06 May 2008

Talk Amongst Yourselves

I got such a thoughtful and concerned anonymous comment on my last post that I thought I would copy n paste it out here so others could comment. I wonder this type of thing myself all the time.
I don't want to be a downer but I have serious and sincere question to ask the mothers/fathers out there "When you decided to have a child, did any of you angst about what kind of world they might be inheriting?" Again, this is a sincere question.

My husband and I have really seriously considered having children. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see some version of my husband in another person -- with all the excitement and passion for learning and living. But the thing I fear most is the fear they may face knowing the pain of water, fuel, and food (etc.) shortages, a chaotic and mad world where people aggressively and fiercely hoard what little resources they have from others.

Sometimes I fear for myself as to what life may be like as I get older but I am absolutely terrified of the idea of what this could mean to my child. Yes, I understand adoption is an option and one that we are seriously considering but out of curiosity how did those who took that leap into parenthood get pass this mental or emotional hurdle? Again this is a serious and sincere question and on that I come back to again and again but am deeply afraid to ask my friends who are having children for fear or really alienating them.

All I can say on the subject is that these concerns were part of my decision to remain childless. I am, I admit, a big chicken. I don't know how other people do it.

Anne Lamott said something like "Being a parent means never having another peaceful night -" because of all the fears that come along with having children.



Crunchy Carpets said...

I think for us..it brought out the activist in us..we don't sit quiet...we write letters, we support politicians, we try to learn etc...

However, another part of me wants us to have a fully stocked cabin in the woods with lots of guns

mamatulip said...

I am a huge worrier - and honestly, sometimes I don't know how I get through each day, with two kids, without worrying myself to death about them.

super des said...

I think that since there are things in the world that are not under our control, the best we can do is provide for our children. Since for the most part, people (in this country anyway) get to choose when to have a child, they should plan for when they themselves can provide a happy healthy home. The world out there will work itself out.

I've never met anyone who regretted having children because of the state of the world.

(and I know I don't have children, but I can't yet provide for them. Someday I will.)

Anonymous said...

I've thought about it, sure. But I guess I've also thought that unless people like me HAVE children, the world will never get better. It may be immodest to say, but I am smart, capable and kind -- as is my husband -- and I like to think that we will raise smart, capable and kind children who will, in some capacity, help to make the world a better place.

I don't know entirely how I'm contributing to this personally, but I like to think that I am -- by being generous with charities and my time, by voting the way I believe will help our world to get back on track, and by doing what I can to be a decent person, every day.

I think if most people like us don't have children -- and by "have" I mean via adoption, biological, whatever -- the world will be in a much more dire place. Unfortunately, we are the type to not have children for the very reasons you outlined.

Blog Antagonist said...

Absolutely, it's frightening. But I guess, I choose to see my children and all children as hope for the future and perhaps saviors of a kind. Saviors of the earth, saviors of the human race.
I have to believe that they will right our wrongs, fix our mistakes, continue our good causes and defeat the bad ones.

Perhaps that's naieve, but it's better than the alternative.

But I'm with Crunchy Carpets. Sometimes I think Randy Weaver was onto something.

Lynnea said...

The previous two commentors hit it for us too. Raising responsible, ethical, caring and respectful children into the same kind of adults is the goal. We believe that doing that is a big part of what we are giving to the world by hopefully adding to the good here. It is scary sometimes and some days I still question. But I'd rather that were the case than to have blindly just had children and not made the choice to raise them toward that goal.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I could do a 10 page post on this. I'll try to keep this comment short but it'll probably be the longest I've ever left. Sorry, SueBob. I had a bad childhood. I had to work out all my bad feelings and insecurities after I quit self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. If you have unresolved issues from your childhood, in most cases and especially mine, those issues are highlighted when your child hits those painful(for you), milestones in their life. I want to say that there are no guarantees. No guarantee that birth control will actually work. I have been the 99.9% percent that it did not work, twice. I asked my Midwife why and she said some things are out of your control. I was not trying for our 4th child and in some cases I thought that she should have been someone elses in the beginning. I felt like our family was complete. Then she was born on my birthday and I love her like I can't describe in words. There are no guarantees that your baby will survive birth. My cousin and his wife lost their daughter 4 hrs. after she was born last year due to breathing difficulties. There are no guarantees that you will have a girl if you want a girl. There are no guarantees that your children will not die in a freak mudslide. I am dealing with losing my friends when I was 15. I self-medicated most of my life and I just realized that I didn't mourn properly back then and I'm dealing with those emotions lately.
My son just started driving and working. He had to take his first of many drug tests to qualify. The day he got his license, he couldn't afford to put gas in his car so he couldn't even go anywhere.
There are no guarantees that my hubby will be happy with me in 5 or 10 years. So far, our 17 years together have been happy for the most part but there are no guarantees.
If you are in a good place in your life and you have a support system(friends and extended family) that love you then I would have to tell you to dive in head first. If you go into it with an open mind and you have love to give, then have a child or two. Just remember that there are no guarantees. The world is going to be what the world is going to be. All you can do is hope for the best and love your kids with all of your heart. That's my best advice in a comment. Best wishes and good luck.

Anonymous said...

My question (as someone who chose not to have children) is along the same lines - but not quite: I often wonder if people ever look at the genes they may be inheriting.

I KNOW that sounds awful, and an awful lot like Eugenics, but, um, I wouldn't wish my anxiety problem on anyone - least of all my kid. I absolutely inherited my anxiety disorder from my mother - and while I'm glad I'm alive, my anxiety has made my life extremely difficult at times.

And as the eventual step-parent of a child who unfortunately seems to be taking after her mother's side of the family (a lot of serious mental illness issues there), I just have to wonder if people ever give that any thought.

Anonymous said...

This is a really, really interesting question.

For a very long time, I didn't think I wanted to have children. Partly for these types of reasons (why bother when everything is all messed up?) and partly for other reasons that I could write 100 pages on but I will leave that for another day.

When I started to explore adoption after seeing my best friend go through the adoption process, I also started to think that my husband and I might actually have a lot to offer a child and a lot to add to some greater story in terms of hope for the future.

As Jonniker said, we consider ourselves to be smart, capable and conscientious people, and we can pass that on to the next generation. Of course, we also get a lot out of the equation, so on some level it is a selfish choice -- we also want the chance to be parents and to care for a child and share our love with her.

Yes, there is a lot of crap in the world. A lot. But I also see a lot of good in the world, and I see a lot of people trying to change the crap and make it better. We are trying to be among those people, in our own small way, and we hope that our daughter will carry that with her, that she'll be a compassionate, productive and giving member of society.

We can't know how things will turn out, but I feel that we've been given a gift in having this opportunity to engage in the future in this way. And I don't mean to be self-aggrandizing like we're going to be some kind of uber-parents, but I think you get the idea.

The constant worrying, though? That's going to be hard. I guess our faith and our trust in ourselves, in God, and in our child will carry us through.

Mignon said...

Assuming anon is a loving, capable adult in a good relationship, consider this: if she has a child, and at the age of 20 that child has grown physically and emotionally and been nurtured and loved, but that child then faces a shortage of water, oil, human kindness, will he/she say, "Dammit all to hell, mom, you should never have given birth to me!"?

How many people, even in their darkest hour, say, "I wish I'd never been born."?

So yeah, we smart, compassionate ones have kids and hope they will change the world. But also, you can't think of it in terms of, "But I'm giving them the gift of a failing earth and society." You have to say, "I'm giving them the gift of life and love."

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Sure it is scary, but if we raise them right maybe they will be the ones to save the Earth. Maybe they can make it a better place.

Maybe I can do that for them.

Piece of Work said...

People have been worried that the world is going to hell since the time of Socrates, and somehow it always keeps going on. There are ups and downs and change for the better and for the worse, but I think you have to take the good with the bad. It's a messy world, but that doesn't mean I want to deny anyone the chance to play in it. Know what I mean?

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Correction on mine, SueBob. I was the one tenth of a percent where BC didn't work, twice. Sorry!

meno said...

I thought about this before i had a child.

And then i selfishly went and had one anyway.

It was selfish because i did it to make my life better.

Anonymous said...

From Nancy at Mommaamme: I was six months pregnant on 9/11, and I remember sobbing in my
husband's arms that night -- wondering how on earth we could be
bringing a baby into such a fucked up world.

I'm more optimistic, in general, now -- being able to witness the
miracle of these little humans growing and changing before my eyes
does help. But yes, I do still stress about the environment, and the
potential for war, and freak accidents. (An ambulance showed up at
Rosie's day care this morning and I thought I would hyperventilate.)

We are certainly trying to raise our girls to be good citizens and
moral people. But honestly, it's not them I worry about...

Count Mockula said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Jonniker and Mignon.

Anonymous said...

I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said, other than I am glad this could be discussed here in an open and honest way, without getting dragged into the muck. Kudos to all.

Suzanne said...

When I saw that comment originally, I nodded my head vigorously. It is one of the manyu reasons I chose not to have a kid. And also what Jessica said. While my husband is awesome, I think about the serious bouts of depression that I am prone to. I can not risk passing that on and watching someone I love with every fiber of my soul go through it. That is another reason I chose not to have a kid.

At the same time, I am very happy that other people are having kids and doing a great job raising them to be wonderful people. It's just not a role I feel is right for me.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't even sure if I should respond for fear of sounding too cynical and pessimistic. But this is a critical issue, I feel. I am one of those who looked at the state of the world and chose not to bring any more children into it.

I admire the guts it takes to have and raise children and wish more people took it on with the magnitude of responsibility that it deserves.

But at some point, I think we have to look at the Earth and its dwindling resources. I'm a little uncomfortable with the justification that I could bring a child into the world who would grow up to make that difference and heal the Earth. There are just too many people. Period. And more people, regardless of the way they are raised, will just continue to tax the food, water, land and fuel supplies.

cameo said...

one of my favorite lines is from the song "flag pole sitter" - "been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding..."
i've had 3 kids - what does that make me? human.
educated people are the ones who tend to remain childless or have one child. ironically, educated people are the ones who need to be having children. (not that anyone NEEDS to be having kids, but you know what i mean)
maybe one of my kids will change your world for the better.
maybe my children will effect great shift for our planet.
who's to say?
i wrestled with whether or not i should have children. i weighed the pros and cons. and i have three conscientious, smart kids. and they bring great joy to the people who know them. that counts for something. and as for the pain involved with being a parent - it's there. but a life lived in fear, isn't lived. all i hope for are long, healtly, productive lives for my children. that's all i can do. and that's all i hope for myself as well.

Julie Marsh said...

I love that song Cameo referenced, and that line is true.

Sure, I worry about my kids. But it's my goal to raise them to be good citizens and responsible stewards of this country and the world.

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