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Oh, that trick never works.

I'm probably going to piss some people off, but I am bothered when people make statements like "you're not really a whole person until you have kids".  Especially when they then look smugly and pityingly at me or whomever they're addressing their superiority to.

I'm sorry, but that's simply not true, nor is it a nice thing to say.  You wouldn't say "you're not really a whole person until you have a job" to an unemployed person, would you?  No.  It would be rude.  Whether they're jobless by choice or circumstance, it would be at best an idiotic, and at worst an unkind, thing to say.

(And don't scream "that's different!".  The effect on the listener is exactly the same.)

Most of the world has children.  It isn't a particularly rare or amazing feat, but it seems to make people happy, and that's great.  I just wish that certain members of the parenting classes would knock it the fuck off with the holier-than-thou attitude; it just makes them look insecure.  Seriously; it's not like the childless minority is a huge threat, nor are we generally out there telling people to quit with the kid-having (except in private, or in extreme circumstances like when someone's kids have laid waste to one's entire house, and the parent in question is not only not doing anything, they're talking about having more kids).

I am not a child-hater; I like children as a whole, and they seem to respond well to me.  Despite this, my womb happily remains barren to the concept of fertility, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I just don't get why some people are so hostile to the idea that other people don't want to have children.  Do they see it as an indictment of their own choices?  A slam at them?  I'm honestly confused.  I respect people's choices, and hope that it all works out the way they want it to.  I have some strong political stances vis-a-vis birth control, sex education, and licenses for parents, but I tend to keep them to myself unless I'm in like-minded company, because I feel that politics and religion are two things that cannot be discussed rationally by most people, and so should be kept to oneself.  

I am confused as to why my choice to remain without children is so offensive to some people, though.  I mean, really, really offensive.  I've seen such anger over this - and been called selfish, childish, irresponsible, and other, less complimentary things (usually on-line; I tend not to socialize with rude people IRL).  I simply don't understand the hostility.  The idea of conscious childlessness seems so alien to them - even the friendly ones (like Bob's co-workers, who kept telling him "oh, she'll change her mind!" when they hadn't even met me).  I get told "you'll have no-one to take care of you in your old age!" (and I have to bite back the retort "yes?  And how well are you taking care of your parents?", because that would be rude).  I don't denigrate parenthood; I'm not usually that hostile, even under duress.

I'm really not.  I might be angry about many things, but not that, because I'm secure in my choices.  I'm just puzzled and tired and slightly annoyed by the attitude that I'm somehow inferior for choosing a child-free lifestyle.  My decisions have no effect whatsoever on anyone else's, and I cast no aspersions whatsoever on those who choose a different path.  Kids are not for me - I utilize my ability to create in other fields.  I even have retirement plans and insurance so I can take care of myself in my old age, since I won't have kids to take care of me.

But I keep coming back to this need for certain parents to impress on me how superior they are for having had kids.  That's great that having kids filled what was apparently a rather gaping hole in your psyche, but it's a bit insulting to assume that I am pathetically crippled without the experience of motherhood.  In my sojourns through the intarwebs and real life, I've seen people who are great parents, who really find fulfillment in their kids.  I've also seen parents who look and behave like their kids are an imposition, and they wish they'd never had them.  Clearly, these latter parents aren't made whole by having offspring.  One cannot assume that everyone is the same or will react the same way to parenthood.  If it works out well, great.  If it doesn't, then how much is societal pressure to have children at fault?  Perhaps if there wasn't such an expectation of having children, there would be fewer unwanted and neglected children going through the foster care systems.

Oops, politics.  Mustn't get me started.  :)  Let's talk about me again - that's fairly safe, right?

If I feel that my time is better spent in non-mothering pursuits, why then is that so threatening to certain people that they need to minimize and devalue my choice?  A person who tells me over and over again how selfish I am for spending my money on myself and how superior they are for sacrificing everything for their child comes across, frankly, as jealous.  And all the comments about how inferior my life must be because I lack progeny sounds like sour grapes.  Our lifestyles are just different, that's all - with corresponding advantages and disadvantages.

And I'm happily child-free; I can handle this silliness.  I get mad when it happens to someone who wants kids but can't have them.  What kind of crushing insecurity must someone be suffering from to pull that superiority bullshit on someone who would love to have kids if it were possible?  How low is that?!

Do men get these kinds of insults?  I don't hear about it, but maybe guys get this kind of irritating condescension, too.  Let me know.

I think if you're going to have kids, it's a good idea to teach them tolerance for differing points of view.  Start with me (because I'm special!!!!!  ...and it's my journal).  I'm quite whole, thank you, and don't need to have a child to understand what love is.  And until you can get inside my brain, you have no business making any kind of statement about my psychological completeness.  Remember; just because that's how you feel, doesn't mean everyone feels that way.

And that's okay.  Diversity is the seed of creativity, whether it's painting, poetry, music, literature, or Billy, Susan, and baby Sammy.


( 199 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I've always been MORE impressed with people who know that they don't wish to be parents, and have the intestinal fortitude to stand AGAINST this tidal wave of pressure and stick to their guns.

And I've met people and their small vermin who leave me walking away muttering about the overall sense of Eugenics in the privacy of my own brain.

I suspect it has something to do with the need to feel superior. And if the only way that can be done is by making someone else feel worse - well, that's the way they're going to do it.

I hate those people.
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
If I weren't married and 99.9% straight, I'd so not have your kids.

You rock.
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
We'll create beautiful nothings together. :)
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
No-one I voluntarily hang out with, thant's for sure. I have classy friends. :)
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
As a healthcare professional, the "you have to have kids so someone will take care of you when you're old" argument is just absolutely hilarious. These people clearly have not seen the charming breadth of behaviors that adult children display towards their ill parents. And even if your children really want to take care of you, what guarantees that they will have the financial/social ability to do so when you need it? Last but not least, what happens when your dearly beloved children check out of this world before you do?

Personally, I put a lot more faith in my 403b and LTC insurance.

(Of course, I also happen to think that the only thing ruder than EXPECTING your children to move you into their house and wait hand and foot on you is EXPECTING that your parents will have nothing better to do with their lives after retirement than to take care of your offspring. Again, if they want to do that, great, but I would never dream of assuming they would.)
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
There are many contradictions in the expectations of parenthood, I think, mostly thought by people who haven't thought things through thoughtfully.

...I think. :)

The "you're being selfish!" accusation gets to me, though - how is it selfish to avoid contributing to overpopulation? Or giving my money to charity? I'm stumped. Of course, pretty much all of the parents I know don't think like that - I get this kind of silliness from strangers.
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
Hey, that's what journals are for. :)

Now, I know that there are a small minority (really small) of child-free people who are actively hostile to parenthood and all it represents, but their reasons aren't usually "I've done it, so you should, too". I don't agree with their hostility, either, and wish that all lifestyles (that do not harm others) were respected (but again, another rant - and imagine the anguish for gay/lesbian couples who are refused the opportunity to adopt).
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
This just confirms my belief that most people are brain dead idiots. I can full back the people what rant against kids having kids or the person who has another child just for the extra check it will bring in but ranting because your not having kids? That is just stupid.
Nov. 6th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
Just think - if I don't have kids, that means more Government money for the people that do. :P
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
As someone who falls into the category of "wanted to have children but can't" all I can say is ROCK ON! I don't know how many times I've heard "You just aren't fully fulfilled as a woman until you've had a child", or some such crapola. Most times I just want to take the knife they've plunged in my heart in run it through their eye.. but... *deep cleansing breath* then I think about it and get better. It can be hurtful and I agree, that most times they may be trying to over-compensate for something else.
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, both groups (parents and childfree) are often represented by loud-mouthed idiots (tyranny of the loud?).

I believe in reproductive freedom. That means that I'm pro-choice, pro-letting people choose adoption, pro-childfree, pro-17-children. Your womb (or your sperm) is your business. I also sometimes think that it's a little sad when people say that they won't be complete without a child. Of course, I've never *really* faced infertility, just a ghost of it, so I would imagine that many people say that without considering the implications. I think that the best parents are people who are secure in their own selves. Then again, it's not for me to say what makes one person a good or bad parent.

There were a few years there where I didn't think that I wanted to have kids. I was no means certain about it, so I wouldn't have called myself childfree, but with my health problems I didn't think that it would be a good idea.

I had a bit more of a rant written here, but I'll just be brief. Back to the loud mouths representing all groups. I would guess that in the SCA (and other hobbies) there is a higher proportion of childfree than in the rest of the world. I have many childfree friends. Most are nice and understanding of the foibles of parenting. However, I have had "friends" (friends, not just random people on the street) try to make me feel like less of a person because I AM a parent. According to these people, once I have kids I must have no other interests, not be an interesting person, or not ever want to have adult time, because I'm a parent. There are rude people in this world. Some are parents, some are childfree, and some are under 13.

I was a whole person before I had kids. I was a whole person when I didn't think I wanted kids. I'm still a whole person, and since a kids are a part of who I am, at this moment they complete the puzzle of me. There are still 4998 other pieces (ok, the boys might be more than two in five thousand...). But before they existed that puzzle had different pieces. Not fewer, not more, just different.

Nov. 6th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
According to these people, once I have kids I must have no other interests, not be an interesting person, or not ever want to have adult time, because I'm a parent.

Clearly, we spend too much time around the same sort of people. I get this sometimes, too.
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Hmmmm.

"Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.'" - Genesis 9:1

That's certainly one possibility, but I somehow doubt that those who feel superior to you are using this. (For the record, if I'm one of those people, please let me know. I don't think I am, but if so, I apologize.)

People measure wealth in different ways.

More guesses. Part of it could be feeling left out. I know I've seen many instances where we would normally have been included, we're now not included since we've had a child. (Again for the record, I'm not putting this on you - we got your early party invite.) So it's clear to me that the DINKs have one social circle and the families with children have another. The transition is difficult, because it can feel like you've lost friends in a divorce when you have kids.

More guesses. Thinking...

I had a chat with Duke Stephan of Bellatrix earlier this year; Niobe is (was?) pregnant with number seven. He told me that the only thing God said in the Bible seven times (coincidence - maybe I'm getting my numbers mixed up) was to multiply. After a while, a large family seems to be unmanageable, but he and Niobe have a system and they are experts at it. As a parent, I see children to be lock-step with my purpose in life, to create a legacy and something that lasts beyond my days. Otherwise, I'd be hard pressed to find a real meaning in my typical work-eat-sleep routine.

I don't have any more guesses, except to say that before I had kids, I didn't get any of this stuff. The child-free men will have to offer their own points of view as to pressures and comments from others.
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Guesses
"I see children to be lock-step with my purpose in life,"

Naw - I'm certain you have purpose outside of kids, Kevin. Maybe you just don't recognize or realize it. Yet.
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Nov. 6th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC)
I could go on for hours and hours about how this pisses me off, about how I take offense at everyone who says to my husband, "Oh, she'll change her mind," about how my cousin who was knocked up at 15 and had her tubes tied at 18 keeps telling me, "It's not too late."

I DO NOT WANT TO BE A MOMMY!!!! Never did. Never will. I never played with dolls. I never played house. I don't have it in me.

I don't want to care for anything small and fragile and helpless. I am not a good caretaker. I'm a saleswoman. I'm a business-owner. I'm a researcher. I get caught up on a project and forget to eat. I don't even take proper care of myself most days!

I like my life the way it is. There is simply no place in it for anyone who can't take care of themselves.

(I'm about to go off on a rant on people who refer to my dogs as my "kids", but let's leave that for another day, shall we?)
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
I had a childfree roommate once. She was in her 40s, never had kids, never wanted 'em, but she had two dogs. She did call them her kids, and got insulted when people didn't accept that. She was always upset that the company picnic (we worked together too) was at a park where no dogs were allowed, because then she couldn't bring her kids.

Uh... I love dogs, but, well, to each their own!
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Nov. 6th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
One more that the poster above me reminded me of.

My Legacy

I would rather have my name carried on by having my work published and used long after my death than count on my decendants to remember me.

I tried to do my geneology once. No one could remember the first name of my great-grandfather. He was one of 14 children who survived to adulthood. And yet his children and nephews and nieces didn't pass on his name. My father couldn't recall the name of his own grandfather because he died before his time. One person in the family was able to recall the way he died. And no one could tell me anything about what kind of person he was. No one. He is lost. We will never know what Luke McGann was like because his children forgot to tell anyone.

But we remember the names of countless childless (and childful) people who have written books. And we will remember them and what they contributed to the world long after all of their children (had they had them) and grandchildren would have been gone.
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
That's fine if you have talent. Some of us aren't so lucky. :-D
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Nov. 6th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
First of all, "Hi, I'm Jenn from Pittsburgh" in the SCA I'm Odriana vander Brugghe. I'm friends with Tasha, which is how I ended up reading/friending your journal in the first place.

Now, on to my response...

I am bothered when people make statements like "you're not really a whole person until you have kids".

To get it out of the way, I'm a parent. Anyone who says this kind of nonsense to you is completely and utterly in need of a solid kick in the ass and I guarantee you their kids will go to college on the other side of the universe. Why? Because people that complete themselves through their children spend all of their time failing to live for themselves. Their children are pushed to strive for goals and ideals that aren't their own, and because they are individuals, they will either break away and find their own way, or will spend their lives feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. Those parents deserve our pity and need professional help.

There's a great deal more to my POV, but it boils down to sending you a lot of support and standing firmly on the side of sane and rational people.
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) Like I said, my friends don't pull this crap on me, just strangers. I think the universal truth is that children will be themselves, so their parents had better be okay with that. :)
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
I don't regret having a child and I don't think there's a thing wrong with your NOT having children. And I'm very aware of how much less time I have to do other things I love because of my daughter (though honestly I was just as tapped with a full-time job I hated) so I respect your choice to NOT be tied down by that.

I *do* have trouble with a very vocal minority of child-free people who seem to think that I'm a selfish person for deciding to have kids, that children breathe too much air, and that I shouldn't be permitted to go anywhere with them until they're ten. These people don't seem to understand that there are good social and economic reasons for society to support childrearing -- even if it's only because those children will be running the world (for good or ill) when we're old. [I encounter these people often in newspaper forums online. I know these people are actually a product of the very cultural phenomenon you're talking about -- because if you pressure people so hard they're bound to snap -- but they still irritate the hell out of me. I regret it every time I look at the comment for articles about children or schools or what have you...]

You're pretty clearly not one of those people, so I won't rant further. :)

Nov. 6th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
The rabidly child-free should be treated like any rabid fundamentalist - not worth the bile they spew. However, they are the minority, whereas sane people who decide not to have kids are surrounded by pressure, much of it hostile, from all sides, sometimes every day. One can choose to stay away from anti-child rhetoric pretty easily; I get nervous every time someone asks "so, do you have kids?", because I am guaranteed either a pitying look and a "whyyyyyyy noooooot?", or a diatribe about how selfish I am. This happens a lot. :(
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Nov. 6th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
I think it's because they're jealous. They're probably frustrated by the consequences of their own choices, and rather than focus on the good things about their children, they choose to focus on telling you that you're selfish because they envy your freedom. It's stupid. I think you're not a whole person if you don't eat chocolate!
Nov. 6th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
This was my thought....that those annoying people are jealous that they made a choice to have children (possibly when the thought was all romantic and rosy, and not about getting up every hour and a half all night long for weeks, or having to choose based on someone's nap schedule what you can get accomplished in a day, etc.) and now they realize just how much of their own personal freedom to do whatever they want is taken up by managing another small totally dependent human. Personally, I adore my kids. I know that *I* would have been missing out on something great and glorious if I had chosen not to have them, but that is a statement about *me* and no one else. I have always felt like a whole person, and Kira, Wren and Noah do not validate me as a human or as a woman. I was fully a whole person before I had Kira, and I am fully a whole person unto myself now.

I'm just glad that we have the ability to actually *choose* to have children or not have children.

Nov. 6th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
Sigh. Word. And know that this voice may become one of those childfree advocates who "suddenly" changes their mind to become a parent. Also know that I'm seriously torn apart by the thought. But I think you know that, seeing as you read every word of my wallowing angsty journal entry on a similar topic the other day.

I am still no closer in resolving the Great Schism between Michael and I (he still insists he'd feel as though he would be missing out without kids and I utterly and completely feel I'd miss out on life with them), but we've at least agreed that there's to be no pressure from either one of us to breed for the forseeable future. Yes, I love someone SO DAMN MUCH that I would actually change my life philosophy for him. Why? Because... I dunno. It's love. Who knows anything about why we do the shit we do when we're in love?

But one thing is for certain... I will defend every woman's right NOT to have babies until my dying day. So, rock on with your bad self, sister. :)
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
I am very comfortable with people changing their minds (if they do), and I won't give anyone a hard time about it, ever, because it's such a huge decision.

I think there needs to be sense on both sides. If I write about this, I get "but we get rudeness too!", as you can see above. However, I don't think the answer is "but", I think the answer is "I can handle your children with respect; you should be able to handle my lack of them with the same respect". In other words, there's room for everyone, anti, pro, and all places in between, as long as everyone respects each others' position.
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