Why I am childfree

30 abril 2017

Esta entrada es una continuación de mi anterior colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre asexualidad, aromanticismo y paternidad. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

In a previous post I explored how my disaffection with parenthood is related with my asexuality and my aromanticism. There are many reasons to choose not to have children. Some, like saving time, money and effort for oneself, are dismissed as selfish, with the hidden assumption that your children exist beforehand and you are denying them something. But the truth is that, if they don’t exist, you can’t owe them anything. Contrary to this fallacy, I feel I have a duty with my potential children, to be a good parent, and I think I could be a bad father. Why does society assumes that an untrained parent can properly raise a child. Parenthood should be taught explicitly, with supervised training and raising your first children together with an experienced advisor. Otherwise, the first child may pay the price of the inexperience of their parents. Moreover, apart of lacking the proper training and the suitable school for getting it in case I were interested, I think I don’t have the aptitudes for being a good parent. I wouldn’t like myself as my own parent.

Not only does society lead parents to raise children as if there were a magical instinct that could guide them in all the subtleties of educating a human kid, but also it grants the parents the right to do so by their own beliefs, regardless how wrong they might be. This “right” is understood even as a right to deny a need to your children as long as you dismiss it as a whim. Conversely, this “right” is understood as a right to impose your whims on your children as a duty. Provided these denials or whims are not too fringe, nobody will challenge your “right” to raise your children your way. And not only may it be voluntary mistreatment, but also it may be due to ignorance, especially when most novice parents lack the training I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I’m concerned about the latter in case I had children.

But even in the ideal case of well-trained parents raising children without mistakes, the social context is far from ideal and is hard to change. Though it may sound pessimistic, is bringing a new person to this world a positive thing? Is life in this context a gift or a sentence? Another hidden assumption of the aforementioned fallacy “childfree is selfish” is an optimistic answer to these questions. Moreover, this fallacious claim diverts attention from some of the motivations for having children that can be actually selfish.

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My asexuality, aromanticism and not parenthood

25 abril 2017

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre asexualidad, aromanticismo y paternidad. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

By the end of the previous month, a Spanish newspaper published the article La generación sin hijos [The generation without children] about how the so-called millennials have it so difficult for starting a family that many of them are choosing not to have children. The author of the article criticizes the older generations (as expected from a young author) and the inertia. The comments on the article became an intergenerational war with more explicit charges. I, being younger than the author, sympathize with her points. I think it’s true that my generation is much more open to making compatible family and work, so the responsibility of the current incompatibility is on the roof of the previous generations. If in their generation the “solution” was a stay-at-home mother but the current price of housing makes this “solution” a luxury, we need other solutions, and as having children is a choice, a “solution” is not to start a family. I think this is a responsible solution at an individual level, but intergenerationally it may cause problems whose solution would require a deep restructuring of society. But, again, the responsibility is on the roof of those who made young people opt out of parenthood.

From my opinions in the previous paragraph, one can guess I agree with all her points, but there is one that is alien to me. Both people interviewed in the article are open to parenthood if it were possible for them. I understand that its was necessary for her point, and even they may be the majority in our generation, but I feel very disconnected from their desires of starting a family, even if the conditions were favorable. The question is now the relation of this with my asexuality and aromanticism.

I feel this disaffection with parenthood is as ingrained in my personality as asexuality and aromanticism, but I feel the three independent, though aligned and helping each other. My asexuality and aromanticism are matched in such a way that my celibate singlehood satisfies both. My asexuality and celibacy help my desire not to procreate by avoiding unplanned pregnancies. My aromanticism and singlehood prevent a hypothetical girlfriend wanting to have children with me. Conversely, my disaffection with paternity helps my aromanticism by not needing a mother for my children. If I were sex averse, I would also thank for not having the need to have sex in order to reproduce, but it’s not my case.

As I told in My experience with asexuality, marriage and Christian religion, when I was a child, I saw marriage and children as unavoidable and irresistible experiences of adulthood, but then I realized that both are choices. Moreover, they are independent choices, though the decision depends on two people. In this point, I’m glad that society has been so clumsy in promoting them, just expecting that the “natural” drive to pair off would lead to marriage and children. Though most people are driven to pair off, marriage has lost its privileges (e.g. being the only way to have legitimate children) and can result even disadvantageous for both partners, so it’s a natural consequence that more and more couples choose not to marry. The prejudices of the previous generations about marriage fade out, and the older a relative, the less important their opinion on marriage. If there is a societal pressure to pair off, I’m immune to it, and the pressure to marry only works for couples, as far as I can observe, so I’m doubly immune to it.

Having children is a horse of a different color. Though young people is avoiding or delaying marriage, many are living like a married couple, just without the papers. But having children is not an administrative formality, except the case of adoption. Though family is a social construct, having children is a biological fact. Even unplanned pregnancies exist. But modern contraception, much more effective than in the past, makes that the drive to have heterosexual intercourse doesn’t grant the children anymore. Nowadays having children is mostly, as it should be, a deliberate decision. Again, as I’m permanently single, I don’t feel any pressure to have children. I don’t know if it doesn’t exist, if it exists but it doesn’t operate on singles, or if I’m just lucky with my family.

Though its steps change, the relationship escalator remains. For instance, marriage is no longer a step before cohabiting or having children, but the idea that a relationship must progress by taking certain steps is too ingrained in society. Has marriage become optional or was it just delayed in the series of steps? And having children? It’s blurry which step is before, since some couples get married before having children while some others get married after. Maybe we’re still in a transition between two models of the escalator.

The step of having children in the relationship escalator is one of the possible directions of the link between the two societal pressures: to get a spouse-like partner and to have children. The other direction is pressuring to get a partner in order to have children, or to give grandchildren to your parents, or to give children to your community. Fortunately, we no longer live in a society where children were a duty. We don’t live a transition period, but the change is accomplished. I don’t know for women, since our sexist society still puts different expectations on each sex, but I haven’t felt any pressure to mate in order to procreate. So, if this link exists, it has had no effect on me.