Parents and Childfree: The Fight about Whose Right and Wrong II

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?

8 thoughts on “Parents and Childfree: The Fight about Whose Right and Wrong II

  1. On the whole judgment thing – that doesn’t really make any sense to me. Of course he’s judging us. Does he have a right to do so? Sure. Do we have to like it? No. Don’t be surprised, Chad, when you judge people in a public forum and they take offense.

    On his posts as a whole – he didn’t really bring any new discussion points to the table, did he? Simply rehashing old arguments on a website that happens to get more traffic than the average blog doesn’t really hold my interest.

    On a more positive note, thanks for bringing these articles to our attention, Laura! Your site is such a great resource. Even though Mr. Skelton annoyed me, it’s nice to keep up with childfreedom in the news.

    1. I just wish there could be less judgment overall with parents and CF. While he brought no real new arguments his take on the “right and wrong thing” bugged me. Want to see less of it…and overall yes, want to pass on what I find out there on CF stuff for all to chew on! Thanks to you too for a great blog. ~L

  2. I completely understand what you are saying about all of the judgment on both sides, it doesn’t bring about more understanding, just defensiveness. As more people are choosing not to have children, surely there will be less judgment. I think it’s human nature to want to belong with the majority, and when someone opts out of something so expected as parenthood, it raises many questions and also causes some to wonder why they didn’t realize it was a choice. I really don’t know if there will be common ground anytime soon, there are some on both sides that see the other’s choices as an attack on their own. Being content with one’s own decisions is the key to accepting other’s decisions, but too many people get caught up in “the grass is always greener” mentality, bringing more judgment towards others. Here’s to hoping this changes soon!

  3. I haven’t read through all of the comments but I saw quite a bit of self-identified childfree posters poking holes in the points of Chad’s initial argument and correcting his biased language. It seems to me that he’s butthurt (for lack of a much better word; sorry for the potty mouth :-s ) because people challenged his condescending tone, his imprecise language, and the niveau of his “logic” (he added NOTHING new to the larger debate) intelligently and he couldn’t provide sufficient rebuttal.

    While I personally don’t subscribe to the idea of a childfree movement I have to say that his follow-up response is very similar to some posts I’ve seen on websites and blogs that pertain political movements and social activism. In a nutshell I see his post as splainin’ (for those who aren’t familiar with the concept look here for a definition: http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/02/13/what-is-splainin-and-why-should-i-care/ ). Chad felt backed into a corner and decided that the best way out would be to ‘splain how he still thinks that we (generally) may not know ourselves well enough to make the ‘right’ decision and have kids but shouldn’t take it personally when someone says as much online (because it’s not like he’s actually saying it f2f).

    1. mtuni–I wonder how many CF responses he did Not post…any way..just read your link to def of “splainin” — enlightening. It seems to me that a lot of blog commentary strings get into this. And I bet very often “splainers” would score high on narcissism… ~L

  4. I have a bigger problem with people saying, “I’m not judging” when they are judging than I do with people who say, “I’m judging,” and judge. If you have a bias, say so. Don’t claim to be neutral, or nonjudgmental and unbiased when you clearly are. Don’t pretend to equally consider both sides objectively. Just admit to your subjectivity!

  5. I agree with mtuni. All he’s doing is ‘splaining. Seriously. It read as one big joke to me. Sorry, unless you have the real life experience, don’t try and walk the walk and talk the talk. Do I want children? No. So I’m not going to harp on a parent about how they should run their lives (unless someone is in danger/in public where they are subject to others and their child is truly out of control, sorry) and they shouldn’t harp on me/others unless they want a backlash.

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