I wrote a fictional story last week from one of the many prompts I follow on a woman who did not want children because of having helped raise her younger siblings. I based the story on a real-life decision made by two people that I know, one of them a grandson.
Both guys had decided before they were teenagers that they did not want to be fathers when they grew up. In both cases, the men felt like the a thief had stolen their childhoods, specifically their mothers, making them responsible for younger members of the family. Neither felt that they were allowed the chances for impish behavior, becoming grown before their time.
My grandson loves his brother and sisters, but being denied opportunities to release his inner child while still young means that he feels that he had already done the “parenting thing,” and he wants nothing more to do with it. His attitude is redolent of my friend who feels the same way. He would not even date women with children, afraid of being forced into a role he thought too time-consuming and not fulfilling.
Of course, with the eighth great-grandchild due in May, I am not missing out on another generation because one grandchild does not want to parent. But, I cannot be feel bad for both of these men, one in his thirties and the other in his sixties. Being a parent was the hardest job I had, but the rewards in terms of joys, hugs, love shared, and time spent together was aspects that I am glad I did not miss.
Of course, it is a personal decision. Having had a mother who thought that she was not meant to be “domestic,” and a father who absent nearly all of my childhood, I can say that some people shouldn’t be parents. Also, if a person does not want to parent, they should not be shamed into changing their minds.
I have a good friend whom she and her husband decided not to be parents before they married and stuck with the decision who has been called everything but a child of God for the decision. They have been referred to as selfish, social failures, and going against nature. What kind of parents would they have been, if they had allowed others to make their decisions for them.
But, it is the individuals who make this decision at such young ages, due to being almost forced into a role they needed wanted nor enjoyed, that hurts my heart. Many people had responsibility for younger siblings and made a different choice. So, it comes down to personal choice.
Yet, I would caution parents to be careful about giving one child so much responsibility and denying them time to play and be children. It can lead to resentments and to individuals feeling that they have already parented and do not wish to repeat it. We must be vigilant to not place too much on young shoulders. Just my two cents.