Saturday, April 9, 2011

In Defense of Non-Parenthood

I've read several articles recently discussing the backlash against parenting by...parents. Huh?

Apparently, parenthood sucks. Recent studies show that parents have higher rates of depression and are emotionally and economically drained. It's too much sacrifice, not enough reward. Some parents think it's supposed to be all cuddles and warm fuzzies and then feel like they've been lied to when it's more like crying and warm snot bubbles.

Some of us are okay with that. Some of us still believe that, despite the studies, the rewards of parenting are worth the struggles. Before I had kids, I didn't 'know' how hard it would be, any more than I knew how awesome it would be. I weighed the assumed risks with the perceived reward and said "OK, I'd like to do that." If I had decided it wasn't something I'd like to do, that would have been okay, too.


Or maybe not. There is a societal ideal that people get married and then have kids. If you don't have kids, there must be something wrong. A biological reason to not conceive, and economic reason to not adopt, but a reason. No one ever assumes that maybe you just don't want to have kids.

Maybe you made the list of pros and cons and decided it wasn't a good trade. Maybe kids don't fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you look at the problem of overpopulation and figure the Duggar family has your 1.89 kids (and then some) covered. Maybe you decided you wouldn't be a very good parent. Maybe life just didn't present the right opportunity at the right time, and it just didn't work out.

Good for you, and good for your non-kids. There are plenty of people who don't take into consideration whether or not they'd be good parents (going beyond the ability to physically and fiscally care for a child). Can I love and support my child? Can I be emotionally and physically available to them on a regular basis? Am I pretty sure that when they go through stages when they're complete a-holes, I will suck it up and keep smiling and tell them I love them, even when on the inside I want to punch them?

Can I say "Who's there?" four hundred times in response to the dumbest knock knock jokes EVER, told when I'm trying to write a very important blog post? 

Just as people should keep their opinions on how I'm raising my kids to themselves, we should stop asking our childless friends "Soooo, when are you guys going to have kids?" It's rude, and presumptuous, and none of our business.

Parenthood is a constant source of joy and pain. It's a lifetime commitment, one to which it's perfectly okay to say "no, thanks".


  1. Brilliant, thank you for linking me! =D

  2. I found you through Jodee's Cheeseblarg! I just want to say thank you for standing up for us childless couples out there. I'm getting married in October and I swear, if one more person asks me "When do you plan to start having kids?" I might have to punch somebody. :o)

  3. Childless people make the best aunts and uncles, too. ;) I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for visiting.