Mental Illness A Reason Not To Have Kids?


Okay, I’m probably opening myself up to a big flame here, but I am curious, as I know the stances of several other faiths on this but not my own. Is mental illness enough of a reason for a Catholic to remain childfree?

I have Tourette’s Syndrome, and while I’ve really been coming into my own lately and getting everything together in my life, I still do not handle stress well. (I had to start an at-home business because of stress making it nearly impossible for me to work the 9 to 5 way) I also do not handle sleep deprivation very well. And at times I can have a bit of a temper.

Personally, I don’t think I’m fit to be a mother and my own mother shares this same belief. (She’s also Catholic) I’m 27 and have never had children, so permanent means of contraception aren’t easy to get at this point in my life. After I get married, I will try to find a doctor who will do a tubal ligation. It is a little extreme, yes, but I already had one pregnancy scare when I was 17. Well, it wasn’t a scare…it was a pregnancy. I miscarried around eight weeks. I was prepared to love the baby and be a good mother to it, because I am strongly pro-life, but I never want to put myself in that situation again if I can help it.

So if I don’t want/shouldn’t have kids, then I am required to be abstient for the rest of my life? And never marry? I don’t think that seems very fair, to be completely honest. I have been abstinent since the miscarriage, ten years now, but that’s more, honestly, of a love/trust issue for me, as I was sexually abused as a child.

This is a major problem for me and my faith. I wish it wasn’t, but I’ve worked really hard to get myself together. I’m not going to throw that away. Plus I do fear, that faced with terrible sleep deprivation and a screaming baby, I could lash out without ever intending to. I mean, I’m a great mother to my doggie, but I can put him in a cage when he’s bad and step back from the situation. If you put kids in a cage, well, that’s a call from CPS waiting to happen. Not cool. No kid deserves that. So I think me staying childfree is a win/win situation for both me AND any possible kidlets.

Anyways…thought I would put this out there. Opinions?

<3 Mare


I think mental illness is a broad category with many degrees of impairment. I don’t think it wise to say that all persons with mental illness are unsuited to be parents.

I do think that some persons are unsuited to be parents, either due to impairment or due to temperament. But, I think its a highly individual call and not something which we can make wide statements. I think its a matter best left up to the couple and those who love them.


You should be a WIFE BEFORE you are a mother. Your husband should be one who fully understands your situation and concerns, and is totally commited to being there for you and any children. If you do not feel you are called to be a mother, then you should not marry and have them. It is quite normal for people to be hesitant in having children, but having the right spouse makes all the difference. There are plenty of happy, healthy adults out there who have been raised by 1 or more parent with a disability, and wouldn’t change a thing.


Each individual case would need to be looked at carefully. From one end with family support, there would be no reason not to have children, at the other extreme it would be unwise to do so.


Do you think you might be called to the religious life? Have you ever felt that tug at your heart?

I do know that the only Church-approved methods of birth control are abstinence, rhythm, and NFP, so I would definitely caution against a tubal ligation. I agree with Catholic1954 - If you are called to the married life, the only person who could help you with your struggle about being a mother would be your husband - and God, of course. :slight_smile:


I need to work alot on my “let go and let God” part of Faith, I do realize that. I’m terrified of becoming a mother, but I would never say I dislike kids. I adore my cousin’s two children and when they are in town I’ve been known to dote and babysit them as much as their mother needs.

So maybe I need to take a chill pill and worry about this when I’m married. Thanks for not flaming me, I was sorta in a weird mood last night and I will pop off sometimes like that. Completely letting go of my plans and seeing what God has in store for me is not an easy thing for a control freak like me…so I know I’ll have to struggle and fall down a bit before it becomes second nature. :slight_smile:

<3 Mare


My parents were a little kooky and in fact so am I. But I’m pretty happy that they had me and raise me as best as they could. And so you might end up making some one or ones very happy by being a mother one day.

In particular, I do not know much about your personal problem, though I have seen a nova clip about musiophilia and a patient with Tourette’s Syndrome. He used his own experience as a music therapy for other sufferers of the syndrome. I can see how someone with that disability will need a very loving and dedicated spouse to live a family life. And since we all deserve wonderful spouses, that’s what we should strive to gain and be if we are called to marriage.


If you think that you might like to have kids, I would look more into what people in your particular situation have done. Tourettes seems to be a funny thing, people find some odd, but very effective ways of coping with it. I think you might find you do better than you expect.

As far as marrying without the intent for kids - the Church tends to think that if you know you will need to avoid having kids, you should not marry. In a way it isn’t fair, but really, life isn’t fair. Some people never marry because no one wants to marry them - that stinks too.

In general, there are some cases, I think, where people with mental illness should not have kids - if they know they won’t be able to care for them. I knew of a family, very devout Catholics, and one daughter with serious mental illness married a fellow in the same boat. The family was upset that the priest had agreed to do it, because they promtly produced several children that they couldn’t care for. The rest of the family was elderly and they did take the kids, but it was a worry for them. (I have no idea, the priest might thought marrying them was the best choice - it seems to me that in such a case, counceling that marriage might not be the best choice would be reasonable.)


I can speak only on my experience. I am also mentally ill, and I’m on several medications fot it. Several years ago I asked a nurse (she was the womens health coordinater) who had known me for years about that. Not that a there was a man in my life or anything. I just wanted her input on the matter. She said that with the medication I was on I shouldn’t. Because if I were to want a child I’d have to go off my medications. And that would only hurt me.


Just for clarity, you would have to go off the medications because they would be harmful to your child while you were pregnant, correct? Or at least something specific to your medications. (Not to pry, but I don’t want the OP to think that medications= no child all the time)


Yes. I would have had to go off them. It isn’t like I was just taking pain pills or whatever, but medication for depression, anxiety and a few other things. Going off them would have been determintal to my own health. At least my mental health. Actually, going off medication like that could have harmed the child as well. I could have easily harmed myself due to the depression.

I almost hate to bring this up, but it might help with the issue of mental health and having children. Remember Andrea Gates? I think that was her name. She had post-partum pshycosis. Her husband decided she didn’t need them anymore. Five children are now dead due to that decision.


Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses.

I have done alot of thinking lately, and in this past month I’ve came to the hard part of letting go of my plans for my life and letting God take the reins. The thing is, to do that I have to trust Him with ALL things, and that includes having kids. So I think this is a personal test for me.

And yes, I would have to be off my medication the moment I found out I was pregnant. For me, it wouldn’t produce psychotic results. I’m only on medication to control anxiety and depression. And this year I took a stab at cutting down on the anxiety meds. It went pretty well, but I went back on full dose for now. I think next time I need to go down just a little slower. Emotionally I’ve also had alot of advances.

Right now, all I want to do is find a husband, someone who shares my Christian faith, my contentness with life in our small town area, and someone who is interested in enjoying what we’re given in life instead of trying to jet set and keep up the Joneses. Someone who knows that eating ice cream on the back porch is better then any five star resturant. :slight_smile:

Thank you again, everyone. I do desire very much to be married, so I think I’m going to wait and see what God has in store for me after I’ve found the man He’s chosen for me. :slight_smile:

<3 Mare


Good luck and God bless!


I just briefly read what wiki saids about Tourettes, and I think your suitable to have children. It doesn’t seem severe, but just a person difference. Mental disorders (I don’t think this is an illness), doesn’t mean you cannot raise children, unless the child is in danger of being raised.

If you don’t want kids those or don’t think you can really be a proper mother, that’s a different matter.


In my case, it would be more than just being a lousy mother. I have one child, and I know that I couldn’t handle another. If I were to have one, it might put that child in danger of, at least, injury. That, or I would harm myself.

Going off medication should be done prior to getting pregnant. The stuff needs to be flushed from you body so it won’t affect the child in the early development age. Sometimes I’m shaky enough even while taking my medication. To go off them would be a disaster.


While this is outside the scope of this thread, I wanted to ask if you tried dietary changes such as more complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins, and a fish oil in lieu or in addition to medication? (Ensuring the vitamins are from safe and well known sources.)

While not everyone takes vitamins and replace most of their simple carbohydrates with complex ones, this has helped me a great deal. It does not fix all my mental difficulties nor does it erase the past emotional build up, but it was the first non-medicated and effective step for me. If they can provide any help for you, maybe raising children would be easier.

PM if I can help.


Hearing. I come with the views of the God.

The God don’t want to see anyone died of mental illnesses.
Applications of DRUGS in psychological treatments are always the case.

Mental illnesses,
some for helps, some for punishments.

The fear of miscarriage mislead you, not the God.
Mental illnesses are somethings else.
It is a contraint to have babies becuase of your fears from past experiences.

Dog is also a living thing. Lives at different levels.
Take good care of it.

Moral or other questions are not my professionals.

I guess communications are needed for marriages.

God Bless.


I don’t know much about morality, but the truth only. It may saves.


In the end, it’s the person and his/her doctor who decide this issue. While the Church has some dealings with it, we are also talking about someone’s health. I’ve had one child, now 24. But I never wanted another. Not that I don’t love my daughter, but I have come to know my limitations.


I think your wise to know your limitations, Children take a lot out of you, they pretty much need constant attention to grow properly & evolve the way they should, It`s a tough job, I think You have your hands full already, God Bless You Richly!


Wait a minute…it sounds like you are leaving God’s will entirely out of the equation. Maybe his plan for you and your child goes beyond anything you have every thought of!. You and your mother have decided you wouldn’t be a good mother, but you are also making it so that your future spouse cannot be a father. Perhaps your future spouse would be able to provide the balance needed to raise a child in a healthy home.

No, I don’t think mental illness is a GOOD reason not to have kids. In fact, I think it’s a cop out. Let God decide whether you should be a mother or not, and if he so chooses, then seek his help in being a good mother.

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