7 Reasons Why People Who Have Kids Are More Selfish Than Those Who Don’t

Parents. Oh, long-suffering, self-sacrificing parents. How they dedicate their lives to their children. The snot stains on their crumpled clothes and the dark circles under their puffy eyes are badges of honour. Their inability to watch Netflix marathons in peace can be likened to the great sages going without food and water to achieve enlightenment. Look, look, see how they give, give, give. Instead of romantic vacations in Ko Phi Phi, they endure roller coaster rides on Sentosa Island, instead of dining out every night, they sink most of their finances into school fees. Selfless, selfless parents.

Sorry, I beg to disagree.

If anything, parents are way more selfish than those who choose to be child-free. How do I know? I’m a parent! I have two beautiful babies, a daughter and a son, and my ovaries keep whispering at me to have a third one before it’s too late. In short, often to my own surprise, I love breeding and rearing kids. But I also know how selfish this entire pursuit is. It really struck me the other day when I was lunching with an old friend of mine. She is pretty certain she doesn’t want to have kids, but her choice is being deemed as “selfish” by many family members (and others who have no business poking their nose into what she chooses to do with her reproductive organs). Wherever she turns she finds herself looking into the baleful eyes of wannabe grandparents and friends who keep trying to convince her she will regret her choice.

If you really love children, don’t have them.

The term “childfree” invokes images of twerking in an Ibiza nightclub and eating croissants in bed all weekend (and WHY NOT), but what it actually entails is constantly battling societal pressure, emotional blackmail and the need to justify one’s own existence—it’s as if those without kids become living spectres if they don’t produce replacement versions of themselves. And they are repeatedly told they are selfish, selfish, selfish. Now,  I don’t believe being selfish is necessarily a bad thing, but if the title really HAS to be given to anyone, it is parents, not non-parents.

Here are my reasons.

  1. The world is an ugly place

Air crisis, water crisis, food crisis, Donald Trump, war, cyber-bullying, reality TV, Justin Bieber, climate change… the list goes on and on. It is morally wrong to bring innocent babies into this mess. I was acutely aware of all these things and more, but I was selfish… I wanted to feel a baby grow, to birth them, feed them. And having done it once, I wanted it again, and again… even though it is wrong on so many levels, like a hit of heroin.  I love them so much but I have done them no favours by giving them a ticket into this hellhole. Fortunately, as this article in Scroll points out, many Indians are making the wiser and kinder and less selfish choice.

  1. Babies are bad for the planet

Yes, I know they are beautiful look at and delicious to smell and hold. And there is a tiny chance that a baby will achieve great things… but let’s be honest, how many of the 131.4 million babies born each year will actually change the world in any positive way? They will add further stress to already burdened resources and end up as cogs in an increasingly meaningless and dubious wheel.  Do you know that the biggest personal contribution you can make to climate change is having less/no babies? If we were so unselfish, we would have thought of that instead of buying plastic ovulation sticks and starting a diaper fund. Oh, you’re one of those virtuous parents who uses cloth diapers, and each load of shit you clean adds to the halo around your head? Sorry, your overpriced organic cotton options are just as bad.

  1. They are unlikely to be happy

An insane number of children suffer abuse—physical, sexual, emotional. The world is becoming sadder and sadder, and so far none of the pills we’ve produced have helped very much with the anxiety and depression that so many young people go through. In India, for example, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth, who were cute little babies not so long ago. It is heartbreaking. It seems like a healthier choice to prioritise one’s own happiness and wellbeing rather than birth kids who may not have the same luck. Why play Russian roulette with the happily unknowing unborn?

  1. Poor parenting could destroy them

Families can be wonderful, but they can also be sites of abuse and murder. Too extreme? Murderous or not, how many of us can truly say that we will be good parents? Are we sure that we can give them the financial and emotional security that will give them a much greater chance of becoming productive citizens? Are we good enough role models? The chances are your parenting could add to crime statistics. It seems like a rational choice to take that uncertainty out of the mix and do the best you can do to follow the law and not transfer your insecurities, pathologies and hang-ups on to someone else.

  1. Children are not objects

SO many people have kids for the wrong reasons. Some do it without thinking (so selfish! See all the reasons above), others shamelessly and narcissistically want a “mini-me” (what if it looks like Aunty Reena with the unfortunate nose, what then?), some misguidedly want to undo the mistakes of their own parents (are children experiments for you to demonstrate your superior skills?), others think their children’s job is to take care of them in old age (invest in a retirement fund instead of selfishly burdening your kids!) Some get tired of the constant pestering and have babies to “give” their own parents grandchildren (are children playthings to be produced for people who will not be their primary caretakers?).

It is absolutely morally wrong to have children just to make someone else happy, or to fill up a void or unmet need in your life. It is selfish. Babies deserve better. What will you do if they don’t make you happy or you can’t properly take care of them? There’s no store to return them to.  If you have such an emptiness in your life, get a hobby or a prescription. Babies are not antidepressants. They are people. Respect them, even if they are never born.

  1. Being a parent doesn’t add joy to the world

When you don’t have babies, you are doing a favour to cinema-goers, restaurant patrons and airline passengers. There are a few less wails and tantrums for the public at large to endure just because you decided to multiply. Also, parents are grumpy… no surprise that a study found that having a child causes a greater drop in happiness than divorce or unemployment.

7. You can do better than merely propagating your genes

Let me give you my example: motherhood has made me extremely complacent about my hard-earned education and work experience, and I choose to spend the majority of my time engaged in raising my babies. Like many parents, I have taken a backseat to my kids. Their needs, ambitions, goals—those are the things I’m focused on. But that could very well come to nought. I may try to create a beneficial set of circumstances, but I cannot control what they do with their lives. Instead of driving myself to contribute more economically, or achieving more ambitious personal goals, or working for the greater good in some way, I am cleaning bums all day with wipes that are probably going to do all sorts of awful things to the earth. So maybe I AM contributing something despite my paltry earnings and fixation on creative purees for my infant, but what about me and what other things I’m capable of?

The argument often trotted out is that many parents (and we all know, by parents every one means “mothers”) do end up achieving great things and “having it all” but that’s a cop out. Something has to give—you’re either going on the mommy track and retiring—in a sense—prematurely, or you’re as focused as ever on your personal goals, but your kids lose out on a strong parental presence. In both scenarios, you stew in guilt—guilt for working, guilt for not working. It’s little wonder that so many mothers are depressed—which is neither good for them nor their babies.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to be the best you can be rather than sinking your all into a tiny being who you will likely screw up?

At the end of this rant, I have realised something. I love my children. But if you love all children, you won’t have them.

I ‘Got Over’ My Miscarriage Easily And It’s Freaking People Out

“It’s happening,” I whispered to my husband, smiling in the dark. It was 1am, our daughter was asleep, and what I was feeling were unmistakably contractions. Not long after, I felt an urge to push, but instead of racing to the hospital, I went and sat on the toilet and let the inevitable happen. I was having a miscarriage, and I felt nothing but relief in that moment.
Later in the day, once the goriest parts were over and I went about my routine as usual, I felt a certain discomfort. Wasn’t I supposed to cry, to grieve, to be miserable for days on end, especially considering this was a much wanted baby that I had just lost? What kind of person was I to be so self-congratulatory about what I boasted to my husband was a “perfect miscarriage” (natural, not much bleeding, a quick cessation of pain)?

I’m not a heartless, emotionless person. The three weeks preceding the miscarriage were hell. I’d had a chemical pregnancy in May 2016 and two months later I was pregnant again. I was so anxious about it sticking; after wiping, every non-bloody piece of tissue was like a talisman as were the pregnancy tests I took every other day. I told my 2.5-year-old daughter that she could expect a sibling, took my vitamins, milked every twinge for sympathy and dismissal from childcare duties. It all went downhill at the reassurance scan I took at 6 weeks. There was just a wonky looking sac that measured behind by about 10 days. Progesterone pills were prescribed, another scan was scheduled. A week in limbo followed. Endless lurking on a website about misdiagnosed miscarriage, tears, hope, feelings of failure — I could barely function. The second scan revealed the presence of a foetus and that the sac had grown, but no heartbeat. Yet another follow-up scan was scheduled. Another week of being a shit parent, obsessive trawling of forums, tears, rage, grief. Misery all around.

 

Is dissolving into tears and sinking into a depression the only acceptable and “real” response to a miscarriage?

 

Then at the final scan, when I was about 9 weeks along, I was told there was no hope. The baby had probably died around 6.3 weeks. And that’s when the gloom started to lift. I was being released from limbo. There was nothing I could do, no amount of “research” on the internet could give me the hope I craved, I could get back to my life. I could stop grieving.
I told my husband we should go “celebrate” at a nearby restaurant, which we did. I tucked into cured meats with gusto and knocked back a few strong coffees. I felt quite cheerful. My spirits were further uplifted that very evening, when the bleeding started. No D&C, no misoprostol! This may have been a rubbish pregnancy but at least I could have a good miscarriage. My luck had not run out completely.

Once the fetus was out (I told my husband it felt like chunky vaginal diarrhoea while I was “evacuating” it, and he went grey in the face), I had no desire to look at it, to assign it a gender, to name it, to think of it as a potential person. I told myself all the clichés you’re not supposed to say to women going through miscarriage, and they helped me cope: it was just a ball of cells, everything happens for a reason, it was not meant to be, it was all for the best, at least it wasn’t ectopic/molar/late in the pregnancy, at least I had another child, I could try again. Every at least made me feel better because it reminded me that other people were worse off than me. I was still charmed dammit.

I did not take the day off at work and decided to go the doctor for the all-clear once the bleeding had subsided completely — I was not in much physical discomfort, I didn’t want manufactured sympathy or clinical prodding and the practice I go to plays Kenny G’s more plaintive saxophone renditions on loop, which I find unbearable.

Most people who knew what had happened made it a point to commend me on my “strength” but they were also a little appalled. I sometimes make jokes about it and that freaks people out too (I was quite proud of a little limerick I came up with: “My oven threw out my bun, so maybe now we are one and done.” Well, at least it rhymes). Some people think I’m faking it. Others say I’m not allowing myself to grieve. My husband actually told me to at least behave a little less clinical and cheerful about the whole thing because it makes me appear as if I am dissociated from reality.

But am I? Is dissolving into tears and sinking into a depression the only acceptable and “real” response to a miscarriage?

There’s almost a taboo around being able to “get over it.” It somehow makes you this insensitive, unfeeling person. Not woman enough.

There are so many articles about there being no one way to grieve or cope. I completely agree with that and feel great sympathy and empathy for everyone struggling in the aftermath of a miscarriage. I felt all of those emotions myself in the weeks before I physically lost the baby. But it should swing both ways. There’s almost a taboo around being able to “get over it.” It somehow makes you this insensitive, unfeeling person. Not woman enough. On occasion I found myself pretending to be sadder than I was because it was expected of me. That sucks. It’s not that I don’t regret what happened. Of course I do. I wanted that baby. But once I lost it, moving forward was the only way for me and I was grateful I was able to do it this time. It was a blessing to me that I could find that resilience, because that doesn’t always come easily to me. I definitely feel worried about ever being able to carry another pregnancy to term and sometimes I don’t want to even try again because the whole process causes so much anxiety.

But for now I am happy to have an empty womb.