Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No children, thanks, we're travelling

A few weeks ago, in the course of my visits for the fundraising campaign, I called upon a family who had been members of our parish for many years. My girls, who had come along because Darwin was working that night, ran around outside and climbed the playscape as I admired the back yard. The woman mentioned that they'd been thinking of taking down the playscape, as all her children were too old to use it. As she'd said earlier that her oldest had just gotten married, I remarked that perhaps she would have grandchildren soon who might enjoy it.

"No," she said, "they don't want children. They're planning to travel. I don't need grandchildren anyway -- I've waited this long for my kids to grow up!"

It occurs to me that something has broken down on a very basic level of catechesis when a woman who has been Catholic all her life and is an active member of her parish feels free to make that kind of statement to someone visiting on behalf of the diocese.

There are several issues with this statement.

1) "They don't want children." Having just been married recently, the young couple must have gone through marriage prep in the past months. Did the priest ask them if they would willing accept children? Did they lie to him about their intentions?

2) When a couple (or a member of one of their families) is so willing to state glibly that they're not planning to have children, it's most likely that they're planning to use birth control to effect this state. Again, how effective was their recent marriage prep? Did they take NFP classes? Worse, did they take the classes and ignore them?

3) Tossing off a statement like that to me assumes several things: that she doesn't have a problem with her own child deciding not to have children in order to travel; that she doesn't think I would have a problem with a couple deciding not to have children; that there's nothing inconsistent with mentioning that a Catholic couple plans not to have children in the context of a visit from a Catholic for a Catholic cause.

On the other hand, I guess we can assume that the couple won't be passing on their views...

15 comments:

PB said...

The anti child mindset really ticks me off! What are they really thinking?!?

But the one that gets me the most is the "oh, we can't afford kids." Let's rephrase that statement, "we don't want kids and we found a way to justify it for ourselves by believing we can't afford them.”

You have a right to feel irritated by that woman’s statement, it is ticking me off just reading about it.

Rick Lugari said...

And 4) Just how friggin' sad is it that anyone considers a child anything but a blessing? It's bad enough that people who aren't parents can't find it within themselves to realize what a blessing children are, but what about people who have children - like this lady? Incredible! Let's read between the lines for her children, shall we? "Son/daughter, you are making a good decision to not have children, they really aren't worth it (read YOU), in fact they (read YOU) are so bad I am thankful that I won't have any grandchildren (read little YOUs) complicating MY life. Go forth and be unburdened with the likes of yourself.

Very sad stuff.

Anonymous said...

This kind of attitude ties in with a post steve bogner just made about non-political action against abortion. http://bogners.typepad.com/church/2006/11/nonpolitical_ac.html He pointed out how some many of our attitudes lead to a climate where abortion is favoured. One quote from him: "What have we done to teach them about the value of a human life compared to getting a start on a career or going to the right college at the right time? Did we teach them that the value of life is higher than the embarrassment of making mistakes? Or have we loaded them up with so much guilt, shame, ambition and fear that they feel compelled to have and hide an abortion?"

Slick said...

Very sad indeed... in fact very sad from so many aspects...

Jennifer F. said...

Ask couples not planning to have kids why they're doing it and I guarantee that 80% of them will answer "we want to travel..." first. And back in my pre-God days when I said that my husband and I did want to have children as soon as possible after we got married I got a strongly negative reaction from my friends and family. "Why would you do that to yourself? Don't you want to TRAVEL???" is one verbatim quote. We had spent the past three years doing pretty much nothing but traveling but evidently this wasn't enough.

But, in retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have gone the route we did. Instead of little DB (who is happily chattering away right now about our big day at the haircut store) I could have some vacation photos stuck in a drawer somewhere. Hmmm...tough call.

Anonymous said...

"Baby aversion therapy" at work.

Charles said...

Not directly related, but via Drudge, a quote from Scarlett Johansson:
Johansson says, "We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our President had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all. "Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions."


I'm actually proof of what she's talking about: I was born a year before Roe and am my mother's sixth child. Sorry mom.

(Unfortunately, my own mother is now in the "fewer-kids, more-travel" camp.)

barbfromcincy said...

When I was suffering through infertility, I had a woman (who had 6 children) who would tell me that I should be glad that I couldn't have kids....she said raising her kids were the worst years of her life. It used to make me soooo angry! I finally asked her which of her kids she would send back. That made her stutter a bit...she also said this in front of her own children, which hurt their feelings....and these were not difficult children.
Those 6 kids ended up being such a blessing to her as she was dying from cancer...I often wondered if she changed her mind about it then.

I have a sister who has 6 children and occasionally someone will make a remark to her and her husband, and her husband always says that his kids will be the ones paying into Social Security and taking care of them when they're old and don't have anyone else to do it...hehe..

A blessed day to all...

Fidei Defensor said...

Hmmm my grandparents were able to travel all over and they had 7 kids, I guess there is something to be said for having many siblings, i.e. aunts and uncles to babysit the kids while mom and dad take a vacation!

What a hollow comfort it must be to die alone, with no loving children around, I wonder how much a trip to Paris or Bermuda means on one's deathbed?

Very good posting. I know it probably would not have been apropriate considering your work with the fundraising, but I wonder what the response would have been had you said something to this lady about this.

Big Tex said...

Irritating indeed. I tell ya, with the recent birth of our third (THIRD!) little blessing, I've gotten several comments at work, "You know what causes that, right?"

How sad it is that so many people basically view their children (if any) as secondary to their pursuit of happiness. Apparently, they view kids as an impediment to satisfy thier selfish desires. Ironically, children are one the best sources of joy and happiness.

I've resorted to snarkiness when posed the question of how children happen. "But we're so good at it!" or "Well, we don't have cable..." I'm searching for a snarky way to respond that also adequately gets across the point that we intended to bring this child into the world. Have at it, y'all... and many thanks to all the well wishes etc... from the previous post.

MrsDarwin said...

Tex,

If a childless person asks you "You know what causes that?" you could always reply, "Yes, but you don't seem to have it figured out yet."

Fidei,

I don't remember if I just thought this or actually said it, but my immediate response was how upset my own mother would have been if I'd decided not to have children.

jenny said...

On the other hand, you may have taken her statement too much at face value. (Not having been there,) it sounds to me like she's trying to persuade herself that she's ok with their decision. Since you are a kindly stranger, she may have been hoping that you would either (a) agree with her, thus vindicating her support of her daughter or (b) gently argue with her, which would strengthen her convictions and give her ammunition against her daughter. People often say things they don't really believe to judge the reactions of others.

CincyDarwin said...

Some good responses this father of six has heard from other parents of large families:
"Our genes are so good, it would be a crime not to pass them on."
"When we have an ugly one, then we'll stop."
"We're raising pro-life voters - lots of them."
Not being nimble on my feet, about all I could ever respond with to the many, many crass remarks I've encountered over the years is to flash a joyful smile, thank God publicly for another great blessing, and talk about how happy our family was to be expecting another child...

Big Tex said...

So, I got asked the question again today (it must be the favorite question for guys to ask), "Did you figure out what causes that?" At the suggestion of a good friend, I told him that if he and his wife needed any tips, pointers, or advice, my wife and I would be willing to help. ;-)

Milwaukeedave said...

I like to be more abrasively confrontational: I just tell such folks, really I have, that this is a shameful, self-hating, self-neutering attitude and that it disgusts me.