At a recent women’s group, we discussed whether or not to bear children. It was fascinating to hear each woman’s perspective and experience. I came away thinking how wonderful it would be if all women, particularly those who haven’t yet born children but also those who’ve birthed children and wish to reflect upon the experience, were supported to have this kind of discussion.
The questionnaire below emerged out of that idea. I invite you to answer for yourself, and post your answers as a comment if you’d like to share. My answers are below.
My Child-Rearing Vision:
A Questionnaire for Planning Your Parenthood
Imagine you have decided to raise a child, or if you have born a child already then imagine you have it to do all over again. The following questions are to help you imagine clearly what conditions would need to be present for you to feel good about it and how you would know parenting was right for you.
Imagine you’ve decided to raise a child – What would the right conditions be?
- What are your reasons for birthing or raising a child? What are you seeking through the experience?
- Where are you at in life? What phase of life are you in, emotionally? What skills – emotional or practical – have you pursued and developed? Where are you at in your own healing process?
- How do you provide for and care for the child? How are you provided for and cared for? What kind of support do you have with birthing and raising this child? Who is around to help, what are they like, and how do they help?
- How have you prepared yourself for the reality of parenting?
- How do you know your choice is in alignment with the greatest good of all life?
- What feelings and thoughts have arisen having gone through this questionnaire?
- My reasons:
I have a lot of love to give and want to nurture life with it, and I want to share this experience with my parents and other loved ones.
I want to pass on healthy emotional behavior.
I want to be challenged to strengthen my emotional and relational skills.
I want to heal the child within me by dedicating my life to a child.
I want this child’s medicine to teach me and my family.
I feel that this is in alignment with my life purpose and the greatest good for all life.
- Where I’m at in life:
I feel stable and healthy (relatively, since things are always changing) – within myself, within my partnership, within my community and family, and within society.
I am reaching a point in life where my actions show that emotional skills and relationship-building are more important to me than material accomplishments or activities. It brings me joy to give my love to children, even if it slows down my productivity in my regular activities.
I have healed the wounds that made it hard for me to take care of myself, and feel strong in my energy most days.
I accept my own emotions and am able to “let them flow, and let them go,” without making rash decisions.
I have potent spiritual anchors in my daily life, and am readily able to replenish my energy and sense of peace even in difficult times and settings.
I have some experience projecting love, acceptance, and humor into stormy emotional settings.
I have established a strong social network around me of supportive, kind people who like to visit me/us.
My family consists of 6-8 adults who live and work together in all aspects of life. We have worked through many conflicts in the past and genuinely support each other to heal and grow.
- How the child and me are provided for:
I share responsibility for the child with 6-8 other adults who live with me and are also excited to raise a child.
We have a stable living situation and combine forces so that no one has to work more than part-time, or so that one or two people make money while others contribute to daily life in other ways. In other words, it’s more than just me at home all day.
Through the nursing years, the other adults/co-parents make sure the bills are paid and the vegetables planted and tended so that I can be available for the baby (while still bringing the baby along with me to the garden and such) and don’t have to push myself to make sure our basic subsistence is covered.
Everyone takes turns holding and playing with the child throughout its life (for longer periods of time after weaning). After weaning, I sometimes realize I haven’t seen the child for hours or days because they are having so much fun with another loving adult in the community.
The father of the child also plays a central role in the child’s life, although different than mine, and he makes sure I’m safe and provided for. My sisters take a more central role in helping care for the baby, while the father is more concerned with supporting me and the aunties. As a baby and youngster, the child is around women more often (though not exclusively), and the father’s role becomes more prominent as the child grows (esp if it’s a boy).
The child sleeps with me, or any of the other co-parent adults after weaning.
- How have I prepared myself?
I have spent a lot of time with children of all ages. I have taken parenting classes and researched parenting practices and child development. At least a few of the co-parents have also done this.
- How do I know this is in alignment?
I feel strongly that I am meant to contribute to the world in this way – from a whole, healed placed, not out of martyrdom or neediness or ego or a wounded self-concept.
I feel that bringing a human into the world is the most life-affirming thing for the whole community of life.
I am ready to raise children in many ways with where I’m at personally, but I’d like the social fabric around me to be more abundant and nurturing. I need to find more co-parents. I don’t think society will be healthy for a child in my lifetime, nor do I think birthing a human is in alignment with all life, but I also value the continuity of ancestors-adults-children and recognize how important children are for building a healthy culture. Also, one child between several adults isn’t in a statistical sense likely to contribute to the human population explosion, so the decision for me is more about what is right for my own life and my family. For now I’ve chosen to devote my child-loving energy to other people’s kids, to show up in their lives and “be the village” for them, and this feels more in alignment with the healing of our world to me and also very healing for me personally. If, however, I manifest more co-parents, then I would consider adopting a child or having one couple in the community birth a child (maybe me, maybe someone else).