Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Will Now Explain the Obvious

Here we go: Everyone in the world is not exactly like you. Everyone in the world does not think, feel, believe, live, eat, dress, etc. like you. This does not make everyone else wrong, it just is.

Red Cardigan doesn't seem to get this, as evidenced by a post about the fact that 1 in 5 women over 40 have never had children. It's the end of the world!

Granted, not all of the childless women are childless by choice; but that phenomenon is growing as well, along with the strangest (to me) iteration of this unusual lifestyle: the married couple who choose never to procreate.

C'mon over here and let me explain it to you, dollink: I do not want children. I have never wanted children. Neither does my husband. Therefore, we choose not to have children. Is that really so hard to understand? I mean, I love dogs and I have no intention of ever being without one for long, but I don't call dogless people names and imply things about their morality.

And that's another thing: "childless"? We will now be defining people solely by what they don't have? There is a precedent with those without permanent shelter, the homeless, but if you insist, I'm going to start referring to people as dogless, catless, tvless, xboxless, bachelor's degreeless, horseless, slothless and, to my great sadness, Jägermonsterless.

As a Catholic, I don't really understand the lifestyle choices of the "poor silly girls" who simply shack up with men on a serial basis,

full stop. I presume the people you are referring to are not, in fact, minor children, in which case they are women. Say it with me now: women. And why don't you make any reference to "poor silly boys"? Oh, I see, misogyny. okay then.

needing no more committment than a door key--but it is rather easy to understand why women in these irregular situations would choose to render themselves chemically sterile

use birth control? chemical sterilization is an actual medical procedure, it is not the same as using birth control. words: they have meanings.

or have themselves (or their partners) surgically spayed or neutered, so to speak.

dogs! people who choose to control their fertility are like dumb animals! i say this with love.

Bringing children into a tenuous relationship with a built-in "expiration date" would be beyond foolish. But it is much harder to understand why a married couple who is both physically capable of having children and not yet too elderly to do so would chose childlessness.

Because we don't want children. It's not rocket science, red. I'm not you. Got it yet? Oh, and "chose" is past tense, you're looking for "choose".

The Catholic mindset views children as blessings from God, desirable for their own sake and because they are at all times the living symbols of their parents' love. So deep is the connection between marriage and childbearing that I have seen several Catholic priests say or write that for a Catholic couple to attempt to marry in spite of a publicly expressed intention never to have children at all invalidates the marriage; that is, upon examination if the publicly expressed intention is revealed their marriage will be held to be invalid. Now, what constitutes a publicly expressed intention, etc. will vary, so it would be imprudent for casual observers to pronounce on the validity of a marriage; but in general, a Catholic couple may not enter a valid Catholic marriage having expressed a desire to remain childless by choice

Ah, the Catholic Church. I'm not feeling very creative, so go ahead and insert your own snarky comment about an endless supply of boys and girls for the predators behind the pulpit. Guess what? I'm not Catholic. Guess what else? Neither you nor the Catholic Church gets to determine the validity of my marriage. That's not your job. I don't need your approval or the Pope's approval to live my life.

But what about those who are not Catholic or not particularly religious, who want marriage (e.g., they aren't satisfied with merely shacking up), yet who insist they don't want children? Are they merely selfish, or are there other factors at work?

Selfish? What fucking business is it of yours whether or not i want children and what my reasons are? Really? Why is that your business? Let me put it to you this way: I don't want children. Why on earth would you think it would be a good idea to expose innocent children to being raised by someone who doesn't want them? It would be selfish of me to have children and then not raise them properly. Knowing that I do not want children and not having children is the right thing to do, for everyone involved, theoretical or otherwise.

I spent some time this afternoon reading what childless couples and those who have studied them have to say about their reasons to avoid having children. Though there are many reasons, I noticed that one word cropped up again and again: fear. Take the following, for instance:

nice of you to link to these studies and writings. or, you know, not. we wouldn't want anyone drawing their own conclusions, would we? besides, look at how reasonable these "fears" are:

--fear that having children would mean giving up some of their privacy as a couple;

--fear that children will take up too much of their time;

--fear that children will cost them too much of their money;

--fear that their careers would suffer from the demands that children and child-rearing would put upon them;

--fear of change;

--fear that things like freedom, social lives, the ability to travel or be spontaneous, etc. would disappear;

--fear of certain specific aspects of child-rearing (diaper-changing gets mentioned a lot, as if childless couples think there is something so disgusting and horrific about changing an infant's diaper that they would much rather not reproduce than ever have to experience this act);

--and, saddest and most telling of all, the fear that having a child would so negatively impact their relationship with their husband or wife that the marriage would fall apart.

you know what, red? I would say that these people know themselves and their relationships best. They know what will harm them and their relationship and they have a right to protect themselves from that. I can tell you that one of the things about child rearing that turns me off the most (and I have done it. i raised a relative's child for a number of years) is having somebody on me 24 hours a day. I can't stand it. I can't be "on" all the damn time. Left to my own devices, I can go days without speaking. I have an inherent need to not interact, which is not a choice with children.

Now, you could say that this is a flaw on my part, that I am a terrible person because of this, but that's not really the point, is it? I know what I can stand and raising a child just isn't in it. It would be terribly unfair of me to say, "fear is the mind killer- I'm having babies I totally won't be able to stand. Who are eventually going to figure it out and will think there is something wrong with them because mommy is losing her frigging mind trying to interact all the time."

Fear, like pain, is not a bad thing, in and of itself. Pain is the body's way of saying "stop that! you're getting damaged!" Fear is much the same: don't do that, you could get damaged. All fear is not unreasonable. What is a bad thing is assuming that competent adults are not capable of analyzing themselves and their situations and coming to reasonable conclusions.

Red, I trust you to reach a reasonable conclusion about your own life. Trust me to reach a reasonable conclusion about my own.

8 comments:

  1. *Sigh* And this is precisely the same reason why mankind will overpopulate itself to death the same way mindless bacteria will do in a fixed environment :(

    I've never quite understood this 'you MUST breed regardless of the consequences' mindset...

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  2. Really, why *would* anybody be afraid to have kids?

    --fear that having children would mean giving up some of their privacy as a couple;

    It *does* mean giving up your privacy as a couple. I used to have time alone with my wife; now "alone" means that the four-year-old is with his grandparents and the baby is sleeping (we hope!) in the next room. That ain't so easy to arrange.

    Also, nothing spoils the mood like a four year old voice in doorway: "Daddy, why are you hurting Mommy?"

    --fear that children will take up too much of their time;

    No, really? Children take up your time? I long for the time when I used to be able to go to Kung Fu, or sit down and write stories. Once upon a time, I had actual hobbies. These days... well, last night my son came and found me in the back bathroom, because he wanted help with Lego Star Wars: The Video Game; apparently my defecation was taking too long.

    --fear that children will cost them too much of their money;

    Hey, I have a good job and we're not exactly living in poverty, here... but any concept of "disposable income" ended the day Firstborn arrived. Kids are expensive, and if you happen to have any sort of medical complications, they can be *very* expensive.

    --fear that their careers would suffer from the demands that children and child-rearing would put upon them;

    We're lucky. I have a job that offers plenty of sick time and vacation time, and my wife can work part time as well. You know why we can still do that? Because we have two sets of grandparents who are willing to help out. if something happens - to any of them - then my wife has to quit her job. Think not working for a couple of years would affect her career, maybe, a little bit? Yeah, me too.

    --fear of change;

    Pretty nebulous, but perfectly valid: having children is a huge change.

    --fear that things like freedom, social lives, the ability to travel or be spontaneous, etc. would disappear;

    Well, that's probably because they *do* disappear. My god*, it took us an hour and a half to get out the door for a "spontaneous" Saturday afternoon activity last weekend. Social life? Only if it happens well before bedtime!

    (continued below)

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  3. Continuing:

    --fear of certain specific aspects of child-rearing (diaper-changing gets mentioned a lot, as if childless couples think there is something so disgusting and horrific about changing an infant's diaper that they would much rather not reproduce than ever have to experience this act);

    Well, to be fair, it can be pretty horrific. And having found myself standing in Central Market with baby poop all over my shirt and nary a change of clothes in sight, because Firstborn had a poosplosion while riding on my shoulders, I can see how someone might be, y'know, concerned.

    --and, saddest and most telling of all, the fear that having a child would so negatively impact their relationship with their husband or wife that the marriage would fall apart.

    Again, this is something that *actually happens*. This is not some weird, phantom fear that keeps otherwise-sane people from having children. Kids take a lot of work; they put a lot of strain on a marriage; and they take away a lot of the time that might otherwise be used for bonding.

    I'm another one of those people who requires time alone in order to remain functional. I can get that time after Firstborn has gone to sleep - if all goes well, and he *does* sleep; if my wife doesn't have some compelling emotional issue that she needs to share with me; if some other minor crisis doesn't interfere. Generally, I get my downtime at the expense of my sleep, which is not an ideal exchange.

    So you know what's "most telling"? The fact that Red thinks these fears are baseless and silly.

    Don't get me wrong, I love having kids. Everything I've just described here? They're totally worth all that. But don't try to piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

    * Proteus, as it turns out.

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  4. Red’s post is rather dumb, but if I may play the Devil’s Advocate for one tiny part:

    « And that's another thing: "childless"? We will now be defining people solely by what they don't have? »

    The bit you’re referring to didn’t strike me like Red was actually defining childless couples merely by their childlessness, but was just naming it as one attribute amongst others. Unless Red specifically starts to use the term over and over again in a clear characterization of certain couples, then I don’t think it’s his/her intention.

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  5. My Mom, whose love I never doubted, used to say, "A child is a 24-hour need machine."

    (My folks raised 7 of us. I raised twins, and I don't know how my parents remained sane, or found the time to conceive #2 through #7.)

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  6. and, you know, up until the day Elderly people, or people who can't get pregnant, are NOT allowed to get married, this person needs to STFU.
    seriously.

    the RCC is AGAINST IVF and other "artificial" means of pregnancy for couples who can't conceive. CAN'T.

    it's the "can never win" BS that *really* pisses me off, sigh

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  7. I have 3 kids, 2 of which are adopted because some idiot woman had them and shouldn't have. If you think birth children are time and money suckers, try foster system kids!! But enough about kids.....Who wants FREE PUPPIES???

    ReplyDelete

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