Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Kid You Not

Another day, another revelation.

Instead of merely making a personal choice not to breed, there appears to be a cohesive Child-Free movement that seeks to justify the choice not to have kids...as if there was raging opposition to NOT HAVING KIDS, a concerted campaign that sought to force women to open their wombs.

I discovered this demimonde by following a Facebook conversation last week on Lilit Marcus's wall. Lilit is a young writer who has gone public about her decision not to have kids. She feels that having proclaimed herself Child-Free, she is up against a certain amount of prejudice, pressure or simply people who chuckle indulgently, convinced that she is making a premature proclamation and will change her mind in time. (She does appear to be pretty young, perhaps south of 30.)

Checking in throughout the day, I found myself fascinated/horrified by the hatred expressed by those who seem to be less of the Child-Free gang and more of the Anti-Kid society weighing in on Lilit's wall. Evidently, there is a hater branch of this movement consisting of people who actively dislike kids and the adults who have them. They hate the large strollers taking up sidewalk and bar space. They smirk at the smug dumbasses who breed.

Through private message, I shared my surprise with a FB friend of Lilit's whom I didn't personally know but whose incredulous comments I found gutsy. We agreed that something else might be going on for these people than a personal decision not to become parents; we compassionately opined that they might be among the walking wounded. This hunch was confirmed when I started Googling "child-free" and came upon websites hosted by people who seem less than liberated by their decision and more burdened by some heavy-duty emotional issues about becoming parents. Check out Happily Child-Free, which reads as anything but happy; indeed, there is overt hostility towards the act of parenting on that site. The most bizarre page is the one for people who are on the fence about having kids. It provides reasons why NOT to have kids.

Anyhoo...at the bottom of this post I've attached a really unenlightening clip from the Today show, on which Lilit appeared yesterday. Though she is articulate about her stated decision not to have kids, I will bet that more than one viewer might conclude that being Child-Free is not necessarily her final answer. This hunch is based not on the assumption that all women want to or must have children but Lilit's obvious youth. On the show, she says she would love to have a life-long partner, looks forward to marriage. I can't help it, but listening to Lilit -- who has a charming , child-like quality -- the ditty ran through my head, "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage."

Of course, choosing to be Child-Free is a legitimate life choice. I am hard pressed to think of anyone I know (including my parents!!!) who would contest that. Therefore, what struck me as rather silly is the ridiculous teaser question posed by the show, "Is it wrong for women not to have children?"

Shooting kids at a summer camp in Norway is wrong. Kidnapping, murdering and dismembering a kid is wrong.

Not having kids?

I fail to see the moral dimension of this personal decision. But I do think it is wrong to have on a Today show segment an expert who states that being a parent is not a way of being but a role that people can choose not to play.

Correction. Being a parent is not merely a role. That's completely missing the point. Becoming a parent means entering into a lifelong relationship -- one of the deepest, most intense, most passionate, magnificent and sometimes difficult relationships in the entire world.

But then again, there is no way to understand that from the outside looking in.

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