CultureWatch

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Declaring War on Children

Sep 1, 2007

Not everyone can have children, and not everyone wants children. That’s OK. There is no law mandating fecundity. For various reasons, many may want to forgo the whole involved process of bearing and raising children.

But the norm throughout human history has of course been both the desire and the willingness to have children. The minority which does not want, or cannot have, children is nicely offset by the majority that does or can.

But what is unusual is the growing anti-child movement that has emerged in the West. There may be various reasons for such sentiments: e.g., misplaced concerns about population, and the like. But many of the motivations are much less lofty and much more disturbing.

I refer to those who simply don’t like children, and want to let everyone else know it. Some don’t like kids simply because they interfere with their lifestyles. In 2000 David and Susan Moore wrote Child-Free Zone: Why More People Are Choosing Not to Be Parents. It laid out the case for enjoying adulthood, free of the constraints of children.

But some don’t like kids because, well, they don’t like kids. In fact, they can’t stand the little blighters. One woman who seems to positively loathe children is Corinne Maier. She happens to be French, which might explain some things, but she is quite clear about her disgust of children. In her book, No Kids: 40 Reasons for Not Having a Child, she makes it plain that she considers children to be savages, little tyrants and nuisances that are simply a pain in the neck.

A recent article in the Herald Sun by Bryan Patterson highlights the woman and her book. It makes for scary reading. “Every family is a nest of vipers,” she informs us. And she hates everything that has to do with children: Disneyland, McDonalds, the Disney Channel, and so on.

Some of the reasons she gives for not having kids include: you have to speak like an idiot to communicate with children; children are capricious tyrants; families are nightmares; and staying at home with toddlers makes you dull.

What makes her remarks all the more alarming and disconcerting are two facts. One, she happens to have two children of her own, but she “bitterly regrets” having them. She says if it were not for her kids, she would have spent her money “travelling the world”. Imagine how the two kids must feel, having such a wonderful mum as that.

But a second fact must be noted. This is a woman who lives in a country where the fertility rate is just below replacement level, and she lives in a continent where it is well below the 2.1 children per woman replacement level.

The French total fertility rate (TFR) is 1.98, while the TFR of the European Union is 1.5. Holland is down to 1.66, Germany to 1.4, and Italy and Spain both down to 1.29. America is one of the few Western nations to almost just hold its own, with 2.09 children per woman.

Now is not the time to be warning adults about not having kids. The entire Western world is caught up in a birth dearth, and what is needed more than ever is more children, not less.

The facts and figures about population decline have been discussed elsewhere on this site. Simply put, the West is involved in a population implosion, and desperate measures are needed to turn things around. Immigration is the only thing that is keeping some countries from experiencing even disastrously lower levels of population.

But as troublesome as those demographics are, we must return to Ms Maier. The 43 year old economist and psychoanalyst just may require some psychoanalysis herself. Why this morbid and neurotic hatred of children? Why this complete absorption with self, at the expense of even her own children?

She says breastfeeding hurts. But a lot of things hurt in life. She claims birth is torture. But many things we value in life come with a price. What is she suggesting? That a life of leisure should be our highest priority and anything that gets in the way of us simply having a good time should be rejected out of hand? That is what is known as hedonism, irresponsibility and escaping from reality.

But in a sense she is simply reflecting trends throughout the Western world. As we become more secularised, more selfish, more irresponsible, and more fixated on looking out for number one, we can expect to see more of such anti-child sentiments. Self has become the new God, and if kids get in the way of us living a completely selfish life, then let’s be rid of them.

Of course this is part of the great liberal death wish. We loathe everything about Western civilisation that has made us great, and we are now busily digging our own graves. When the views of Ms Maier become more mainstream, we really will be on our last legs.

As one English reviewer puts it: “The moral of the story is that Corinne Maier is desperately French. Her first book was all about how to milk the generous welfare state, and take as much as you can while working as little as you can. Her second is little more than a chance to complain. After all, ‘Il faut raler’ – you’ve got to complain – is the national anthem here. British readers would be well advised to read this book, enjoy it, then throw it in the bin.”

Any society that has taken on such a jaundiced and bleak view of life and humanity that it no longer wishes to reproduce and continue its own existence has simply signed a suicide warrant. And any society that begins to look upon children as a burden and a plague, instead of a blessing and a gift, has clearly lost its way.

Postscript

When my wife first read the Herald Sun article about Ms Maier, she was rightly indignant. She exclaimed that the ten points listed in the article (out of 40 in the book) were all laughable and all easily answered. So she here provides a refutation of the first few listed in the article. So in a first for this website, I offer the writings of someone other than myself. She writes:

There’s enough misinformation out there about children and childbirth already, without allowing Maier’s denunciation to circulate.

One. Giving birth is torture
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Torture is “the infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure”. People suffer for decades after torture, enduring the despair of it repeatedly in memory; most need intensive counselling and some never recover fully. On the other hand, having a baby may sometimes involve intense pain, but it is limited pain that our bodies were perfectly designed to cope with. For nine months hormones have been pumping through us to loosen ligaments, cause practice contractions and prepare us in myriad other ways for the moment of birth. So we suffer, a little, for perhaps a single day out of our lives – longer if we are unlucky, only a few hours if we are fortunate – and those magic hormones even make us forget the pain afterwards! Nobody that I know of needed psychiatric treatment for Traumatic Stress Disorder after having a child. On the contrary, the joy and wonder eclipses every previous sensation.

Two. Breastfeeding hurts.
Life hurts. Falling over hurts, getting stung by a bee hurts. Are we such wimps we can’t stand a little discomfort? Sometimes breastfeeding does hurt, a bit. I only recall it hurting a couple of times when I had thrush or mastitis – but it stopped hurting very quickly with treatment. And I breastfed for over three years of my life (three separate babies, I hasten to add). Breastfeeding is actually one of the sexiest things you can do – intensely satisfying for both mother and baby. The hormones released by breastfeeding are the same ones released during sex. It’s no coincidence that our nipples respond to sexual stimulation – the stimulation of a tiny mouth eagerly latching on a nipple is profoundly enjoyable. Males envy us this ability – we should make the most of it.

Three. Parents lose track of friends.
This is true to some extent – a baby takes over your life fairly effectively, and single friends have no understanding of the difficulties you face. Or of the joys you experience. The highlight of your week may be four hours of uninterrupted sleep. But again, those wonderful hormones come to your aid and you are able to cope with a degree of sleeplessness you previously thought would kill you! Childless friends have no concept of that. But the main thing they cannot understand is the depth and passion of your feeling for that child; how nothing is more important, and you never loved before this. A whole new dimension of love you never knew you were capable of is opened up. So mixing with childless friends means you have to speak to them in another language – it’s hard to play music with people who are tone deaf – and you just don’t want to do it as much as before.

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9 Responses to Declaring War on Children

  • Thank you for raising this Bill. “Without natural affection” is a mark of degeneracy and what more natural than to enjoy parenthood.
    Your wife’s comment are just beautiful. I can only add that having recently become a proud grandparent the joy does not stop with your own children, it only gets better!
    John Nelson

  • What a woman!

    “Corinne Maier … makes it plain that she considers children to be savages, little tyrants and nuisances that are simply a pain in the neck.”

    “What makes her remarks all the more alarming and disconcerting are two facts. One, she happens to have two children of her own, but she “bitterly regrets” having them.”

    What she describes represents two failures:
    a) a failure to recognise the sinful start we have in life (err, thanks Adam!)
    and
    b) a failure of parenting, or at least that part of the process which can raise civilised, “other-focused”, responsible people.

    John Angelico

  • A healthy, sane and balanced society is surely one where its citizens freely demonstrate care, respect, responsibility, courtesy and the ability to put the needs of others in front of one’s own. And for its citizens to be able to act this way, they must first have received love themselves. History clearly shows that it is only the monogamous, enduring and heterosexual family that can supply children with a sense of identity, sexual affirmation, security and stability and thus the ability to achieve true adulthood and maturity. None of this can be legislated for, or supplied, by state machinery.

    But going further, it is the distinctly, Christian-based family that has been the basic, building block for western European civilisation. The Christian family mirrors Christ’s relationship with the Church. The family is the environment in which this personal relationship is transmitted directly from one generation to another; Christ and the Church model the new relationship between God and man; Husband and wife in turn model that relationship to their children; finally that family models it to the rest of the community. It is here that discipline, order, boundaries, forgiveness, an appreciation for beauty and truth, security, solidarity, stability, justice, purity, righteousness and sacrificial love are practised.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Bill,

    I think anyone of reasonable intelligence would view Ms Maier’s book as nothing more than a bitter, ill-informed rant. I am surprised that you would bother to give it any airtime (blogtime?) at all.

    To suggest that her views represent some kind of shift in the broader liberal community (great liberal death wish???) is somewhat fallacious. Materialism and selfishness are undoubtedly the forces behind the declining birthrate, but these traits are just as well represented in the non-liberal community.

    James Beattie

  • Thanks James

    Admittedly Ms Maier may be part of an extreme minority, but as I said, her views are becoming more common, unfortunately. Thus the reason for the article: to help slow down this unwelcome trend, and to make others aware of it.

    The views of someone like, say, Peter Singer may also be quite extreme and held by few, yet it seems quite important for people to be aware of his position. It’s the old line from Santayana, about people not learning from history doomed to repeat its mistakes.

    As to selfishness in general, in one sense you are right. It is a condition common to all of us. In biblical terms it is called sin, and the purpose of the gospel is to set us free from this selfishness so that we can become other-orientated as God is and we were meant to be.

    But still, many other observers have pointed out an increased emphasis on self, and a corresponding decline in concern for the community as a whole, and the welfare of others.

    And of course the “great liberal death wish” is a phrase that goes back to Malcolm Muggeridge.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I think that Ms Maier should feel extremely grateful that her own mother was not in agreement with her writings
    Or was she?
    Is this the reason behind her ludicrous statements?
    I must agree with James Beattie here but I find it completely unbelievable that such an attitude not only exists and is completely acceptable but is on the increase.
    I feel sorry for Ms Maier’s children.
    The words of her mouth and her writings should be ample enough evidence to warrant their removal to a loving household that will cherish and raise them to be the adults that this world requires.
    Jim Sturla

  • Hi Bill

    Good post 🙂 I thought I might as well leave a positive comment because I have come across as a troll so far. I generally agree with most that you say!

    Matthew Newton

  • http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2042068.ece

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6974587.stm

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1552956.ece

    There are many, in Britain, especially those in Blair/Brown’s labour party, who would boast that British society has never been so successful – due mainly to the relaxation of laws surrounding sexual practices, drugs, alcohol, pornography, violence, gambling and what used to be described as criminal behaviour.
    Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Family (what used to be Minister of Education) categorically claims that there are no problems and the slight turbulences we witness, reported in the tabloids, are confined to a few areas of social deprivation. Failing families in these areas can be targeted with early, state intervention. One wonders what Orwellian methods he has in mind?
    But, people in Britain do not sense that the anarchy being exhibited by children is confined to a few, isolated, urban districts but instead (to quote Malcom Muggeridge again) it “is falling on us like black atomic dust” – it is in the air.
    The tragedies of mothers and fathers grieving for their loved ones, that we see almost on a weekly basis: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6974867.stmare are a direct consequence of Government legislation that undermines family life. It is the fruit of a worldview that says that all of life is governed only by chance (“Rhys Jones, ” it was reported , “was in the wrong place at the wrong time”). It is one where distinctions between male and female, mother and father, married and unmarried, criminal and victim are non-existent It is one where right and wrong and true and false do not exist. It is one where we are forced to tolerate everything. The consequence is a generation of children who believe in nothing and see life essentially as that described in Ecclesiastes – futile and meaningless. No wonder we have an increasingly nihilistic, mindlessly violent, callous and lawless younger generation.

    David Skinner, UK

  • David Skinner,
    love your posts. insightful and to the point. can’t agree more.
    Garth Penglase

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