Thursday, July 09, 2009

Yes, I Admit it, I'm Selfish
This commentary piece from CNN asks why do people think it's selfish for a woman to decide not to have kids. Gee, I didn't know it was selfish but I suppose it is, in a way. I am selfish enough not to want to deal with kids. I don't want to pay for college educations and braces. I already can't sleep at night, throw in middle of the night feedings and I'm doomed. But my decision stems mostly from an acknowledgement that I'd make a terrible mother. I have no maternal instincts. Never have had. Didn't want to play with baby dolls as a kid. Never plays mommy. Never pushed my teddy bears in a carriage. I just don't have the gene, the patience, the financial security, or the desire to be a parent. Bravo to people who do, but it's not for me.

But why, exactly, does that matter to anyone except Husband? And why do people think you're selfish for deciding not to have kids. Are we in danger of running out?

I have problems with this article. First off the author says "what's wrong with being selfish?" Well nothing. But then she lists the most shallow and stupid of pursuits. Apparently we selfish, childless-by-choice women are that way because we would rather go on a shoe binge at Nordstrom. Actually, at the risk of sounding too noble, my favorite way to spend money (and I think Husband would back me up on this) is giving it to causes I believe in. Oh yes, and we want to go to parties and clubs. Strange, but I'd rather volunteer my time.

But what really gets me are the comments on this piece. Here's one:
I don't have a problem with your being selfish and not and any other women not interested in having kids will automatically remove themselves from the gene pool and only the less selfish women will reproduce and be left.

Here's another:
If you choose to not have children you ARE being selfish. Now that that is settled maybe you can talk about why it's OK to be selfish. And the correct answer to anyone who understands our social contract society is that selfishness is generally a bad thing for society. So if you are reasonably intelligent, emotionally mature, and make a reasonable amount of money, and choose selfish desires over having children, you are doing society a dis-service.

So rather than have a bunch of opinionated idiots deem me "selfish" I should have kids I don't want? For what purpose? The species is hardly in danger of dying out. In fact, we're highly overpopulated. So why do you need my contribution? And what gives mothers the monopoly on selflessness? I'm no Mother Teresa, but I do think I have a good social conscience and try to do my bit to make the world better. And yet I'm selfish because I don't focus all my time and attention on one child?

Personally I think way too many people reproduce who shouldn't. They have kids for the wrong reasons and then don't raise them well. So why would people who claim to love kids want children to be born to someone who doesn't want them and who knows they would be bad at it?

The one comment I did like came from someone who said that if you want to be really selfless, you need to adopt. Good point.

1 comment:

FinnyKnits said...

I'm afraid to even open my mouth on this topic because I'm not sure I can stop once I get started, but here goes...

I do not believe that selfishness is truly the issue here. Because, if it were, we'd consider women who decide TO have kids because that's what they understand to be what they're SUPPOSED TO DO, despite what they WANT TO DO, to be selfish - for going against their better instincts to fit in with "society".

It might, however, be even more accurate to say that these women, who have kids from peer pressure rather than from innate desire, are actually more weak and impressionable than selfish, but hey, if we're attributing random characteristics to people then why not make all the accusations essentially irresponsible judgments of strangers. Right?

Also, this "removing yourself from the gene pool" topic is interesting to me. My thought is, that if people were truly concerned about the health and diversity of our gene pool, then they'd encourage women who don't want kids to not have them, so that we don't end up with a school of young ones raised by regretful and potentially uncaring mothers.

Not that genes would be the only indicator of the outcome of their upbringing, as there is always the "nurture" side of the coin that plays a strong role in determining how these essentially unwanted children turn out.

Lastly, and I'll force myself to stop here, why would one woman make another woman feel bad about a big choice like this? One with such enormous impacts on multiple lives? We don't go around making women who don't own dogs, work full-time, own homes or travel to far away lands to reconstruct war-torn communities feel SELFISH or weak or evil because they choose to spend their adult lives instead raising children, now do we?

No. We give mothers a pass. Even mothers who had kids just because they were afraid of getting old and not having anyone there to take care of them.


Because it's a decision that carries with it compromises, a promise of lifelong dedication, financial hardship and many other responsibilities of which those who choose not to have children are well aware.

It's only because all women aren't constantly asked, as they get married or near their 30s, "How come you're not going to Darfur to help the refugees? What are you SELFISH?", that we don't consider other life choices to be as considerable as child rearing.

There's also the subject pertaining to, "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD."

But I'll stop there.

Thank you for your time.