Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear childless, you are selfish and you rock.

Daisy started this, not me. So before you go getting all offended, take a deep breath and read her post first. I will wait.

Without going into quoting research or opinion pieces, like Daisy did so well, let me summarize and totally oversimplify the argument: Married childless couples are selfish for not having children. They are shrinking the US reproduction rate, potentially burdening future generations of workers. They are opting to spend more money on themselves and pursue careers. They are speaking up about children in "adult" restaurants and getting them banned.

Apparently this is upsetting both "breeders" who feel defensive, and the childless who don't want to be labeled as selfish. Let me be painfully clear: it is selfish, and that is totally ok.

  • The shrinking reproduction rate is a GOOD thing. Humans consume too much. We're a total drain on the planet. Our existence as a species is not sustainable. Eventually, of we keep reproducing the way we have in the past, we will run into huge global problems, like mass starvation, on a global scale. That would really stink. You selfish childless couples are saving the planet. Thank you, I clearly don't have the same restraint.
  • I miss having "spending money". I do. Any parent who tells you differently is either a) overly wealthy or b) lying. I envy your disposable income, and the energy you have to put towards your career. You will be the people I point to when I tell my child that he can accomplish anything he wants to. Thank you for your accomplishments and for being inspirational examples for my child. The world needs more people like you.
  • You are right, fussy, loud, unruly children should not be up past their bedtime at adult restaurants. And the people who are going to be upset by that statement are the same people who are too lazy to teach their children manners and/or are too inconsiderate to think about how their choices impact others. Blast me if you want to, but the last thing I want to hear when I am finally out at a nice restaurant sans child is someone else's bratty kid. Because that angry guy was right, this meal costs me double because I have to shell out for a sitter before I even get to the restaurant. I'm not saying that kids should be banned from restaurants, I am saying that they should be behaved at restaurants, and if they can't manage it because they are too tired, or their teeth hurt, or their parents did not have the foresight to practice manners at home, then the parents should be considerate enough of their child's needs and of the people around them to get the meal wrapped up and leave. And if they can't or won't, then the management is within their rights to ask them to go. Politeness should be our MINIMUM standard, not an added bonus. Thank you for being willing to point this out. Sometimes us parents get so wrapped up in the day to day, minute to minute, constant kid contact that we forget how to function in society. (I talk about poo way too much, but that's a different topic altogether.)

Finally, yes, you are selfish. And I applaud you for it. I have childless friends, and after living with Daisy for half of my college career, I sometimes forget that there are boundaries to what we should discuss, and I ask rather prying questions of my friends because I am curious. I have heard many reasons for choosing not to have kids, and they all pretty much boil down to motivations that some would call selfish. But really, what selfishness is, at its core is brutal honesty. Couples who choose to be childless are being honest in a way that is socially, well, kinda awkward. Their peers might not get them, society wonders what's "really" going on and their moms are really upset at the lack of grandchildren. And still, they don't breed. They are being honest about who they are and what they want in life even though it's hard. Thank you for being honest. You will be an example I point out to my child as living an authentic life.

Finally, I will repeat some great advice that my Aunt gave me once:

There are moments in your life when the best thing you can choose to be is selfish. Be selfish when you date, you are choosing a mate. If you aren't at least a bit selfish, you could choose the wrong one and cause a lot of heartache down the road. Be selfish when you discuss with your mate wether or not you want kids, it's an all or nothing decision and you need to be on the same page. If you can manage to be selfish at crucial times, and selfless the rest of the time you will have a good shot at a happy life.

She's a smart lady. I am thankful every day that I listened to her.

I am glad that couples who choose to be childless are honest enough to make that decision. It is a very personal decision that is very public and it can be hard to buck that trend and stick out. I am sorry you get unwanted attention and judgement for your decision. That stinks. I thank you, for all the reasons I listed above and for one last reason that I believe to be the most important: I live with the delusion that every child, every single child, deserves to be wanted and cherished and loved as much as mine is. Thank you for being honest in your desire to not have children of your own. Because parenthood is HARD, and if you didn't want to be a parent, I can't imagine how hard that would be.

Maybe one day, if everyone is as honest as you, every child will be wanted and cherished and loved and the world will be a better place for us all.





  1. Lovely article, I'll nitpick two points. First, the only two places for spending money are not kids or self. I am childless and squirrel away money towards two other children's college accounts. Second, the idea or implication that nonparents didn't choose parenting because it's hard is ludcrious, because I imagine how hard it is or isn't wasn't the deciding factor for parents, so why must it be the deciding factor for nonparents?

    1. You are saving money for two other people's kids? That is AWESOME! Go you!

      Gotta say though, I did not mean to imply that there are only two places to spend money "kids or self" as you said. Just that I miss having the level of disposable cash that we enjoyed pre-kiddo. And by disposable cash I mean cash to spend on myself as well as others, or to do things like fix the broken gutter without having to pull from savings.

      And yes, it WOULD have been ludicrous for me to imply that nonparents choose to not have children because it is hard. That is not what I said at all. I said that I have heard MANY reasons to not choose parenthood, and having made the choice to be a parent and experience first hand how hard it can be, cannot imagine being in this role unwillingly.

      I think the choice to have children or not can be difficult. I think couples who are honest enough to make the honest and difficult choice to not have children should be applauded, because that level of honesty about a decision that defies so called social norms and societal pressure is, in my opinion, very brave.