I think it’s perfectly fine not to have children if you don’t feel like it. No other reason or justification is needed. If you don’t feel like having them, then don’t. It makes you an honest, strong-minded person who doesn’t bow to societal pressures and just does whatever s/he feels like. Perfect!
What I find very disturbing, though, is when people fashion some kind of an identity out of something they say they have no interest in doing. To give an example, I’m a blogger. That’s a huge part of my identity because I spend a lot of time blogging. I don’t garden, however. It would be kind of freaky for me to create an identity for myself based on not gardening and to write endless passionate posts and articles about how gardening sucks and all people who garden are deluded.
The child-free folks, though (not to be confused with those who are simply childless, like myself), spend a lot of time and energy decrying the horrors of an activity they say they don’t want to participate in and making wild and unflattering generalizations about those who do want to participate in it. Here is the most recent example I encountered:
I think when most women imagine having a baby, they romanticize it, thinking of their perfect, adorable Kodak moments. I do not. . . To me, having a baby means misery, poverty, missed opportunities, burden, servitude, restriction, and a ruined life. My view might not be common, or if it is, it’s not much talked about, but I know that I am not alone.
Anybody is completely entitled to envision having children as “misery, poverty, etc.” What I find hard to comprehend, though, is why this belief has to be accompanied by a ridiculous generalization about the stupidity of “most women” who only think of Kodak moments and can’t even imagine what the reality of having children means. Why such intense disrespect for so many women? (Men are not mentioned at all here. Probably this blogger believes that women reproduce through parthenogenesis.) Why not choose, instead, to give people who want kids (as well as people who don’t) the benefit of the doubt and proceed from the assumption that they know what they are doing?
Whenever I talk to a child-free person, I always notice that they talk about babies a lot more than even the most obsessed parents. (Also, baby poop tends to feature prominently in those conversations, which makes a lot of sense psychoanalytically.) They go on and on about how all of those people who have children are completely insane and how their lives must be totally and hopelessly ruined. After a while of listening to this “parenthood is such a nightmare” whining, I begin to think that this seemingly ideological child-free position is nothing but a huge case of sour grapes.
People who are completely sure of an important life decision they made will never spend a moment defending it. Because whenever you feel the need to defend it, it’s not “society” you are talking to. It’s that nasty little voice in your head telling you that probably your decision was a mistake.