Your Progressive Pope

[Content Note: Reproductive policing; choice policing.]

As you may recall, last summer, Pope Francis criticized straight married couples who choose not to have children, warning that their marriages would "come to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness."

Well, he's at it again, this time bluntly stating that choosing not to have children is "selfish."
"A society with a greedy generation, that doesn't want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society," the pope said.

"The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished."
Unless you don't want children, or your life and goals are incompatible with parenting, or any one of a number of reasons that one's life might actually be diminished by having children that you don't want.

To repeat myself:
I can't know precisely what my life might have looked like if I'd chosen to parent, but I know that building a career that took me from a reception desk to an executive office in six years would have been harder, if not impossible, if I'd had kids. I know that ending my first marriage would not have been as easy if we'd had children—both making the decision to end it, and the legal mechanics of ending it. I know I couldn't have picked up and moved to Scotland on a whim. I know I could not as easily hold firm boundaries with close family members, if I had children who needed and wanted to see them. I know I could not have built and maintained this space, because the demands on my time are too great.

...I am not going to be obliged to acquiesce that, sure, my life might have been even better with children. Never mind whether it's (in)accurate: It's irrelevant. My life is what I want it to be, as much as it can be, given my particular set of privileges, marginalizations, talents, and opportunities. And I am not going to be obliged to pretend that my choice is neutral: It isn't. I wanted to be child-free, and I am, and that is a better choice for me. We talk about these choices in a frame that exhorts us to recognize parenting as The Best Choice! and not-parenting as another choice. That isn't honest. Choosing to be child-free is the best choice, the happy-making choice, for a lot of people.
It never ceases to amaze me that a man who will not have children because his chosen job demands it can't begin to conceive that there are other jobs, other life circumstances, other valid choices to be made that end the same way.

I don't need this man, or any man, weighing in on my reproductive choices. I've got it under control, thanks.

[Related Reading: Our Family Is Already Complete; Cultural Reproductive Coercion; The Non-Parent Trap.]

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