Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...


I have just finished reading a friend's view on having kids on her blog. Her view is that "that having kids is a big responsibility and one shouldn't have them unless one really wants them". She also hates people hinting that she might be being selfish by not wanting them. I'm paraphrasing, but I'm sure she'll tell me if I've got it wrong.

I've always just assumed that I'll have kids. Not right now, but at some stage. I have a nurturing personality. I've been "looking after" my friends ever since kindergarten at age 3 when I used to beat up the pre-school boys (who were 5 and much bigger than me) who teased a girl in my class who was a little disabled.

Unfortunately, I'm also one of those that ususally can't help myself telling my friends in the early 20's that "they'll change their minds" about having kids. It's not that I don't think they believe what they are saying, it's just that most of my older friends said the same thing at that age, and they're now sprogging up all over the place!

The change seemed to come in their late 20's or early 30's. I have a theory that it's a dual reality-check that seems to bring it about. Firstly, most of them see their friends settle down with kids around this time and realise that it's not the end of your life to have kids. They also see how rapt these new mums and dads are with this tiny bundle - gazing at him/her with the same sort of dewy-eyed attention they used to pay to their beer. Secondly, around the same time, most of us come face to face with the fact that we are getting older - grey hairs and wrinkles start to appear, for guys - sometimes the hair on top of their head starts to disappear, muscle tone is harder to maintain, and you find that your body takes longer and longer to recover when you do something stupid with it (like drinking 10 shots in an hour at your baby cousin's 18th). Suddenly the idea of settling down to a simpler life with a couple of pieces of immortality doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Also, having to continually use birth control gets to be a bit of a drag.

Back to my friend's points. To some extent, I agree that you shouldn't have kids unless you and your partner want them. On the other hand, it's fairly rare for two people to continuously have the same view about NOT wanting kids throughout the course of a long relationship. As I've said, most of them seem to change their minds. Most of us like being part of a family. As cool as it is to be "the fun aunt" to my niece and nephew (and my friend's kids), I will never achieve the kind of closeness that they have with their parents. And, ideally, I would like that. In much the same was as, ideally, I would like to achieve the sort of closeness that my married friends have. Long term relationships are about sharing your life with another person, and creating a new little being that you both adore is a great way of sharing that life.

I don't think someone is selfish for not wanting kids. Possibly short-sighted, but not selfish. On the other hand, my observation is that people who DO have kids tend to be less selfish than those that don't. But that's not about wanting, that's about having!

Kids are a great learning curve. They are completely dependant on you for the first few years of their lives and you have to put their needs before your own. For most of us, I think this is a hard lesson to learn. We spend a lot of time thinking about what WE want and then going out there to get it. Even people who spend their lives helping others tend to do it for basically selfish reasons: because they enjoy it, because they want to make a difference, because they like to be needed. That doesn't mean that I respect those people any less, I'm just realistic about their motivations.

Most parents I know do stuff for their kids because it needs to be done. And because they love that kid, sometimes without having any logical reason for doing so. I know there are bad parents out there, but I truly believe that a good person will make a good parent, whether they are 'nurturers' by nature or not. Even the most non-nurturing parents I know still feel very protective of their child.

So I guess my main reason for wanting kids is that I want to be a better person. I look at people in my parents and grandparents generations and I generally like the ones that have been parents, and dislike the ones who haven't because their priorities seem to be all skewed. In my experience, the non-parents in their old age have become more focussed on issues than on people.

I think as you get older, you either focus on your family, or your work (by which I include non-paid or community work). Those that focus on work seem to get very driven and determined to achieve their goals regardless of the cost. Those that focus on family (ie their own, you can't really focus on someone else's family, even if it's your sibling's) seem to me to be more balanced people and this is the sort of person I want to be.


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