A Maclean's article boasts the tagline, "They can hurt your career, your marriage, your social life, your bank book. Why bother?" I'm getting really sick of this infantile "anti-kids" movement. It makes anyone who doesn't want children look bad!
We've read Liz Jones' opus against the stomach-softening joys of childbearing. But she's not alone. Last month, Polly Vernon wrote a similar screed in The Guardian, in which she confessed to being "appalled by the idea, both instinctually (‘Euuuw! You think I should do what to my body?') and intellectually (‘And also to my career, my finances, my lifestyle and my independence?')." Meanwhile, No Kidding!, a non-parents club, has more than 40 chapters in five countries. French psychotherapist Corinne Maier has penned No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children. The book, which will be published in English this week, is, ahem, controversial. Can't imagine why, when the mother of two includes bromides like, "if you really want to be host to a parasite, get a gigolo."
Is this still shocking? Bold? Or is it merely... infantile, and a bit misogynistic? Yes, the cult of motherhood is annoying, and no one should, in this day and age, be considered less of a woman for having children. But biting back in the same key is hardly the way to exact revenge or encourage respect for different choices. Are people going to be defensive when you call pregnancy and childbirth parasitic, disgusting, germ-ridden? Um, yes. I don't have children, but I can see how goes beyond irreverence into insulting something fundamental. I can't comprehend the bond, physical and emotional, that a mother feels for her children - which is why I wouldn't presume to demean it, any more than I'd insult someone who'd chosen not to have children for any reason. You shouldn't need to, but you can justify your desire not to reproduce on any number of environmental and personal grounds - more than 40, I should think. But when the arguments become emotional or degenerate into contempt, it's as futile and destructive as promoting a retrograde earth-mother cult of maternity. Bottom line: not wanting kids does not make someone more interesting or a better woman than wanting them.
This whole thing reminds me of the "I hate my kids! I hated my kids! I hate girls! I hate boys! I'm a bad dad! I'm a worse mom!" movement, which seems to confuse these sorts of self-indulgent exposes with barrier-breaking courage. Indeed, Maier does the double-whammy!
She admits there are times she regretted having her own children, now aged 14 and 11, a declaration that has predictably branded her a "bad mother" whose children are destined for a lifetime of therapy. (Yet she's only saying what many mothers silently think but aren't allowed to say. In 1975, Ann Landers famously asked readers: "If you had it to do over again, would you have children?" Seventy per cent of respondents said "no.") Maier reports that when she had her children she was madly in love, a hostage to her hormones. She too bought into the modern parenting mythology that children could be psychic curatives. Raised as an only child, she believed children would end her feelings of loneliness. Instead, she says, their arrival created new forms of loneliness.
Yes. Having kids is hard. It's not all roses and pregnant-belly sculptures (thank dog.) Some people don't want them. Other people do. I don't understand the point of this provocation - okay, I do, but not from the, I don't know, Socratic point of view. Is this line of thought actually going to make people who want kids stop reproducing? No. It might give those who don't want children more ammunition, but rather than upping the ante, I would so much rather see this girl-on-girl debate die a mature death. Not everyone loves the doctrine of "choose your choices," which can feel lax and laissez-faire. But if there's one case that calls for it, I think we've found it. (And why do I get the feeling that in those nations where there's no access to birth control - or women are compelled to abort their children - the mother's moral superiority is less of a topic of debate?) The Maclean's article concludes with one woman, who's happily childless, saying the following: "Why did we fight so hard for the right to make this choice, only to have it not respected when we do?" Oh, the irony.
The Case Against Having Kids [Macleans]