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Leave The Childless Alone!
by Francesca Biller-Safran
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Award-winning Investigative Journalist and Columnist with experience reporting breaking news, longer features and op-eds about race, politics, business, socioeconomics, arts and culture, ethics and parenting issues for newspapers, magazines, radio and websites. Awards include The Edward R. Murrow Award, two Society of Professional First Place Journalism Mark of Excellence Awards and two Golden Mike Awards for Excellence in Hard News and Best Series Reporting.

Not all women are fit to be mothers and not all men are fit to be fathers; and I am sure you will agree this is one of the more politically incorrect statements that you will ever read.

Wrestling with this concept as both a woman and mother, I have always been fascinated and dismayed when women in particular have confided they were just not interested in having kids and this confession is usually whispered.Why in the world would anyone not volunteer to never get any sleep, listen to whining, or chase after kids around the house? And I’m referring to teenagers.

I have to remember that I have made this decision, not Jane or Mark across the street and perhaps they might have a little more insight than I do as to whether parenting is a job they can handle or even want to take on.Comedian Rita Rudner once said, “My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We just can’t decide whether to ruin the carpet or ruin our lives.”

While it’s true that having kids does ruin your carpet, it doesn’t quite ruin your life, it only changes it so dramatically that you don’t have time to notice what shape your carpet is in.In Western Society and largely throughout the world, one is presumed to be cold, selfish, immoral and even mentally lacking in some way if they decide they don’t wish to have any children at all, ever.

We wonder what could possibly be wrong, as we imagine a multitude of strange skeletons hiding in their closets- perhaps even rudely theorizing if they too have yet to come out of one. Whispers, rumors and opinions are formed as to why this uncle, aunt or childless couple continues in their unwavering stance of simply not wanting kids. We torture them with endless pictures of our own babies, tell them it’s never too late and warn them how much they might regret the decision. Yet, they continue to tell us they just aren’t interested.

We tend not to believe them. We think they’re lying, have suffered some horrendous abuse as a child and ultimately, we make it our life’s mission work to save them from what we think must be an empty, pathetic life. What if they do know what they are doing? It is clear that few of us have actually considered this possibility, let alone wanting grandparents who can’t wait to spoil their grandchildren and then laughingly hand them back.

What if these childless people are truly brave in taking on this completely unpopular stance, the very notion that perhaps not all of us on this earth might want to go forth and multiply. We have all come across parents with no business having children and the children who suffer as a result. We have all seen horrific stories of mothers and fathers who couldn’t handle parenthood. This is not to say that all unwilling parents become evil or dangerous, but it does inevitably follow in some cases.

Having three daughters ranging in ages between six and nineteen, it is nearly impossible for me to imagine being childless. I can barely remember a time when someone wasn’t pulling at my apron strings asking for my attention, service and complete dismissal of everything else in my life...and that’s just my husband. I asked for it with all honesty, and therein resides my ability to be happy despite the hardships. As a little girl, I fed baby dolls with fake bottles and even hand-sewed clothes for them. I adored my own mother and pretended that my poor little sister was my baby. Sorry sis.

What about all the girls and boys who have always known in their hearts they did not want children as much as I have always known that I did? Two beautiful and successful female members of my family have made this decision. I do not know exactly why, but I suspect it is because they are simply enjoying the heck out of their lives just the way they are and don’t want to rock the cradle.

Their decision not to bring children into the world should be respected, lauded and applauded for their self-awareness to make an unpopular choice. As they surely face disapproval on all fronts.
As a modern society, the very idea of choosing to stay childless is perhaps the last taboo allowed to be fiercely judged and frowned upon.
As responsible citizens we are expected to obtain a law degree before practicing law and medical school before giving doctorly advice. Even driving is allowed only if one gets a permit and then a driver’s license and insurance.

Yet, getting pregnant is a decision often decided upon as a result of guilt, pressure and taken as a happy event in nearly every situation. Whether the prospective parents are happy or despise the idea. Just for kicks, the next time someone mature or even immature tells you they never want kids; listen with an easier and less prejudiced mind. They might just be on to something, or you might just be jealous that they are once again bragging about their next trip to Hawaii without kids.

Watch yourself. Envy and ignorance are too vices that should be avoided at all costs, even if it means we might never become aunts, uncles or grandparents.

There are many human causes more worthy of fighting for; one of them being to love our own children instead of worrying about anyone else who might not want any of their own.

Published: Sep 15,2008 21:40
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