The Rejection of Parenthood: The Hollow Happiness of Selfishness Is Being Sold as Fulfillment

AP Photo/Alexandru Dobre

I’m more tired than I’ve ever been. I’ve worked nights as a security guard, was a deckhand on a boat in the gulf, and much more, but none of the hats I’ve worn match the exhaustion that comes with being a dad. However, that exhaustion is a fulfillment that no career or experience has ever given me. I’ve been on some pretty spectacular adventures, but even the best times pass into the past. I’ll not wake up tomorrow and still be on that adventure. I will, God willing, continue the ever-evolving adventure of being a dad.

I only say this because I’m increasingly seeing my generation and younger take on a pretty anti-natalist attitude. They don’t want to be parents. Being a parent is a lot of hard work, stress, and ultimately it takes makes “me time” pretty scarce.

I see the rejection of family by younger generations with increasing frequency. The New York Post released an article on Tuesday titled “My husband had a vasectomy at 34 — we love being selfish ‘DINKs.‘”

“DINK” means “dual-income, no kids.”

The Post highlighted that the DINK movement is a growing one and that it primarily centers around selfishness. Their words, not mine:

“The DINK lifestyle is a bit selfish — in the best way,” declared Indi, a makeup artist in Sydney, who claims she chose not to have children because she is self-centered.

She added: “I’d rather be selfish without kids than have them and still want to be selfish.”

The major perk of the DINK life? The ability to be “spontaneous,” per Indi, who claims she can “take a nap whenever I want,” “go for dinner when I want” and “visit friends” without having to rearrange her life.

“I want peace and quiet and kids are noisy,” she declared. “I don’t see how a child would fit into our life.”

Yeah, traveling around the world and filling your time with selfish pursuits can be fun. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t wish I could just hop in my car and travel to visit friends or family in a different city on a whim like I used to. I would love to have so much free time that I end up not knowing what to do with it.

But ultimately, that free time starts to look a little sinister. Your umpteenth trip had some good times but ultimately it just becomes a good memory. The adventure itself has a shelf life. At some point, you’re going to get to a place where certain experiences just aren’t on the table anymore for one reason or another. All those fun things you get up to start to feel more like distractions.

Women, in particular, have a biological clock that begins screaming at them when time begins to run out, and regrets begin mounting faster than they anticipated. They go from having all the time in the world to having none at all pretty quickly, and soon their ability to have biological children disappears. It’s a tragedy that happens all too often, especially to my generation. People think they want no kids until a creeping emptiness begins to set in and they suddenly realize that the door is swiftly closing if not closed.

Being a parent isn’t for everybody, and that’s fine, but people shouldn’t confuse the feelings of now with the needs of the future.

Part of the problem is that so much negativity is put on parenthood. A lot is put on the stress, expense, and sleepless nights. However, the hardship is hardly the star of the show. The joy that comes with parenthood overwhelms the stress and I’ve yet to meet more than a handful of people who truly wish they never had children over the course of my entire life.

Ultimately parenthood is good for your mental health. As Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project at UVA pointed out, a 2021 survey indicated that loneliness tends to hit the childless harder. Interestingly, parents tend to be happier than non-parents as well.

Moreover, if there’s any indication that family means more than even the greatest riches and wealth, you can look no further than the abandonment Hollywood is seeing by even A-list stars. As Emily Blunt recently pointed out, her children have proved to be a far more fulfilling and worthwhile pursuit than being a famous actress, a dream job for many an American.

“This year, I’m not working. I worked quite a bit last year and my oldest baby is nine, so we’re in the last year of single digits,” Blunt recently said on the “Table For Two with Bruce Bozzi” podcast.

“And I just feel there are cornerstones to their day that are so important when they’re little,” she said. “And it’s, ‘Will you wake me up? Will you take me to school? Will you pick me up? Will you put me to bed?’ And I just need to be there for all of them for a good stretch. And I just felt that in my bones.”

Trust me, I get it. If someone came up to me and said I was getting a few days of complete solitude where I wouldn’t be woken up in the night, I wouldn’t have to change a diaper or have to play detective as to why my baby is fussy this time, I’d probably start skipping around the house like a school girl. But if someone told me that I’d be living a life of selfish solitude for the rest of my life and that my family was going to disappear forever, I’d probably have a mental breakdown.

I’ve lived that life. It was fun and I’m glad I got some of the experiences that I did. But that’s a page in my book that I didn’t want to read forever, and it’s a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere. Ultimately, this selfishness will come back to haunt too many. Not all, but many.

In my honest opinion, we should begin highlighting the best parts of parenthood instead of its hardships. That’s not to say we shouldn’t talk about the difficult parts, but we as a society do a bad job of pointing out the good and joyous parts of it.


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