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Anyone else here decide not to have children, and have your illnesses be a major factor in that decision?

My boyfriend has two children, eight and five - they live with their mom, he gets visitation. I get my parenting fix with them on their weekends with their dad, and that's quite enough for me. I'm bipolar, I have epilepsy, and I can barely take care of myself. I like the kids, get along with them most of the time, and they regard me as cool because I take them to fun stuff like SCA events and good museums.

It's not the only reason that I've decided not to have any kids. My nature sort of tended that way, anyway - I'm very selfish about my "me-time," and as much as I like the kids, I prefer children who live with me to be of the four-footed fur-covered feline variety. (There are two in my apartment, currently.)

Something that bothers me is people thinking I'm selfish because I don't want to put my body through a pregnancy that could threaten my life. It's almost as if the other ways one can help nurture children - step-parenting, mentoring, adopting, fostering - don't count or aren't good enough. You have to pass on your DNA to influence a child's life. Nonsense, I know, but it really offends me. Also, I really hate hearing "you'll change your mind." I'll change my mind, hmmm? These conditions I have aren't going away. I doubt very much that I'll change my mind.

Besides, my boyfriend is getting the snip on Wednesday. He doesn't want any more kids. He already has a handful with the two he has already, plus taking care of me.

Bleh. Anyone care to relate?

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Anyone else here decide not to have children, and have your illnesses be a major factor in that decision?

Like you, I have several factors that have played a part in my decision to not have children. In no particular order:

1. my family has horrid genes--Of my mother, father, two brothers and four sisters and myself, not one of us is untouched by mental illness (primarily BP, I'm guessing) and all but my mother and myself have/havehad serious alcohol or drug problems.

2. Growing up, due to the large family size and the fact that they are all serious breeders, I had many opportunities to babysit and care for the "grandkids" for extended periods of time. I believe I got most of the maternal urges out before I was 18.

3. (disclaimer--this is MY opinion--don't take it the wrong way if you're older and you have kids, please!) I don't believe that older people should have children. My parents were older when they had me (mom 37, dad 39). While it had it's benefits (I consider myself an only child with brothers and sisters, I didn't have the hardships that my brothers and sisters had, my parents had calmed down by the time I was around, I had a stable childhood, etc), it had it's disadvantages as well (parents couldn't help with schoolwork, much teasing as a child, they were tired by the time I came around, father died when I was in high school--which I'm still sad *and* mad about, etc) I feel like I was cheated out of having a relationship with my parents because of my dad's death--and subsequent family disintegration, unhealthy though they may be.  Oh yeah, I passed the older parent time limit for me ;)

4. I'm selfish and need a lot of alone time.

5. The world seems like an awful place much of the time and I'd hate to bring a child into it.

6. I believe that I would be a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde type of parent; very good in some things and very bad in others. It's too much of a black and white type parenting and I'd damage the kid.

In case anyone wasn't aware, there's a Usenet group specific to this topic:

alt.support.childfree.moderated

To branch out a bit, if I may, a question that comes up constantly in my mind is my purpose for existing. All the way through my twenties, I was sure that I was here for a reason. Now, I'm not so sure. (again, opinion!) It seems like kids give people an easy reason for their existence, how do those of you who are childfree come to terms with this? 

Note to mods: If this is too inflammatory, please edit. I don't want to start a ruckus :/

Ruins

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Lindesfarne,

Very interesting topic.

Something that bothers me is people thinking I'm selfish because I don't want to put my body through a pregnancy that could threaten my life. It's almost as if the other ways one can help nurture children - step-parenting, mentoring, adopting, fostering - don't count or aren't good enough. You have to pass on your DNA to influence a child's life. Nonsense, I know, but it really offends me. Also, I really hate hearing "you'll change your mind." I'll change my mind, hmmm? These conditions I have aren't going away. I doubt very much that I'll change my mind.

Somewhere deep down inside, where ordinary souls fear to tread, there is an awareness among parents that having children isn't all it's cracked up to be. They're taking their own doubts out on you.

A parent's job is to take this tiny package of genetic potential, love it, nurture it, protect, feed and clothe it, socialize it without at the same time exstinguishing its personality, idiosyncrasies and sense of self, educate it in such a way that it does not become an automaton; and then let it go.

It is hard. as. fuck. I don't think people realize when they get into the parenting business what they're giving up. Especially women. Sorry guys.

At some point, maybe when the baby is screaming in its fifth hour at 3am and you have to be at work at 8, or maybe when a 14 year old sneers at you with hatred blazing in her eyes and screams, "you know nothing about me," you think, hey, this isn't what I signed up for. What's my side of this equation?

And you start to tally up the lost sleep, the lost income, the passage of time, the bone weariness that will not stop, and, well, it's hard to deal with.  I believe we end up with a kind shared myth about how wonderful and fulfilling parenthood is. And when someone isn't on the bandwagon, for whatever reason, the myth is temporarily destabilized.

I thought I went into this whole parenthood thing with my eyes wide open. I had no idea. I love my son, it's not that. I just didn't have any way to know how enormous the trade off is, and how hard it is to grieve and let go of that person I might have been without trading my future for his.

Hmmmph. That was a little more than I had planned to say ;)

Anyway, I guess what it comes down to is that people's rude comments are more about their own choices than about yours.

Greeny

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Anyway, I guess what it comes down to is that people's rude comments are more about their own choices than about yours.
That's a very astute observation. It makes a lot of sense.

Probably that's the way things are in general - when people make rude remarks, it's more about them than it is about you.

All the way through my twenties, I was sure that I was here for a reason. Now, I'm not so sure. (again, opinion!) It seems like kids give people an easy reason for their existence, how do those of you who are childfree come to terms with this?
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Lindesfarm, I didn't bother to read the other replies-more than my psycho mind can take right now. but , it donesnt' make you a bad person - not everyone has to have a kid. I'll tell you right now. I love my 2 kids-age3 and 5 to death and I would die for them in a heartbeat, but sometimes, like right now, I feel like I am a shitty mother because thier noises are driving me over the edge. mel

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Anyone else here decide not to have children, and have your illnesses be a major factor in that decision?

My boyfriend has two children, eight and five - they live with their mom, he gets visitation. I get my parenting fix with them on their weekends with their dad, and that's quite enough for me. I'm bipolar, I have epilepsy, and I can barely take care of myself. I like the kids, get along with them most of the time, and they regard me as cool because I take them to fun stuff like SCA events and good museums.

It's not the only reason that I've decided not to have any kids. My nature sort of tended that way, anyway - I'm very selfish about my "me-time," and as much as I like the kids, I prefer children who live with me to be of the four-footed fur-covered feline variety. (There are two in my apartment, currently.)

Something that bothers me is people thinking I'm selfish because I don't want to put my body through a pregnancy that could threaten my life. It's almost as if the other ways one can help nurture children - step-parenting, mentoring, adopting, fostering - don't count or aren't good enough. You have to pass on your DNA to influence a child's life. Nonsense, I know, but it really offends me. Also, I really hate hearing "you'll change your mind." I'll change my mind, hmmm? These conditions I have aren't going away. I doubt very much that I'll change my mind.

Besides, my boyfriend is getting the snip on Wednesday. He doesn't want any more kids. He already has a handful with the two he has already, plus taking care of me.

Bleh. Anyone care to relate?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hey,

I get that too.  People say "you'll change your mind."  To which I reply "I'm sure there are also people who've actually had kids, and they'd like to change their minds."  People also say "it's different when it's your own" to "adoption isn't the same thing [as giving birth to your own]" to which I smile and reply: "I am adopted.  And thank you for exposing your blatent prejudice against my family situation."  People also try to justify themselves by saying "well it's a big life-changing idea and you should think about it."  Uh huh...okay... I'm an adult who holds a full time job, trying to get back to college to finish my undegrad in biology, and somehow I don't have the faculty to understand the implications or ramificiations that having kids will do to me financially, emotionally, physically?  I at least thought about it, and I accepted I don't want it. 

Yeah, maybe one day I could change my mind.  But if I don't it's not a crime, either. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

3. (disclaimer--this is MY opinion--don't take it the wrong way if you're older and you have kids, please!) I don't believe that older people should have children. My parents were older when they had me (mom 37, dad 39).

Well, I have a couple of thoughts on this.  First, people are living longer and longer, due to better medical/nutritional/yada yada yada . . . so someone in their 50's is not nearly as old now as they were a couple of generations ago.  Second (no offense to anyone else out there), young moms tend to pretty much suck at childrearing.  Older parents have the chance to figure out more about themselves and the world.  They know who they are, apart from their role as parents.

I'm 33, and SO happy that I haven't had kids yet.  It would have been hell having me as a mom, especially in my 20's.  If I ever do have kids, I will be around 40 or so.  I'll make a MUCH better parent at that age.

Oh yeah-- "selfish", huh?  A little jealous, are we?

J.

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  So many people have kids for the wrong reasons,really stupid reasons,reall y really stupid reasons.  Some parents try to regain a childhood and live thru thier kids or let them have all the stuff they didn't have.....The hard thing is that it never ends becAUSE THE ECONOMY AND WORLD ARE SO SCREWED people can't set out on thier own like they did.There are plenty of kids to go around that need adults or someone with wisdom and hope. You  are a good mommy i bet and thats really giving because you do it for the right reasons.

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My best friend is 25 and her fiance is 37.  They are vehement in the decision not to have children.  She, in fact, has never and will never want to as she calls it "procreate."  Her reason is that she does not want to pass on her inferior gene pool.  Mental illness and all out ickery makes her want to have her tubes tied.  She's talked to 5 different drs and none will even consider it, because of her age.  They all tell her that she might change her mind.  She tells them her genes aren't changing, why would her decision change?

Why do people feel that women are put on this earth to add to the overpopulation?

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Lindesfarne...I think that that the choice you have made is a very wise a reasonable one,and I dont think it makes you selfish at all.

I have 2 children myself, I had kids when I was very young, 18 and 20 (Im 30 now), Im also epileptic and bipolar and borderline. I was lucky to have been on a low enough dose of meds that my children werent harmed by my medications during my pregnancys. I realised afterwards what a responsibility having children  was, none the less having to try and raise myself throughout my struggles and issues with my health. Something I actually thought would help me "grow up"...which unfortunately is a big misconception. I love my children so much, and am blessed as a mother and as a human to have them in my life, but I also understand and respect others choices for why not to have children...After having my second child, I had my tubes tied, and it was a good thing, as my previous meds stopped working, and I was putting on 3 anticonvulsants.

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I'm curious -- where do we draw this line between "older" parent and plain old parent? Is it at 60? 50? 35? Why might we do so at any of these ages? My siblings and I were born when our mother was in her 30's, the youngest coming at 36 -- was she an "older" parent? Or was she simply a woman who chose not to reproduce during the first five years of her marriage, wanting to get to know this man first before introducing children to the household?

Ruins, I do sympathize with what you lost by your father's death in high school, but I find tagging parents in their thirties as "older" people who should not reproduce because they might die too soon to be mildly disturbing. People can die at any age. My friend's father was run over by some idiot who ran a stoplight when she was six. He was twenty-eight. Death in one's fifties is more likely than in one's twenties, but is still fairly abnormal. Then again, our respective disorders are also fairly abnormal, and we've both managed to grab the shitty end of the stick. Anyone, regardless of age, can win that shadowy lottery.

Regarding the refusal of tubal ligation: my mother was initially refused, as well. They only agreed to perform the procedure after she pointed out the mounting health problems her pregnancies and deliveries were causing (too many evil evil C-sections), and that she already had enough children. Why should she have had to prove that she'd already given birth to more than 2.2 kids? Why not just club every woman of childbearing age over the head and pop them into some kind of Matrix tank for ten years, administrating the whole thing like a puppy mill? Geesh.

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Why not just club every woman of childbearing age over the head and pop them into some kind of Matrix tank for ten years, administrating the whole thing like a puppy mill?  Geesh.

sshhhhh. don't let the religious right hear that, they'll think it's a great idea.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a senior and junior in high school.  I love them , but some times I think they deserve a more stepford like mom.  I have gotten more anxious and worry about them in this world.  The anziety is completely overwhelming at times.

It is so weird that one minute they were small and then they are taller than me.  I was not prepared for these feeling and my heart aches over thing I cant controll. So my point is at least you people are thinking, and I honor your decisions.    Doxie

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I'm 25 and I can't imagine procreating.  My genes do NOT need to be passed on, nor do the genes of my SO.  Combined we have a family history of pretty much every illness known to man (mental and other).

I'm not a kid person, I don't particularly like to have children around me.  I enjoy interacting with other people's children for brief periods of time, but only if I get to return them when I'm done.

Honestly, I wouldn't make a good mother I'm not selfless enough to even begin to measure up.  I know that I don't feel any desire to nurture a screaming, crying, little human.  I'm not stable enough to look after myself properly, let alone a baby.

Even if I did change my mind about wanting children I wouldn't have a biological child.  We would adopt one of the many children who need homes and are not considered adoptable enough (ie are not caucasian infants with no known problems).

I think it is less selfish of me to be honest about my inclinations and limitations and to think about the impacts that I would have on a child *before* having a child.  It does seem that those individuals most likely to criticize my choice are those who have had children in less than ideal circumstances.  Hmm, I think that whole envy/jealousy idea could come in to play.

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I'm 46 now so I'm just about past my sell-by date, but I never really did want kids, which I know was a disapointment to my mom until she got grandkids from some of my brothers.  I'm the youngest with several older brothers and I think I realized when I moved out on my own how quiet it could be!  It was so noisy when I was growing up, and I saw how my mom worked day and night to take care of us.  It didn't look too appealing to me.

I'm glad now I won't be passing on the genes for any mental illnesses, but I didn't know I had them when I was younger.  My decision not to have children was basically driven by selfishness and a strong desire to have a different life than the one my mother did.  I also only had one boyfriend who was seriously interested in raising in a family, which is part of the reason we broke up.

I worked with a father of two for many years that thought the selfish choice was having children, so we had many interesting discussions of our opposite viewpoints on what defined selfish.  He said that parents were selfish because whether they would admit it or not, many of the reasons they chose to have children had everything to do with the parents and nothing to do with the kids.  He gave as examples things like desiring to see your own image recreated, getting another chance to correct things that didn't happen the way you wanted in your own life, having someone who would love you, the hope that you would have grandchildren, and the hope that you'd have someone who would still love and respect you in your old age. 

A single 50+ friend recently adopted a two year old from China, and while she has altruistic motives of giving this kid a better life, she also wants to be loved.  Unfortunately, due to a combination of nature and nurture she ended up with the meanest brat in all of Asia, so I'm afraid my friend won't end up with the unconditional love she expects as a mother.  Instead, it's likely she'll end up with a broken heart down the road as her little hell-child matures and doesn't reciprocate in kind with the deep and abiding love she will have been raised with. 

And as far as anyone actually being rude enough to comment on one's reproductive state, I think Dear Abby will have to take the lead with her advice to just stare and not reply.  After the dolt asks a few more times, they'll figure out you're not going to answer, and maybe conclude it really isn't any of their business.  Maybe.....

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My mom is constantly bothering me about kids--she already has one grandchild from my sister, so I wish she'd give it a rest. I guess after my divorce she'll quit, but she'll probably start on me to remarry.

I guess the original topic was whether my illness is part of my decision not to reproduce--it definitely plays a role.  My family is fairly "normal," no major mental health issues in the family but we have a definite problem communicating and relating to each other, and I would rather not pass that on.  My father was emotionally distant from everyone when I was a kid and I'm sorta that way too.  I don't think I could have a good relationship with my child.  People say it's different when it's your kid, but that didn't seem to matter to my dad. 

Crazy part is, I idenitify a lot more with my dad now--I don't see him as a villain anymore, but I think it's probably a bad idea to continue the cycle.  I'm sure I'd be the same way.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wow... those people who are judging you and being very vocal about it must need a lot of help.  What right does anyone have to judge your decisions?  I think people who judge others like that work very hard at achieving mythical perfection.  Or, possibly they are jealous which is just as ugly.

I think the SCA is super neat and you must be a beautiful person to belong to such a fun organization/community.  What kinds of things are you involved in with them?

I enjoy listening to the cooks and I usually hang out with the women in the sewing circle.  Very fun and good people indeed.

cheers!

-nerf

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On older parents:

By the time my little sis graduates high school my parents are going to be 60.  The thought that one of them could die before she turns 18 really scares me.

I also want to add the very important fact that menopause + puberty are a bad combination.  I got out of the house right before my mom hit "that age" but with my siblings being 11, 14, and 17 hormone induced outbursts from every member of the family makes the place, um, interesting ("who's going to snap next?! let's start taking bets")  ::sigh:: my poor Dad...

On the other hand, we have amazing parents.  Who knows if thats age but the financial stability and the fact that they waited about five years into their marriage to start having kids was a good plan, IMO.

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Well, we have one, but he was a surprise.  <I like that terminology so much better than "accident".> 

However, w/ the number of issues in our family <including and especially the fact that my hubby's muscular dystrophy is a 50/50> it's irresponsible to have more kids.

Now to convince doctors and the insurance companies so they'll tie tubes.  *sigh*

Shalia

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  • 1 month later...

I know this thread hasn't had a reply in forever, but I need to post this!

I'm only 19, but I decided a long time ago that I didn't want children because A: I want to focus on my career, and I don't think I can handle both children and career without cheating one or the other and B: I have shitty genes.

The former definitely outweighs the latter.

Lately, people who are a little older than I am have been giving me shit about not wanting kids... from coworkers to near strangers to the fact that both my pdoc and the nurse practioner gave me lectures about it!

It annoyed the crap out of me.

Has anyone else been lectured by a mental health professional on this topic?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

This is an old thread, but just felt the need to post.  I am 47, and have had 4 pregnancies.  To me, abortion was definitely not an option.  Though there was a searing pain when I lost them, I am so thankful now that none of them turned out to be viable.  I have had 4 miscarraiges due in part to a drug my mother was prescribed during pregnancy.  DES (diethylstybesterol) has caused many physical anomalies in all 4 of us.  3 are female and one is male.

The only sibling to procreate, is my brother. 

We three girls are now past the point of child bearing.  We all had to have hysterctomies due to the DES. 

My contention here on developing MI, is that nurturing far outweighs nature.  My father was extremely mentally ill, looking back with eyes wide open.  He was abusive in every sense of the word - physical, emotional and sexually.

My mother shut down and chose to close her eyes to what was happening.  When she finally accepted the truth, she sent me to live with her sister to stop the abuse.  I was only 10.  I felt completely abandoned by her, by my whole family.  I began to really act out, pulling fire alarms, stealing, etc.  While my aunt was loving, and I in turn loved her, she was not my mother, and that was all I wanted -my mother.

My mother was my saving grace.  She constanly told me she loved me, while not once during his entire lifetime did my father ever utter those words to me.  My mother protected me as much as she could from my father.  Not to be a martyr, but I was on the receiving end of most of his abuse, as he did not think he was my biological father. 

For me, to have been denied my father's love and having to deal with his abuses, definitely led to my MI. 

Each and every child deserves to be love by both parents.  To be denied that by either parent, coupled with abuse, sucked the soul right out of me.  I am 47, well educated and even have a degree in Human Services.  I have intellectually reconciled my abuse, but the mental scars is what maked me mentally interesting.

I strongly believe that if I had grown up in a "normal", loving home, I would now be a much better person for it. 

Does anyone really ever get over the emotional and sexual abuse put upon them........

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Faith, thanks so much for your reply.  I am going thru a particularly hard time, and today started a partial hospitalization program, because of suicidal ideation.

I don't know if will help me, but I sure hope so.  I am so tired of being plagued by suicidal thoughts. 

I hope you and yours are doing well.  Thanks again Faith.

PSR

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