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?