Having kids isn't heroic.
Being a parent isn’t easy. Long hours, low pay. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
That being said, I hate it when parents call out all of the “sacrifices” they’re making for their kids. I’m not saying it’s not true — I know so many families who bend over backwards to give their children everything — but there’s an ugly little truth behind most parenting that I think occasionally needs to be acknowledged.
Having children is selfish.
It is. It’s an inherently selfish act.
I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing. Not at all. But parenting isn’t charity. In most cases, parenting begins with a choice.
Someone chooses to have children.
And here’s the thing — the world doesn’t really need more children at the moment. I’m mostly speaking about people in the Western world, but, yeah, there are enough kids out there right now that, if you want a kid, you could do something charitable and go adopt one or foster a child.
If you have a biological child, however, you’re making a choice. You don’t just want ANY kid. You want YOUR kid. A kid you made with your DNA.
Let me be clear — there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s something that people have done for millennia, but, unless you’re somehow living in an ancient feudal system and you desperately need offspring to take over the farm, you didn’t NEED to create a kid from scratch. When you decided to have a biological kid, it was a self-indulgent choice.
I’m not saying this to make people who’ve had children feel bad. I have a child. She’s amazing. She’s way better than every other kid out there. BUT I do keep in mind that I wasn’t tricked or forced into my decision to have her.
That means I need to own that decision and all the responsibility that comes with it.
It’s an important thing to keep in mind, particularly during the more frustrating moments. Because, like I said, parenting is hard. You’re going to bust your ass providing for your kid, and they’re not always going to appreciate it. And you’ll sit there, thinking, “I was going to travel. I could be at the bar right now. I might’ve gone back to school, if it wasn’t for…”
That’s a dangerous road to go down, particularly because, as a parent, it’s tremendously unfair to resent your kid for existing.
Because you know that clichéd teenager complaint “I didn’t ASK to be born”? It’s 100% true. They didn’t. As their parent, YOU chose to bring that kid into the world, so you have to have some sympathy for the fact that the kid had no say in the matter.
They didn’t choose to suck away all your time and money or frustrate your plans to pursue your music career. They were literally dragged into the world kicking and screaming because you and your partner — or whatever your circumstance was — said “Hey, let’s do this.”
And I know there are SO many different circumstances around pregnancies — unplanned pregnancies, cultural expectations, etc. — but, at the end of the day, when you have a child (especially if your pregnancy as planned), you’re choosing to bring them into a world that doesn’t really need them.
I’m not trying to shame “breeders” (I am one), but it’s something parents need to consider.
We chose this life. We chose to create life.
Most parents aren’t saints or saviors who responded to some higher calling. They’re just fulfilling the duties they assumed once they made a very conscious choice.
Keep that in mind the next time you see a smug mom or dad at a party, lecturing a group of single friends about how they don’t really understand what it means to be selfless until they have a child.
Does having a kid mean that you have to act selfless occasionally? Yes.
Is having a kid a selfless act? Absolutely not.
Parenting isn’t about doing some great service for the world. It’s about taking responsibility for a choice you made and seeing that choice through to the bitter end — ideally, with as much love, compassion, and respect as possible.