Some time ago, I conducted an interview with six childfree men for the website DINKlife.com. That interview was later re-published by The Good Men Project, and every now and then, I’ll receive notifications of new comments posted on that article in my in-box. The following comment (posted at The Good Men Project) arrived this morning:
I never wanted a child and have one now. Love the baby more than anything but I’m totally overwhelmed and deeply deeply unhappy about my situation. I feel caged, I have so many plans in my life and so little interest for diaper baby talk. There is not only all the work with the baby, suddenly the whole fucking kin shows an annoying interest in my pathetic little life, calling all the time demanding to see the little brat. Fuck that, divorce is on the horizon. Take this warning from me: never, I repeat NEVER agree to having a baby if you don’t want it, whatever pressure might come from whomever asshole out there, don’t listen to them. Just listen to yourself and if you want to stay free and careless and did I mention FREE by all means say NO! Here’s another thought: if men would really have a say in having babies or not I predict that world population would be 50% smaller. C’mon which guy really thrives on baby birthday parties, baby showers and all that crap, that’s de finitely for chicks only. And it’s definitely not for me, I’m sooo stupid that I haven’t really thought about that before.
The commenter, who calls himself “Bart,” is in a sticky situation, and I sincerely feel for him. Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t think about how permanent the decision is, how much their lives will change, and how every decision thereafter will (for the most part) involve the effect it will have on the child.
I appreciate Bart’s honesty (it takes courage, I think, to admit to being an unhappy parent), and I think he has a few good pointers for others who might feel pressured to have kids.
1. If you don’t want kids, say NO!
2. Understand that your life will change and that you, like Bart, could end up feeling overwhelmed (especially if you never wanted kids in the first place and had one [or more] as a sort of “compromise,” which is a misnomer, because there’s no “compromising” when it comes to having kids).
3. If you have extended family you don’t want to see all the time, prepare for them to come around more to see the baby.
I do, however, take issue with this:
Here’s another thought: if men would really have a say in having babies or not I predict that world population would be 50% smaller.
Dear Bart (and anyone else who believes this),
You really did have a say. No one strapped you down and forced you to impregnate the baby’s mother. Every man has a say in whether he willingly, knowingly creates babies. Blaming your partner for pressuring you, blaming society, blaming anyone but yourself is a shameless attempt to shift responsibility and deny your role (and, in this case, your own weakness).
Bart also implies that women (rather, “chicks”) are the only ones interested in baby stuff:
C’mon which guy really thrives on baby birthday parties, baby showers and all that crap, that’s de finitely for chicks only.
No, it’s for people. It’s for men and women who, before having children, gave the decision the serious consideration it deserves and determined that they truly wanted to be parents (which is a lot more difficult and involved than simply having children).
I’m sorry you’re in this spot, Bart, but it was your decision and your willful, physical act that resulted in a child. Leave the marriage if you have to, but understand that you intentionally and consciously created another person, and that it’s now your responsibility to be the best father you can be, whether or not you’re living in the house with your child.
Like it or not, it’s not all about you, anymore, and anything and everything you do as it affects that child will shape that child’s impression of you and your worth as a father. It will also shape how that child feels about him- or herself growing up. What should be of some comfort to you is that all it takes to be a good father is for you to be there whenever you can, to love your child, and to put true effort into showing that love (never putting your own “I want to have fun and be FREEEE!” desires before your child’s needs).
I have no doubt you already know, and plan, to do that. Best of luck,