Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Can't we stop the child/child-free hate?

As much as I’m confused by the hatred between formula feeders and breast feeders, the friction between those with children and those without mystifies me even more. Why do we care so much about what another person is doing?

I mean, I love my kids, and before I had children of my own I was one of the few adults who could be found playing with the kids at picnics. I’m basically a kid at heart. But I wouldn’t trade mine for yours. And as much as I liked my child-free life at times, I wouldn’t trade it for what I have now with my triplets.

That isn’t to say that the child-free life doesn’t hold some advantages over one with children. But pretty much any choice involves pros and cons. Rarely is there any situation in which all the good outcomes fall on one side. That is what makes it a choice.

In any case, are there things I miss from my pre-triplet days? Sure. There is the money, the freedom, the ability to lay around on a Sunday morning drinking coffee and watching stupid TV. Oh, and the sleep. Does that mean I would trade my triplets for that life? No. It’s not even that one is “better,” per se. The two are just different.

Having children is the route I took. I took it consciously. I knew what I was doing and what it would entail. So while I sometimes dream of my life as a child-free adult (when I have the time), this is the road I chose and the one I’m on. I’m not angry about it and I wouldn’t trade someone for their child-free life.

So why do so many parents seem like they do? It might be that they didn’t choose children as consciously as I did. Maybe the parents are really just that in love with parenting that they want everyone to understand their happiness. Maybe.

But parenting is hard, hard work. Like most hard work, it isn’t for everyone. To boot, its largely work that one is expected to undertake at some point in one’s life. This makes it even worse, because it results in lots of people incapable of doing the work feeling like they must nonetheless undertake the work of parenting.

Why?

Why isn’t OK to go through life child-free? What is the big deal? I’m a writer. I’m a parent. I don’t look down on you because you are an engineer or architect or janitor. Why should I look down on you because you aren’t a parent.

Don't even get me started on the selfish argument.  Is it really selfish not to have children, especially if you recognize that you might not be a good parent?  Isn't avoiding children out of concern for them the pinnicle of selflessness?  Isn't having children one of the more selfish things (at least at the deciding portion) one of the more selfish?  Think about the reasons most people give for having children for a minute.  Ask you friends why they had children.

On the other hand, the person in this slate.com story describes children as alien-parasites.  Honestly?  Alien parasites?  How does someone who has never had children describe them this way?  Simply because the analogy seems to work?  That is like describing marriage in the same way simply because the person needs support and love and affection.  It's ludicrious.

Can't we stop the child/child-free hate?

2 comments:

  1. As you know I'm NEVER having kids, and if I ever do raise them, it will be helping with your kids or adopting after the age of 4 or 5. I'm happy for parents and all the joy their kids give them (though sometimes parents do tend to talk about their kids and only their kids and their poop and SHUT UP...um, anyways...). I think I'd be a fine parent, but I have no desire to. Not alien parasites (though the thought of a baby growing inside me squicks me out something fierce and I'd make the comparison for THEN).

    But there is huge pressure to have kids. From aunts and grandmothers especially (for me). Thankfully Mom is cool about it and no one else in my family seems to care :) It's very much "the thing to do" but it's always taken all kinds.

    So pretty much: I agree with you.

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  2. I sometimes find myself falling into "talks about his kids" trap. Having said that, I will excuse it by saying that often, there is literally almost nothing else going on in a parent's life.

    Before kids, I had plenty of time for neat apps, new TV shows, to read interesting stuff. Now most of my days is work, caring for kids, and some small unwind time.

    If Clockwork were suddenly to sell 1M books and send you on a worldwide book tour, you wouldn't have much but the tour to talk about, and maybe how you are currently negotiating the movie rights. Its similar in terms of sheer upheavel, at least.

    I'm sure you'd be a good parent, if only because I'm not sure what being a "good" parent means, and the bar is so low. Outside of the kids not meeting some unfortunate end and having gotten some measure of love, a parent has probably been "good." So to qualify as a "good" parent you have to be at least somewhat competent and warm. As much as parents like to pretend its their doing, genetics take care of 99% of what the children become.

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