Child-free series: snowballs of doom

In truth, I did not consult the urban dictionary before naming my blog. If I knew what “badonkadonk” meant to a certain subset of the U.S. population, I probably would have picked something else. But because badonkadonk is a thing, a Google image search of “badinkadink” yields this awesome LOLcat as a top search result, so… totally worth it.

I named this blog as I did to put the D.I.N.K in the ba-dink. That is, Double Income, No Kids. Though most people in my life have been supportive of my choice (and a few even encouraging), it’s certainly the road less traveled. As more and more friends start or expand their families, my circle of childless couples and singles shrinks. Now in my early 30s, I can count them on one hand.

Although no one is demanding that I justify my choice to be child-free, I recognize that this path is an unpopular one, and there are very few voices in the blogosphere to dilute the hundreds of thousands of mommy blogs out there. At the risk of further alienating friends with children, I want to vocalize the many reasons a person may choose not to have kids. After all, you can create babies on accident, but not having children requires conscious choice and thoughtful planning.

Our child-free choice was affirmed today by a Salon article about an electronics-integrated 3-D printed bionic ear. The article smacks of Gattica-like sci-fi, with claims that “a 3-D printer could build a bionic ear capable of detecting frequencies a million times higher than the normal range of hearing,” and that lab-made organs could give people superhuman abilities.

The scientist in me is fascinated by the theoretical potential of all of this, but the humanist in me is horrified that it could become a reality. Visionaries like Gene Roddenberry have already fleshed out (get it?) the cyborg concept with “The Borg” in Star Trek, a cautionary tale about the consequences of mixing man and machine. According to this Salon article, cyborgs are not some fantasy of the distant stardate 41254.7, but instead a reality already cultured in petri dishes and 3-D printers in a lab near you.

It makes me wonder if my friends’ children will become the first “enhanced” generation of humans. Will they regard their nonbioengineered parents as quaint and outdated relics of a pre-bionic time? Will they feel compelled to adapt and engineer their own bodies to compete in a shrinking job market, as the natural body becomes a burden and a liability?

I do wonder if these children will inherit a world of possibility, made infinite by technology, or rather a world bound by technology. True, the threat of a cyborg nation in itself is not a reason to forgo progeny, but it does give me pause. When combined with a dozen other pauses, I’m at a standstill.

One of the most common accusations lobbed at child-free people is that we are selfish. But if I have well-founded concerns about future access to potable water, economic instability, dangers of technological advancements, disappearing coastlines, pandemics, and governmental collapse, is it really selfish to choose not to bring a new person into this mess?

We often say that our children are our future, meaning that they will be the ones to engineer solutions to all of these problems. But they didn’t ask to be born into this snowball of doom, nor did they ask for the responsibility of pushing it back uphill. I don’t think it’s fair to assume the next generation is going to solve problems created by the generations before. I don’t want to pass the buck.

Yep, this post moved from LOLcats to cyborgs to snowballs of doom in just a few short paragraphs. I did warn you in the title. Depending on reader response to this post, I might patent the diplomatic strategy of “Saying Something Controversial While Using Cat Photos as a Distraction” and sell it to the UN as a viable conflict-resolution strategy.

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10 thoughts on “Child-free series: snowballs of doom

  1. As a new mom, I am not offended in the least by this post. 🙂 I truly do not understand the “selfish” term lobbed at people who decide not to procreate. You can argue just as strongly that having kids is super-selfish, or at least narcissistic. I know sometimes you don’t get a choice either way, but it is too bad more people don’t put more thought into whether or not to have kids.

    • Wow, you are so awesome! I am glad that you acknowledge that having a “little you” could be seen as the ultimate in narcissism. One lady on another blog stated that she put a lot of thought into having children but in the end it was “having someone to care for me when I get older” that tipped her scale towards having them…. all I could think was “and they call me selfish for not having any?” What could be more selfish than having one so it could take care of you?

      • Hi Tyra, and thank you 🙂 I’m always mystified by the “someone to take care of me” reasoning. Who’s to say you’re going to have a good enough relationship with your kids that they’ll want to do put their life on hold to care for you? So many well-intentioned parents end up with strained relationships with their children; I don’t think you can count on that as a “retirement plan.”

        I’m lucky to have a pretty good relationship with my parents, but we live on opposite sides of the country. They don’t expect me to “take care of” them, and have in fact planned for long-term care when the time comes. The idea that parents take care of their children for 18 years with the expectation that those children will return the favor is lovely and balanced, and has a nice circular feeling to it, but in reality it’s not built into American culture the way it is elsewhere, say in Asia and Africa.

        Now that you mention it, I’d really like to take a poll on this topic. I’d like to know how many people plan to (materially) care for their parents as they age. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Hey there! I’m catching up on your fantastic blog–I really appreciated this honest, thoughtful post. I’m also sensitive to the implication that not having children (by choice or otherwise) is selfish. This is something single 30-something friends of mine have complained of, as well–the assumption that they are either too selfish to “settle down” with someone or that they are “less grown up” because they aren’t married. Neither one is fair.

    I hope you’re well–I’d love to catch up sometime soon!
    Hugs,
    Megan

  3. Amen to no kids, my friend, Jen. I like being one of the ones on that single hand of yours. PS So nice to travel and not worry about babysitters!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lance! I was thrilled to find your blog, and your scathing response to the vitriolic piece of journalistic rubbish published by codyenterprise.com.

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