Raising Naneni - Is childhood trauma keeping you from having children?
If an 18-year-old says ‘I want to have a baby’, people will raise their eyebrows in shock. Equally so, if an adult approaching his/her 30s says ‘I do not want to have children’, we may raise our eyebrows too.
At the top of my head, I can mention five friends who do not want to have children and surprisingly, one is a male. It is not that they are unemployed and cannot financially look after a child. For so long, I did not understand why an adult is opposed to having children.
Finally, I understand. As individuals, we deal with childhood trauma differently. People like me have been eager to be parents since before we were teenagers; we vowed to be exceptional parents and to be the adults we needed when we were children. Before I could think of a career, I had already thought of marriage and children. That was my life’s mission. To build the kind of childhood and family I needed as a child.
Unfortunately for some, the trauma forces them to dislike the idea of parenting – for so many reasons. My male friend said “It has something to do with my parents divorcing when I was young. I felt they let me down as they moved on with their lives, remarried and had kids. While I was raised by my grandmother. I cannot forgive them.” My friend is turning 33 and yet he fears having children of his own as he believes he too will fail them just as his own parents did to him.
Your fears are completely valid, but it does not necessary mean you will become a bad parent by default. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in the fact that you have the ability to change a generational curse. You have the ability to choose to do better for your children.
Another friend said she doesn’t think she deserves to have children because she will only pass her bad genes over to the innocent children. She suffers from psoriasis.
The first trimester of pregnancy was the most exasperating. At times, the fear of the unknown would have me pouring tears. What will I do? Will I be a good parent? Are we going to make it? I was not married and my biggest fear was if her father would stick around – and if he doesn’t, how will him abandoning her affect her psyche? Would my child be exposed to childhood trauma?
But the more Naneni grew inside my womb, the more assured I was that I would be a good parent. I turned into a superwoman. I was prepared to make sure no one harms her. And all the pain and injustices caused to me by others would never befall on her. Ciara’s song, I Got You, which is dedicated to her firstborn son was my power anthem during pregnancy. She spiritedly sang:
“I got your back, I got you I take your side, I lay my life down for you I’ll crawl over broken glass, I will stand in the flame Take the bullet, take the blows, I would take all the pain Anything, anything that you gotta get through Hey, hey, I got you”
It’s okay not to want to have children but if you do and your fear of being a bad parent paralyses you, it is best to seek therapy. However, it is best to do this as soon as possible because although my friend spent his young adult life putting off having children, he has now begun thinking of it – and he is racing against time as he grows older.
Remember, you are not your parents. Possibly, you are a better and evolved version of them; you will surely do better as a parent because you will not dare impose the kind of childhood trauma you endured on another human being – let alone your own child.
When that little bundle of joy with cute eyes looks at you from the hospital blanket, he/she will melt your heart and you will lay down your life for them.
Trauma is not the norm – as long as it remains the exception; you can do better. You are more than the trauma you experienced. Your fears of being a bad parent are rational and valid; however, sometimes, seeing a therapist for any kind of trauma is essential to rid yourself from the straightjacket of traumatic experiences. All the best and we hope to welcome you to the parent club soon!
* My name is Paulina N. Moses, mother to a four-year-old daughter, Naneni. This column hopes to create momentum for positive parenting by candidly discussing everything about parenting, while creating a network of millennial parents who support and cheer each other on.
2020-02-14 07:55:14 | 9 days ago