From The Atlantic (I’m not in complete agreement with all views on other issues by the woman who wrote this:)
Not Wanting Kids is Entirely Normal
Why the ingrained expectation that women should desire to become parents is unhealthy
[Article opens by mentioning former Nebraska state law that allowed parents to drop off their children with no legal repercussion; was meant to protect newborns, but an age limit was not stated in the law]
….A couple of months in, 36 children had been left in state hospitals and police stations. Twenty-two of the children were over 13 years old. A 51-year-old grandmother dropped off a 12-year-old boy. One father dropped off his entire family — nine children from ages one to 17. Others drove from neighboring states to drop off their children once they heard that they could abandon them without repercussion.
….On November 21, 2008, the last day that the safe haven law was in effect for children of all ages, a mother from Yolo County, California, drove over 1,200 miles to the Kimball County Hospital in Nebraska where she left her 14-year-old son.
What happened in Nebraska raises the question: If there were no consequences, how many of us would give up our kids?
….Whether it’s because of hardship or not, many Americans are giving up on parenthood.
In February 2009, someone calling herself Ann logged onto the website Secret Confessions and wrote three sentences: “I am depressed. I hate being a mom. I also hate being a stay at home mom too!” Over three years later, the thread of comments is still going strong with thousands of responses — the site usually garners only 10 or so comments for every “confession.” Our anonymous Ann had hit a nerve.
One woman who got pregnant at 42 wrote, “I hate being a mother too. Every day is the same. And to think I won’t be free of it until I am like 60 and then my life will be over.” Another, identifying herself only as k’smom, said, “I feel so trapped, anxious, and overwhelmed. I love my daughter and she’s well taken care of but this is not the path I would have taken given a second chance.”
….The responses — largely from women who identify themselves as financially stable — spell out something less explicit than well-worn reasons for parental unhappiness such as poverty and a lack of support. These women simply don’t feel that motherhood is all it’s cracked up to be, and if given a second chance, they wouldn’t do it again.
Some cited the boredom of stay-at-home momism. Many complained of partners who didn’t shoulder their share of child care responsibilities.
…The overwhelming sentiment, however was the feeling of a loss of self, the terrifying reality that their lives had been subsumed into the needs of their child.
….American culture can’t accept the reality of a woman who does not want to be a mother. It goes against everything we’ve been taught to think about women and how desperately they want babies. If we’re to believe the media and pop culture, women — even teen girls — are forever desperate for a baby. It’s our greatest desire.
….The truth is, most women spend the majority of their lives trying not to get pregnant. According to the Guttmacher Institute, by the time a woman with two children is in her mid-40s she will have spent only five years trying to become pregnant, being pregnant, and not being at risk for getting pregnant following a birth. But to avoid getting pregnant before or after those two births, she would had had to refrain from sex or use contraception for an average of 25 years. Almost all American women (99 percent), ages 15-44, who have had sexual intercourse use some form of birth control. The second most popular form of birth control after the Pill? Sterilization.
….Once you factor in the abortion rate and pregnancies that end in miscarriage, we’re left with the rather surprising fact that one-third of babies born in the United States were unplanned. Not so surprising, however, is that the intention to have children definitively impacts how parents feel about their children, and how those children are treated — sometimes to terrifying results.
….Anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy argued in a 2001 Utah lecture, for example, that being female is seen as synonymous with having and nurturing as many children as possible. So when mothers abandon their children, it’s seen as unnatural. This simplistic, emotional response to parents — mothers, in particular — who give up their kids is part of the reason Americans have such a difficult time dealing with the issue. As Hrdy says, “No amount of legislation can ensure that mothers will love their babies.”
….There also needs to be some sort of acknowledgement that not everyone should parent — when parenting is a given, it’s not fully considered or thought out, and it gives way too easily to parental ambivalence and unhappiness.
Take Trinity, one of the mothers who commented on the Secret Confessions board about hating parenthood. She wrote, “My pregnancy was totally planned and I thought it was a good idea at the time. Nobody tells you the negatives before you get pregnant — they convince you it’s a wonderful idea and you will love it. I think it’s a secret shared among parents … they’re miserable so they want you to be too.”