Chad Skelton has done another piecein the Curious Dad section of the Vancouver Sun. This time it’s on reasons childfree might be on to something. His reasons re why the childfree might be “right”: 1) there isn’t strong evidence that having kids makes you happier, 2) the decision is eco-friendly and 3) it’s best for everyone not to have them if you don’t want them. Fair enough. But the subsequent post is more interesting.
Some comments he got in response to the piece about why the childfree might be wrong were fierce and he felt that a final piece would clarify some things:
1. Don’t take it personally. He claims that the series of posts was simply an intellectual exercise, musing about the pros and cons of childlessness. Nothing more. I beg to differ. I welcome intellectual and respectful discussion and this was not that–his judgments come through loud and clear.
2. Being judgmental in a blog post isn’t the same thing as being judgmental in person. He says it’s OK to be judging in writing, but don’t worry he would never tell you may be wrong to your face. In person or in writing, as I’ve harped before, judgment gets us nowhere.
3. Respect for other people’s decisions doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them. Sure, talk about it but I’d sure like to see more talk that has the intent toward understanding and embracing differences.
4. I don’t believe in “identity politics.’ That as “breeder” (insert by me: I wish this word was not used–it reeks of judgment) the childfree claim he has no right to talk about the choices of childfree people. Here we agree — just because he is a parent doesn’t mean he should not talk about the childfree. It is the way he chooses to talk about it that widens the divide. He might have had his childfree friend Bruce Gillespie, editor of Nobody’s Father, in his first piece, but it seems he uses Gillespie to set up judgmental debate on both sides.
5. No one’s decisions are perfect…”just as parents can have kids and regret it — that the childless can, too. My posts were simply an exploration of the ways in which childless people could, theoretically, make the wrong decision.” That may be, but again, the way in which he discusses it only serves to create defense.
6. If you don’t like controversy, go read another blog. He has “zero interest in writing a ‘tame, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya type of blog.'” Fair enough on that too. He likes controversy and has every right to spur it on if he so chooses.
And that’s what he did in this case. The follow up piece seems to be trying to back petal a bit so that readers more clearly understand his intentions. While he may have tried to theoretically and intellectually discuss the issue, I read it, sometimes not so between the lines, as mostly another example of judgmental commentary.
I highlight Chad’s pieces as a way to contend that the middle ground between kumbaya and judgmental commentary written to spur controversy and defense is the more productive arena for discussion. That is what I shoot for on this blog. I welcome respectful, spirited debate and discussion, which does not include making others wrong. I have just seen too much of this on both sides, and continue to feel that in the end it does not ultimately serve either camp.
What are your reactions to Chad’ pieces? What are other examples of pieces that slam childfree or parents that in your opinion only result in a widened divide?