Parents And Childless Both Have A Role To Play

PM Julia Gillard constantly faces questions about whether she can effectively govern on the basis that she hasn't had any kids. At the ABC's Drum opinion site, counsellor Siobhan Hannan makes a great argument for why both those with children and those without have a vital role to play in an effective society.

Picture by jkownacki

At the heart of Hannan's argument is the obvious-but-lots-of-people-ignore-it proposition that allowing people free choice on this point creates a more effective and more productive world for us all. Productivity is one of our big obsessions here at Lifehacker so it's a point well worth noting:

The childfree are often the people available to cover the overtime or work project that a sick child or a school concert prevents a parent being able to attend to. The parent might be the one who teaches their colleagues about multi-tasking and good time management. The parents are the one's producing and bringing up the future taxpayers of Australia who will eventually be helping to pay for all of our retirement. The parents are supporting educational opportunities which will see new generations of thinkers, carers, artists, doctors, teachers, scientists and researchers cure cancer or write new symphonies. The childfree are consuming less while families suck up energy driving kids to and from school and sport and weekend activities. The childfree might be more financially independent, contribute more discretionary spending to the retail economy, thus supporting the employment of the sons and daughters of us parents.

The whole opinion piece is well worth a read, though there's a part of me that remains frustrated that the point has to be made at all. Having kids is a personal choice, not a permanent disqualification from social participation.

Childlessness, a parent's best friend [The Drum]


    By not having children you are not helping/contributing to the future of your culture, let alone the future of you and the memory of you.

    This short video shows why its important to have children. Its a real eye opener!

    Also, a couple of sayings I live by. . .
    1. Who is going to remember you when you die?
    2. No one on their death bed regrets not working enough.

      I'm guessing you didn't read the article at all, ey?


      1. It doesn't ultimately matter if you're remembered when you're dead. You're dead. Whatever you thought important doesn't matter any more.

      2. I think plenty of people do. There ARE people who love what they do. I'm one of them. I *love* my job and the people I work with and am proud of my work, which tens of thousands of people see daily.

        Yes I did read the article. Its saying we all have a place, whether we choose to have kids or not.
        But, as far as Im concerned, choosing not to have kids isnt helping the greater picture. People with children are teh true contributors to the future.

        As for points 1 & 2. . .
        1) Yes, youre dead. But what have you left behind? Who is going to follow in your steps? Who is going to continue your legacy?
        If your answer is nothing and no-one then your time on this earth was a waste.

        2)I love my job too. But I would give it all away in a second if it meant I could spend every day with my kids.

        As for Julia Gillard being "questioned on her ability to understand the experience of families, and the particular problems of parenthood, given that she is childless". . .
        Its a perfectly valid concern.
        Sure, for almost everyone else in society it doesnt matter if you have kids or not, but for the Pri-Minister its a serious issue.
        Families and parenting is a massive concern and how can I expect and believe Gillard to understand what its truly about?

        Gillard does not have kids of her own. So Gillard does not 'get it'. She does not get what its about.
        If you do not have kids you do not get it.
        Nobody, NOBODY, who hasnt got kids can grasp the importance of parenting. I dont care what you think or what you say. You just can not 'get it'.

        And Julia Gillard, who is in Australias most important decision making role, is expected to make decisions on things she just doesnt get.

        Tony Abbot comes out and says "Hey, Im not a tech head, I dont understand broadband and technology."
        Look at the backlash he got for that comment.

        Imagine if Gillard came out and said "Hey, Im not a parent, I dont understand children and parenting."

      People may not regret not working enough but they sure can regret not taking opportunities due to the fact they have children. Not to mention you may have to work more and/or take a less satisfying job in order to support children.

      Who is going to remember you when you die? Well even if you are vain enough for that to be a primary motivator in your life family isn't going to guarantee that for a particularly long time anyway. You're better off trying to write a cheap catchy song or better yet an obnoxious advertising jingle! Or you could just blow something up I guess.

      You're seriously trying to tell me that I'm culturally irrelevant until such time as I decide to knock somebody up?

      As for the rest of it, with our current population I'm starting to think that genetic progression should be more of a privilege than a right.

      As someone who is childless by choice, I would take umbrage at warcroft's comments if I didn't pity him/her for having such low self-esteem that they can only achieve self-respect through procreation. We all have our roles to play in society. I may not be remembered by any offspring when I am dead, but I will be remembered by my friends who truly love me (not just out of familial obligation, and all the people I have helped in life through my work.

      Oh, and BTW you can't have it both ways by claiming that parenthood is the heightof human achievement, then offload that responsibility onto an elected representative - it's one or the other. Elected representatives shoouldn't be standing in loco parentis for people who will not supervise or take responsibility for their own children.

      The video Warcroft cites is scaremongering filled with inaccurate statistics, as Snopes explains.

      Presumably, warcroft, your point is that it is the children who create the future.. just by being there. Existence is miraculous, but it is not exactly difficult. That's pretty reductionist of you, selfish even, don't have high hopes for your kids?

      Your contribution to life begins when you are born and ends when you die. If other people continue your life's work or thoughts after that point, that is their contribution, not yours! It is something I don't think many parents understand. Your children are not your property, you don't own them. You are your children's custodians.. you help them, you love them, you look after them but they are their own people from the moment they are born. Take a few moments, for the sake of your children and others' and think about the implications of this.

      And as for the 'you'll never understand' blind coverall statement. People's ability to understand is limited only by their command of language, imagination, compassion, and their willingness to hear. Anyone who tells you otherwise simply doesn't want to explain.

      > But, as far as Im concerned, choosing not to have kids isnt helping the greater picture. People with children are teh true contributors to the future.

      Tesla, Newton, Nietzsche, Beatrix Potter (threw that in for your kids)*... Bunch of worthless layabouts.

      * Wikipedia

      LOL. Breeder.

      Wow warcroft. Who is going to remember me when I'm dead? Who cares? I'll be dead. As long as my closest friends and family remember me while they're still alive, that's all I'm concerned about. I'm not as sanctimonious or self righteous as you are to want people to remember me long after my death.

      "Those of us who don't have children, we either have to live without a legacy, or find something else. I'm really much more interested in living than I am in leaving anything behind."

      Ah, the hubris of breeders. If not having children means you have 'wasted' your life (from one of your comments) then I really wish about 80% of the current world population would 'waste' theirs.

      Then humans may be back to a sustainable population in a generation or two.

      "If you do not have kids you do not get it."

      warcroft, so you saying then that one cannot be an oncologist unless they are afflicted with cancer?


      Parents are not imbued with some special super knowledge or compassion. Indeed, the stats show clearly that bulk of child abuse -- neglect, starvation, mental and emotional abuse, sexual abuse and murder -- is committed by the child victims' parents or someone close to the child. I am not saying that all parents are child-abusers but people in a parenting role are most likely to be child abusers.

      Care to run that nonsense again about the specialist knowledge of parents? The stats show that knowledge that parents seem to possess well, relative to the childless, are the most effective ways to harm and kill children.

    I certainly disagree with that quoted section. If I'm off because of sick child, then I'm normally covered by someone who also has children and thus understands. The childless ones are the ones who normally whine about having to cover for the breeders :)

    But kidding aside, I don't really care if you choose to have children or not. I don't think it's important to make you a better person.

    There is a part of me that thinks a healthy birth rate is good for the country though. Not too high, not too low. And if it is too low, then the govt needs to try and encourage people to change. Not force though.

    I certainly don't think you need to have children to be the PM. I feel the only reason this is coming up is because she is a woman.

      re: The healthy birth rate. . . watch the link in my post above.

        The link entitled "Muslim Demographics"? Doesn't seem to have much to do with the issue at hand and much more to do with personal fear and bigotry.

        By 'healthy' I was more referring to economics 'enough new people to replace old peoples jobs' kind of thing. Not culture/religion.

    Being judged by whether you have procreated or not is a sad day indeed.

    a good leader doesn't need to have children, to make the appropriate choices that benefit those with and without children.

    the root of the issue is, "is julia a good or capable leader" and considering aussie politics, i would say no, because she, and abbot are both controlled by faceless men. this whole discussion is moot, because the leaders arent really leaders.

    Everybody is entitled to their opinions just as everyone is entitled to the choice of not having children.

    Just because someone has children does not mean they are benefiting society whereas childless people are not. What about all those sick people who abuse and molest their children. They're not benefiting society. And it's been proven that the majority of those kids spend their lives negatively impacting the lives of others.

    What I'm saying though is this argument that people must have children is a load of rubbish. Some choose not to, some don't get a choice and some do but really shouldn't have. If there's one thing we all have these days that many previous generations didn't is choice. Choice in whether or not we have children; work or be a stay at home parent; who we vote for; what we believe in; what career we want to pursue, the list goes on. The point is choice. And no one has right to take choice away from any of us.

    Actually I believe it is the breeders who are killing the Earth. This planet would be much better off with none or at least fewer humans.

    I am childless (can't you tell?) but I play a big part in my nephews and nieces lives. As for being remembered I can only remember my grandparents not any further back as they were not alive during my lifetime. Since my brother and sister were much younger than me they don't even remember their grandparents.

    My father died three days after the first grandchild was born so only his immidate children will remember him.... what's with being remembered anyway?

    Bradman is remembered.
    Newton is remembered.
    Alexander the Great is remembered.
    Lao Tse is remembered.

    These people did great things and that is what they are remembered for. My father, although a wonderful man, will not be remembered past my generation. I don't find this sad. He was much loved (as the turnout at the funeral proved) during his lifetime, which to me is far more valuable.

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