I recently watched Jordan and Michaela Peterson talking to Russell Brand, and I heard Jordan say something that caught my attention. He said, “I do not think it is possible to grow up without having children.”
It’s a subject minefield, so naturally, Stephen and I decided to wade straight inside. . . I would be happy if you leave me a comment with your thoughts.
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Steve, to change gears, I’m going to Mikhaila Peterson’s podcast today and I can not wait because Mikhaila is … I think she’s really, really interesting. I think her story is fascinating. What she has faced in her life is fascinating. I am extraordinarily excited by the conversation. In my study, I watched her, Russell Brand, and her father, Jordan Peterson, all talking together and they got into the children’s issue. And Jordan Peterson made a pretty bold statement that, as we all know, Jordan Peterson is not known for it, but he says, “I do not think anyone can really grow up until they have children.”
What do you think of this statement? Because I heard it and instinctively, given the fact that I think people do not necessarily understand it about us, but we probably spent more time with women going through problems around their biological clock and the possibility of not having children when it was in their plan. . It was something they wanted more than anything in the world and maybe they did not get to have them. Maybe they do not meet someone in time. There may be complications they did not foresee. But we dealt with so many of these issues, that when I heard it, instinctively, I said, “Oh, that’s a big statement,” but I also totally understand the sentiment of it.
I understand where this is coming from and maybe someone with kids would say, “But Matthew, you can not really understand until you have kids.” I always like the joke of a family guy where Brian, he suddenly realizes he has a child and he starts saying to Stewie, “When you have kids, you will understand.” He suddenly became so patronizing, annoying to be around because it’s like the rest of the world no longer understands. He is suddenly transferred to a world where there is something he understands that is not in the rest of the world, that he has no children, that there is some of that. I think we should talk about it at some point, but what do you think of that statement?
Well, far from me to venture my opinion against a world-renowned psychologist. but I-
Well, I think your opinion is correct Stephen.
Sure. I mean, I have no children, so it’s a dimension of life that’s not yet available to me. I can only kind of identify. I think, I’m not sure because I feel there are so many areas of life where if you have not experienced them yet, there is a level of maturity and understanding that is just closed to you. Maybe if you never were … he’s talking about growing up and it’s like, well maybe if you never had a job, you never really grew up. Maybe if you’ve never paid your own taxes, you’re not an adult. Maybe if you never had to support anyone, you never grew up. And you know, when you were in a relationship, you feel like, “Oh man, God, before I was in a relationship, I really did not understand what love really is or what it really needs to manage the needs of other people as well as mine.” right? You’re used to living your selfish bachelor life. So I’m willing to accept that there’s a whole area of life you’re not aware of until you have children. And a lot of parents tell you, “My God, I never knew how much it really needed to be,” or they say, “I never knew my ability to love until they had kids.” And that I am fully prepared to take them on their word for it.
But maturity is a multifaceted thing, isn’t it? Because there are people who never grow up in certain ways, even with children and there are ways that they remain completely immature and reckless and love children. I mean in the negative sense, not to have a charming and innocent sense, but to be naive and immature. There are ways that people never grow up in all sorts of ways. So I gave up a bit. In some ways, it’s like, “Yeah, I can totally see it, but I’m also reluctant to put too much weight on it compared to a hundred other ways you can be completely immature and stupid, if you will, and irresponsible. There can be people with children That they are very irresponsible.
I guess the idea is that you can never be truly unselfish if you have no children. The truth of this idea aside, I guess where it takes me because it’s the world, it’s the world we live in. My lens for a long time is how this statement, how this thought will affect people in situations where they may have no control? There is a kind of, culturally, I am still fascinated by the assumptions that are made about success based on relationship status, marital status, if you have children and it is quite easy … I experienced as a man, people who probably points in my life when I was single, the assumption is, “Well, why Are you not in a relationship? ” And you can feel that there is a tone to this question.
And of course, women feel it amazingly. I feel it, and maybe you’re Stephen, feel it amazingly, I guess, from professional pressure that sometimes people put on us. Like you have to be in a relationship if you do what you do, which I actually disagree with, because I do not think being in a relationship is a personal choice and it should be based on the person in front of you and whether you want to be in a relationship as opposed to just wanting to be in any relationship Regardless of who it is so you can say you are in a relationship. I think a relationship should be like some kind of dream career path. You do it because you feel compelled to do it by finding something you really like to do, as opposed to feeling you just have to, not described what, just pick everything old and do it because you feel pressured to go to the office every day.
And that’s why I reject, by the way, I reject the over-attribution of some special status to relationships, children. People can choose things for them for really, really bad reasons, and here I reject the idea that someone is further ahead because they got married and had children. It’s like some people could have done it in a completely ridiculous and silly way that implies complete immaturity. So, this is where I reject. I reject the social idea that there is a continuum of unmarried maturity for adulthood, children and relationships. I have problems with that because I think people make bad choices. I think people make bad choices when it is perceived only as a vital and necessary step or even just, it is always applauded.
Yes. Look, I mean life, simpler, I think life comes down to choices. Christopher Hitchens said, “In life, you have to choose your regrets.” No matter what you do, you lose something. This is just always true. You are always, if you are single, you are going to miss the experience of being you, you are coming to an evening and you want, I do not know, to hang out with someone you are not. Need to entertain or someone you really love and feel connected to, and you just want to see a movie. So maybe you’re missing it. Maybe you have something casual or something in its place, but maybe it’s not, it’s not going to be the same. If you are in a relationship or have children, then you, it will be much harder to travel the world and travel or do other things you may want to do or get the loneliness you may sometimes crave. .
There will just always be something you miss. This, I guess, is an interesting conversation. Perhaps Jordan Peterson would argue that there is simply a hierarchy of good lives that having children is the climax of it. But this is an interesting argument. And I think there is … life for me, there are peak experiences in life and bringing children is a peak experience. It’s one of those peaks, it’s like one of the most amazing things I believe a person can ever experience in life, but I come from never and I assume from a training philosophy that wherever you are, in what situation you are, in life, it’s getting the most out of your situation. It’s if you’re single, if you’re in a relationship, if you’ll have your own biological children, if you intend to adopt if you can not bring your own biological children, or even if you can, but you just decide that adoption is more meaningful to you as a kind of narrative, as a story, There is more meaning.
I believe in getting the most out of wherever you are. And sometimes when I hear certain statements, it’s a kind of value statement in itself that says, it’s unequivocally the highest thing that can be done and that there is no other. It’s like, there is only, it’s like saying there’s only one way to enlightenment. There are a lot of routes there. So yeah, I’m pretty fascinated by that because I’m just, I’m worried, I’m worried about the pressure that is being put on people in general. I’m worried about the stress people feel being in a relationship. I worry about … especially women, I worry about the stress they feel being in a relationship or the shame they sometimes feel about not finding someone or the low self-esteem and confidence that comes from not finding someone so much. Which is projected on them by other people.
Then if enough people at the dining table say, “How come you’re still single? Why have you not met anyone yet?” Or, “Doesn’t life feel meaningless without us finding a relationship or having a family.” The more people say it becomes the kind of brainwashing you feel you must believe in. Then you feel missing in your life, even if life is going pretty well for you. Even if a relationship can be around the corner in a month, you can meet someone in a month or half a year from today or a year from today and your life can change completely, which is great. But, I hate the idea that in the meantime people think their lives are somehow considered less or less equal because they have not found this thing.
well yeah. And you can be responsible to others in so many ways. And in some ways that can be one of the things, if I guess Jordan Peterson is talking about a name, where one transition to adulthood is to be responsible for others outside of yourself. And you can do it in many ways, but I’m more like an emotional libertarian, where I think people can sacrifice and take responsibility in a great many different ways in life. And it is clear that marriage and children are one of the most obvious and obvious ways to do this. But I think there are other ways to do it. And I think you and I, even during years of coaching, have seen so many people torture themselves, and thought they should stay with the wrong guy because of family pressure, because of religious pressure, because of external judgment and stay with the wrong person and they feel guilt and shame. This is where I think, “Man, this belief can be dangerous if people just think they’ve failed because they’re not making progress towards it right now. And it’s my fear that people will just be pushed into wrong relationships and responsibilities for them.
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