The Child-Free vs. “Breeder” war: why are we fighting it?

I recently read a blog entry on a child-free website that was followed by a comment from a woman who went on for some time about how physically disgusting she thought pregnant women were. She wrote that only the child’s father should have to be subjected to the sight of the woman’s bulging abdomen. (It’s very possible this woman is tocophobic.)

Other child-free people will refer to parents as “breeders.” Technically accurate, yes, but offensive nonetheless.

Too often (not most of the time, but often enough), the tone used by some of the child-free when talking about parents is one of not-even-remotely-veiled contempt.

Parents’ joy over their children, the issues they face as parents, and even the fact that they chose to become parents is cause for ridicule among a certain child-free population.

What I don’t understand is why.

I’m all too aware of how emotionally exhausting (or even just annoying) it can be to have society and the media subtly, but fairly consistently, reminding me that as a (moderately) healthy woman with a functioning uterus, I should probably have a ten-year-old child by now. (*Shiver* Even the thought…) But where is all this anger for anyone and everyone who has kids coming from?

I’ve always liked to think of child-free women as people who relish their freedom and their free-time, who are confident and happy about the choice they’ve made, and who will defend that choice when it’s questioned or criticized.

But seeing many of them subjecting parents in general to the same kind of judgment and ridicule they so hate to be the targets of leaves me utterly baffled. I might expect it from someone who’s just come into their choice and is feeling tender and defensive (it’s a little bit like being a teenager in love who views all adults as the enemy saying, “You don’t know what love is!”), but when it comes from those who have been child-free for some time, it’s confusing.

Sure, most of us will probably see a parent pushing one child in a stroller and dragging the other by the hand and think, “I can’t tell you how happy I am to not be you,” but who doesn’t think that about anyone they see living a life they’re relieved to have avoided?

But this is not a logical reason to attack parents just for wanting to be parents.

When we’re attacked by people who think we’re not being the right kind of women for not building babies in our wombs, we make any number of assumptions about the people who are angry with us, because we honestly can’t fathom why our decision, which has nothing to do with anyone but us, is one they feel justified to criticize:

1.They have antiquated notions about what a woman’s role “should” be

2. They’re miserable, and so they want us to be miserable, too

3. They secretly envy us

4. They see their role as parents as self-sacrificing, heroic, and noble, and they honestly think the only reason we don’t want children is because we can’t stand the thought of giving our time to anyone but ourselves.

Whatever the reason for someone’s attack on our choice, it deserves our attention. Our rebuttal. Our fiery ire. But “it” is that specific attacker or group of attackers, not all parents, wannabe parents, and pregnant women. What did they ever do to us? And what did our own parents do to deserve that kind of universal distaste for their choice to produce us?

What do you suppose might be the list someone comes up with to explain why some of the child-free hate parents? Maybe:

1. We still aren’t sure about our choice, so when we see people with children, we feel insecure and lash out as a way to feel more powerful and in control

2. We still feel guilty about our choice (when you’re raised believing having children is just what you’re “supposed to do,” guilt over not doing it is a side-effect), so when we see people with children or think about parents, we’re reminded of what horrible people others must think we are, and we lash out as a way to feel more powerful and in control

3. We view parents as fitting into a certain kind of mold and living a certain kind of life (in other words, we have a bit of a prejudice), and everything about what we imagine it is is so distasteful to us (minivans, shuttling kids around, dragging kids through supermarkets, having “parental” opinions about everything on the planet – “Ban books! Ban music! Ban sex ed! Think of the CHILDREN!’) that it makes us cringe, and we lash out as a way to very vocally express that distaste

4. We secretly want children, but we don’t want to want them

5. We want them, but we’re incapable of having them

The way I see it, if you’re a happy, confident, child-free woman, you have no reason to lash out at parents just for being parents. We chose this life (if I’m not mistaken) in large part because we’re very attracted to the absence of child-related stress, so it seems counter-intuitive to put so much negative energy toward thinking about, fuming over, judging, and criticizing people who have children.

So, I’d like to call a truce.

To those who hate the child-free: Seek help. Explore your inner self. Discover what it is about how we live our lives that so offends you, get over it, and find more joy in your own life.

To those who hate people who have or want children: Do the same.

Naturally, the battle will go on among the individuals who have and share their strong opinions in a public forum, but as a child-free woman on the “side” of the attacked child-free (when we’re attacked), I’d like to ask us to take the higher ground. Defend when, and only when, attacked, and when firing back, fire at the actual attacker, not at the neighboring village they sometimes hold block parties with. They didn’t do anything.

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31 Comments

  1. Posted September 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    This.

  2. Posted September 22, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    But seeing many of them subjecting parents in general to the same kind of judgment and ridicule they so hate to be the targets of leaves me utterly baffled.

    There. You have your answer neatly encapsulated right there. The child-free tend towards hating parents because parents in general tend towards targeting the child-free with judgment, ridicule and (probably worst of all) smug certainty that the child-free will eventually change their mind. It is infantilizing and maddening, so of course it breeds a generalized resentment that is expressed towards parents as a class.

  3. Posted September 23, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    This is something that bothers me as well. Usually, I try to stick to childfree groups that are respectful of a person’s choice to become a parent. Every once in awhile though, a conversation will break out that just ends up being anti-parent and anti-woman and I get upset about the same things you’ve mentioned. Sometimes the venom I see is really surprising, but I think unequivocal has it right, some people are constantly hassled for not wanting children and all of that frustration spills out in internet ranting. I’m lucky in that my work environment includes several childfree people and parents that usually only talk about kids to each other. If I was bombarded every day by coworkers making insensitive comments or trying to convince me to have a baby, I might need to rant some when I got home too. What I’m getting at is that I would like to hope that the animosity is greater on the anonymous internet where people can let off some steam than it is in real life.

  4. Posted September 23, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    WHY is it so impossible in our society to have no desire to have children of our own, but to also like children, and cherish them?

    It seems to me that there is an almost toxic disgust and collective hatred of children in north america. Funding is no longer allocated for safe spaces for children, for schools, for childcare. . . as if we shudder to allow our tax dollars to go towards the ‘groinspawn’ (actual term I’ve actually heard used in conversation). Parents are despised for: dining out with children, taking children to the movies, bringing kids shopping, taking small children to museums and galleries, and a whole host of other things. WHY!?

    • Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I am completely indifferent to children. I don’t coo over babies. I don’t fawn over toddlers. In fact, the only time I really notice kids is when a mother or father is doing their best to make sure that everyone around them notices their special child–which I find completely annoying.

      I don’t think parents are despised for taking children out to dinner, or to the movies, or to the mall. They are, however, despised when they allow their children to run around like wild animals. I can sympathize with a parent who is trying to deal with a tantrum-throwing child. But even parents have to admit that there are other moms and dads out there who are really lax on the public behavior.

  5. Posted September 23, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I think most childfree people (like myself) are tolerant to a point. I have seen a certain amount of vitriol towards “breeders” (I never use that word) that even I can’t understand, but let me tell you what I think some of the more rational reasons are, knowing full well they don’t apply to absolutely everyone, of course:

    1. We see a large disconnect between the societal view and benefits of parents and the childfree. We stay at work late; they leave unquestioned when Junior has a runny nose. When we don’t want to stay at work late, it must be because we’re going out partying and/or some other selfish, unimportant reason. They get paid time away (I won’t say “off”); we don’t. They get tax breaks for moneysuckers they chose to have; we don’t. We don’t have children and we still have to pay for theirs. Pets aren’t allowed, but equally destructive children are. We’re constantly asked why we don’t want children; no one asks them why they do, even if they’re probably less than capable. And the overarching view that you’re somehow less feminine/more selfish/more heartless if you don’t want a child.

    2. Parents are rude! “What do you want me to do, he’s a kid!” “Oh, he’s just being a kid!” “Oh, but Junior really wants to touch it just for a minute!” NO! Your kid can’t have everything! Do something when they run in front of people and knock things over! They’re so burnt out and think their children are so special that they tend not to care what the effect is on anyone else, but god forbid we don’t watch what we do in front of them. I get that you’d really like to still be able to see a movie even though you have a child, but you chose a baby, not me.

    3. Some of them are hypocrites. They’ll go on about how frustrating it is, how expensive it is, how there’s too many people, how the world is horrible, how they can’t go on vacation, but then.. “You don’t want kids? How come??” And half the time this comes from your ex-feminist college roommate who swore she’d be independent forever, and it’s hard to be happy for them when you know it’s really NOT what they wanted.

    4. They tell us we’re going to change our minds, like our reasoning is somehow inferior to theirs. Apparently, unless we want a child, we really don’t know what we want. Even our DOCTORS think this! The fact that the decision to parent is almost never questioned, even if they’d make the worst parent ever, is tiring and offensive.

    I’m happy for my friends who truly wanted to be parents, and I’m more than thrilled I have friends and parents who support my decision, but there are sadly just too few of those people.

    • Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree! This is so true! A friend of mine who is younger than me expressed her desire for SIX kids went unquestioned. Congratulated. Encouraged even. I said I don’t want kids and I got “you’re too young to know that.” “you never know” and “you’ll change you mind after 30.” It does make me bitter how unfair it is. I think this is where a lot of child free people are coming from.

  6. Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I personally don’t care if you have no kids or if you have forty kids. But when you are childfree, it is far more acceptable for strangers to make comments about the state of your uterus. If someone asks you if you have children, you usually won’t be asked “why?” or told “you may regret that someday” or hear “you’ll change your mind”. But if your CF and say so, you can guarantee there will be a barrage of follow-up questions, some of which are downright offensive and rude. I’m tired of being told by others what I will feel, or how I can’t understand certain things because I haven’t given birth. I think this is why the CF are so defensive at times. We’re just exhausted trying to defend our personal choices.

    As for the hate, I have seen plenty of CF comments on the Internet that make me cringe. But then again, going by Internet 101, posting anonymous offensive comments is pretty much the norm these days–not saying it’s right, but that how things are. I will say that I can relate to some of the ranting online by my fellow CF individuals. I’ve done it myself. Much like how moms have blogs or post on message boards about how their kids are driving them nuts, or how they can’t get a goodnight’s sleep or how hard potty-training is, the CF want a safe place to rant about comments they received or a parent that’s driving them crazy.

    I think the CF would be less defensive if their choices were just respected. If you ask someone if they have kids and they say “no”, end of discussion.

    • Posted September 24, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Thank you all for reading and commenting. I appreciate the many responses here.

      I’d like to address this:
      when you are childfree, it is far more acceptable for strangers to make comments about the state of your uterus. If someone asks you if you have children, you usually won’t be asked “why?” or told “you may regret that someday” or hear “you’ll change your mind”.

      This is half true. People do feel strangely free to ask “when,” “why not,” “no, really, why not” if you don’t have children and don’t plan to; however, just as many people feel comfortable questioning – and even touching – pregnant women, and women who have children go through, I’m convinced, 18+ years of judgment from society:

      “Are you having more kids? Why not?” “Oh, you’re having another kid?… Really…Hm.” How late mothers stay out, whether they date after a divorce, what they let their kids watch/eat/drink, what they, themselves, drink (a glass of wine during a play-date with other mothers? GASP!), etc. I’m not in any way minimizing or denying the judgment the child-free receive, but we really can’t forget that mothers are reminded pretty regularly that people are not only watching their uterus, but their pregnant belly, their lactating breasts, and how they raise their children from birth to forever.

      I don’t accept the judgment placed on the child-free, but I certainly wouldn’t trade it for a second with the judgment mothers receive.

  7. Posted September 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This baffles me too, but I think the key is that the child-free people (feminists, even) view the issue as “choice”, and not one of “public/private” sphere.

    We think children are a “choice” therefore any problems parents face are their problem of their own making. But that’s not really the problem—when people complain about kids in bars/restaurants, it highlights the issue of private v. public and I think we as feminists need to realize that once you don’t lock up caregivers in the house anymore, kids are coming out in public.

    People once thought women shouldn’t vote because they should stay in the “private sphere”–let’s not return to that mentality.

  8. Posted September 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Child-free people are like any other group—full of individual views, opinions, and approaches. Some don’t want kids as a matter of personal choice, others have concerns about overpopulation, some call all parents breeders, others make a distinction between responsible “parents” and irresponsible, neglectful or abusive “breeders”. Some don’t use the term at all.

    My personal feelings? I think there is an over-bombardment in the US at least, of romanticization of the notions of children and parenthood that isn’t reflected in the reality I read of how many times CPS drops the ball & a child is killed, or the limited maternity leave/lack of paternal leave someone described in another post on here. I do get resentful when people use the fact that they have kids as some sort of barometer of goodness or maturity. I detest calls for censorship in the name of “the children” and though I’m vegetarian, tend to agree with Mark Twain’s statement that “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak because a baby can’t chew it.” As perplexed as you are at the vitriol of some CF, I’m perplexed at the vitriol expressed in the comments section of virtually any article you can google about the CF lifestyle.

    At the same time, I have friends and family members who have kids and don’t think or behave these ways at all. I know not all parents are cut from the same cloth. And those who do use their children as an exercise in sanctimoniousness or superiority I’ve at this point weeded out of my life, just like I would any other sort of person I felt was treating me or my husband with that type of attitude.

  9. Posted September 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    An online search for the following could answer many of your questions

    “The childfree vs breeder war article on Feministing.com”

    as the comments at that forum are most illuminating, and representative of what I sometimes read regarding “breeders,” as well as the thought process of people who may use that term.

    Based on comments by certain people who are child free, or even anti child, it is no surprise many would be offended by assumptions why they they are against others having children, such as being subconsciously or secretly envious of parents.

    What I do not understand about the child free vs “breeder” war is why people who are child free think they are not supported by others in a society or community, as when they believe child free people paying e.g. taxes which benefit parents and children is a one way street, or are so certain they will not use more than “their share” of public funds in the future for their lifestyle choices. It is easy to view children and parents as a burden, and oneself as a net giver to society, when one is fairly young, healthy and employed.

    • Posted September 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      running that phrase through Google pretty yielded one result, to a message board where people are stating everything from “The article raised some pretty good points” to “I hate mini-vans”. Which only proved what I posited about not all childfree people sharing some hive mindset on this topic.

      As for your final statement’s assumptions about “young, healthy, and employed”, I frequent another childfree online community where regular posters range in age from college students to retirees, and everything in between. As for health and employment status, well, I can only go by what people disclose, but it seems folks have their ups and downs in both of those departments, just like anybody else. I know a stereotype exists of the childfree “dink” couple with endless disposable income, vacations, etc. It’s true that raising kids is expensive, but that’s not a guarantee that not having them promises wealth either.

      • Posted September 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I was not claiming that people who are child free by choice are characterized by being fairly young, healthy or unemployed. I said that it is easy for such people to resent e.g. having “their” tax money allegedly being spent on other peoples’ children, or parents of children not contributing what they consider a fair share.

        My chosen career is providing health care to elderly and disabled clients in a residential setting. I am well aware that people can live well past 80 or even 100, without ever marrying, or having children. Or ever doing paid labor. In fact, it is my assumption that on average, a person in the US will live to a certain age, and probably experience significant health care issues. Lifestyle choice related health issues, for that matter, that cost much more than they ever paid in taxes or insurance premiums.

        If people are going to keep score of how “their” tax money is being used, or resent the “entitlements” of others, where do we draw the line? And are people as aware of their own privilege and how their community or society supports them in ways not measured in money?

        • Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure everyone in America, no matter what their political leaning, has tax dollars funding things they don’t agree with. Like a bunch of overly drawn out and ineffectual wars, for example. (This also goes into the fact that I’ve read posts from childfree people that also span the political spectrum.)

          As for what they’re resentful about, it might be easier to discuss knowing which benefits specifically you’ve heard resentment about.

          • Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

            BTW I meant “I was not claiming that people who are child free by choice are characterized by being fairly young, healthy or employed.”

            As for resentment, the comments I hear and read are self explanatory (can’t be any more clear than the CF who’ve responded), and as I mentioned. People without children (even here on Feministing, though they may not be actually part of the childfree) resent “their” money being spent on e.g. public schools and other people’s children. They resent tax credits and deductions going to those with children to which the CF are not entitled. They resent parents being able to take time away/off from their paid work, or to avoid working late altogether, allegedly to care for their children, for which the CF are not entitled, while the reasons of the CF are viewed as frivolous or selfish.

          • Posted September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            @a male (No reply button on his response).

            Yes, I’ve heard all those things (though not on this thread). I for one would never argue against money being put into education, the library system, or anything else that promotes learning and intelligence. (though by the same token I think our public education system needs a lot of retooling as well). But yeah, as far as someone getting a deduction others do not for their choice to reproduce, I DO regard that as a bias and a sign of a natalist culture. If I didn’t work at home mostly, I would also probably be resentful if someone were allotted more free time, again for a choice, and it were put upon me to put my life on hold to take up the slack. From what I understand, different companies have different policies on how they delegate things like this, and some workplaces also allow time off for employees to handle non-child emergencies, such as a health issue with a parent or spouse, for example. But other companies do not.

            Then again, with this as with other things in life, I’ve found accusations of “selfish” or whatever often stem from a failure to sufficiently kiss the ACCUSER’S ass. Like the Nice Guy who accuses a woman of “not know what she wants/only wanting jerks” because she’s simply turned HIM down, so then there’s this.

  10. Posted September 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not paint with broad brushes. Not all CF people are antagonistic just like not all parents are.

    So, the problem is CF people talking to each-other in a way that doesn’t adequately revere parenthood? Yeah, in a society that practically worships natalism, we like to speak our minds in our little havens. That means that every now and then, you’re going to read something you don’t like. Honesty works like that. I find it refreshing. If someone else finds it offensive, they’re free to grow a thicker skin.

    Pregnancy IS gross. I find everything about it absolutely horrific and I don’t know why any sane person would willfully subject themselves to it. Kids? With few exceptions, I can’t stand them. More to the point, I can’t stand their inept “parents” who can’t be bothered to, you know, actually parent. And has anyone noticed that the world population is nearly 7 billion? Just how many college students are we going to cram into this phone booth before everyone can agree that enough is enough as we ALL suffer because of the introduction of each new member? Out-of-control breeding hurts everyone, even those who know better than to breed.

    Those are my opinions. I’m not sorry if anyone doesn’t like them. Those views, among others, are my reasons for being childfree so you can expect them to come up in any discussion that I have about being childfree, like, say, on a childfree site. I don’t see why that should be so much more shocking than some mommy blogger talking about her offspring as if they were the second-coming of Christ. Kind of what aught to be expected.

    It’s not as if I “moo” at pregnant women, push strollers into the street, or put razor-blades in apples. But I’m allowed to dislike kids, overpopulation, pregnancy, and the very idea of parenthood.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I feel very similar to you. Ever since I can remember (3 years old) I didn’t like babies (weird considering I was one…) I didn’t want to get married or ever have kids. I’m rethinking marriage, but not rethinking kids. Precisely because I know for a fact I couldn’t handle pregnancy and all the ills that come with it: sickness, fatigue, fat, hormone surges, depression, all sorts, plus anything living and moving in MY body I wouldn’t be able to handle, it bothers me when I can feel gas moving around, i certainly couldn’t handle ‘kicks.’

      Let’s not forget the excruciating pain and disfiguration of childbirth (a lot of times it will cause your hips to become unaligned making one leg slightly longer and creating back problems), that the hormones seem to make every mother forget. I’m not willing to hurt myself like that.

      Then there’s overpopulation, yeah, we NEED to be talking about it. 7 billion people is not sustainable, couple that with the fact that we in the ‘West’ consume waaay more than our fair share of natural resources. Your one child is going to consume more than 20 starving children in Africa. Not to mention the destruction of disposable diapers, all the plastic toys, strollers, car seats, it’s a lot when you step back and look at it.

      That being said, I may consider adopting an older child, maybe. I’m on the fence with it, leaning towards no. But I was adopted, I’d like to extend the same courtesy to a child who’s not having a good life, but I don’t know if I can make that commitment. Though I feel like a lot of good can come from raising free-thinking, strong-willed, feminist children (especially boys, but I’d definitely adopt a girl…). However, it’s not just an 18 year commitment, there’s college tuition after that an it’s not like your children leave and never return, it’s a lifelong relationship. It’s a lot more responsibility than most people consider, and honestly, if most people really thought long and hard before having childen the world would be a slightly better place.

      • Posted September 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Not to do what this article is against, but those are mostly all things that only a young person with no firsthand experience would say.

        In the grand scheme of things pregnancy doesn’t last very long, and the “side effects” are really quite minimal compared to how you portray it. Even labour, true labour, is pretty quick. And if you use painkillers you can’t feel a thing (I literally couldn’t).

        The population thing is also a mis-nomer – population is a problem in some countries like China, but in North America we have huge swathes of land and more then enough resources to handle more people.

        As for parents who won’t parent, all I can say is – you try it. Seriously. It’s so much harder then you think. So please have some sympathy for what others are going through.

        All and all I don’t really care if you don’t want kids or even hate kids. Heck I hated kids my whole life – AND STILL DO – except for my own whom I love. But I do care if people are using reasons that don’t make sense for avoiding them.

        Just tell the truth. Say you don’t like kids. That’s enough. You don’t have to pretend that a short-lived pregnancy is the reason you’re going to deny yourself the biggest thing a human being can do.

        As for the comittment – what a terrible comment. Do you think your parents regret having a “comittment” to you for your whole life? I can’t even fathom the logic behind that fear.

        • Posted September 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          “but in North America we have huge swathes of land and more then enough resources to handle more people.”

          Wait, so how come we have farms and homes being foreclosed on, I’m seeing more people on the street in the past few years than I have since the 80′s, and a great deal of our good and resources are being imported from outside of the country?

        • Posted September 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          First an apology, honeybee. I accidentally hit “report comment” by accident when going for “reply.” Moderators, please ignore.

          I’m going to have to side with the committed child free here. Prior to having my first serious girlfriend at the age of 23 and saying screw it, she’s worth it if I can be with her (didn’t happen), *I* was completely against marriage and having children. Use up my salary? Divorce? Alimony? Child support? Pfft. I now realize my wife and children are worth it. Not so for others.

          I am not going to discount the reasons of the determined child free for being so, and I am afraid beliefs like yours are why some people are so against having children, or even OTHER people having children. Some women don’t want to be pregnant or give birth. Ever. Their reasons are their own. Maybe they find the changes in the female body during pregnancy, health risks, or even how it looks to be disturbing. After working with women and newborns and studying pregnancy and childbirth in nursing school, some classmates suddenly swore off vaginal childbirth or having children. These risks are part of the reason to support abortion. (I support abortion on demand anyway.) Why not a valid reason not to have children?

          The value of a child, other than having certain human and legal rights once born, is determined by the individual. You sound like a proud mother. If my children just did chores without being asked and had better manners, I’d consider them great. Not everyone is cut out to be parents, and I don’t bother people in real lifewi

          [I regret living on a rural island and not having the money to see them reach their full potential. (Fortunately, for some reason both my children currently want to be bakers. WTF. The community college down the street can take care of that, and they can ride the bus.) I wasn't being irresponsible or short sighted when I chose to get married and have children - I used to be financially secure six years ago - I just didn't know before quitting a comfortable job and changing careers that I had a mental illness that would hinder me in school and at work, AND that the economy would tank, eating up all my savings while unemployed, and putting us in debt.]

          Other people consider the negatives in being parents, or when seeing other parents and children. Money’s a big deal. Mental stability is a big deal. Freedom is a big deal. People deserve those if they want it.

          Population. Yes, there is space, and food, if they were just distributed fairly. Water is a significant issue. However, there is no denying that humans are destroying the earth with development and consumption. Regardless of how people will power the future, or if they return to a simpler way of life, there is no taking back the pollution or the environment that was lost.

        • Posted September 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          I think you need to look more closely at your comment, honeybee. In one breath, you say it’s enough for her to simply say she doesn’t like kids, and then in the next, you are berating her very rational decision to seriously question whether the commitment to a child is for her before jumping into raising a child that she may end up resenting, which will have multiple repercussions for that child. I’m not sure why you’re questioning her wording – raising a child is clearly a commitment.

          I also take serious issue with your contention that having a child is something she will “deny herself” and that it’s the “biggest thing a person can do”. That’s very subjective. You are absolutely to be commended if you are a successful and capable mother, it IS a very difficult thing to do, but it is by no means the most important thing someone can do. There’s no answer to what that is, it is different for everyone. Perhaps Lauren or someone similar might consider having the time to stay late in her lab and cure cancer a much bigger thing to do!

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Teesa, I will be finishing my graduate degree in a science field. I’m not curing cancer, but still it’s very important.

        • Posted September 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

          No offense, Honeybee, but I have to call bullshit on just about everything you’ve said.

          “In the grand scheme of things pregnancy doesn’t last very long, and the “side effects” are really quite minimal compared to how you portray it. Even labour, true labour, is pretty quick. And if you use painkillers you can’t feel a thing (I literally couldn’t).”

          9 months is a long time to carry what is effectively a parasite, and the affects doing so has on a body can be permanent. Pregnancy itself is dangerous, with complications being so common as to be expected (which is why most people birth in hospitals and why interventions are so frequently necessary) and can even be life-threatening. Oh, about about those pain medications… those can make those other complications and need for interventions more likely.

          Oh, and then there’s HAVING KIDS! Until you or they die, THAT’S PERMANENT! There’s nothing short-term about it. There are life-long consequences of pregnancy and birth, even if everything goes well. Missed education opportunities, missed career opportunities, significantly reduced finances, MEDICAL BILLS, hindered travel, loss of personal life, etc.

          “The population thing is also a mis-nomer – population is a problem in some countries like China, but in North America we have huge swathes of land and more then enough resources to handle more people.”

          Overpopulation is a world-wide problem. It doesn’t matter what region we talk about, it’s all on the same planet with about 5 billion more people on it that it can sustain. Oh, and funny thing about those big, open lands, they ARE being used. It’s called agriculture and greenspace. Kind of need those.

          “As for parents who won’t parent, all I can say is – you try it. Seriously. It’s so much harder then you think. So please have some sympathy for what others are going through.”

          No. No excuses. Presumably, parents know what they’re getting into when they have kids, what their kids can handle, and what they themselves can handle. Any failures to properly raise their kids are their own failures and are rightfully pointed out. Parents aren’t on some pedestal above the rest of us where they and their kids aren’t bound by social courtesies and proper conduct and free of criticism. Having kids shouldn’t make one a privileged class of person.

          “But I do care if people are using reasons that don’t make sense for avoiding them.”

          Other people’s reasons are not your concern. Or should we analyze the merits of your decision to have kids?

          “Just tell the truth. Say you don’t like kids. That’s enough. You don’t have to pretend that a short-lived pregnancy is the reason you’re going to deny yourself the biggest thing a human being can do.”

          Wow, laying on the condescension awful thick there, are you? You’re right about one thing, any pregnancy I was unfortunate enough to have would be short-lived. I know a clinic in town that could help me make sure it didn’t get past 6 weeks.

          Kidding aside, what makes you think that the horrors of pregnancy aren’t someone’s reason? Just who do you think you are to presume you know someone’s mind better than they do?

          And since you started with the condescension, I feel no guilt in saying that if you think that breeding is “biggest thing a human being can do” you lack ambition and imagination. Any animal can breed. You might be happy about having kids, but it’s not like it takes skill to birth. It’s really not impressive. If I were to breed, then I would be denying myself the ability to do much bigger things.

          “As for the comittment – what a terrible comment. Do you think your parents regret having a “comittment” to you for your whole life? I can’t even fathom the logic behind that fear.”

          What? You just used “parenthood is haaard!” as an excuse for inept parenting, and now you can’t see the logic of someone who doesn’t necessarily want to take that on for years and years? NO, you can’t have it both ways.

          And who said anything about fear? Insofar as I can tell, you’re the only one. Is that what you have to tell yourself when someone criticizes the merits of having children, that they must be secretly afraid to take on your station. A little insecure, are you? That you have to characterize someone’s reasons for not wanting kids as being based on fear, rather than actually addressing the practical points made, it says a lot more about your ego and your choice than it does about anyone else’s.

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Julie. You get it. I hope ‘honeybee’ gets it in time to teach her kids there is value in choosing a different path. And there is a serious problem that people think pregnancy is not a choice or autonomous decision. No autonomy, no voice, no choice.

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          Actually, you sound a bit naive pregnancy and childbirth have serious and permanent side effects for a full list go here: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=393161867376591&id=381840608508717

          As for population, get real we don’t have enough land to FEED these people or enough water. It’s never been about space.

          You’re right I am young, but I’m very educated and I know I’ve made the right decision. I’m off the fence now. I don’t want children and that’s fine, it’s not an attack on your life decisions. I have morals that are different than yours. Accept that. We are diverse people. It’s not that I don’t like children I’m deathly afraid of pregnancy and child birth. If I got pregnant I’d kill myself, there wouldn’t be time to get me to an abortion clinic.

          And as for commitment, yeah it’s a valid point people don’t fully consider what they’re getting into. Why do you think there are so many kids in the foster system. Or do you ignore that because you didn’t adopt?

          I don’t know you, you don’t know me. Don’t judge the reasons I won’t have kids as childish and I won’t judge the reasons you do as selfish.

          • Posted July 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            It’s funny. I like to come back here every so often and look at my old comments. I’m still childfree and soon to be sterile. I’ve never had a burning desire to be a parent. I can rattle off about a hundred reasons not to have kids but can’t think of a single one to have kids – not for me. I love having this wall of old comments that screams, ‘NO I haven’t changed my mind.’

  11. Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    People who automatically ooh and aah over babies, or impulsively wish aloud they could have some I can excuse for being naive. As I have mentioned some time ago, when someone tells me they are pregnant, I try to gauge the woman’s mood before I respond. I do not immediately brighten up and offer congratulations or ask questions, because you never know.

    When I hear people talking about parents and their level of responsibility, I keep hearing the word “choice,” as the parents have themselves to blame for e.g., demands on their time, freedom, finances, or mental health, because they chose to have children. It takes a certain amount of privilege to point the finger like that.

    Considering how much of a battle there is going on in the US over freedom to choose, the lack of comprehensive sex education, and a long history of tradition – sex = procreation, marriage = babies, I cannot claim that having children is really a choice. This pretty much sums it up:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unintended_pregnancy#United_States_of_America

    “The United States rate of unintended pregnancies is higher than the world average, and much higher than that in other industrialized nations.[21] Almost half (49%) of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, more than 3 million unintended pregnancies per year.[22] Over 92% of abortions are the result of unintended pregnancy,[11] unintended pregnancies result in about 1.3 million abortions/year.[1] The rate of abortions is high in the United States than in other developed countries because of the higher rate of unintended pregnancies in the US.[5] In 2001, 44% of unintended pregnancies resulted in births, and 42% resulted in induced abortion and the rest in miscarriage.[21] It is estimated that more than half of US women have had an unintended pregnancy by age 45.[23]”

    Did you see that? 49% of pregnancies unintended, and over half of women in the US experiencing unintended pregnancy by the age of 45? In this day and age? It happens to the self proclaimed childfree as well. You can read on Feministing what some women have had to go through when suddenly discovering they are “late” or actually pregnant, and the hoops they have to go through to have a legal abortion before it is too late. Posters will even describe their trials simply to try to get contraception or an over the counter pregnancy test. Some doctors, nurses, and pharmacists simply have no shame.

    Almost all the people I know are Protestant of the conservative variety, Catholic, or simply traditional because we or our ancestors arrived here rather recently. That’s Hawaii for you. Once it gets out into the community that someone is pregnant, the decision has already been made for them, as surely as a Palin or a Spears. I have never heard of someone who later decided to have an abortion. Not one. Not even rumors or accusations in the case of a miscarriage. You’d be surprised how many nursing students and recent hires find themselves pregnant. Sometimes it means the end of schooling, maybe a career.

    Back in the 50s, my mother said certain girls were suddenly disappeared from school for no reason to “visit their aunt” far away, then reappeared later. In the 80s, I knew a 16 year old girl who had to accompany her best friend to another island for a “shopping trip” without their parents. (She told me the real reason. It cost $800 back then, too.) Today we know what that means.

    Local high schools have established programs to teach pregnant girls how to better care for themselves and their babies, because there are a significant number. I had to teach a class. I asked the teacher where the boys were – attendance optional. In fact, one can have legal elective abortions in my community. But they are a complete secret.

    • Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      It’s true that a significant number of women have their access to contraception, accurate pregnancy tests, sex education (including information on pregnancy options,) and their access to abortion itself compromised. That fact is not to be ignored.

      But I doubt that this is the case for all of the 44% of unintended pregnancies that are kept. An unintended pregnancy and an unintended birth are not the same thing. I don’t have stats to back this up, but I’d say that most of unintended pregnancies that result in birth are by the choice of the mother, cases where she COULD have had an abortion, but CHOSE not to. Even then, there’s the choice of the adoption rout. Birth does not have to mean parenthood.

      My point is, as a general statement, parenthood IS a choice.

  12. Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I cannot speak as to why all CF-ers may “hate” parents and children. I can only speculate, as well as speak for myself.

    I only use the term “breeders” for specific situations – like those parents who create them because they “like” babies or because they don’t use birth control, only to be neglectful or abusive parents. In my line of work, I see people whom their life accomplishments are several children they can support (and in the woman’s case, kids with different fathers), collecting welfare and committing crimes. I have no patience for those people, and when I’m going to use “breeder” it is about them.

    I don’t hate parents. I don’t care that people are parents. I also don’t care about their kids, except in the general sense – I want kids to have a decent shot in life, I don’t want them to have diseases or conditions that affect their lives. I am impressed not a whit by pregnancy, and I don’t care that a person is having a baby, even if it is a family member or a BFF. I don’t think it is a miracle, and I don’t think a child is a gift to this world. Most children are going to turn out to be mediocre-slash-average adults.

    There are some people who think this world is overpopulated. There IS some truth to this. Just watch the news and look at the worldwide famine, wars, abusive governments, widespread diseases, pollution of all sorts, wrecked economies. There are some people who think it is selfish and foolish to bring kids into this world.

    I for one – don’t care. Yep, it’s true. I’ve learned how to survive, and will be able to do so even if things go really bad in my personal life. I likely won’t be alive in 60 years, though you never know. After I’m dead, I don’t have to worry about this world any longer. My husband and I do things like recycle and environmental clean up to keep the planet as clean as possible for us.

    There are people who resent paying more taxes than parents pay (because the parents get the deductions) but use fewer services.

    I am not terribly bothered by things like property taxes for schools. I spend not too much time thinking about the tax burden that is on my husband and I. It’s a bit maddening there are people who have zero tax liability and still get money back from the feds. Those people have done nothing to deserve that sort of gift, but hey…whatevs…but….

    Then, my husband and I still have (figuratively) people with their hands out, begging for money for “the children”. Beginning in July, I am bombared at work with requests for donations: school supplies, coats and shoes, healthy meal programs, United Way (I know this is a multi service charity), bring candy for “neighborhood” trick or treating, and Toys for Tots. I’m sick of it. Why aren’t the parents using these tax refunds to buy these things? No matter what my husband I “by force” (taxes) give for society, it is seemingly never enough.

    The only time I will express strong hate feelings are when people’s annoying, poorly disciplined children are acting the fool in public places. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to hear some little beast shrieking in a restaurant or I’ve had to dodge running kids in stores. I’ve had kids crawl under my restroom stall and fitting room stall. And yes, I will say something to the parent if it is bad enough. I came to blows with a parent because her brat was intentionally ramming me with the shopping cart in the checkout line. I screamed at him to stop. I didn’t have that brat, and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to that sort of behavior.

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