Friday, February 02, 2007

Childfree Couples

Two's family, three's a pain
The Pope says they’re selfish and parents think their lives must be meaningless — so why are more and more couples choosing to be child-free?
. . .
Redefined as “childfree”, these are not the tragically-unable-to-conceive; they are contented women and men who have opted not to become parents. Their numbers are growing, says the Office of National Statistics. One woman in five now remains childless, with nearly one degree-educated woman in three never becoming a mother. In the US, according to a census in 2003, 42 per cent of women don’t have children.

The question that perplexes many people is why. The obvious answer, one that upsets the child-free, is selfishness: children are demanding and require attention 24/7. This appears to be the view of the Catholic Church. Last month, the Pope said that Europe no longer seemed to want to have children and blamed “the wish to have one’s whole life to one’s self” for people choosing to be childless.
Am I the only one frustrated not by the implication that we're selfish, but by the constant need to bring up the subject altogether? The act of *not* doing something should not be defined as selfish - otherwise where does it end? Will we fling accusations at those who do not join the Peace Corps, do not adopt shelter pets, do not move to a smaller house and give the price difference to the Red Cross? And these are just the extreme examples of things that would involve similar dramatic lifestyle changes; we do not even pick on people for the things they do *not* do that would affect their lives far less, such as buying a cup of coffee each day instead of giving the money to the poor.

Let's move on, folks. It is time we ignored this question when asked of us by an ignorant media who are so blinded by biology that they fail to see the utter hypocrisy of the situation. As the media spokesperson for No Kidding, when i am asked this question, I begin speaking of the good things that our members do - such as the brilliant girl who choses a career as a schoolteacher, the clinical psychologist who works with troubled kids, the volunteer career counselor who works with Dress for Success. I do not repeat the question, or the word selfish even in the negative. It doesn't deserve a response.

It is time we follow suit, and begin focusing on what we do instead of the remote chance that some possible good that might have come from the one thing we don't do.

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4 comments:

Britgirl said...

I totally agree with your article on this. I blogged about this one also
http://thebritgirl.com/2007/01/29/women-continue-to-opt-for-being-childfree/

I too was irritated that yet again the word selfish was attached to chilfree people. It is like when writing about the childfree they can't seem to help themselves...they just have to sneak the word in. It makes me cynical as to their motives.

Meanwhile, the fact that people breed with no thought for anyone but themselves, to the extent of multiple births from IVF if they can't do it naturally, (take the recent sextuplet issue in Canada as just one example) is seen, not as selfish, but as "A Good Thing". It beggars belief.

And this doesn't perplex anyone!?

kalliope said...

I feel it's pretty safe to say that leave a legacy to the world that is not automatically connected to the birth or parenting of a child requires much more selfless thinking than those with children. Having children is the easy way to this legacy. In most cases it's not earned. I am so tired of the level of intimacy people feel to discuss there perceptions of the childfree, it's a false sense of intimacy, and not based in understanding.

reese-s said...

ah good grief...your logic was right on. how can the lack of doing something be considered selfish?

I'm in the uncomfortable position of being catholic, quite liking my faith in general, yet disagreeing pretty vehemently with the pope (this new one I don't like in general). I'm preparing to get a church sanctified marriage in 2008, and I'm increasingly concerned that my fiance and I would be lying on the issue of children. I don't want them, he doesn't want them. Were we to become pregnant, I wouldn't abort, but to say that I'm 'open' to children is a far stretch.

I'm just beginning to see how throughout our marriage we will likely face stigmatization from others for our choice. *sigh*. How do you answer teh questions of 'why' you don't have children? Why are people so prodding! It's none of their business why we aren't having a child.

Anonymous said...

My brother in law and sister in-law both had children out of wedlock. They wish that they wouldn't have been parents at such a young age; accordingly, their lives are filled with drama.

Money is always an issue with them because BIL and SIL also are helping to bail out their parents financially due to MIL's and FIL's poor money management skills over the years.

My mother in law once used the line "Who will take care of you when you're elderly?" to convince us to give her grand-children.

My answer to MIL: "Medicare and all the money invested instead of spending on children will be more than enough to pay for part-time in-home care or a nursing home 40 years from now. Compounding interest is a great thing."

I prefer our relatively stress-free life better than my in-law's drama-filled existence.