Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Can you have a baby and go on living?

Married. Looking for house. Admit we may be open to kidlets in the
near future. But the barrage of hectoring opinion and judgement has
already started, and it's throwing me headlong into the kind of
questions that have left so many in our generation prevaricating when,
deep down, they'd love to start a family.

The most aggressive bit of judgement was a conservative middle-aged
woman at work accusing us and other young couples of being selfish
because we don't move to the outer suburbs when considering having
kids. We could get more space for the kids to play in for the same
money, so therefore anything less is pure selfishness. This is based
on a pretty pissy factual analysis; I was brought up in a medium sized
town (Darwin) where we had loads of room but nothing to do, and
violence, drugs, depression and apathy were rampant.

But suppose it is, there will certainly be other decisions that will
pit the child's most optimum option against things that are important
to us as adults. The prevailing view seems to be that a parent must
put their child first, almost to the point that the parent becomes a
vessel, like a uterine wall there purely to provide sustenance and
support for the child, their own role in the world shunted aside.

Why is it that we take this view? Is the balance- where the children
and both parents are all able to grow, and where decisions weigh
benefits and downsides as relating to all family members, impossible?

Forget politics, no issue attracts the amount of smug, self righteous
lecturing as child raising. This may be appropriate at one extreme-
child abuse and chronic neglect upset decent people at a fundamental
level. But in genuine cases of abuse or neglect the child is being put
last, and notably so. Have we gone so far in our expectations and
lecturing that it is understandable that so many people who would make
excellent parents just baulk, and put the process off and off until it
is too late?

19 comments:

hazelblackberry said...

Excellent post. This really sums it up for me.

The other thing that amazes me is the way pregnant women become public property - comments, unsolicited advice, touching.

Anonymous said...

Do what you and the missus wanna do, Leftie. Cos if you're happy, then the kids will be OK.

Zoe said...

Just have the kidlets. The unsolicited advice won't stop, but you can either (a) politely ignore it or (b) say, "that's very interesting. Why don't you tell me about your personal circumstances and I can give you my opinion?"

Splatterbottom said...

Well said, Zoe.

The most important thing is to talk to your kids and spend time with them. And, (speaking from experience) don't let them walk over you when they get older.

obtuse-a said...

do what you feel is right

you have choice

B. S. Fairman said...

Do what you want to do. Be what you want to be. Yeah.

phil said...

It probably was easier when mrs v v b and I had ours - we just sort of did it - don't misinterpret that remark, please:-)

But once you got 'em, enjoy 'em, particularly before they start to do what sb said (I was going to be more explicit, mainly about the teenage years). And recognise that you only get one go and there's no proper manual. You learn a lot about yourself and, if you're smart, you learn it at the time. End of lecture.

russ said...

I did a rather large research project on whether young couples with kids would want to stay in inner areas. Our general conclusion was that Melbourne is still yet to have any substantial numbers of families that do; but overseas trends indicates that people with a strong preference for cultural services centrally located do stay. Anyway, that is not really relevant, except in the sense that you are at the forefront of a new trend, so there will always be nay-sayers.

I'm not sure if anyone has researched whether it is better to give a child space to play in or better access to culture, but I know what I'd bet on.

Guy said...

Great post. It's a difficult topic.

Another Outspoken Female said...

The worst thing you can do is listen to anyone else's opinion.

Primative urges shouldn't be intellectualised.


(so just disregard this comment :)

JahTeh said...

Not giving any advice except to wander over to my blog and see what happens when the kids have kids.

And be prepared for the cats to hate you.

Rain said...

The only piece of advice I didn't get when pregnant & wish to hell I did was "Listen to your instincts when it comes to your child". Sure, listen to all the advice that you want to but go with what your gut says is right for your own child.

Lucy Tartan said...

Hey Russ, there's culture in zone 2 ya know!!!

Armaniac, if you still live in the general area you used to live, my partner and his three sibs were brought up there. It was the Wild NorthWest then.

Rob M said...

Have you been out to Wedgevale...er, Caroline Springs? They have about as much "space to play" in the backyards as a Brunswick townhouse.

The one advantage that the outer suburbs do have is that young children and public transport aren't a brilliant mixture, so it's easier to get them round at that particular age. But, in return, you're condemned to act as taxi until they're 18 in compensation. As a teenager, it would have been very nice to be able to hop on a train and be in Melbourne's CBD 15 minutes later...

The Daily Magnet said...

This sounds like a personal dilemma?
In my experience there is no 'easier' age to start a family & similarly, there is no particular area that caters more ideally to a well-rounded family life.
In this day and age, we don't have to feel obliged to follow traditional family roles.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Have them! Have them!

You can factor playground, beach and bush trips into the plans, and the rest of the time they'll be a tram ride away from the library, the art gallery, the museum and the zoo.

What JahTeh said about the cats, though.

Brownie said...

Wot 'rob m' said.
Those McMansions in 'Taylors Springs' have about a meter between them and the eaves next door.
Stay near cultural opportunities.
Those who advise 'space for the kids', really mean 'space for the parents to get away from the kids'.
Moving 'out' makes you a slave to travel.
Also Mother To Be risks feelings of isolation, just when she is most vulnerable.
Now let's put all that rubbish aside, and get on to the important part: Name Choices.
I had to give Moses Martin 9/10 ( he lead the Jewish people etc etc) although www.defamer.com (the gossip rag LA deserves) said 'The kids at school will say he has a burning bush'.

russ said...

Lucy, I never said there wasn't. All I said was that access to cultural services is better in the inner suburbs. You disagree?

Shiralee said...

rob m -- HOW on earth could it posibly be easier to get young kids around without public transport? It IS arguably easier to use a car but I don't believe that you are disbarred from having one of those in areas properly serviced by PT. Are you?

frankly my kid grew up in inner city Melbourne -- we caaught PT or bicycled everywhere aand she isn't noticably deprived. Or psychotic from lack of play space. What are parks for anyway? And she learned about PT from an early age -- your kid is more likely to be mowed down by you backing SUV than by a bit of public transport...

grrrr

Livee where makes you happy. And only listen when people offer to babysit...