Childrearing

Christina Applegate Says She Was ‘Completely Self-Involved’ Before Having A Child

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A huge line of contention between parents and child-free adults is the belief that those without kids are selfish. And of course, whether or not selfishness is an issue. I would say that you can’t judge anyone’s personality simply on their decision whether or not to have kids. Every one has their own experiences and their own goals, sometimes children fit into that plan and sometimes they don’t. Personally, I don’t think that anyone needs to have to children to be complete. I don’t think that being a parent makes you fundamentally better than those who stay childless. But it’s hard to deny that motherhood has taught me a certain type of selflessness that I never know before I had a child.

Apparently, Christina Applegate knows what I’m talking about. During the numerous interviews that she and co-star Will Arnett have given to promote their new sitcom Up All Night, Applegate made the following observation:

 “We’ve been self-obsessed for a long time. I had my baby at … 39! Thirty-nine years of doing whatever I wanted to do. Getting up when I wanted to get up. Going where I wanted to go. Completely self-involved. The adjustment — she (daughter Sadie) makes it easy, because she’s my obsession now.”

What mom doesn’t completely understand what she’s talking about? You spend your entire life doing what works best for you and making decisions for yourself. Then all of a sudden, you have this little person who determines almost everything about your life. They change your sleep patterns, your social life and your work schedule. They change you outlook. The focus of your life shifts away from yourself and onto your kids. It’s a change that mothers have a hard time explaining or comparing to anything else.

I think this fundamental shift is biggest difference between parents and child-free adults. It doesn’t make one side better than the other, but it changes their perspective. I worry about how my actions affect my daughter first because I took responsibility for her life when I chose to have her. That doesn’t make me more caring or selfless, that makes me a parent. Before I had a child, it wasn’t selfish to make decisions without worrying about others, because I hadn’t agreed to put someone else’s needs first.

Maybe the biggest problem here is the vocabulary. For a parent, it seems selfish to think only of oneself, because we have other responsibilities. But for those without kids, they aren’t “self-involved,” they are living their life. It’s not selfish, it’s… something different. Until we figure out the correct way to label it, these descriptions will continue to cause discord between the child-bearing and the child-free.