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Guest Post: Mummy Martyrs at the Hiking Humanist and Golden Coathanger
For those who want to read it here, scroll down:
I had a troll come onto my blog recently and post this gem:
“Don’t pretend you’re childfree for any other reason than selfishness. You want time for yourself. You want money for yourself. It’s all about you. I don’t care that you are childfree. It’s your choice. Just don’t pretend that it’s not about self-absorption. Also acting like your pets are the greatest is just as annoying as bragging parents.”
The age-old “Childfree people are selfish” line, the bane of the childfree individuals existence.
Over the years I’ve asked numerous parents exactly how are childfree people selfish? And to no-one’s surprise, they haven’t been able to give me an answer. So unfortunately I don’t have any insights into what the statement means to a parent when they throw it at us but I can give you an insight into what it means to a childfree person.
When a parent says “Childfree people are selfish” all I hear is “Parenthood made me selfless and self-sacrificing! I’m such a great person. That must mean childfree people are selfish because they don’t want to give up anything for anyone”.
I will concede and agreed, yes I am selfish – I don’t want to give up my lifestyle. My partner doesn’t want to give up her lifestyle for a half-formed dependent human being. Our purpose in life is to be happy with each other and to live our lives according to how we want. We don’t want to live according to the life script that others think that we should. Our happiness to us means saving money by not having to spend money on children, we can spend money on Playstation games, books, restaurants, books, holidays, clothing and books. We are able to sleep at night and go wherever, whenever we want. As a consequence of our rebellion against the life-script; we get individuals constantly attempting to police our lives.
So yes I am incredibly selfish but why parents attempt to use that as a weapon against the childfree is beyond me. Those same weapon wielding parents forget that being a parent is a choice; you chose to be a parent and live with the consequences of that – you don’t get to play the selfless martyr card. Remember you chose to A) not have an abortion and B) not to give the child away. You chose to put yourself in the position of sleepless nights, limited travel and debt.
Parenthood is as much of a choice as being childfree is. We’ve elected to not raise children meaning we’ve rejected the massive responsibility that comes with raising a completely dependent human to ensure its survival. While I concede and admit my decision has a degree of selfishness (and disinterest in children), it also has a large degree of maturity attached to it. I don’t want the responsibility of a child so I’ve elected not to do something that would make me miserable and ultimately make the child miserable because I am miserable. Childfree take precautions not to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, we use birth control (or in my case lesbianism) and get vasectomies. We’ve thought a lot about our decisions and came to a conclusion. Yes we are selfish but it comes from a place of maturity, honesty and courage – honesty with ourselves and society at large and the courage to rebel against the imposed life-script and do what we want with our lives rather than living in the safety of a nuclear family where we will never be questioned. I would also argue that bringing a child into the world but not looking after it or using the child as a weapon in a custody battle or using it as a way to get things – is quite selfish on the part of the parent.
Thinking about it over the years, the best I can come up with is that the line “Childfree are selfish” is yet another vain attempt for parents to convince themselves that their decision was a good decision and that despite all the difficulties that childrearing brings – it’s still the greatest thing they’ve ever done. It’s nothing more than a validation tactic. Let me just say that if you need to justify your decisions that badly to reassure yourself that what you are doing is right – you probably didn’t make a good choice.
Numerous parents over the years have attempted to validate their life choices via the steaming pile of emotional blackmail that is the “Childfree are selfish, you don’t want to be selfish do you?” line and the fun breeder bingos we’ve all grown to loathe and despise. In my experience there are two types of parents – those who bingo and those who don’t when presented with your childfree status.
Those who bingo you (and bingo they will) seem to be quite insecure about their status as a parent. If they weren’t insecure about their choices – why would they need validation via bingoing and attempting to convince the world around them to make the choices they made? These types of parents don’t care whether being a parent would make you happy as long as you make the same choice they did. My favourite childfree anecdote is when I was attending university; I had this conversation with a pregnant friend of a sibling:
Them: So when are you going to have kids?
Me: I’m not.
Them: Why not? Don’t you like them?
Me: I don’t want them because I’m not interested in raising children.
Them: It’s all worth it in the end! It’ll be different once you have your own.
Me: That implies that either I need to get pregnant which I don’t plan on doing since I’m gay or fork out money to foster or adopt which I don’t want to do. Even if I did want them which I don’t, I’m a poor university student with no money and I’m not in a position to raise a child.
Them: You can just drop out of university and get government money
You heard it first here readers “You can just drop out of university and get government money” I can just drop my career plans in order to appease a random woman and validate her decision to keep an unplanned child. There’s nothing more that annoys me than someone attempting to police my life according to their thoughts as to what I should do with it. Whose life is it again?
On a side note: I really do hate when parents go “It’ll be different when you have your own”, this implies I need to acquire a child, which first implies I need to make the decision to acquire a child. The best I can come up for as an explanation to the above statement is that those who say this believe you’ll be acquiring a child without thinking about it or that a child will just suddenly appear in your life one day much like herpes (both never ever leave). This statement should be amended to “It’ll be different when you have your own when you have an unplanned pregnancy”, even then this statement is pointless because it implies that everyone who has an unplanned pregnancy needs or should keep the child.
Have these people never heard of adoption or abortion? I highly doubt it. The above statement implies that adoption or abortion as a valid choice never entered their minds because those types of people are so wrapped up in the life-script that they can’t see any other way.
And that is why child-freedom freaks them out.
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