On children and the child-free.

megaphoneI am on record, several times over, as feeling very strongly that only people who actually want to have children should have children.

If you are child-free by choice, that is an excellent choice, and I honestly and happily support you in making it. I cannot for the life of me understand why family, friends, and often complete strangers feel the need to pressure the child-free into reproducing, or explain to them the error of their ways. People get to be who they are, not who we want them to be. Period. And if someone in your life hasn’t figured that out yet, send ’em to me.

And having said that.

Every once and a while, one hears complaints from the child-free that we breeders get an unfair number of Life Perks, simply for having failed to use birth control. This occasionally comes up around things like parental leave and/or “I have to go home early today to pick up my son.” Yesterday, apropos of the fiscal cliff, it came up around the very notion of a Child Tax Credit.

And here’s the thing: I will not force anyone to breed, nor suggest that if they don’t they’re lesser humans or even “missing out.” But I will remind the child-free that much as society is not made up exclusively of People Like Me, society is also not made up of People Like You. Indeed, the human collective that is “society” has a vested interest in the pre-adults produced by People Like Me, whether an individual member of society actually likes pre-adults and wants them in his or her individual life, or not.

Which is to say: When I have a little more dosh to spend on the pre-adults in my care, and have a little flexibility to spend time with them, they are more likely to grow up into actual adults who are not a drain on society. When my children are well cared for, everyone benefits. And that is what the Child Tax Credit is about.

Indeed, I would suggest that American society does not invest nearly enough in breeders and our spawn, because American society frankly doesn’t care very much about spawn who have the misfortune of being born to genuinely poor parents. American society doesn’t provide any parents with a shared and decent safety net that allows them to both work (contribute to society) and know that their children are well cared for (and thus will later be able to contribute to society). We punish people for breeding, mostly female-people, all the time, every day, by taking away professional opportunities, making child care a wildly expensive and difficult-to-find luxury, and (if the breeders happen, again, to be poor) making parents choose between earning a (bad) living and being available to their children. Who are, let’s not forget, tomorrow’s wage-earners and tax-payers.

So stop it. Stop whining about Child Tax Credits and parental leave and the fact that every now and then, someone you work with has to take off early and you have to pick up the slack (and if you have a co-worker who does this all the time, then he or she is an inconsiderate and annoying person, but not a reflection of Every Breeder On Earth).

That’s just the way it goes. You need me, and I need you. That’s why it’s called “society,” and not “a hermitage.”

And, of course, if you are among the child-free who does not so complain? I thank you, most sincerely.

I thank you for your understanding, and your tax dollars, and your moral support. I need you, and I’m very grateful to have you in my village.