Today a subject that is on my mind is that of parenthood, and making the choice to be childfree.
I’m not going to get into too much detail about the specific plans my fiance and I have regarding parenthood. I will say however that we do plan to have children. However, the process might not be as simple as some would think as I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. So we might end up being the parents of a couple of cats and dogs rather than some human babies.
We don’t know exactly what will come to pass. But we do know that, no matter what, our lives will be full. They are full now, thank you very much. And we resent the implication that somehow our lives are not complete until we pop out a couple of kids.
For those who know me offline, it might come as a shock to hear me say this as I have spent a lot of time facilitating and attending Womens Mysteries events in the past. I won’t explain exactly what Womens Mysteries is (or it wouldn’t be a mystery!) but in a nutshell, it is the teachings imparted by women from generation to generation relating to a woman’s varying roles throughout her life; specifically in relation to her menstrual cycle. Also, being a pagan, we honour the Maiden/Mother/Crone archetypes, and I have done a lot of study on the use of bellydance to prepare a woman for labor. So yes, I do think motherhood and childbirth are sacred amazing things and I support anybody going through them.
But if I don’t go through them, whether by choice or by circumstance, am I less valuable a human being than a person who does?
Sometimes the implication is that I am. And I think it’s worthwhile for everybody, no matter what walk of life they come from, to take the time to consider why that is.
But all this aside (as it’s really a different to issue to what I intended to blog about today), let’s focus for a moment on the idea of being childfree. Being childfree is different from being childless, as the word “childless” indicates a person who wants to have children and cannot, whether due to infertility or some other reason. The word childfree indicates a person who has chosen not to have children.
This is not a new idea (organisations supporting childfree adults have been around since the 1970s) and anybody who has spent any time on the internet may have bumped into a few childfree communities here and there. Unfortunately there is a bit of a negative view of childfree people, and a lot of terms have been bandied about, the most common one being “selfish” (inferring that if a person chooses to focus on themselves instead of bringing other humans into the world, they must somehow be a horrible selfish person. I do hope very much that all the readers of this blog understand how ridiculous such a statement is).
But although the reasons for a person choosing not to procreate are varied and many, I would like to focus on just one. The idea of not having children because of the environmental impact they may have.
We all know about overpopulation. Incase you are not up to speed, we recently hit the 7 billion person mark. That’s right, 7 billion human beings on this tiny wet rock spinning around in outer space. And whilst opinions are varied on just how many people the planet can handle at any one time, one thing is clear: it sure as hell can’t support 7 billion people who all need access to clean water, clean air, adequate food and all the other things people in developed nations take for granted.
So, if anybody in a developed nation decides they can handle not having kids and proceeds to live their life this way, I say go for it!
I have several people in my life who have made this choice. They reserve the right to foster or adopt at a later stage, but for now, they are completely secure that they have made the right choice not to procreate. This has immediate benefits for them, in that they can focus on their careers, travel, study, even adopt more pets than they otherwise would be able to afford. One couple are even in the process of building an environmentally friendly house which they would have no chance of building if they had kids.
But more importantly, the Earth benefits with one less mouth to feed and water at the quality and rate that people in developed nations demand. Yes, even the environmental grounds for being childfree have come under some criticism, and some have stated that being childfree can actually have a negative effect due to providing a society with a lack of a workforce, and so on. But with 7 billion people on the planet let’s not pretend that we have a shortage of people! Perhaps if our birth rates in the developed world are declining, we will have more room in our homes and hearts for refugees who are already seeing the devastating results of too many people using up natural resources.
In my opinion, people in developed nations choosing not to have children is a good thing.
To those who can make this choice, I raise my glass. Thank you.