Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bad reasons not to have children

There was an article in the Times by a woman who has two children who appears to regret it rather bitterly. There's a nice fisking at:

I think I know why this woman is so bitter. It is because she thinks that motherhood entails sacrificing all sorts of important aspects of ones autonomy - physical (childbirth, breastfeeding, children climbing all over one), intellectual (as expressed in having a career, and childless-adult-dinner-party kind of conversation), and emotional (tension in the new nexus of relationships between the two couples and their children).

I think people - both men and women - should embark on parenting with as much seriousness as they would embark on any other creative project. I don't mean that children are a project (urgh), I mean that being the best parent one can be, and having the most possible fun in the process, is the way to approach it. A woman wants intellectual stimulation beyond the interests and needs of her 6 year old? Fine. Find a way to get that stimulation, don't blame the 6 year old for existing, or for their supposed limiting of opportunity. It boils down to optimism. Er... and TCS, I guess.

The self-sacrifice memes are at the root of that woman's book and article. She does not know that one can have, or at least approach, an autonomy-respecting relationship with one's children. I'm not surprised - self-sacrifice is deeply engrained in most women - we learned it at our own mothers' knees - and I think that learning to express what one actually wants oneself is one of the biggest hurdles to happy motherhood (it's certainly my biggest hurdle).