The cover story on childfree people in the Time magazine did what the childfree in this kid-obsessed country really needed: it triggered a lot of discussion on the subject and became an important milestone that contributes to a broad recognition of opting out of having a child as a valid choice of responsible people. Hopefully, it will mark the beginning of the end of the discrimination of the childfree. The article is somewhat shy in its attitude and a bit suppressed by the kid-obsessed culture, trying to pass a very important message without shocking the aggressive kid-worshiping crowd too much. Nonetheless, its importance should not be underestimated.
What the author did not acknowledge, whether because she is not aware of it or because she decided to assume the method of one step at a time and did not wish to be too shocking all at once, is the American kids’ extremely rude and unsanitary behavior that makes many people not to want to have a child. Other articles I read that followed in other media did not mention this reason either.
Childfree Americans, when asked by the media face to face about the reason for which they chose not to have a child, usually make shy comments like “no, don’t get me wrong, we don’t hate kids, we just don’t want any”, “I love kids, I just don’t want any of my own”, or “I like my life the way it is, no need to change it”. In many cases, of course, this is true and some people may indeed not have other reasons for being childfree. However, a quick glance at childfree forums is enough to notice that many people choose not to have children because the children’s rudeness and lack of hygiene they are exposed to in public places or in private homes is repulsive to them. They were harassed by the kid-worshiping, aggressive people into silence about it, but their true thoughts can be found thanks to the safety of anonymous online discussion forums.
Let’s face the facts: American kids are extremely rude, talk back to adults, do not respect the elderly, scream, yell and run wild in all sorts of public places, have no basic table manners, eat with open mouths, make a mess on and under the table, throw food around, keep their hands in their mouths and noses and touch objects and people subsequently, slobber all over everything, do not cover their coughs and sneezes, and the list could go on and on. Moreover, parents behave in a very unacceptable and unsanitary way by changing diapers around food, for example, on tables or in grocery shopping carts. This behavior is not normal and does not happen in respectful cultures but young Americans who do not travel or do not have immigrant friends cannot know it. This is what they are exposed to and this is what they think is standard behavior of a child. No wonder they find it discouraging.
Let’s look at it closer.
Public places in America are full of very rude, disrespectful kids. The level of their disruption is tremendous and unheard of in many other cultures I have lived in or traveled to. The worse of all is their ear-piercing screaming for no reason, as if someone was slicing them alive and also their running wild with absolutely no regard for other people. No, I am not talking about playgrounds. This happens in offices, restaurants, movie theaters, stations, airports, on airplanes, trains and buses, in stores, supermarkets and shopping malls. Even bookstores and libraries do not escape from this pattern. To make things worse, this behavior typically is not followed by any reaction of correction or discipline from the parents, businesses, or other members of the society. The atmosphere of kids’ impunity prevails, and they do not learn how to behave respectfully. This is not normal children’s behavior. Although in kid-obsessed America it is the standard, this behavior is not inherent to a child. It is the result of a parental failure.
All this behavior is easy to eradicate with the minimum of consistent teaching and training. However, I am not surprised that so many people got convinced that rudeness is in kids’ nature. If they do not know other cultures, and 99% of the kids they are exposed to are so rude, what other conclusion can they draw from the experience? No wonder they do not want someone screaming, talking back, and bouncing off the walls in their household.
Countless times I have seen kids making a total mess in restaurants. No, I do not mean babies, I mean older kids that should have been taught table manners long before. In kid-obsessed America, food scattered all over the table and under the table is nothing unusual. Parents fail to curb this behavior in respect of other customers. The stories of wait staff on childfree forums are appalling. These parents are also not any better in their homes or as guests in other people’s homes. Although this part I know only from other people’s stories; I am outraged by what parents and relatives allow kids to do: Throwing food around, at the walls and on the carpet, sneezing into a cake, taking a bite and putting that cookie back for other guests and spitting up food on the plate are only a few examples of horror stories from parties in American homes. I was appalled to read a story of an American mother who not only lets her kid throw noodles all around, including on the carpet, but does not even clean it immediately. She waits a day until they dry out and vacuums them. No wonder cockroaches are a plague in this country.
All the above is absolutely not normal childhood behavior. It is a failure to teach the kids basic respect and a total lack of respect for the guests. Children can be taught manners and in respectful cultures they get polite behavior instilled in them from a very young age. Moreover, every misbehavior is consequently curtailed by adults or older kids in the same second when it starts. However, how can young Americans know that if all they are exposed to is extreme lack of manners and no discipline? No wonder contact with children is the best birth control method to them: Who would want this kind of mess at home?
American kids are very disobedient, thus, managing them is much more difficult and time consuming then managing a higher number of children in the cultures in which they are taught obedience. I have never seen anyone in the cultures I know taking so much time packing their children to go out. I was never exposed to “tantrums” or “meltdowns” because they did not exist. Also, I have never seen parents begging their kids to comply with adults’ requests. Most parents I know manage their kids by giving simple commands and orders that the kids obey immediately. They get dressed, eat, and get packed into a car or into a stroller in no time. In kid-obsessed America, it takes forever because the kids disobey, throw tantrums, have meltdowns, or mess up their clothes on the way out and have to be changed. They are allowed to fuss about what to wear, what toys to take (and end up taking a truckload of them), run wild and yell, which makes getting ready a never ending story. As this is what Americans are exposed to, whether in person by being a guest, or in their friends’, coworkers, or relatives’ stories, they should not be blamed that they do not want kids. Who would want all this? They simply do not know that kids can be obedient and easily managed.
American childfree people often write online the following imperative statements: kids are messy, kids are rude, kids are disgusting, kids are noisy, and hundreds of other descriptive adjectives. This is what Americans see in their day-to-day life. It does work as the best birth control method. If this is all they see, not knowing that this behavior is abnormal and with the minimum of consequent (with an accent on “consequent”) effort every rudeness attempt can be eradicated, they will be abstaining from procreation in even larger numbers in the future.
Parents should not be surprised that seeing the disastrous results of their inordinate kid-worshiping incarnated in their disrespectful, entitled, and self-centered child, people opt out of parenthood. Instead of pointing their blaming fingers at the childfree, they should reconsider their own behavior, correct their failures, and show the younger generation entering their reproductive age that a child can be taught respect, politeness, and cleanliness.