Babies aren’t always a blessing, and that’s okay

Angelic bundle of joy or screaming, squalling life stealer?

No doubt about it, Western society has a love affair with infants. Personally I don’t get it, but there’s nothing wrong with baby fever if that’s your thing. The problem arises when those in pursuit of the dirty-diaper dream try to shame those who are not. As someone who doesn’t want kids, I’ve heard every argument against being childless in the book, and they range from trivializing my choice to insulting my character. Why some people react so negatively to others not wanting to contribute to the world’s over population problem, I have no clue. But so far, every single argument against choosing not to have children that I’ve heard is not only illogical and insulting, but frankly idiotic.

For today’s blog, we’re going to look at three of the most common (and idiotic) incentives to have children. Hopefully by the end, we’ll all have accepted that different lifestyles are for different people, and one person’s blessing could be another person’s projectile vomiting hell.

“You’ll Change Your Mind Eventually”

Oh, well isn’t that nice and condescending.

Yes, it’s always a possibility that people who say they don’t want children might change their minds, though it certainly isn’t a sure thing. And the same can be said about any decision or opinion; that doesn’t mean it’s logical or polite to go around telling people they’re going to have a change of heart.

In this well drawn comic, a logical person has made a decision about her life. Meanwhile, a skeptical ass hat provides no evidence to support her claim that the logical person will change her mind.

Insisting someone will change their mind about not having kids makes as much sense as saying they’ll decide against a well thought out career choice. Both are certainly possible, but not necessarily likely. If anything, people who have decided not to have children have put more thought into it than people who do want kids. Parenthood is the default decision; to decide against it takes thought and consideration. Not to mention, it’s incredibly rude to trivialize someone’s life decisions, and we certainly don’t want to be rude, do we?

“That’s So Selfish”

This response makes perfect sense. Personally, when I think of selfishness I immediately imagine a woman* who, in order to ensure her life isn’t miserable, makes a decision that impacts no one but herself. Right. I’m not sure why this ridiculous statement is taken seriously, when it would be scoffed at in any similar situation, and rightfully so. Let’s revisit the career choice example, shall we?

* I refer to women specifically because this particular response is more commonly directed towards women who don’t want children.

In this comic, an ass hat calls a logical person selfish for following her dream, even though it impacts no one but herself.

Choosing not to have children is no different than following your career path of choice. True enough, both are self serving, but the term “selfishness” implies disregard for the well being of another person. Neither of the aforementioned choices have an impact on anyone but the person pursuing them.

Choosing not to be a parent is not selfish, but you know what is?

  • Having children when you’re not in the position to properly take care of them.
  • Pressuring your sons or daughters into having children because you want grandchildren.
  • Having the means and resources to adopt a child, but choosing to give birth to one instead.
  • Pressuring others into having children because secretly you wish you never had and if you have to suffer, so does everyone else.

Ironic, isn’t it?

It’s Different When It’s Your Own Child; It’s Impossible For A Woman Not To Love Her Own Child

This is exactly what was once said to me.

Andrea Yates, Casey Anthony, Susan Smith and Marybeth Tinning are all women who brutally murdered their children.

Each year, more than 2000 are killed by their own parents.

Clearly, it is possible for men and women not to love their own children. There is no excuse for murdering a child, and I’m not removing any of the blame from anyone who has ever done it.

At the same time, you have to wonder how many of those 2000 children had parents who never wanted kids. How many were pressured into giving their own parents grandchildren, or were told that if they didn’t have kids they could never be fulfilled? How many of these admittedly horrible people already knew on some level that they were unstable, but let someone convince them that it was impossible for them not to love their own child?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people who don’t want kids are unstable child murderers. Most people who don’t want children would probably make perfectly adequate, though unhappy, parents. What I am saying is that it’s possible that if someone who is already unstable is pressured into something they don’t want to do they will eventually snap.

I’m also saying that it says something negative about a person when they try to pressure someone else into something they don’t want. Why would you want someone to have a child that they won’t love?

In short…

Babies aren’t always a blessing. To some people, they’re the complete opposite, and that’s fine. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent, and there are even some people who would make great parents who don’t want to be. That’s their choice, and it’s a legitimate one; it’s no more fickle, selfish or ignorant than the decision of those who want kids.

Parenthood is a big responsibility and a lifelong commitment. It’s unfair to expect someone to dedicate the rest of their life to something that they don’t even want. If you think children are a blessing, then have as many as you want and cherish them. But let other people make their own decisions about parenthood.

Don’t be an ass hat.

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5 thoughts on “Babies aren’t always a blessing, and that’s okay

  1. This is amazing. Seriously. *doffs hat*

  2. Well, I think you’ll have to field these types of comments that you listed for the next decade or so. 🙂 What is important is when and to whom you choose to tell others that you chose not to have children.

    I’ve been working for the past ..3 decades after university, 🙂 and probably out of 8 different employers, I might have mentioned that to 1-2 people in the workplace that I chose not to have children.

    Most people might ask if I have children. I simply say, “No. But he (my partner has 2 adult children). And if there’s time and right place, I might add: ” I have 7 nieces and nephews from 3 sisters”. But some times, just say simply, “No I don’t have children”.

    One of the reasons why I say that particularily if the question is posed by a woman who is also a mother, is that I am familiar with children. I’ve had to look after them (including each of these 7 at different times).

    And if a person knows me well, I tell them I am eldest of 6 children: a good time in my teens was looking after younger siblings. (Parents couldn’t afford paid outside babysitters.)

    I think there is a perception that childless women are clueless about children, their demands and the possible richness they can bring into a person’s life. But I just tell people I’m a proud aunt. Which I am.

    What is useful for your own growth as person, are children at all part of your life in any way? Because they do break down a person’s aloofness and add reality. After my youngest sister became an adult, I was so removed from children…that I had to “learn” how to baby talk to newly born nieces and nephews! I had forgotten about the stages of baby development. It’s humbling to at least know this at a closer level..even when child-free.

    • Thank you for your comment! The thing is, I don’t want to have to monitor who I tell I don’t want children– women who want to be mothers don’t have to be picky about their audiences. That being said, I wouldn’t volunteer to a gushing new mother that I don’t want children, because I don’t enjoy being a kill joy. It is something that I will always mention to employers, as long as traditional bias exists, anyway. I want them to know that I won’t be taking a break from my career to raise children.

      You brought up a point that I wish I’d mentioned in my blog, that people often assume that those who are childless by choice simply know nothing about kids. I was heavily involved in the raising of my own little brother– and still am, as he is only 10– and I’ve also done daycare, taught Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and a few after school programs. I’m familiar with kids, and actually quite good with them– like you, I just happen to not want any of my own. Thank you for bringing that up!

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