What is it like having children you don’t want?
This question sparked a viral thread on Reddit. Buzzfeed took 24 replies where parents confess the hardships they’ve faced because they decided to raise the children they had. These parents aren’t the ones you hear about on the news for neglecting their children or the ones you see screaming at their young ones at the grocery store for acting like a child. These people are seen as grade A parents, the model parents everyone wants to be
The thread has various anonymous posts from parents who share their heartbreaking tales. Reddit user u/ChristiOnionstrings said, “I have three. I really thought I wanted kids because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do: be a wife and have kids. I love them, and I want the best for them. But I don’t have the same connection to them that other moms seem to have. I don’t miss them when I have to go on a long trip. I just feel relief. Having them home because of the pandemic has been really hard for me. I have a lot of guilt about it. Even though I’m surrounded by family, it feels pretty damn lonely. I don’t feel like I belong in my own life.”
On paper, I would be a perfect mother. I know how to communicate with children, play with them and comfort them when they need it. I am a teacher of kids any age from Kindergarten to 7th grade. The kids I work with amaze me every day, and they make me want to go into teaching. I am the mom friend in the group, and some friends even refer to me as “mom.” It seems that I am meant to be a mother.
As of right now, I am in a battle about whether or not I want my own children. How can I be sure I am capable of taking on that role? I can barely take care of myself, let alone a tiny human that relies solely on me to live. The scary thing about it is that there is no one to judge me on my capabilities. If I ended up pregnant, the doctors and hospital staff would wrap up a helpless tiny human, send them home with me, and hope I could step into the mother role.
A new trend with the younger generation is the lack of wanting the “luxury” of parenthood. According to New York life a baby costs anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 in the first year of their life. Between car payments, rent and paying students loans, I will not have enough money on a journalist salary.
While it’s comforting to hear other people my age say they don’t want children, I still feel alone. Whenever I say something to my parents about not giving them grandkids, they say, “that will change when you’re older.” No one talks about the family members that had children that didn’t want them and treated the kids horrendously. We expect everyone who has kids to be prepared and happy with the life they are forced to have. Nobody talks about the parents who count down the days till their child’s 18 birthday so they can send them out on their own.
Maybe my family is right; maybe one day, when I am older, I will realize I want that special bond with a tiny version of myself. But right now I have to focus on my own mental, physical and financial wellbeing. I can’t risk being the reason why there is someone out in the world who feels unloved and not wanted, because children are smart and pick up on subtle cues.
As someone who came from a parent who didn’t want children and wasn’t ready to have that responsibility, I vowed not to become like that. A child is a lifetime commitment, and you don’t get to choose when you want to parent.