According to this author, the childfree are deceiving themselves. Really?

By Victoria Fryer 

Damon Linker thinks that we intentionally childless folks are deceiving ourselves. Back in April, he wrote an article for The Week dubbed “The self-deception of the intentionally childess,” in which he draws on the philosophy of Aristotle in an attempt to convince people that having children is the highest ideal to which we should aspire.

The intentionally childless, on the other hand, are in pursuit of only pleasure. He writes, “So what good do today’s childless couple’s aim at? I’d say something like pleasure—material rewards along with the self-satisfaction that follows from achieving high social status through career advancement. … They’re hedonists, in other words.”

That’s a strong assertion coming from someone who himself seems to have achieved relative career success. He has a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, works as a senior correspondent for, and is a consulting editor for the University of Pennsylvania Press. His wife also has a Ph.D. (By the way, these things are not an insult. I have great respect for people with advanced degrees and appreciate the level of work and commitment it takes to achieve them.)

Obviously, Linker is himself a really intelligent guy. Unfortunately, he’s wasting that intellect in assuming I’m nothing more than a hedonist.

“So, are the childless right? Is pleasure the highest good?” he writes. This assumption that we aren’t contributing to the good of society in some way unfairly discounts all the other ways to contribute prosocially, including volunteering, fostering, philanthropy, et cetera.

He then goes on to, it seems, compare the sacrifice of having children to a soldier falling on a grenade to save his fellow men. He doesn’t, however, quite get around to explaining the benefit of having children, other than to say that our own children afford us a measure of immortality.

Not only does that reinforce a really negative image of parent-as-martyr—which, you know, doesn’t really appeal to me—it also sounds kind of selfish. What’s the goal of immortality? Why the drive to “live on,” to extend the life of your DNA into the generations beyond? It’s a drive I have never felt, and many childless agree. That’s part of the reason some of us choose not to have children, perhaps.

Linker closes with, “If you’re certain that your pursuit of pleasure is all you want from life, then good luck and have fun! … But are you really certain?”

The pursuit of pleasure is the least of what I want from my life, but am I certain that I don’t want children? Yep, pretty certain.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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