To Have or Have Not: Psychoanalyst shares reasons not to have kids

Maclean'sThe cover of the August 3 issue of Maclean’s magazine (the Canadian equivalent of Time or Newsweek) presents, in large, bold type, “The Case Against Having Kids,” noting that, ‘They can hurt your career, your marriage, your social life, your bank book. Why bother?” The cover story coincides with the Canadian release of a French psychoanalyst’s book, “No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children.” The author, Corinne Maier, has a 14 year-old and an 11 year-old of her own, but says that she sometimes regrets her decision to become a mother. The Maclean’s article reports that Maier bought into societal pressure to be a parent, believing that by embracing motherhood, she would no longer feel lonely.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re a parent, or thinking of becoming one. However, most of us know someone who could list some of Maier’s 40 reasons not to have kids. Here are a few from Maier’s book:
•You will lose touch with your friends
•Your sex life will be over
•Children cost a fortune
•Child-rearing is endless drudgery
•Vacations will be nightmares
•You’ll lose your identity and become just “mom” or “dad”
•Your children will become mindless drones of capitalism
•The planet’s already overcrowded
•Your children will inevitably disappoint you

Strong language. I can’t agree with all of the reasons Maier listed above – although kids do cost a fortune! Nonetheless, some (I can’t say several) of my friends have made the choice to forgo the parenthood role and to focus instead on travel or career. One couple has been quite unequivocal about their reasons for maintaining a DINK (dual income, no kids) lifestyle: “We don’t like children.” Despite this sentiment, I’ve often heard parents talking to this childless pair about their decision, and about all of the reasons why they’re wrong, including the regret that they’ll feel in old age. Again and again in the Maclean’s article, women who have decided to remain childless are quoted, saying that others don’t understand their decision. They feel a societal pressure towards parenting.

Parenting is often hard work. Although I’ve never had a job that I liked better, and I haven’t regretted having kids for a second, I can’t imagine trying to convince someone who doesn’t like kids that they should have some. To the contrary, I strongly believe that if you don’t want kids, you shouldn’t have them. Although your relationship with your own kids is unique – there are no children who you’ll care about more – that might not be enough to overcome your preference for a childless lifestyle, if you have strong feelings about it. Couples who have kids in order to repair their relationship are likely to discover that the impact of being a new parent is more stressful, not less! At the end of the day, I think couples are better off having kids when they’re ready for them, rather than because of outside, societal pressures. But articles like this shouldn’t dissuade prospective parents from having a baby! Most of us know all about the reasons not to have kids, but for some, the desire to have a baby trumps those. The bottom line: becoming a parent is the most important decision you’ll ever make, and it’s not one that should be made under pressure from friends or family!

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