Written by Penelope Farthing
In the last few weeks, I wrote about 5 stories about black parenting that went viral recently. The first was of the black father who beat his preteen daughter for being sexually active. The second and third were about black mothers of infants; one mother dropped her baby on the ground to fight, leading to the baby’s death, and the other went live on Facebook to complain about how “ugly” and “funny looking” she thought her infant son was. The fourth and fifth were the black mothers of twins: the first was being lauded by her husband about how she was nine months pregnant with twins, still working and in school full time and being a work horse for her family, and the other made national (and now international) news about being a single mother of twins whose poor choices led to being back in her Master’s program a week after delivering her babies via C-Section.
Not a single one of these stories portrays black parenting in a positive light, and yet, these are the stories that go viral. There is abuse, disguised as “discipline”, a lack of maternal instinct, and constant, backbreaking struggle. Personally I am very tired of these narratives being the face of black parenting, so I’m here to suggest a radical option.
Just in case no one told you, you are free to be childfree.
With research saying single, childless women are happiest, to the staggering, ever increasing expense it takes to rear a child, to this sick world we live in, the evidence to forgoing motherhood is pretty strong.
But culturally, girls are expected to grow up, fall in love, get married, and their happily ever after is supposed to include at least one child. But it doesn’t have to.
In arguments around abortion, a frequent comment will be “every baby is a blessing”. The baby certainly can be a blessing, but having that baby in poverty, destitution, or neglect seems more like a curse to me. Especially the state of the community the way it is, it is selfish to take a “winging it” approach to something as serious as parenting. If you are against abortion, or even if you’re not, you should be popping birth control like candy, supplemented with an IUD, condom use, and ovulation trackers; there are a whole host of measures available to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. That way abortion doesn’t even come into play.
While I am childless I am not childfree. I want children one day, and that day will not be until the time is right. Even though people know I am childless, I get told with alarming frequency “well if you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never have kids!”, which is an outcome I’m totally prepared for. I’m not bringing a kid into a world where I still owe student loans, and that’s the that on that. When I ask for a contribution to my monthly payment to hasten the baby plans, that usually gets them off my case.
All that said, I respect the choice many women (and men) make to skip out on the parenting thing, and honestly, I wish more black people were told that the childfree life was an option.
You can still do all the stuff you want to do in life, like get married (or not), buy property (or rent), start a business (or work for a company), travel the world (or stay home), the works, but you don’t need to have a kid to do any of it.
If you do go the childfree route, be prepared for some common talking points:
But who will take care of you when you’re old? The thing is, that operates on an assumption that the kids you do have will take care of you in the first place. How many stories have you heard of siblings fighting about who takes care of the elderly relative, only to be placed in a nursing home, forgotten about until birthdays, Christmases, and health scares? Having a child does not ensure quality care from said child. If you know you don’t want kids, it would be better to a) do everything you can while you are young to stay healthy, and b) use the money you didn’t spend on kids to secure a nice little nest egg for any care issues that may arise in your old age.
But children are the future! They sure are. Just doesn’t have to be one of your children.
It’ll be different when it’s your own kids! If you don’t like other people’s kids, kids that you can return to sender, then why risk having a child of your own when there are no take-backsies? That’s a serious risk to take, so if you skip the children thing, knowing that you don’t even like them, that seems like a good move to me.
Oh, and if anyone says your biological clock is ticking, tell them you’ve snoozed the alarm and it’s set to go off in 2099.
Parenting is a serious, life-altering decision that should not be taken lightly. Not because you have all the functioning parts means that you should use them, much less use them recklessly. Just think, if more black women in particular made better reproductive choices, not just childfree but deliberate, well thought out plans for children in general, the out-of-wedlock birth statistic would plummet in just a few years, the poverty rate would start to look better, and the limited resources for children already here could be used more efficiently.
Is anyone here childfree? What led you to that decision? Please share your experience in the comments below.