Complete Without Kids

Exploring all facets of childfree living.

What’s Up With These Moms? Motherhood Is a Commitment!

US mothers are running away from home.

There's a disturbing trend that appears to be growing in popularity in the US-mothers running away from home, or even worse, murdering their children. Some mothers commit suicide after killing their children when they can no longer cope.

The moms who kill their children are vilified, but sadly, those who run away to pursue their own selfish dreams are often treated as heroines. Case in point is a newly released book written by a woman who took a six-month break from her husband and two young boys, and during her time away, realized that she no longer wanted to be a wife and mother.

 

Okay, so far it sounds like a scenario that might happen to any parent out there, ending with their realization on the airplane home that the fantasy was over and it was time to get back to real life-but this mother's next move is what is generating angry reader comments by the dozens. She did return home, but she did so apparently only long enough to divorce her husband, pack up her things, and move out, leaving her boys to be parented by their father. One reader wisely suggested that the writer ought to set aside all of the proceeds from her book to pay for the long term therapy her boys will need to deal with their abandonment issues.

 

Didn't She Realize that Motherhood is the Biggest Commitment of a Lifetime??

It is confusing that this mom somehow didn't get the simple fact that once she chose to have children, they were her full responsibility until they reached adulthood, and her personal quests had to be put on the back burner until that time. She thought, instead, that there was a return policy and that her role as mother was nonessential in her children's upbringing. She thought that it was okay for her to put her own selfish needs and desires first, that if she no longer felt like being a mother, she could simply walk away from this role. She, like so many other parents these days in America, confused the message of finding one's own path in life with that of doing what feels good no matter who might be harmed.

 

The positive that I see coming out of this sad situation is that many Americans, men and women, are speaking out and proclaiming that it's time we stopped selfishly thinking about ourselves, and instead got back to the basic value of putting our innocent children, who have no choice, first. Bottom line is that, once you cross the line into parenthood, you can't go back.

 

Parenting is a Choice

Parenting is indeed a choice, and taking the time to evaluate this decision carefully prior to getting "in a family way" is the first step to take to prevent this abandonment of innocent children. If every single man and woman fully contemplated the level of commitment, sacrifice, and responsibility that being a parent would bring, many of these tragic situations could be prevented. The choice of whether or not to become a parent is perhaps the only life decision that one can't change his or her mind about midstream.

 

I hear so many parents say that they didn't plan to have a child, but once the baby arrived they found that it was the best thing ever. That's wonderful, but what about those parents who don't plan and then find that being a parent isn't the best thing ever. They grieve the loss of life paths they wanted to take-sadly, if they'd taken time to consider their options, these losses would not have been necessary. For those who stumbled into parenthood, whether they're pleased with this "oops" or not, it's necessary to grow up and make the best of the situation. Walking away from one's parental responsibility is not an option.

 

It Takes a Village, but Remember, It's Still Your Child-Not Mine

While we're on the topic of commitment, it's important to address another trend that's taken hold, that of assuming that the raising of children is the responsibility of society as a whole rather than the primary responsibility of the child's parents. I see it as just another example of people jumping into a role, that of being mother or father, and then deciding that they don't really want to do what it takes. We all know that children need a huge amount of attention, caretaking, discipline, and teaching, and who is better positioned to provide these than the child's parents. I recently took a very long plane journey, and the mother of the small child across the way made no move to try to keep him calm, as he screamed out, wandered up and down the aisle, and threw his body against the seat in front of him. She simply shrugged her shoulders and accepted his behavior calmly, with no apparent regard for how this was impacting all of us around her and no consideration that controlling her child's behavior was indeed her responsibility, no that of the airline.

 

Parenting Isn't For Everyone-and That's Okay

Bottom line is that parenting isn't for us all. There is nothing wrong with deciding that one's life path is going to involve other elements. Parenthood needs to be taken down from the pedestal. It's not a role to be idolized and idealized. We all have a place in the world, and those of us who choose to not raise children have other roles to serve that are of equal importance to parenting. It's time that childfree adults were acknowledged and appreciated for what we do with the time we're not spending in childrearing rather than being viewed as somehow selfish and immature.

 

As a society, it's time for us to firmly look parents in the eyes and let them know that they have made a huge commitment and we expect them to take this responsibility seriously and to do a good job of raising their children. Thank parents whom you see doing just that!! And parents, take time to say thank you to your friends who are childfree, to acknowledge them for what they give to society and for the resources they're leaving unused and available to your children.

 

 

 

 

Ellen Walker, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living By Choice Or By Chance.

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