Despite living in London, I will often take time to read some of the interesting and varied articles in New York Magazine. One in particular caught my eye today.
Several psychological studies, in various countries, have been conducted in the issue of children as relates to happiness. In most, the level of happiness of couples with children was the same or lower than those without. It raised many issues, such as why people choose to have children, why people don’t, and what the psychology is behind it all.
If you’re interested, you can read the piece “Why Parents Hate Parenting” here.
As a person now in their mid twenties, I try and devote some time to thinking about who I am and what I want. Possibly questions I should have thought about more in depth as a teenager, but frankly between bullies, hormones and exam results I didn’t have a lot of extra room mentally during those years.
I don’t think children is something that I want.
Coming from a rural, traditional Scottish background, saying those words is very strange. Most people I grew up with would even go so far as to be offended by that.
“What do you mean you don’t want children? Everyone wants children.” Or the laughing it off followed by “you’ll probably have three by the time you’re 30”.
But I don’t. I’m 26 years old and the parental instinct, or even the desire for one, is yet to kick in.
I know primary school friends who have done it, I know high school friends who have done it. I’ve seen what’s involved ad I don’t buy it. Sorry, no sale. I don’t buy an item of clothing unless I think I’m going to be happy wearing it. I don’t see how having a child is going to mark a rise in my personal happiness and satisfaction.
“When they look at you, you understand why” was a friend’s response once.
If I knew hypnosis, I could brainwash you to feel happy every time you looked at the kettle, that doesn’t make it right or healthy.
Part of the problem, according to the article, is the modern world. People have children now for no other reason than they think it’s expected, whereas before the rise of the global middle-class children were a good economic investment, so to speak – they helped with work, and increased the family income.
In other words, they contributed. Now, it is all about throwing as many resources at your child as possible in order to give them “the best chance”. Something which has never struck me as good for the child, or the parent(s).
Happily in the urban and career-driven world of London, choosing not to have children is considered perfectly acceptable. That, and a variety of other reasons,is why I left my home and ran off here.
When it comes to kids, I just don’t understand where the happiness kicks in. I see parents scream at their offspring, I see children tell their parents they hate them. I see unhappy combinations of this scenario almost every day as I commute in and out. You never see a woman hauling a pram and 6 bags onto a tube and looking happy about it.
It all seems a gargantuan amount of work, effort and money for not a great deal of return, to put it bluntly.
Of course, this is a sticking point with some people when dating. You can tell fairly early on, usually, who are the paternal types and who are not. Some men are dead-set on kids, but I want to find one dead-set on himself.
I love the idea of marriage and committing to one man for the rest of your life. I think that’s a beautiful challenge and I could see how it would add to my happiness, having one other very special person to navigate through life with.
Maybe it sounds shallow, or even (most dreaded of dreaded words) materialistic, but I’d rather have the money to spend on us as a couple, rather than on raising a child.
And frankly, I’m beginning to resent the passive-aggressive accusation that, because I don’t want children, I’m somehow inferior as a specimen.
What parentals need to remember is that, when they make the comments about how “everyone has children” or “you’ll get there”, they’re actually elevating and justifying their own existence and life choices by knocking down someone else’s. Mine.
Were I to be brutally honest, I think the reason most men (and many women) “settle down” and have children is through that unholy alliance of fiancee and mother.
I mean, really, are we having children because we think it will please us?
Or is what everyone’s too afraid to actually admit, really this:
We have children to please somebody else.