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Should you have kids?
I am pretty sure plenty of us have heard the line, ‘We fed you, clothed you and housed you’ from our parents throughout our lives. They feel this entitles them to make every decision about our lives and our futures. They don’t seem to know that these are the most basic requirements of parental care. Beyond these basics, some parents fail their children in every conceivable way.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs details all the things an individual needs to be a whole, happy and self-fulfilling individual. Some families may successfully meet their children’s physiological needs, but that’s where their care ends. They fail to make us feel safe and secure. Many young people feel that if we make certain life choices – from picking the subjects we want to study for our GCSEs to choosing our own system of belief/disbelief or our life partners, then we risk tension at home at the least – or disownment, abuse or murder at the worst.
Although many of us want a loving relationship with our families, that has sadly not been the case for many of us. In a support group session for apostates, all of my clients agreed that our parents had never told us that they love us. The only time I could recall my parents telling me that they loved me was whenever they were emotionally blackmailing me to do something I didn’t want to do. ‘We are only doing this because we love you!’ By which they meant: we want to control you and make you feel guilty if you don’t do as we say.
Many young South Asian women and girls that I meet have absolutely no self-esteem. This is partly due to the fact that beyond their most basic physiological needs, none of their other needs – for love, friendship, or stability – have ever been met. The likelihood of young women growing into confident adults is endangered if these needs are not met. On the other hand, many young South Asian men and boys have had a sense of entitlement and overconfidence instilled into them. They are loved, accepted and their decisions are almost always justified by the extended family and community.
Things will never change so long as families consider their daughter to be their property. Women are treated no differently to land: it’s perfectly acceptable for ‘our men’ trespass on your land, but if ‘their men’ trespass on our land then it is irreversibly polluted and should be burned. The way some parents treat their children is nothing other than abuse. Emotional abuse entails deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child, isolating or ignoring them. Neglect entails not giving a child the love, care and attention that they deserve. Many young people don’t even realise that what they have been experiencing is a form of abuse.
We all deserve more. When a parent chooses to have a child, they also have a basic duty beyond feeding and clothing that child, but loving and nurturing it. If you can’t do that, don’t have kids. If you are not completely over your own abusive childhood, and are going to use that as an excuse to abuse your own kid, don’t have kids. If you’re only having kids because your partner, in-laws or family want you to have kids and you are going to resent your own kids for it, don’t have kids.
Your own abuse is not a good enough excuse to abuse your future generations. Yes, you didn’t choose to be abused, but you are choosing to abuse the next generation. At that point you’re no longer a victim of circumstances; you are a perpetrator of abuse. Kids are hard work, but regardless of that, they deserve a really good start in life, if you can’t give them that… that’s right… don’t have kids!!!!!!
Sadia Hameed is director of Gloucestershire Sisters.