To be honest…with Erin Melton

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To be honest, the idea of parenthood is absolutely terrifying to me. I’m sure this viewpoint comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to me for more than five minutes. However, this is about more than simply not wanting to have my body ripped apart by a tiny being who lives inside of it like a parasite for nine months…although that most definitely concerns me, too.

In order to get all of the obvious reasons out of the way, we all know that overpopulation is a problem. I don’t think we need any more humans running rampant, cutting down trees and creating things like the Doritos Locos Taco. I know that this opinion will leave some displeased, but I find it a bit selfish to contribute to the problems we have already created simply to create someone who looks like you. This does not mean I want to rip the joy of parenting away from anyone. This means that there are millions of beautiful, small humans who, in my opinion, desperately need to be adopted. In my mind, it is clearly more logical and kind to take part in the adoption process than to have children biologically. Again, I know some of you will want to stone me, but so be it.

Additionally, as I mentioned above, pregnancy and the whole birth process freak me out. Kudos to those of you who see it as a beautiful miracle of life. Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible amount of respect for women who go through the entire ordeal and don’t stress cry constantly, but it in no way interests me. Moreover, I don’t find the idea of being that committed to another person very appealing. I may want to drop everything and move to New Zealand in my 40s, an option that would not be highly available if I had a second-grader. Maybe that’s me being selfish, but it’s also me being honest.

Before I begin with this part of the article, I want to make it clear that I am definitely not trying to criticize anyone’s parents or their parenting styles. Now, the reason that parenthood in itself causes such sincere fear for me is the responsibility for another human being. I know that this sounds ridiculous, and I am sure some people think that I am just trying to be a quirky rom-com character. Regardless, the idea of being in charge of the emotional and mental health of someone is utterly horrifying.

Throughout middle and high school, my friends and I told each other things that we were terrified to tell our parents. We were afraid to talk about our feelings and experiences with the people who literally are the reason we had those feelings and experiences. Why? Because we were taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that their approval is the most important thing toward which we should strive. I can very vividly remember numerous occasions when I almost tangibly felt one or both of my parents’ disappointment, and I truly believe that these memories stunt what I am willing to tell them to this day. This is not their fault; that is just the nature of a parent-child relationship, it seems.

That being said, I never want to make another person feel the things I have felt when my parents weren’t proud of me, when I felt like a burden, when they didn’t agree with important decisions, when what was important to me wasn’t important to them or simply when they didn’t seem to have time. My parents have also been wonderfully supportive and inspiring, and it is not their fault that I felt the ways that I did. Sometimes, I was more than likely imagining any sort of negativity from them. The fact is, though, that the times I perceived they saw me as inadequate, regardless of whether or not they actually did, stand out much more clearly than those when I felt like someone to be proud of. This speaks to the high influence parental approval has on children.

More important than this fear of responsibility is my shockingly problematic inability to express anything important to the people in my life. At 20 years old, it is still difficult for me to tell my friends that I love them. I would prefer to continue to be upset with a situation than to have to explain my emotions to someone. I am afraid to call my father and tell him I miss him because I don’t want him to think I’m weak or vulnerable. It would be unfair for some poor soul to be stuck with me as a guide into the world of human relationships. This brings me to a broader point: when you have children, you unavoidably give them a portion of your emotional and mental baggage. It seems to me that babies are born without a chance at perfect emotional health, and that is an injustice on the level of original sin, if you ask me.

While I think that we are all humans who have the ability to make informed decisions independently, I find it incredibly difficult not to say, simply, that I think people should stop having children. Maybe everyone else’s emotional health is top-notch compared to mine (I hope so tbh). If you are willing to take on that kind of responsibility for the ground-up formation of an actual person, I hope that you are making that choice with much thought and care. To me, it seems like a full-time job for which, I am almost positive, I will never be qualified.

Erin Melton

Erin Melton is a senior Literature and Theory major and French and Religious Studies minor. She is the chief copy editor and loves camels.

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