Is deciding to have a baby something we really choose? Or is it something that is automatic in our upbringing?
Sometimes in our society, we have certain things so engrained in us, in our culture, in our upbringing, that we don’t even realize it. For example, the idea of same sex relationships being even allowed is a new concept these last 100 years.
I was recently speaking with my brother, who is gay but didn’t come out until college (after he had already had a girlfriend).
My family always kinda knew that my brother was gay. Growing up, I remember adults in the family whispering about it. He loved musicals, especially Wizard of Oz, and loved wearing Dorothy’s red slippers. I have pictures of him dressed up as Peter Pan and even in one of my princess Halloween costumes.
Still, he felt the need to date a woman. I’ve met young boys, 3 years old, who want to wear high heels and dress up as women heroines or villains for Halloween. Growing up now, when gay marriage is legal, is completely different than growing up 30 years ago. Now their parents can actually nurture it and encourage it so nobody would ever feel the need to sleep with a gender they are not attracted to.
What about deciding to have a baby? Is that society’s pressures on us, or is it something we really do choose to do? Laura Carroll takes a look at this question with her amazing book “The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World.”
The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll
Laura Carroll is childless by choice, which is a whole new movement that is happening. Why? Perhaps because people are finally questioning not when should they have children, but whether or not they should have children at all.
The Baby Matrix takes a look at various ways society pressures us to have children. It is so engrained and normalized, we don’t even realize it.
Each chapter is broken down into various “assumptions” that society takes on when it comes to parenthood.
For example, Chapter 3 covers the “normality” assumption. Laura talks about how “we have been sold a message that parenthood is part of the natural progression toward healthy adulthood.” In other words:
There is something wrong with you if you don’t want children.
Laura dives deeper into what this really means, why we think this, and how we are changing so this is no longer the norm.
Finding My Freedom Around Parenthood
I know, after reading this book, I became free. I always felt like I wanted to be a mother. It was a drive in me. As I read this book, though, I realized I wanted to be a mother for silly reasons. I thought, for example, a man really loved me if we had a family together. Now I realize that having children isn’t necessary for true love. In fact, studies found that couples without children are happier than couples with children.
I’m ok with not having children. And I’d be happy to have a child. Just one. I love that I have the freedom of choosing that. Even one child comes with stigma (you need to have siblings to grow up normally).
The Baby Matrix really gives one freedom to choose what your family will look like, freeing one from the guilt of what society might have put on our vision of a family. Perhaps your family is just you and your partner. Maybe you adopt a child by yourself. Perhaps you do have your own children, with a partner or without one.
There is no wrong answer. There is freedom, though, in really getting what messages society sends us about parenthood. Once we realize what the messages are, we can see if they are affecting our decisions when it comes to parenthood or if it doesn’t. It also gives us the freedom to raise the next generation without these pressures, so they can be free to do what they truly want in life.
This is one of the must read books for anybody considering children, or aren’t. It is in my top 3 must read books.
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