Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Kids Are Alright

A male friend of mine — 36, handsome, very smart, and witty — would like to meet the right woman and settle down.

There's just one thing: He absolutely doesn't want kids.

It's a dealbreaker, and it greatly complicates his efforts. Many a relationship of his has disbanded because his girlfriend had initially said she was fine with having no kids, but then changed her mind. The girlfriend had never really thought about motherhood until then, or she'd been denying her own desire for motherhood all along.

As for the women who truly shared his desire for childlessness, none of those relationships have worked out. As far as I can tell from what he's told me, at least part of the reason for that is because every one of those women has been dysfunctional in some way.

I should mention that I'm one of them.

It's only been within the past couple of years — since my breakup with that happily childless gent — that I've been able to imagine being a mom. That's still a step from actually wanting to be one, but it's getting there.

For all I know, there may well be a woman or women who are simply not emotionally hardwired for motherhood. Likewise, it would not shake my faith to learn that there exists a vibrantly healthy and dynamic woman who shares my faith — and who is not a nun — fails to desire children.

I do believe that I am far from the only woman whose resistance to motherhood stems from a sense of brokenness, which in turn is due to a damaged understanding of the family. In my case, I come from a broken home. That saddled me as a young child with a tremendous amount of cynicism about families and relationships in general, which I continue to work through and consider with prayer.

The rise in divorce in the late 20th century — which neatly parallels the advent of oral contraception and the legalization of abortion — amplified modern society's message that children are neither important enough to spark a couple to marry, nor valuable enough to cause a married couple to stay together.

Children are viewed as property today in a fundamentally different way than in the days when they were expected to work on the family farm. Human eggs are bought and sold. Some gay and infertile couples claim a "right" to a child through in vitro fertilization, as though it were an ownership issue; I can buy a Mazda, so who are you to tell me I can't buy a kid?

Feminists have fueled the downgrading of children by insisting that motherhood is a choice that exists in a vacuum — as though women lack any sort of biological drive that might contribute to a decision to have kids. The irony is that feminists are perfectly willing to use biological drives as excuses for behavior that doesn't involve parenting — like having contraceptive-"protected" sex.

Biological connections to parental behavior are not limited to women. In recent years, many studies have pointed to biochemical factors that inspire paternal behavior as well.

I lived most of my adult life in a world where the only truth was that of our postmodern, postfeminist culture. It says, "You don't have to be a mother, therefore you should not feel pressured in any way to be a mother, therefore you should not be a mother if you can help it, because it will prevent you from being able to choose. The meaning of life is in our choices, and those choices can only be made if you are free from the ties of a husband — who would probably leave you anyway — and children."

I am choosing to wake up now. Thank God!