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Anyone else feel aggrieved by the Child-free movement?

(220 Posts)
beatie Mon 16-May-05 11:18:55

Mostly my feelings have surfaced in response to this article

in The Observer and the responses of support it provoked the following week. (Can't find them online but they are the usual)

I’m pretty sick of smug journalists writing articles about being child-free and how they feel so hard done by because the rest of society is having children. I’m as sick of their articles vilifying parents as I am sick of reading articles about parenting.

Must there be such a polarisation of child-free Vs parents within society? Can the two camps not co-exist and appreciate what all have to offer society?

And what about some of the terminology that is used by the Child-free, by men and women…. Some of it smacks of misogyny. Child-rearers? Breeders? What vile phrases for women to use against their fellow womankind.

I don’t give two hoots if women make a choice not to have children but I mind very much that they have a problem with those who do. Whilst their act of not having children is no more selfish than my desire to have children, they do show themselves up to being selfish people when they start complaining about their taxes being spent on things which benefit children - like education, nursery places maternity benefits etc… Are they that small-minded not to realise that we ALL pay taxes into a pot from which we do not take out an even amount? I don’t begrudge paying for day centres for the mentally ill, drug rehabilitation units, incapacity benefit, unemployment benefits, new roads, regeneration projects (the list could go on) or many things which I rarely use or hope never to use. Why are parents being singled out?

Have they forgotten that sometime in the past, someone’s taxes paid for their maternity ward, their children’s library, their education?

One the one hand they complain that they come last in the queue to be allowed to take holidays during school holiday time whilst on the other hand gloat that they can take several long-haul (term-time) holidays per year (in fact cite this as a huge plus reason not to have children)

I wholeheartedly agree that ALL employees (not just parents) should be entitled to flexible working and should be able to establish a good work/life balance but often it is non-parents who set the precedence for working excessive hours over and above what is contracted. Also, why moan to us? Parents and parenting groups have spent decades fighting for flexible working rights (it’s not like we even really have it - only the right to request it). If other groups want it, then they can fight for it too.

Pre-children I worked in two different places of work which offered flexi-time to all. My BIL has no children and is allowed to take a 3 month sabbatical every two years (he uses it to travel). Another friend of mine is child-free and she has been allowed to compact her hours into 4 days. Such flexible jobs do exist for non-parents. And there are plenty of part-time jobs out there… many, many part time jobs. They are typically low paid and lowly rewarded but nothing is stopping non-parents from applying for these jobs.

Do child-free women really want a return to the 1960s attitude towards women of childbearing age? How would it benefit them if ALL women had to leave their careers and work-places as soon as they have a baby? It would most probably send the feminism backwards, leaving these child-free women working in an even more male-dominated workplace, perhaps having to put up with sexist comments from the men wondering when the said child-free woman was going to leave and have babies.

Grrrr - can you tell I get a bit hot under the collar about this?!

bossykate Mon 16-May-05 11:31:02

hi beatie

this is the response to Lucy Siegle's article from yesterday's observer. yes i agree with you...

although i'm starting to avoid any kind of parenting article - ones like this merely serve to polarize the issue and overstate it imo.

can't bear the middle class angstiness of pieces like this either. it's always something like "at a dinner party recently...." yawn. do journalists go to more dinner parties than the rest of us? seems like it from the way they inevitably crop up in articles like this.

Caligula Mon 16-May-05 11:37:17

beatie, large round of applause from me. You've said it all.

I'd go further and totally object to the very term "child-free". It implies that not being child "free" is a burden. What's the opposite? Child-laden? Child-burdened? Child-chained? Child-afflicted? What's the opposite of free?

I could rant for hours about it, but a) you've done it so effectively and b) must get some work done!

flashingnose Mon 16-May-05 11:37:53

Love the article linked by bk. I think the fact that Lucy Siegle comes across so-called smug parents at dinner parties speaks volumes TBH.

dinosaur Mon 16-May-05 11:39:00

I do agree, Beatie, although I don't buy a Sunday paper as I never get time to read them, and therefore like BK I manage to avoid a lot of this stuff.

I wish that more women journalists - whether they have children or not - would just find something else to write about!

Fio2 Mon 16-May-05 11:39:46

I hate hate hate it how you cant take children into pubs and restraunbts in this country anfd feel comfortable,. you can dine all night in Europe. I find this anti kids thing disgusting, ffs people reproduce stoip being so fucking bitter - thats what i say

snafu Mon 16-May-05 11:40:53

Read that article last week too, and the 'reply' this morning. Both wound me up - as beatie says, so polarised.

Before having kids it would never have occurred to me to be pissed off that my taxes were going towards (amongst many others things) maternity benefits, nursery places, etc etc etc. I absolutely despise this "I'm not doing it (at this very moment) so why should I pay for it?" attitude.

beatie Mon 16-May-05 11:41:51

Yes - I must make a conscious effort to avoid all articles with the word children or Parents in the headline.

beatie Mon 16-May-05 11:43:33

I feel better for getting it off my chest though. I think it sent my blood pressure soaring (not good as I am currently in a state of breeding again)

snafu Mon 16-May-05 11:43:53

What I did like was Lucy Siegle's admission that her own mother read the article and effectively just raised her eyebrows and said 'Hmmmm' - or words to that effect!

Fio2 Mon 16-May-05 11:44:03

snafu, just goes to show how selfish our society has become

its all me me me me me me

dinosaur Mon 16-May-05 11:44:08

I didn't know that beatie! Congratulations! When is the baby due?

snafu Mon 16-May-05 11:45:27

Yeah, fio, guess I shouldn't be surprised really.

beatie Mon 16-May-05 11:45:33

aww thanks. Baby #2 is due in September.

koalabear Mon 16-May-05 11:45:43

well done beatie - totally agree with you

whilst i respect anyone's right not to have children (and some of my best friends are in that category), I think that it's a bit weird to complain about other people doing it

the whole thing - it is like canniblism - people complaining about children, who were once children themselves

also, thankfully for our children, someone will be able to replace their hip when the childless are 80, serve them meals-on-wheels, collect their garbage, pay the taxes that provides their services in old age

if we were all to "not have children", it would be a fairly unviable world, and a fairly sad one

Tinker Mon 16-May-05 11:46:03

I wish they'd realise that most people with children simply don't care if others choose to have children or not. I don't pity them, or envy them, or hate them, I just don't care. What I do really hate about the tone of some of this 'debate' is that those without children seem to actively hate parents and children - which weakens their stance because then I can't help feeling that they do have a problem with being "child-free".

And this thing about leave only being available for parents...well my experience is only in the public sector, I aconcede, but I know plenty of childless people who work part-time or have special leave without pay. And therein lies the other side of the story. Yes, I do work term-time and have to put up with snide remarks sometimes (from men, of course) but I get paid less and they could do it if they wanted to as well.

Fio2 Mon 16-May-05 11:47:39

exactly tinker

docket Mon 16-May-05 11:48:45

Beatie, you put that very eloquently.

I find it very depressing to read these sort of articles, usually written by women denigrating women. No one should have to justify having children or not having them, it's a totally pointless and damaging debate.

handlemecarefully Mon 16-May-05 11:52:05

I recoiled at the term 'breeder' too - revolting.

And I laughed out loud at the analogy of childless workers arguing the unfairness of flexible hours due to childcare responsibilities when they might have pets to look after, who also have needs. For crissakes!

However I do think she has a fair point of two. It must be irritating as hell to have mums tell you that you are missing out by not having children and expressing disbelief at your decision.

And on reflection it is rather rude to talk exclusively about child related things when at social gatherings with the childless...(the dinner party she mentions when schools, toilet training etc dominated the conversation)

Marina Mon 16-May-05 11:52:34

Hear hear Tinker. Lucy Siegle is a tedious woman with a problem, I think. I spotted this in MIL's Observer at the weekend and nearly dozed off into my tea. Such originality, Lucy. It must have taken you all of 30 seconds to crank this truly novel take on modern life.

handlemecarefully Mon 16-May-05 11:53:53

I think that childless employees however should reflect that the grass isn't always greener. My career went down the toilet when I had children (and had to cut my hours / couldn't be flexible and stay late etc). I would be on the Board by now if I hadn't had children (although I am happy with the decision that I made)

Gobbledigook Mon 16-May-05 11:55:46

I echo Caligula - I wholeheartedly agree with you Beatie and couldn't put it any better than you have yourself!

Fio2 Mon 16-May-05 11:55:54

i actually read it in the observer but found the whole article quite confusing as non of it made sense to me

puddle Mon 16-May-05 11:58:10

Agree agree agree with all the posts here. My organisation does not discriminate between parents and child free. Exactly Tinker and HMC re: taking the drop in salary and profile when you reduce hours.

I did laugh at the comment in this week's paper that the next thing will be Lucy Siegle pregnant and with one of those incredibly dreary '9 months to go' columns. I get so fed up of all these articles, whether fed up and childless or 'I'm the first person ever to have a baby and isn't it hard/ wonderful/ who'd have thought they'd cry all night' etc etc.

dinosaur Mon 16-May-05 11:59:05

Hear hear puddle. Yawn.

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