Sunday, February 10, 2013

Make It Count

Yesterday I read a blog on the Huffington Post that managed to annoy me for the entire day, Ann Brenoff's "Midlife Ramblings: What I Don't Get About My Childless/Childfree Young Friends." It started out just fine: a couple anecdotes about young people Ms. Brenoff had recently encountered who expressed an interest in possibly not having children and her surprise at learning this. It then teetered into the well-trod territory of the economic woes of not having a birth rate above the replacement rate. Even here Ms. Brenoff caught herself before she started blaming the childfree for problems her generation will have funding Medicare and Social Security, asserting "even I am not that selfish."  But then, with this, she fell off the cliff:
Parenting, in my opinion, also presents us with the best opportunity to have our days on Earth count for something: Producing a child who can make us better as a civilization, turn us into a kinder and gentler nation. It is our last best-chance to make a difference and answer the question of why we are here. And no, we are not here to simply try every hip new restaurant or tweet about what we watch on TV.
There are three fundamental problems with this assertion. The first is the (terribly American) underlying assumption that life is supposed to "count" for something at all, a belief system I have struggled with before on this blog here. But even if I generously allow Ms. Brenoff this, I must dissent when it comes to her subsequent assertion that kids are the answer. After all, I could make a persuasive argument the guy who makes the coffee at Peets is in the running for the job with "the best opportunity to have our days on Earth count for something." Ms. Brenoff should really take a look at Gateway Women's Gallery of Childless and Childfree role models to get a sense of the breadth of ways women without kids are making their days on earth "count." And why do you have to produce a child to make us "better, kinder, gentler." Isn't that our personal responsibility first?

But the real problem, the problem that would have rendered the previous two null and void if it didn't exist, is that Ms. Brenoff chose to use the word "us" in this paragraph. If she simply would have said that she believed parenting was HER best opportunity to have HER days on earth count for something, I would have read the article, respected her opinion and choices about her own life, and carried on annoyance-free with the rest of my day.


  1. I love that page! Ann Brenoff needs to take a look at it and reassess.

  2. I felt the same way about the article. I was not impressed.

  3. That pinboard is awesome! Somehow I don't feel so alone now. Thanks so much for sharing it, Jennifer! I've even interviewed a couple of those ladies (Amy Tan, for example) and didn't know they were childless since it wasn't the topic of discussion. I guess I'm a bad interviewer. LOL ;)