Judging the ChildlessBrett Singer
A recent essay by Lilit Marcus in the New York Post voices an opinion that, judging by the comments and websites like STFU Parents, is shared by many. The author asks the question: Why do you think I’m weird just because I don’t want children?
The somewhat long piece goes in a few other directions as well. Parents who don’t want to change their lives once they have children are bashed (I don’t entirely disagree, although the Post piece makes some wide generalizations), and the phrase “adamant leftist atheists” is used (always a good conversation starter). “When people insist on having a kid but refuse to accept any of the sacrifices that go along with doing so, they’re being selfish while trying to pass themselves off as saintly just for reproducing.” That sort of thing.
But it does raise the topic of folks with kids who judge the childless. I talked about it on Babble Talk Radio on July 17 (at the start of the show, before the interview starts). I was responding to a commenter on Famecrawler who said, in response to the idea that Janet Jackson might raise her brother’s kids, “If she was maternal as suggested here, she would not be a single, childless, woman at age 43.” My response to that is “oh please.” There are any number of reasons why someone might not have children. They might have tried and failed, in which case it could be rather mean to press the issue. But they also may have simply decided not to breed. So what?
I’m not going to cast myself as perfect. If I meet someone who doesn’t have kids, especially if they’re married, the question of why certainly comes up in my mind. I generally stick with a variation of the rule that I use when asking a woman if she’s pregnant — if you’re not 110% certain she is, don’t mention it. And I’m somewhat surprised when people I don’t know very well (or at all) feel very comfortable asking me “are you planning to have more children?” I think it’s a very personal decision that doesn’t need to be discussed with strangers.
Maybe this is different for women, as Ms. Marcus suggests.
I’m curious — do you look at people who of a certain age who are childless and ask them why? Is it different for women than it is for men? Whether you do or not, does “society” judge the childless and find them wanting? Let us know what you think. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you.
Source: NY Post
Image: STFU Parents