A colleague passed me this piece by Jessica Handler the My Turn section of Newsweek earlier this year, “I Won’t Roll the Biological Dice.” Ms. Handler decided not to have children because she knew she had a 67% chance of passing on an illness that was responsible for her sister’s death. Most of the comments from the piece… …applauded her decision (that’s her on the right) as a responsible one and I agree. She is like so many of the childfree people I have interviewed–they take the decision about parenthood very seriously and make the best decision for them.
A few comments criticized her for being fearful, which I find seriously off the mark.
To be concerned for the child and the life it will likely have before it is born is far from operating from a place of fear. Neither is trying to be realistic about what having a child that may very well end up with an illness s/he will die from could mean for her and her family. In making her decision she had to look at the realities of what motherhood would likely mean for her and her life, and look beyond herself to the potential consequences of her actions.
There are many reasons why people decide not to have children. Articles like this get me going about the issue of having to justify our choice. I want to see a time when we don’t feel we need to justify our choice not to become parents–essentially a time when an article like Handler’s isn’t even necessary.
Do we ask parents why they decided to have children? Do we criticize people for having children? I look forward to the day when we’re not asked why we don’t want them and feel we have to explain ourselves, no matter what our reason is for not wanting kids. How do we get there? For Posts to come and please write with your thoughts!