Meghan Daum doesn’t want to have children. She writes in the Los Angeles Times to tell us so and explain her reasons. The only thing that made me wince was her mentioning her husband’s “heartbreak,” but I’ll agree politically that it’s her choice. And Daum gets points with me for refusing to use “overpopulation” as a rationale.
But Daum’s suggestion for “re-framing” the question should make alarm sirens scream:
“But just as my childhood was made better by teachers and other mentors whose unique perspectives were, in some cases, a direct result of not having their own kids, a lot of folks who work with young people recognize that the best thing they can do for future generations is to play a role other than parent — at least when they’re not driving their Porsches and hitting the snooze button. And that’s why this whole childlessness discussion needs to be reframed. …[T]he point is not simply that society should stop judging those of us who don’t have children. It’s that society actually needs us. Children need us. It may take a village to raise a child, but not every villager needs to be a mom or dad. Some of us just need to be who we are. The children we never had would thank us. And so should you.”
I am not thanking anyone under such a “reframed” discussion.
There is a possible context in which Daum’s words might tend toward a good end. But in our context, where the media openly claims children are community property, Daum’s words could easily lead to a bad place.
Daum may be personally wonderful. But I have no reason to trust our present cultural/political regime with helping raise children. Adding an army of parentfree volunteers along the lines of Daum’s description will make it worse.
Daum uses herself as an example as “a court advocate in the foster care system.” (Is this an unpaid volunteer position? Or is this one of Daum’s jobs?) Maybe Daum is a great court advocate. But I fear that many are going to be the kind of people who, for instance, think pot smokers should not be allowed to be parents, and who get little children killed for it (an extreme but real example that represents many other injustices that never make the news).
Childfree adults will tend to be college-educated professionals. They will tend to be career achievers. There is nothing wrong with those things. But this means they will gravitate towards positions of economic and social power from which they can judge, second-guess, and otherwise torment parents for not raising their children “correctly.” We are going to get (if we don’t already have) a ruling regime of opinionated “helpers” in politics, government, the media, education, and so-called “social services.” They will repeat the mantra to themselves: “Children need us.”
It won’t be good for parents and it won’t be good for the children.