Like in the life of every childfree person, recently I had a "run into" with an acquintance - friends, for some - who questioned again my decision about not to have children from two fronts, which amazed me by their irrationality. One was, the questioning about whether my boyfriend knows and what does he think about it. The other was the argument, that I was a child too.
For the first, whether my boyfriend knows or doesn't and what his thoughts are on the matter, are something that pertain strictly to him and me. Besides, I am not the property of my boyfriend, nor am I the property of nobody, therefore it is in my rights to decide what happens or not with my body. Giving birth, having children is MY RIGHT, not my obligation. It is my right also to decide not to have children. Topics about my boyfriend's rights to have children have already been addressed in prior posts.
For the second matter, yes, I was a child, because people can't be born in adult form, but that doesn't mean that, because I was a child, I must make children. Or is it that, because we were poor and I "had want" of many things in my childhood, if I were to have children, they must suffer the same needs and shortnings? Because I was raised atheist, even if I've found God later and believe in Him, I must raise children atheists? Or maybe because I was born a girl I must have only girls? However this irrational, laughable argument is the kickstart of this post.
One of the usual arguments pro-child campaign is that children and parenthood is a vital stage of life, and not living it equals to miss a step of life that ensures the only real maturity. In their philosophy, no real maturity can be attained if not through parenthood. I'll step away here from counter-arguing that no rational maturity can be assigned through parenthood when it comes to the parents that kill their babies or torture them, put their children to work or prostitute themselves, or down right neglect them or raise them in unhealthy environments. These are beyond proving and the shelves of Children Protection are filled with plenty of sad cases that can, alone, rest this case.
The point here comes from the line of "attaining maturity". The question here is "What do we understand under 'maturity'?". Maturity is often related to adulthood, wisedom, the capability to reason and be able to make decisions of its own and shoulder the upcoming consequences of it. It can be said in simpler terms, that maturity means being fully responsible of one's actions. Though indeed parenthood demands - ideally - capability to be fully responsible of one's actions, since with parenthood you must assume responsible over someone else, it doesn't mean that parenthood indeed gives you such responsability, or that - lacking of it before parenthood - you will grow into it by the force of being a parent. Furthermore, the idea of waiting until parenthood to become responsible and therefore mature (as no maturity can attained without parenthood, as pro-child preechers say) nulifies any other source of learning, maturing, stripping any sense or need to be responsible of one's actions and one's life and its conditions and circumstances. Let's not talk here about the shock it means for parents-to-be to not only become suddenly responsible for themselves - something they've never done so far - and also responsible for someone who is not in the capability to be responsible for itself.
Something these pro-family groups don't seem to want others to know is that you can learn to be responsible much before you become a parent, and therefore, you can attain maturity not only before parenthood, but also without it. This is particularly applied to women, where even today no woman can seem to be considered fulfilled, mature, achieved or even normal, if she doesn't go through motherhood. No matter how good she is in her other activities - be it work or not - if she's not a mother at a given age, she's a freak, bitter, aberration. In this same line, women close to the age of having children or slightly under are not taken seriously because they are "up to be taken", and therefore considered unreliable. It's not strange though that in a world that pushed the family-centric model over us, that force us to choose to be a mother over everything else, even being a woman or being a person, laborally women are in such a terrible position. No women is seen as a person, therefore able to prove her reliability through her daily actions, but seen as a womb that some man will eventually fill with seen and have poping children, breastfeeding them, converted to domestic life and puting her family before everything. We are socially and laborally preceived as unreliable, temporal work that will never be able to step in the place of men.
As women, family-centric societies preech that the only kind of real achievement we can ever aspire for is in motherhood. If motherhood doesn't make you feel fulfilled, you are unnatural. If you are fulfilled by something else, then "you don't know what's good", "you are immature", "you'll grow out of it eventually". Family-centric groups, of course, excersize this sort of pressure over men as well, making them see family as the last link of a long chain of conquests that prove his virility, his manliness, and add to it, they are socially pressed to take responsability not only for the children, but also the woman or women sexually linked to him. So back off ladies, men are in in this with us.
So basically we are bullied into family, rather than let to choose it by our own free will. It's almost as if childfree-ness were the only real, freely taken decision. By selling us this preposterous idea that parenthood is the only acceptable mean towards maturity or achievement, be it or not, attained or not, children become a tool, a mean towards that end. It's not only unfair to use someone to get ahead in life, but then proven that no maturity can be attained, what kind of achievement do you get from having a baby? You've achieved to get laid? You've achieved to get knocked up? That you've got past the splitting pain of childbirth - or made someone go through it? Talking about the achievement got through "watching him grow" and "his achievements are mine" sound to me like crap or stealing. First of all, either you simply achieve to keep it alive, which is hardly and achievement, but your responsability for giving birth to him or her, or taking credit for something that's entirely the child's achievement. You can't learn for others, you can't evolve for others, you can't progress for others, just like noone can do any of those for you. So where's your achievement? In making your teachings stick? Okay, and what are you teaching?
Because, if you've denied yourself the chance to mature outside of parenthood, if you denied yourself to accept responsability if not until after parenthood, if you bought the line that parenthood is the only real achievement you've got - which is using others, your own children, to accept worth in yourself, and steal their achievements, congratulate yourself for what's your responsability in the begining, or even for what's not yours to decide or control - then on which grounds can you expect your kids to be responsible, to mature, or on what ground you dare to tell them that they can be whatever they dream to be? Are you going to honestly tell your little girl that she can be all she wants as long as she'll drop it when the time comes to have children? Or are you gonna lie and spend your life spinning tales, because once you were a child and that's what your parents did with you?
Yes, I break off the path designed by society to me. I've chosen to achieve fulfillment through other means, towards builiding myself by myself. I chose to make no one my achievement, but myself. No use of children, but develop myself, try out the path without dragging in innocent bystanders in my quest for completition. Funny thing, I do feel achieved, fulfilled and happy, and this is more than what I can say for many of those with kids. Childfree need not to blame their frustration or inability to enjoy themselves in "have kids and you must sacrifice things for them", but the childfree takes the responsability, when that excuse is often heard from parents, or told to parents by others, when they try to do things they could do when they didn't have them.
Thing is, to summarize, that parents or not, childfree or not, as people we should seek honestly our personal fulfilling - whatever it is - and attain maturity through life as a constant process since birth, and instead of making the choice of becoming a parent a social obligation, make it into a personal choice where whatever the outcome, whatever the decision, it will be respected by all of those around us.
As a childfree, I respect your decision to become a parent, even though I don't share it nor I can comprehend it. Please show me and my piers the same kindness.