“You’d make such a great parent!”


From Boy on a Stick and Slither.

There is a sort of passive-aggressive attack against childfree people, which I think most childfree people have experienced, which is of telling them what great parents they would be, if only they would have children like everyone else (80% of the population, anyway).

The childfree, confronted with such a statement, has few good responses. Ey can deny it, but that denial will be seen as modesty. Ey can agree with it and feel good about emself. I imagine that doing the latter may lead childfree people to feel self-righteous or long-suffering. After all, they could have been “great parents” and gain that status, but they sacrificed it for their childfree values.

But here’s the problem: how do we know that anyone would make a “good parent” unless they’ve already been parents? What exactly is the observable evidence that any given person would make a good parent? How can anyone predict parenting abilities? Isn’t that the breeder equivalent of a crystal ball?

People believe they can “read” all sorts of things in others just by looking at their eyes or face. The concept of juries operates under the belief that ordinary people can “read” people’s faces and figure out when they’re lying (despite the scientific tests that prove otherwise). We all operate under the unconscious delusion that we can understand people’s motivations from the way they act or look. Breeders are not immune to that.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “great parent.” I believe that all pedagogy is inherently wrong-headed at best, and psychologically murderous at worse (and if we include Quiverfull insanity, actually murderous). I believe that breeders are deluding themselves, and others, by pretending that there’s a “right way” of playing this game. Everyone always loses: the children, the parents, and society.

The decision to be childfree is a ponderous one, and all childfree people, I think, have thought about it quite extensively. To make such attacks is to trivialize the childfree person’s decision. It’s like telling an atheist that they must have been abused by a religious person when they were younger and to consider that their abuse may not be a good reason to disbelieve. It’s cheap, crass, unnecessary.

I already asked about what sort of observations would a breeder use as evidence that someone would make a “good parent.” My answer is that no such evidence can exist. But obviously they do think they see something that serves as evidence. Presumably this has to do with our interactions with children (those of us who have any, anyway).

Not all childfree like children, but I would say most childfree people have a pretty high affinity for children. This is partially because they don’t have children. Seeing children for an hour or two at a time is an entirely different proposition from taking care of a child twenty-four hours a day; there is no better cure to finding children amazing than to have one.

I think there is some underlying truth to the breeders’ attack, although not the one they’re going for. I would expect that it is the least pedagogically damaged people who don’t procreate, who have the least need to reproduce the abuse they were subjected to as children, who are least likely to need affection so much that they try to find it in captive beings.

Although there are exceptions, it seems to be a general principle that the less damaged you are, the more you recognize the extreme difficulty of raising children. People who breed without thinking seem to believe that raising children is something anyone can do and that you automatically qualify by virtue of having been raised (badly) and being able to fuck. This is delusional thinking at best.

22 thoughts on ““You’d make such a great parent!”

  1. Brian L January 2, 2015 at 22:18 Reply

    I wish I didn’t care so much. I see typical breeders dragging their kids around, and all I can do is feel empathy for the kids. I see vegans and “green” people telling others how they are saving the planet, and how much they care for animals and the environment. I see atheists who wrongly affirm life, ala Richard Dawkins. And all I want to do is finish this existance so I don’t have to see or think of it anymore.

  2. tnt666 January 3, 2015 at 00:13 Reply

    My brother and his girlfriend are planning on pregnancy next year. :(
    I never expected anyone in my family to breed. :(

  3. tnt666 January 3, 2015 at 00:20 Reply

    Ambivalent about your “damage” argument. I am certainly damaged, but at least I know it. There is the French expression:
    “Un fou qui sait qu’y est fou est moins fou que celui qui le sait pas.”
    We are damaged people that are self-aware, whereas most people, damage or not, are not self-aware.

  4. Heretic January 4, 2015 at 15:20 Reply

    The “you’d make a great parent” line doesn’t really work specifically for reproducing, IMO – even if there was a way to get evidence of that, why not adopt a child or two and be a ‘great parent’ to them?

    • Francois Tremblay January 4, 2015 at 15:26 Reply

      Well yea, but usually they don’t even think about adoption. Many of them have an obsession with bloodlines, genetics, weird stuff like that… But yea, I agree that it doesn’t even get to the point of reproduction.

      • Heretic January 4, 2015 at 22:00 Reply

        Just for kicks, if we take take “you’d make a great parent” for reproducing then it sounds like “you’d be great at breeding” and that’s not saying much. LOL

      • Heretic January 4, 2015 at 22:01 Reply

        I mean, why are non-related children less deserving of all these supposedly “great parents,” anyway? Just saying.

      • Heretic January 4, 2015 at 22:04 Reply

        One last thought: natalism reminds me of the anti-abortionist (“pro-life”) stance, where people are encouraged to breed and then they don’t care about what happens once the baby is born. Also, anti-natalists are sometimes referred to as “anti-life,” even by pro-choicers.

        • Francois Tremblay January 5, 2015 at 01:42 Reply

          Well, I do refer to myself as anti-life. I think that’s a fair description, as long as it’s clear which meaning of “life” is being used (the life system as a whole, the principle, not individual human lives).

          The connection between natalism is anti-abortion is pretty obvious, I think. I can’t imagine any anti-abortion person is not a natalist (although I could be wrong). But there are natalists who are not anti-abortion. One thing’s for sure though, they’re all misogynist pieces of shit.

          • Heretic January 5, 2015 at 07:37 Reply

            “Well, I do refer to myself as anti-life. I think that’s a fair description, as long as it’s clear which meaning of “life” is being used (the life system as a whole, the principle, not individual human lives).”

            Maybe “anti new-life”?

            I’d have less of a problem with it if the anti-abortionists didn’t already use it and natalists generally insinuating that we are death-mongerers or something.

        • Francois Tremblay January 5, 2015 at 14:51 Reply

          If we’re death-mongerers, then so is this entire society… especially our food system.

          • Heretic January 5, 2015 at 14:55 Reply

            “especially our food system.”
            Do tell!

        • Francois Tremblay January 5, 2015 at 15:06 Reply

          Why? I hope I’m not telling you anything new if I tell you our food system is majorly fucked up.

          • Heretic January 5, 2015 at 19:00 Reply

            In Canada, too?! I’m in the US.

        • Francois Tremblay January 6, 2015 at 01:19 Reply

          Well I am in the US right now but yea I imagine it’s fucked up in Canada too…

          • Brian L January 6, 2015 at 16:42 Reply

            Since Harper gutted Statistics Canada so no one could fact check the government (read Prime Minister’s Office), and put a muzzle on scientists, it’s hard to say what’s happening in Canada these days. but big business is doing well. :/

  5. Matthew January 6, 2015 at 21:22 Reply

    If people don’t breed, the human race dies. Why not just commit suicide and get it over with?

    • Francois Tremblay January 6, 2015 at 21:24 Reply

      One person is not the human race. One person killing themselves is not going to slow down human breeding in any way whatsoever. So what’s your point, idiot?

    • Brian L January 7, 2015 at 08:02 Reply

      Oh, do show me how, wise Matthew… :/

  6. unabashedcalabash October 13, 2015 at 23:21 Reply

    Oh, well, I’m automatically in the running for a better-than-average parent then, since I’m seriously considering not having children… ;)

    …although maybe my reasons for considering not having children are also selfish (time, autonomy) and out of fear of being a bad parent (can I really handle it, when life is hard for just me?) and because I certainly wouldn’t want to mess my children up like I was (even if I don’t blame my parents for it, not entirely, and I love them and get along with them now, and they help and support me when I need it)…so I wouldn’t say I’m among the least pedagogically damaged, not for someone from my kind of middle-class background anyway…or maybe I totally am and just don’t know it? (Another layer of privilege uncovered! Everyone else’s childhoods suck way more, and not just those of the less-advantaged hurting for basic necessities!). I dunno…it feels like pedagogical damage should make you question more, not less (like my old boss, a handsome, kind Iranian man, who witnessed so much awfulness in his home country and said to me when I was nineteen “why would you ever want to have children, when there is so much suffering in this world? To have a little baby you can hold and cuddle who loves you? Don’t you think that’s selfish?”)…I’d say he had some damage, definitely…and was also right.

    (What about pets? Another captive, thinking being)…

    But now I really must go! I’ll download Flash (I just downloaded Firefox today because of problems with Chrome, so).

    See you later.

    P.s. Have you read this article from The Onion? Apparently the California Parenting Institute (a real entity) was flooded with calls from concerned parents who took this story for real, ha ha.

    http://www.theonion.com/article/study-finds-every-style-of-parenting-produces-dist-26452

    • Francois Tremblay October 13, 2015 at 23:29 Reply

      Oh wow. I hadn’t seen that article before. The Onion can come up with real good ones when they want to. Ouch!

      You have problems with Chrome? I’m sorry. I’ve switched from Firefox to Chrome a while ago because Firefox no longer supported the OS I was using, and I haven’t looked back since. It seems like nowadays all browsers are the same, anyway… Not that I’m complaining! Things have certainly improved.

      I think we’re all damaged from childhood, although some much more than others. I think I was very lucky, all things considered. I had everything I needed or wanted, and my parents were mostly hands-off and provided me with the best education (I didn’t end up doing shit, so I guess the education was wasted). Still, I don’t think I could raise a child well at all. I know my psychology. I’m very introverted and don’t usually have the motivation to look at other people’s feelings.

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