One thing I’ve found is that so many people have children without even thinking about it. It’s just a given. It’s what you do: You get married, you have kids.
Sometimes not in that order, but I digress.
But the thing is, it shouldn’t be a given. We are sentient beings. We take the time to make decisions about everything in our lives, having children should be no different. We agonize over what college to go to, who to marry, what our careers should be, and yet we give very little thought to the question “Should I be a parent?”.
And it’s not simply a question of whether or not children should be a part of your future.
Should you adopt? Should you have biological children? Should you have children at all? There are so many different options. What should factor into your decision? Only you can answer that, but here are a few thoughts that I have come up with.
I personally believe that one factor should be based purely on you and your partner. It depends on your lifestyle, your hopes, your ambitions, your personalities and innumerable other things. This leads me to my first category.
1. People who should not be parents
This covers a multitude of reasons. Everything from “it’s not what I want to do with my life” to “I am not capable of raising a child”–which, let’s face it, can cover anything from health issues to selfishness to a toxic personality that could actually damage a child.
I think we all know people who fall into this first category, and many of them (sadly) have children, and the children are the ones who suffer the most. Taking the time to truly decide if you are meant to be a parent isn’t just for you, it’s for the potential children too.
And if–for whatever reason–someone decides that a child is not a part of their future, do not try to change their mind. Do not say ‘oh, well some day you will’. Do not judge them. It is their decision, not yours, and you have no idea what went into making it. Respect that.
Of course, there are people who a meant to be parents. I know so many wonderful people who are parents and so many wonderful people who are meant (and want) to be parents, but do not have children yet. This brings me to my next category.
2. People who should be parents and their genes are beneficial to the gene pool.
PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT, by any means, saying there should be rules and regulations for who should be allowed to reproduce based solely on their genes. This is not that kind of thought. In fact, I will use my husband and I as an example, and a true example at that.
My husband has bi-polar disorder, migraines, moderately severe sleep apnoea, and has a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. I have depression, anxiety, migraines, poly-cystic ovary syndrome, extremely poor vision and a family history of heart disease, bi-polar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke. We didn’t feel right saddling our child with that. Again, it is not about us. It is about the child.
Hundreds of years ago, I wouldn’t have lived into my reproductive years. I would have died from appendicitis at age 9. But instead, modern medicine saved me.I am beyond grateful that I live in a time and place where technology has given me the chance to reproduce (since I can’t on my own). But that same life-saving technology has eliminated natural selection. So we have to make that decision ourselves. It is irresponsible–not just for your child, but for future generations–to reproduce without considering whether or not your genes negatively impact the gene pool, and to what degree.
The next kind is related to the previous two categories and it is this:
3. People who should be parents but shouldn’t allow their genes to continue to affect the gene pool
Maybe there is a couple who should be parents, but they are carries for Huntington’s Disease. They would fall into this category. This is where options such as adoption come into play, although some people in this category do wind up in the first category because they feel it is what is right for them.
On the flip side of that there are also people who should not be parents but their genes would be beneficial to the gene pool. This does not, under any circumstances, mean they should have children just because they have good genes. That is never a good enough reason to bring a child into this world. I’m not including this as ‘main category’ simply because it is not a reason to have or not have children.
Children are a blessing, but not to everyone. And not everyone is a blessing to children. There are so many ways to make a family, and I feel that we have–as a society–been defining it too narrowly. We need to thoughtfully make these decisions for ourselves, not rely on the momentum from the past to make our decisions for us.