This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.
I immediately knew what issue I wanted to use, but I was somewhat hesitant to post about it. It seems more “controversial” than any of the issues I’ve seen posted so far. While some of them are controversial, they at least all have a LOT of people behind them. My issue might alienate some of my readers. I really hope not, but because it is so important to me, I’m going to post about it anyway. Please understand that I’m not judging anybody here. All I am hoping for is a little understanding. And maybe when you meet somebody like me in the future, you’ll be a little bit nicer about their point of view. So, here goes.
My husband and I have made a decision in our lives that is surprisingly controversial. I have to defend my position over and over again, even within my own family. My grandmother chides me about it. My mother was disappointed in me over it. I’m sure my father, who is Mormon, thinks it’s a huge sin, though he hasn’t actually said as such. I even have friends who think I’m “weird” for living this way. The “big issue” that’s so controversial?
I am child-free by choice.
That’s right. The thing I take so much flak over? Deciding not to have a baby. I’m continually surprised – and frankly angered – by the way people treat me when they hear this. Suddenly, I become a pariah. It’s as if I said “I eat babies for breakfast and torture little kids in my basement.” This is ridiculous. I don’t even have a basement. (Ha ha…) But seriously, I don’t understand the problem here. I don’t begrudge anybody else having a child, as long as it’s for the right reasons. I will admit that I don’t think that you should have several children as it isn’t socially or ecologically responsible. One or two is fine, provided you care for them well and teach them some manners. (Kids these days…)
But here’s a list of questions I get:
“What are you going to do when you’re old?” Frankly, having a kid doesn’t mean they’ll care for you when you’re old. And even if it did, I’m trying to make it so that I can care for myself when I’m older. I don’t think “I want somebody to sponge off of when I get old” is a legitimate reason to have children.
“Well, what do you do with yourself?” What did you do with yourself BEFORE you had children? Surely you had a life of your own, no? Let’s see… I work. I read. I do crafts. I watch TV. I hang out with friends. I cook. I go to the movies. I play with my pets. I surf the net. I blog. I immerse myself in various projects. I go places. I do stuff. Theoretically, you probably do some of these things, too – I just have more time in which to do them. I also have more money to do them than a parent who makes the same income we do.
“Don’t you want to leave a piece of yourself behind?” I actually don’t really care about this. I’ll be dead. If I leave something behind, some way for people to remember me, that’s great. If I don’t, it won’t affect me much.
This next one is probably my least favorite: “But, don’t you want your life to be fulfilling?” This also manifests itself as “Don’t you want to have a happy life?” I have to tell you that my life IS very happy and fulfilling. In a lot of cases, the people that I know who have children – friends, family members, coworkers, etc – are LESS happy than I am. In fact, many studies show that couples who have children are likely to experience a “drop in maritial happiness”. See also “Well, what do you do with yourself?”
I’m not asking anybody to give up their children. I’m not even asking you not to have children. What I would hope that you would consider is to possibly only have one or two. Or consider not having children at all. It isn’t a requirement in life. But mostly, I just want people to stop harassing me over my choice. It doesn’t really affect you. It isn’t a drain on society’s resources. Please consider that before you say something like “That’s so weird!” when you hear that somebody doesn’t want kids.
(PS – Some of these pics are clickable.)