In a world that loves a good black and white values debate, anything can be thrown into the media ring. Marriage, health care, guns, diet, and even babies. We love talking about what people should and should not do with their bodies, especially women. After years of an assumed procreative imperative many people have been voicing their opposition to imposed parenthood.
Surprised? Don’t be. Here are a couple of factors influencing this anti-family/pro-population-control/whatever-you-want-to-call-it movement:
1) Children are consumers, not producers: Once upon a time, each child you had was a potential worker on your farm. Now, each child you have is a guaranteed stress on your finances. We live in a culture of consumption, and producing enough to support yourself and another massive consumer can be very, very stressful.
2) Society of Individuals: Find yourself! Be yourself! Celebrate whatever awesome self dwells naturally inside of you! You you you! Once you have a baby this period of “me” is over. Babies, toddlers and children require levels of attention that detract from finding inner self-ness.
3) Cult of Couplehood: Another way of referring to the nuclear family. Boy meets girl, they become man and wife, have baby, move to suburbs and maintain their home. This can be isolating, working day in and day out with your spouse to maintain a household and children. You know that quote “It takes a village to raise a child”? This practice shuts out the village.
Here is, as I see it, the bigger issue: We do need babies, just not so many. We also need quality over quantity. This means more conscientious parenting and better social networks available for parents. In order to do this, we need some people consciously choosing not to have children and those having children really thinking it over.
This is not so easy in a world of baby-bump rumors and new-mommy adoration. A case-worker once told me that her 14-year-old client had a baby because she thought it would be like a doll. Some women in their 20s have also adopted the baby-as-life-accessory outlook. I think this is just as loathsome as people hating babies or parents because they themselves don’t want to reproduce.
Let’s not make this about being pro-baby or anti-baby. Let’s make this about being responsible populators. Really want to create a child? Do it! But be sure to have a solid network of people in place to help you. Your child will be that much stronger as an adult if more people invest their energy.
Really want to not have a baby? Don’t have one! But don’t be a jerk about it and sneer at other people, calling them stupid breeders and what-not. Help your friends that have children, even if you are only the cool aunt or uncle bringing by the occasional toy or providing playtime.
I propose not a child-free movement, but an “Auntie-Uncle” movement.