Here's what I do find interesting: why people have kids. How society brainwashes people into having kids. How, despite all the negative ramifications of childrearing on peoples' lives, most people still fall for this brainwashing scam hook, line and sinker. How - with bloodshot, black-rimmed eyes (averting our gaze, as Wanda Sykes points out), a drained bank account, stress levels through the roof, a marriage reduced to a shell of its former self, few remaining hobbies, interests, quality relationships, or career, parents can keep a straight face while chanting the mantra "it's so worth it". How millions upon millions of people can look around them and objectively observe the lives of people with kids and still want that lifestyle. How our consumerist society lures people into parenthood with images and messages that go beyond reasonableness in making parenthood not just appealing - but uber-glamorous and sexy. How people can be hoodwinked into a scam that leads them to believe that by giving up 90% of their life for 20 or more years, their life will become more fulfilled, more happy and enriched. How it never occurs to people that having kids is a choice and one can choose to just say no.
THIS is what fascinates me and this is where I would like to see more discussion and energy focused on the subject of childfreedom.
For once, I would like to be asked (instead of "what are your reasons?") "How has being a childfree person benefitted your life?", "What about the parental lifestyle are you happy to avoid?", "What observations have you made about the lifestyles of people with kids?", "How does your marriage/relationship compare to your peers with children?", "Do you feel there are any false stereotypes promoted about the childfree?", "What messages do society and the media send to people about parenthood and childrearing?", "What losses and/or regrets have parents shared with you that are a result of their lifestyle?", "What advantages do you think you will have as you age into retirement?"
What got me thinking about this was the upcoming BBC radio show. I was looking at the BBCs page and thought their promo was a bit telling. Note the questions they put out to the childfree in preparation for the show:
"Are you child free by choice? How did you come to that decision? If you are now in your 50s and 60s, how do you look back to that decision? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have had your own children and grandchildren?"
(obviously trying to get at the regret issue)
To the parents they ask one simple question:
"Do you have one? What difference has it made to your life?"
(obviously implying a positive difference)
Notice they do not ask parents what their reasons were for having kids (of course, most people don't give it enough thought to have reasons, but in any case...) Notice they don't ask the parents if they are in their 50s or 60s, how they now look back on their decision to have kids. Notice they do not ask the parents if they ever wonder what it would have been like to live a childfree life into maturity. Notice that while they are interested in what difference children have made in a parents' life, they do not express and interest in knowing what difference being free of children has made in our lives.
With the media, always there is the undertone of:
parental choice = abundance, gain and gratitude for a life well lived.
childfree choice = lack, loss, uncertainty and regret.
I'm glad the BBC is going to do the show. I just hope that somehow they can steer it away from the same old, tired path.