Monday, September 19, 2011

Childfree, Indefensible Apparently

If you read here with any regularity, or take a look at my archives, you'll find that I don't often discuss hot button issues, like religion, politics, or my status as childfree. I am what I am, and being childfree is a part of that, but I don't like to discuss it here because it's not something I feel like I need to defend, especially as this isn't really a "childfree blog." If it were, I would be all over it, and I do enjoy some childfree blogs. Today, however, I'm going to talk about it because I'm feeling a little bit annoyed, and a little bit uneasy, and that breeds ranting.

So yeah, I was reading this article, which basically says that parenting is the ultimate form of cognitive dissonance. He says that parents create the myth of joy to compensate for any potential unhappiness with their irreversible status as parents, and that a study shows that parents are generally less happy than their childless counterparts. Whether I believe it or not is irrelevant (I tend to generally believe it, by the way), it was the comments that really ticked me off.  Apparently, people are still, in the year 2011, saying that people without children are less a part of the human experience than those who have them. Which, I'm sorry, is just ridiculous.

Things like this...
Unless you experience it, it's just like explaining a sunrise to a blind person.

or, this...
You will never understand the full human experience and the meaning of love without a child of your own.

oh, or maybe this sarcastic sentiment...
non-Parent­s know everything about parenting - haven't you heard? ...Non-parent­s- they can tell you everything you're doing wrong and how you could be doing better.

Honestly, I don't know why I read these things. All they do is upset me, and there's no shortage of people saying that those of us who're childfree are less human, or lacking something essential to being complete. Okay, so I don't know what it means to be a mother, but I have a mother and was once a kid. From that vantage point, everyone is at least a little bit qualified to speak to what it means, seeing how they themselves were once--or perhaps still are--a part of the parent/child dynamic. Not from the parent perspective, but as half of the relationship, nonetheless.

Truly though, lately I've had trouble feeling like some of the people in my life understand me and this choice. Which leads me to think that if we have trouble with the people in our own lives understanding us, how the hell can we expect perfect strangers, who may or may not know someone who's childfree, to understand us?

And heaven forbid we should try to defend ourselves and our choices, not that we should have to. It's as if those with children--many, not all--don't want to even try to understand us. Or, are so eager to defend their decisions that they can't possibly see that others might make a different one. I have my convictions, they'll never change, I'll never turn up wanting to have a baby, that's simply not something I'm about to abandon. Likewise, I'm not going to turn up suddenly liking babies or enjoying being around them. It's not who I am. That doesn't make me less human, or less of a person, it means I'm able to understand myself and who I am, on a fundamental level. Very few people can say the same. There's something to be said for that.