December 19, 2007

Oh, Just Grow Up!

People have told me I’m 'young at heart' and I take it as a compliment. But according to Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, it’s a moral flaw.

When the media needs a quote from someone inclined to denounce the choice to remain childfree, they go to Mohler. Two years ago Dr. Mohler appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360˚ in a debate with Madelyn Cain, author of The Childless Revolution, following a video segment of people talking about their reasons for remaining childless, including one childfree woman who was working as a nanny.

In the debate, moderated by CNN correspondent Heidi Collins, Mohler had this to say:

MOHLER:…this is really about avoiding the responsibilities of parenthood. And I find that profoundly sad. You know, obviously, there is a tremendous moral point to be made here. These couples -- well, they have to be very thankful that their parents didn't make the same decision. And society depends upon parenthood and the raising of children being seen as a norm for married couples and as something that is of social value.

COLLINS: But, Albert, isn't it -- pardon the interruption. Isn't it dangerous to assume that everyone can be a good parent?

MOHLER: Well, you know, I think what is more dangerous is to assume that we're going to say that people can be adults, and be recognized as responsible adults, who don't even aspire to grow up, to be mature enough to have children. I mean, parenthood is a part of helping to create adults. We grow up by having our children. Without that responsibility we have a generation of perpetual adolescents, just growing old.

Click here for the full transcript of this show.

Mohler’s not the only one who believes we need to have a kid or two to "be recognized as responsible adults." As Laura C pointed out in her post on, policy wonks and social scientists are struggling with the fact that the three steps to adulthood—employment, marriage, and procreation—are increasingly being delayed in the United States, forcing a reassessment of what were previously considered the normative milestones to adulthood.

So what happens when you skip the having kids part?

You tell us!

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Anonymous said...

IJust because I choose to not have kids or get married, I'm not responsible. Even if one cannot handle looking after a child, one has to have one in order to be "grown up." I guess having a successful job is not enough evidence of maturity.

My 3 sisters all had their first child when they were 18 or 19 years old. That helped me realize how difficult it is to have a child.

lookingglass said...

I just had a mother of three young girls (all under the age of five) tell me that I was being more responsible NOT having kids, than having them and realizing I am a terrible mother.

I understand that being a Mom is hard work, and it's a job I just don't want to do.

Anonymous said...

I really have a problem with someone telling me that a 13 year old who accidentally got pregnant and decided to keep it is more "adult," more "responsible," and more "mature" than I am. I have been a teacher and I have also worked with children who were abused in every possible way (those in the state "system"). You cannot tell me that this work does not take character, maturity, and the ability to help these children grow to adulthood. Many of the children in the second job I mentioned had no idea what a "real" adult was truly like, one that cared for them--even if they cried a little bit or got mad for some reason. If just getting pregnant and choosing to keep the child leads automatically to maturity, I think someone needs to tell all the parents who abuse their children or allow others to do so in their presence that they are supposed to automatically be more responsible than that, because (apparently) parenthood is an open door into being more "adult-like" in their decisions.

That said, I'm extremely embarrassed that a Christian is saying these things. I know for a fact that God can call people to celibacy, which not only means they don't have children--they don't even get married! Apparently, they never reach even an adolescent state, I guess, according to this man. Not everyone is meant to be married and not everyone is meant to be a parent. (I don't think it needs to be mentioned, but what of those who CAN'T have children? On top of the pain of not being able to conceive, they get told that they will never grow up then, some by their own pastors and religious leaders? That's real nice.)

I love kids but that simply doesn't mean that I want to have them or that I'm meant to have them.

Anonymous said...

Having read the transcript, I can see that he avoids really addressing those who cannot conceive at all. Interesting...

Dena Celeste said...

*blinks* ... *blinks again* Okay. So, I suppose me taking care of my parents and getting my butt through school is...immature?

And deciding that caring for two people for the rest of their lives (which could be 30-40 YEARS) is more than enough without adding me avoiding the responsibility of parenthood?

In which reality is this person operating? Still, living on your own, learning to manage bills and cook and all kinds of crap to just get your own self through life seems like enough of a challenge to me. Parenthood is a very important is being the President. Neither is for me.

LauraS said...

Jess-Interesting indeed! I see that as the acid test. How do you react to those who want kids but are struggling with infertility--with pity, isolation, stigma, prayer?
What about dignity, inclusion, the idea that there can be a fulfilling and purposeful life without children of your own?
If you read between the lines in the transcript you will see the underlying fear: if everyone was invited to choose we might never have kids! I seriously doubt that but perhaps it's a bit of projection...

julie said...

Thanks for this article!
If having a successful career, a mortgage, being an active contributor to the community and a proud taxpayer, but *not* having kids makes me immature, I say, bring in the ponies and clowns - I will be a kid forever!
Maybe now I won't need so much moisturizer for the wrinkles

Girls Can't WHAT? said...

Nice. So that makes Brittany Spears' little sister a grown up now? How comforting.

Shelley said...

Mohler again...I have to think that his main reason for attacking the childfree is just to get his name in the news. You'd think the president of one of the nation's largest seminaries would realize that there's no biblical basis for his point of view.

GottabeMe said...

So by that logic, Jamie Lynn Spears is more of a "grown up" than all of us, even though we support ourselves, don't still live with our parents, are in long term committed relationships, and know how to use birth control.

She at least has the advantage of money, so she doesn't have to worry about supporting herself or her child.

But any female who's started menstruating can get pregnant. That does not make her an adult. Neither does a quickie wedding.

Dana said...

Oh so I guess Mother Theresa was a selfish irresponsible immature child?

Oh and all those monks, nuns and priests. I see they just wanted to get out of having kids so they could sleep late? Uh.. oh wait...

And Jesus! Wow I guess Jamie Lynn Spears is more mature and grown up than Jesus ever was. HA I'd love to tell that to the Christians who think that having babies is the grown up thing to do.

Oh and the Pope. Yeah he is the Pope so he could live his life of greed and laziness right? I can just imagine him in the Vatican right now! Feet propped up, eating Nachos in front of the big screen, "Whoa dude, I am like, sooo glad I am the Popeness so I don't have to have kids. I was so wanting to just sleep in and not take responsibility and grow up! Righteous dudes!"

Yeah that darn Pope. What a selfish immature brat. He SO needs to grow up, right??

Robin said...

I don't understand why choosing to be childfree offends people so much and why it's looked down on. First people didn't think you should have a choice regarding having a child and now they think you shouldn't have a choice not having a child.

Kathy said...

I had to read that twice to comprehend that someone would actually think that being a parent equals maturity, even adulthood. Then I'm reminded that not too long ago someone did accused me of being "immature" and "irresponsible" for choosing not to have children. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Mohler is way off the mark. The lemming/sheep mentality is far more immature than free will and the ability to decide what is right for oneself. Since when did marching in lockstep with the "first comes love, then comes marraige..." childhood chant constitute adulthood?" He needs to crawl back under the rock from whence he came.

As others have said, Jamie Lynn Spears is an adult by his sorry standards. Um, no.

WordWench said...

What about the thousands of childfree adults, who are that way either by choice or by chance, who are taking the responsibility of helping to take care of elderly parents???? And by doing so are often relieving the state and society of the cost of caring for them??? With more adults finding themselves caring for their own parents as those parents live longer, what do Mohler and these other ridiculous critics say about this circumstance? Taking care of and nurturing ANYONE whether a child or an adult takes a degree of responsibility that is most DEFINITELY adult.
Mohler and his kind of critic make me sick because they refuse to see the many differing circumstances of life in today's society. He and similar critics are stuck in an era when the average lifespan was the mid or late 70s at most. These days, with seniors regularly reaching their late 80s and early 90s, often beset with Alzheimer's,their adult children are often facing responsibilities unheard of in previous generations.

Anonymous said...

I guess that means people like Michael jackson and Britney Spears are more mature than Mother teresa, Buddha, and Jesus...

I hope he won't mind I I stay a kid.

LauraS said...

I choked on my nachos when I read your comment :-).

If having kids is the acid test for maturity, we're all in trouble :-(