Monday, April 29, 2013

Respect and Big Life Decisions

Recently a friend linked to an article by the lovely Jen Kirkman called Stop Telling Me I'll "Change My Mind" About Wanting Kids. It is great, and articulates many of my own thoughts and views on the subject.

As someone who has no interest in procreating but is still relatively young, I still get told I will change my mind when I talk about not wanting kids. I can't even count the ways that this is rude, demeaning, and condescending. OK, I'll try.

First of all, it's none of your business why someone wants kids or doesn't, if they will change their mind, or what they would do in the case of an accidental pregnancy. If someone mentions in conversation that they don't plan to reproduce, that's not an invitation to start grilling them about reasons. It's a big decision, and an extremely personal one. Plus, your questions could be extremely painful if this person is infertile.

Telling someone they will change their mind is absolutely horrible. You are basically saying that you don't respect the decisions they have made about their own life based on something like their age, their marital status, or their living situation. Even if it's not what you would do, even if it's not the socially accepted life plan, you have to realize that individuals know their desires and their needs better than anyone else.

Plus, think about it this way: would you tell a young pregnant person that she is going to change her mind? What if the baby comes and they regret becoming a parent? I hope that doesn't happen much, because I'd hate for a child to grow up feeling unwanted. Yes, I care about children having good lives even though I don't want my own. But really, the average age for first pregnancy in the U.S. is 25. I'm four years past that. I would think if a 25-year-old can have her decision to bear children respected, a 29-year-old should be able to expect the same of her decision not to.

And if, by some strange twist of fate, I or anyone else does change their mind, so what? It would mean I arrived at a new decision through thought and careful consideration. And in turn, that would mean I would be prepared for the ramifications of said decision and sure of what I want. It's unlikely to happen, but I fail to see how someone has taken the massive task of parenting under careful consideration before choosing to do it is a bad thing.

The bottom line is, people get to make their own choices about their lives. Assuming they aren't hurting anyone, everyone else needs to respect what others do. Telling someone they will change their mind is not respect. It's condescension, and it's a pretty immature and rude thing to do.

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