I don’t normally feel the need to do such things as responses to things I see online, but I feel compelled to this time. There’s an article on DadCamp which needs a response.
I am childfree. If people didn’t already know, I’m very childfree. I have been childfree since I was a child myself. Even at the age of seven I didn’t like the company of children and that included at school. As an adult I’m not particularly keen on children however I am acutely aware that they are a part of life, so I accept that I will see them in places.
What the author of the DadCamp article misses is that there are some places kids shouldn’t or don’t need to be. Near schools? Of course they should be. I live a quarter of a mile from a school…but there are hardly any kids living in this area. If I go out to certain things at a weekend, I expect kids to be there. If I go to a local park or common, I know there will be kids there.
However, there are just as many places where kids shouldn’t be. In Britain, to and from the main rail termini in London you cannot take bikes between the hours of 07:00 and 10:00 and then between 16:00 and 19:00. The reason is an issue of not just comfort but also space. A bike takes up the space that around three or four people would and they also end up blocking the doors, which is simply dangerous. I commute every day and I’m proud of it. I get narked if I see a bike on a train. I also get narked if someone brings a toddler onto a commuter service between those times and then allows them to run around while the train is moving. A lot of these commuter services run fast between stations. This means they don’t stop for 20 miles and are running at 70+mph through junctions and over rough sets of points. I’ve seen parents let their kids run through the aisles and hang from railings during these journeys. One day, one of these kids is going to be seriously injured or killed. Who will be responsible? Undoubtedly, there will be a lawsuit where the parents seek the train company to take responsibility and pay compensation. This would not, at any point, be the fault of the train company.
Just yesterday I saw a parent with a child on a commuter service in first class. The kid repeatedly kicked and hit a man in the legs. That man had waited half the journey to sit down on the seat which the child didn’t need to occupy. That man had a walking stick, and was only in his 30s. When they all got off, the kid pushed the man out of the way to get through the doors before him…as did that child’s mother.
The author of the DadCamp article seems to believe that the childfree as a whole are irresponsible. I cannot agree with this. The childfree have made a measured decision. We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both sides and decided which one is best for us. That is not irresponsible.
Upon asking people why they had children their answer ranged between “Because everyone does.” “Because it’s normal.” “It’s just what people do.” “There aren’t any other options.” And finally, “Because I want to”. Those are the kind of reasons that border on irresponsible.
When I was a child, along with most people, I was told that “I want, doesn’t get.” I want three foreign holidays per year and a Maserati. I can’t afford that. If I get to a point in my life and career where I can afford that, then great. What I will be able to do is look back and realise that I’ve spent the past 40 years earning that.
This is an issue that the author of the DadCamp article doesn’t seem to understand. Those of us who are childfree have, effectively, earned everything that we have. We’ve worked hard. We’ve picked up slack from people who do have kids. We’ve been sensible and responsible with our actions and our money. But wait! If you have a kid, suddenly you’re entitled. You haven’t earned it, but you’re entitled anyway.
When someone has a kid, all they have done is one of the most basic functions of the human body. They had sex. Well done. Billions have done it before, and billions will do in the future. It’s not special and it’s not amazing. It is, quite literally, a basic bodily function. Suddenly, nine months later when they have this kid, they’re entitled to everything. Everyone showers them with respect – why? I am a great believer that people earn respect and are not entitled to it. Suddenly they have become the most amazing people on earth and they are entitled to everything you could possibly imagine. They get benefits from the government, time off work which is fully paid, free schooling, free health and dental care. Parents are, there is no denying, entitled.
The childfree? We’re not entitled to anything. We put more into the tax system and take less out than parents do. We are entitled to nothing but pay for most of what parents are entitled to. When women are pregnant, they get free dental care. I have paid taxes for the past decade and cannot obtain free dental care despite the fact that I can’t afford to pay for it and require a fair amount of medical dentistry. I openly admit that as a childfree person it annoys me I am funding a lifestyle of people who did this because, selfishly, they wanted it.
What the author of the DadCamp article deliberately puts across is that we’re all irresponsible and selfish because we made a different life choice to him. Usually you see that kind of reaction through jealousy. He has no right to say that we don’t understand what it’s like to be a parent because he doesn’t understand what it’s like to make a different choice to the one that he has. He has about as much right to judge my character as a “selfish and irresponsible” person as I do how well he brings up his kids.