Not Everyone Should Be a Parent: 21 Lessons to Ponder

Some people unnecessarily react negatively when they hear someone say not everyone deserves to be a parent, even if someone seems okay.

To be fair, maybe there are people in your circles you would be 90% sure they’d make good enough parents.

However, for the sake of this argument, I’m presenting 21 lessons any aspiring parent should think about before deciding to dive deep into working on one of the most important foundations of humanity—being a parent.

These lessons are anything from reasons, signs, and, generally, pieces of wisdom.

If you’re already a parent, these lessons are still worth knowing about. Nothing really is too late. In my book, even if you somehow regret having kids but still make the effort to make the most out of your circumstances, and strive to be a good parent, then that earns my respect.

not everyone should be a parent

Not Everyone Should Be a Parent: 21 Lessons to Ponder

1. It’s okay to not want to become a parent.

Having kids has been the norm. There may be a slow shift from this, but everybody just expects you to bear kids when you reach a certain age.

Add to that the fact that the media bombards the society with narratives the majority agrees on, or wants to hear, which includes having kids.

However, if you want to be childfree, then that’s okay. Your life, your decisions.

Related: Signs Your Parents Don’t Respect You (And What You Can Do)

2. Parents must enthusiastically want their children.

Since it’s become the norm, people would bear children mostly just for the sake of it. Having kids is supposed to make them “normal.”

But children will discern whether their parents want them or think they’re only a nuisance. The latter stirs up confusion and kids may internalize it and sooner or later they’ll develop mental and emotional issues down the road.

3. Children are 100% their parents’ responsibility.

No excuses. Aspiring parents must understand that they must be able to raise their kids, however that turns out to be. They are fully responsible and accountable for the lives they are creating.

4. Parenting is another full-time job.

Having a full-time job can be stressful enough. Having kids will double, if not triple, that stress—and this will go on for 18 years straight, at the least.

A lot of people underestimate the sacrifice and hard work that goes into responsible parenting.

Some end up leaving their kids to their parents or relatives for long periods to escape this massive inconvenience and be able to do stuff they used to when they were still childless.

5. Parenting requires a healthy level of emotional intelligence, IQ, maturity, patience, temper, and sense of humor.

…and probably more.

It’s not all hard work. Being parents never meant providing the minimum basic needs like food, shelter, and clothes.

One of parenting’s goals is to raise happy and thriving adult children. This means that a willingness to learn how to become a good parent isn’t enough—you have to possess a good set of behaviors as a base.

Hint: These behaviors are ingrained in you since you were a kid.

Related: Do I Owe My Parents for Raising Me? (+9 Things to Keep in Mind)

6. Becoming parents while finances are still unstable.

Sometimes (or not), couples who are deeply in love just decide to conceive a child, without thinking about the money side of things.

Financial stress is a thing that creeps into all the other aspects of life. Sooner or later the couple may find themselves arguing about it if only, say, they waited for a bit longer before bringing another life into the world.

7. On the other hand, wealth is no reason to be complacent.

There are also people, likely respected in their circles, who treat wealth as their top priority. While this is not wrong in and of itself, money is just a part of good parenting foundations.

This is mostly a reminder. You might think your ability to buy whatever you want will automatically make you a good parent, and you’d be dead wrong.

8. Childhood trauma.

This may be controversial, but I strongly believe that people who have suffered childhood trauma should heavily consider going childfree for the noble reason that they do not want their would-be child to suffer what they did, which is highly likely.

I know some can manage their trauma or have completely healed, and moved on to become amazing parents, but they probably belong to the exception, not the norm.

Recovery from childhood trauma is usually a lifelong process. It would be unfair for the child not to have 100% (and more) of their parents’ love and attention because of these unresolved issues.

Some self-help peddlers say nonsense like, “Just go take a walk outside” or “Believe in yourself” or “You can do it!” even in the context of childhood trauma. In reality, these sufferers need professional help.

Related: How to Deal with Toxic Parents as a Teenager

9. Parenting a child whom the parent “did not expect to be.”

Can you imagine yourself giving birth to a child with a disability or special needs? What if they strikingly resemble an in-law who has done you wrong? What if they turned out to be LGBT?

People who can’t accept their child—for whoever or whatever they turn out to be—do not deserve to become parents.

10. Having kids for the wrong reasons.

Some people decide to have kids because:

  • They don’t want their partner to leave them.
  • Their peers already have kids.
  • They are getting older.
  • They like babies.
  • They have a “boring” life and wish a child would fill that void.

There could be a thousand more. These people miss the fewer right reasons for having a child, or worse, they avoid doing the work and building the discipline to become deserving parents, instead.

11. Marriages tend to suffer after the birth of a child.

Researchers conclude that parenthood tends to negatively affect marital satisfaction. The more children, the lower marital satisfaction.

A reason couples fight a lot is because they anticipate a fairytale-like life after their child is born.

Nothing may change much when two people move in and share their life together, but having a child may turn that life upside-down.

Related: Why Do I Feel Sad around My Family?

12. Having a child can negatively impact a parent’s happiness.

While there may be arguments between happiness and meaning (with which I say: pursue a life of meaning, and happiness will follow), a lot of people come unprepared and get surprised by their newfound life with their child.

They expect happiness when, in reality, they counterintuitively pursue happiness itself, which is not the same thing. This then leads to frustration and thus they end up being unhappy instead.

This phenomenon is called the Parenthood Paradox or Parenthood Gap. The reality sets in and suddenly all the hard work and sacrifice it takes to raise a child strips the “happiness” one is wishing to achieve.

Add to that certain situations that double the burden like being a single parent or being in a dysfunctional romantic relationship.

13. Friendships take a hit, too.

Parental responsibility, as you can tell by now, is a vastly huge undertaking a human can ever do. Being a parent means you can make a dent in the universe, through your child, even long after you’re gone.

And so you commit to raising your kid, and the time you would otherwise spend with your friends, you now invest in the former.

14. Getting along well with kids does not guarantee being a good parent.

You may find someone (or yourself) being good with kids: they can play and laugh and have a good time with kids. You may even find this true for those who are professionally working with kids: daycare teachers, school teachers, babysitters, etc.

And you’d still have no idea how they would fare if they were parents themselves.

Think about it, the job of professional kid-caretakers is essentially over at 5 P.M. or so. After that, they live their lives however they want. This is not the case for responsible and healthy parents.

Related: Why Do I Feel No Connection with My Family?

15. Dealing with the ugly side of parenting.

For 18 years—at least—good enough parents will have to face whatever or however their child turns out to be.

Do they have the courage to accept that babies and toddlers are obnoxiously loud and messy? Could they handle a difficult teen? What if this teen got caught breaking the law?

Good parents get out of their way to learn how to deal with all of that. Bad parents will deny reality and won’t stop fantasizing about how they wish everything should be, and this is usually a cause of traumatic experiences for the child.

16. The belief that children “owe their lives” to their parents.

Forget boundaries. Some parents think they deserve deity-like treatment by their children simply because “they came from them.”

Good parents know that the universe birthed a human being through them, and that they are blessed to raise and spend their lives with this child.

17. Good parents can produce “bad” children.

Would you blame these good parents?

Aspiring parents should be aware that while they can’t have it all, fate can further deal them a bad hand, and that they must be willing to help their child who turned “bad” even into adulthood.

These parents may be unable to spot the fleeting moments in which their toddlers’ behaviors turned from good to bad. When these behaviors are corrected, the chances of these children growing into healthy adults become higher.

Related: Am I the Problem in My Family? (For Adult Children & Parents!)

18. Doing some kind of informed, analytical thinking, especially when in doubt.

People know whether they have anger issues, under financial stress, or just the ability to take care of themselves. But sometimes it’s only subconscious.

Ask them to bring out a pen and paper and spend some three months to realistically think about having a child, and they might laugh at the idea.

But that’s the point. A lot of people think that having a child is like buying a sofa set that “dealing with it” should be easy when they grow tired of it.

19. The child becomes the priority, and not oneself.

More than showing up to one’s day job, healthily dealing with a child even if they don’t feel like it is probably one of the most honorable skills any parent can hone.

20. There’s no way of telling whether someone is ready to become a parent until their child is born.

Even if you think you’ve prepared yourself for this big chapter, it can still go either way.

You might think you love being a parent and end up despising the experience. Or you might be frustrated by being childless at first, but grow content.

21. The case for environment and circumstances.

Some people believe their ability to raise kids mainly depends on themselves and not necessarily on the environment or circumstances.

An example would be couples living in a high-crime-rate neighborhood. They may have plans of moving out and then getting better jobs or building a business.

But at this stage of their lives, they must fight the lure of conceiving a baby yet, for the simple reason that they are in a rocky position, which may take a few years to stabilize.

This is more about timing. Plans may sound hopeful, but allow reality to guide them.

Related: Should I Forgive My Toxic Parents? (Is There a Better Way?)

Parenting is a noble job and deserves nothing but respect.

If it’s not clear already, I am not against having kids.

However, I am against the idea of deciding to have a kid—or, more accurately, to have a “cute baby”—just for the sake of it without being aware of even at least half of the things pointed out in this post.

Deciding to have a baby isn’t like deciding to hang out by the beach at night to have a beer at hand and enjoy the cool breeze…and when it’s over, “go back to the real world.”

Raising a child is as real as it can get. It will test you and stretch you to your limits and may even bring about an existential crisis. It’s just undeniably hard.

When done right, however, raising a child can be the most fulfilling commitment you could ever take on. It could give you a life of meaning, which, arguably, could make you the happiest parent in the world.

In any case, being a parent is never a joke. I know that the majority deserves to be one. But for those who don’t, there’s a multitude of other things to be done, with one or two to be mastered. That’s perfectly fine.


Photo by Madison Oren on Unsplash

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