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Parents Speak Up and Out

The question of pro-creation – kids – can we live with ’em or without ’em? It’s one of the basic life conditions (and human desires) made sticky by both environmental social issues. Cultural norms determine that being a parent is an essential ingredient to happiness, yet the society in which we are being asked to parent is a rocky road at best, one which can and does lead to different results.

Utne Magazine recently cited an article in Contexts by Robin W. Simon, titled, “Bundle of Trouble”, exposing a new set of conclusions regarding the parenting life. “Although studies indicate parents derive more purpose and meaning from life than nonparents, as a group, moms and dads in the United States also experience depression, emotional distress, and negative emotions (such as fear, anxiety, worry, and anger) far more than their child-free peers. What’s more, parents of grown children report no greater well-being than adults who never had children.”

A letter from a BC mom showed up in the following issue of Utne this month:

“”Bundle of Trouble” was a breath of fresh air. The reality of raising children seems to be a secret that is kept to ensure the survival of the species. Parenting is a relentless life of service, sacrifice, and worry; takes a tremendous, often fatal toll on marriages and relationships; tests the resources and patience of parents beyond humane expectations; can be mind-numbingly boring; and is often exectued so poorly it bequeaths generations of damaged souls. And yes — it allows us to experience a depth of love like nothing else on earth. I’m an optimistic person, with an exceptional 18-year-old musician daughter just starting university, whom I cherish beyond words. I don’t regret my choice and for the most part enjoyed the process immensely and have found parenthood tremendously rewarding. But let’s be honest about the personal and societal cost. Parenthood should be a conscious and well-educated choice for one’s path in life and should not be considered in our culture as the only path to true fulfillment.”

Thank you for your honesty and perspective, Shari Ulrich. Namaste.

3 Responses to “Parents Speak Up and Out”

  1. Sami Grover Says:

    Thanks for this TAO,

    I am always glad to see folks willing to speak up and express these uncomfortable truths – that parenting isn’t an obligation; that childlessness can be a positive choice for self and for society; and that having children is hard frickin work. I’m sick to death of folks pushing the idea that parenting is the obvious conclusion for folks, and that folks who take a different route are somehow not complete, or not grown up enough.

    If you’ll permit me to go off on a related tangent though – I do get tired of the zero population growth advocates too – the folks who say the only responsible choice is to not have kids. While TECHNICALLY they are right – we’d all be better off if every conscious wannabe parent adopted – I just see no realistic way of reaching that society, and I see it branding us greenies as fanatics.

    A much more realistic, and productive, scenario is one that I believe this post is in allignment with – we need to create a society that CELEBRATES adoption, CELEBRATES conscious childlessness, CELEBRATES limiting the number of children you have – and we need to create a society that STOPS demonising/patronizing/ignoring the childless, STOPS demaning/underfunding/underewarding adopters/foster parents, STOPS glorifying giant families and the WONDEr of parenthood at all costs, but also STOPS digging at the folks who have a small number of children and do it well.

    Balance in all things – great to see it being discussed.

  2. tao Says:

    PERFECTLY SAID Sami~~~ that covers everything and hits it right on. Thanks for your comment. It helps everything to be able to look at balance, perspective and different paths honored. I also hope we stop digging at folks who have no children yet are leading fulfilling, giving and productive lives.

  3. Jeannie Newell Says:

    Thanks for this! Also – advice from Ted Turner – couples should replace themselves (2 child maximum) in consideration of the increasing world population. If they want to, that is!

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