Pronatalism & The Motherhood Decision
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.
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.
About The Baby Matrix:
In the movie The Matrix, the character Morpheus offers two pills to Neo—if he takes the blue pill, he will go on with life as he has before, believing what he has always believed. If he takes the red pill, he will find out what the “matrix” really is, and many of his earlier beliefs will be shattered. When it comes to taking a hard look at a specific set of beliefs about parenthood and reproduction that has driven our society for generations, The Baby Matrix is the red pill.
We commonly think our desire to have children boils down to our biological wiring, but author Laura Carroll says it’s much more than that. Unlike other books on parenthood, The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World takes a serious look at powerful social and cultural influences that drive the desire for the parenthood experience, and lays out why we need to be very aware of these influences to make the most informed decisions about parenthood.
The Baby Matrix looks at long-held beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, and unravels why we believe what we believe. It lays out:
-the historical origins of beliefs about parenthood and reproduction
-why many of these beliefs no longer work for society or were never true in the first place
-why we continue to believe them anyway
-the prices society pays as a result
The Baby Matrix shows us how we got here, brings to light what is true, which includes knowing about the powerful influence of “pronatalism,” and explains why society can no longer afford to leave pronatalism unquestioned.
“This is not a book about convincing people not to have children,” says Carroll. “I want people to be very aware of the long-held social and cultural pressures, and be able to free themselves from those pressures when making parenthood choices.
This will result in more people making the best decisions for themselves, will foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children and one that knows what it means to bring a child into the world today.”
This book will make you examine your own intentions and beliefs, will rile you, and might just change your mind. Whether you are already a parent, want to become a parent, are still making up your mind, or know you don’t want children, you’ll never think about parenthood in the same way.
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.
Pump Up Your Book and Laura Carroll are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire!
Here’s how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form. Click here to follow along with the tour and enter.
This Kindle Fire promotion will run from July 2 – September 27. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2012.