All around the world, you can find parents that tell a specific lie. This lie is that they decided to have kids for the kids. In other words, the lie that having a child in the first place or that sacrificing themselves by parenting that child is an altruistic act that they do FOR the child itself. But the truth that no one wants to admit to or see is that having a child is not an altruistic act and parents have kids for themselves. I know this truth has the potential to trigger people and set off a real debate war. But stick with me to the end if you can, it may just have the potential to make you a better parent.
The reason that we can’t admit as parents that we had self-centered motives for having children is because currently, human society values the idea of altruism and self-sacrifice and considers it bad and wrong to have self-centered motives. This creates a bit of a problem because the reality is that the only reason anyone does anything is because they think it will make them feel better if they do it. This is true even for altruistic acts.
Before this begins to depress you, I must tell you that there is nothing wrong with this being the case… The ultimate truth of this universe is oneness. So the most enlightened being will be moved towards acts of altruism because they experience all things in the world as themselves. In a universe that is one, you could say that every act is self-centered because there is nothing that is not you. So, swallowing that there is nothing wrong with self-centered motives and that you can’t escape them even if you try and that the more enlightened you become, the more you experience that everything is you and so the more motivated you become to do things to increase the wellbeing of “others”. But you won’t really see it as altruism because you see the self-service in all of your actions relative to others. Let’s move on to accepting why parents have children.
There are many reasons why parents have children. Let’s look at some of the top reasons. One of the first is “oops”. Meaning they failed to prevent pregnancy for one of many reasons but they had sex and it happened. When this is the case, we have to look at the self-centered reason they decided to keep the baby instead of not keep it. For example, they might keep the baby because they don’t want to feel lifelong guilt and shame. Or they kept the baby because they think that not doing so will end their romantic relationship. Or they kept the baby because they wanted kids eventually anyway for any one of the reasons I am about to list.
Let’s assume the pregnancy wasn’t an oops. There are several reasons that people decide to have children, most of them subconscious. I’m going to list some of them for you now.
To try to create a permanent bond or knot with a romantic partner which guarantees that partner’s commitment or caring or financial support or that secures your sense of belonging with them
To try to create a feeling of family that you missed out on
To try to heal the wounds from your own childhood vicariously
Because of societal pressure… feeling like you have to have child to be considered a welcome, esteemed, successful member of a society that recognizes having children as a necessary part of the picture of social success
To legitimize a marriage
To try to get closeness and other emotional needs met by something because those needs are not being met by anyone in your life, including if not especially not being met by your emotionally unavailable partner
To end your loneliness
To feel needed and loved and wanted by something
To have something that truly and fully belongs to you unconditionally.
To get unconditional love and belonging
Because of those loving, fun, envy worthy, good-life images in your head that you’ve seen other people get, like of walking in the park as a family with a stroller or watching them opening presents on Christmas morning or watching them play a sport from the stands or on vacation as a family
To try to bring play and fun and enthusiasm about life back into your life by having something you can show the good parts of life to
To feel empowered by having something that you can have complete power and authority and control over creating and shaping
Because your religion or society gives you a very strong reason in the form of a belief about why you need to and must have kids to be an esteemed member of the religion or society
To carry on your legacy so you don’t end when you die
To collect benefits from the government
Because you personally love small babies and young children so you want to have them around
Because your sense of self-esteem is linked to caretaking.
Because you have a missing need to be validated. Nothing is more validating than a mini-me
Because your body is biologically wired to want to
To add meaning to your life that feels meaningless
To feel good about yourself and see yourself as a good person when you are able to give children the chance to enjoy existence
To live the success you didn’t get vicariously through them (success and status by proxy)
To have a living, breathing trophy to add to your existing success
Ok, you get the point. What can be really, really hard is that just because we decided to have kids to meet a personal need or desire we had, doesn’t mean that having a child will actually meet that need or desire. In fact, having kids can backfire on those need and desires entirely. For example, a mother may want closeness and validation and belonging by having a daughter. She imagines this daughter will be just like her and therefore turn into a best friend. But children are their own beings with their own destiny. She may have a daughter who is nothing like her and then feel even less validated and rejected and more alone than she did before having a kid. Another example is that we could have a kid to gain increased belonging and closeness with a partner only to find that the stress of parenting comes between us and makes us even less close than before and even makes our partner withdraw and even cheat.
When the original need or desire we had that motivated us to have kids in the first place isn’t met, the door is blown wide opened for conflict with our kids. Many people find themselves in the very painful pattern of hating parenting but feeling so much caring for their child as a person that they feel both trapped and deeply conflicted.
If a person is especially unconscious, they subconsciously blame their child for their life not going how they wanted it to go. Deep down, parents often feel betrayed by their kids because the presumed agreement was that the child (or parenting in and of itself) would meet that desire or need… therefore the child didn’t keep up its side of the bargain. They don’t see that this actually wasn’t an agreement the child actually agreed to. It was presumed. And the relationship begins to feel like a one-way relationship with their kids. They begin to feel like they are sacrificing themselves for their kids. This is where a parent can fall into the super damaging trap of holding the fact that they had their child in the first place (or are parenting them at all) over their child’s head as leverage demanding gratitude and obedience as payment in return.
It’s ok to have self-centered motives. In fact, you can’t not have them. You just have to be really, really aware of them and own them. Having a child may not actually meet those needs and desires in the way you imagine they will. As anyone who has kids can tell you, the picture you have of what having a child will be like is so much different than what parenting is actually like.
On top of this, you have to stop for a minute and really get that when you decide to have kids, it is because of what you expect to GET from having them. And you have to be really, really aware that so much of parenting is giving. Parents often think about what they will get, not about what they will be required to give, especially in a society where we no longer live in tribe. Parenting has never been harder in history than it is now for this reason. Your child will have his or her own needs, most of which you will have to meet or find someone else to meet. They will have their own desires, destiny, purpose, preferences, thoughts, feelings and aptitudes. You are not doing them a favor by giving birth to them. Even if their soul decided there was mutual benefit in coming through you, they did not physically walk up and knock on your door asking for you to do it. They are not in debt to you for anything you decide to give them or do for them. They owe you nothing no matter what you do for them. Not getting this is to entrap your child and entrapment is the opposite of love. To understand this in depth, I want you to watch two of my videos. The first is titled: “The Defective Doll” and the second is titled: “Cut The Invisible Strings”.
Having a child is entering into a relationship. Contrary to popular opinion, it will not be an unconditional one. Just like any other relationship, the health and longevity and safety of that relationship has to do with their best interests being accommodated for, not just your own. For more information about this, watch my video titled: “How To Have a Safe Relationship”.
As a parent or potential parent, ask yourself WHY did I or do I really want kids? Be brave enough to admit to the self-serving motive. And don’t fall into the trap of believing the lie that parents tell. They did not have you for your sake. They had you for their sake. The question is why?