On Prioritizing Parenthood

Over the years, I’ve been moved by those adults who’ve chosen parenthood from out of a place of truly loving that complex life role, experiencing it as a natural number one priority for them and, hence, seeing their child/ren directly benefitting from this. I grew up witnessing this informed kind of parenting here and there but not experiencing it myself as a child. Many of us did not. Those who did are most fortunate.

I’m aware that people choose to be parents from out of a number of reasons, some often not very clear. We humans make decisions all the time, often from murky, not fully examined places. There are still societal pressures to become parents in order to be viewed as a whole, fully successful person. Some choose to be parents in response to this outside pressure. Others choose to do so to somehow complete something unfinished from their own childhoods. The reasons go on, and people often make this enormous life-impacting choice from a mix of motivations. But, when a person, or two people, choose to be a parent or parents from out of genuine love and enthusiasm to nurture and witness the growth of a unique individual and can maintain these energies far more often than not, it’s wonderful to see and gives me hope in this world.

Not everyone loves being a parent. It’s not a number one priority for many, which is fine. We each have different life priorities and they are subject to change. But, I think it’s crucial to really think and work through one’s priorities before choosing parenthood. All children need to be prioritized first in their parent’/s’ lives, at least for their first eighteen years or so. When they’re not put first, needless suffering (to varying degrees of intensity) so often results all around, not just for the children.

I will add one caveat. Forced birth for women due to lack of abortion access, which just became a bigger reality, is an exception I make here. A choice foisted onto someone is not much of a choice at all, and everyone involved suffers somehow. It is a privilege for those who have the resources to make a choice to be parents or terminate pregnancies they did not willingly decide upon or changed their minds about due to circumstances or whatever. So, yes, we need accessible birth control and abortion access, for sure.

It’s been interesting and wonderful to assist a client of mine in determining their priority around becoming a parent and how to go about it. I wish everyone would do whatever they could to fully think through, including talking with others and moving through old, intrusive psychological pain, before they make such an enormous choice in their own and others’ lives.