I had no idea the childless-by-choice (CBC) folks were so downtrodden, but I am very thankful to the news media for bringing it to my attention. Last year appeared to be the International Year of the Childless by Choice. I’m not sure if it was a UN thing or just an unofficial media initiative, but 2009 saw a dizzying spate of anti-parenting, pro-CBC stories. A few striking examples:
A study from Oregon State University documented all the ways that having a child is bad for the environment. Another, from England’s University of York, showed that parents were less happy than non-parents. And there was lots of buzz about a book called No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children by French author Corinne Maier.
How it began
It all culminated in the cover story last August in Maclean’s magazine, “The Case Against Having Kids,” which unpacked the whole issue.
I began to understand that those furtive people I sometimes see ducking behind the diaper display in grocery stores are actually harried CBC couples trying to avoid the distasteful sight of a father cooing at his baby or yet another withering criticism from a mother of six.
The Maclean’s article irked a lot of parents, but not this dad of three. No way! I took it as a major wake-up call.
This story showed me how tough life can be for people who don’t have to change diapers, give baths, get up with kids in the middle of the night, worry about school matters or, you know, care for a child with a disability. Among other things, we parents judge the CBC. British journalist Polly Vernon claims she was “denounced as bitter, selfish, un-sisterly, unnatural and evil,” after coming out as staunchly CBC in a Guardian column.
I think all of us nasty, mean-spirited folks who have the gall to reproduce need to take a hard look in the mirror and think about the many ways in which we visit harm upon the CBC. Sometimes it’s by lavishing too much attention on our kids; other times, we insensitively ask CBCers if they wouldn’t wish to know what their kids might look like — one of the horror stories cited in Maclean’s.
No worries. I have a plan to end the suffering of the childless by choice:
Number one, we parents will cease hurling horrid judgments at CBCers. I bet you didn’t even realize you were doing it, like, five to 10 times a day or whatever. (They can’t be making this up!)
Number two, we should all lobby the government to add discrimination on the basis of CBC status to the list of reasons why people can’t be denied jobs, promotions or housing — you know, just in case it starts happening.
Actually, I couldn’t care less whether someone decides not to have kids. And, in all honesty, I hope people who are childless by choice pay no attention to this column, just as I think parents should pay no attention to all the anti-parent stuff that’s out there. Now Today’s Parent readers! Get out there and wipe some chins and bums, and play with a few toddlers. But whatever you do, don’t enjoy one minute of it. You could be hurting somebody.
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