Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

Please ... Stop Having Children!*

Consider taking a step back when the urge to have kids strikes.

*Okay, okay, this title needs an asterisk. I love kids and think that bringing children into the world and raising them well is one of the greatest things a person can do. I hope to have kids one day. But what I'm referring to here is people having children for the wrong reasons.

Far too often, it seems to me, men and women choose to have kids for the wrong reasons: basically, to fill themselves up and make themselves feel loved. And that right there is one of my most cringe-inducing, nostrils-flaring pet peeves. Children deserve to be born into situations where the parents are emotionally balanced and want children for the right reasons - to give them love and stability, and to help them to flourish.

If you are in a relationship and are contemplating having children, ask yourself why you want to have kids. Having children to keep up with the Joneses, or simply because you've always wanted to have them are not good enough reasons. Talk with your partner and ask him or her the same thing.

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In my private practice, I see many adults who come in for therapy because they didn't get the love, support, and attention they needed from their parents when they were growing up. When children don't get what they need from their parents, it's usually because their parents weren't ready or didn't have children for the right reasons in the first place.

The whole messed-up cycle usually starts with social pressure to fit in and to be like those around you. We all know that people often get married because that's just what everyone does. (Enter divorce, stage right.) Unfortunately, people also have kids for similarly unhealthy reasons. Too many childless men and women fall victim to the social pressures that everyone is supposed to have kids to be happy and whole, and end up having kids themselves. Later, they find they're not so crazy about their little rug rats - or they don't prioritize them, which is even worse.

If this is one of the reasons why you want to have kids - because it's what everyone else is doing - give yourself permission to wait and really think about this lifelong, life-altering decision. The harsh reality is that having kids for the wrong reasons will backfire like nobody's business. At some point, when you're driving to a play date with a couple of little ones screaming in the backseat, you could find yourself feeling frustrated, claustrophobic, and resentful if you've had them for the sake of filling your own voids. Take a wild guess whose radar will pick up on that message loud and clear. Still not sure? The kids. THE KIDS!

 

PLUS: Dr. Seth's new book, Dr. Seth's Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve, is about how to stop repeating destructive patterns in your romantic relationships. You can find it in major bookstores, or at Amazon.

 

Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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