Guest Post by LynnS
"It is insulting and condescending, not to mention untrue, to claim that a childfree person is somehow incapable of understanding and experiencing the depth and variety of emotion a childed person does."Last month, I bumped into an old friend of mine I hadn't seen for several months. She looked pale and haggard and a good deal thinner. I suggested we go for lunch to catch up. On our way to the cafe, she told me that she'd taken a leave of absence from her job to care for her elderly father, who'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. All I could do was listen as she confided in me about her father's deteriorating condition - she was finding it increasingly difficult to care for him though she's a nurse, yet she wouldn't hear of him being put into a home.
In the meantime, two women were at the table behind us - one of them had a baby aged about six months. I couldn't help overhearing the mother say to her friend "You don't know what exhaustion or sacrifice is till you've had a baby".
Uhmmm . . . excuse me? Isn't what my friend doing a sacrifice? She also looked pretty exhausted to me!
I was offended by her comments but it got me thinking. Why do some parents feel the need to hijack emotions in this manner? It's not just exhaustion or sacrifice the childfree apparently don't understand.
It's unconditional love. It's true happiness. It's selflessness. It's responsibility.
What does this mean?
Are we to believe that our own experiences and feelings pale in comparison to those of parents? Are we to believe that every life experience, no matter how good or bad, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary, can't possibly compete with the exalted state of parenthood?
As for parents themselves, why are they so quick to dismiss and invalidate their lives pre-children?Irritating as this is, there's something else which disturbs me: the sometimes spoken, sometimes implied belief that you have not fully lived life until you become a parent.
The belief that as a childfree person, you are in a state of arrested emotional development. The belief that raising children is the only worthwhile thing doing in life. The belief that simply by reproducing you automatically become a complete person. The belief that children are necessary to allow you to fulfill your potential as a human being - which includes living through the whole gamut of human emotion.
Hogwash, I say.
Parental hijacking also makes me suspicious. If you are at peace with the decisions you make, it should not be necessary to "big yourself up" by dismissing and invalidating your life pre-children. It is insulting and condescending, not to mention untrue, to claim that a childfree person is somehow incapable of understanding and experiencing the depth and variety of emotion a childed person does. It is not the job of the child to help you fulfill your potential. That responsibility is yours and yours alone.
Technorati Tag: Childfree
July 23, 2007
Guest Post by LynnS