Today we have a guest poster: my hubby. Enjoy!
Hi everyone, here's a quiz from me, 'Firecracker Hubby':
..Give up? Two things: They all had children - AND NONE OF THEM SHOULD HAVE.
We've often discussed the misuse of the word "selfish" in descriptions of the childfree by parents. And selfishness is almost universally linked to immaturity: all children are born narcissists, and it's mainly the responsibility of parents to teach them the value of cooperation, compromise, and the give-and-take of healthy relationships. Men in western society are considered more "selfish" (i.e. 'immature') than women, because they supposedly aren't born with the additional nurturing, self-sacrificing instincts that come with the ability to grow and 'produce' life inside their bodies. This belief, of course, is bolstered by unending gender stereotypes and the assumption that an excess of intense emotional bonding is a fatal weakness if you own a penis. So, as a man becomes "mature", he is expected to relinquish the 'childlike self-indulgence' of impulse or adventure for a tradition of providing, sacrifice, and the subsuming of his youthful lifestyle for one of a 'grown man'.
Soo..how many guys do you all know who are just ENDLESSLY THRILLED, FULFILLED AND ENGAGED with this new life?!
Think about it: if procreating is THAT important, why would we often be so nonchalant and unengaged with it? Is it because it's mainly the 'woman's job'? Like almost everything else in your adult life, having (or keeping) children was your choice. But if you guys were that unengaged at your chosen professional jobs, you'd be sacked before your first lunch break. If you were that uninvolved with the football playoffs at the altar of the big screen TV, you'd be looked at as a weirdo at best, "gay" at worst. If you played drums in a hard rock band, spent money on golf outings, or were a regular at a poker game, and were as noncommittal with those pursuits as you often are with your progeny, you'd quickly be shunned like Ted Nugent at a PETA rally. And although the above activities are not inherently harmful to yourself or others, society (and likely your wife or fiance) drills into you that, once you reach a certain age range and number of kids, it's time to "settle down" and put 'juvenile' pursuits like this on a back burner, or on hold. Why? It's obvious - they're SELFISH! So all your instincts to exercise the myriad freedoms and enrichments that come with living in a vast, multicultural democracy, and having some spending money to indulge them, are suddenly wrong. And just because your honey has a "biological clock" (a myth, incidentally; but that's another post) and you have a good job, now you must subjugate all your interests and hobbies that DON'T relate directly to family, and consider abandoning them completely, in many cases. Not surprisingly, most guys can't and won't do this. Men are taught from birth that their masculinity and identity are tied largely to their force of will, self-determination, and brave (or reckless) disregard for consequences. It's against our instincts to allow so 'feminine' a pursuit as child-rearing to cramp our style..we're the HUNTERS..THE WARRIORS..THE DUDES!! ("What's that, dear? All right, all right..can't it wait until halftime?!")
So, as it ever has been, the 'civilized' guys who've chosen to breed live vicariously through men like the ones mentioned above, unless they find out firsthand what their heroes' impulses and misdeeds have REALLY brought them. Or they live in a constant struggle with their partners, kids, and themselves to reconcile fitting in with society, and truly realizing who they are or could be, and if the price of 'being grown up' was worth it. Many will divorce because of this, others will simply live in ( and cause ) misery and resentment.
For the female readers, if you think this whole rant has been a bit sexist in it's stereotyping - everything I've written really applies to you, too. The most important thing about childfreedom is universal, and applies to anything in life: If you ever make ANY irreversible decision, you must NEVER, EVER make it with the influence of family, friends, peers, your religion, your society or even a partner who claims to love you. Because any moment you aren't yourself is a moment you inch closer to being nobody, and if your identity is that easily molded, it's never coming back - or didn't exist to begin with.
Or - you could just pull the old; "I had to give that up. I'll just watch my KID do it."