Real Clear Religion featured an article by Robert Barron, a conservative Catholic priest who apparently thinks that it is our lot in life to have children. That those of us who have chosen not to are pathetic and selfish. I happen to think that there are people who do have children who are just that – pathetic and selfish. If you are a Christian, who seek’s Christ role in your life, then you do what you feel the Lord wants out of you. At least I try to do so. I happen to know I don’t want children. It’s not that I don’t like them, I do, if they are well-behaved and I can send them home to their parents. I don’t like little kids. I don’t have the patience for them. I never have. There is some strange societal thinking that stresses the fact that we women who don’t like little kids are flawed. Maybe I am. Maybe again, I’m just honest. I happen to get a blast out of teens, and have truly enjoyed working with them. You hear society complaining about teens, but not about little kids. Maybe there’s something wrong with adults who don’t like teens, ever thought of it that way?
To me, this is pure male based, historically biased crap, that does not reflect reality, but some mythological view of culture, and the role of women.
“… Up until very recent times, the decision whether or not to have children would never have been simply “up to the individual.” Rather, the individual choice would have been situated in the context of a whole series of values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood, society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God. We can see this so clearly in the initiation rituals of primal peoples and in the formation of young people in practically every culture on the planet until the modern period. Having children was about carrying on the family name and tradition; it was about contributing to the strength and integrity of one’s society; it was about perpetuating the great adventure of the human race; it was a participation in the dynamisms of nature itself. And finally, it was about cooperating with God’s desire that life flourish: “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it” (Gen. 9:7).
None of this is meant to be crushing to the will, but liberating. When these great values present themselves to our freedom, we are drawn out beyond ourselves and integrated into great realities that expand us and make us more alive.
It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our lives are not about us. Traditionally, having children was one of the primary means by which this shift in consciousness took place. That increasingly this liberation is forestalled and that people are finding themselves locked in the cold space of what they sovereignly choose, I find rather sad….”
First, I want to know who our lives are about, if not us? Is it selfish to think that my life is not about me? Or, is this something just for women, to realize that our lives are not about ourselves, have no value unless we reproduce, the right kids, raised the right way? The right kids = white, and raised the right way = far right conservative and patriarchal Christian. Why is it selfish to think that our lives are not about ourselves? Who the hell are our lives about, if not about us?
How is having a child liberating? Having a child is an open invitation to heartache. It is about trauma, heart-break, and utter frustration. It’s about snotty noses, crying, and filthy, nasty diapers, and projectile vomit. It’s about drinking binges, drugs, bad grades, fights, and the possibility that your little crumb cruncher is going to turn out to be another monster. It’s dealing with having a child molested, bullied, and even facing the ultimate heart-break. It’s also about arrests, prison, traffic tickets, teenage pregnancy, bad grades, no jobs, and the bum who lives on the sofa. I chose not to deal with this sh*t. Yes, I guess, I’m shallow and selfish. One thing, I am not, though is a superficial hypocrite who thinks that these things are just wonderful. I don’t think the mother – teenage daughter screaming fight is all that liberating. Do you?
OMG, what a complete mess. I gather the Very Reverend Robert Barron chooses to ignore the disasters in history, based on MEN who had to have children to carry on their family name. There was Abraham, Henry VIII, so forth and so on. Women were literally forced to have children. They had no say in the matter. If they didn’t have children, they were considered a useless drain on society. That is literally all they were for – having children for their spouse to brag about.
Until fairly recently, a woman had about a 50-50 chance of dying in childbirth. People had lots of kids because there was over a 50% chance they would not live to see their first birthday. People had children in order to help them on the farm, be cheap, free, unpaid, near slave labor. Sons were to carry on the family name and inherit property, and insure that you were taken care of in your old age – should you survive that long. Daughters were to be sold off as quickly as possible, for as much as possible. If they died in childbirth, so be it.
Is this the cynical view of history? I don’t think so. I think it is realistic. There is one primary reason women have avoided having children. That reason is to stay alive. The great irony of The Very Reverend Barron’s one sided view of history is that he left out the reason women became nuns and entered the celibate life. It kept them alive. They saw their sisters dying in childbirth, brutalized into marriages they did not want. By turning to the Church, they found a way to save themselves – by being selfish, child free women who devoted their lives to selfish things like learning, prayer, writing, contemplation. These were things once only for men. These early Christian nuns were the real first liberated women in history. I gather, today, they would be considered terribly selfish.
When did choosing not to have children become evil, liberal, Stalinist, and a drain on society? Is this just another way to shame women into having children they don’t want, and shouldn’t have? Nothing is more disgusting or pathetic than the woman who has a child because society wants her to have one, not because she wants it. There are women who cannot have children. They make their lives a living hell, and everyone around them lives in that hell if they can’t have a child of their own. Fr. Barron doesn’t seem to comprehend the fact that perhaps there are those of us who just aren’t cut out to be parents?
I happen to know i would be a terrible parent. I can’t even get my animals to behave, let alone a child. I don’t like little kids and babies. I could never understand this ohah attraction to the little creatures who stink and do nothing but cry. I don’t have a maternal bone in my body, and frankly, I like it that way. Am I selfish – I don’t think so. I am a realist who understands that children aren’t for me. Why am I evil, ugly, selfish, and not submitting to God’s Will? What if it is God’s Will for me not to have children?
One of the great societal and cultural reasons people have always had children was to take care of them when they were old. It wasn’t out of love, it was out of pure selfishness, to control that person’s life. Right now I’m responsible for my 83 year old mother and an 89 year old father with Alzheimer’s. I dare anyone to call me selfish because I don’t give a damn about having a child. I’m dealing with two of them. The last thing I would ever do is to have children so they could take care of me. I’ve had to give up my life for my parents. You may say that is fair, they gave theirs up for me, raising me, but sorry, that doesn’t work. If I sound a little angry and bitter, well, I am. You deal with the shattering effects of Alzheimer’s and tell me that’s a person’s lot in life – why you have children. Sorry, but giving birth and raising someone does not entitle you to lay claim to them, years later, to care for you. Now – that is the ultimate in selfishness.
If you think I mind giving up my life to help my parents, you are wrong. But, to be required to have children, so that I can have a daughter who is forced to put her entire life aside, to care for me, in my old age, is the ultimate reflection of being selfish. I saw what was done to my Aunt Mabel. Her mother and my grandmother Reidhead ran her fiance off, so she could be there to take care of her mother. Mibsey never married. She never had children. She was never loved. She was always an after thought, because her mother was so damn selfish she required one of her nine children to sacrifice their life to take care of her in her old age.
People have a right not to have children, and not to be harassed or treated like dirt for not having them. I guess what is even worse, even nastier were some of the comments at the bottom of the article. Evidently people still look at woman as second class individuals. The reason women who are like I am, not married, and without children is because we are the left-overs of society, too flawed, unattractive, and too pathetic to attract a spouse. We’re the ‘left-overs’ of society, unwanted. I still find that shocking, but it does reflect the Rush Limbaugh way of thinking. Any woman who is selfish enough to want a career and be ambitious for herself is to ugly to be married.
If you want to have children, do it for the right reasons – because you want to love them and raise productive adults. If you are having kids because some priest or religious leader or family member, or society shames you into it, well, you should not have them. This sort of thinking, that children are what life is about is for the dark ages. It’s also why I chose to be an Episcopalian and not become Catholic. I don’t need the guilt.
According to his bio, Fr. Barron is a frequent contributor on FOX News. Hugh Hewitt likes him. I think that says all we need to know. This is just another shot in the ongoing war on women.