There is an assumption we make as a culture that says “You may not want kids now, but it’s different when they’re your own.”
After this week I’m not so sure this little birdie can fly. First was the news that the state of Nebraska’s “Safe Haven” law will have to be rewritten because people are abandoning their adolescents and teens at the safe haven hospital sites instead of newborns, which the law was originally intended to protect. In fact, the majority of the seventeen kids who have been abandoned at Nebraska hospitals since the law went into effect last July are over ten years old.
If it is different when they’re yours, then why are parents abandoning their kids? They are no longer colicky, they are, hopefully, toilet trained, and, bonus, they can dress themselves, yet their parents and guardians are clearly not in love with the parenting role.
Which brings me to the second thing—a quote from one of my interviews for the Childless by Choice Project in which Susan Jeffers, a parent and author of the book I’m Okay, You’re a Brat!: Setting the Priorities Straight and Freeing You from the Guilt and Mad Myths of Parenthood said: “I’m not talking anti-parenthood. I’m talking about the fact that some people love it, some people don’t love it. It is not good, or bad; there shouldn’t be any judgment about it.
“You know, it is very possible to adore your children but not love parenting. I think some of us like to be lawyers, some of us like to be teachers. We don’t all love the same thing. So I think it’s absurd to think that everybody would love to be a parent.”
Clearly, some of us don’t relish the parent role and if our society gave us permission to choose childlessness there would likely not be as many parents abandoning kids at the emergency doors of a hospital in the state of Nebraska. And I’m not making a judgment about these parents.
Parenting is hard. Let’s not pretend that it’s not.