In May, The Washington Post did a piece about the growing number of young families to in urban areas such as Washington D.C., Boston and New York, and the growing resentment over having to accommodate them in public places. It drew hundreds of comments, and according to Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard, about 60-to-40 wrote in ranting against parents and children.
This month Last rants right back, and slams the childfree on a number of fronts.
As I have discussed here before, I’m anti-rant, and feel it gets us nowhere. I am not opposed to, however, clarification when it’s distorted or just wrong.
Last writes that the root of the childfree movement began in the 1970s with Ehrlich’s Population Bomb. I’d challenge that. Not having kids by choice has its roots in the legalization and access to birth control. It finally offered women and men the chance to not just decide when but whether they wanted kids at all.
He asserts that the childfree have made our “assault on the societal machinery which supports and encourages baby-making” largely through books. Said more accurately, since the 70s most books on this topic are about educating and understanding this choice and those who make it. Some are more serious and a few have recently taken a more humourous slant, but “assault” does not characterize them at all.
He mentions that most committed childfree tend to be women–as the childfree know, not so. We have more hard data on the women, but many, many men are as committed as women.
When speaking to the environmental aspects of being childfree, Last thinks that “hostility to babies has been at the core of the environmental movement.” People with environmental concerns aren’t hostile toward babies, they are just concerned about the number of them.
And last (of what I will mention here–read the article for the full collection of distortions), “being childfree is mostly about disdain for conservative traditionalists.” Core motivations for being childfree don’t rest in one’s views of a particular political faction–it is a personal matter, and boils down to not having the desire to be a parent.
What would be a more productive piece? One that gets the fact that issues about kids in public places is not about the childfree being kid haters. It would go to the core issue, which is respect for others in public places. Instead of bashing one group or another, it could examine why we are supposed to accommodate parents and kids in the first place. How about even discussing solutions, like products that would promote less disruption, like more compact strollers when using on public transit, or ways to organize public places that would resolve public place issues.
Instead, the rant continues. I’ve talked with hundreds of childfree and parents, and find that ranters are in the minority. Most childfree are not militant or anti-kids. Most parents are not staunch anti-childfree.
The childfree just want their choice to be accepted, and can spur defensiveness when it isn’t. That defensiveness can then encourage the anti-childfree to negatively characterize all childfree, which only spurs more rounds of defensiveness.
And so the rant goes on–like Post comments and the Weekly Standard article, it just supports continued clash between parents and public places, and overall, does nothing to help parents and childfree understand and even better respect each other.