Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The S Word. (No, not said in Sean Connery accent)

Big Question: Childfree or Childless?
It's the "selfish" argument that always puzzles me the most. Let's be honest here: why do most people have children? Why, because they want them, of course – and you could call that "selfish". In the nicest possible way. I don't know about you, but I don't hear a whole lot of people saying, "You know, I have no maternal feelings whatsoever, but gosh, I better pop out a few kids to, you know, do my duty to the world." Do you? Where are these people? What kind of crack are they smoking?

The other thing that puzzles me about people's reaction to my childfree status is their desperation to challenge my decision, and, ultimately, to tell me how very wrong I am. It would never occur to me to greet the news of someone's pregnancy, for instance, with the words, "Oh God, you will so regret that one. Once you have it, you'll change your mind." That would be rude and presumptuous. Often, though, when people find out that I have no children, their first question is "Why not?" and their second usually involves heavy rotation of the words "selfish", "regret" and "unnatural". (My response, on the other hand, normally makes use of the phrases "nosey", "judgemental", "pot", "kettle" and "black". "Oh, you had children so they could support you in your old age?" I'll say, smiling. "How very selfless of you!")
This made me think. It is impossible to be a good parent for selfless reasons. Either you really like kids and enjoy them, so it makes you happy, or you don't and you wouldn't be a good parent. A bit of a Catch 22. Meanwhile it is possible to be a great childfree person even if you do like kids. A Ha!

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