I read an advice column recently in which a woman was pretty much shamed for admitting that she and her husband don’t care for children. As in they don’t like the critters. Why is this something to be shamed for?
I admit that interacting with people in general is a task for me. I tend to enjoy being in my head and find that silence is most comforting when in the company of others. Few things are more distressing to me than having to interact with unfamiliar children or those who, from experience, I find difficult. I’m definitely from the “children are to be seen and not heard” school of thought, though my actions are in stark contrast to that.
Children are fickle beings. One minute you’re laughing and having a good time, and the next they’ve inexplicably burst into tears and you fear you’ve scarred them for life but don’t even know what you did. Or maybe that’s just my own. In either case, they’re innocently volatile beings and for me, it’s tiring to interact with them. There’re the hundreds of questions they ask in an hour’s span (let’s practice being quiet, shall we?). Then there’s the unpredictable nature of their behavior. And let’s not forget how emotionally undeveloped they are — you ask what’s wrong and they can’t tell you because they simply don’t have the mental capacity to process and communicate it. It’s not their fault … it’s just how kids are.
*insert blank stare*
I know plenty of people who have made the choice not to raise kids or acknowledge that they don’t really like kids. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In our society, it takes a lot of guts to be true to yourself and be honest enough to buck the expectation to procreate. I have a kid and I am exhausted from dodging questions about when I’ll get married and have another. I can’t even fathom how frustrating it must be for someone who has consciously decided to forego parenting and enjoy kids from afar (… very, very far). It’s also mature of them to recognize and isolate that they don’t enjoy spending time with kids. Rather than making them out to be jerks, realize what they’re saying and doing: instead of forcing them into kids’ presence, let them keep their space for everyone’s happiness.
As a parent, one consciously chooses to involve kids in your life for the foreseeable future. That also means that by consciously not having a child, you have the right to dictate when you don’t involve them. One’s home definitely on that list of ways you can create a kid-free life. From the way you decorate to the food you buy, it’s designed to fit your lifestyle, not those of kids others want to bring into your space. And let’s not even get into how terrible it is to push your kids onto someone and get mad at them for challenging you. Listen when someone tells you something and don’t just ignore it because it’s not what you want to hear from them. All those folks in my life who show how little they like kids? I don’t ever ask them to babysit. #pleasantries
I know the world isn’t perfect and that it’s impossible to isolate oneself from the youth. Between family dinners, weddings, graduations, and the like, it’s hard to not be around people you don’t like, and kids are inevitably a part of that. But it’s not fair to shame people because they prefer these interactions to be few and far between. It’s as if children are put on a pedestal and can do no wrong. And frankly, sometimes they’re just little a$$holes.