The Children of Suicides and the Parenthood Corporation

in psychology •  7 months ago  (edited)

The charter of the Parenthood Corporation is written in our genes. It demands continual reinvestment, and it grows for its own sake. It pays dividends of overpopulation and environmental destruction disguised as familial bonds and warm feeling.

I originally wrote this post over a year ago. It was a darker time, and I ultimately decided not to share it. But I recently endured a customer's lecture on the importance of having children. I guess I should be flattered he feels the world needs more versions of me?
When I came across this draft a few days later, I realized that my feelings on the matter haven't changed. If you know how to raise and love children, I have the utmost respect for you. But it is not for me.

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Love and attachment are different for the children of suicides.

My friend's mother died a few months ago. She'd been hospitalized for years, non-verbal, in a semi-coma where she could only respond to the world by blinking. There was no quality of life there, and the end was long overdue. Her death was a relief, really. An end to long suffering.

My friend has been devastated ever since. She says her mother's death, even after this lingering illness, hit her a lot harder than her father’s sudden heart attack two years before.

Both of her parents were hard-working and poor. They did little financially for their kids. But they had closeness. Their relationship meant a great deal. They could sit around the dinner table together with a sense of genuine pleasure.


She talked to me about all this when she returned to work, after the funeral.

Being the self-involved little prick that I am, I walked away from the conversation thinking about my life. Would I ever feel this depth of grief? Have I ever loved a blood relative enough to truly miss them?

It's not like I need the daily contact of other people to get by. I can go for weeks without leaving the house.

But family...surely there should a feeling of attachment there, a need for their presence, a sorrow at their absence?


The children of suicides spend their lives pre-abandoned. We know that our role in a family is to be less-than-nothing, more cost than benefit. If a child doesn't give a parent reason to live, a reason to celebrate family and carry the product of that love into the future, if a child can’t even give you the reason to look forward to another day, then what is the purpose of parenthood?

It's a swindle.

It's amazing that so many people fall for it. We live in an era of easy contraception, surrounded by ready alternatives to reproductive sex.

It’s never been easier not to have children.

But the lie of parenthood is crafty. Making a baby is more than just submitting to a biological imperative. People genuinely seem to desire offspring as much as sex. They go to great trouble and expense to overcome infertility or to adopt. Once they produce or acquire children, they take pictures of their happy moments, and pull these images out at every opportunity to parade their success in reproduction in front of friends and strangers. They paste these pictures on Facebook and hang in them in their houses like trophies.

"There we were! Look at us!"

And all I can think is, "Come on. You couldn't have prevented this?"

The children of suicides know that this is all part of the lie.

The biological imperative of parenthood worms its way through the twisted pathways of the brain and projects itself onto the world through behaviors that parents cannot control: rituals of caring and nurturing and supporting, changing diapers and cooking and installing child-safety-seats.

If parents ever recovered their senses, they'd cut this bullshit immediately. But these rituals and behaviors are so ingrained that society demands they go on. Laws are passed! It's dangerous to abandon your kids. You'll be a pariah. You'd better have a better excuse than I just didn't feel like doing it any more.

So some kill themselves. It’s the only way.

If you can't carry through with that, it's safer to embrace the lie and keep going through the motions of loving the damn kids.

Because of these social pressures, it's impossible to tell who really enjoys the bonds of family life, and who is just pretending.


Either way, the children of suicides see these pictures of families together, smiling around some dinner table, or at some sporting event, or fishing, or hiking, or at church, or performing in a play. The children of suicides know these images are just another manifestation of the same never-ending biological lie, expressing itself through hormonal imperative and the threat of social shame.

It’s hard for them to see family as anything warmer or more generous than a corporation.

The charter of the Parenthood Corporation is written in our genes.

It demands continual reinvestment, it grows for its own sake, in perpetuity (as all effective corporations do) while it buries the planet in waste. It pays dividends of overpopulation and environmental destruction disguised as familial bonds and warm feeling.

Mothers and fathers grin and eat that shit up.


Can it be true? Can someone really love another with enough force and honesty that that person's death would make them sick? Would devastate them?

What is this thing called grief?


By all accounts my father was a monster. He was too drunk on the day of my birth to drive my mother to the hospital. He took half her money in a divorce and never paid a penny of child support. I'm grateful that he took himself out of the picture before I could know him.

I've spent the rest of my life waiting for men in my family to leave - via the pickup truck or the grave. The women in my family are abysmal at selecting men, so once my father was gone, there was one surrogate after another to fulfill his dismal role.

I can’t really blame my mother. She's just repeating the pattern set down by her mother, who lost a philandering husband to cancer and then married an abusive replacement.

We seek out comfort in the familiar. For the women in my family, familiarity means suffering.

It also means the production of an occasional child. Without which, that suffering would end.


Do we really need more evidence that the whole institution of family life is a massive conspiracy against kindness and common sense?

When my abusive grandfather passed at last, no one wanted his ashes. It was me, the grandson he'd once threatened to shoot, who picked them up from the funeral home. When I held the cheap plastic box, I felt something bordering on sadness: confusion and fear about the unfamiliarity of life without his dark shadow looming over all.

He'd killed my grandmother ten years earlier, and at her death, I felt even less: mostly anger and disgust for allowing the man who had poisoned 50 years of her life to destroy her in the end.

His ashes are still in a cupboard because no one knows what to do with them.


Life's a long march to death. We're born and then we're expected to suck in air and cram food into our mouths for eighty-plus years. Life sustains itself by consuming life.

Have you seen the slaughterhouses that feed us? The bleak factories and devastating machines?

We're monsters. Every birth is a holocaust.

I wouldn't wish this struggle on another soul. The fact that we have the potential to create life, to conjure up entire new vessels for suffering - souls which, without our carelessness, would never exist: this is the greatest joke of all.

All we have to do to stop this cycle is to not fuck somebody without a condom on. Yet we keep going around fucking people without condoms on, and then we get married and smile and pretend to be happy about it: that's the grim punchline.

We laugh to keep ourselves from screaming.

How dare we create another long lifetime of sorrow in exchange for a sloppy moment of careless pleasure?


Is it any wonder that pretending to love the monsters who created us and the monsters we create is so exhausting?

What are these emotions that are meant to blind us, when damage comes to the chains that bind us?

A death in the family is not an occasion for sadness. It's a time of fear, maybe, and uncertainty: that dizzy sense of possibility a convict feels when he is cast loose into the world after a long captivity. It's a time to plan and re-assess and maybe even celebrate. It's a time for so much God-damn paperwork.

But grief? Save grief for when a child is born.

This is what my father helped me understand.


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I enjoyed reading this very honest post. I can see how many people would have all kinds of horrible things to say about it, so let me precede them by saying we need a lot more of this kind of writing. One of the reasons why the pretentious norm is so widely accepted (up to the point of becoming normal) is that anything going against its fake tendency is put down as unacceptable. I'd follow you just for this article, if I wasn't following you already.

Thank you for your kind words, @stortebeker. I really did spend a lot of time thinking about whether to share this, and many hours editing it. It means a lot to have someone take the time to read it in the spirit in which it's intended.

What a post, Winston! Very eloquently written, as always.

I both agree and disagree at different parts of your thoughtful article. I do think that too many people on this world just do things without thinking them through, and especially so about rearing children. I believe only responsible people who want children should have them. Rearing anything and make them prosper take a lot of effort and time and energy, which some of us don't have. It is neither right or wrong to procreate, yet each side want to be the one winning the argument.

Then again, I have been blessed with a very fortunate life. I feel content and super lucky most of the time. I am very grateful to my parents, like all parents, they're weirdos but they're my lovely weirdos lol.

I'm glad you have such a good relationship with your parents. They sound lovely!

Yeah, maybe I was being a little hyperbolic here. Obviously a lot of these thoughts are the result of my own personal experience. But my hackles go up when someone assumes you must want kids, or thinks you're strange for avoiding them.

And maybe there's some "sour grapes." Sometimes I see a happy family and wonder if I'm missing out. (Then I consider diapers...)

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and the curation!

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It is really very philosophical writing, there is a truth in your words, may be that what some people, the majority do not speak aloud. You are right , in everything what you are saying, we just do not want to accept it openly, but many of us will agree with you. The life is a magic, the gift, the mystery that we are gifted and we do not what for and what is real aim of human. We are all searching for it but many just live as their parents and grandparents did and never bothered to think about.

The topic is like a powder keg, I believe it will lead to different discussion and arguments, but I believe no one will win it, as we do not know why we are here on Earth.

Psychology is something that I do not know really well and maybe I should read more about that. Surely your post helps me a lot to understand some things.
Thank you and congratulations for your work👍
Steem on!

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hi @winstonalden
very strong words in your post. You say no, but it seems to me to feel a lot of pain in your writing. Maybe you don't feel it because before the pain there is a lot of anger for what happened?

"The bond that unites your true family is not that of blood, but that of respect and joy for each other's lives. Rarely the members of a family grow up under the same roof". (Richard Bach)

I think everyone reacts differently to life and death, sometimes as a result of what we have lived as children sometimes not. For example, we have had a "normal" childhood and yet we have decided to have not children, to leave our homes, our families and travel the world. But there is no trauma behind it: just the desire to do it.
An important thing: I think a parent is not just a parent, but also a human being in its own right that can be a good or bad parent, but how do you know that in advance? Do you think doing nothing is better than trying?
a hug, and never be afraid to express what you feel!

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Do we really need more evidence that the whole institution of family life is a massive conspiracy against kindness and common sense?

Actually, yes. We would need more than that.

I partly agree with you. It is not easy to be aparent and it has become increasingly difficult in this digital age. Add to that a massive economic crisis and you have the perfect recipe for desastrous relationships.
Every day can become a challenge and then there will be plenty of people telling you that "nobody said it would be easy" and all those platitutes they throw at you to make you feel that sorting obstacles is part of the job and yours is better done, more deserving if you have shared your fair share of hurdles.

That being said, there are plenty of people I know who has done wonderful things with their families. Harmony to the end (no suicides, no abuse, to abandonment), extended families that contribute to making their surroundings and people close to them better, etc.

The thing is we would have to renounce humanity if we all agree that having children is pointless. We'd be gone in a century or so. I am not sure that is the best we can do as a species.

About the grandfather whose

ashes are still in a cupboard because no one knows what to do with them.

I'd have dumped them on the spot. No big deal. Why keep them if the memory of the guys brings only trauma.
Practicality is probably what we are missing or lacking as a species. most of the problems associated with parenthood are the result of unnecesary troubles caused by arbitrary rules self-imposed or otherwise.
People should not be pressed to have children, but once they have them there should be better ways to raise them so that we don't have to face so much crap (financially, emotionally, socially). It has to come from above (institutions,governments), individuals can only do so much.

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