The decision to become parents is one of the biggest decisions we make in life. For many people, the decision does not come without its uncertainties. Here’s a story of a woman, Nina Jacinto, who struggling with her uncertainly about becoming a mother. From her article, “Loving So Much It Hurts: Why I’m Not Sure I Can Be a Mom:”
It’s the “‘loving so much it hurts’ that makes me want to scream and run away from the land of mamas. Caring for someone with all your heart that way requires a tremendous amount of trust in oneself, and even more vulnerability. Opening up our heart to love, and letting in everything that comes with it — happiness, sadness, fear, intimacy, risk, compassion sounds… terrifying. I struggle with this already as a daughter, as a person in a committed romantic relationship. I feel this way as a best friend. How can I take this on as a mother? The insecure and scared person inside me who has experienced and remains afraid of loss says, What if I can’t handle it?”
If she decides she can’t handle it, that Should Be OK. She seems to be beating herself up for fearing she is not “ready” or does not have what it takes to be a mom.
Pronatalism, what the book The Baby Matrix explores in depth, includes the idea that a) there comes a time when we should all be ready to become parents, and b) there’s a strong connection between the ability to give birth and the ability to parent. Not only is a) not true, b) is a myth.
If she comes to the conclusion that motherhood is not something she has the ability to take on, she need not feel badly about this. If we lived in a society that did not unquestionably believe that parenthood should be the central focus of our adult lives, she would not have to be hard on herself for this choice.
But she does say that she thinks she wants to be a mom one day. So what could help her get beyond her anxieties and feel she has the abilities she needs to raise kids well? Living in a society that treats parenthood as a “privileged” right, where everyone is required to get solid education about parenthood before they become parents, including having to think through why they want to become parents (because it is not everyone’s biological destiny, as the The Baby Matrix also dissects), learning the skill sets that parenting requires, assessing whether they have those skill sets and what skills they need to acquire before becoming parents.
Like any other “job” parenting requires certain aptitudes, certain “components of capability.” What if our society required adult parenthood programs to help people really examine whether parenthood is right for them, and if it is, help them prepare for it? If we did, people like Ms. Jacinto would have a place to go to explore her feelings, and get what she needs in order for her to be able to confidently say, “I can handle it,” or decide that parenthood is not right for her, and make this decision without self-judgment, or judgment from society.
Why does our society hold the belief that we are all destined to have children? Why do we believe that parenthood is the ultimate road to fulfillment in life? In The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World, author Laura Carroll answers these questions and more through an exploration of and critical look at the pervasiveness of “pronatalism” – the belief that having children should be the central focus of every adult’s life. Carroll examines the historical origins of pronatalism, the reasons why it has such a deep hold on societies even though most people remain unaware of it, and whether it makes sense – for individuals or for the world as a whole. She shows the ways in which pronatalism is perpetuated, scrutinizes seven major pronatalist assumptions that lead people to accept them without question, and offers alternative mindsets that reflect realities, true reproductive freedom and responsibility in today’s society. Whether you are already a parent, want to be a parent, or don’t want children, you will never think about parenthood in the same way. Investigating what few have had the courage to discuss, The Baby Matrix examines the negative effects of pronatalist beliefs, including how they dictate the “normal path” to adulthood, put unwarranted pressure on people to have biological children, and fail to foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children. Carroll also brings to light the impact that pronatalism has had on the world at large and will continue to have if its ubiquitous influence is not challenged. Citing compelling statistics, she shows how our belief that we can have as many children as we want is a serious threat in a world with finite resources. In the process, she brings into focus how every life brought into the world directly affects our survival. This manifesto makes the case for why it’s time for all of us to understand why we can no longer afford to leave pronatalist assumptions unquestioned. Without compromise, The Baby Matrix is a reality check for us all. Are we willing to hold on to beliefs that aren’t necessarily true … even to our detriment? This book will make you examine your own intentions and beliefs, will rile you, and might just change your mind. The Baby Matrix is a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, sociology, anthropology, parenting issues, environmentalism, and social justice. But most of all, it’s for anyone, parent or not, who reveres the truth and wants the best for themselves, their families, and our world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World. She is also the author of Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out. In addition to writing nonfiction books, Laura has worked as a business and litigation psychology consultant, and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals. She has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show, and been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics. She reviews nonfiction books and more at LiveTrue Books. She lives in San Francisco.
To learn more about Laura, go to her website: http://lauracarroll.com/
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