Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Drained and skint

Another mother has taken the bold step of declaring that bringing up children is hard work and she can't wait for her youngest child to be an independ-ent adult.

"Raising a child is 1% happiness and 99% worry. Raising children not only left me exhausted but it left me bankrupt" says French author Corinne Maier. But she feels obliged to say she loves being a parent, even if it isn't true. "It's time to stop marketing the babies-mean-happiness idea,"

She thinks improving this rotten world "with its exhausted assets and polluted natural resources" is a higher priority than raising children. As child-rearing takes so much energy, it's hard to do both.

Naturally other mothers will disagree. If there are fewer children, who will look after the elderly or keep the economy going, or for that matter who will fight to improve the rotten world?

But certainly while there's no shortage of would-be parents to maintain the population, there's a drastic shortage of would-be environmental campaigners to tackle the worrying state of the planet. If things go on as they are, there'll no longer be a functional world for our children to inherit. So maybe Corinne has a valid point.

I do think many parents rush into child-rearing without properly considering if they're up to the job. The number of children one way or another psychologically damaged by inadequate parents is alarming. But every parent thinks they'll get on just fine, or at any rate they'll muddle through and their kids won't come to any serious harm. If only that were true.

As you know I have no children. For all sorts of reasons, but mainly because having children meant nothing to me. I agree with Corinne - saving the planet is a hundred times more important.

Pic: is not Corinne Maier!

27 comments:

John Gray said...

I chose to have dogs. They are hard work sometimes , ( certainly not as worry as the responsibility of raising a child) but I chose to look after them and I will never complain about that fact.
Some parents will and do need extra help in parenting that's taken for red,...there is nothing wrong in saying they can't cope with a situation but PLEASE for most parents who want kids....get on with it, and stop complaining.....it was your choice

tammy j said...

amen john.
and I agree with you nick.
we are vastly over populated. and mother nature keeps a balance.
we as a thinking species have the ability to stop the madness but we don't.

just the TRASH the human race creates is monumental now. the plastic that will never go away... not to mention the disposable diapers!
and to say that one cannot ever 'be fulfilled' until they make a baby is hogwash.

Nick said...

John: "Stop complaining, it was your choice" Amen to that. Though to be fair, a lot of parents have no idea what they're letting themselves in for, and are shocked by the endless grind of supervision, clearing up messes, safety worries etc. I think a few bemused complaints are in order, but after a certain point you have to say, you're parents, just get on with it!

Bijoux said...

I find it sad how anti-child the world has become. Children are a true blessing, not a burden. I've learned as much from my children as I've ever taught them.

Nick said...

Tammy: Indeed, there are plenty of other ways of feeling fulfilled. And yes, the mountains of rubbish the human race produce are horrendous. Much of it poisonous and harmful, like all the plastic in the oceans, radioactive waste, industrial chemicals etc.

helen devries said...

I do feel sympathy for harassed mothers shut up with kids all day - it would drive me mad with frustration. A pity that media influence is exerted to fool women into thinking that having kids is the be all and end all of life...

Rummuser said...

I am fortunate that my son and daughter in love with whom I live, care for me and ensure that I am comfortable in my old age. I would not have had a life without my son, nor my late wife. He gave us grief but not so much that all the good things that he did got overweighed by the grief, Both of them are very involved in animal welfare activities and have my full support. Their way of doing something for the world.

Nick said...

Bijoux: I'm not anti-child, and I don't think Corinne is either. Children need love and tenderness, and disliking them is inhuman. We're just saying that there are more than enough children in the world, and that saving the planet is surely the most urgent need right now.

Nick said...

Helen: Exactly. The media are bursting with photos of happy child-cradling mothers, as if those without children are somehow lacking.

Ramana: That's great that your son and daughter "in love" look after you so well. Also great that they're so committed to animal welfare. As a vegetarian, I'm all in favour of that!

Hattie said...

My life would be desolate if I had not had children.

Nick said...

Hattie: Well, that sounds like you had very good reasons for having children. I have no problem with that! Each to their own etc....

kylie said...

I think the complaints about happy mothers in the media are a little misguided, particularly when you consider that advertising drives the images we see. Advertisers need mothers to look happy, it's not designed to make non-parents feel bad, it is designed to get parents to part with their hard earned.
Also, I think that all parents damage their kids in some way, it's just a matter of how much and in what way. You can't point the finger at those who aim to minimise damage. Nick, you regularly talk about your father's failures but you dont seem to think that your own life is irrelevant, you have a contribution to make and a life to live and you do.

As much as I adore my own children and love being a mother, I do agree that continual population growth as a means to continual growth in economic markets is not a sustainable idea. I also agree that parenthood should not be regarded as some kind of obligation. My mother says that not having children is selfish and the attitude is common to her generation but it is a silly idea because who else would anyone have kids for, except themselves?

Dave Martin said...

She's right. Being a parent IS hard. Especially in the early stages, but if you chose that route in life then you have to take the rough with the smooth.
With an ever increasing population living on dwindling resources, perhaps it's time for people to consider whether popping out a fleet of sprogs is really the best thing for the world - especially those who do so with no means to support them beyond a social security handout.
Sure, being a parent has its good bits, but it's definitely not like the ridiculous soft-focus lovey-dovey bullshit you see in advertising.
One of the worst things associated with parenting has been the rise of the 'yummy mummy' who has made it her goal to turn parenting into a competition to see who can wear the flashiest clothes when they drop off little Tarquin at the school gates in a gigantic chrome-plated armoured personnel carrier, and dress their kids in designer labels while pushing them around in a two thousand pound stroller.
The same ones who brag about how amazingly accomplished their kids are, how busy their life is with so many after-school activities, violin lessons, swimming clubs etc - it's no wonder so many kids are growing into adults who're complete wankers.

Nick said...

Kylie: The doting-mother media images aren't just in the ads, they're in the news sections as well.

Oh, my life is very irrelevant except to a small circle of friends and family. I've never done anything of unique value to society. I just try to enjoy myself while I'm here and that's it.

I would say having children is more selfish than not having them. They're not needed to sustain society (or not in such numbers), they're first and foremost for the parents' benefit - to give them pleasure, to avoid loneliness, to look after them in old age etc. Those without children on the other hand are paying for children's education, health services, housing, policing etc. Plus we subsidise all those cheap children's tickets. Plus we put up with their wild misbehaviour in public places! Very generous of us, I'd say.

Nick said...

Dave: Amen to all that! That endless competition between mothers is something often commented on. My kids are better behaved, smarter, more talented etc. I'm so well-off I can buy them everything they need etc. And yes, I don't understand those parents who have children even though they're desperately hard-up, living in substandard housing and will be struggling from day one.

We have two schools nearby, and the size of the vehicles parents drive up in is extraordinary. As you say, more like personnel carriers!

kylie said...

I was agreeing with you, supporting your ideas and you had to point out all the ways that someone like you supports someone like me! You could have had all of those things if you wanted but you didnt.

I didnt knock your choices, why criticise mine?

Nick said...

Kylie: I'm not criticising your individual choices, that's entirely a matter for you. I'm not telling anyone what to do. Some people desperately want children, others don't. We all want different things out of life. All the arguments I'm making are about child-rearing in general.

I could have had all what things?

Jenny Woolf said...

People who don't want kids and don't have them have done the right thing by not allowing themselves to be pressurised. But how boring and self centred to have them and then moan about it in public. What's anyone supposed to say? I suppose it is attention getting really....

Nick said...

Jenny: I'm glad to say the parents I know don't on the whole complain about their kids. Not to me at any rate - maybe to other parents! Though I know one or two parents who've confessed to being driven round the bend by a child who's especially awkward and difficult and provocative.

Anonymous said...

It's just trendy to write about all sorts of things..Corinne Maier found a subject to develop and makes a lot of money.I have two small children who I adore. They are little humans with their own character, temperament and feelings and for me it's a daily discovery.I'm not a super mum, I work and are concerned with many other things. The Planet is destroyed mostly by unconscious vorace adults running after big profits. Every person can chose to have children or not and every one has the right to live his own life. You make the choice to have no children, that's ok for me , but please don't point out in a negative way now familys with children. It's just not fair.
Mia More

Nick said...

Mia: Oh dear, I'm obviously not expressing myself very well! I was just supporting Corinne's general argument that right now saving the planet is more of a priority than having children. I'm certainly not condemning people who choose to have children. We do, after all, need enough children to maintain the population and look after the elderly etc. If you want children, fine. If you don't want children, equally fine. I can see you love having children, and why not?

I think we're all helping to destroy the planet in all sorts of ways, as you say encouraged by businesses looking for ever more consumption and fatter profits. But also because we're now used to a comfortable lifestyle with huge dependence on electricity, heating, motor vehicles, planes etc. Not many people would be willing to revert to a simpler, more resource-friendly lifestyle (not me, for a start!).

CheerfulMonk said...

I wanted one child, and she doesn't want any. I'm quite happy with my granddogs and am glad I had her. A good deal for both of us and not too harmful for the environment. :)

Nick said...

Jean: Sounds like an ideal arrangement. And dogs are much better for the environment. They don't drive thousands of miles in gas-guzzlers!

Ms Scarlet said...

Ha, Ha!! My old dog wouldn't go anywhere unless there was a trip in the car. Nightmare.
Anyhow, aren't we due a pandemic?
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Really? These canines are getting above themselves. Pandemic of what exactly? Measles? Bad grammar? Plus-size models? Broccoli aversion?

Secret Agent Woman said...

The comment I was going to make got knocked out of my head by your response to Kylie. Having children is more selfish than not having children? Who will be your doctors? Who will take care of the world you are inhabiting? Children. Not having children is a fine choice if you don't want them, but it seems a little insane to declare that having children is selfish. My life has been made more difficult by having kids, sure - they are work. But work I've taken on joyfully because they have enriched my life in countless ways. I can't imagine not having them. And I suspect I'll be even more grateful in my old age when I have them around.

Nick said...

Agent: I thought this post would open a can of worms - and it did!

I'm not forbidding people to have children. As you say, we need enough children to maintain the population, run our public services, look after us in our old age etc. But there are more than enough children in the world. The global population - and the UK population - is growing by leaps and bounds. We could afford to have a lot fewer children without any ill effects.

I think having children can be seen both as selfish or altruistic, depending on how you look at it. Clearly if we have more than enough children already, it looks selfish. On the other hand, if you're replenishing a dwindling population, then it's altruistic. But it's all a matter of opposing viewpoints, and we could go round in circles looking for a final answer.

At the end of the day, having children or not is a matter of personal choice, and I'm not in any way opposing your choice. I know your kids are a very important part of your life and why not?