It bothers me to no end when people conflate being childless with being child-free. Wanting to have kids and not being able to is not at all the same as not wanting to be a parent at all.
I hate that.
This is my favorite comment from the article:
It’s easy to chuckle over silliness in Details magazine — and I encourage everyone to do so — but I actually would like to see someone explore the topic of intentional childfree-ness in these non-triumphalist ways:
1) “I spent my whole childhood wanting to be an adult, to have the types of responsibilities and freedoms that adults have (childfree adults, naturally). Now that I finally am an adult — I just can’t go back.”
2) “Childraising is one of the largest risks any of us can take. Some folks are naturally averse to taking giant risks of that type. It seems like this would constitute a solid, easily understood reason not to have children, no matter how much one enjoys being around other folks’ kids.”
OMG I AM SO #2!!!! (Intercontinental moves aside.)
Also, did you know that Black American women’s rates of stillbirth and mother dying in childbirth (how is there not a word for that? Defenestration exists but there’s not a word for death by delivery?) are on par with women in the developing world?
No, thank you.
Okay, so what kind of bugged me about the article, and indeed about a lot of the people they featured in the article, (but let me be clear, not at all about you) is that people act like they know what it would be like to have kids just by seeing other people with kids. It’d be one thing to have a child, be like, “Yeah, this sucks and isn’t for me,” but to think you know that you wouldn’t like to have kids without ever having one isn’t really…I don’t know what word I want to use. I get that I can look at a meth user and think, “I don’t want that for my life,” but the thing about having a kid is that it’s… indescribable. It’s hard and it can suck and it’s expensive, blah, blah, blah, but there is this other part of it, and it’s…well…there are no words. It is by far and away the most exquisite experience I have had in my life. The love I feel for my children drives me to sacrifice, and I am happy to sacrifice. And I think there’s a reason that you don’t hear people who have kids say, “Yeah this sucks and it’s not for me,” and that reason isn’t necessarily because they’re are ashamed to admit it, though there may be some that are, but it’s because some times things that are worth doing are incredibly hard. Finally, the author neglected to include the statistic that given the chance, a vast majority of those who have raised children would not go back and do things differently (meaning they still would’ve had kids). Along with that, there is a very large amount of people who didn’t have children, who, when asked in their senior years, wished they would have. I’m going to try to source that quote, because I think it’s from a NY Times article I read recently on this subject. I guess I’m a little tired of people judging my experience without having had it personally.
Personally, I have no doubts at all that you and almost every other parent I know loves their children immeasurably and enjoys being a parent–even when their kid is driving them Charlie Sheen crazy.
Now, as for your response, there is no honorable way that a person can say they don’t want to have kids other than not actually having them. Remember that woman who was on the MSN homepage a few months ago? The writer who didn’t want to have kids, but then did for her husband, and after spending some time away from them in Japan remembered why she didn’t again and left her family? Being a mom isn’t really a lifestyle you get to “try.” You’re either all in or not. And the only thing we have to judge by are what we see when looking at moms & dads.
Also as crass as it probably sounds, I’m sure that meth user feels the experience of being on meth is indescribable and they are also happy to make sacrifices in their life to keep using. 😉
I do believe that there are people–and maybe I’m one of them–who don’t want to have kids but, if they had to, would make great parents. Having a kid and having that NOT be case though, no child deserves that.
The last part about the author not including the statistics you mentioned reads a bit to me like “Why isn’t there a White History Month?” or “Why not men’s studies classes?”
He didn’t because he’s presenting a minority viewpoint. Even by his numbers, this is something that less than 20% of women do, so we are all well-exposed to the how the majority sees/feels/experiences this.
I, on the other hand, get annoyed when people discount my not wanting to have kids to just needing to meet the right man. As if
1) Having a kid makes a man stay committed to you.
2) Having a man makes the parts of childrearing I don’t want, e.g. the permanency of it, disappear.