Oh, dear. I just read an article where I agree with almost all
the details of someone’s point of view but I disagree with the underlying
premise. I don’t even approve of the title.
The piece, “23 Things You Should Never Say to a Childfree
Woman,” ran on the Huffington Post. Here is my problem: I agree that the items
listed are incredibly insensitive and offensive in most cases or as stand-alone
statements. I agree that commenting on a woman (or a man’s) childless status is
an intrusion into a supremely personal area of life and, as such, is
But…that isn’t the whole story. Let’s talk about the title
first. Somewhere along the line, the word, ‘childless,’ has been replaced with
‘childfree.’ There is a huge difference. Less implies a lack, something that is
missing, while free evokes eagles soaring and endless sandy beaches. With all
our political correctness, we don’t speak of being blind as being ‘sightfree’
or of a paraplegic as ‘hand-movement-free.’ Sight and functioning hands are
good things to have.
Before the days of convenient and inexpensive birth control,
a married couple without children was universally acknowledged to be missing a
valuable treasure. They might certainly evoke pity, but not judgment. Those
days are long past. We live under the illusion that we can choose if, when, how
and with whom we want children—and often we can.
Here’s the rub. It may seem eminently reasonable that
individuals should have that choice. However, when too many individuals choose
childlessness, there are family, communal, national and universal implications.
The personal is at war with the group, and paradoxically, we cannot thrive as
individuals when the world around us is falling apart. Shifting the language we use to subtly applaud
not having children has major implications.
We can’t ignore economic and social realities that will face
all of us, and are already affecting other countries, if we become
“elder-heavy.” As other countries have
discovered to their dismay, a society that doesn’t reproduce confronts
economic, social and cultural hazards. Furthermore, what repercussions will we
face as we become more governmentally liable for each other’s medical costs, if
many of those who trendily choose ‘childfreeness’ in their twenties and early
thirties, change their minds in later years?
I don’t know anyone suggesting that people be forced to have
children. I personally don’t approve of the idea, common in other countries, of
the government providing monetary stipends for children. At the same time,
having children is quite different from acquiring a hamster. In a healthy moral
climate, children are a gift and blessing. They are also part of the social
contract by which adults ‘give back’ to society, and those who choose not to ‘shoulder
their fair share’ should certainly not be exalted.
Perhaps we can agree that in all spheres of
life, more reticence would be welcome. Prying into people’s personal lives with
unwelcome questions is intrusive. I’d be
delighted if the Huffington Post advocated increased privacy and discretion in
all areas. Celebrating not having children? That’s another issue entirely.
Would you like a Godly view of children as seen through Hebrew?
Check out the chapters “Educated Hands” and “Community Rules” in
Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language