Thursday, December 26, 2013

Responding to 'Child-free': Missing out on so much

Piper Hoffman write a piece entitled Our Unexpected Choice. Your Voice
Piper, I was hurt by your line, “Life would be better without kids.” How could you know? Life could be different, yes; quieter, perhaps; less direct responsibilities for other people’s lives, OK. But better? How could you say that without ever experiencing having your own children? And it is just not true. Your comment is very hurtful and degrading to all of us parents and our marriages.
What we see here is the kind of failed thinking that leads to people rejecting the childfree. The writer (Dina Bacharach) jumps immediately to the conclusion that Piper is judging her own choice, instead of merely making the decision that is best for her own life. Then, she assumes that she knows what would make Piper happy even though she doesn't know her at all. Who is to say that more quiet and less responsibility isn't exactly what Piper needs to be happy? However, the biggest signal of disordered thinking appears in the line before this quote:
And I see your pain of a lost dream. Because you clearly wrote that you wanted to be a mom.
I don't see that anywhere in the original letter. Indeed, Piper explains her early thinking:
I didn’t yearn for kids but they seemed the thing to do, so we debated how religiously to raise them.
To read that sentence and conclude that Ms. Hoffman wanted to be a mom shows that Bacharach isn't actually reading, but simply projecting her own feelings onto anyone else. This is bigger than the childfree. I think this could apply to many situations. Just because you feel or experience something does not mean that experience is universal. Once we learn to respect the perspectives of others, understand that we are all different and want different things, we will be a better, more accepting society.

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1 comment:

Piper Hoffman said...

You read me correctly. I never dreamed of having kids, and I wasn't judging parents. I find the letter writer's extreme sensitivity on the topic fascinating. Defensive much?