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Does not having children make you more tolerant?

By Nina Steele 

We’ve all heard stories of how the fun has gone out of being a parent these days. It seems that it is all about showing how great your parenting skills are compared to other parents. Those women who are able to become full time mothers often view working mothers with suspicion, while some working mothers have nothing but contempt for mothers who opt out of the rat race. The intolerance shown is often quite striking. You would think that having children would bring people together, not pit them against one another.

If mothers can be so intolerant of each other, imagine the treatment that non-parents get. Indeed, I read an interesting article in the Guardian, in which the author admits to judging a friend just because that friend happened to be childfree. At least she was honest enough to put her hands up and say she was wrong to make assumptions about the choice people make about their own lives. And that brings me back to the question of whether not having children make you more tolerant?

I believe it does. I suspect that had I become a mother, I would have some of the self-righteous attitude that some of today’s mothers are guilty of. That attitude is everywhere you go. On the pavement, in supermarkets, all these mothers almost running you over with their prams, as if to say, ‘don’t you know who I am?’ ‘I am a mother, for heaven’s sake, get out my way’. It is almost as though the rest of society owes them something. I mean I will help a mother with a pram and I have done so in the past, but this righteous attitude, as to claim some kind of moral superiority just because you are pushing a pram is intolerance of others taken to a new level in my view.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many childless/childfree people who are intolerant of people with children as well and it will be very naive of me to portray every childless/childfree person as an enlightened bunch. I had to ban a few people from my Facebook page because of insults that were being thrown at people who were still trying to conceive. I am all for having an honest discussion about why people find it difficult to come to terms with not having children and have written many articles on this very subject, but I do not condone insults of any kind.

Having said that, I still believe that being in the minority forces you to see life in a different light in a way that being part of the majority does not. When you know full well how it feels like to be marginalised and stigmatised, it somehow humbles you. It is a fact that parenthood has been elevated to such height that many parents feel superior to people without children. And the recent pronouncement by the Pope that people who choose not have children are mistaken, goes toward reinforcing this sense of superiority.

Childless by choice

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