My future hubby and I will potentially live child free. We (read “I”) go back and forth on this quite a bit. The hubby tends to lean more toward child free and I lean which ever fricking way I feel like leaning, but perhaps slightly toward child free (today, anyway).
I read as much “child free” vs “have children” vs “kids are horrible” vs “kids are great” stuff online as possible to help contribute to my decision making. It has been a really long time since I’ve read something as infuriating and condescending as Ann Brenoff’s piece from HuffPo.
First off she talks about the low fertility rate of the US and how this is a problem and “sucks” for her generation. What she fails to mention is that the overall birthrate of the world is still quite high and as individual nations we have an obligation to help disperse this population. Countries like the US and Canada need continue to support low birth rates while allowing more immigrants into their countries (with their children).
That wasn’t the rage-filling stuff though … that comes next.
First she says
Yes, you may count me among those dumb-clucks who worry that young people just don’t know what they’re missing and when and if they do realize it, it’ll be too late.
Do people know how irritating it is to be told that you can’t make up your own mind because you’re younger than them? Do people know how condescending it is to act like because we’re only in our 20′s that we lack the capabilities to understand the ramifications of our decisions?
Apparently not – so let me tell you: It is supremely annoying. Not only is it annoying, but it is ageist. I am coming up against ageism more and more. I don’t know if older people are just starting to feel less and less relevant so they need to stick their noses into the matters of the youth… but ya’ll need to stop. Older people give themselves an exaggerated centrism of their own experiences… so much so that they feel the need to tell young people how, what, and why they should do things. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe we actually do know what we’re missing, and maybe we think the alternative is better?
Next, Ann says:
At the risk of sounding my age, I was raised believing that women got married and had babies — preferably in that order. Truth is, while I didn’t break the mold, I certainly didn’t conform to it either. So I do get it; I understand that parenting is a matter of personal choice and that not everyone wants kids.
I love this. She first starts off by saying she didn’t break off from the traditional mold and therefore she “gets it”. I find this funny because she’s writing a post that very much supports the fact that she doesn’t get it at all.
To people wanting to break that mold she asks:
How can you be so sure? I think having kids is one of those things you should probably never say never about. What feels right today may not feel so right tomorrow. I’d be the first to acknowledge that not everyone is cut out for parenting; yes, there are some mass murderers and a few soccer moms I’m directing that comment to. But, based on nothing but my own experience and beliefs, parenting is a unique experience that stretches our capacity to show compassion toward others. It lowers our self-absorption level and requires us to put another’s needs ahead of of our own. That’s a good thing, especially when carried out on a large scale.
Parenting, in my opinion, also presents us with the best opportunity to have our days on Earth count for something: Producing a child who can make us better as a civilization, turn us into a kinder and gentler nation. It is our last best-chance to make a difference and answer the question of why we are here. And no, we are not here to simply try every hip new restaurant or tweet about what we watch on TV.
And this is when I got really irritated.
First of all – how can you be so sure that you DO want kids. Why is the norm always having children? Why can’t people who want children be asked “Wow, are you sure you really want kids?” because to me, it seems like that’s what we should have been doing for years. The number of unwanted, accidental or unthought-out children running around this world is staggering… and it is literally killing the future of humanity.
She also says that being a parents will make you less self absorbed and teach you to put other’s needs in front of your own. She says this immediately after stating that each person’s experience is unique. …So therefore not everyone will be less self absorbed, etc. In fact, I can think of a few parents I know that became more self absorbed. People also completely lose themselves in their children. Their life becomes all about the child. I have had two completely different experiences… one with a friend who could ONLY talk about baby stuff and complained to me that I wasn’t supporting her new life enough and another friend who begged me not to ask a single question about the baby because she was sick of talking about him. Not everyone will magically become a better person once they have a child…
This is silly. There are a number of things that people can do without children that would make this world a much better place. You could raise the next kid to cure cancer or you could go get a job in the medical industry and contribute to it yourself. You could raise your kid to be super smart or you could dedicate yourself to teaching children who are underprivileged and lack access to good education. You could spend your holidays pampering your spoiled North American child or you could fly to Africa, India, China…etc and volunteer in orphanages, help build hospitals, teach communities about sustainable agriculture, do sex education… etc etc etc. In other words you could devote yourself to the number of other problems or number of forgotten children that are already here and need desperate attention.
It is totally insane to say that having a child is the best way to contribute to this Earth – because it is definitely not. That just sounds like someone trying to rationalize having a kid. The worst part about that paragraph is that it ends with the MOST condescending sentence I have ever read in my entire life. … That trying out hip restaurants and tweeting about television shows is the alternative to having a child…. As if that is what thoughtful, young, educated people want to do with their child free lives. Screw you, Ann.
I am glad that Ann has found that her children have forced her to be a better person. If she wants to be an even better person she can spend her days writing blog posts that aren’t so condescending and lack any new arguments for child free people who have been struggling with ageist, child-loving people since we opened our mouths about the issue. Instead question why it is the norm to have children… there are too many people running around on this planet. We need to commit to making it a better place. We don’t need children to do that – we need to live thoughtful lives.
I’d rather devote time and energy to helping OTHER kids…make their lives better!
Don’t worry Ann – Idiocracy won’t happen because we’ll have killed ourselves with climate change or nuclear weapons before then. (Oh, and your kids get to live through all that mess… *thumbs up*)