Home > motherhood, Politics > In defense of the childless

In defense of the childless

There was an episode of “Law and Order” on the other day with an interesting snatch of closing dialog.

Female ADA:  “I want kids someday. To wake up with them, make them breakfast, tuck them in at night. I just can’t imagine seeing that as a burden.”

Jack McCoy: “Some people are just wired wrong.”

Now, aside from the biblically stupid statement that children are not a burden (they are, of course. A wonderful, delightful, exhausting, tear-your-hair-out, uplifting burden), I want to look at that last bit. The implication that people who don’t want to do all those June Cleaver things — breakfast, tucking in at night, etc — are wired wrong.

Bugger that.

I’m getting tired of the never-ending drumbeat that everyone must have kids. Several of my friends hear nothing but that from their parents. Prudence on Slate said it. It’s everywhere! And you know what? It’s wrong. See, I think most people shouldn’t have kids. I think having children should be treated as a blessing and a privilege and not an obligation. I think it should be entered into solemnly and with forethought and planning.

The BFF doesn’t want kids. She’s always been pretty clear about that, as long as I’ve known her and before. Good for her, says I. Having kids is a tremendous step and she’s smart enough, aware enough, to understand that she would have to dedicate her life to kids and she doesn’t want to do that.

Another of my friends, a man we’ll call K, always said that he didn’t want kids. He didn’t want to share his wife’s attention with anyone else. Now, after ten years of emotional battery by his in-laws, he and his wife are thinking about it. Of course, they are thinking about adoptions because she doesn’t want to lose her figure, but they are seriously considering it.  Now, I’m all for adoption but to do it because you don’t want to gain weight? Doesn’t that indicate a fundamentally shallow nature which really isn’t conducive to thoughtful child-rearing?

Raising a child should change your life, rewrite your priorities, completely alter the way you think. Your first thought about pretty much everything should be, “Is this what’s best for my kid?” If you’re not prepared to do that, then you shouldn’t have kids. And I’m sick of people who don’t understand that there’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t willing to do that!

If you want to focus on your career, if you want to stay perfectly thin, if you can’t manage to get healthy food on the table at least once a day, if you can’t stand the idea of sharing your spouse, if you can’t keep your temper, if you refuse to sacrifice any sleep, if you are in debt to your eyeballs, if you don’t want kids... then don’t have them! There are more than six billion people in this world — we really don’t need more, we certainly don’t need any who aren’t deeply wanted and cared for.

(I know, the feminist in me points out that all of this supposes that we have control over our reproductive rights, which many people in this country and others do not. More than half the pregnancies in the US are unplanned. So I say pump more money into sex ed. Real sex ed, not the wacky abstinence stuff.)

Okay, end rant.

Categories: motherhood, Politics
  1. April 3, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    A round of applause from Indiana on this one.

  2. singleworkingmommy
    April 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    So well put. Good job.

  3. Wendy
    April 3, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Huh? I haven’t seen Law and Order in awhile, but I am sure that McCoy’s statement at the end was tied to the case that was just tried. I don’t see it as a suggestion that everyone should have children.

    Hey, if you don’t want kids then don’t have them. If you have people telling you to have them and you don’t want them then tell them to mind their own business. It is a matter of telling people your choices and not entertaining their pursuit of their own ideals. I see it less as the rest of society conforming to one’s sensitivities and more of the person taking responsibility for their choices.

    And if we are speaking about adults here, let’s face it birth control goes unused not because of lack of education but because of laziness. If you truly don’t want kids then take the necessary precautions not to have them. That can’t be blamed on society.

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