Should People with Mental Illness Have Children?
The quest for a GOP presidential candidate has raised a lot of brouhaha concerning reproductive rights in America. Whether certain politicians aim to force everyone to spawn or limit childbearing rights to a particular set is unclear. The debate, however, brings to mind the question: should people with mental illness have children?
I'm sure I've caused jaws to drop by merely asking, but I'm not the first to do so. Various subsets of the population have had their reproductive rights rescinded since we humans figured out where babies come from. Involuntary sterlization is a very real part of our not-so-distant history--people suffering from psychiatric illness have been subject to the practice even in my lifetime. With an individual's right to birth control currently under fire, how far are we from returning to this obscene practice?
Problems When People with Mental Illness Have Children
Should people with mental illnesses be allowed to be parents? After all, psychiatric illness, when untreated or improperly managed, can be completely disabling. Consider the single mother, unemployed and often bedridden as a result of severe depression. Or the father who lashes out in violent rages due to borderline personality disorder. Are these people "good" parents? Have they done society a disservice by reproducing? Should their right to reproduction be limited moreso than, say, a neurotypical person who doesn't like or want children?
Beyond the child's welfare, supporters of the practice believe it necessary to rid ourselves of mental illness (not to mention mental retardation and/or whatever other unpleasantries hinder polite society)--effectively wiping the genetic slate clean. (Holocaust, anyone?)
The Truth About Parents with Mental Illness Who Have Children
If the only concern is how a child with mentally ill parent(s) fares, the truth is: parents with psychiatric illness can and do have and raise healthy, happy children, just like "normal" people. Mentally ill parents may also have children with mental illness--just like "normal" people. They may also, unfortunately, mistreat or endanger their children--just like "normal" people.
In my 20s, I made the decision to not have children--period. I doubted my ability to effectively parent, and I feared passing on my imperfect brain chemistry. At 28, however, I had Bob, who demonstrated signs of psychiatric illness early on. Was it difficult to be a "good" parent while managing my illness, Bob's, and his father's? Yes, and I still regret some decisions I made during Bob's early years. I like to think we made out okay. Raising Bob, managing his illness (and my own) and raising his neurotypical half-sibling has been infinitely easier with the support of my husband, family and friends. (It really does "take a village.")
Which is why, if ever I am asked whether I believe mentally ill people should have children, my response will be:
McClanahan, A. (2012, March 19). Should People with Mental Illness Have Children?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2012/03/should-people-with-mental-illness-have-children
Author: Angela McClanahan
Bpd. *C*-PTSD, ultra cycling bipolar, EDNOS, DID , nightmare disorder, crippling panic attacks, CONSTANT dissociation flashbacks. brand new ones at that. Ones I've never had up until 2 years ago. So, no. We should absolutely NOT have kids. I am a birthmother. I see my daughter once every 4 months the slicing pain that drills into my bone marrow...that guttural grief....that second guessing, the utter hopelessness , the near-misses. none of that compares to the fathomless endless guilt I'd feel if I ever hurt her. And THAT should be the standard. I'm sparing my daughter a lifetime of suffering by smashing my heart into smithereens .
To put it bluntly, I would have severlely abused my hypothetical children because of my Borderline behaviors, emotional detachment which inhibits true nurturing and having them emotionally trigger repressed memories that happened to me as they grew up and hit triggering developing ages. I was not truly parented, and have not learned what i was deprived of experiencing. There are so many memories I kept repressed that are yet unhealed. And my kids would have grown up to hate me as badly as I did my father, until last year when i discovered the root causes of his dysfunction. I am capable of truly loving and nurturing others, but not when I had my emotional spicket turned off to protect myself from feeling more hurt. If I can't feel me, I could not read their feelings either. They too would be plagued and scarred by PTSD, and probably inherit BPD genetically. There are too many people in 3 generations of Dad's family who had all the symptoms, and several direct and indirect suidicides, as well as one homicide from a Borderline aggressive rage that traumatically orphaned 5 cousins. No child deserves PTSD or the inheritance i would have left them with, just as i didn't.
What is this inhe
blog. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's difficult to get
that "perfect balance" between usability and appearance.
I must say you've done a awesome job with this. Additionally, the blog loads super quick for me on Firefox.
I was abused and used as a commodity, with absolutely NO LAWS IN PLACE TO PROTECT ME. My adopted YOUNGER brother was even allowed to attempt to rape me and assault me, and he was actually LAUDED for it (even after I was hospitalized for stitches to my head and brutalized by he and my mother who lauded his attack on me for calling him "mommy's baby". I was ALWAYS treated with contempt for being a victim of outsider bullying, as well, because I was NEVER ALLOWED TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF! You have to understand, VERY RICH PEOPLE CONTROL THE SYSTEM OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM, PSYCHIATRY, RELIGIONS, ATTORNEYS, THE LENDING INDUSTRY, FINANCIAL INVESTMENTS/TRUSTS, ETC!!!
I was one of the .01% that no one ever hears about ... The one doesn't shoot up a theater or cause harm, because I was a scapegoat for my families crime, greed and insanity. All three are full blown alcoholics, narcissists, and criminals, and THE SYSTEM FACILITATED THE AGENDA, as long as the MONEY FLOWED INTO THE RIGHT POCKETS!!!
These are the innocents who psychiatrist cover up with internal corruption, as they make MILLIONS from the wealthy parents who adopt normal children, and turn them in to pawns of the system, and it perpetuates from that base.
Only the very strong will survive that dynamic. I was one of the lucky ones who was smart and strong enough to get out, losing millions of dollars in the process to maintain my own sanity (relatively speaking ;D) ... Even then, there are days why I wonder HOW could ANYONE ADOPT A CHILD AND ABUSE THEM IN EVERY MANNER POSSIBLE, and INTENTIONALLY ALLOW LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM PERPETUATE CRIMES AGAINST THE INNOCENT, JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!
My mother taught my spoiled brother that greed, cheating, lying, assaults, and everything else he wanted to do without conscious retribution was okay, as long as you received millions of dollars in the process, even if you victimize others in the family and steal the money their grandparents specifically left to THE CHILD, NOT THE ADOPTING PARENTS.
Then the one of the most trusted of the parents CON THE ADOPTED CHILD in EVERY MANNER POSSIBLE, never tell them "about their fortunes or HUMAN OR LEGAL RIGHTS", but instead make them helpless, dependent, positions, only to force the child to questioning his/her own sanity, especially when they are stealing the child blind of their grandparents' financial trusts/inheritance, by having them innocently sign over millions of dollars to the parents "to safeguard" the adopted child's inheritance, completely under their control ... (No wonder my grandmother "disowned" my father, but left the trusts to us kids, that he ultimately usurped anyway!) AND THIS IS ALL PROTECTED FROM INVESTIGATIONS BY CORRUPT ATTORNEYS and their connections to the local and regional power centers!!!
NO FBI AGENT, JUDGE, INSPECTOR GENERAL OR ATTORNEY GENERAL ARE CAPABLE OF DETECTING OR SUCCESSFULLY INDICTING SOMETHING SO WELL HIDDEN BY THE MULTI-MILLIONAIRE FAMILIES THAT USE THEIR DAUGHTERS AS COMMODITIES, and use HIGH LEVEL ATTORNEYS, JUDGES AND FINANCIAL INVESTMENT GROUPS AS COVER UPS!!!!
My family committed over 32 felonies against me as an adopted child, with many other felonies committed and facilitated by my brother against me (unrelated by blood), including assaults, attempted rape, social slander, and lies to complete protection of ANY liability towards the crimes he committed against his sister. My parents HID EVERYTHING, and threatened me to "NEVER TELL AUTHORITIES, or I would lose everything" -- That was the same everything I would later find was only used as a threat, because they all illegally already stole it out from under me! My grandfather would have all of them indicted.
While my brother owns private jets and with a full-time crew on his syndicated yacht, and a personal fortune towards 100 million dollars (that he STOLE from the family with his criminal father-in-law and ex-wife, now also worth over $100 million dollars, along with hid criminal entourage, you start to see the INTENTIONAL DISPARITY and ABUSIVE, EXPLOITATIVE manipulations used in certain adoptions, especially in the 60s when there was no way to determine the sex of a child, when an unwanted female child was adopted before the sex was known. In my case, my parents "invested" in my adoption by financially supporting my biological mother when she was about 5 months along. They MADE SURE the next child's sex was ABSOLUTELY ASSURED. THEY BOTH BELIEVE FEMALES ARE WORTHLESS!!
If I had been born with a penis, especially being FIRSTBORN, I WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MILLIONAIRE, not my brother! He was able to also steal millions more with his criminal wife, conning both of our parents in the process of committing elder abuse against them (our parents were in their 60s when he started getting the trustee to make illegal transfers and business claims.) He directly contributed to abusive methods in stealing/transferring funds and legal rights behind their back .. he had NO LOYALTY towards the very parents that adopted him, because THEY taught him that "using and owning people" is acceptable behavior!
Trust me. God has a way of helping the innocent and the believers who follow HIS path, not the manipulations of religions and finances to control systematic power centers amongst society.
One day all of them will regret what they have done when it comes back to haunt them, both on earth AND beyond this life.
The hardest part, was watching "professionals" in "law-enforcement", psychiatry and financial industries who GREEDILY PERPETUATED and ABETTED THOSE CRIMES, leaves me with little faith in most people's intentions and integrity of soul! Seeing the karma of at least ONE sheriff who was indicted by the FBI (even though other crimes that his department and personnel committed and were never discovered, including internal affairs), was a sad truth of deserved return of that karma, even if only partially returned), was at least some consolation for my suffering.
I was physically beaten by my mother for years, whipped with horse whips, chased with electric cattle prods, beaten into corners, and falsely labeled a bully because I was BIGGER THAN THEY WERE and they were able to gang up on me and lie to my father! My brother was the first male to sexual assault me and physically land me in the hospital, all with my mother's accolades!
ANY and EVERY ADOPTION SHOULD ABSOLUTELY INCLUDE A CRIMINAL HISTORY and INVESTIGATION (with a TOTALLY SEPARATE COURT APPOINTED ADOPTEE's TRUSTEE, who ONLY ANSWERS TO THE ADOPTED CHILD'S RIGHTS), along with a THOROUGH PSYCHOLOGICAL INQUIRY/BACKGROUND into the ADOPTING PARENTS' LIVES!!!
GODSPEED and TOTAL APPRECIATION for those who care about and HELP to investigate, confront and deter those wrongs against the innocent and vulnerable!!!
Sadly, were it not for religious BS that permates our involuntary commitment laws here in the 'States, I'd probably be able to do so safely and legally like they do in Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. To borrow a line from the Germans (who may have gone a bit haywire with eugenics but were right in that it's sound science that makes for efficient public policy), Ich bin Lebensunwertens leben. I'm a life unworthy of life.
My mother has schizophrenia and she is the greatest mother ever. My childhood had challenges but I always knew I was loved. Many people born to parents without mental illnesses are abused or neglected.
To comment on this blog I also have to bring this to the forefront again. My take on this is first that us as a society need to do away with the with term "mental" illness and put it into the Physical Illness category as an illnesses of the brain that effects the mind. As long as Mental illness remains "Mental Illness" the stigma will never go away. In fact, it is only increasing, thanks to the high profile mass shootings and airline crashes. The problem is that when you say that person has a mental illness, society assumes a mental illness is just one thing: And that is typically Schizophrenia (Partly thanks to Hollywood!) and an immediate danger to yourself and others.
However with Physical illness, we don't lump all the different things together in one stereotype "fits all" type thing. "Ohh that person has a Physical Illness-He must have Cancer." (when it is just a flu)." By placing the mental illnesses into physical illnesses with its own separation between disorder. In other words, "I have Diabetes", "I have Cancer", "I have the flu", I have "depression", I have "bi polar"...
So to comment about banning people having kids who have "mental illness" is unconstitutional. Sure, it probably is not in the best interest of a person who has severe untreated Psychosis or Borderline Personality Disorder<-- the most stigmatized of them all I think to try to have a stable relationship. But someone with ADHD, when managed correctly let's say may by the type of person that may be EXCEL in parenthood and may make the best parents. Also we don't ask whether or not someone with diabetes should have kids because they might "pass on their diabetic gene". While the risks of passing those genes on are higher, it does not mean that person won't be Neurotypical (the real word for "normal"). Mentally healthy have kids with autism all the time. Where a parent with autism may have children that end up going to Harvard. Finally if the parents know before hand that their is a risk factor passing on their neuro genes - this should enable them to monitor their children for any behavior anomalies right away. If this is done early, chances are good that any physical behavioral disorder ("mental illness" will be mild at best).
So I agree with you, "mentally ill" people should not be banned from having children. Otherwise we would need to ban ALL people with any illnesses...to have people. Obviously that is not a rational move. Finally I would like to say that I have seen some neurotypical (normal) people that would make two Schizophrenic Parents win a parents of the year award!
Sorry this is long, Grammar may not be perfect, but I had to get this out. It's time that society evolves to where we are with understanding and Technology. Btw I have ADHD/Mood Disorder NOS and Narcolepsy w/o Cataplexy.. <-- in a state of remission for the last several years w/ ongoing therapy. It's money unfortunately that is keeping me single. Not a mental disorder! But that is a whole different topic. I have always been the person to hold the door open for others, accept anyone for who they are, and respect and cherish whatever relationships I have. Characteristics I sometimes see lacking with many normal people! ;)
Why would I be such a mean person to give that awful gift to somebody (my child) if I'm supposed to protect him/her, care, love, and give the best I can, I would be doing the total contrary by giving my illness.
IS TIME TO PLAN, BE RESPONSIBLE AND ACT LIKE ADULTS.
Is not fair to play with the lives of our children.
After all we're supposed to be intelligent creatures, so why in the world would we have children knowingly,
IT IS NOT LIKE THE HUMAN SPICES IS GOING EXTINCT
FOR THE CONTRARY WE ARE SOOO MANY WE ARE KILLING THE PLANET, POLLUTING, KILLING EVERYTHING, IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW WE JUST SIMPLY DON'T SEEM TO USE OUR BRAINS.
As far as child neglect goes, emotional neglect can't be detected in more middle class homes, so it would be more of a class divide in making such decisions.
I do not believe that parents with severe mental illness should be raising children, it should be about the child's needs once the baby is born. Children thrive on routine, predicable caregivers, the very nature of some mental illness does not contribute to such an environment.
She had three other daughters (half-sisters to me). One of them is a carbon-copy of her, down to the abusive relationships. I do not associate with her. I don't associate with the other two, either, but for the most part, they are able to maintain relationships, work, and live on their own. I consider that a "win" in terms of the genetics involved.
Sadly, I have probably missed the boat in terms of having biological children. I never wanted to have any before--in no small part due to not wanting to pass this disease on to my offspring. So far I've gotten away with "only" OCD and perhaps a touch of bi-polar, but I've used it to my "advantage" in choosing frenetic, dysfunctional, and unpredictable careers (LOL.) I take medication, too.
I have recently been reunited with a long-lost love who, after many years of battling alcohol and drug addiction (in a desperate grasp to self-medicate a severe case of undiagnosed bipolar disorder)is now facing his demons in an in-patient rehab facility. We have talked seriously about children, yes, even at our age (40s.) He has no problem with using a sperm donor or even a donated embryo that would not be "biologically" related to either of us, but still our baby.
There is a part of me that would like some of the good in me and the good in him to live on, but I still find myself terrified. He has one adult daughter, a wonderful, smart, beautiful young woman who recently had a baby of her own. She graduated college with honors and is going to grad school for nursing. And his mother is one of the most selfless people you could meet. Really, it's his father's genes and my biological mother's genes that I fear getting together.
We're not bad people, and we've recognized our illnesses and are taking medicine for them. Even my own psychiatrist has been supportive of my renewed choice to have children. So maybe, because we are self-aware, should we be so blessed one day we would be better prepared to see the signs and address them, if they ever manifested themselves. I keep trying to tell myself that every one of us takes a gamble by just getting out of bed in the morning, that there are no guarantees in life, the best-laid plans, and all that. I don't have much time to debate with myself about this, unfortunately, as I've squandered most of my fertile years on fear. So, we shall see.
My thoughts are with everyone faced with such a difficult choice. But I certainly wouldn't support any kind of laws to force sterilization of 'mentally ill' people, or retarded people, or the like. That is eugenics, plain and simple, just a step away from genocide. And that is never the right choice. Never was, and never will be.
My partner desperately wants to have children. And while I am not opposed to the idea I do not want to use her genetics. I would like it if she carried the baby but it was biologically mine. Her entire family has severe mental disorders ranging from borderline personality disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, pedophilia , bipolar, she's manic depressive herself. Not a single member of her nuclear family (herself included) is able to hold down a job. They all have some form of mental illness.
While I am not claiming to have superior genetics in any way, (as she claims) my family are all mentally stable. The worst I can pass on is asthma and eczema.
I have been there restraining her violent parent and suffering the verbal abuse from her and her family. I have been there when she has tried to commit suicide on various occasions, I had to take the noose of her neck when I came in and found her trying to hang herself :(
In the end, I don't think it's right to knowingly pass on those kind of illnesses. If you're unable to even care for yourself, your finances or keep a job? Then what is left to offer a child?
While I love my girlfriend with all my heart I cannot imagine having children with her. She is emotionally abusive towards me and refuses to take her medication or seek counselling. Perhaps I am being cold? I don't know. But in the long run if she won't get help or keep up with her medication, then I can't see myself continuing a relationship with her let alone having children.
May 26, 2013 at 8:44 am
I believe if you suffer from a mental illness and are unable to work and live off the government, no you should not have babies. The cycle has to be broken. I am a better person knowing that I have saved a child from what I have to go through. Being institutionalized I’ve seen parents and their children (whom have same issues as their parents and live of the government and will do so all their life).
Im 80% disabled and live off of government money i went to college on government money the Post 9/11 GI BILL is amazing. i was paid for 6 years by government money since i was 18.
Schizophrenia most of them.
Anyways, I grew up without a father from birth, raised by my grandmother and mother, low income family.
I'm 29 now, working never had any real bad issues, just normsl kid stuff.
I will be attending college for the first time in my life, engineering major.
Never did drugs, never been drunk, never violent (unless you were a douchebag)
:) I'm doing more than well, do not miss the chance to raise a child, unless you are completely and utterly crippled by your disease.
I would not have had children when my illness was very severe but I have been well for many years. I still have bad days but I know that I have the responsibility to care for myself so that I can be the best mum for my son that I can be. I can't be sure that I won't become ill again in the future but no parent can ensure that they won't develop any illness in the future.
Parents have the responsibility to get the best treatment they can for their illness just as a parent with cancer would. But let's not blame people for their illness and make assumptions. Many of the most difficult effects of mental illness are caused by stigma and fear of mental illness, causing isolation and ineffective treatment.
I am very sorry for people who have suffered due to a parent's illness but I have known many people who have suffered because of their parent's personality, drug or alcohol problem, incarceration, physical illness, etc. Let's support parents to be the best parents they can be.
Thank you for your well said thoughtful comments. I can understand your concerns about passing on mental illness to your children. It is normal to want our kids to be healthy. You make a valid point that no parent can predict the future much less their own perfect health. We do the best we can. It sounds like you are a great mum.
I have a history of mental illness on both sides of my family (though only on my mother's is it admitted to and treated).
I suffer from anxiety and depression (though I've recently discovered the latter is caused by the former in my case) - both of which are now well controlled through CBT and not allowing my anxiety to permit me to procrastinate on things until I end up in a paralyzed, depressed state.
My mother and one sister also suffer from depression (as does my father, who has never sought treatment), but I have a second sister suffering from bipolar depression - which was diagnosed in her teens and required dramatic Outward Bound style treatment.
My wife's family exhibits some mental illness (though most is not readily admitted to), and she has grave concerns about having children (mostly due to the more open and overt nature of such issues in my family).
While I worry myself about not only my own long-term mental well-being and the seemingly high likelihood of similar traits being passed to the next generation, I like to think that the sensitivity to such mental problems I now possess would make a happy, healthy (with early intervention when/if required) childhood quite possible despite any genetic disadvantages.
I'm strongly against any "Gattica" style genomic cleansing, but is the chance (certainly above average in this case) of hereditary mental illness (taking into account any number of other problems possible when having a child) reason enough to dismiss the idea outright?
I think if someone has a diagnosed mental illness,and they don't do well in caring for themselves then not they should not have children or if the do they should not be permitted to parent.