How Selfishness Factors Into Having Children
By Angele D. Russell
Having children is selfish. Yeah, I said it! Now, before everyone takes his or her collective gasps - please hear me out.
In my adult life, I’ve continually had issues with someone telling me what I'm “supposed to do." We have all heard it before: “you’re supposed to get a college degree... learn a trade... get married... wear white on your wedding day, etc. My response to all this has always been, “says who?”
For example, let’s tackle the practice of wearing a white dress on your wedding day. The tradition of having a “white wedding” originated in Europe when Queen Victoria decided to change the game and wear a white dress on her wedding day. Before she set the trend, most brides wore regular clothes to their weddings. Only brides of royalty wore elegant dresses and even then, the popular color was red rather than white. After Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding day, the trend spread around the world and only then did wearing white become a symbol of “innocence and purity." Wearing white became even more popular in America once television crystallized the practice as normal, particularly following the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.
My point? To illustrate how these “traditions” we follow may not necessarily have much meaning other than following the ideas and trends of others, which may or may not affect the significance of those trends in our personal lives.
This brings me to my original contention that having children is selfish. To bring some level of context to this argument, let me tell you about myself. I am 30-years-old and married. I was raised in the South by a single mother in a small town where a lot of people posit on what others are “supposed to do." To most of my family and friends, having children after marrying was the “right thing to do.” I beg to differ.
Think about it. The reasons people give for bringing children into this world are, for the most part, selfish. We’ve all heard them: “it’s time”, “I’ve always wanted kids”, “I want my name to live on”, or “I want to be a better parent than mine were." My personal favorites so far have been “Angele, you’re supposed to have kids... you have child-bearing hips” or “you’re a lawyer and you're husband has a PhD; the two of you can make a super-human.” To that, I say no thanks.
For me, when I think of bringing another life into this world, I don’t sit and dream about baby showers, names, first birthdays, or having someone to love me unconditionally. My mind goes straight to thinking about whether my husband and I are where we need to be physically and spiritually, the world my child would be raised in, the amount of money it will cost to provide an optimal growth environment, the support system we would all need to be effective, and, most importantly, the stress having a child could cause in my marriage.
Unfortunately, with most people I’ve spoken with, these considerations are not seriously taken into account prior to having children. Bringing another life into this world is primarily viewed as “the next, natural thing to do.” But why? Making an uninformed decision to have children can lead to repeats of the very things we try to avoid: generational curses, broken marriages, and financial ruin. Let’s face it. When was the last time you’ve seen marriages get better, financial situations improve, and generational curses broken as a result of an uninformed decision to have children? Probably never.
Am I saying I never want to have children or that having children is crazy? No. My only hope is that we, as a people, become more deliberate in our decision-making. We must stop and think about the “how” and “why” of the choices we make and not go along in life accepting what we are “supposed to do” but challenging the norm and making decisions based on what is really right for us individually. And this applies to more than just having children; it can apply to your career path, the religion you choose to practice, the friends you surround yourself with, and the way you treat yourself.
So, the next time someone says you are “supposed to do” something, just simply reply with “really?” and make a conscious effort to live life on your own terms, fulfilling your life’s vision, not someone else’s. After all, the world is depending on you to walk in your purpose!Angele D. Russell is a writer, blogger, and the owner of Dinners + Dates, a luxe date planning service. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and a lawyer by trade, Angele is passionate about love, life, laughter, travel, and fulfilling her purpose of helping others (and herself) live the best life possible. She is a regular contributor at Madame Noire and pens her own blog on customer service, May I Speak With Your Manager. You can follow her on Twitter.
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