Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review and Ad that Shows Parenthood Sucks

I was reading an article by childfree psychologist Ellen Walker yesterday, Are There Disadvantages to Being Childfree?

I've read some of her other articles and liked them, but I did not care for this one at all. She lists 5 possible disadvantages to being childfree:

  • Being a misfit among ones peers
  • Increased need for social support
  • Needing to plan one's estate more carefully
  • Too much free time
  • Need to identify meaning in life

    ...and I disagree with them all. I'll review each one in brief detail, but first I want to share the inadvertent irony I noticed. It wasn't till after reading the article that I paid attention to the advertisement on the right hand side:

    Hmmm... if it's a disadvantage to not experience my daughter turning to drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate, sign me up! It's ads like these that reveal that parenting truly sucks.

    Back to Walker's list of disadvantages to being childfree:

    Being a misfit among ones peers. This just does not resonate with me at all. I care very little what other people think about my choices. It would be a waste of my life to worry about that. But if I did, I suppose I could make an effort to surround myself with peers who also do not have children, but I just don't care that much. If they treated me poorly that would be different, but as a rule I am not friends with people who are judgmental snobs, parents or not. Like Walker, I usually have very little in common with stay at home mothers, and struggle to even make interesting conversation. I usually find them to be very boring, uninspiring people. But feeling like a misfit? Hell no. Different, sure. It's different in a good way, though; I have more time, money, sleep, energy, and creativity than my parented peers. My life is so much better that theirs (in my opinion), and I enjoy the choice I made.

    Increased need for social support. She has a point here, but I see no social support that cannot be gotten from friends or paid assistants. In fact, I think it's really wrong to expect my children to be built-in helpers when I am sick, injured or old. Children aren't a guaranteed safety net. I think that due to the fact that I will have more time, money and energy to take care of myself, in general I will need less social support anyway. And I would never trade my life for parenting as insurance for bad days.

    Needing to plan one's estate more carefully. Ehhhh...not so much. I don't need to plan it more carefully, I just need to plan it differently. Instead of giving my assets to my children, they will be left to my spouse, nieces and nephews, friends or charity. I'll have thousands more to leave them. This is really a non-issue.

    Too much free time. What?! This makes no sense! How is that a disadvantage? My free time is spent working, getting enough sleep, traveling, learning, reading and enjoying life. I could never possibly run out of things to do. Walker even says,
    When interviewing adults without kids for my book, I expected to find that people were bored with too much time on their hands, but this was simply not the case. These childfree adults were busy with hobbies, careers, and personal relationships, plus they had more time for healthy meal preparation, exercise, and sleep.

    Bored? No way! I have no patience for people who are bored, whether they have kids or not. If you're bored, it means you have no imagination, no desire to learn and explore, and you need to change your life. If you're bored, you are letting yourself be a victim and I have no respect for that way of life. If you're bored, get off your ass and do something, learn something, make something happen.

    Need to identify meaning in life. Oh, please. Walker is right in the sense that we all need to understand who we want to be as people and to know what we want from life. But I take offense at the suggestion that if you're not a parent, you have to work really hard to fill in the gaps and find a way to define yourself. For the childfree, there is nothing missing and there are no gaps. We make our own meaning in life, and obviously we place a higher value on titles other than Mother and Father!

    *sigh* I was disappointed by this article. I agree that there are differences and consequences to choosing to be childfree, but this article makes me have the sense that Walker feels like some things are missing from her life. All of her disadvantages I see as either positives, or neutrals with better alternatives out there.

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