Why green parents should support the childfree

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a fairly outspoken childfree person. I like kids. I just prefer to come home to a cat. (See all my previous childfree posts here.)  I joined the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement as a precocious teenager and have never looked back. However, childfree posts don’t end up on this primarily green blog much for two reasons:

  1. The relationship between population and sustainability seems fairly obvious. Sure, there are other factors at play, including how we use resources, but not having children means that my considerable impact as a citizen of the developed world ends with me and is not multiplied over x number of generations. As it turns out, contraception is five times cheaper than low carbon technology.  Nothing too complex for my brain to chew on.
  2. It makes the green parents who read this blog defensive. I get this. If I were a parent, doing my damnedest to raise low impact kids, I would totally throw something at the smug childfree person who boasts about how she will always win the low impact contest. It’s not encouraging, it’s not achievable for parents to raise zero impact children, and I keep coming back to the idea that making people defensive is a terrible strategy for promoting your cause. (Read the comments on this post for a real life example.) With that in mind, I’m asking for your patience with this post. I will attempt to avoid smugness.

I found out about the childfree movement maybe a year ago. I was initially excited that there were other people like me who saw that their lives would be better without having children. Since then, however, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that being childfree is not in itself a good reason for me to like or respect you as a human being. I’ve come up against stridently anti-child childfree people. Childfree people who treat parents offensively. Snobby childfree people. And (possibly worst of all) whiny childfree people, as highlighted in a recent article on Grist about whether coming out as a childfree person is like coming out as being gay. (It’s not. Suck it up.)

While we may not be a particularly likable bunch, I’d like to appeal to green parents to support us anyway. I get that our reasons for caring about the planet may come from very different sources. I care deeply about biodiversity. I don’t want a world without orangutans, amur leopards, manatees, and all the wonderfully weird animals, plants, and habitats that are on this planet. You probably care more about your children’s security in the future — clean water, clean air, enough food, some natural beauty for them to enjoy. That’s fine. But please recognize that supporting people who make childfree decisions is one way to support a common goal of greater sustainability. And — five little words to sweeten up the deal for you: More. Resources. For. Your. Kids.

My goals as a childfree person are very moderate. I’d like to see increased worldwide access to cheap, effective contraception (particularly IUDs and voluntary sterilization — if there were cheap spay and neuter days for humans, I’d be the first in line). And I’d like to see more social support for the decision not to have kids. Are you a green parent? Here are a few ways you can support the childfree:

  • Advocate for continued/better access to contraception. If you haven’t noticed, Planned Parenthood isn’t doing so well these days. The Democratic Party has its issues, I’ll give you that, but it at least seems to place women’s reproductive rights over religious beliefs most of the time.  
  • Respect the childfree decisions of the people you encounter. Don’t try to talk them out of their decision or put social pressure on them to change their minds. Please don’t assume we’re pedophiles, psychologically damaged, sexually aberrant, or likely to grow out of it.
  • Don’t exclude us. I recently attended a green Twitter party and had absolutely nothing to say in a conversation that ended up being all about eco-friendly Easter baskets and other child-centered issues. Yes, green parenting brings up a lot of concerns that will not interest people without kids, but choosing more general interest topics for a discussion that isn’t specifically designated for green moms would reach out to a bigger sector of the green movement. Inclusiveness is good.
  • Consider sustainability in choosing how many children to have if you are planning your family or thinking about having more children. Oh…I know I’m going to get crap for this one. I don’t support coercive child policies like China’s. I’m not going to attempt to limit your reproductive rights. I see that one more child will not destroy the planet. But if you are concerned about the environment and your own impact on biodiversity, I’m asking that you weigh that concern in your decision.

Now it’s your turn. Green parents, what could the childfree do to earn your support? And if you’re already childfree, what are your thoughts on the relationship between green and childfree? 

55 responses to this post.

  1. Why would there be a problem with this? I’ve never heard of this being an issue before. Granted, I tend to lament about the overabundance of Green DIY Moms who are exclusively moms (can the blogger name “The Mom” be anything but? go find a life outside of your kitchen lady), but I’ve never heard about pressure on the other side of the boat.

    Perhaps it’s locational, perhaps it’s the type of people you’re around — I’m not an activist of any variety. And I don’t rock the boat or proselytize. I merely keep using my glass jars, building my storage, and garden/forage my food.

    I feel (as a currently childless, but intending kids someday person), that if you’re attempting to reduce consumption, and better the environment, you’re doing it right. Who gives a flying fox about whether or not you made the decision to overburden the earth with children or allow your line to perish?

    And as a final thought — are those that are Childfree childless because they wish not to bring life to this planet or merely because they don’t want kids at all? If it’s the former, fostercare and adoption are always useful and needed — and if they’re living life sustainably, perhaps they should think about ways to continue their learning.

    … is this too rambling?

    Reply

    • Hi Dea-chan! Thanks for stopping by. This post is mostly in response to the heated and rather acrimonious discussions that green parents and childfree greenies seem to get into. If you check out the comments on the Grist article, you’ll notice that the comments quickly degenerate into name calling (childfree are ‘death cultists,’ parents are ‘breeders’, etc.). It’s a pattern that seems to happen on a lot of posts that tackle population and climate change. Population is a heated topic, even amongst people who have similar overarching goals and concerns for the planet. IMHO, it’s time to get over that.

      The childfree make their decision for a variety of reasons. Some, as you point out, do not want to bring life to our increasingly unstable planet and its questionable future. Others (I would say the majority) simply don’t want children of their own and never have. I fall into the latter category, but I work with kids and would enjoy teaching sustainability to the next generation without feeling the need to promote my own genetic material.

      Rambling is always welcome!🙂

      Reply

    • Posted by J on 04/16/2011 at 02:00

      I’m childfree but intend some day to be an adoptive parent. This seems as if it is contradictory, but the way I see it, it is like dumpster diving. {I know I’m going to get flack for that.} Those children are already there and I have an empty spot in my family structure. Why not fill it with children who would enjoy being anywhere but an orphanage group home?

      I am opposed to bringing new life into this world, but already existing life could get some of my love – an inexhaustible resource – as well as taking advantage of my financial resources (proper psychiatric care, a college education, reliable meals, etc.) and instructive education on how to be as low impact as possible.

      I intend, when the time is right in my life, to adopt a child who is of elementary school age.

      But when I “come out” about this, you wouldn’t believe the flack I take for not wanting to reproduce of my own genes. Some people try to call upon a sense of gene-superiority I do not have (But the child won’t even look like you.), some try to appeal to what is at most a minor inconvenience (But you won’t necessarily know the child’s medical history like you would a child of your own genetics.), and some just thing it is a phase I will grow out of. If it helps at all to support or disprove regionalism, I live in the Triangle area of North Carolina.

      Reply

      • Hi J,
        I’ve taken the same ‘dumpster diving’ approach with cats and highly recommend it. My current kitty was a blind (from toxoplasmosis — good thing I don’t want kids), unsocialized rescue that sat in a cage at the no-kill shelter for a year. She has since become a truly sweet and highly sociable cat. Bringing a grumpy cat home ended up being one of the best things I’ve ever done for her and for myself.

        Kids who are adopted may have troubled pasts or emotional issues, so kudos to you for being willing to take those head on. I also think kids are pretty resilient, and giving them a better situation will make all the difference in their lives.

        Reply

  2. Posted by mary on 04/11/2011 at 10:12

    Just stay away from the pseudo-green consumer-centric types…real green parents understand that the purpose of environmentalism is that the human population needs to center itself on the preservation of the earth, not on their demands for more, more, more, be it green goods or not. Those truly committed to the planet often understand that peace and goodwill extend not only to the earth, but to people and animals as well.

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    • Hear hear! It’s the “I wanted to be green, so I bought this and this and this…” crowd that are often quick to turn catty. Or so I’ve noticed. I just stopped reading THEIR blogs for the most part!😛

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    • Hi Mary! I agree that those on the outer fringes of green (green consumerism, which I consider fine as a first step, not so fine as a last) may miss the bigger picture of conservation and sustainability…however, (speaking mostly for myself) I think we’re all still VERY capable of cattiness and intolerance, no matter where we are on the green spectrum. Sometimes I get so invested in my particular version of an ideal world that I lose sight of the fact that there is no one way to be green.

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  3. Posted by Bridget on 04/11/2011 at 10:23

    Jennifer,
    I LOVE the way you write & think. I was/am childfree before I became an evironmentalist/raw/vegan.
    So my reason for not having children was first not wanting the financial, emotional or moral responsibility of another human. I too was aware of this as early as my teens.
    Now that I am older, more aware and feel more of a connection to beings your article today makes so much sense. Certainly a child-free life is not for everyone. HOWEVER, I do feel there are so many who are “playing” along with the norm (go to school, get married, get a good job, buy car, big home, have 2.5 kids…)
    If this LARGE group of the population stopped to think of the impact and what they REALLY wanted; they’d realize kids (and many of those other “things” are not in their desires and their imprint would be much less…

    Reply

    • Hi Bridget,
      I love it when you comment on my blog! I think you bring up a key point. Most childfree people don’t want to impose rules or restrictions on people who genuinely want kids — our goal is to foster a society that supports alternative lifestyle choices based on individual preferences and aptitudes. For a number of people, that would include not having kids. I’ve always known that my personality (reserved, solitary, undemonstrative, and maybe just a little obsessive) would make me a very poor parent, as well as a very unhappy one. I want a more tolerant society for other reasons, of course, but I can’t help but think it would make more of a difference in our total impact than many of the other measures that are proposed.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Lane' on 04/11/2011 at 15:04

    Jennifer – very well written! I’m currently child-less unless you consider my future-husband (FH) and two cats children (they surely act like it sometimes). I *have* decided to have ONE child and it was/has been a hard decision. For a while, I didn’t want any at all. But, it didn’t have anything to do with the environment. It was ALL because of how I was raised, in a HUGE family by an extremely dysfunctional family that moved around a lot. I’ll spare the details, but I always said I never wanted to put a child through what I, myself, went through. As I got older I realized that while we may be of flesh and bones of our parents, we *don’t* have to make the same mistakes they made (3 and 5 marriages perspectively). I want a child for my own personal reasons, but I surely don’t want a huge footprint either.

    As I’m in my mid-30’s, I’ve experienced what you’ve experienced – the twitter parties that discuss nothing but green parenting this, and eco-friendly baby products that. I feel completely left out. What about those of us that are child free? What about a twitter party for green pet lovers, tips for waste reduction or greener transportation?

    And yes, there’s SO many mom blogs. My guess is that yes, they stay at home and are full time mommies. Heck, I’m a “full time blogger” myself (I’m unemployed) but I don’t get a green star next to my name for doing or being anything special (okay, now I’m ranting). I guess my point is, having a child, not having a child, having people in your life that act like a child… it’s all YOUR choice. I feel guilty for not driving a fuel efficient car, but I do my part in other ways that go far and above what others may. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s MY decision and I’m making my own compromises. Just like I’m a meat eater (yes, gasp). But I do so in a way that is as sustainable as possible. So, what happens when I have said child? I’ll make compromises – no plastic toys, no new clothing (at least the first several years), etc. (I haven’t laid out ALL the details yet). You get my point🙂

    Reply

    • Hi Lane’,
      I realized after posting this that the flip side to having the support of green parents is, of course, for the childfree to also respect the choices of people who do want children and recognize the effort green parents go to in order to raise a generation that (we hope) will be wiser than this one. (But please…understand that our eyes may glaze over if you start in on cloth diapering.) I think having one child is a good compromise between your environmental concerns and desire for a child.

      We definitely all make our own compromises. I’m fully aware that my cat, as an obligate carnivore, is not particularly environmentally friendly, but having her in my life is more important than reaching a point of lowest possible impact.

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  5. Posted by Renee on 04/11/2011 at 21:28

    I’ll chime in here as a blogger who happens to be a mom. From what I can tell, I may be the first person on this thread who has kids?

    This is a theory I’ve been considering for a while on why arguments occur over personal choices. Hope it doesn’t ramble too much and sorry for the threadjack.

    For whatever reason, most people seem to lack social graces — I’m not talking about shy people, I’m saying people are rude. Instead of asking how a person is, listening, then talking about culture, food, movies, gardening, cars or any number of things, people ask personal questions that can potentially be offensive. People do this because they are trying to make conversation and they don’t know how. The personal questions lead to awkwardness, then defensiveness (which masquerades as social pressure or talking someone out of something).

    The following are questions that — in all honesty — should never be asked of someone other than your best friend or sister:

    Are you seeing anyone?
    Are you guys living together?
    When are you guys getting married?
    Are you married?
    Do you have any kids?
    Do you want to have kids?
    When are you going to have kids?
    Are you pregnant?
    What gender is the baby?
    Was it planned?
    Are you going to have any more kids?

    Believe it or not, I have been asked these questions by people ranging from a slight acquaintance at a party to a neighbor I just met to strangers on the street!

    Reply

    • Renee, you’re welcome to jack my thread any time with your thoughtful comments. And yes, you are actually the first mom to respond. Congrats! Regarding what you touched on: I’m actually reading a book on silence right now (a man who chose to spend almost two decades of his life not speaking). One of the takeaways that spoke most to me was his realization that when he was speaking, he had only listened long enough to form his own perspective. Then he waited impatiently for the other person to stop talking so he could voice his argument. I’m starting to see that I do that a lot more than I mean to.

      “Was it planned?” Wow, I can’t believe someone actually asked you that! I give out information on a need to know basis (outside the blogverse, that is). Maybe we *have* forgotten the dual arts of gracious conversation and respectful listening.

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  6. Posted by Renee on 04/11/2011 at 21:30

    Anyhow, regarding the childfree lifestyle, I respect it and support it. I love the varied tapestry of green. Respect and tolerance need to win out over defensiveness and greener-than-thou. Why criticize?

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  7. Jennifer,

    Having been out of circulation for three years (no, I wasn’t in prison) and being relatively new to learning to be green, I had no idea there was a childfree movement. What a great idea! I just love it. I am childfree and had no idea that I had already contributed so magnificently to a greener world without even thinking about it. OK, I get the idea is to do it consciously…🙂

    Jennifer, I really like your effort here to create a bridge. The more we can all communicate and get along despite our differences, the better!

    Reply

    • Hi Sandra,
      Yes, there certainly is a small but outspoken childfree movement! It doesn’t necessarily have to do with being green; the reduced impact is often just a byproduct.🙂 A very convenient one for those of us who were childfree long before we were green — I certainly was. I try to keep that in mind whenever I find myself getting caught up in smugness. But yes, there is plenty we should also be consciously doing. Just because our impact ends when we do is no excuse to max out.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sandra. They are always appreciated.

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  8. What an excellent post. First up I’d never heard of “Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” and secondly, like you, pre-kids, I thought my days would be spent with cats to look after, not a child!

    Even as a mother and I love my dear girl like no one else, I sometimes think ‘what the f*** have I done?’ I worry about her future, I worry about the resources we are using, I worry about whether or not having a child is ‘right’ anymore. I’ll let you into a secret, once I had one, I actually wanted 6, but there we are – that’s hardly sustainable is it? So Mr G has been neutured and now we don’t have to worry about it. My heart can always adopt more cats should the maternal urge strike!

    now I can speak from both sides of the argument and I would say that the three of us probably have a smaller cardbon footprint than the average couple in the UK, BUT of course three people = more resouroces, no matter how careful you are – we need more water, more food … just as you pointed out. My daughter, however, supports your idea of not wanting a world without tigers, worms, and trees, so between us, we’re just about getting everything covered.

    I wonder if the parents who get defensive, feel a little guilty. feel that their buttons have been pushed… I never feel guilty for having a child (but hey look, in the previous paragraph I went on to show how GOOD WE WERE!), but I do feel bad about the plastic crap we buy her and the packaging from food aimed at children that we ‘give into’ on a regular basis. I keep telling her that the ‘stuff’ she desperately wants now is meaningless, but who am I to judge? I only have to remember back to being 10 to realise those plastic hair clips and that shitty pen that breaks in two minutes can be the be all and end all…

    And for the record, I think couples SHOULD be limited to the number of children they can have. It’s an extremely contentious issue, but there we are…If we don’t do it ourselves, nature will do it for us one way or another.

    As ever, thanks for posting some thought-provoking content for us to chew around..

    Reply

    • Hello, Mrs Green!
      I think both parents and the childfree are on the defensive, which doesn’t really help us listen to each other. Parents are defending their decision to have children despite the environmental impact, the childfree feel like an unrespected minority and also need to justify their decision. It sounds like you’re doing a great job balancing environmental concerns and your beloved daughter (some level of plastic kitsch is probably unavoidable) and have taken your impact into your account in every way you can. I don’t think being green should involve depriving yourself of the experiences you find most fulfilling, and for a lot of people, that will involve having kids.

      Limiting the number of children people should have is…problematic. On one hand, I can see it as a fascist invasion into personal rights. I’d much rather educate people and provide them with the contraception they need to make good choices. On the other…our biological drive to replicate our genes may not be totally subject to rational decision-making, and certainly doesn’t take into account the sustainability of our species or planet. We’re not really equipped to think or act that way, and as biological creatures, we may need to recognize that at some point.

      I think there are non-coercive tactics that would be effective and more likely to be put into effect than an absolute limit imposed by the government. If it were willing to recognize that too many people consuming too much stuff was in fact a problem, governments could offer better access to contraception, remove the child tax benefits after two kids, or provide retirement benefits for people who have reached retirement age with one or no children. Unfortunately, we are still so very much a pro-child culture that I don’t think any of this is likely to happen.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Colleen on 04/12/2011 at 15:25

    Wow! I didn’t read through all those comments but the first few showed prejudices in many other areas. Anyone reading them who is not vegan, are stay at home mums or have only recently begun to attempt to live a greener life are now feeling the same way you felt when you wrote this post.

    Being a mother of two (much loved children) who stayed home and raised my own children, am neither vegan or vegetarian and am nowhere neat as green as some, I just want to say ~ GOOD FOR YOU! Having children is not compulsory and I for one support your choice no matter what the reason. Even if it were that you didn’t want the snivelly little brats hanging around your ankles soaking up all your hard earned wages and making a mess of your apartment, that is your choice.

    I don’t have a fancy profession, in fact I am not even in the work force that doesn’t make me worthless it just gives me more time to do the things I am good at. But the same society that you feel dictates that you should have children makes me feel like my choices are also wrong in some way. Or is it society? It could just be that we in ourselves are struggling to justify our own position in this world? It is not always easy to go against the norm but we have to do what is right for us and being a little more “unique” isn’t a bad thing.

    Stick to what you believe in no matter what “society” dictates. So long as it isn’t hurting anyone else I for one see no problem with it.

    Reply

    • Hi Colleen,
      Thank you for your support! My own reasons for being childfree are not entirely rational. Babies have never held any appeal for me. I look at them and feel bewildered whether to treat them like rational human beings or like oddly shaped hairless cats. It’s true that not having children gives me a lot more freedom to work at jobs that leave me with more free time without worrying about financial strain, and there are the environmental considerations and my own very questionable fitness to be a parent…but mostly, it’s about the fact that I enjoy my life without having children of my own.

      I’ve also been reconsidering the whole professional career, money, 401K thing — the American Dream, perhaps. I’m no longer sure I want it, or that it would make me happy.

      Reply

      • Posted by Colleen on 04/12/2011 at 16:39

        There are so many choices out there and life is a gamble and we are all entitled to place our own bets and take our wins and losses gracefully.

        I suffered from post-natal depression (undiagnosed and untreated) with both my children and quite frankly 21 years later I still think to this day that effects me as a parent. I have done the best I could and love my children to death but with 20 20 hindsight would I choose to become a parent if I had my time over, I don’t know. Those anxieties could just as easily be transfered to something else. This is why I say the choice is entirely up to you. Not everyone is cut out for this.

        Make whatever choices feel right to you I say and to hell with convention.

        Reply

        • That’s quite a brave admission, Colleen. Thank you for your honesty. I read an article recently that suggested that the happiness parents claimed to feel is greater than the happiness they actually seem to experience from having kids — a culture that idealizes the experience of parenthood and having kids seems to produce certain expectations that are not fully met. I wonder how many parents would find this to be true.

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      • Not meaning to make light of a serious discussion, but I can’t stop chuckling at the “oddly shaped hairless cats” comment.

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  10. Do you mind if I chime in and answer the question of “what would be the problem with being willfully child free”?

    First I want to state that since it is difficult to judge the emotion behind cold black words on a white screen I just want you to know that I am not angry as I type. I am offering a counter-argument to this childfree movement, not judgement *of individual people* and deffinately not hatred. But what I have to say below is the big elephant in the room that I never see discussed by Greenies, let alone The Willfully Childfree. And I would like to see this more openly discussed in our society because it is an unavoidable issue that must be addressed.

    You see, the #1 reason that so many people disagree with the willfully childless is because of a very simple fact: who is going to take care of you when you are old?

    This is the issue that must be discussed and also solved. Because by living willfully “child free” you are creating, rather then solving, a very large problem that will be faced by all of us, yourselves included, in the near future.

    To have children is to prepare for your care when you are old. This is the responsible thing to do. And this is exactly why parenthood has always been upheld as “noble” and having children has been seen as THE respectful choice. This is why the willfully childless have always been seen as selfish and failing in their duty. Even in ancient times the question was, “If you refuse to have children WHO is going to take care of you when you are old?”

    Because none of us can escape old age (short of kiling ourselves or being killed) it has always been looked upon as our *duty*, our *responsibility*, to have children in order to provide the next generation of those that will care for us and also to continue the fight to protect the Earth. Of the children born to this generation, most will become the taxpayers of the future ~ and those taxes are what will help the elderly pay for medical care, housing, food: the basic necessities of life. Either that or the elderly will be taken directly into the homes of their children and most of their needs met in that manner.

    With so many crying out for government-funded healthcare, available to all, we that are having children can’t help but ask those of you that are “childfree”: “WHO will pay the taxes that will pay for YOUR “free” medical care? *Our* children, that is who.” And we say: this is not right. Why should our children be doubly burdened to take care of their own parents plus all of you that refused to have children?? Because the reality is this: as you grow older and begin to draw on retirement funds, Social Security, and medical funds, the taxes will increase and increase and increase some more ~ and *our* children will have to pay *your* bills. They won’t be able to get ahead in life. They won’t be able to enjoy the reward of owning a home or obtaining a college education with their own hard-earned money. Instead they will be burdened with impossible taxes so that the aged Childless can be taken care of. The same exact childless people that refused to make the sacrifices necessary to care for someone else: children.

    Because unless you are independently wealthy you will not be able to meet all of your needs with your retirement funds or your social security benefits. A large portion of tax money is going to be requred for your upkeep. And this means that our children will be the ones that will have to produce those excess taxes to pay for your care. All while also providing to care for their own parents.

    Therefore if you are willfully childless then you are saying to us and our children that you expect a free ride later in life. Meanwhile in the present you demand respect while you also demand to live solely for yourself, to escape the very real sacrifices of childbearing and child rearing so that you can be free to do your own thing for your own self, to persue your own intrests, your own goals, your own dreams, your own desires, all while unhindered by the work and the cost of caring for children. You are saying to the rest of us that while it is fine that *we* have to make many painful and frustrating sacrifices ~ you are somehow privileged with exemption from the same duty.

    Don’t we all wish that we could live in such an unhindered, unburdened manner?? But sadly there are no free lunches in life and in order to be provided for in the future we have to create the next generation of people that will then care for us and the Earth.

    The very first thing that must be understood by the world over is that overpopulation is a myth. It is a myth. The numbers do not lie. We human beings only populate between 1% – 3% of our world. If we gathered every single human being on this planet, from the most ancient aged person, the the most recent newborn, we would all fit in the state of Texas, each standing in the middle of more then 1200 square feet. Every single human being on this planet could all be drowned *at the same time* in Lock Ness. The problem here on Planet Earth is not that we are overpopulated but that we are facing severe, intrenched, and institutuionalized corruption.

    This corruption is what is causing such deep ecological problems to the Earth and such heart breaking poverty to a large portion of her population. We have more then enough on this planet to provide for the population. But what we suffer from because of the intrenched corruption is a severe missallocation of available resources. Do you honestly believe that having *less* fighters on the front lines will solve these problems?? Do we honestly believe that our values and beliefs will continue into the future if we decide not to have and raise like-minded children to carry on the fight to remove this deadly corruption? Like it or not, for every child not born we grow weaker and less capable of fighting the good fight.

    And because so many people over the past 40+ years have chosen to have less and less, often zero, children we now face a very serious issue: not only do we grow weaker in the fight but we are overly top heavy with elderly and we don’t have nearly enough young fit workers to provide the support, either through taxes or hands on, to care for our rapidly aging population. This year the first of the large Babyboomer population has begun to retire. These are the children of those that made the sacrifice to have and raise large families. But the thing is, funds such as Social Security are empty ~ filled with IOU’s. It is today’s present taxpayers (you and me) that are funding the retirement of the very same people that started the trend of being childfree or to only have one, or at most two, children. Because of their selfish choice to have few or no children we now have a very serious and, frankly, impossible situation: an enormous aging population that must be supported by a very small working population. The Childfree Movement is already beginning to produce its sour, unsustainable fruit. And yet we are asked to continue to support and respect this lifestyle??

    Now, I know that there is often a flip side to this “caring for me when I’m old” coin that centeres around euthanasia. Perhaps that word isn’t used. Perhaps people will choose to say “mercy kill” me when I get too old to care for myself. But no matter how we label the action it always boils down to: “either I will kill myself or someone else can kill me when I grow old. And I justify this by claiming that old people are a burden.”

    Which brings us to another very big reason that those who are not willfully “childfree” do not agree with this mindset: It is considered to be very interesting that “Greenies” and other like-minded Ecological/Environmentalist folk claim to be, and are often described as, kind. Friendly. Generous. Yet scratch the surface and we find glaring hypocracy. For how can anyone claim to be, or become labelled, as kind or generous when they believe that caring for another human being is a “burden” and/or that the final solution to this burdensome problem is to kill the elderly in order to remove them from being in the way of the younger generations?

    And not only that but those of us that made the sacrifice to have children will be rewarded for our hard work not by a dignified old age but by being euthanised and/or seen as nothing more then useless eaters, a drain, a burden to be disposed of. Just look around at the world today: in less then 50 years our elders have gone from being viewd as wise and valuable, respected and loved, to being stuffed off to the sidelines in nursing homes, gotten out of the way, viewed as stupid and child like and a burden that must be cared for in their later years by “someone else” so that we are free to live for ourselves.

    And yes, these are bold plans on behalf of those that agree with euthanasia ~ but when it comes time for them to take you away and kill you off the majority of you will be having second thoughts. You will protest and cry out for help. But who will advocate for you? Your children? No, you don’t have any children. So once again it will be up to *our* children to step up to the front lines to fight for your human dignity and to save your lives. All while they are trying to care for and protect their own parents as well.

    Another point that is so often ignored, either willingly or from actual ignorance, is that it has been proven multiple times through multiple studies that those that have children consume less and leave a significantly smaller carbon footprint in their wake. As a matter of fact, the larger the family the smaller their impact as consumers and wasters. When it comes down to brass tacks, families with children cannot afford to consume much, they cannot afford large houses, they cannot afford trips and vacations that extend for miles and miles of polution-trails in jet planes and cars. They cannot afford more then one vehicle, let alone the gas required to drive everywhere rather then walk or bike. (Instead they tend to go once and bulk shop, to wait, to go without.) They cannot afford to purchase new clothes, new shoes, net toys, new furniture, new, new, new ~ and so they share, they give, they buy second hand, they make for themsevles. Families with multiple children are actually a threat to the corrupt corporations that create all of the new “necessities” (at the expense of the Earth and humanity) that our now more childless society can finally afford, because they are not paying for the upkeep of kids, to purchase and dispose of. Western society has become so much more affluent and consumption-oriented precisely because of the steady decline in child bearing. The less children there are the more money, free time, and available space adults now have in which to consume and waste, consume and waste. In the meantime the ever-growing corrupt corporations grow larger and more powerful from this consumption ~ and the Earth, and those enslaved in sweat shops and other poverty ridden horrors, pay the price.

    The long and the short of it is this: the “Childfree Movement” is what is unsustainable. Those that do not make the sacrifice, nor do their duty, by having children are leaving *our* children to not only care for you when you are old ~ but you are abandoning *our* children on the front lines of this battle to stop the corruption, greed, and evil that allows those in power to enslave enormous portions of humanity into an inescapable cycle of crushing poverty. Not to mention the continued power and ability to rape and pillage, destroy, pollute, deforest, over hunt, over fish, strip mine, etc. etc. etc. our beautiful Earth. This same beautiful Earth that you claim to love so much ~ and you are so willing to abandon to the very evil that you have dedicated your life to eraticating. Because who are you leaving behind to carry on the good fight?? I’ll speak now for my children who are too young yet to voice their future frustration: Gee, thanks.

    This is why no matter how “Green” the argument for the Childfree movement, (especially in light of the actual facts regarding the overpopulaton myth) those of us that look forward to the near future, and are sacrificing accordingly here in the present by having and raising, training and teaching our children, cannot support, let alone *respect* this decision or the inherently selfish people that are making it happen. Because when it comes down to brass tacks, you are living for yourselves. You are having your cake and eating it too right in our faces ~ and we and our children know, as you go about having your fun and patting yourselves on the back for being so “Green”, that we are the ones that will have to pay the price in the future for your Childfree youth. And in order to care for you, we are going to have to sacrifice our own resources. Like oil on water, what money and labor that is available is going to be spread very thin as less and less women have children. Because rasising children is hard work that requires a lot of sacrifices over the course of 18 years. You are not the only ones that will suffer in the near future ~ you’re going to drag us down with you.

    Because who else is going to take care of you when you grow old? Who else is going to carry on the fight for responsible stewardship of the Earth when you are gone?

    *Our* children, that is who.

    Reply

    • Posted by Colleen on 04/13/2011 at 03:11

      Michelle Therese, Your kidding right!

      Reply

    • Hi Michelle Terese,
      Thank you for your thoughts on the subject. I suspect that where we primarily differ is in the way we see the importance of the economy. You are entirely correct that transitioning to a smaller population size (or, in fact, a population that consumes much more sensibly than we do) would have serious ramifications on the environment. In fact, social security was designed around the idea that there would always be a larger, younger working class to subsidize an older retired class, which is exactly why it is floundering now and will need to undergo major changes if it is to survive in any form. Sadly, it doesn’t seem as though environmental sustainability and continued economic growth based on a consumer society are very compatible.

      However, I don’t agree that economic concerns should take precedence over environmental ones. It seems to me that without a viable environment in which humans can be relatively comfortable and have all their needs met, there can be no economy. We already see many signs that climate change and human activities are destabilizing biosystems that seriously affect our ability to survive on this planet — for example, the acidification of our oceans, overfishing, and nitrogen pollution are destroying food chains from the bottom up, decimating the species that we depend on. Many of our pollution, overharvesting, and deforestation issues can be traced back to the practice of putting economic growth and profit in front of sustainability.

      Numerically, humans may seem innocuous, but we have successfully outcompeted so many keystone species on so many continents in our need for more resources that our impact reaches out far beyond our numbers. We have truly transformed the face of the Earth. I completely agree that a great deal of this has to do with how we use those resources, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that our rising numbers make our existing overconsumption issue much more severe. If there were 7 billion of us using resources wisely and minimally, we wouldn’t have an issue. If there were 500,000 of us living it up in Hummers, we wouldn’t have an issue. But there are 7 billion of us, and those of us in the developed world are consuming far more than the planet can sustain. I see basically three choices: cut back on consumption, cut back on population, or develop better technology. The first one is not going to happen voluntarily. Not enough people are on board, we’ve gotten used to a certain level of comfort and consumerism that makes giving it up hard even for people like me who really want to change, and the government is surely not going to impose limits. Technology is also problematic. Every solution comes with a bevy of unexpected, unforeseen consequences. Some of the innovations we initially considered our most successful — including food growing and harvesting techniques — have turned out to have high costs in sustainability. Population reduction is certainly problematic as well for cultural as well as economic reasons, but the numbers — in terms of environmental rather than economic impact — are impressive. I would point you to this article by the NY Times: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/having-children-brings-high-carbon-impact/ .

      I’m not sure why you’ve concluded that people who choose not to have children lead extravagant lifestyles. I work with upper middleclass families in the Bay Area and see first hand how their lives consume more resources than mine. They need bigger homes, more cars, more stuff; they drive more, take more vacations, eat more food, wear out more clothing. The benefits of my childfree life are primarily in time: time to read, write, hang out with the cat, do pottery, cook. Most of my activities involve fairly little consumption. I can’t speak for all the childfree, or all the parents, but considering that it’s impossible to tell how far your impact will extend by having a child (will s/he go on to have children? Will his/her children go on to have more children? How many generations of impact will I ultimately have a hand in?), I respectfully disagree with your argument that having more kids will lower your impact. Maybe in this generation, but not in the long run.

      I also disagree that not having a child will weaken the environmental movement that I care about. It is impossible to predict what your children will care about, even if you try to instill them with certain attitudes or values. My parents tried very hard to shape me into someone with a keen interest in my Asian heritage. They dutifully sent me to Chinese school every week for 13 years of my life, they filled my schedule with classical Chinese dance lessons, abacus lessons, Chinese museum visits, trips to Asia. None of it stuck. My sister was receptive and maintains an interest in Chinese culture. I have two degrees in English and feel far more at home in the UK than I do in Asia. Producing a child does not automatically equal strengthening your movement. I gently nudge the kids I work with towards environmentalism, and I hope to do more in the future with educating the existing children I come in contact with. There’s no guarantee there that they’ll become environmentalists either, but we have plenty of kids (and adults) already on this planet to reach out to. I’m happy to start — and end — with them.

      It’s difficult for me not to feel defensive about your use of the word selfish, so I will simply say that I have a retirement plan in place already and fully anticipate having enough of my own resources to pay for whatever care I need towards the end of my life. Judging by our unemployment rates, I do not expect to have a hard time paying someone to care for me. Also, I’ve seen what outliving one’s own health and mind looks like, and I don’t want any of it. I hope euthanasia options will be available when I need them.

      Reply

    • Holy Moly! You’re not angry… seriously?!?

      First of all I want to thank Jennifer for her thorough and thoughtful reply to this comment… I think she showed remarkable restraint. We’ll see if I am as lucky.

      I find your portrayal of the child-free as selfish party animals to be (aside from extremely offensive) totally off-base and inaccurate. Moreover, I find your description of child-rearing adults as self-sacrificing saints to be, well…

      OK I can’t finish that statement without getting more obnoxious than I want to get. I’ll simply say that these attitudes are very similar to the beliefs held by my mother, and she is the primary reason I don’t want children. You might want to think for a moment about how this stuff comes across to your kids, and the messages you’re giving them… because it certainly did not make me feel cared about as a child. Just a hint from a former child who hasn’t spoken to her mother in over 10 years.

      Here’s the thing. We, the child-free, pay a heckuva lot of money in taxes to support your children. Our taxes pay for schools, and parks, and libraries, and museums, Medicaid, earned income credits, and many other resources that are specifically designed to help kids and families. I’m not exactly complaining about that, because I believe that I’m paying to live in an educated and enlightened society, not necessarily for benefits to my own non-existent children, but still, you’ve gotta admit that it’s not exactly a one way street here.

      And don’t even get me started about how the child-free are treated on the job. In my experience those of us without children are consistantly asked to pull extra weight because those with kids get special consideration.

      I’m gonna stop now because I’m getting too pissed off and it’s not helpful. I’ll simply end by saying that I work pretty hard to live in an ecologically friendly manner, and I cannot count the times that I have muttered this statement under my breath: “Why am I killing myself to try to save this planet for other people’s children when they don’t seem to care one way or the other?”

      Reply

      • Hi there, Eco Cat Lady! I was also getting hung up on the idea of the childfree getting a ‘free ride’ and thought, “But hey, I pay lots of taxes to keep schools and gov’t supported child health care systems afloat, and I’m happy to do that because I think it produces a better and more stable community. I don’t think of parents who use those systems as getting ‘free rides.'” Not sure we can take care of our community or our planet when we’re filled with indignation that we’re supporting other people and systems.

        Reply

        • “Not sure we can take care of our community or our planet when we’re filled with indignation that we’re supporting other people and systems.” – BINGO!

          My Dad and I were having a very interesting conversation about Denmark the other day, and how they pay WAY more than we do in taxes for social programs. His theory is that they enjoy a kind of social cohesiveness that we do not, and he attributes it to their relative lack of diversity. So when they support these programs they feel like they are supporting the “WE”. In this country, on the other hand, the sentiment is more like “it’s unfair that I should have to pay for THEM”.

          The real problem is the We/Them paradigm, not the money. We’re always convinced that there is something unfair going on… that somebody is getting off easy while “we” are suffering. On one level (the one that reminds me of my mother) it really pisses me off, but on another it just makes me sad.

          Reply

    • Posted by J on 04/16/2011 at 02:25

      Those that I know in the childfree movement take a lot of time to think about their senior years. Most have IRAs that are already well on their way to providing more than the required funds for checking in to a retirement/assisted living/nursing home.

      As to your assertion that only the independently wealthy can afford to live in their senior years without relying on funds from a younger generation:O_o. Every single one of my grandparents (and I have but one remaining) has been able to do that just fine. And these folks were/are hardly independently wealthy. They used to eat automat soup during The Depression and worked their entire lives at blue collar jobs. They saved (not invested), saved (in a savings account), saved (by buying treasury bonds), saved (at least 20% of their paycheck) and didn’t have to rely on either Medicare or Social Security. In fact, my remaining grandmother makes gifts of money to her grandchildren rather than the other way around.

      As for who will be “next of kin” for difficult medical decisions in senior years: nieces and nephews.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Naomi on 04/13/2011 at 11:19

    How do the officially childfree feel about adoption? I’m definitely not interested in having my own biological children, but I can potentially see myself someday (very far down the line, here) wanting a family. Adoption has always seemed like the obvious choice, for me.

    Reply

    • No idea. I don’t think there’s an official party line. My personal opinion: what a wonderful thing to give a child a good home who wouldn’t otherwise have one. If I wanted a family but was concerned about population and environmental impact, adoption would be a terrific alternative to consider.

      Reply

    • Posted by J on 04/16/2011 at 02:32

      My experience within the childfree movement is that someone such as yourself would be welcomed. (I, too, am pro adoption and yet a childfree member.)

      The movement seems to be anti-breeder but not anti-parent, if you can catch the subtleties of difference.

      Reply

  12. Holy guacamole you’ve opened a giant can of worms here Jennifer!!

    I could spent the next hour on this reply, but Eggs won’t let me, so I’ll type as fast a possible!😉

    As a woman, there is flack on both sides of the fence, no matter what you choose. If you marry and/or have kids- you’ve “sold out”. If you choose to remain childless, you’re “selfish”.

    When you add “green” to the mix you only further galvanize the factions of gossipers and opiners << I know, not a real word. But is should be!

    It really all boils down to how much you care about what other people think. If you are secure in the decision you have made, if you are happy, then who gives a flying spaghetti monster?

    However, if you are choosing not to have children against your instincts or desires, simply in the name of reducing your carbon impact- then perhaps adoption or foster care is an option- but at the end of the day you are not being true to you.

    Extremists exist in every genre, from Bieber fans to politics to religion to pig farming. Sometimes it takes a strong voice to make schtuff happen, but when the folks in charge run away with the agenda, you have to decide if they still speak for you.

    Personally for me, my children are at times my greatest joy, at others, my grey-hair producers and cause of many a knuckle bite.

    We moms often express the worry we have for our children, for their future, but no matter how fervently we could try to express this, it only scratches the surface of the level of emotion. From the day they are born there is a massive weight of worry that never, ever goes away (as my mom would confirm.) AND that worry grows exponentially with each child. But in turn it drives us to create a better world, a better future for them.

    That being said, as a green mama, I support you because you are helping to create a better future with your daily actions. As a woman, I respect you because you are making tough decisions, perhaps against the grain, but that are fulfilling, rewarding and true to you. In a society that still!! thinks they can tell girls "how to be", "when to be it" and "what not to be" that, my sister, is a rare and cherished quality.

    PS I have a friend for you- you may already know her, but just in case…look for my tweet!

    Count this green mama for Team Jennifer!!

    Reply

    • Yes, exactly: “It really all boils down to how much you care about what other people think. If you are secure in the decision you have made, if you are happy, then who gives a flying spaghetti monster?” That sums it up.🙂

      Reply

      • Andrea, I also laughed at the phrase ‘flying spaghetti monster.’🙂 I don’t have a problem being aberrant, but I think some childfree people do deeply feel the lack of social support for their decision — the astonished and appalled ‘But WHY?’ and the disappointed parents’ ‘What, no grandchildren?’

        Reply

        • Posted by J on 04/16/2011 at 02:37

          If you haven’t already become familiar, google “flying spaghetti monster” and/or “pastafarian”.

          It is a whole other movement religion that … well … it gives you another hat to wear if you are interested.

          From a green, ecofriendly, childfree, pastafarian.

          Reply

    • Aww, thank you, Petunia. I definitely recognize that having kids is what prompts many people to care about the environment — they have a personal stake in the future, whereas my concern (as an animal lover and non-people-person) is for the species that our lifestyles are busy wiping out. I don’t expect everyone to be moved by what moves me, so for those parents whose kids have prompted them to make significant lifestyle changes that promote a cause I share, I’m truly grateful.

      At the same time, I think I winced several times when reading your post, because being completely responsible for another being scares the dickens out of me. Having someone else be the center of my world seems like it would leave so much less room for me, what I want to do with my time, how I think, and how I act. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to live my life for myself. Men are seldom criticized as selfish for not wanting or having kids; why are women? I sense a double standard.

      Thank you for introducing me to Beth! I can see why you thought we’d get along.

      Reply

  13. Wow. What a discussion. I’m the friend Petunia GreenBeans mentioned above because I wrote a post on the same topic last month.

    http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/03/im-an-environmentalist-and-im-not-having-kids/

    You and I both live in the Bay Area and are child-free greenies with cats. Do we know each other?

    Anyway, I have to address some of Michelle Therese’s points. Honestly? My first instinct was to type “WTF” and be done with it. Because my mouth literally hung open wider and wider as I read down the post. I understand why Colleen wrote, “You’re kidding, right?” But then I stopped to think about Michelle’s points, and I realized that some of her assumptions are held by many other people, some of whom commented on my own blog post.

    One assumption is that children will grow up to be what their parents want them to be — that raising children green will produce eco-conscious adults. That’s something I would never bank on. I was raised in a deeply religious family, and I grew up to be an adult who doesn’t believe in any god except for Ceiling Cat or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Neither do my sisters. None of us turned out the way my parents hoped we would. I know people who were raised by very frugal parents who as adults are some of the most materialistic people around. It’s their way of rebelling against their parents. My dad’s a Democrat; my brother’s a staunch Limbaugh-loving Republican.

    I would never, ever dream of producing other human beings in order to mold them into what I wanted them to be and certainly not to serve me in my old age. Our children do not belong to us. It’s fantastic when children want to care for their aging parents out of love and devotion and gratitude. But they are not indentured servants and we shouldn’t be producing them in order to have free homecare at the end of our lives.

    And I’m not expecting anyone else’s children to foot the bill for me either. That’s what long-term care insurance is for.

    Not everyone is cut out to be a parent. And for someone who doesn’t want children to bring them into the world out of a sense of obligation is an unfair burden not only to the parent but also to the children. At the very least, it’s the road to resentment. Do unloved children grow up to be loving, generous adults? Or do they just pay the misery forward?

    I want to live in a world in which people are free to be as fully themselves as they can be. The decision whether or not to have children shapes the course of one’s entire life. It should be made thoughtfully and freely.

    Reply

    • Hi Beth,
      I’m not sure how we didn’t meet up before, but I’m glad we have now. (By the way, did you know that your Atom feed — the one I get to by clicking the orange button in my browser toolbar — isn’t working?) There must be a larger population of childfree cat loving Bay Area greenies than I suspected.

      I can see and respect Marie-Therese’s economic concerns about an aging population with a smaller percentage of young people. I believe Japan is facing something like that now. I also believe that we are fully capable of rolling with the punches, even if it means transitioning to a more service-based economy in which, yes, a lot of the service revolves around caring for our elders. The one punch we can’t roll with is a planet that no longer supports our existence.

      However…yep, I’m with you about how you can’t mold your kids, and how some people (like me!) just aren’t cut out to be parents. I think I’d raise pretty emotionally screwy kids, and I see no reason to do that to them or myself. The human race is not facing imminent extinction.

      Reply

    • Beth… how many times can I say it… YOU TOTALLY ROCK!

      “I would never, ever dream of producing other human beings in order to mold them into what I wanted them to be and certainly not to serve me in my old age.” I can’t stop saying the word “YES”

      Reply

      • I love that song, and it actually comes from a Kahlil Gibran quote that… oh my god… I just remembered my mom read to me many years ago. I was going to quote it in my last comment but forgot to, so I’m glad you posted this video!

        Reply

        • Actually, here’s the whole thing. It’s gorgeous and should be required reading for anyone considering having kids.

          On Children
          Kahlil Gibran

          Your children are not your children.
          They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
          They come through you but not from you,
          And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

          You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
          For they have their own thoughts.
          You may house their bodies but not their souls,
          For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
          which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
          You may strive to be like them,
          but seek not to make them like you.
          For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

          You are the bows from which your children
          as living arrows are sent forth.
          The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
          and He bends you with His might
          that His arrows may go swift and far.
          Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
          For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
          so He loves also the bow that is stable.

          Reply

        • Great minds…

          Reply

  14. Meet the flying spaghetti monster:

    http://www.venganza.org

    Can you email me and let me know what happens when you try to aaccess my feed?

    beth [at] myplasticfreelife [dot] com

    Reply

  15. Posted by EcoDivaWannabe on 04/16/2011 at 17:23

    As someone who is relatively young, this post (and I know this was probably not your intention) fills me with sadness. I really do feel that I would make a terrfic, environmentally conscious parent. I am very family oriented and was raised in a wonderful home. I don’t think that everyone is meant to be parents, and I think it is wrong to make people feel guilty for not wanting children. But I honestly don’t think my life would be complete if I didn’t have a child. And as someone who is getting very into the green movement, I am continually overcome with anxiety and sadness about the child issue. Could I live with the environmental impact that having a child would entail? Probably. But I know I probably couldn’t live a full life if I didn’t have a child. Which leaves me at a crossroads–and a difficult one at that.

    Reply

    • Hi EcoDivaWannabe,
      Just because I don’t happen to want kids doesn’t mean that I disapprove of people who do. Life is worth living, and if you want a child, don’t let anyone talk you out of it just because it’s not green. My greenie friend travels all over the world. The plane rides are definitely not green, but traveling is what makes her life rich and worth living. In other ways, she strives to be low impact, including by not having a car. I choose to have a carnivorous domestic animal that I keep well-supplied in organic cat food. It means that I also have more of an impact than I would do with just my own [vegetarian] diet. But she brings so much to my life, and I’d be so sad not to have a cat companion, that I’m willing to compromise. We all compromise on our environmental concerns in some areas. Personal happiness and fulfillment seem like good reasons.

      Do what makes you happy, and make it as low impact as possible (or make the rest of your life as low impact as possible). We are none of us going to achieve zero impact, and there’s no point in making ourselves utterly miserable trying. My position is simply that having children (and how many) should be a conscious choice made with the environmental impact in mind, rather than the traditional default it still is.

      Reply

    • I totally agree with Jennifer here. The point is not that nobody should have kids… after all without kids there would be no human race (I suppose one could argue that this would be a good thing… some days I’d be one of them… but that’s a different discussion.)

      For me the point is that society needs to lose the ridiculous idea that it’s somehow selfish not to want kids. I just feel that nobody should be guilted into having kids, or should do it as a default position because “it’s what you do”. Trust me, children who are raised by resentful parents know that their parents resent them, no matter how hard they try to cover it up. It doesn’t help anyone.

      I feel strongly that we should support people in their decisions and help them to make free choices that aren’t coerced by society or religion or guilt (environmental or otherwise.) I do believe that the world is over-populated, but I don’t think the solution is to force people who want kids not to have them. I think we could achieve what we need to by making it acceptable for people who don’t want them not to have them.

      Reply

  16. Posted by seitei on 04/17/2011 at 08:54

    rabble-rouser! 😉

    Reply

  17. Posted by E.Leigh on 04/21/2011 at 07:49

    I work in a hospital and take care of mainly elderly people. Most of them have children but the minority are being cared for by them. They are involved (sometimes) but most adults die in hospitals and nursing homes. When an adult reaches end of life their needs are almost the same as an infant (bathing, changing, feeding, ambulating) but at this point they are not the size of an infant anymore. It takes multiple trained people to take care of them. Adults with and without children end up in the same nursing homes together. I don’t think this is a good reason to have children, but a very good reason to get long-term care insurance.
    The patients who don’t have children, most of them have nieces/nephews/pseudo-children who are as involved in their care and decision making. It is rare to find someone without a “someone”.

    Reply

  18. Earlier in the year (if not last year) a professor loaned Childfree & Loving It! to my SO and I. We were warned that the book was a lot of “fluff” but still an enjoyable read. It sat on my bedside stand for months until I got through The Childless Revolution and The Baby Boon only in an act of frustration to pick up this book thinking: “There has to be something better!” And I was right, there does have to be something better, and if this book is not entirely something better it’s an improvement over these other books.

    Before going too much into this book, all of the childfree literature I’ve read has offered alternative interpretations and perspectives. Childfree and Loving It! is no different except it full embraces a positive look at being childfree (not to mention not treating the environmentally childfree as loons) without negatively portraying parenthood but with no fear of criticizing parenthood.

    This book offers a lot of representation of the childfree within the pages and goes back and forth from being “fluff” to the occasional, grabbing sentence that deserves more thought than some of the entire chapters. For example, one area of interest is how, especially in western cultures, we embrace choice and the disgust and rejection that can (and does) occur when anything is suggested to be done as a result of social pressures rather than choice. Another area of interest for myself was Defago’s discussion of the effort some childfree people/women feel is necessary to prove that they still like/care for children and can still be caring/compassionate without eating babies for breakfast.

    This has definitely been my favorite childfree book so far. While it lacks some of the academic spin of The Baby Boon and avoids a lot of the mistakes in The Childless Revolution, it’s still a solid work that’s easy to read and does a good job exploring the childfree.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the recommendation! Hmm…I think I fall into that category of people who defend their decision by first saying, “No, I like kids, I really do…BUT I don’t want any. And I actually like my cat/dog better.” I haven’t read much childfree literature; the idea that I’m not alone is still fairly new to me. I’m off to see if the library has it.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Miranda on 01/23/2013 at 07:59

    I just have one thing to add about “having kids so that someone can take care of you when you’re old”. The average cost to raise a child from birth to 18 years is around $250,000 (and that does NOT include the cost of college). Don’t believe me? Look it up. By not having any children, I will have a LARGE sum of money in my pocket to help me in my old age. In addition, I agree that education about the realities of parenthood (financial, physical, time, etc.) and environmental sustainability is key. Also, it is a fact that even the most conscientious of people will consume (at the very least, a vast supply of food & water) and leave waste (literally – going to the bathroom over an entire lifetime is extremely detrimental to our water supply. And these two things (eating and excreting) don’t even take into account electricity, gas, homes, cars, clothes, and countless others. The most effective way to minimize your footprint on this planet is to NOT reproduce. This is a glaring truth, one too few people are willing to present or accept. I’m not saying that everyone should stop reproducing, but I am saying that everyone should be well informed on the topic before ever making such a massive impact commitment and life-long choice.

    Reply

  20. Reblogged this on AmandaPandaDUH.

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