Anti-natalist sues own parents for having him.
Image via ABC News.

Established narratives can be very powerful and subconscious deterrents of new thought and alternate perspectives. We can get so caught up in a status quo narrative/worldview that we are blinded to other interpretations of a given situation.

Apparently suing one’s parents is a thing now. This article dovetailed with a story I heard recently during a social gathering. With the majority of the attendees being parents, it did not take long for the topic of conversation to turn to parenting. The prevailing narrative is that raising children is hard work. Parents sacrifice a lot (of effort and money) in the process; which is an undeniable fact.

The story that friend told was about a friend of a friend of theirs. This friend had decided, upon the birth of her son, to keep a log of every cent she will ever spend on him. Her intention was two fold: have a quantitative reminder for her son of what she had invested in him (so he can never forget to be grateful to her), and to record the “debt” her son would have to “repay” when he eventually starts working. (The repayments will not be for her, but kept in a savings account for the son.) This behaviour struck me as rather odd, but I could just appreciate the rationale behind it.

What this parent had not considered was the following:

When I raised these observations, everyone was shocked. No one around the table had considered this perspective at all. The pervasive position that parents are the greatest etc. because of their investment in their children has blinded them to the alternate perspective. And the uncomfortable fact that children have no say in their own conception and birth.

Extending this further, we can also challenge the pervasive belief that all parents (mothers especially) are selfless and good. This is another uncomfortable notion, but one that is factual nonetheless. Parents are humans too. And as humans, they are flawed. There are abusive, selfish, and terrible parents out there who inflict substantial damage onto their own children!

So why should we contemplate unpleasant perspectives? Especially on emotive issues like parenting? Is there a societal or personal cost to maintaining rise-coloured falsehoods?

(In case you were confused, the post is about how strong establishment worldviews can stop us seeing alternate views. It is not about bashing parents. And whilst I understand the position of the anti-natalist in the news article, I don't necessarily support or condone his actions.)