Why Does Child-Free Equal Child Hate? ~ Catherine Beekmans

Via on Jul 9, 2013

Blond Boy Crying

Shouldn’t children be treated with the same amount of respect as any other group of people?

After a recent discussion with some of my peers on Twitter about people who choose to be child-free being vehement child haters, I felt compelled to write a more detailed rant on the topic.

The debate arose when one of the people I follow re-tweeted an article asking the childless of the workforce to help pick up the slack for people who choose to have children. Comments that followed from her child-free comrades included calling children “brats” and “mewling spawn.”

What is the deal with the child-free group hating children?

To clear up the meaning behind that statement, I’m talking about hating children loudly and in public, just because they are children.

Not every person who chooses not have children has such an awful attitude, so this is addressed to those who do; I’m talking about using lazy parenting and poor behavior as an excuse to hate all children. I’m talking about insulting and mean statements posted on Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else about and towards kids and the people who choose to have them.

I’m talking about people who refuse to act like a grown up about their choice.

Yeah, that’s right: child-free child haters often act more like children than children do. I’m also directing this towards childless people who feel the need to make comments about how children should be raised, especially when the comments are extremist and closed minded.

So, you’re saying that if we had continued to hit our children, the world would be a much better place? That every single child is lazy and rude because we didn’t send them outside from sun up to sun down? That if we forced them to pull their pants up, we would have an end to war and hunger?

Yes, I’ve had experiences where a child has kicked the back of my seat during an entire movie. I’ve been on planes with babies that just won’t stop screaming. I’ve seen dirty and hyperactive kids leaving a trail of wreckage behind them in stores. Don’t think that because we’re parents, we are completely oblivious to the crap that some children are allowed to get away with. Neglectful and lazy parenting is the exception, not the rule. We don’t like it any more than you do, but we also don’t use it as an excuse for stereotypical and hateful behavior.

[Photo via altopower on Flickr]

These kids are still human beings and are worthy of kindness and patience—any living creature is.

Crying babies grow up to be artists, athletes and world-changers. A child who’s having a tantrum in the middle of the produce section may one day be the person who makes the political decisions about your future as a senior. These aren’t just little pests that have been placed here to annoy—they will be you some day.

I’ve got to wonder why some child-free individuals spend so much time and energy expelling negative crap out into the world about kids and parenting. If you don’t want to have children and dislike them so intensely, why are you so focused on them?

Is this a maturity issue? Is your attitude a result of how much kindness and compassion you received yourself as a child? I can only imagine the inner turmoil that must take place to keep up that hateful momentum.

Believe it or not, most parents don’t like their kids acting like lunatics any more than you do. We are raising our children to be caring, generous and mindful citizens but that takes time and patience—from everyone. Your sneers and woefully obvious glares won’t change anyone’s behavior but it will change how the world views you. Let me repeat something you’ve already heard before: you will never completely understand unless you’ve got kids.

To the child-free child haters:

When a baby is crying, it’s in distress. He or she is not trying to annoy anyone within earshot. If the baby is somewhere a baby shouldn’t generally be (and there are many opinions on where a child should and shouldn’t be), your issue is not with the child but with who put the child in that situation. Keep in mind that sometimes, parents make mistakes just like anyone else. A little compassion can go a long way.

If the child is misbehaving, again, your issue isn’t necessarily with the child, but with the parenting—maybe. You should ask yourself if the child’s behavior is actually bad behavior or if it’s just that you’re allowing yourself to be overly irritated simply because you’re “child-free, damn it, and children just shouldn’t be anywhere public, ever.”

Lastly, no one’s asking the child-free to love children. Dislike them all you want, but please do it quietly, with respect to children and their parents. Replace “child” in your child hating statements with words like gay, black, women or disabled and maybe then you’ll understand why parents are so insulted themselves and on behalf of their kids.

The bottom line is that all humans should be treated with respect and dignity. You don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be child free and you can be proud of your choice.

There are many good reasons not to have kids and despite being a parent, I can agree with many of them.

You can, however, be vocal about your child-free decision without being hurtful in the process.

Choose not to perpetuate hate of any kind towards any group of people.

 

 

Like I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person on Facebook.

 

Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

About Catherine Beekmans

Catherine Beekmans is a shy, friendly Canadian living in a small house with her two nearly-perfect children, two kitties and a goofy dog. Cat spends her free time reading, growing vegetables and cooking them, traveling and learning life lessons courtesy of and along with her family. Cat began contributing as a typo vigilante and now eagerly serves as an editor, writer and student of the mindful life.

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Comments

56 Responses to “Why Does Child-Free Equal Child Hate? ~ Catherine Beekmans”

  1. Christy says:

    I am pretty sure the people that talk like this could HAVE children just as well as be "child-free". I don't think this subject is accurately directed at the right right group. If you are upset that people are talking ill of children it shouldn't matter if they have children or not, you are making yourself look as tactless as the subjects you are pointing the finger at.

  2. Starre Vartan says:

    I LOVE this post.

    As a proudly childfree person who literally cannot understand WHY people need to make more people. As a person who encourages birth control and discourages friends to have more than they already do (whether that's one, two or five). As someone who has done a TON of childcare (which is why I never want my own; it's hard, frustrating, annoying, mindless (not all the time, but much of the time) WORK pure and simple). As an aside, a bit haha to all those parents who have never changed a diaper before their own child's – ludicrous; you would not jump into being a sixth-grade teacher without experience or education, and you're going to have a kid without ever having cared for one? Even for a couple days here or there? Really?

    But I must agree; children are people too. They DO deserve respect, compassion, and all the things regular people do. Absolutely.

    The reason so many of us childless people complain all the time? It ain't immaturity. (And hey, we were all kids once, we all have that perspective) It's that your goddam kids are so annoying!! And that almost always, it's US the nonparents, who have to speak up. Cause the other parents sure don't. And (for the most part) most kids have so few manners it's insane. I travel a lot, and spend my time in many, many other places, off the beaten path and on, and let me say, American children are THE WORST. The problem is not the kids, it's American parents, period. They don't set limits, they are wishy-washy, they try to be their kids' friends, and the result is asshole kids who act out because they have no boundaries, which are (newsflash!) really, really good for children, make them feel like they are held within a sensible and consistent world that makes sense (nuance can come later).

    Occasionally, I meet kids who were raised like I was; "please" and "Thank you" (I was on that at 4 years old); able to sit by themselves quietly drawing or playing or exploring the nearby woods; also able to sit at a table with adults, eat with proper silverware and ask to be excused when I was finished eating (or contribute to the conversation when I was older); able to eat foods other than "kid" foods. In other words, I was a kid; I was loud – when I was outside (outside voice and inside voice, whatever happened to that one?) and ran around for hours in the woods, and did my homework so that I could play with friends and got scared when the lightening crashed but knew I was safe. My parent (my grandma) did ALL this for me, for her, and for society.

    I don't get annoyed with babies crying, ever—interestingly when I was in the rainforest on a guided hike, a baby began crying and the parents were mortified, afraid that baby was scaring away the wildlife we were all there to see; but no, the guide said, a baby crying doesn't bother the animals a bit, it's a natural sound.

    But a child behaving like a jerk? That's not natural at all. But it is, unfortunately American.

  3. Ralph Monkman says:

    According to expert physiologists a childs brain is not mature until they are in their late teens or early twenties. It takes a lot of understanding to react to a child who is trying to interact with his or her adult companionship and parenting rules.

  4. theiconoclasticunschooler says:

    Childism is just as serious a problem as any other prejudice.

  5. Commenter says:

    We would hate them quietly if kids and parents were quiet too. Pretty simple really – ours is merely a reaction to someone else's inactions. Changing our reactions isn't going to help their (in)actions, whereas them changing their attitudes and behaviours would actually help.

  6. ash says:

    i think that sometimes, it's that those of us with out children, either because we physically can't have them or haven't got someone to have one with, may be deeply sad about this and use the excuse of wow, children are so horrible and that is why i don't have one, to try and make themselves feel a little better.. but they would probably deny that to the end if that was the case..

  7. stefania says:

    I don't particularly like children in the exact way that I don't particularly like people. I do respect them, though. I also am childless (firstly by choice, and since 2010 because I cannot have them), but I have always had the same attitude towards children: I respect them but I don't scream with joy at the view of a child.
    My attitude, though, is misunderstood and to many people I seem a child hater while I am only a bad-behaving-children hater, just like I am a bad-behaving-adult hater.
    During my journey, though, I found out that many many people say they hate children, and are rude about that, only because they have fertility issues. In fact, they become helicopter parents the moment they have one.
    Not everyone is sincere about the whole children business!

  8. Mary D says:

    Being childfree myself, and often annoyed with out-of-control children, I can understand a why a parent might want to plea for understanding and patience when their children are simply being children. However, I don't think this article serves to bridge the animosity sometimes lurking between those with children and those who are childfree.

    First, I think the inquiry that spawned this article, that being a parent asking for the childfree to pick up the slack for them at work, is only going to bring out the frustration and anger of the childfree. The inquiry itself speaks to a level of entitlement that some parents feel that they deserve special treatment just because they have children. Of course, that's going to bring out some nastiness from some of the childfree folks. Also, if the point is people saying mean things to and about children, why are you excluding those people with children who behave that way? Why do you find that behavior particularly hateful in those without children.

    I wholeheartedly agree that all humans, are deserving of respect, and thus, criticism should be directed towards a behavior, not as to who that person is, whether it be based on race, religion, orientation, or whether or not they have children.

  9. Sybil says:

    Please don't get me started on this issue. :)

    One thing I've never understood is why people are given tax breaks or government handouts (depending upon what country you live in) simply because they procreate. I know. That's a WHOLE BIG CAN OF WORMS.

    Bottom line though – both people with children and without children pay taxes. Where's my non-child bearing incentive?

  10. Kaye says:

    Crying babies also grow up to be thugs, criminals, and just plain assholes. That kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store may also grow up to be the adult who robs your house.

    I'm of the opinion that all people should be treated with respect, regardless of age. I do my best to remain friendly even to people who are cursing me out and screaming in my face. But don't speak like all kids turn out well.

  11. Yoshimi says:

    I am childless by choice, but I'm not a child hater. I can, however, attest to the fact that American kids are largely inconsiderate selfish little people. I used to live in Indonesia, and have traveled to several other countries. Nowhere else have I witnessed such rude behavior by children as I have here in the U.S. It is an embarrassment and a testament to our poor poor parenting here. What else could it be? I get more upset with the parents who made a hasty choice to procreate, then bitch and moan about how tired they are, how difficult it is to control their little ones. Do most parents not think about the consequences of having children? Is there no preparation in the process? Why do kids in other countries (with much less) behave with respect while kids here have tantrums on a regular basis, yet have much more? It is not the children's fault. The poor behavior is all thanks to poor parenting.

  12. Chris says:

    I think there's a definite perception problem here.

    Have you ever had a squirrel in your attic? The squirrel runs around the attic and causes all kinds of chaos. People who have had one of these little bastards there, lose sleep and worry about the damage until either a) they call an exterminator or b) the squirrel leaves. We didn't ask for the squirrel. Most of the time, we don't want to kill the squirrel. And when we see squirrels in the park, we think they're cute.

    That's what it's like to be childfree.

    People who have elected to not have children like to do things. We like to eat at restaurants, enjoy a movie, and get out and socialize. What we have had to put up with is "parents who can't control their kids and insist on bringing them everywhere". These are the ones that think bringing a crying infant to a movie theatre is a good idea. These are the ones that think there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing a diaper on a crowded bus. These are the ones that think a restaurant is a playground and think nothing of the dining experience of other customers. And these are the parents that think it's perfectly okay to dump their extra work on co-workers so they can leave early for little Billy's baseball game.

    If you were the recipient of any of these things you'd be a bit peeved, too. Why? We don't want to take up the slack and we deserve some peace.

    Unfortunately, there is no refuge for any childfree couple. We can't go to a bar because parents will bring their kids there – despite the fact that alcohol and other adult conversation is going on. There are no childfree performances of feature films that we can watch in peace (how many movies have been ruined by a parent that can't control their kid?).

    Give us a place to be where we can just enjoy a peaceful moment without some parent who feels entitled to ruin it.

    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. It's just a bit of reality. We don't hate your kids… we just want to escape them.

  13. Michael says:

    The title of this article is Why Does Child-Free = Child-Hate? In other words, as the article strongly implies, Why Does Everyone Who Is Child-Free Hate Children? It then goes on to criticize child-free people for overgeneralizing the poor parenting and poor behavior of a few individuals to all children and all parents: "Neglectful and lazy parenting is the exception, not the rule. We don’t like it any more than you do, but we also don’t use it as an excuse for stereotypical and hateful behavior." The author does not even consider the possibility that the behavior she criticizes is the behavior of a few individuals. No, that is not possible. Everyone who is childless hates children. The childless are mean, grumpy boors with no manners. This article makes me wonder about the questions of, Why Do People With Children Hate People Who Are Childless? I am on the receiving end of far more bad behavior from people with children due to my decision to remain childless than I am from any other source.

  14. yzo says:

    Everyone knows the world is over populated — why did you have children when you had to turn around and ask someone to work overtime for you? Why couldn't you be like the child-free who are trying to fix the planet instead dump their burdens on others?

  15. Gregg says:

    The mostly profoundly effective environmentally positive decision a human being can make is to choose not reproduce.

    Period.

    You can choose to go vegan, move off the grid, install solar panels, etc. None of these actions are as effective as choosing not to reproduce. Because its exponential – not just your children, but their children, and their children.

    Most of the severe problems we face on this planet stem from the fact that there are just too many of us.

  16. lovechildfree says:

    To follow the logic of this article, if children are just like other human beings and should be treated like other groups of people, that means that it is free to have negative opinions and not want to be around children. Problems only arise if there is an issue of mistreatment and abuse. Humans and groups of humans are not forcibly liked. Laws dictate that humans and groups of humans cannot be abused and discriminated against based on certain characteristics. And, no, not wanting to be around children, being annoyed by children, and not hosting events with children is not discrimination. I find some children to be annoying just as many adults are annoying. I do not hate children but I also prefer to not be around children if it is a choice between being alone or being with adults. That often includes the children who I know and love very dearly–there are many children in my life.

  17. Gina A says:

    It seems like the writer of this piece has a bit of chip on her shoulder. Maybe she should look in the mirror and see if there isn't some resentment being harbored towards childless people. She stated that she gave birth to her first child very young and that it was not planned. I find the piece very accusatory. I don't have children and I find in the "crunchy granola community" naturally everyone is supposed to think kids are wonderful magical beings and that having one makes you better, more spiritual. I like kids, not all kids-but I agree with the idea that children-in public settings should be made to behave in a manner befitting where they are. In a restaurant an adult would not start to scream and cry and throw a tantrum. If that happens to a child very often the parent ignores it. Had an adult did it, they would be removed. The same thing with letting kids hang over the back of the seat. I can't tell you how many times I have been sitting and eating and had to be faced with a child turned the opposite way staring at me while I try to have my meal or on an airplane. The parents are usually oblivious to this and if the kid is quiet they're happy. They don't care the kid is disrupting the people next to them. It wouldn't be normal if an adult turned around in their seat and started at another patron. Same thing with letting the kid walk all over, approaching tables and people when they are in the midst of something. Ignore the kid, you look like a fink. Mommy and Daddy think, how cute! I don't think cute, I think "please leave me alone". When I was growing up I would NEVER have been allowed to do any of these behaviors the author seems to think are "kids being kids". Kids don't get taught today how to behave in public. And, in our somewhat self absorbed-me , me , me society, patents seem to think that extends to their kids. One of my personal best friends is 13 going on 14. I have known her since she was a toddler and we have been best buds forever. We do things together, go to movies et et. And, she is on the autism spectrum. Yet her parents have taught her to be a good girl and she behaves well in public situations. She's always been enthusiastic and happy, but never disruptive. And I find now parents think disruptive is normal. And it isn't

  18. Emily Burke says:

    I have to address a couple of points in your article. This will be a two part comment b/c EJ says I am too longwinded. : )

    1. " I’m talking about insulting and mean statements posted on Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else about and towards kids and the people who choose to have them."

    This has always been a hot button for me, not just in regard to children, but in regard to any aspect of free speech. It is a free, public forum and so long as people are not violating the law they should be able to say what they feel. I don't think it's fair for anyone to dictate what should or should not be said. I felt it relevant to point out that these sites were originally created for the 18+ crowd and honestly, I wish it were still the case. We need to be able to be adults somewhere and air our adult complaints and have adult conversations, even if it has to do with so and so's "mewling spawn". That all being said, you can always block or hide the feed/person. Yeah it sucks for the person that might have to read a comment or two that offends them, but such is life, and you will never not be offended by something. There is always going to be someone out there who says something that you don't want to hear.

    I also believe that children should not have online accounts, unless they are specific to children. This is because pediatric research has shown how social media platforms negatively affect children and their development. Did you know that recent studies suggest that this generation of children are some of the most uncaring, unempathetic, and self-absorbed? And it's no surprise with the attachment many have to their games and accounts.

    Every place should not be "child friendly". We need to be able to be adults somewhere and air our adult complaints and have adult conversations, even if it has to do with so and so's "mewling spawn". That all being said, there is always the opportunity to unfriend a person. That is your right as the account holder.

    2. "I’m also directing this towards childless people who feel the need to make comments about how children should be raised"
    This is another hot button for me. I am child free, yes. However, I have experience caring for children and I have a broad knowledge of child-rearing, and also scientific research that has been done on child behavior. Your statement is again very generalizing. I hear it all the time from parents (not directed at me, but in similar forums to this). Parents do not have the right to make judgment about what child-free people can or can't say. You made a statement in this article about how children will eventually become us. Yes, that is true… but those who state that the child-free have no business giving parenting advice, forget that the vast majority of us were once children too. The majority of us have experienced 18 or so years of direct observation of parenting behavior and have thus made our own judgments and plans and ideas about how parenting should be. Likewise, and sort of in the same vein as your comment about having children without any experience caring for them, I think that many (dare I say most?) of us have ideas about how we will be as parents, whether we intend to be parents or not. I think it is something that is natural and logical for adults to consider because it is a part of our very nature. BUT Having a child does not a parent make. A parent is someone who takes the time to listen, learn, understand, and guide. I think that more parents should consider the opinions of the child-free, even the negative ones, because most judgments and statements have some value and merit. How do we transition to a place where discourse is encouraged? We need to stop dictating what should or shouldn’t be said, because in the end, it’s going to be said, but at least when it’s not behind closed doors you, as a parent, have an opportunity to take note, defend yourself, engage in conversation, etc.

  19. Emily Burke says:

    3. "If you don’t want to have children and dislike them so intensely, why are you so focused on them?"
    You answered your own question in many ways throughout this article, but most notably when you said that "Crying babies grow up to be artists, athletes and world-changers. …they will be you some day." So yes, we should ALL have a vested interest. After all, it takes a village… right? The thing that originally set you off to write this article was the discourse between people on a post that basically espoused the village mentality. The child-free should allow parents some "slack" and also this statement from the article, "The real reason why you should help a parent out is because, as Whitney Houston put it best, our children are our future."

    I guess my question is, why are parents so quick to disregard, belittle, or brush off comments from the child free, when they deem them "negative," but then those same people ask for help from the people that they just asked to shut up and play nice.

    I guess in total I felt your article was riddled with holes, stereotypes, and the kind of judgy overtures and generalizations that get us in this gridlock in the first place.

    I do agree with your points regarding common decency toward everyone, but an article like this does not do much to further that request. The example has not been made. As a child free person, I felt the article was more focused on the "rant" and less on how we reach common ground.

    I think this came out a little more harsh than I intended. Please don't take anything I said the wrong way. I'd welcome more discourse on the subject. :)

  20. the wise ass wife says:

    I'm child-free by choice and, while I'm always very nice and interactive with children, I most often get irritated at parents more than the child. I'm not saying to spank your kids, but teaching kids manners seems to be a lost practice these days.

  21. Yolanda says:

    The author of this piece and the original piece have a WHOLE LOT OF NERVE and SELF ENTITLEMENT issues. So let me get this straight, because YOU decided to have a baby the child free need to cater and be understanding your inability to control spawn? Lady you are beyond delusional. In the workplace as a parent, YOU chose to work. If you are not going to put forth the effort needed, quit! Child free people are not obligated to make up for the fact YOU chose to have kids and to think they should shows how selfish and delusional you are. If I want to "hate" on kids I have every right to do so, because usually starts with self entitled people like you! Lady you really have a lot nerve to tell child free people to suck it up and deal. Unreal!

  22. John says:

    I'm so happy to find your article. I really hate the negativity in the CF groups I've found. At first I was so excited to find ppl who could 100% understand my decision. However, I would soon learn they loved bashing parents and kids, calling them awful things. I stuck around, waiting for more moderate threads to appear. They got drowned out so I had to leave.

    My reason for not wanting kids is I had a little brother, 8 years younger when I was a teenager. I had to watch him all the time, kept invading my space, noisy, and constantly wanted to talk to me. I still don't fully understand why some people want kids so badly.

    I really want to join a group with people like you.

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