental act. So, just one more reason for me to be a "non-breeder" as well.

And now, finally to b. I think, when it comes time for me to think about children, that I will seriously consider adoption. There are many children in this country and around the world that need loving and supportive homes. This one is fairly simple. Adoption is a great alternative to bearing children.

And that brings us to society's perception of "non-breeder." As the Huffington Posts' article
about Cameron Diaz' non-breeder status points out, while there is progress being made, people still think there is something wrong with people who consciously decide to be non-breeders.

While there was plenty of support for non-breeders, there were the inevitable comments like "isn't [it] natural for women to have children?" and "as women we are or should be born with a natural instinct to have children"...
...It's a shame, for both our planet and reluctant potential parents, that too many people still see having children as something we all should do, or should at least want. When UK journalist Polly Vernon wrote an editorial about not wanting kids, she discovered that "voluntary childlessness is an unacceptable crime to cop to" and she was "denounced as bitter, selfish, un-sisterly, unnatural, evil"...
...Recent research shows that a childless status could even hurt the careers of childless women. Lancaster University professor Dr. Caroline Gatrell found that some employers see female staff who don't want children as lacking "essential humanity".

Throughout the article, there are many examples of the prejudice against non-breeders. Because I am only 22, I have not run into this prejudice too much, but I anticipate it. Even without a lot of this prejudice,
I still feel like sometimes I am missing the "mom gene." But I guess I'll just have to get used to that.

*Note: In no way am I diminishing that amazing-ness of mothers. I think mothers take a lot of crap from society and from fellow feminists, which is not cool. Everyone has a mother and wouldn't be where they are now without their mother's influence (or lack of influence). Because I do not have children, it is not my place to talk of what mothers go through, because I do not know. This post is simply about my opinions about my body, my life, and my decision to have or not have children. In no way am I saying how other people should or should not feel about their decisions about child bearing.


RMJ said...

Thanks for the shoutout! Motherhood is so fraught for women; it's a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. Sad.

Laura said...

It is really sad. For something that is seen as coming "naturally" for women to have so much distraught with it is really unfortunate. But at least there are people out there who are questioning personal and societal views of pregnancy and motherhood.

Jackie said...

I agree with you. I don't want kids either, and sometimes wonder if I'm missing some instinct or hormone or something.

I think your reasons are perfectly valid. Just not feeling the urge to have kids is a totally serious reason for not having any! It's so crazy to me how many people want to argue us into parenthood.

That bit about hurting careers is kind of scary. It's a catch 22, look heartless if you don't breed or be accused of not being career focused if you do... you'd think that the system didn't want women to have careers in the first place...

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

There seems no easy option here. I really, really want children but may not be able to have them with my husband. That breaks my heart (every month). At the same time, I know how environmentally damaging people are and can't rationally justify wanting to make another one. I would be very happy to adopt but my husband may not be (and of course it's not an easy option no matter how many needy kids there are out there). We both would love to have our own biological child, and we both know that there are environmental and ethical problems with that. There's no simple resolution...

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