Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

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Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mother was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

90s Baby With No Baby

A popular meme I occasionally see on Facebook is “Like if you’re a 90s baby with no baby!”

However, it seems that meme’s funniness was short-lived because some 90s babies with babies started taking offense. Some believe the meme was specifically meant to insult parents who had their children at young ages (teen to early twenties). Some also took offense at being called a 90s “baby” and assumed whoever made the meme was saying they’re not real adults. The backlash has caused memes like this to spring up.

That brings me to this question: Why is it okay to be proud you have children, but offensive to be proud you don’t?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard and seen the following:

  • “You have no idea what it’s like to be tired until you have kids.
  • “You will never know true love.”
  • “You have no idea what you’re missing out on.”

How are these not insulting? These are actually directed at somebody, either an individual or a group of people. If someone said they’re proud to be a parent, I wouldn’t assume they were, for whatever reason, taking unnecessary pity on me that I don’t have children and don’t want to be a parent. If they said any of the above, however, I would.

Likewise, that I’m proud I don’t have kids does not mean I feel pity for parents or believe they are pathetic. It means I’m happy with and proud of a choice I’ve made for my life instead of doing something I don’t want out of pressure (and yes, that would be the only reason I ever had a child; bad!). I believe that’s the case for most, if not all, of the people who find the “90s baby with no baby” meme amusing. It’s not a jab at parents. It’s asking “Who’s like me?” It’s no different than “That feeling when…” memes. It’s meant to be relatable.

Perhaps the person who first created it was being bugged by their family or friends about when they’d have children and they got fed up. Maybe they heard of the phrases I listed one too many times. Maybe becoming a parent at a young age is common where they live and they felt like the odd one out for not having a child at a young age (this is the case in my family). Since memes practically spring out of nowhere, no one will ever know except perhaps that person’s friends.

In short, I believe the offense taken to the “90s baby with no baby” meme is yet another example of people getting worked up over something trivial. I understand some people do take joy in purposefully trying offend others since the anonymity of the internet grants a certain kind of protection, and I believe that’s very immature. However, I cannot believe this meme is an example of that. At most, it really seems like nothing more than something innocent that was put into a bad context by someone who was upset by it and didn’t care what the actual intent was.

At That Age

In 27 days, counting this one since it’s only barely after midnight, I will be 22 years old. For me, that realization is rather surreal.

My birthday is before my mother’s, but had it not been, she would’ve been 22 when she had me. I was not a planned child either and, like me, she had no intentions of becoming a parent. She only did it because she believed abortion was wrong and adoption wasn’t something she could handle (although neither was parenting; go figure).

This is something I continuously think about as my twenty-second birthday draws near, but I’m really not sure why. I knew I wasn’t going to have children at this age. Really, even if I wanted to be a parent, I wouldn’t have tried to become one by 22 because I’m in no position for it. It’s not something that’s bothering me. Just something continuously on my mind for one reason or another.

The best guess I have as to why I’ve been thinking about this so much is knowing this is the age where my mother’s life changed irreversibly. Becoming a parent doesn’t change everybody – heck, it makes them worse in some cases – but I’m certain no one can argue becoming a parent isn’t something you can take back. You can’t put them back up there. Okay, you probably could, but it’d be extremely painful and you certainly can’t reverse the nine months of pregnancy back into non-existence.

Occasionally, I do try to imagine myself in my mom’s shoes when she was 21 or 22, and it’s not an easy visual. I like children in general, so I can imagine the cute stuff like watching a baby sleep, but trying to picture the hard stuff tends to only make my head hurt. I can never picture myself waking up three times or more a night to a piercing wail, going days without sleep, or not having enough time to do so much as take a 5-minute shower. One of the most common things I hear about parenting is “your life is over” and that is more often than not from people who are parents instead of people who aren’t. My life over at 22? I’d have only been an adult for four years!

Yes, I’m aware babyhood is temporary. Eventually, they sleep through the night, gain a little more independence, and stop crying so much. Well, maybe not that last one since the temper tantrums start, but they hopefully won’t be waking you up five times a night until they’re in kindergarten. However, on its own, a year is still a lot of time and frankly, I’ve no desire to spend a year getting sleep three days at a time. I nearly collapsed after one day (a full 24 hours) without sleep, not to mention that can’t in any way be good for your body.

Sure, my mother did it, but she didn’t have a choice. She decided to keep me and have another child, so she had to endure the sleeplessness and all the stress that caring for a tiny, helpless person brings. Failure to do that would’ve resulted in either our deaths or her loss of custody before we became old enough to know she’s our mother.

Speaking of another child, I imagine this feeling will come back twice as strong when I turn 25. At 25, my mother had a three-year-old and a 1-week-old. Admittedly, I can’t see myself at 25 right now. It’s difficult to see myself any more than a year older than my age. I want this blog to be around for a few more years, so if it lasts until 2019, I feel like a certain shock will hit me if I go into my archives that year and find this post.

Something doesn’t add up here…

Normally, if I make a post for commentary, it’s on a site article or blog post. This time, it’s on a response at Yahoo Answers.

On YA, a girl asked why people say not to become teen parents when many claim to have beat the odds and become successful. Most of the answers explain why and then, there’s this:

Why not? If you have a strong relationship, stable income, and the ability to finish school, there is no problem. I mean it. I’m planning my second child at eighteen. I’m a high school senior taking all AP and Honors classes. We live in a nice four bedroom home. I’m married to my daughter’s father. My daughter is a smart, happy, and healthy two year old. She’s learning English, Spanish, and Japanese. She can sing her ABC’s and count to ten in all three languages. We are a happy family with a flourishing business. We had income even when I was fifteen and he was sixteen. We’re smart and know how to bring in money (yes, legally). Why does that bug people? We are causing no harm to anyone. We aren’t harming our daughter either. We aren’t taking in benefits and instead pay sales, business, and income tax. We are productive, normal members of society.

The whole “go to college, buy a house, travel” thing is bullsh*t in my opinion because it’s not a requirement before an adult chooses to have children. Only 27% of Americans have a college degree. Only 60% own homes. 68% of children are growing up in a single parent household. 71% of pregnancies to woman 20-29 are unplanned.

In my opinion, if you can make it work, go ahead. It was our choice to be young parents. We planned out the rest of our lives when we were young. So far everything has worked as planned. I still want to study to become a doctor, he just recently opened up his shop. Our daughter is always ahead on her milestones. The expectations should be the same for both adults and teens. Age isn’t enough to determine if a couple can handle children or not.

Now, I realize I don’t know much, but this doesn’t sound very plausible to me for a few reasons.

  1. She is supposedly 18 years old and her husband is a year older than her, but she claims to live in a four-bedroom house. Who would sell a house to a couple that young, especially when one of them is still in high school? Doesn’t that mean there’s a chance she was sold the house before she reached the age of majority? Is that even legal?
  2. She claims she and her husband have a flourishing business and they had income even when she was sixteen and he was fifteen. Tell me, how can teenagers run a business?
  3. This might be irrelevant, but where on Earth were this girl’s parents? I would love to know how they were able to allow their teenage daughter to run an actual business before she was even a legal adult.
  4. She says she wants to study to become a doctor and her husband recently opened a shop. Unless he runs that shop from inside their home or takes their child to work with him, I’m assuming this kid is in daycare. She’s planning for a second kid. Unless she’s going to go to medical school part-time (is that possible?), who’s going to watch that second kid if her husband is working? Unless her or his parents are doing it for them.

Assault Is Okay Now?

My homepage on Internet Explorer is MSN and I happened to spot an interesting story: Man slaps loud kid at movies

Since it peeked my interest, I clicked and read it. Apparently, the 21-year-old man believed the person he was slapping was another adult, not a child. But he was wrong and not only did he harshly swipe his hand across the boy’s face, he caused him a bloody nose and knocked out one of his teeth. Ouch!

But what gets me is the comments. The best voted comments are the ones that condone this man’s actions and the worst voted comments are the ones that don’t. The question that arises in my head is where the title of this post comes from: Is it now okay to assault someone?

Yes, I realize the child was being annoying and his mother, most likely, was not making him behave. But I do not feel that justifies assaulting (and yes, it is assault, no matter how you spin it) the kid. Even if the child had been an adult, that still would not justify this man’s actions. In my opinion, the only reason to assault someone is if you are being threatened. A noisy child is a huge annoyance, but in no way threatening.

I have my own experiences of putting up with noisy, rude and generally misbehaved children in public places. Almost every time I go out, whether it’s to a store or a cinema, I hear at least one screaming child. Yes, I wish the kid would shut up. Yes, I sometimes wish I could just smack the heck out of them or their parents for ignoring them. No, I never would do such a thing.

If the child had been perfectly quiet and the man randomly came over and did this same action, I have no doubt everyone would agree it was assault and that the man deserves jail time. Yet because there was misbehavior preceding it, his actions are perfectly okay and all fault lies with the child and his mother.

No. Just. Plain. No.