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I just wanted to say that whenever I hear otherwise intelligent people - such as libertarian journalist Cathy Young - say, in effect: "Being childfree isn't anything to brag about; what would happen if everyone decided they didn't want children?" I want to laugh. It's a moot point.
I slipped up - while plenty of people talk like that, Young isn't exactly one of them, and she's 55, has never had children, and doesn't seem to regret it.
Here's what I mean by "isn't exactly":
It's from 2000. In it, she focused on certain complaints of the childfree:
"The angry nonparents believe they are being treated as second-class citizens in a 'procreation-obsessed' America. They feel shafted by the tax code, with all the dependent deductions and child-care credits, and by working-parent benefits such as family leave and on-site day care. They gripe about a lot of things: having to pick up the slack for 'child-burdened' co-workers; enduring the noise of squalling kids in restaurants; the unfair privilege of parking spaces reserved for pregnant women and parents with babies or toddlers; inappropriate questioning of their choice not to have children."
She had plenty of valid criticisms about the childfree's lunatic fringe. However, she did not have the brains to avoid the Chicken Little argument so often made by pro-natalists:
"....But there’s nothing wrong with some societal recognition of the sacrifices parents make, or some societal effort to make things easier for those who have undertaken this difficult job.
"Nonsense, scoff the 'child-free' militants: These people made the choice to have children; why is that anyone else’s problem? Why, they cry, should I give up anything just because you decided to reproduce?
"Try this: Because if no one made the choice to reproduce, none of us would have a future."
"What I find truly infuriating about the 'child-free' advocates is their smug in-your-face insistence that there is nothing special about childbearing and child-rearing (heck, why should it be special? It's only about the survival of the human race!), that parenthood is no different from any other expensive hobby like, say, collecting antique dollhouses. It's not just parents they're disparaging, it's the very notion that our connection to future generations matters."
I mean, there's a big difference between demanding that we ALL stop reproducing right now (no adult I've ever heard of would try to make that argument with a straight face in a serious forum) and simply demanding, for serious reasons, that parents curb their parental appetites, which can be endless. (Not to mention all the couples, adult or not, married or not, who have kids for all the wrong reasons. Not good for the kids and those who have to live near them or work with them - such as teachers.) Also, until foster children no longer have to beg in the newspapers to get adopted, *I* say too many babies are being born in the U.S., at least.
See comments below. Five of them praised her column, others did not.
"I'm 38, single and childless. While I like children and hope to have one in the roughly 10 years I have left, my opinions on this subject tend to lean toward that of those who advocate the child-free movement. Actually it's not the children I have a problem with. It's their parents.
"It seems to me that these days, there is a general reproductive and parental irresponsibility that pervades our society. Why is it, exactly, that, in a time when we have a myriad of birth-control methods, we have an explosion of unwanted pregnancies, infanticides and neglected/abused children?
"While I may not agree with some of the more fringe ideology of the child-free movement, I do agree that too many adults are neglecting the results of the choice they made in the first place and that all of us are reaping the harvest that many of us never sowed."
- Juliette Ochieng
"...I think we should all be thankful for the people who are smart enough not to get pregnant if they don't want the responsibility!"
- Dale Caliaro
"Dear Ms. Young, what actually made you sick was swallowing that heaping helping of outdated pro-child propaganda. Kids are our future? Right now that future is freeways-turned-parking-lots and no affordable housing. And who relies on Social Security existing at all in 30 years? I sure don’t. Labor shortages? Puh-leeze. I’ll just be getting my Egg McMuffin from a vending machine.
"Our society has romanticized parenthood and made children into household gods. Deciding NOT to have children requires tremendous effort and constant explanation. The anti-child movement is providing support for those who don’t want ‘em , can’t stand ‘em and shouldn’t have ‘em. Yes, it’s a selfish movement, but it’s also pointing out that parents are at least as selfish — in their children’s names."
– Kat Daley