The Hubbub About Insensitivity to The Child Free By Choice
Lisa Velmer NielsenAdvice to ALL presenters. Don't assume audience members are or will be parents. It's offensive to the people for whom that is not true.
I posted this tweet following the Tech Forum conference on Friday. After which I received 16 comments on Facebook, various emails, BBMs, Tweets, ReTweets, and DMs. My boyfriend and others asked what happened? Who said something offensive? There was such a stir, that I felt the topic was worthy of it's very own blog post.
The fact is that nearly every time I go to a conference and oft times at meetings, people make comments along the lines of, "We're not only teachers, we're also parents." or "You always have to wonder, is this a school I'd want my child to go to." or "And, for those of you who don't have children yet, when you do..." or in the case of this conference, "We're all parents or will be one day." Some people I deeply respect make these comments because it never occurs to them that the world is a changin. There are new choices for women whose incomes are now about equal to mens, who have the right to vote, who can purchase land all by themselves. In fact, October will be the first month in which women outnumber men in the workforce, women are holding more management and supervisory positions than men, by a margin of 37 percent to 31 percent, in like-for-like work women and men with the same amount of work experience are earning the same, and women's pay is actually increasing faster than men's. (Read more at: What's Happening To Women's Happiness?). It's hard to believe that it was such a short time ago that things were very different. Today women have new choices and they may have chosen to live a life without children.
Unfortunately, the word isn't out yet to mothers and fathers that this is a perfectly fine choice. People, especially those who speak publicly, need to be aware that there are more and more women who will not have children in their present or future. Assuming the women do, or will have children, is alienating a segment of the population that I contend will be some of today and tomorrow's biggest movers and shakers. I have chosen this life and I am extremely fulfilled. Despite this I have been told by others I am hiding my true feelings, am selfish, and I will regret this one day. To date I have not regretted this decision and I'm not interested in the debate about whether I will one day. The conversation seems as inappropriate to me as one to a parent suggesting they'll regret having their child. Sometimes I wonder if it's something that people with kids need to tell me to make themselves feel better. I can't imagine my telling them they have made a mistake. I should mention there are some, who confide in me (men and women both) that if they had it to do over again, they would have preferred a life without children. Interestingly, those who have said this are the men and women who are the primary providers for their children.
I think it's time that women who have made this choice speak up. We are here. We are growing. We don't need excuses. We are not selfish. And we don't appreciate those who don't honor and value our choices. We are not asking for any approval, and this choice doesn't mean there is something wrong with us. While I acknowledge that most who make the assumption and then the comments about how we are all parents, may be unaware. Now that you are, please be considerate of this new and rising class of citizens and please share with others that we would appreciate if they do the same.