Children and Climate Change February 2, 2021 2:31 PM   Subscribe

So this post has reminded me that my least favourite subject for Metafilter posts is pretty much climate change. This is for many reasons, but the biggest one is that many people start sounding off about how happy they are that they don't have kids/how bad it is to have them.

Just to clarify, I'm a father of two young kids. I've got pretty complicated feelings about this, and I'm wondering if this is just me being too sensitive, or if maybe metafilter has some systematic problems around this subject. I keep rewriting points I want to make and highlight... about climate grief, about the toll of the pandemic on young families, about the ethics of having children. However, maybe I can let people raise points themselves if this discussion seems worth having.

If I had to summarize my overarching issue, I would say it's the following: to have children is to hope for the future. Hope, though, is not a choice, but rather a constant act... every day seeing your children grow, every day watching the world change for the better and for the worse, and to all of that saying yes. By having children I hope for the future, and when I read these posts I feel as though I need to engage with peoples' anxiety and show them why I hope. I do this both so I can help them, but also so I don't feel like my children are doomed.

This is hard emotional work. And I think... and I apologize if this is very narrow-minded... it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids. When you do have kids, you don't have a choice. And so seeing people give up on the future, while proclaiming they don't have children, provokes a lot of negative feelings in me.

I stay involved with metafilter because I believe it's always trying to improve itself. I've found that it grows with me, with the community, and with the world. I think maybe one way in which metafilter could improve is by learning how to hope. Not out of optimism, but out of necessity. Not to avoid anxiety, but to face the future. To say, this is where we are, and we want to to be here, and we want to make it better.
posted by Alex404 to Etiquette/Policy at 2:31 PM (230 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

Everything dies. The universe will die. Everything is pointless. Nothing has any actual meaning, at all.
Within all this, all we can do is light small fires of hope and love and happiness and community and try to warm ourselves around them, however briefly.
I'm with you, Alex404.
posted by signal at 2:37 PM on February 2 [16 favorites]


I don't have kids, but I am an environmental science professor who agrees with you. I'm not giving up because I've met kids today and they're better than us and more hopeful than us. I'm trying to give them the resources they will need to solve the problems we have created and the new problems that are to come.

There is a school of thought (supported by the current FPP about climate change) that the nihilist approach to climate change is part of our male dominated thinking in leadership. Some people are trying to change this by incorporating what we know from feminism and intersectionality theories about calling everyone in. For example, the All We Can Save Project. I've bought their book but of course have not had a chance to read it yet. I'm excited to hear more people trying to start a movement of hopefulness towards the future.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:44 PM on February 2 [41 favorites]


I don't have kids. I believe in the future. Everyone's having a rough time right now and climate change is really hard because a lot of the things we need to do to fix things should have been done decades ago, and collectively. But also some people feel like big things they did, maybe a long time ago, should still count as "helping". But it's not elections, there's no "If you can't vote you can't complain" aspect to it.

Since you asked, I think being sensitive about other people's feelings of hopelessness is just a hard place to be in. But whether they have kids or not and feel that way maybe isn't helpful as a litmus test. I sometimes feel worse for people who are espousing great big feels of hopelessness who DO have kids because I feel bad, that it must be hard to be a kid with a hopeless parent. But that's me and my feels. People can still choose (nearly) all the choices, kids or not.

I feel really like most people on MeFi are more on the side of "trying at least somewhat to do mindful things about climate change" with some of them trying a lot more and some of them trying less or not much. That thread was hard because there was an article, about a guy, who both had a point but was also sincerely problematic in the way he got that point across. I think people can relate but it wasn't going to be the thread for a good conversation about climate change but I'm sure there will be others.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:47 PM on February 2 [23 favorites]


Kicking off a meta with the premise that having children makes you a more moral person because it makes you care more about the world -- welp, I'll just say that's not a great frame for a worthwhile discussion (& it's also not a true statement)
posted by Frobenius Twist at 3:00 PM on February 2 [88 favorites]


The poster didn't say having kids makes you a more moral person; I think responding to the specific stuff folks say (even if it's to say "hey, this bothered me and here's why") instead of to an uncharitable reframing of it is a pretty necessary part of helping discussions not go sideways. There's a lot of complicated and sometimes contrasting feelings wrapped up in this topic, and I think it's gonna take a little extra patience and care to help it stay on an even keel.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:09 PM on February 2 [67 favorites]


Cortex, I see that, but even charitably, the poster is talking about their decision to have kids as something that requires strength and makes them somehow more committed to “saving the planet” or whatever it is that “hope” was supposed to mean. There are a ton of assumptions in there, and I don’t think they need to go unchallenged.

I mean, hell, what about people who dreamed for most of their lives about having kids, and then made a decision not to? For what they consider moral and environmental reasons? When the latest news hits about how terrible things already are, let alone how bad they’ll get, there’s no question that I’ll let out a sigh and feel like I’ve made the right choice, no matter how often I regret not having any children of my own.

I appreciate that, having had kids, the poster feels bad when people say they are glad they didn’t. On the other hand, having made the (very) hard decision not to, I not only draw strength from hearing that I’m not alone, that others made the choice, but can’t lie that I don’t have all sorts of emotions when listening to people talk about how adorable their baby is. The thing is, I’m not about to tell them to stop, but I’m not thrilled about being told that my reaching out for solidarity over a difficult decision that took years to arrive at is difficult for them to hear.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:18 PM on February 2 [88 favorites]


I apologize if this is very narrow-minded... it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids.

This is narrow-minded, though. One might just as well argue that people who don't have kids are more likely to care about the future of humankind because they're not wrapped up in promoting the well-being of specific individual children, which often comes at the expense of the rest of the world. But I don't think either position is particularly persuasive.

(Not actually a fan of the "I'm glad I don't have kids"-type comments because they're often repetitive, but also don't see a need to shut them down.)
posted by praemunire at 3:19 PM on February 2 [40 favorites]


Speculating over whether people should exist is absolutely nauseating. The second comment in that post is grotesque.

Having a MeTa about it that is someone who's getting all up in their feelings because they made that grotesqueness be all about them is not the way to solve the way people feel free to be ghoulish whenever they feel climate change gives them the excuse.
posted by ambrosen at 3:20 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


I don't have kids, but I would like to have them. It's just, right now I cannot afford to do so, and since accidental pregnancies aren't happening for me... it's very hard to justify. If accidental or "accidental" pregnancy was possible in my current relationship... maybe that would be tempting.

The other thing about the presence and absence of kids, of course, is that for folks in reproductively compatible relationships, a surprising amount of kids are not exactly planned or are sort of "dubiously planned" in a "well, happens or it doesn't" kind of way. I was not a planned kid. I think more kids should be planned but pregnancies are really fraught for a lot of people, and telling people who are pregnant what they must do with their bodies irrespective of their own wishes is a really fucked up thing to do no matter what you are telling them to do with their bodies.

I wish that people did not immediately kneejerk to speculating about children when climate change comes up. Our population is not the greatest threat to climate change, and more to the point fears about overpopulation often get really, really racist... while everyone ignores the biggest real contributors to climate change, which are largely industrial corporations owned and run by the very wealthy. It feels good to think "my personal decision can make a difference" for this big old aggregate disaster, but in the chaos of everyone making lots of small decisions, it doesn't matter very much. If effective change is going to happen, we need to target the largest sources of problems, and everyday people and children are really not the biggest culprits.

This is an emotional and highly fraught topic. It's probably a bad idea to assume anything about everyone else. But I would like it if the frequency of immediate kneejerk comments either pro- or anti-children could go way, way the fuck down, both because they needlessly increase the level of heat in the room by inflaming a wide variety of tensions and because they often distort the entire room around themselves.
posted by sciatrix at 3:30 PM on February 2 [51 favorites]


For what it's worth, my solution to this is to use My Mefi exclusively to read the front page and block things tagged with "climatechange" "climateapocalpyse" and other stuff along those lines, because the framing of those posts often leads to an anxiety spike regardless of whether I read the comments.

This doesn't solve the larger cultural issue with the site, but it makes it useable for me.
posted by dismas at 3:46 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Our population is not the greatest threat to climate change, and more to the point fears about overpopulation often get really, really racist...

I'm not sure exactly what's being referred to here. I often hear the problems are with the members of industrialized nations, e.g. where the average American contributes about 8X the amount of pollution/carbon footprint as members of the third world. So every time this is brought up, I do hear protests that "the idea of population reduction is against our race", but ironically from white nationalists that don't believe in climate change anyway?

As for companies contributing to the bulk of carbon emissions, this may very well be true, but I hope people do not simply wave the questions of population aside as if it they were negligible. One of the unfortunate aspects of the climate discussion is that overshadows tangential issues like fish depletion and habitat loss, which definitely are impacted by population.

I don't think people should be allowed to tell other people what to do reproductively, AT ALL, but I hope overpopulation isn't just seen as something that can be easily dismissed. Whether or not it's a major factor in carbon emissions, it does contribute directly to other environmental issues.
posted by neeta at 4:01 PM on February 2 [9 favorites]


I fear that this thread has all the components of a potentially massive storm. We frequently don't do climate change discussions well and we frequently don't do parents/non-parents discussions well.

In the spirit of what I'm personally choosing to take as the most important point here, I'm going to go ahead and politely ask: Can we choose to be hopeful here, and choose to not focus on the same old battles? Can we instead ask ourselves whether there are things we can choose to do or not do here, in this space, to support each other in these difficult times instead of pointing fingers?

If there is reason to hope, perhaps we can do that together. If there is not, then I am proud to be here among you all striving for better nonetheless.

Thanks for listening.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on February 2 [37 favorites]


Climate Crisis is pretty terrifying. I respect your desire to have hope for the future via children. I don't judge anyone for having a few kids. I have 1 kid. And one of the best things you can do to lessen your carbon impact is to not have kids, especially if you are American. It's a fact, and an unpleasant one. People are going to make the recommendation to not have kids because it's extremely valid advice. I know people who plan to have 1 - 2 kids; I don't comment or judge. I know people who plan to have 0 kids; not for Climate Crisis reasons necessarily. I give them support and acceptance. It's still very much the case, in my experience, that the decision to not have kids elicits argument, persuasion, guilt, shame. The individual decision to have kids should be intentional and nobody else's business.

it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids. When you do have kids, you don't have a choice. And so seeing people give up on the future, while proclaiming they don't have children, provokes a lot of negative feelings in me. I think this is a bit defensive, and really sells short people who choose to be child-free. I see plenty of people who have kids who don't care at all about Climate, who don't consider hope, etc. And keep in mind people who choose to have lots of kids; I don't see that as hope for the future; it's complicated.

Metafilter doesn't do x well to me, means, Some issues are hard, let's avoid them. The whole Climate Crisis: We're Doomed trope has gotten old. It's such a huge issue, it's almost impossible to fully grasp and wrap your brain around, and I think it's a bit lazy.
posted by theora55 at 4:50 PM on February 2 [22 favorites]


This MetaTalk seems perfectly poised to start fights, and boils down to the poster not liking something said in a thread. I don't think anything can be solved here...there's nothing to fix.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:52 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


If there is reason to hope, perhaps we can do that together.

We don't do them well here, but I try to stay out of climate discussions, here and elsewhere, as a general, not-hard-and-fast rule. It's an increasingly depressing situation that is not going well, mostly now because of accelerating geological reasons that are and will remain well beyond our control. So I don't judge people for having kids, though I would not bring any into the world, myself. But science moves exponentially faster than nature. As one example, the time between a pandemic and subsequent vaccines was historically short. Maybe that and similar examples are aberrations, but maybe we also manage to figure out a way out of this, too. I try to share what I know about that, where I can. The other side of that is a deep pit of despair, and I've had more than my share of staring into that over the last few years, as I'm sure others have.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:56 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


This MetaTalk seems perfectly poised to start fights, and boils down to the poster not liking something said in a thread. I don't think anything can be solved here...there's nothing to fix.

We have had dozens and dozens of MetaTalk threads precisely about a poster not liking something that was said, and often we make a collective decision not to say those kinds of things anymore. It's a fix. The only difference here is that you have already decided that this issue is different, and it's okay to bash the decision to have children in a way that it isn't okay to bash other things. Maybe most people will agree with you. I don't know. But we could at least have the discussion.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:01 PM on February 2 [14 favorites]


See...taking posts about something personally and bringing it to MetaTalk because people without kids don't know how to hope and have "given up on the world,"....yeah I believe this is trying to start fights. You seem to be trying to fight me by attributing motives I don't have. Not rising to it, thanks though.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:04 PM on February 2 [20 favorites]


I’ve written and deleted a few different things about this, and I can’t quite find the right words. But I do need to say one thing:

Please know that you are playing into some very old homophobic and misogynist tropes if you are expressing amazement that anybody would choose not to have children, or if you are questioning whether or not such a person can have morals or care about the future.

Discussions about overpopulation are.... fraught and problematic, for extremely valid reasons. However, I don’t consider it any less problematic to sneer at childless folks, and pressure them into having children that they don’t want.
posted by schmod at 5:14 PM on February 2 [42 favorites]


I agree with the comments above that MeFi needs to learn how to have these conversations more respectfully, because (imo) these are issues that are huge, that aren't going away, and will impact all of us at some point. I believe that it's important to confront these difficult concepts, but it's equally important to live in the tenant of "do no harm" as far as possible.

My main takeaway from this post is the second comment in that thread should, I think, have been removed by a mod, given the context of the above points already raised about Metafilter being bad at both of these discussions happening simultaneously. I'd like to know if it was flagged and if it was allowed to remain.

I would suggest a solution to this would be a little more mod attention given to comments like the ones in that post, where people are coming in just to say snarky things about another person's lifestyle choices. Perhaps that could be the line in the sand: be respectful, to the poster, to your fellow commenters, and to the people being discussed in the article/post/whatever.

As I see frequently pointed out elsewhere, the person in the article won't see your funny joke about them, but your friends who might be in the same situation sure will. Maybe remembering that in general will help things be less snarly around these conversations.
posted by fight or flight at 5:25 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


A thought I have had multiple times in more than a decade of reading metafilter is that metafilter would be a friendlier place if it loved children as much as it loves cats, or at least was as friendly to parents as it is to cat owners.
posted by areaperson at 5:33 PM on February 2 [22 favorites]


Most people of a certain age on this site are parents. I think sometimes non-parent people feel like they have more freedom here to express their inner Philip Larkins than they do in their daily life.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:40 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


My main takeaway from this post is the second comment in that thread should, I think, have been removed by a mod, given the context of the above points already raised about Metafilter being bad at both of these discussions happening simultaneously. I'd like to know if it was flagged and if it was allowed to remain.

I agree that comment sucks, and I've deleted it now. For context, no, it hadn't been flagged at all until after this thread went up. Definitely something where prompt flagging for early-thread comments can make a big difference in avoiding the tone going in a weird direction immediately, though obviously some of this stuff is easier to see in hindsight than in passing in the moment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:52 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Perhaps another flag category is needed. Something like a "don't be a dick" rule? Or a "disrespectful/unhelpful comment"? I know this might be covered in "noise/derail/other" but maybe there needs to be a slightly more overt option for notifying mods of the tone of the flagged comment.
posted by fight or flight at 5:58 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


There is a "flag with note" option. Write to your heart's content.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:59 PM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Setting things up in big sweeping generalizations doesn't help, I think. There's seeds of many statements, but by expanding them to match how you feel, you'll catch up a lot of other people (and when they make similarly sweeping statements that cover you, it's unlikely to be well received).

Metafilter likes kids! Dislikes kids! Loves parents! Hates parents! Is a refuge from a world which caters to parents & natalism! Supports anti-natalism in ways which reinforce broader cultural "we say we support parents, but really we put the burden on parents because we can"!

None of this leads to good things. Want to emphasize what you see as the good in your path? Awesome. Narrow-minded statements about how "it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids"? Heal thyself.
posted by CrystalDave at 6:23 PM on February 2 [9 favorites]


FWIW, I got the exact opposite impression from that thread, with the child-having folks coming across as extremely aggro.

In this MeTa, the OP insinuated that I’d “given up on the future” by not having children, and that’s barely been called out.

Given that straight, child-having folks are the overwhelmingly dominant demographic across the globe, please consider your privilege before accusing those who differ of being unfriendly or curmudgeonly.

Having your privilege questioned for the first time can be uncomfortable, but FFS, don’t fucking accuse me of giving up on the future just because I don’t want to have kids.
posted by schmod at 6:25 PM on February 2 [85 favorites]


The thing about climate change that seems to get buried amid the doom on Metafilter is the fact that there is a small, specific, identifiable group of (white, male) people who are directly responsible for the devastation and inaction and 40+ years of lying. And an equally small, identifiable and overlapping group of (mostly white and mostly male) people still standing in the way of the necessary actions.

And every moment that we spend second-guessing one another's personal choices, thinking or anxiety-level on this subject, we are doing exactly what they want us to, and they are off the hook for a crucial moment longer.

I (an ambivalent and worried parent of one) went to a discussion group led by Conceivable Future a couple years ago and if there was one thing I took away from hearing all the arguments for or against children it was: this is not my fucking responsibility to fix, and no personal lifestyle choice I make matters in comparison to the people with actual power, who need to be actively reckoned with.

It's wonderful that people are choosing not to have kids, or to limit the size of their family. It's wonderful that people are still having kids despite their dread. We need both to have a future! It's unconscionable that we've been placed in a situation where we need to weigh these realities.

To any mefite who feels that their decision to raise a child is castigated here, I wish a long life of peace and love. And to any mefite who feels their decision not to raise a child is belittled or denigrated, I wish a long life of peace and love. We have to focus our rage, grief and worry on the people causing the real harm.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 6:29 PM on February 2 [65 favorites]


Maybe it doesn't need to be pointed out, but as someone who is of prime parenting age but doesn't have children (for reasons I'd rather not discuss here, but it has nothing to do with climate change), barely a week goes by that my spouse or I don't receive some judgement for it. Sometimes overt, sometimes not. But it happens all the time. We are where we are, and we're happy with it, but it's pretty hard to take seriously the idea of people with kids being the persecuted ones. When you can't/don't have kids, it can be incredibly depressing and at times infuriating dealing with the societal expectations that you're not living your life "right."

To be absolutely clear, I am not saying that I think it's ok to tell parents they shouldn't have kids. It's not ok to tell anyone whether they should or should not have children. That's a personal choice (not really a choice for everyone), and sometimes huge amounts of trauma and stress have gone into it. In either direction. But I think it's understandable, if not acceptable, that members of the group who are constantly told they're making the wrong choice sometimes seize and opportunity to turn the tables.
posted by primethyme at 6:51 PM on February 2 [41 favorites]


One doesn't need children to be moral.
One doesn't need religion to be moral.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:03 PM on February 2 [30 favorites]


I didn't want kids at all and when I was 40 there was an accident so I figured I had better change my mind and throw myself into it cause he was coming no matter what. The person that did want kids wasn't up to it so I threw myself into that. Now I've accumulated 2 more from people who weren't up to it. My hair fell out and I wandered in the desert eating locusts with no honey for a while and I now have 3 teens who are going to be better 20 somethings than I was.

That's the job-replace yourself with someone better. Y'all are lucky I didn't spin out three mes.

That's 6 adults putting out three. It is a win.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:04 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids. When you do have kids, you don't have a choice. And so seeing people give up on the future, while proclaiming they don't have children, provokes a lot of negative feelings in me.

This is ungenerous in the extreme about people who don't have children. To couple this quite offensive judgment with complaints about being judged is mind-boggling.

you have already decided that this issue is different, and it's okay to bash the decision to have children in a way that it isn't okay to bash other things. Maybe most people will agree with you. I don't know.

Like, I don't get this sort of "woe is me" business from parents. Maybe most people will agree to bash the decision to have children? Wouldn't most people then be bashing themselves? Having children has been the dominant mode of human existence in all societies forever. How does it make any sense to act like parents are making some sort of stigmatized choice? Why does it bother parents so much when people don't want kids and say they don't want kids? Shouldn't your choice and your children be enough? Why isn't the fact that your choice is the norm in every society enough? Why do you need everyone's approval? (Universal "you" throughout.)

Try being a woman who doesn't want children if you really want to experience judgment and stigma.
posted by Mavri at 7:11 PM on February 2 [102 favorites]


Hi everyone, I really appreciate this discussion, and I'm sorry if my framing set a lot of people off. For what it's worth, I spent the better part of an hour trying to formulate this topic properly, realized it would take 4 hours, and hit post with something I hoped would promote good discussion. The problem is that these are both such complicated issues, which also overlap. I also think it would be good if we could have healthy discussions about them on Metafilter... or at least about climate change.

To clear something up, I wasn't trying to express that I think people who have kids are more moral, just that having kids is a huge responsibility.

Maybe it doesn't need to be pointed out, but as someone who is of prime parenting age but doesn't have children (for reasons I'd rather not discuss here, but it has nothing to do with climate change), barely a week goes by that my spouse or I don't receive some judgement for it.

I really appreciate your thoughtful comment, and I know this muddies the waters of this conversation. I think judging people for not having children is wrong, and I apologize if I could have framed things better.
posted by Alex404 at 8:02 PM on February 2 [13 favorites]



Everything dies. The universe will die. Everything is pointless. Nothing has any actual meaning, at all.

cite, please.
posted by philip-random at 8:06 PM on February 2 [10 favorites]


People have been giving people grief for choosing to have children since Malthus, if not earlier. It’s an understandable fear but for most people seems to be more primal than purely rational. I think it’s ok to express your primal fears but guilting folks over them seems wrong.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:22 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Hi Mavri, I'm not sure if I should engage with your comment, because I would like to foster a good discussion, and I don't want to say anything that might further upset you. At the same time, it does touch on a very deep, complicated part of this discussion.

Try being a woman who doesn't want children if you really want to experience judgment and stigma.

I obviously can't. I'm a white male from Toronto, Canada, with a nice big apartment, a successful, caring wife, and two kids. Overall my environment has supported me, and people around me regularly give me a big, shiny toothed, thumbs up.

That being said I would like to address some of your points, not to be combative, but hopefully to offer insight into how parents see things.

Like, I don't get this sort of "woe is me" business from parents.
We're all beyond exhausted and sick with worry about our kids. For the present and the future.

Maybe most people will agree to bash the decision to have children? Wouldn't most people then be bashing themselves?
Parents are very good at judging themselves and each other, both as people and as parents.

Having children has been the dominant mode of human existence in all societies forever. How does it make any sense to act like parents are making some sort of stigmatized choice?
Because the way we're having kids now is very different. It used to be that parents could rely on their families and communities to share in raising the kids. Now our modern western societies have compartmentalized everything and made everyone super busy. So now our communities and families don't have time to help parents, parents have to juggle jobs and kids, and now all the schools are shut down and you're not allowed to go outside.

Why does it bother parents so much when people don't want kids and say they don't want kids?
Because we feel like we're building the future for everyone, not just ourselves. We also just like kids.

Shouldn't your choice and your children be enough? Why isn't the fact that your choice is the norm in every society enough?
Parents are not nearly as monolithic an entity as you're making them out to be. Parenting is often not a choice, and there are many forms of parenting that are not considered normal.

Why do you need everyone's approval?
We don't. We need help.

Or at least a hug. I suppose we could all use a hug.
posted by Alex404 at 8:46 PM on February 2 [8 favorites]

People have been giving people grief for choosing to have children since Malthus, if not earlier
Quite a bit earlier, in fact, it's in Ecclesiastes (4:2-4):
And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun...
The Preacher goes on to explain why this the wrong, or at least, irrelevant—since it's not our business to know the full purpose of the world, we may as well behave well, live our lives in good conscience, and find what enjoyment we can for the days of our toil, which is all we get. Which seems like a relevant ethical principle to climate change as well, which is such a comprehensive global risk, that can only be dealt with by our civilisations as a collective, that it really makes everyone's individual choice (or not) to have children (or not), irrelevant. Guilt or caring doesn't enter into it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:48 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


I both agree that knee-jerk anti-natalism sucks (and above all, is boring!), and also that this MetaTalk is not framed in a way that will ever be constructive. Like,

By having children I hope for the future -- I mean, I have always hoped for the future? I don't have to have biological offspring to care what happens to the human race/our planet where we all live, all of us and all our friends and families and their children and the billions of people whose children we've never met.

Sincerely, I cannot imagine that the proportion of people who care about the future is all that different between parents and non-parents. I promise you that every childless person on this thread is familiar with responsibility and fear and hope. (And for that matter, there are plenty of parents who don't care about the future. Most people have kids, including the powerful men who refuse to act on the climate crisis.)

Like, it sort of sounds like you feel obligated to grapple with other people's climate anxiety when you see it, so you want to not see it. Rather than shutting down those expressions, you could just...not engage.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:49 PM on February 2 [22 favorites]


Maybe most people will agree to bash the decision to have children? Wouldn't most people then be bashing themselves? Having children has been the dominant mode of human existence in all societies forever. How does it make any sense to act like parents are making some sort of stigmatized choice?

We are all conditioned to believe women who have children and raise them are vapid brainless hysterical clingy unenlightened moochers who give feminism a bad name and are responsible for causing every psychopathology ever identified in human beings. The dominant mode of human existence is also its most devalued and denigrated. Walk into a job interview with a maternity leave gap on your resume and tell me the choice isn't stigmatized.

Welcome to misogyny! Here is the bat with which you are now required to bash yourself.
posted by MiraK at 8:52 PM on February 2 [13 favorites]


Why does it bother parents so much when people don't want kids and say they don't want kids?

Is that really what's bothering anyone? There's a very, very large difference between saying you, personally, don't want kids vs. saying it's irresponsible, selfish, cruel, etc to have kids. The second opinion inevitably comes up over and over in these threads (including the one from earlier today) and I don't know why that seems to be tolerated when bashing people for being childfree rightfully wouldn't be. I greatly sympathize with the judging people encounter for their choices but that doesn't make it ok to turn around and do the same thing to people who made the opposite choice.
posted by randomnity at 8:59 PM on February 2 [8 favorites]


By having children I hope for the future, and when I read these posts I feel as though I need to engage with peoples' anxiety and show them why I hope. I do this both so I can help them, but also so I don't feel like my children are doomed.

I mean, armchair psychology and all that, but I feel like if you had made this statement as part of an AskMetafilter question people would be talking about how you might be - not very appropriately - dealing with your own anxiety by projecting onto others and - again, not very appropriately - claiming to be helping them with their anxiety and uncertainty when in fact you are actually trying to soothe yourself.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:04 PM on February 2 [31 favorites]


Yeah did anyone bash childfree or childless people onn the thread in question? I didn't see it. Even in this thread, perhaps you may have read some of OP's words as bashing non-parents, but he has since clarified what he meant, so assuming good faith, let's read one another charitably?

What parents are reacting to - the reason this thread was created - are all the reliable parent bashers that showed up in the climate thread, as they always do. People over there really did denigrate the choice to have kids. Some said it's hypocrisy for anyone who cares about climate change to have children. Some said promoting procreation is *unscientific*. Many consider it an irresponsible choice, and many more said they believe people only have children in the middle of this climate catastrophe if they don't care or don't worry enough about their kids. This bashing is what actually happened.

There hasn't been any bashing of non-parents at all, on contrast. Not on that thread and not on this one. So maybe let's stick to the complaint at hand rather than bring in grievances from life in general?
posted by MiraK at 9:10 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


As the person who may have started the whole climate-and-children derail and made many people feel attacked, I am truly sorry. I do think considering having children is an important decision and a topic worth talking about. I expressed that poorly.
posted by eotvos at 9:14 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


As a childless person who wanted badly to have children, I'm just going to say: if someone writes "it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids," no matter how they meant it, I'm going to hear: "if you don't have kids, you are a more callous person and you don't feel things as keenly as I, a child-haver, feel them."

I believe you when you say you didn't mean it that way, Alex404. I just don't think you realized it would feel like a stab through the heart to someone who feels frequently judged as less competent, less adult, less caring, less aware, less altruistic because she's not a parent.

I need you to know (the generic "you") that this is a common, common way to talk about people who don't have kids. Most parents don't notice it at all, because it's not something that would be directed at them. Hopefully you don't actually say such thoughtless things to your childless friends. But I assure you, *someone* has said those things to them. And they have noticed. I have had plenty of people--some of them friends and family who I know love me and care about me and think I'm a good person--make these kinds of comments carelessly, thoughtlessly, flippantly, and I usually don't say anything about it, but I notice. I notice.

I think about Andrea Leadsom and how, when she was running against Theresa May for leader of the Conservative party, she said, " I don't really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really really sad she doesn't have children so I don't want this to be 'Andrea has children, Theresa hasn't' because I think that would be really horrible. But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children, who are going to have children, who will directly be a part of what happens next."

There you go. Now, I have no love for Theresa May as a political figure, but knowing that she has spoken publicly about her sadness over not being able to have kids...ouch. There is no way to interpret what Andrea Leadsom said other than, "Being a parent means I care about the future more than someone who is not a parent."

I care a lot about the future. I care a lot about children, the ones I know and love and all the ones I don't. So these comments hurt. And yet these comments are constantly brushed off as not being intentionally hurtful, in threads like this they're often countered with arguments of "Oh yeah, well you know what really is horrible? How parents are judged all the time for their parenting!" Yeah I KNOW. I AGREE that parents, particularly mothers, are judged constantly. But I beg you, BEG YOU, please please please stop with the comments about how parents feel more, care more, have more hope and more of a stake in the future, than people who don't have children.

It makes me feel like shit and I want you (generic you) to STOP.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:43 PM on February 2 [115 favorites]


By having children I hope for the future, and when I read these posts I feel as though I need to engage with peoples' anxiety and show them why I hope. I do this both so I can help them, but also so I don't feel like my children are doomed.

Actually I think your analysis is backwards. The folks who are emotionally affected by whether people have kids and how many and where are the folks who DO feel invested in the future, who want that future to contain a minimum of suffering.

I don't think they're wrong to want that AND I don't think haranguing people about procreation is the way to get there, but the nihilists aren't the ones you have to worry about.

I mean, here's the thing; I don't have kids for a lot of reasons and none of them have anything to do with climate change. Simultaneously, I have no hope for the future and I do in fact find it fairly easy to write off the world. Because I have no particular investment in the future, I legit can't be arsed to care one way or another what other people do with their procreative decisions. The only thing I care about is that as many people as possible enjoy the freedom I have enjoyed (so far) to make that decision for themselves.

But the crux of the matter is, I don't...owe anyone...a different me who isn't this way. I don't want help or hope, I want to be left the hell alone. It's not my job to make you feel better about your kids' future. It's not your job to make me feel better about the world.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:46 PM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Also this:
Q: Why does it bother parents so much when people don't want kids and say they don't want kids?
A: Because we feel like we're building the future for everyone, not just ourselves. We also just like kids.


Is not a logical argument. Nobody asked you to build the future, nobody's required to be grateful to you for it, and there is absolutely ZERO connection between one person's dislike of children and another person's liking of them. I don't like the majority of country music. I don't expect Willie Nelson is much upset by this. I don't want to buy a car; literally none people have a problem with this. People like different shit, man, and people live different ways.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:02 PM on February 2 [23 favorites]


I'm a bit upset. This is like we are all quarreling in a horror movie, while the monster is outside trying to get in. We need to work together or we all die.

20 firms are responsible for a third of all global climate emissions
100 are responsible for 71%

If everyone active on MetaFilter literally sealed themselves and their immediate families off in an underground air tight mine right now with all their possessions, it wouldn't meaningfully affect the climate crisis.

The most meaningful thing you can do is lobby their government for regulation on corporations. Has everyone in the thread written to their government on this topic recently? I suspect not. I certainly haven't, because it's been a shit year full of shit things, but I'm going to, after I post this.

That's not what this thread is about in my estimation though.

I see two things here.

One is unacknowledged racism, sexism, and able-ism, and climate change is absolutely an issue in all of these. So is the choice to have kids or not. These problems center people with privilege and their feelings and interests, over those who lack the same privilege. That is a pernicious problem on MetaFilter because people don't want to do the work, because it's uncomfortable.

So, I feel people should stop privileging themselves and their comfort. If you have privilege, get used to being uncomfortable, until everyone is comfortable. For example if you are writing in this thread as an intellectual exercise without considering these factors carefully, you are probably making things worse. If this doesn't apply to you, than you have no good reason to be mad at me for calling out those to whom it does.

The other is hurt feelings. I'm not sure what to do about that. I don't pretend to have all the answers, and it sucks to be upset and hurt and to feel unheard. So I want you to know I read this thread. I can't do anything to soothe you other than say this, so you are going to have to take care of yourself. Don't expect an apology from the people who hurt you, though if you think you owe someone else one, don't refuse to give it.

By maybe think about what you can do better, because this was rather disappointing. I'm not blaming everyone equally, and I'm not excluding myself. Maybe this just makes this worse, and if so, or if I hurt people's feelings without a good reason, I apologize. I'm going to write my two senators (I'm in the US). What are you going to do?
posted by Chrysopoeia at 11:11 PM on February 2 [22 favorites]


I do think considering having children is an important decision and a topic worth talking about.

Well, it still wasn't the right fucking place to put that. I think it's sociopathically irresponsible to own a car, but I didn't make the thread all about that, and that is a far less hurtful opinion to express, even though I know it hits a lot of people directly in the identity.
posted by ambrosen at 11:16 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


We're all beyond exhausted and sick with worry about our kids. For the present and the future.

I'm exhausted and sick with worry about specific kids and kids in general, even though I am not a parent. Please understand that people without children of their own still often have children in their lives. This really doesn't need to be such a stark parent versus non-parent dichotomy.
posted by desuetude at 11:17 PM on February 2 [35 favorites]


After chewing it over for a bit, honestly, I’m less and less okay with the “having children makes you care more” framing. How different is it, really, from the tired false sense of being offended that gets offered up whenever someone says or does something utterly misogynistic? “I have a daughter/a wife therefore my offense at this thing is more real.”

It is entirely possible to care about things even when you don’t have any skin in the game. It’s possible to care about the future and how people will live even if we ourselves won’t be around to see it. Hell, I care about the future that awaits your kids, even though I’ll never meet them. Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t make me a monster, nor does someone having kids automatically grant them some saint like badge of merit.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:05 AM on February 3 [45 favorites]


I’m not going to have children. Children of other people, however, are going to be taking care of me when I’m older. I will be part of the lives of many children in my lifetime. If parents are reaching out for help and community and desperate for support, they will have to look towards the many people who don’t have children of their own. Yet, when I have reached out in the past, I have been systemically rejected. I don’t mean direct “you childless monster get away from my kid” crap. I mean, systemic. I am put in the position of “weird adult family friend”, there is no automatic social space for me. I can’t ask questions about childcare because it’s seen as judgement. I can’t talk about my own choice not to inflict the contract of society on a kid who didn’t ask to live without making others feel judged, like shit, for expressing my own experience. And I don’t see this changing, ever, despite people with children needing more help than ever.
posted by Mizu at 1:01 AM on February 3 [26 favorites]


I don't have children, but like J Jessamyn way up-thread I believe in the future, for planet and humanity. I have never (since 15 anyway) wanted kids but that hasn't dimished my desire to heal the planet.

But I'm trained in ecology and my hope has to be tempered with a bleak realism (we've caused a state change and it's a millenial++ project to ensure we even survive - while most of the world rushes toward the edge). I find Dark Mountain an inspiration as they adress the grief, yes, and point to posible futures, what Dark Mountain have achieved, I feel, is the stripping away of all Utopias while avoiding dystopian nihilism.

I'm inspired by the angry youth (and middle-agers - look at Sleaford Mods et al.), XR and other groups. I know some, they're inspiring, and hopeful, and fucking angry.
posted by unearthed at 2:16 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Man, I have kids but a) I don't conflate it with hope and b) I don't think hope is the kind of heroic thing for which one should exhort people to strive?

I guess people might hate me now, but I had kids, and paid dearly out of pocket for IVFs, because I really wanted children. It's purely selfish, and I can't bring myself to feel bad for it.

I guess wanting kids presupposes the hope that it will be a world in which they can be happy at least a while longer. But I don't think the next generation will be able to turn this ship around any more effectively than we did.

That doesn't mean I've given up on changing things for the better (I hope none of us have?), but it also means that like the wife in the article I try to live a practical life.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:19 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


So I tried to make this metatalk thread to discuss how to have better climate change threads, and how doubly hard it is for parents to read them when there's a lot of talk about how having children is bad. Instead it seems dominated by reactions to my somewhat personal framing. I understand I've upset people without kids, but I've tried to thoughtfully apologize and I hope we can move on.

I still think we should try and figure out how to constructively talk about climate change on metafilter, in a way that both addresses the reality of what's going on, while allowing us to focus on building a better world (by, for example, identifying types of comments that so often derail these threads). I also hope we can do so in a way that does not feel hostile to people with kids or without them.
posted by Alex404 at 3:08 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


You followed your 'thoughtful apology' with this:

Because we feel like we're building the future for everyone, not just ourselves.

Which is just reiterating your initial point. Plenty of people are contributing to the future without having kids, thanks. I feel like this point has been made already.

Also, is that the royal 'we'? Did you mean 'I'?
posted by biffa at 3:25 AM on February 3 [40 favorites]


I apologize if this is very narrow-minded... it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids.

That is an awful thing to say. I didn’t choose to not have children. Apparently that inability means I don’t care much about the future. All I’m thinking is: I don’t come here much any more. Why should I bother come back?
posted by lemon_icing at 3:59 AM on February 3 [14 favorites]


How about this, "don't yuck my yum." (which, apparently, is a thing some parents say to their kids). With that in mind,
You have kids? You like your kids? Awesome.
You hate kids? You don't have kids? Good for you.
Your kids are causing climate change/your decision not to have kids is saving the world from Climate change? Well, no not at all.
You only care about the future if you do/ don't have kids? Also no. ...and so on

Climate change is the bugaboo of our day. Back when I knew everything, it was nuclear war - which was going to happen any night now. In Europe of the 1500's it was (I assume) armageddon or some-other form of biblical chaos. Climate change is the wolf at the door. Turning on each other isn't going to do anything about the wolf. And something must be done - but it's not about kids, (where's that link about people feeling climate change rests overwhelmingly on their personal choices?) - it's about industry and industrial practices that are most effectively (maybe only ) changed through political action.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:50 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Instead it seems dominated by reactions to my somewhat personal framing.

Framing is everything. You can't build a post that says "let's find a way to talk about climate change constructively without knee jerk comments about having children"...
...and then load it with a framing that is insulting to people who don't have children...
...and then ask people to ignore that framing and be more constructive!

I still think we should try and figure out how to constructively talk about climate change on metafilter, in a way that both addresses the reality of what's going on, while allowing us to focus on building a better world (by, for example, identifying types of comments that so often derail these threads).

I mean, it's a good ask, except your post and comments are part of the problem you're trying to solve. And now you sound like you think everyone else is being irrational about this and you're calling people to reason or something.

(I actually feel for you as a fellow parent - when you have kids, you worry deeply about climate change and you build a complex ethical system around what it means to have them in this world.)

Maybe someone in future will make a post that achieves what you're aiming for. This isn't it. I think you should just let people have their reactions to what you said and not try to do more steering.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:09 AM on February 3 [29 favorites]


None of the people who bashed parents in the climate thread have bothered to apologize or clarify, and this thread was created to address *that* issue. But a couple of bad sentences by this op WHICH HE ALREADY APOLOGIZED FOR are relentlessly being picked on such that they're the primary focus of this thread. The disparity could not be starker.

Would it be better if the mods nuked this thread and OP created a new one without the offending sentences? Then would it be ok to talk about how come anti-natalist ecofascism is acceptable here?
posted by MiraK at 5:21 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


(Also going to note, none of the people who are bashing parents on this very thread - for instance Mavri - have bothered to apologize either. It's really something.)
posted by MiraK at 5:28 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


"Anti-natalist ecofascists" is hell of a thing to call people in this thread. Wow.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:31 AM on February 3 [32 favorites]


Ah, you edited it into a question. For the record, that was originally a statement about people in the thread.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:31 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I didn't call the people on this thread anti-natalist ecofascists (not even before it was reworded as the less sarcastic question). I was talking about the climate thread. But ok, cool, let's spend another 50 comments on here insisting that no, I actually meant the folks on this thread, no matter how many times I clarify this.
posted by MiraK at 5:32 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


It sure read like that to me, but all right. I can't go back to the original, after all.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:34 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Deleted a couple: please don't use the edit function to make substantial changes to your comments, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:51 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Oh dear.

I, a person who was abused as a kid which ruined her ability to be comfortable around kids as an adult, do take some...solace? pleasure?... in the fact that my not having kids is good for the environment. I'm too old now for people to bother but I had to answer for my choice over and over again, and I NEVER told the truth, to protect my family.

What you see is not what you get. Everyone deserves compassion.
posted by wellred at 5:56 AM on February 3 [22 favorites]


There is no call to action in this MeTa. It's a blog post about parenting and hope and as written I have no idea why it was allowed through the queue.

If I had to summarize my overarching issue, I would say it's the following: to have children is to hope for the future.

Which is lovely. It's something to embroider on a pillow or to inscribe on page 1 of the baby book. But it's not an issue! Issues as discussed here are usually, "can we stop using XYZ word?" Or "can we change the way we write ABC posts to include info on DEF?" Or "how can we better moderate this issue?"

The now-deleted comment was awful. But I don't flag comments anymore if I arrive to them an hour late, because they usually stand and I always feel like my one little late-arriving flag doesn't help. The issue should have been, "why was this comment allowed to stand for so long?" Which is an issue I will ALWAYS stand behind and support. Even if the issue was phrased as "can we stop immediately sinking into despair?" I'd be happily co-signing. So... I'm with you, OP. Attacking people's lifestyle choices is wrong.

All of that said, I am pretty fucking wounded by the language used in this post AND that it was okayed through the queue. It's not just the framing, it's the entire picture within the frame.
posted by kimberussell at 6:06 AM on February 3 [24 favorites]


Okay, if anyone is genuinely confused about why this thread was created, here is a selection of things people said on the recent climate thread. Every past thread about climate doom has contained similar or worse comments. The call to action is that this shit ought to be unacceptable on MetaFilter. We need community standards to say it's not okay to deplore or denigrate the choice to have kids - or indeed dehumanize (or lament the existence of) actual human children - claiming you have ecological reasons. It should not be okay to speak in malthusian terms about population growth for the same reason that it's not okay to speak of refugees "infesting" or "flooding" your country: humans are valuable and deserve respectful language.

while there's some truth to being "hard wired" [to have kids], does that mean that we as a species should always just surrender to our biological forces and not to consider these in relation to our knowledge and understanding of where we are at now as a species?

all I can say about that is anyone my age or younger who decided or decides to have kids is a hell of a lot more optimistic about the future of our civilization than I am.

our world cultures and religions still promote (yes, promote) procreation and frown on those who choose an alternative path and that they might perhaps catch up with science

Yet we had twins, a huge carbon cost. ... my wife was desperate for children, and there was no way I could say no.

I don't know how anyone can sleep at night, especially the people who have children.

have you looked at a population clock recently?

The bigger thing for me is that I think we are past the tipping point. ... I expect that migration and climate change refugees are going to become a bigger part of the world. There are only two things in my life I am confident that I did the right thing. Helping my brother with 100% of his grad school tuition for one semester, from savings from my grad school stipend. And deciding not to have children.

I made the decision not to have children long before I got into climate change research ... and every day I experience profound relief that I will not have to think about how to protect them from what is coming.

I love my children so much I chose not to expose them to this world. Climate change is never going to improve (in our lifetimes, in my non-children's lifetimes). We'll all either survive it or we won't, and I can't bear to think of putting another human being in the position that I've been put in.

Kalmus wrote a fine book that sheds light on his reasoning ... concerning family size: "[W]hen viewed in the global average, it’s actually irresponsible to have more than two children."

maybe we should re-consider this in terms of cultural / government messages that create incentives vs. disincentives for having more children.

A tax credit for your child is an incentive.

Failing to incentivize something isn't the same thing as disincentivizing it. They could implement taxes that charged parents more per child, or make property taxes higher specifically on households that contain children rather than offering any tax breaks at all.

posted by MiraK at 6:26 AM on February 3 [15 favorites]


Thing is...I don't read most of those things as deploring having kids, but despairing, and/or feeling sad for those who need to fear for the kids they have.
posted by wellred at 6:30 AM on February 3 [54 favorites]


But I don't flag comments anymore if I arrive to them an hour late, because they usually stand and I always feel like my one little late-arriving flag doesn't help

I often do flag even if late, because - based on seeing what happens after I do - I suspect the mods spend less time reading MF during their shift than a lot of us think they do.

Which is to say a problematic comment staying up is not necessarily a sign the mods have seen something and decided it's OK, they might well have genuinely missed it. And a lot of times what happens after I've flagged an older comment is that even if the comment proper stays up the mods will pop in with a "redirect" nudge comment and/or delete later comments reacting to the first one, both of which can help re-rail the conversation.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:31 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Thing is...I don't read most of those things as deploring having kids

IDK, consider this an effort to raise your consciousness? I'm heading out of this thread for the day coz ack, so much work, but I hope folks can try to give this topic a fair chance and make a genuine attempt to see what the fuss is about. To repeat the thesis statement from my previous comment which might have gotten lost in the huge pile of text:

It should not be okay to speak in malthusian terms about population growth for the same reason that it's not okay to speak of refugees "infesting" or "flooding" your country: humans are valuable and deserve respectful language.
posted by MiraK at 6:33 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


> There are only two things in my life I am confident that I did the right thing ... [a]nd deciding not to have children.

A person who is confident that their decision not to have kids was the right one is problematic somehow?
posted by thoroughburro at 6:35 AM on February 3 [15 favorites]


A tax credit for your child is an incentive.

I said this. This is just basic economics. Anything which makes something cheaper is an incentive, even if it just moves it from very expensive to slightly less expensive. It doesn't express an opinion either way on parenthood or on climate change. Its not disrespectful to point this out.

What is disrespectful is suggesting people's choices about procreation are wrong and inferior, and that those who choose not to reproduce, or who do not have any option to reproduce, are somehow less invested in the future. This is particularly galling for me since I am without children by choice and have spent most of the last 25 years in a field directly relevant to climate change mitigation.
posted by biffa at 6:53 AM on February 3 [32 favorites]


This perennial discussion hits me much differently now than it did thirteen or so months ago. I don't have kids but that's not entirely out of choice, and if I had them I would have made much different decisions all this time. So I don't ever picture my life with kids as being even comparable to this current life. But in the past I have often thought, the harder things get the more I am glad not to have kids to worry about on top of everything else. And I've probably said so a little too often.

This year, though, I will not say anything like that out loud because too much is being asked of parents. Here in the US, that has everything to do with giving them inadequate support, either from the workplace or the government. Schooling has become completely chaotic and unpredictable and in many cases scary. Right now, I think parents are bearing a disproportionate burden and I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who feels like it is a thankless burden they've been bearing for a year and that it may be hard to hear people congratulating themselves for not being in that position. This may sound condescending to the OP and indeed I don't think their argument is entirely reasonable but it strikes me as very understandable.
posted by BibiRose at 6:57 AM on February 3 [11 favorites]


I gotta say, I appreciate that MiraK is making this thread about something concrete. It helps to see what you mean with anti-natalism.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:00 AM on February 3 [8 favorites]


Yeah did anyone bash childfree or childless people onn the thread in question? I didn't see it.

I remember seeing a few, which appear to have since been deleted.

I’ve got to say that these MeTas on heavily-moderated threads are frustrating, because each of us effectively read a different thread.
posted by schmod at 7:25 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


My takeaway from the lines quoted above is that it apparently should not be allowable to even speak about one's anxiety for their actual children, nobody is allowed to express any regret about having children or mention their own decision not to (if it was a decision, but possibly also if there wasn't a choice), and that discussing the tax structure around children is "anti-natalist".

It's not anti-natalist to acknowledge that having children may be something less than non-stop 24/7 bliss.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:40 AM on February 3 [47 favorites]


I'm someone who spent 10 years of infertility fielding questions about her selfish lack of kids, who now has kids.

I'm going to say that I am more disturbed by One Cool Ethical Trick thinking expressed in climate change (or any) threads than actual comments about kids, as long as they are respectful.

I mean, climate-wise for me it's a reality that if my grandparents had not reproduced I would not have a carbon footprint, and I think it's fine for people -- if they are truly discussing their own lens on what gives them a feeling that they are taking steps to help impact climate change -- to discuss their own choices. That doesn't hurt me in any way.

At the same time, sometimes stating that not having kids is the one true path to Climate Goodness, especially over and over, reads a lot like "if you want to be financially healthy, don't take student loans," completely ignoring systemic issues and desires and goals of many humans as well as putting the burden onto the individual inappropriately. And when that becomes kind of the drumbeat of a discussion - how dare this guy be so involved when he had kids!!! - it does feel like the question is getting more blame-focused than solution-focused. Although personally I saw a lot of other things in that thread, at least in the middle of it.

There is a difference between despairing over the SUV on the corner than the baby on the corner, 'cause the baby is a human being. And climate change is about the impact on human suffering really - I mean it's also about the planet, but long-term the planet will be fine, it's just which species are going to make it. I favour dolphins over coronaviruses myself.

I think the question is are you shedding light on dealing with [X issue], or are you just whipping into a thread to state that you have performed your One Environmental/Ethical/Reproductive Trick That Makes You Better/Hopeful And You Can't Believe Other People Didn't Perform That Trick And How Can They Sleep At Night. Because we can discuss the former and come away better.

The second is just - a bad way to cope with anxiety.

Maybe we can all try to manage our anxiety and shed more light than heat.

And gently, I would say that this MetaTalk post, while clearly an attempt to ask for light over heat, is also more about anxiety than policy.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:41 AM on February 3 [18 favorites]


Omnomnom: when you have kids, you worry deeply about climate change and you build a complex ethical system around what it means to have them in this world

I'm sure that is true about you and many others. It is, alas, not true about all parents. There are plenty of parents who don't give a hoot about climate change.
Many of the movers and shakers of this world are parents. If all of them worried deeply about climate change, we'd be in a much better position.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:46 AM on February 3 [12 favorites]


Uh most of those comments are just people expressing their own personal opinions about their own life decisions. The only ones that could read like "anti-natalism" to me are:


have you looked at a population clock recently?

Kalmus wrote a fine book that sheds light on his reasoning ... concerning family size: "[W]hen viewed in the global average, it’s actually irresponsible to have more than two children."

maybe we should re-consider this in terms of cultural / government messages that create incentives vs. disincentives for having more children.

A tax credit for your child is an incentive.

Failing to incentivize something isn't the same thing as disincentivizing it. They could implement taxes that charged parents more per child, or make property taxes higher specifically on households that contain children rather than offering any tax breaks at all.


Everything else is either a statement of fact or a statement about someone's personal life choices, neither of which are a referendum on your life choices no matter how much it might feel that way sometimes.

Twins ARE a carbon cost, that is a fact. All humans are some carbon cost, two humans are more carbon cost than one. That's just fuckin...math. Many religions DO promote procreation and frequently frown on those who do not procreate. That is just a descriptive fact!

There are only two things in my life I am confident that I did the right thing. Helping my brother with 100% of his grad school tuition for one semester, from savings from my grad school stipend. And deciding not to have children.

I made the decision not to have children long before I got into climate change research ... and every day I experience profound relief that I will not have to think about how to protect them from what is coming.

I love my children so much I chose not to expose them to this world. Climate change is never going to improve (in our lifetimes, in my non-children's lifetimes). We'll all either survive it or we won't, and I can't bear to think of putting another human being in the position that I've been put in.


People are allowed to feel however the fuck they feel about the choices they made. They're allowed to feel happy that they made the right choice for them! They don't have to be performatively sad that that choice involved not having kids. If someone feels relieved that they don't have to plan for raising children in their lifetime, like...I'm sorry, they are super super super allowed to feel that relief. They're not happy AT you.

all I can say about that is anyone my age or younger who decided or decides to have kids is a hell of a lot more optimistic about the future of our civilization than I am.

If someone feels like having kids requires an optimism or a hope they can't muster, why the fuck is that a problem for anyone here? It feels like the childfree folks are being asked to do a lot of emotion- and anxiety-management for other people and I am frankly not about it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:52 AM on February 3 [83 favorites]


I think the thing to keep in mind is that when some us us might express dismay for the future in saying something like "I'm glad I don't have kids" or throwing out some study on population or whatnot, we're talking about children as a hypothetical, in the abstract, while those of us who are reading the thread who have children are thinking about actual living humans, already in existence and not something abstract at all. The difference in reference point between those two perspectives isn't something that is easily overcome.

At best, tossing out an statement about being happy one doesn't have kids is tactless, even if heartfelt in the worry about the future, because it isn't dealing with existing reality, but an imagined path one could have taken. I get the thought, but it would be better phrased without referencing kids as that doesn't help anything. The wielding of studies is another matter, but one that also seems to be rewarding one's one inaction for being the better way, as those with kids obviously can't change their decision now, and likely wouldn't want to because their children are real and as much a part of society as the rest of us. The argument against population growth only makes sense, to whatever extent one thinks it does, when provided to people who haven't come to the decision yet, which, given the seeming average age here, isn't many of us.

In like fashion, celebrating kids as the be all to end all is irksome for coming from its own biased perspective for thinking one's own life history stands for all. There are perfectly good reasons people have for not liking kids or wanting the population to grow that aren't an attack on you and yours. I recognize it's hopeless to ask for people to be less judgmental about things they care deeply about, but the call for being more generous with one's responses and trying to think about how those in a different situation might read the take is never a bad way to go.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:52 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


Sorry that was a whole damn essay but this really just feels like putting a big climate-change-shaped bow on the same fucking nonsense that is always slung at childfree people, demanding that we at least have the decency to be miserable about it if we're going to go around with the audacity to do a thing differently from someone else.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:54 AM on February 3 [14 favorites]


At best, tossing out an statement about being happy one doesn't have kids is tactless, even if heartfelt in the worry about the future, because it isn't dealing with existing reality, but an imagined path one could have taken.

Am I allowed to be happy that I don't have kids for other reasons? Or are the childfree mandated to be regretful about it?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:56 AM on February 3 [36 favorites]


those of us who are reading the thread who have children are thinking about actual living humans, already in existence and not something abstract at all

Yeah. You know who else are real human beings? The people who are being told they are less invested in the future, and essentially less valid, since they aren't banging out kids.
posted by biffa at 7:59 AM on February 3 [34 favorites]


Forget it, Jake, it’s Meta
posted by Ideefixe at 8:09 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


those of us who are reading the thread who have children are thinking about actual living humans, already in existence and not something abstract at all

The interesting implication here seems to be that people find it impossible to deeply care about anybody else other than their biological next in line.

Which seems to say more about the commenter than anybody else.
posted by neeta at 8:10 AM on February 3 [24 favorites]


Kalmus wrote a fine book that sheds light on his reasoning ... concerning family size: "[W]hen viewed in the global average, it’s actually irresponsible to have more than two children."

Some real deceptive editing there. Those ellipses are working hard.

Kalmus is the topic of the FPP. Discussing his work is on topic.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:13 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


If someone feels like having kids requires an optimism or a hope they can't muster, why the fuck is that a problem for anyone here?

I think the comments read as "putting children into this world is cruelty towards these children and / or makes this world a worse place because carbon footprint, hence I am glad I made a decision not to." In other words, yes, it is a personal choice but it implies heavy judgement towards people with other choices.

Personally, given all the shit going on rn, I...can't be bothered getting worked up about it. Nobody's out to aggravate me, a parent, everyone's acting as they deem best in a stressful and horrible reality. And of course I'm firmly esconced in the kind of privilege that comes with meeting society's approval. Nobody in my life criticizes my choice to have children despite climate change. If I were to tell people I weren't getting children for ethical reasons, all hell would break loose and everyone would argue with me about it. I tend to give people without kids allllll the slack just for this.

Also, maybe my choice to have children is ethically suspect. But I'm still excercising my right to have children because unlike owning an SUV or flying to places, it's in my personal top 3 reasons for living (sorry, I just feel really strongly about this!).

Just my personal pov, can't speak for anyone else.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:14 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


Am I allowed to be happy that I don't have kids for other reasons?

I can't really fathom what you think I was saying with that comment. Tactless is about how one expresses one's thoughts, not whether one is "allowed" to have them.

Likewise the idea that not referencing children hypothetically somehow means one still can't talk about the future, one's hopes and fears earnestly and have as great a level of concern is an odd misreading of what I said. If it come from feeling I'm on team kids, I have none and don't have any special fondness for discussions framed around concerns about kids as the key issue, but that's just me, I don't expect everyone to feel that way, which is kinda the point.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:33 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


OK so I'm allowed to feel happy that I don't have children, I'm just not allowed to say so. Can we make a rule that parents can't say they're happy TO have them? If the former is rude to say to a parent, then the reverse is also quite tactless no?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:35 AM on February 3 [30 favorites]


Hey y'all, I think it's important to remember that this was in the context of climate despair. It wasn't a discussion of life choices apart from that context.

At the same time, of course, there's a broader cultural context around the pressures and questioning childfree people experience. But I don't think we can divorce the "I'm happy I don't have kids" from the [due to the coming apocalypse].
posted by warriorqueen at 8:42 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Yes, as warriorqueen has it. It's the context of despair about the future being spoken about, not all conversations about life choices.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:56 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


At best, tossing out an statement about being happy one doesn't have kids is tactless, even if heartfelt in the worry about the future, because it isn't dealing with existing reality, but an imagined path one could have taken. I get the thought, but it would be better phrased without referencing kids as that doesn't help anything.

Cool so I can't talk about my feelings about my choices because that makes you feel bad? I can't ever reference kids because I don't have them? How do you expect me to talk about procreative topics without referencing kids? I just don't get to talk about them? I can have opinions but discussing them is tackless?
posted by Uncle at 8:57 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


Hello! I wrote the second comment and would like to apologize for it. It seems incredible now, but I really did not realize that it would throw the thread off onto the kids/no-kids nightmare track for all time. I am sorry.

I agree that speculating over whether people should exist is grotesque. I didn't do that. My comment was an (inept) attempt to point out that that is what the climate zealot did when he declared himself ready to die to combat climate change.

It's fine if he wants to set up a composting toilet and experiment with biodiesel and whateverall if it doesn't endanger his family. But that hike that gave him heat exhaustion? His children were along on that hike. Fire is threatening the house and he's out loud hoping it burns? His children live in that house. His constant doomspeak? His child is hearing it, and his child now sees no future.

I did not intend to criticize any parents on this site or parents in general. I intended my comment to point out the illogical thinking of one parent who declared himself ready to die because +1 person = bad for Earth. His children are +2 people, they're smart and can get the subtext, and they're listening to him! This parent made a declaration that he's willing to die and abandon his children in a public forum where his children could see it. That is beyond grotesque.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:04 AM on February 3 [27 favorites]


I am happy I don’t have children because I am thinking about the actual, real, living children I provide critical mental health care for. The ones I would not be able to help if I got pregnant because it would permanently disable me. The ones I can spend my time and energy helping for free because I don’t have to work extra hours to support my own kid. The ones I put my hope in because they are already here, and bringing another child into the world when there are already so who need my help is something I personally cannot do.

There is nothing hypothetical about my feelings surrounding not having children. In very concrete ways, this is how I have hope for the future. I am putting in the work because I acknowledge the terrible world we have brought our children into, while believing we can make it better for them. This decision is about so many real, actual children, and the fact that I did not birth them does not lessen that.

Do not tell me that I despair for the world because I have decided that the best way to save it is for me to not have children. Other people choose differently but I am not going to stop saying that this decision is good and right for me.
posted by brook horse at 9:10 AM on February 3 [48 favorites]


From the original post:

I think maybe one way in which metafilter could improve is by learning how to hope. Not out of optimism, but out of necessity.

this is overly reductive to my mind, but if it were on one of those questionnaires where I had to either agree or disagree (with no option of taking a middle position or not answering at all -- I hate that) I'd agree. And I have no kids, no plans to change that. I guess I just can't imagine any remotely meaningful neighborhood, community, culture that doesn't include children.

As for "the context of climate despair", the catastrophic worldview it's easy to inhabit these days, I'm with Gandalf (the movie version) when it comes to wishing one hadn't been born in such times:

"So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

Duty now for the future, as Devo said.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


The whole point is that 1) there are ways to hope that don't involve children. And 2) some of us get enough mandatory HOPE and POSITIVITY drilled into our skulls in all the rest of our lives that we are about to be sick with it, and don't particularly need any more thanks v much
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:30 AM on February 3 [17 favorites]


to have children is to hope for the future.

I mean, it's one way of having hope for the future. There are other ways. I'm not sure what we're doing here. What's the change in collective MeFi behavior being sought? It mostly just looks like a fight in here.
posted by axiom at 10:23 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


are kids property or an oppressed class that need protection? That to me is the crux of the issue.
posted by noiseanoise at 10:25 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

A nice sentiment but I always felt it would be better delivered by a character who's not a fucking immortal.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:32 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


The whole point is that 1) there are ways to hope that don't involve children. And 2) some of us get enough mandatory HOPE and POSITIVITY drilled into our skulls in all the rest of our lives that we are about to be sick with it, and don't particularly need any more thanks v much

Sure, I agree with you.

I also agree that I don't think that line in this post was appropriate.

In fact, in the original article, the guy who is expressing despair about climate change is a father which is what started the choice-to-have-children bashing, with quotes like:

"Peter and Sharon’s friends came over to meet and bless their baby, Braird, shortly after he was born in June 2006. All the guests went around the room offering wishes for the unborn child. When Peter’s turn came, he said he hoped that his son didn’t get shot at in climate-induced barbarity and that he did not starve." and

" The boys’ music lessons, to Peter, seemed woefully, almost willfully anachronistic, a literal fiddling while Rome or Los Angeles burned."

..so we're literally confronted with the reality of nihilistic parenting in the piece itself.

But there were comments early in the climate change thread that did come across, to me anyway, as "good people don't have kids" - the most egregious is gone now but that's the context to which people in the thread were responding.

I know I was going to post in that thread but once I read those remarks I gave up, because my comments were going to be around parenting in an age where you believe that climate change is going to create a lot of human suffering, and if not addressed quickly, possibly result in an unliveable environment for one's own, say, grandchildren. But I didn't feel like having to defend my reproductive choices as not-morally-reprehensible.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:44 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Uh most of those comments are just people expressing their own personal opinions about their own life decisions. The only ones that could read like "anti-natalism" to me are:

Failing to incentivize something isn't the same thing as disincentivizing it. They could implement taxes that charged parents more per child, or make property taxes higher specifically on households that contain children rather than offering any tax breaks at all.


I clarified this yesterday in the other thread but I guess I'll do this again here -- my statement was not anti-natalism or pro-natalism or anything other than anti-using-words-wrong.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:46 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Tangentially to all of this, I quite liked Eleanor Davis’s The Hard Tomorrow, which wrangles with this issue fairly explicitly.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:47 AM on February 3


I have a kid and that's part of WHY I feel so horrible and hopeless about climate change. In my opinion, it's one of those things where I stay away from certain metafilter posts cuz I see it's just not going to be my vibe. /mytwocents
posted by latkes at 10:55 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm just in an especially despair-ey sort of mood, maybe my meds are nsufficient.

Mostly I alternate between utter exestential despair and dread and willful deliberate compartmentalization because when I allow myself to even think about the climate I enter a state of simultaneous incandescent fury and despair neither of which does anyone (including me) any good.

But hiding my head in the sand doesn't do anyone any good either.

I've got a child, he's 14, and I am utterly terrified for him becaue I'm pretty sure he's going to be alive when the bad shit really starts happening.

**********

As for kids and the future, I feel that having kids binds you and prevents you from taking action.

I have the overriding priority of assuring my child is fed, clothed, and sheltered. Fulfilling my duty as a parent means I cannot take necessary action on the climate, or even be true to myself.

I am essentially cut off from everyone at my job, I present a slick, friendly, teflon, personality that is efficient and casually friendly and cheerful and allows for no actual contact or meaningful interpersonal communication beyond job related tasks. Because literally every time I've let that mask slip and have revealed myself as a leftist, or an atheist, here in Texas I've been fired a few days later.

I hide in the closet, guilty because my whiteness and cis-maleness allows me this option where it is denied to others, becuase if I don't suppress my personality and self I get fired and can't give my child what he needs.

I do not go blockade pipeline operations, becasue an arrest record means I lose my job and my child starves.

Having a child has bound me to conformity more throughly and firmly than anything ever has.

I'm not saying this because I don't like my son, I do. He's great. I love him and he is unquestionably my absolute top priority.

But that means I can't take any action that endangers his immediate material wellbeing. It severely constrains me.

Having children prevents parents from doing more, because if we do what really must be done then our children suffer. Children are hostages taken by the status quo to assure you never take the slightest action that might result in actual change.

Don't look to parents to solve the climate problem. We're bound to the system by our children. There's exceptions, sure, and I don't question their devotion to their children. But for most parents activism dies with parenthood.
posted by sotonohito at 10:58 AM on February 3 [29 favorites]


Maybe people are upset by the post because the guy is an asshole?

Yeah I mean, I feel like this is the crux of the issue, and it's barely been mentioned. That whole article is about a dude who seems to regret his decision to have kids (or at a minimum, is unable to be a good/present parent) because of climate change, so it seems 100% inevitable that people in the comments...would discuss what it means to have kids in the face of climate change. It's the topic of the article, and since the dude's sort of an asshole, it's not hugely shocking that the comments went that way, too.

If you don't want to participate in threads about whether or not it's a good idea to have kids in the face of climate change, it's perfectly reasonable to avoid a thread on that topic. It's weird to suggest that the threads shouldn't happen. (I, like many of you, am not super interested in such threads, because I think they can elide the systemic issues that are driving the climate crisis, but instead of making a MetaTalk about it, I just skip those posts if I'm not up for it.) Why not make a new post on the blue about all the stuff parents are doing to fight the climate crisis?
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:58 AM on February 3 [12 favorites]


"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

A nice sentiment but I always felt it would be better delivered by a character who's not a fucking immortal.


pretty sure he wasn't yet aware of that, still being merely Gandalf the Grey. It would take a balrog battle, a descent unto the depths and then the heights and whatnot before he would be Gandalf The White.

and now I shall withdraw from this Tolkien sidetrack of my own making
posted by philip-random at 11:36 AM on February 3


Ah, but Gandalf's real identity was Olorin the immortal Maiar, sworn not reveal his true powers unless it was convenient. It's difficult to out-annoying-nerd me on Tolkein.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:10 PM on February 3 [11 favorites]


Wow, I hope a few folks get some catharsis from this thread. Sea level's rising fast, it's going to get harder not easier to even talk about this. Stay safe folks. Mind the gap.
posted by sammyo at 12:21 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Sea level reference.
posted by sammyo at 12:24 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Maybe people are upset by the post because the guy is an asshole?
That's a good question, and there's another one from the thread: Is this whole article a trap for me to feel smug?

Thinking about it the next day when safely out of the first reactive state of annoyance, is that article even ethical? The guy as told is infuriating. He comes off like one of many Great Cause White Guys who have the smugness trap role in life and in fiction--No Impact Man, Captain Ahab, the dad in Mosquito Coast--and the writer had to know what they were doing, not only to him but his family trapped in the folie à quatre with him.

I'm not trying to say it was a bad post. Despair and obsession with climate change is a thing in the world worth thinking and talking about. But the degree to which that guy told on himself, most likely not understanding what he was doing and how it was going to read, is creepy and unsettling, the same way people's experiences in So You've Been Publicly Shamed are creepy. The writing was great--very engaging. But they could have left out a few of the more salacious details and kept the article from becoming 2-minute-hate bait.

Like this: why does the older son Braird* get called by name 12 times and younger son Zane only four? Okay, I am not going to swear that repeating the unusual name several times unnecessarily and sometimes multiple times in a single paragraph where there was no ambiguity and thus a pronoun would've worked fine and arguably have been better was mocking, but that is what I in fact think, and I think it's a bit savage. If you're going to put the children in the article at all, then at least resist the urge to make fun of their names.

I think the answer to that question is yes: it was a trap for me to feel smug and I fell into it.

*Turns out that Braird is an adorable--and adoring--name for a child. It means sprout.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:25 PM on February 3 [11 favorites]


The poster clearly got it wrong for this crowd if his intention was to discuss "how to talk about climate". Seems like a valid discussion, perhaps someone could make another attempt.
posted by sammyo at 12:27 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


That whole article is about a dude who seems to regret his decision to have kids (or at a minimum, is unable to be a good/present parent) because of climate change

Is it though? I think this is where as a parent I bristle a little bit at how the conversation here on MetaFilter went. Because I agree that this guy brought his kids into his emotional state and anxiety in a pretty abusive way.

But I actually don't think that's what the article is about, or supposed to be about. I actually don't think it's supposed to be about any one choice (including composting toilets, gasp.)

And although some of the comments have been deleted, I think challenging his authority to speak about it based solely on his reproductive choices is what led to some of the bad feelings. (Just like making it solely about his choice to travel would have too. Like why is he travelling?)

It is hard because the family is kind of a mess too. (Aren't we all.)

(on preview, smug is a good way to put it.)

so it seems 100% inevitable that people in the comments...would discuss what it means to have kids in the face of climate change

I'm not saying this with ire, but there is a huge difference between "what does it mean to have children in the face of climate change" and "it's hypocritical to care about the environment and have kids, haven't you checked the population clock lately." I want to be really clear here: I also don't think it's appropriate to treat people without kids as if they have no investment in the future/skin in the game, that's not right at all.

And with each argument between us like that another Exxon executive gets his bonus.

One invites discussion and the other shuts it down to a single argument: can you care about the environment in the face of your reproductive choices y/n (or in the face of flush toilets; in a way I'm surprised we're not having this Meta about toilets.)

So my hope for this MetaTalk is that next thread we can do a bit less off-the-cuff hobby horse judging and a bit more talking. Although honestly the discussion in there today seems more productive.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:29 PM on February 3 [17 favorites]


This is a bad meta. The OP is simply asking people to perform for his emotional needs.

I don't read climate articles anymore, much less engage in debate online, with rare exceptions like this. The dread I feel when my porch light attracts maybe two bugs at night when it would have been in the hundreds only two decades ago pushes me to my limit all by itself. I have empathy for everyone here. For our species as a whole (ie, individuals still vary greatly), the gulf between intellectual knowledge and emotional response brought on by this topic is too large to process in a healthy way.
posted by MillMan at 1:06 PM on February 3 [26 favorites]


So now we’re trapped in a poorly-framed MeTa thread about a poorly-framed FPP about a poorly-framed article.

I think I’d prefer to see the moderators delete posts like this a little more freely, leaving a note that they’d be open to a do-over. Historically, this technique seems to have a good track-record, whereas we seem to have made everybody angry by heavily moderating the thread, and attempting to sort out our differences on MetaTalk.
posted by schmod at 1:08 PM on February 3 [18 favorites]


it's going to get harder not easier to even talk about this.

This framing sort of implies that there’s a valid discussion to be had here - there’s going to be a weighing of options and we’ll decide that yep, the ethical thing to do is to stop having kids or nope, having kids is just fine. But there isn’t really a discussion to be had, and that’s the crux of the issue.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:33 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


I once had someone aggressively tell me I should not be allowed to vote, because I have no children, and therefore I neither do anything to build the future nor have any stake in the future. It is difficult for anyone to approach this topic without heightened emotion - parent or not. I don't think there is going to be a solution here because how far up or down the path of judging one another do we go?

And not everybody with kids feels hopeful, and not everybody without them feels despair, so the point of this MeTa is kind of moot. I feel there are two issues here and they have been framed as a single issue:

A) "Climate change threads are full of despair, how can we collectively work towards more hopeful and practical threads about climate?"
B) "People get judgy about parents of children in climate change threads. Can we not?"

They're both valid points for a MeTa, but linking children with hope is not right for the collective, however right it might be for any given individual.

My takeaway is that Peter in the article is a painful reminder of the importance of collective action. Even when he's dragging his whole family painfully along on the journey, he evidently feels as if he's the only one who cares, and almost aggressively trumpeting that fact. I work with climate scientists (I raise money for their research), most of whom have kids, and I don't know a single one who engages in this kind of performative martyrdom because they recognise that it isn't going to do any good. Research, lobbying, getting legislative and regulatory change, and doing these things collectively, is the only way there is going to be any kind of meaningful mitigation and slowing of climate change.
posted by andraste at 1:43 PM on February 3 [29 favorites]


Stepping back a bit, it's pretty common to see expressions of despair in response to climate-change threads on MetaFilter, and people saying "you shouldn't have kids" is just a specific example of this reaction.

I'm not going to judge people who feel and express despair over climate change - that seems like a perfectly understandable response, even though I disagree very strongly. So I don't think we need a MetaFilter policy change.

(Climate change is a tough political problem, and I don't see any reason to give up on politics, especially after Trump's defeat in the 2020 election. For a good book on this topic, see Mark Jaccard, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success - MetaFilter post. The key sectors are power generation and transport, accounting for more than half of future emissions, and there's been huge progress in both - for example, the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, backed by Mike Bloomberg, shut down a third of coal-fired power plants in the US between 2010 and 2015 by explaining at utility hearings that they were no longer economic. And if politics fails, the emergency-brake solution is geo-engineering.)
posted by russilwvong at 3:50 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


My least favorite subject for MeTas is "my least favourite subject for Metafilter posts is pretty much X."

At the risk of being overly blunt, I feel like "then don't read those posts" would have been an appropriate response here, and I don't think that "has procreated" constitutes a group that desperately needs protection from a bunch of mean anti-natalist MeFites. Flag it if it's offensive or a derail, and move on.

I agree that it would be nice if we couldn't continually wear a hole in the carpet with the same circular conversation about climate change and people continuing to make more people, but this article was bound to pull that exact conversation out of the woodwork.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:35 PM on February 3 [23 favorites]


I would love to know the thought process behind letting this through the queue. Isn't the point of a queue to defuse shit-fights before they happen?
posted by zeusianfog at 4:46 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


I mean, maybe caring about the horror of climate changing and also having children IS a bit hypocritical. Is that the worst thing though? Is it really such an insult? I am a vegetarian who takes all the extra steps possible to avoid single use plastic, AND YET every day I open a number of single use plastic sachets to feed meat to my two cats. It's a bit hypocritical, whatever, they light up my life and I am ok with that. It's ok to do the things that bring you true joy in life, especially if the future is gonna suck anyway, you don't have to defend it as an expression of hope or somehow totally in line with your ecological values.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:53 PM on February 3 [23 favorites]


zeusianfog: MetaTalk conversations are useful for discussing and potentially modifying community guidelines. In this case I'm inclined to agree with aspersioncast - if there's a comment that seems likely to derail the conversation, flag it and move on.

I'm sympathetic to Alex404's perspective (I like Hans Morgenthau's essay Death in the Nuclear Age), but I don't think the community guidelines need to be changed here.
posted by russilwvong at 5:21 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Having read this thread, one thing I am taking away is that, as a commenter, I should try to avoid making pronouncements about the morality of individual's actions as it relates to climate change. I think there are three reasons for this:
1. As others have said, individual action, while good, is not what's going to turn the tide on climate change. So why are we spending time commenting on each others' individual actions?
2. What I would call "The Doug Forcette Freeze" (ala The Good Place). Once we start analyzing the "points" that should be allocated or deducted from each individual's actions with regard to climate change, we quickly wind up in a place where no one should be doing anything. For example, reading long threads online is probably bad for the climate as I'm using electricity and the water it takes to cool the servers that power metafilter somewhere (Please don't take Netflix from me...). This does NOT mean there is no way to be "good" (see also The Good Place), but just that perhaps scrutinizing each others individual actions one by one is perhaps not the best system to get there.
3. And finally, I just straight up think it is not a persuasive course and is, in fact alienating. Several people in this thread have noted that they just don't read climate change posts on metafilter anymore. If your goal is to get individuals to modify their behavior with regard to climate change, perhaps describing the better choices you have made is not the answer. In some ways, one could make the argument that each time we judge one another's personal choices in address climate change we are damaging the overall fight against climate change, since each time we do so, we potentially lose another ally.
posted by CMcG at 6:15 PM on February 3 [20 favorites]


My perspective is: a) did the child consent to be created and forced into existence? and b) what is your purpose for having it and what are your expectations of it? Kids are fine if they emerge fully-formed and capable and self-maintaining from a crumbling stalagmite in a cave, but they don't, and the conceit of parents frankly staggers me. Factor climate change into the equation and I'm just, ugh, forget it.

But then I am a massive hypocrite when it comes to our treatment of non-human animals and our overuse of limited natural resources (I have a non-electric car and order things online that I don't need and don't give as much to charity as I could technically afford to), so we are all disgusting dribbling scumbag idiots in our own special ways.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:56 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


one thing I am taking away is that, as a commenter, I should try to avoid making pronouncements about the morality of individual's actions as it relates to

everything and anything

>
>
>




METAFILTER: we are all disgusting dribbling scumbag idiots in our own special way
posted by philip-random at 10:27 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


did the child consent to be created and forced into existence?

I feel bad for my parents, because when I was a kid I thought this up and would trot it out all the time. Their eyes must have been tired from all the rolling.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:23 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


If your goal is to get individuals to modify their behavior with regard to climate change, perhaps describing the better choices you have made is not the answer.

If your goal is to get individuals to modify their behavior with regard to climate change, you're already tilting at the wrong windmills. Our individual choices on climate change mitigation are the lint on the cushions on the deck chairs on the Titanic. One of the worst things about Metafilter is how we're all understandably anxious and frustrated and in some cases despairing but we too often take it out on each other, over natural and understandable differences of opinion and perspective, because we're here together, while the only folks who that anxiety and frustration might fairly and productively be directed at are far, far out of reach.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:47 AM on February 4 [22 favorites]


Okay, if anyone is genuinely confused about why this thread was created, here is a selection of things people said on the recent climate thread. Every past thread about climate doom has contained similar or worse comments. The call to action is that this shit ought to be unacceptable on MetaFilter.

[a bunch of copy-pasted comments]

I read the comments you are saying should be made unacceptable on MetaFilter, and nah, those all read like perfectly acceptable comments for MetaFilter. I can see how some of them might make you feel defensive or angry. That doesn't make them unacceptable.


This is a bad meta. The OP is simply asking people to perform for his emotional needs.

Yeah. I don't know that I'd say perform, but this definitely reads like the OP has issues that they'd like the rest of us to sort out. I'm good thx.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:04 PM on February 4 [20 favorites]


This is the environmentalist version of someone once saying to me 'Oh, you're tired? Try having kids, then you'll know what being tired is like!'

The aggressively childfree are annoying as hell, but it is good to remember that some people don't get to choose to not have kids, and saying that they can't possibly care as much about the future of the planet is gross. And that some choose not to have kids, and yet have people in our lives who will outlive us, and which they hope will survive aftet them.
posted by mippy at 2:00 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


(For the record, the reason I was tired was also the reason why having kids wouldn't be an option for me, and I still try to remember that being in this situation while *never wanting to have any* is an enormous privilege.)
posted by mippy at 2:02 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


It's so weird that so many people are responding to this MeTa with some version of "that sounds like a you problem." We have MeTas all the time that are some variation on "the way topic X gets discussed makes group Y feel bad." Sometimes, people respond by saying "oh, I'm sorry I was making you feel bad, I'll try to be more mindful in the future." That appears to be what OP was asking for here. If you don't want to do it that's fair enough, but I don't know why people are acting like the request is so out of bounds.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:12 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Is that's entirely what's happening here, or what people are responding to?

The Meta and some of the comments here impute some pretty shitty things about anyone who doesn't have children, and some of the examples given do make it sound like it's there's a pretty limited set of attitudes towards climate change + children that should be acceptable.
posted by sagc at 2:30 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


If you don't want to do it that's fair enough, but I don't know why people are acting like the request is so out of bounds.

So some of it is the OP's problematic framing, but I also think this is fundamentally different than, say, rooting out racist or ableist slurs. If you look back at MiraK's list of comments, a huge portion of them are just people -- some with children, some without them -- saying how they feel about this issue. And like, if you're going to take offense or be upset by someone saying "I feel glad/relieved that I didn't have kids" or "I love my kids but also they impacted my carbon footprint", that's your prerogative too, but I'm not convinced that Metafilter needs to take action. People get to feel how they feel about their choices, and it's not out of line to share them in a post about...how a guy feels about his family's choices re: climate change.

I think those comments are perfectly reasonable. What's shitty is people saying that we should place limits on procreation/reproductive freedom, or that all parents are bad people by virtue of being parents. But I didn't actually see any of that in the thread.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:32 PM on February 4 [36 favorites]


What's also shitty is that often where there is a discussion about environmental impacts of population here, someone starts throwing accusations of eugenics around, regardless of what is actually said. There is some of that in the thread, directed specifically at limiting the conversation and making the case that the conversation also be limited in future.
posted by biffa at 5:28 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Mod note: A few deleted. We don't like deleting in metatalks, but surely people can rephrase and make the same point in less-attacky ways.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:01 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I think, as a few have stated already, this all comes down to the manner in which people were speaking in that thread, rather than the ideas themselves. On many issues, climate included, I hate to be a "both-sides-er," but there truly isn't one "correct" way to think about your individual actions with respect to climate change. For me personally, I don't plan on having my own kids (perhaps adoption), and I have been trying to cut out as much meat as possible in my diet. I'm transitioning to being fully auto-free as well. My main modes of transport now are a bike and a public bus. But - I travel by plane much more often than the average person should. Financially, the only way I could reasonably afford to pursue the field I'm in was to live very far from my family. Many would be disgusted to know I take an average 2-3 medium to long haul round-trip flights per year, mostly visiting home, occasionally to visit a new country. I recognize that certainly this can't be the norm for every person worldwide or the GHG effect would accelerate rapidly. While I offset all my flights through organizations that I believe are making an honest effort and that are audited, these medium or long-term offsets do not truly make up for the emissions that are instantaneously released in a flight.

But - this is my balance: my guilt about international flights has made me to make changes in other aspects of my life. I'm working in a field where I genuinely believe we are accelerating the uptake of technology that actively slows down climate change. It may not be perfect, but it's better than a careless approach.

Similarly to the way I have decided to still fly, many people feel extremely strongly the need to reproduce. They shouldn't be shamed for this either. We should rather encourage them to make decisions such that their children will be informed citizens and that as a family, they make decisions with the climate in mind.

I do not think individuals can act completely without regard to their climate footprint despite their smaller effect than large organizations. Of course, we need to pressure the energy sector to decarbonize rapidly, pressure industry to adopt sustainable practices, reduce consumerism generally, etc. But, if all were truly to ignore any climate impacts of our actions, we create a much larger market for these bad players to capture.

I guess my rambling thoughts can be summarized as: surely, we should criticize those who have no idea the impact of their actions, and fly, reproduce, eat meat, create massive amounts of waste, etc., without considering how to balance these things. But on MeFi, generally, I've seen thoughtful and considerate people who are making hard decisions about their lives. I think we could all stand to be a bit more understanding, at least on this very personal issue, and work with people to make decisions with climate in mind, rather than turning them off to all conversations about climate.
posted by unid41 at 12:04 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


I think those comments are perfectly reasonable.

I'm sure you do. I'm sure people made them in good faith, with the hope of fostering good discussion. The discussion I tried to start in this meta was about people who feel hurt by those comments. Now maybe the people who are hurt by those comments need to learn how to accept them, but in order to get there we need to have this discussion.

I want to try and explain why I was hurt by those comments, and by the tone of many climate change threads, especially when kids come up. This requires some context, and since I don't want to speak for other people, I will frame things exclusively in terms of my own experiences. Nevertheless, I think my experiences reflect those of many, if not most parents.

Having kids has made most of my concerns deeply corporeal and temporal. I am a constantly underslept time management engine. As a computational neuroscientist and father of two small children, I have experienced the strange euphoria of solving a complex mathematical problem in my head, while my hands are folding a bag of shit. My wife is also a scientist, and so we are lucky in that we have enough money so that we mostly don't have to worry about it. Instead, our concerns revolve almost entirely around time. As Ursula K. Le Guin wrote about balancing careers and children: One person cannot do two fulltime jobs, but two persons can do three fulltime jobs — if they honestly share the work.

The pandemic has been incredibly difficult for us, and devastating for most families that we know. Being dual-career scientists with kids was extremely difficult before the pandemic, and a combination of comprehensive child care and tightly woven social networks were the only things that made it barely tenable. The pandemic limited and shut those things down. Over the past year we have watched family after family being driven out of science, not because they weren't good scientists, but simply because they ran out of time. More poignantly, where one parent is required to give up their career, it's usually going to be the one who makes less money. That is usually the woman, but in this case that happens to be me. I am happy to support my wife and I deeply love my children, but I really hope I don't have to give up my career, and I'm on a razor's edge.

So when, for example, people discuss how having children is or is not incentivized by the government, I am not thinking about population control, I am translating that into how many more families, and how many more women, are going to be allowed into, or driven from science. On the other hand, when people write that they are happy they don't have children, I am reminded that if I didn't have children my career would probably be in a much better place, and that is not a pleasant thought. Finally, when people write that having children now requires more optimism than they have, I agree. It is incredibly difficult to maintain hope in the face of climate change. But if I don't, if I give into despair, then my children will also suffer that despair, and that is not acceptable. And anyway, I don't have a choice, because even if I wake up in the morning in tears, I have to get up, make breakfast, throw out bags of shit, and spend fifteen minutes convincing someone that they have to wear a rain jacket if it's raining outside. And then I have to go to work.

So what I know, is that I would be able to better engage in climate change threads if the kinds of comments I highlighted were not made. I think metafilter is important, and I think climate change is the biggest challenge we face as humanity. I would like to discuss and address climate change on metafilter, and I hope it's clear why I currently find that extremely difficult.
posted by Alex404 at 12:52 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I would like to discuss CC on MeFi without being patronised by someone who thinks they're superior because they banged out a couple of kids.

If you want to frame it in terms of hope and despair, I am fairly upbeat about addressing CC despite the long way we still have to go. However, these threads have made me wonder whether there are a lot of parents who think those of us who chose not have kids are inferior, and I don't find that remotely hopeful for the future.
posted by biffa at 2:56 AM on February 5 [15 favorites]


I would like to discuss CC on MeFi without being patronised by someone who thinks they're superior because they banged out a couple of kids.

I would also like to discuss climate change on metafilter. I don't think I'm superior to you or anyone, and I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.

Now if we may discuss climate change, or rather discuss how we discuss climate change, you wrote:

What's also shitty is that often where there is a discussion about environmental impacts of population here, someone starts throwing accusations of eugenics around, regardless of what is actually said.

The reason why this happens is because if we are aiming to solve climate change, and we focus on overpopulation, then we start having to consider population control. And some of the worst crimes against humanity have been cases of population control. Even "neutral" programs like China's one child policy are, at best, deeply controversial. So by talking about human overpopulation, you are bringing up eugenics, and I believe it's up to you to explain why that's not what you mean.

Moreover, we have no idea if there are too many people, because we have no idea how sustainable we can make human life. If we can make human life 100% sustainable, then our population is not a problem. Therefore I think it's much better to focus on how to make life more sustainable, and I think we would be better off never bringing up human population control, or even human overpopulation in metafilter threads on climate change. If we feel that it must be brought up, than we should do so against the backdrop of its horrific historical precedents.
posted by Alex404 at 4:20 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, when people write that they are happy they don't have children, I am reminded that if I didn't have children my career would probably be in a much better place, and that is not a pleasant thought.

Ok, I understand that you feel that way, but it seems like the only possible solution is to demand that childless children police the way they talk about their decisions in order to guarantee that they never incidentally cause you to reflect on your own decisions. And I get it, as a super privileged cis-het white dude, I've had variations of that thought lots of times, and it seemed superficially reasonable. Why shouldn't people take my feelings in to account?

But it's important to recognize that this is the logic of hegemonic normative identities forcing themselves on those who don't fit the mold. (And to be clear, even if it doesn't feel that way on Metafilter, having kids in the context of a monogamous two-parent household is still very much the normative life style, the one society tells all of us we're supposed to aspire to). It's the same basic logic as "You can live with your same sex partner, but pretend that you're just roommates around the kids, because it might confuse them" or "you can be an atheist, but stay mum when your coworkers start talking about Jesus, because anything else would be disruptive" or "you can be trans, but wear a skirt to the family reunion, because it would upset grandma."*

You made a major life choice to have kids. Sometimes you have ambivalent feelings about that choice. That's understandable and reasonable. And it's reasonable to ask people not to attack you for that choice. But people saying "I made a different life choice for myself, and that was a good thing" is not an attack on you. And if it feels like an attack, that's because society often demands that childless people not express that (very common!) opinion out loud.

* Just to be clear, I'm absolutely not implying that childless adults suffer anywhere near the same level of discrimination and abuse that these other groups do, just that the logic of policing normative identities sometimes functions along similar patterns.
posted by firechicago at 4:55 AM on February 5 [55 favorites]


The reason why this happens is because if we are aiming to solve climate change, and we focus on overpopulation, then we start having to consider population control.

I think that, more salient for conservations about climate change on metafilter is that conversations about overpopulation tend to fall into racist tropes about overpopulated places where people just have too many children, and what that tends to mean in broad conversations is that poor people in Africa and India just need their fertility controlled. The population bomb, Paul Ehrlich, it all falls very rapidly into this. When of course, the reality is that individuals in the Global North FAR far out-consume individuals in most African countries, and the even more pressing reality is that individual decisions are pretty much swamped by industry and systemic-level decisions.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:27 AM on February 5 [10 favorites]


Was there ANY substantial discussion of population control in that thread, bordering on eugenics? Or if so, was it deleted? Let's not chase hypotheticals here, is all I'm saying.

But people saying "I made a different life choice for myself, and that was a good thing" is not an attack on you.

This is the thing to remember, if you feel offended by someone else's happy life choice.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:43 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


...having kids in the context of a monogamous two-parent household is still very much the normative life style, the one society tells all of us we're supposed to aspire to...

So I very much recognize that, and I hope that metafilter is a supportive place where people without children can express themselves without judgment. I'm talking in particular about climate change threads though. In that context, hearing people say they're happy they don't have kids is very hard for parents. If they could avoid expressing those feelings there, then parents would feel more welcome in those threads, which I think is a good thing.
posted by Alex404 at 5:47 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


No. We are allowed to express that we are happy not to have kids. It is not offensive, even in climate threads. I think you should not read climate threads, because they are distressing for you.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:49 AM on February 5 [96 favorites]


Someone saying they're happy with a choice they made is not a condemnation of your decision to make the opposite choice, even in the context of climate change, any more than someone saying "I am glad I live in the PNW" is a condemnation of people who live in Arizona in the context of future water supply issues. I don't want to ignore the context you provided - the pandemic has been unimaginably hard on parents, and I think many, many people without kids are sympathetic to that - but what you're asking for is unreasonable.
posted by superfluousm at 6:06 AM on February 5 [38 favorites]


Its funny how "I'm really happy I don't have kids" is somehow a reflection on other peoples choices, that we should be wary of because of other peoples feelings, and yet nobody would see "I'm happy I have kids" as anything other than a neutral and uncontroversial statement. I really don't agree. I'm delighted I don't have children, I'm sorry if that makes some people uncomfortable but its true, and saying it pushes back against the whole "you'll change your mind! You're great with kids!" narrative I get from everyone and everything.

I also think discussion of having kids + climate change goes hand in hand, not because we should judge people who have kids or because people who really want children should not have them (let's avoid that) but because it really is the biggest thing you can do personally to reduce our carbon footprint. Maybe if it was in the public consciousness more, people who are on the fence and not sure or just having kids because it's the thing to do would decide not to. Right now having kids is such a "default" position.

I think maybe the tension is stemming from the fact that I think having children can be a great personal good, which I will never begrudge someone if that's what they desire, but at this point in time I don't think it is a great moral good considering the state of the world, and some mefites clearly deeply disagree with me. I'm not saying having children is bad, it's fine, but there has always been a narrative that it is Right and Good and the future of us all and parents are doing a great thing for the whole community and with climate change I'm not sure that is true any more, I'm sorry. Its just good and right for you.

That doesn't mean I'm judging anybody for having them, I agree nobody should do that, do what brings you joy. But it also doesn't making childbearing discussions that make you uncomfortable "bad," or even "unkind" just because they feel differently about children.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:10 AM on February 5 [23 favorites]


What's with the allowed? Of course you're allowed to express the thought, but it's in really bad taste to do so. If a climate change thread referenced the extreme heat parts of India are experiencing, saying "I'm glad I don't live in India" would be a completely tone deaf response.

When people say I'm glad I don't have kids in a climate change thread the clearest implication is that they feel those imagined children would suffer at some point in the future, so they're happy they chose not forego having children of their own. While parents don't have that little imagined luxury, the children they are thinking of have names and faces and are a part of the same society as we all are and people are popping into the threads saying they're going to suffer. Why would that be a good thing when it's so unnecessary? We can talk about climate change without needing to wield the choice we didn't make as evidence.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:13 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


It is not in bad taste. You can't extrapolate the way you have - read people's words, but don't read INTO people's words. I have seen a lot of assumptions of non parents in these threads.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:13 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Im sorry that turned into a giant comment, I didn't intend it to.

One last thought: some people who would like to have children will choose not to, because of climate change. I am not one of them, but I think I its important they have space to talk about that because that must be incredibly difficult.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:16 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


Yeah this whole conversation and framework is sticky.

So basically, MiraK quoted something above to make it seem like I'm some kind of horrible...what was the phrase...anti-natalist ecofascist, was it? Just to chime in here regarding that, I stand by what I said. EVEN IF humans weren't responsible for the carbon footprint that their children necessarily generate as a byproduct of being alive, I stand by my statement, because REGARDLESS of who/what/where/why CC is caused, it's STILL happening, there is no way I can control it, pump the breaks on it, or stop it. And I simply don't want to put anyone in that position. This stands apart from consumer choices, government intervention, etc. I am scared for the kids of the future. I'm close to a number of children and it sucks to think what they're going to have to deal with, not in childhood necessarily, but as adults, although, yeah, these kids already have a normalized sense of "well everything is fucked, might as well still have this snowball fight anyway." Hell, I'm scared for myself, I'm still at an age where I've been a child longer than I've been an adult, and we still have yet to see the worst to come.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:19 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


that context, hearing people say they're happy they don't have kids is very hard for parents. If they could avoid expressing those feelings there, then parents would feel more welcome in those threads,

I'm also curious- what do other people expressing their feelings/positions/choices have to do with how you feel about your own? Like do you somehow feel threatened by other people's feelings, choices, decisions?

I agree with tiny frying pan, I don't think it's appropriate for people who are childless to be policed for expressing their thoughts about their own personal decisions. It's not a harmful position to take; it would only be harmful if those people were like, "I don't have kids [for xyz reason] and NEITHER SHOULD ANYONE ELSE!!!!!!!111!!!" which I don't think anyone is doing here.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:26 AM on February 5 [29 favorites]


If they could avoid expressing those feelings there, then parents would feel more welcome in those threads, which I think is a good thing.

And childless people would feel less welcome there because they aren't supposed to say one of the most relevant things they have to say, which I think is a bad thing.

So then what?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:27 AM on February 5 [27 favorites]


MiraK's list in this thread is a straight up attempt at shaming people into silence, and I think fails to understand what many of the comments highlighted were saying. Its basically anything they didn't like in the thread, or thought they might not like if they understood them.
posted by biffa at 6:30 AM on February 5 [40 favorites]


...but because it really is the biggest thing you can do personally to reduce our carbon footprint...

So I very much respect your comment, but I'm genuinely curious: Isn't the logical end point of this thinking that it would be best if no one had kids? Because if no one had kids, then civilization would end. Isn't that a bad thing? I'm honestly not trying to be glib.
posted by Alex404 at 6:32 AM on February 5


Isn't the logical end point of this thinking that it would be best if no one had kids? Because if no one had kids, then civilization would end.

No, another logical end point could be that only the people who really want to have kids should have kids.
posted by superfluousm at 6:35 AM on February 5 [18 favorites]


A lot of the comments quoted as objectionable, including - maybe especially - the personal observations about the positives of not having children, I would not say directly to my friends who are neck-deep in child-rearing. But also, as friends, I don't have to tell them basic stuff like, 'I exist, I am happy', or that my life isn't a judgment on their choices. And they don't say lousy things about childless people to my face, because we are friends.

A public forum is a very different conversational space, and I do not think it's fair to ask childless people to not speak truthfully about their own lives in public simply because it might not be the easiest thing to hear at a particular moment.
posted by mersen at 6:36 AM on February 5 [23 favorites]


MiraK's list in this thread is a straight up attempt at shaming people into silence, and I think fails to understand what many of the comments highlighted were saying. Its basically anything they didn't like in the thread, or thought they might not like if they understood them.

Yeah I totally agree, it felt scary for me to be on that list, like this is some kind of bullying strategy, here is a list of the OFFENDERS!!!!!!!!!!! the NEO-NATALIST ECO-FASCISTS!!!!!!!! These are the people who OTHERIZE US! (As the people quoted in the list are being otherized for their own personal choices.)

Because if no one had kids, then civilization would end

Nah, because people will always have kids, it's the status quo choice. We will never run out of kid-having people, we simply won't. That's a majorly slippery slope argument.
I'm not having kids because the privilege of having them is being afforded to other people, basically (in the West). And otherwise, I'm not having them because I wish that the world should care for the kids with less privilege, many of whom originate in poor countries. One way to care for those people is to do stuff that reduces one's own carbon impact, which disproportionately affects poor people.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:37 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


No, another logical end point could be that only the people who really want to have kids should have kids.

Well I can definitely agree with that. Is it alright for me to say that one of the reasons I really wanted to have kids is because I wanted to do my own small part in making sure that civilization continues? (which, just to be 100% clear, is not the only way of doing so)
posted by Alex404 at 6:41 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Yes, of course, no one in either this thread or the original one suggested they didn't want civilization to continue.
posted by superfluousm at 6:42 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Alex404 I don't think it's the logical endpoint myself, because some people do really, deeply want children and I'd never tell those people not to. I think it would lead to a shrinking population, which would be a good thing at this time, but eventually if it continued to shrink then attitudes would change and having children would be seen as a great blessing and gift to the community again and strongly encouraged through support.

I don't want us to disappear, but I do think our sustainable survival becomes much easier if there are fewer of us. And the only ethical way to achieve that is for people to choose themselves not to have children, which is why I think it is worth discussing publicly.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:44 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Do you think that childless people don’t have families too? Do we not have many children who we know and care for and are worried for just because we are not legally obligated to be their guardians? Are people without kids incapable of concern for parents because they are parents? I worry about the parents I know... because they have children. Who I care about, and who are concrete people my mind goes to when I am anxious about the future. People without kids can still see other, real, kids as the future. I don’t know why that is hard to communicate.
posted by Mizu at 6:45 AM on February 5 [37 favorites]


Is it alright for me to say that one of the reasons I really wanted to have kids is because I wanted to do my own small part in making sure that civilization continues?

It's alright for you to say pretty much anything, but of course, people have a right to respond as well.

I think it's a strange position, though, to take the continuation of "civilization" on one's own head as a rationale for having children. This is the same logic that some people make for not having children , because they want civilization to continue. It's going to continue, nothing anyone should feel compelled to personally contribute to vis a vis producing children. But also, should civilization not continue, it won't be for lack of people being produced, but as a result of everyone's personal choices being linked together and having cataclysmic consequences beyond any one person's control
posted by erattacorrige at 6:53 AM on February 5 [16 favorites]


Yes, to add some context : I have a niece. I see the best parts of my husband in her, I love her to pieces and my heart aches with worry about her future. I feel a lot of guilt for not having kids, because I love my family and being the last of them hurts, but being in my nieces life helps. Even with what I said in this thread, if my sister did have a child I would be thrilled. Feelings about children are complicated, I guess, even when they may sound simple.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:53 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I think if the issue really is "talking about being glad you don't have kids upsets me because parenting in a pandemic is super hard" then with much compassion and understanding, Alex404, that means you need help and support - but it's not about the climate change thread.

And it might be a great Ask, or it might be a great FPP to take on.

I initially agreed that that thread went off the rails with respect to pointing the finger at the subject of the article's having reproduced - the original comment is deleted now, but I think it did colour the thread for a time and then it kind of righted itself (also, toilets were a feature).

I personally don't love the "it's fine to point out hypocrisy" argument because I feel like that shuts down the kind of solidarity we will need to take collective action politically and as a society for living more sustainably -- and for addressing the very real human suffering that is both happening, and about to happen, on a massive scale -- because it makes people walk away. If we are all hypocrites, and we are, then we don't need to point fingers at each other. But that's a wish because I know some people are just - here for that I guess.

I still wish for all the climate threads that we look for ways to have productive discussions, not beat on any one single individual area of choice (be that transportation, travel, kids, square feet of living space, choice of career, food waste, etc.)
posted by warriorqueen at 7:16 AM on February 5 [22 favorites]


I wanted to do my own small part in making sure that civilization continues
Okay, and I can definitely see how appealing that is, but is it defensible?

There are still children in cages on the US border who traveled from the south to the north so that they could stay alive and do their small parts in making sure that civilization continues. Some of them come from places that are too hot and dry and because of that too violent to sustain them. It is fine for people already established in the north to have children; no one is disputing that. Certainly nobody sane is still trying to claim that the children of people in the south who don't drive, fly, or blast the AC all day are doing measurable harm to the chance for civilization to continue.

But it should be okay to question this thinking that any one or twelve or fifty or a thousand or I-don't-know-I'm-innumerate people anywhere can have a part in making sure civilization continues or doesn't.

Maybe a vanishingly small number of parents back in the day will turn out to have had a measurable part in ensuring that civilization continues or ceases. Einstein's parents, say. Trump's parents. Recent parents...? Okay, maybe Greta Thunberg's parents? They may have had a tiny tiny part in the continuity of civilization. We'll see how it plays out, I guess? Or rather, your children's children will see how it plays out, if we're lucky, anyway.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:32 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


stillnocturnal is knocking it out of the park imo.

I think part of what makes personal decisions personal is that you can't extrapolate them onto an entire population/society -- and moreover, I think that's what a lot of the non-parents are saying here. It's a personal decision, they can't speak for or determine how anyone else makes it, let alone at a population level. But at the same time, the science tells us we're going in a direction that makes that specific choice increasingly urgent. Your personal math may take that into account, and you still may decide to have children; you can do that without mandating that everyone else in society does the same.

And at the same time, our collective decisions will have an impact. Both of these things can be true at once. And furthermore, I agree with upthread users that focusing on that contradiction really misses the point. There are a few people responsible for the majority of this clusterfuck and holding them accountable is ultimately a more fruitful use of our time and energy.

When I read Alex404's post and commentary, I'm hearing that they (idk your pronouns, sorry) feel like these types of comments are saying "this is my choice; therefore, your choice was wrong, and I condemn you morally for it." When really... it was a choice, there is a new person or people around, and they need to be accommodated and respected like any other human. From my view, once there's a human person, it's not a wrong or right choice; you can't describe their existence in terms of ethics, moral or immoral, they just need to be figured into the logistics and the mathematics like anyone else. The logistics and the mathematics, however, are becoming more difficult.

When someone perceives a criticism that wasn't there, to me that suggests that they are having a hard time maintaining their emotional boundaries. And for a parent in a pandemic, I think that is easy to understand. Kids are hard even when we don't have COVID and isolation on our collective plate. I read this situation as someone asking for support, albeit in a roundabout way that really hurt some people's feelings (mine included - didn't realize I didn't care about the future at all because no kids, lol*).

So, from my perspective, a MeTa is a bad choice of framing for what you (Alex404) are asking for (emotional support vis-a-vis parenting in a pandemic and an arriving climate change catastrophe). The question becomes... what are you going to do that actually fulfills this need explicitly? Are you going to look into therapy? Join or found a parenting support group? Start journaling?

*read this as me being amused at the idea, not offended. I'm choosing to be chill about this because it seems clear to me that you're really stressed out and didn't mean to be an asshole.
posted by snerson at 7:43 AM on February 5 [21 favorites]


lbeit in a roundabout way that really hurt some people's feelings (mine included - didn't realize I didn't care about the future at all because no kids, lol*).

Yeah I agree with this. Not just Alex404's comments, but some other commenters. Like, MiraK is the person accusing non-childless people of being misogynistic and even brought in the word "infested" in reference to human beings, accusing the childless-by-choice-people of using that word, when really that word was introduced by themselves, not anyone else. I, a cis-woman, understand the shit that women get, OF COURSE I do, and I also think it's a shitty trap that women shouldn't reproduce to save the planet because the people who made decisions (men in power over the past few centuries) have fucked everything up and now the blame is being foisted on women who have kids or the onus is now on women to not reproduce to save the planet. But it's not that simple. Ultimately, I think that the childless people in these comments fundamentally do care, and care quite a lot about other human beings, and it's hurtful that in order to, what, prove that caring, we must generate, with another gamete, an admixture of our own DNA? It's so reductionist. There are so many ways to be a feminist that don't involve reproducing. There are so many ways to be a woman that don't involve having kids. You can be a feminist without having kids. You can support women and parents with children without having them yourself. You can care about children without being their parent. You can care about other people without being a parent. I care about this planet, I don't think of people as being an "infestation" (how atrocious to suggest that childless people believe that!), I want to do what is right in a measured and deliberate way that doesn't center my own experience to the benefit or detriment of everyone else as a result. I want to make choices that I feel good about, and I understand that I experience some complex grief as a result of my own personal decision to not have kids. Like, I grieve that! But my grief is not stronger than my belief that I should do what I can to make the world more livable for those who already exist, including the kids of the people who are attacking the childless-by-choice here in this community.
(And by the way, I think it's been said but it bears repeating: People's choice to not have kids is way more complex, than just the CC element. For me, that's a big part of it, but not the whole part.)
posted by erattacorrige at 8:07 AM on February 5 [27 favorites]


I want to make choices that I feel good about, and I understand that I experience some complex grief as a result of my own personal decision to not have kids. Like, I grieve that! But my grief is not stronger than my belief that I should do what I can to make the world more livable for those who already exist, including the kids of the people who are attacking the childless-by-choice here in this community.
Oh my god, exactly this.

(And by the way, I think it's been said but it bears repeating: People's choice to not have kids is way more complex, than just the CC element. For me, that's a big part of it, but not the whole part.)
Exactly this too. I can't remember if this line of thinking featured heavily in Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed, but it's a great resource for anyone exploring the implications of not having children.
posted by snerson at 8:17 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I'm a gay, childless woman in her early 30s. Here are my thoughts, which I'm just going to write as bullets because it'll take less spoons
-people who don't have children still have children in their lives that they sacrifice for, take care of, and love.
-the ideas of "youth" and "the future" are conflated and overrated. I will also be in the future.
-the idea of "having children makes you moral/insightful/caring" is homophobic, full stop.
-the phrase "bash" is being thrown around a lot, which to me has ties to homophobic hate crimes. This is a personal read, but lets be real here - no one is getting harmed.
-a lot of anti-natal sentiment is misogynistic or based in misogyny. a lot of "you're awful if you're childless" is also based in misogyny. For those reasons I'm not on either "side" of this debate.
-the choice to or not to have kids is a feminist reproductive health issue, as well as a bodily autonomy issue. I feel like this is being overlooked, which is especially egregious considering this topic is to heavily tied with misogyny.
-climate change is the result of capitalism and greed. It is not the fault of children or people who have children.
-it's okay to think that raising a child with such a bleak future outlook is a bad idea, or a task you couldn't or wouldn't do. It's not okay to tell that to people who have decided to take that on.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:50 AM on February 5 [24 favorites]


After reading more comments I have more thoughts:

-I really want to highlight how this conversation is tied with the west's propensity to over-value youth. Childfree people are told they have no stake in the future despite the fact that they will exist in it. This is, in my opinion, just more misogyny. We hate """old""" people because we glorify barely pubescent women.

-there seems to be this struggle in here between people with kids and people without kids about who is hated more for their decision, who is more oppressed, and who needs some slack. The answer of course, is women. Women have and do provide the entirety of human existence. And they are shit on for it. They are also shit on for not falling in line. IDK it's just weird to me to see people argue about the stigma that comes with children on each "side" without acknowledging that it is just misogyny. These sides are not opposing. They're the same coin. The reason everyone in this thread is getting "bashed" is because the idea and concept of children is tied to women and society hates women. We should instead bond together to fight against the oppression of bodily autonomy.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:17 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Hi! Sorry I disappeared from this thread after having such a loud voice in it in the beginning. I've been swamped with work.

And I am still swamped so I'm not going to try to catch up on everything that's been said since I posted the list way up thread. However, reading through the last few comments on here, I see there are folks who felt attacked by the list and bullied by it. So I'd like to clarify that the reason why I posted that list is not that every single one of those comments was absolutely wrong or horrible or ought to have been removed. Rather, I posted that list to show how all those comments when taken together amount to imparting a significant anti-natalist bent to the thread as a whole.

I agree that many individual comments I linked to are completely harmless, unobjectionable things to say, especially outside the context of a climate thread. Heck, outside the context of a climate thread, many of the comments I linked would be wholly *necessary* brave stances against the pressure people face in society to have children.

But saying something like, for example, "It was the right choice for me not to have children" in the context of the climate thread, after having spent the previous paragraphs discussing how doomed we are by the impending climate catastrophe, and especially when nobody on that thread or in the original article has even so much as hinted that it's your duty to have children or that not being a parent is shameful... that has a very different meaning from the taking of a brave stance against the pressure people face in our society to have children. Specifically, the comment when taken in context begins to take on an anti-natalist flavor. A very mild flavor on its own, of course, but the cumulative effect is greater. This cumulative effect is what I was trying to demonstrate by listing all those links.

The links I posted were not meant to call out anybody in particular or mark those specific individuals as having said horrible things in my judgement. I am truly sorry I didn't clarify that earlier, because in retrospect, I can see that was obviously how it was going to be interpreted. In addition, I was trying to make the discussion more concrete, too, since the OP of this thread hadn't posted anything specific and the thread until then had been (in my opinion) floundering because the only concrete thing that was available to discuss was OP's own misguided wording in this post. Nobody seemed to have understood or even noticed what I (and OP) had noticed in the climate thread.

I will try to catch up to this thread over the weekend.
posted by MiraK at 10:56 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Or, once again, people simply disagree that it's there, that it can be characterized as you characterize it, or that it's as much of a problem as you believe it to be. I'm not sure that people don't understand it - there have a lot of nuanced comments that both understand and disagree.
posted by sagc at 10:59 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


FirstMateKate: I was 100% with you until the last bulletpoint:

-it's okay to think that raising a child with such a bleak future outlook is a bad idea, or a task you couldn't or wouldn't do. It's not okay to tell that to people who have decided to take that on.

This is the crux of what the OP is asking for -- that people without kids not vocalize their opinions on their own choices in climate change threads because it hurts the feelings of people with kids. This seems like a really unrealistic / inappropriate request. Given the rest of what you wrote, I'm surprised you landed here.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:05 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Or, once again, people simply disagree that it's there,

Sure, and I'm looking forward to reading about the disagreement. I was just responding to folks who felt called out and bullied and singly, individually accused by the list I posted.
posted by MiraK at 11:06 AM on February 5


I mean, how is calling a list of people you yourself cherry picked/generated a bunch of "anti-natalist eco-fascists" not bullying? I mean, good lord. I told my boyfriend about it and he literally laughed out loud, saying, "does this person actually believe that?"
Like it's not cool at all and also doesn't serve to make a sound argument, as as hominem attacks really never do. It just seemed to fall along the lines of DARVOishness.
posted by erattacorrige at 11:11 AM on February 5 [23 favorites]


This is the crux of what the OP is asking for -- that people without kids not vocalize their opinions on their own choices in climate change threads because it hurts the feelings of people with kids. This seems like a really unrealistic / inappropriate request. Given the rest of what you wrote, I'm surprised you landed here.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:05 PM on February 5 [2 favorites +] [!]


You've misinterpreted what I mean. You're reading it as "You shouldn't express the opinion that having your own kids is a bad idea for you", which is not what I mean. I mean "You shouldn't express the opinion that someone else shouldn't have children, or if they do already, that it was a bad idea."
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:23 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


Ahhh okay, I’m totally with you there. My bad for misinterpreting.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:49 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, when people write that they are happy they don't have children, I am reminded that if I didn't have children my career would probably be in a much better place, and that is not a pleasant thought.

If I had children (as a white professional woman), I would be in a better social position. The people in my life socially either are not the kind who would or don't dare to make comments about me about it, but I only have to move one degree of separation in my social networks to find people who think I have failed as a woman in not having any. Somehow I bear up under the suffering of hearing other people talk about the happiness they take in their children. (Actually, it turns out that I like kids and also consider it a moral imperative to support my women friends in particular in motherhood as far as I can.) I don't care to hear women without children in particular asked to police their own feelings about their own life choices lest a man feel indirectly reflected upon in his own.
posted by praemunire at 2:16 PM on February 5 [52 favorites]


metafilter would be a friendlier place if it loved children as much as it loves cats, or at least was as friendly to parents as it is to cat owners.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone’s ever said something like, “I never knew how not to be a terrible person until I got a cat.”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:56 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


People also tend not to say that having a cat is ruining the planet.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:55 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


The cats have ways of dealing with people like that.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:18 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


This is getting a little far afield, but cat threads routinely have people rightfully pointing out what an environmental disaster outdoor cats are with regards to birds and small animals. Many people here feel that the only ethical way to own cats is to keep them indoors. What I haven't seen is outdoor cat people excoriating those who don't have pets as un-hopeful anti-feline-ists.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:31 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


What I haven't seen is outdoor cat people excoriating those who don't have pets as un-hopeful anti-feline-ists.

I have personally been accused of being a deviant sociopath for not having or wanting a pet. There are so many ways to be (insert laugh-cry emoji here)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:32 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Since the number of people who base their reproductive choices on metafilter threads about climate change approaches zero (and certainly doesn't have a measurable effect on climate change), can we at least agree that it's not very productive to have every thread on the topic cluttered by a dozen people saying how happy you are that you don't have any kids?

I don't really have a horse in this race, being neither a parent nor someone who has decided not to have kids, but I still find it hurtful and pointless to have a bunch of people explicitly or implicitly saying that it's a terrible idea to have kids because climate change. If you say you're happy you don't have kids because the world's going to die from overpopulation, the added context shifts the statement away from just expressing personal preference and towards judging people who do have kids. I don't think anyone is objecting to people expressing their joy about being childfree in general (or at least I don't), it's the specific context of where they're expressing that joy that makes it more complicated.

Maybe in the next thread, instead of debating whether babies should exist we could argue about something totally uncontroversial like whether vegans are morally superior and all the evil meat eaters are responsible for climate change? Just for a refreshing change.
posted by randomnity at 8:17 PM on February 5 [11 favorites]


If you say you're happy you don't have kids because the world's going to die from overpopulation, the added context shifts the statement away from just expressing personal preference and towards judging people who do have kids.

Only if you also impute to them the belief that theirs is the only morally defensible or rational position. The reason I don't have kids has nothing to do with climate change; I can look at people who've taken both sides of that argument and think that they're making defensible inferences from the known facts and the known uncertainties. In the midst of such complex forces affecting all of humanity, who can hope to be sure that they're making the right call there?

Now, I'm aware that there are philosophers who argue that bringing even one more child into the world is immoral because of the resources that child will use (or the resource inequity a privileged child will exacerbate). I haven't seen much of that approach on Mefi and I agree that would be a problem. But "I'm glad I don't have kids/I chose not to have kids because I think the future would be too bleak" is not actually the equivalent.

I find such comments repetitive and doom-mesmerized and wouldn't mind if they were never made, but there are many categories of comment I'd be happy never to see here again.
posted by praemunire at 10:24 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


metafilter would be a friendlier place if it loved children as much as it loves cats, or at least was as friendly to parents as it is to cat owners.

At the risk of a derail:

This metatalk thread started with a reasonable request and turned into an absolute shitshow so I don't recommend reading it (and trigger warning for dead kid jokes and other terrible things), but one of the things that came up repeatedly was the idea that it is not ok to say you don't like children. People compared it to racism. Implied it contributed to child abuse. Metafilter may not be as friendly to children as you would like, and I understand why you would wish it was, but it's sure not default friendly to people who aren't fond of children either.


Also that particular FPP is a terrible one on which to base this metatalk thread, because the guy is basically having a slow motion breakdown in it. So either he was equally distressed about climate change when he chose to have kids, which is going to strike people as an odd choice, or having children is maybe pushing him over the edge. Either way I feel it does invite discussion of children in a way general climate change posts do not.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:05 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


topic cluttered by a dozen people saying how happy you are that you don't have any kids?

This is an interesting reading of all the stuff people posted. I don't think I read anywhere (I certainly never wrote) how "happy" I am I don't have kids.

I think that what a lot of posters are trying to get to in these comments is that the feelings we have around our own choices (and reasons for making them) are necessarily distinct from the people who chose to have children (for their own reasons, and apparently have some other negative feelings about it, SEPARATE from the experience of the childless people's). It's not my fault, for instance, if someone I don't know, somewhere out there in the world/on the internet who already has pre-existing anxieties and possibly even doubts about their decisions to procreate reads a comment where I say I'm not having kids and here's why and that sends them off the rails of feeling attacked. Like nobody attacked you. You already have issues with this situation that exist independently of me and everyone else commenting here, and I have absolutely no bearing on that or truly how you feel about your life.
And then, because they're already feeling insecure about their choices, they rationalize their choices when nobody was asking them to defend themselves, and opt to bully other people. Like what the heck.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:15 AM on February 6 [22 favorites]


And then, because they're already feeling insecure about their choices, they rationalize their choices when nobody was asking them to defend themselves, and opt to bully other people. Like what the heck.

This happens often enough around here that it should have it's own term.
posted by some loser at 6:22 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


This happens often enough around here that it should have it's own term.
posted by some loser at 9:22 AM on February 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


Prefensive? like defensive... but pre
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:16 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


One of many peculiarities of parents not wanting to hear from people who've chosen not to have kids because of global warming is that everyone who denies themselves children ensures a slightly better future for the children of people who went ahead and had them.
posted by jamjam at 11:28 AM on February 6 [29 favorites]


I, a person who was abused as a kid which ruined her ability to be comfortable around kids as an adult

You are someone I would trust with mine and they would trust you. They would interpret that discomfort as safety. I've seen it happen.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:27 PM on February 6


If you say you're happy you don't have kids because the world's going to die from overpopulation, the added context shifts the statement away from just expressing personal preference and towards judging people who do have kids.

How the hell can I judge parents? It's one of the deepest motivations there is. Everyone should be able to have or not have the kids they want.
But how can I judge anybody? I eat meat. I fly. I own a car and don't live in an apartment anymore. Judging other individuals carbon footprint leads to madness because it could always be smaller. As everyone has said individual choices mean very little in the global threat context in which we live.
posted by Uncle at 3:28 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


As I recall, the only thing close to knee jerk parent bashing in the thread in question was about the guy who was the topic of the article. You know, the one who has been emotionally abusing his family over climate change? If that isn't you, perhaps you might consider stepping back a bit.

I have long had a tendency to take comments that aren't actually about me as saying something about me, so I get it, but it's not healthy, which is why I've tried to dial back on it over the years.
posted by wierdo at 5:05 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I'm a new parent in the USA and my government does much less to help me than the governments in dozens of less wealthy countries. This is caused by, and helps to sustain, the ethic of raising children as a personal choice and personal responsibility, rather than one of the central purposes of having a society at all. This ethic has knock on effects for privileged parents as well, such as when you send you kids to the 'good' private school or make the right donation to get them into the 'right' college. You invest more resources in your own children because your society asks little of you when it comes to caring for the children of others, and gives you little when it comes to the caring of your own children.

Raising children is expensive, time consuming, and emotionally taxing. Having children is all of those things plus dangerous, and incurs semi-permanent and/or permanent changes to your body. I'm *quite* aware of how much more privileged I was a year ago: I had more free time, I had more money, and I had the emotional resources available to take advantage of those things in the ways that I desire. And we have a healthy, even tempered baby; it could be *much* harder.

Raising children is an is a direct investment in the future of my society, and my society isn't helping me very much. Enlightened societies understand that the raising of children is a community activity and provide adequate community support. It's not a hobby or a vanity project. In many or most cultures in the USA, sex education is poor and the cultural expectation is that you'll get married and start a family very young. The ability to stand aside and consider whether to have children, or to have fewer children, or to wait until later for children, comes from a position of privilege or a position in a niche culture or both. This is an area where increasing diversity of opinion would be favorable to Metafilter.
posted by Kwine at 5:45 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Hmm, you're saying we need more voices who never had a choice on whether to have children?
posted by bashing rocks together at 4:53 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Me believing that I have made the right choices and being happy about them does not equal me believing that your choices are wrong.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:17 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


And even if I did believe your choices were wrong, what the hell do I know?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:18 PM on February 7


Me believing that I have made the right choices and being happy about them does not equal me believing that your choices are wrong.

That's not what this is about and it's disingenuous for people to keep recasting this discussion in these terms. Metafilter aspires to be open place, and people in general are free and encouraged to express their feelings about their choices.

This is about expressing that you're happy you don't have kids in threads about climate change. In that context, overpopulation is regularly discussed, which suggests that parents may have made a bad choice, and the declining state of the world is discussed, which implies that the kids of parents today have bleak prospects. In that context, even if you didn't mean it that way, saying you're happy that you don't have kids sounds a lot like you agree that parents made the wrong choice, and that you're happy that you don't have to worry about the bleak future that your kids are being left to. Saying these things would be callous. A lot of people in this post are echoing that this is how they perceive these statements, and ignoring that perception is only going to ensure that climate change threads remain fraught and unproductive.

Now, if people without kids have a fundamental point they need to make by making these statements, I absolutely do not want to suppress that. However, it's not clear to me what that point could possibly be, or what's gained in general by constantly repeating these statements in climate change threads. If someone could explain it, I would very much appreciate it, and I think it would also serve to improve the quality of climate change threads.
posted by Alex404 at 12:54 AM on February 8


And now I see I've described parenting as a "choice", which I've been trying to avoid.

Many people who are parents didn't want to be, and many people who want kids cannot have them. A lot of what's happened in this discussion has been an intellectual battle with nuclear families on one side, and childless-by-choice people on the other. I think this discussion has been productive in some ways, but I find it very regrettable the way people who do not have a choice are getting caught in the crossfire.
posted by Alex404 at 1:19 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


However, it's not clear to me what that point could possibly be

I am not actually one of the people who talks about kids in climate change threads, for much the reasons you describe actually, but I did think "I'm glad I don't have kids" in that one and it wasn't so much about "and so I don't have to worry about them" but more "whoo boy, my anxiety has me on the edge as it is, with kids there's a real danger that I would be that guy. Or worse". I feel fortunate that there are no children who have to have that version of me as a parent. I have always seen those comments less as a statement on the future and more of a statement on current coping skills.

Obviously I can't speak for other mefites, and it's not something I personally need public airtime for, but does that help? I can see how it still leaves parents who have no choice but to cope somewhat in the dust, but it's really not about not-caring.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:48 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I am not actually one of the people who talks about kids in climate change threads, for much the reasons you describe actually...

Thanks for your courtesy, and that's all I'm asking for. At the same time, if that courtesy is too much to ask for some people, then so be it. If anything comes from this post hopefully it's just a little more self-reflection from everyone.

...but I did think "I'm glad I don't have kids" in that one and it wasn't so much about "and so I don't have to worry about them" but more "whoo boy, my anxiety has me on the edge as it is, with kids there's a real danger that I would be that guy. Or worse".

This is the crux though, isn't it? If that guy weren't a parent, he would not have been remarkable and there would have been no article. Instead, we get a (arguably very problematic) article about a parent who's fallen into deep despair, and people proceeded to criticize his mental and moral fitness as a parent, partner, and person in general. I honestly was not trying to be provocative when I made this post, and in hindsight I can see how I evoked the image of a strident, self-righteous parent that causes people (including myself) to bristle. That being said, when I wrote "...it's easier to write off the world when you don't have kids", I meant what you just wrote. If you fall into despair and you're on your own than it's pitiable, but if have a partner and children then you are extracting a huge toll on them, and you will (perhaps justifiably) be widely condemned.
posted by Alex404 at 4:18 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Ah! So less "its easier to write off the world when you don't have kids" which I do think unfortunately landed with thunk in this thread and made discussion more contentious, and more... it's more socially acceptable to despair when you don't have kids? Am I understanding you right? I can see that, and how it would wear on you. It seems like a slightly different issue to people saying they're happy they don't have kids, but I think you're saying you feel that that doesn't leave space for you to talk about your own feelings, having decided to have kids, because people are more likely to judge, the same way they did the guy in the article? I could be misreading you, in which case I'm sorry, but I am sympathetic if that is the case. I don't think people are judging you that way, they don't map their own feelings onto you, but I know that doesn't change the way you feel hearing it. It's hard to have gentle conversations when people are scared and angry and ramped up with anxiety, and I know climate change articles do that to me.

I don't condem the man in the article, for what its worth. I do think he needs help coping, and at a certain point refusing to try get help for your anxiety, for the sake of your family, is not a good choice, but... like I said, I could be him. It was an article about anxiety, really.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:13 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


This is about expressing that you're happy you don't have kids in threads about climate change. In that context, overpopulation is regularly discussed, which suggests that parents may have made a bad choice, and the declining state of the world is discussed, which implies that the kids of parents today have bleak prospects.

Again, respectfully, that is reading into what people say and making it a condemnation of your own life. I believe that is a mistake, no matter the topic. You yourself used the words "suggest" and "implies," which shows the stretching you are doing to make these non-offensive statements into something that upsets you.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:42 AM on February 8 [30 favorites]


...it's more socially acceptable to despair when you don't have kids? Am I understanding you right?

That might be part of it for some people, but if I'm reading your comment correctly, you're talking about the expression of despair, whereas, for me at least, the key part is the act of despair. Personally I don't care too much what other people think of me, but I do have to emotionally perform in order to keep my family together.

Perhaps this is obvious to you in your interactions with your sister and niece, but the thing that caught me off guard when I had kids was how relentless the whole project is. If my wife or I are emotionally unstable, we can't plan, and the other person has to work extra hard to pick up the slack, and the ship falls apart. Similarly, kids pick up on and reflect negative emotions, and so if the parents are suffering emotionally, that gets magnified by screaming kids who sleep poorly and cause trouble at school. So if parents appear to be putting on false positivity sometimes (and kids TV is so RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE), it's because they are, because if they don't it has significant material repercussions that only make their emotional issues worse. For parents, emotional, material, and familial well-being all hang together in a delicate balance that requires tireless effort to hold together.

The one time I saw a family fall apart from despair it was because one of their children died in a car accident. The father simply could not recover, and the mother had to divorce the father for the sake of their remaining kids. I don't think anyone knows what happened to the father but the kids are alright. I think the mother's alright too.
posted by Alex404 at 5:48 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Actually, on further reflection, that's not the only time I've seen a family fall apart from despair, but I don't want to tell any more stories.
posted by Alex404 at 6:08 AM on February 8


Again, respectfully, that is reading into what people say and making it a condemnation of your own life. I believe that is a mistake, no matter the topic. You yourself used the words "suggest" and "implies," which shows the stretching you are doing to make these non-offensive statements into something that upsets you.

Here to agree with and piggyback off of what tiny frying pan is saying.
Alex404, I can't respond to you directly with your own words because I think that we've all done a lot of that here and it seems that you keep hammering home your own point without actually absorbing what many of us here have said. Like I won't keep saying, "I grieve that I won't have kids" and have you and others keep insisting, "these people are so HAPPY to not have kids [in an era of climate change]."
Also respectfully, from what you're saying, you sound overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to come to terms with the life that you've opted for. That's not a stance I am judging, it just sounds like what's happening. If not, great! But if so, I think you should seek resources to cope, because it sounds like you're not coping, and there are resources out there for parents who need support. Needing support is a great and excellent position to be in, because it means things have the potential to change for the better for you, and everyone in your family affected by you.

I retain my stance that nobody here should feel guilty for their choices, judged through the internet, or bullied. Nobody is bullying you, Alex404; I imagine you just feel super burnt out and anything that reminds you of that feels like a slight.
For the record, I live for the present, make choices I hope will benefit myself and others in the future without being disproportionately harmful, and support people with kids and kids themselves. Living this way is living in a way that demonstrates hopefulness; I won't defend the remainder because the do so would be to buy into the argument that us without children by choice are inherently hopeless which is frankly total garbage.
I personally am putting this to bed, and I wish you (and everyone here) the very best of luck.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:44 AM on February 8 [30 favorites]


This is about expressing that you're happy you don't have kids in threads about climate change. In that context, overpopulation is regularly discussed, which suggests that parents may have made a bad choice, and the declining state of the world is discussed, which implies that the kids of parents today have bleak prospects.

So in a thread about climate change, we should avoid mentioning...the effects of climate change.

I'm with erattacorrige; it sounds like a lot of parents are (completely understandably!) in extremely fragile places right now, at the ends of their ropes, and finding that contemplating the idea of things getting worse is unbearable, and feeling uncertain about the wisdom of their choices/their abilities to cope in the face of that prospect (and indeed in the face of current circumstances). They need help and nobody is coming to help them, and instead here are all these Internet People who don't have any small faces looking to them to make sense of this unending nightmare, talking about their lives in which they are, to some degree, allowed to just fall apart and look doom in the face and maybe not cook meals or shower or whatever when you are not allowed to do that it's all a bit how very dare you.

Which is a whole lot of pain and suffering but which metafilter cannot solve, not with the most circumspect and hopeful climate change thread in the world. It's ok to give these threads a pass, now that you know where they tend to go. Lord knows I give like 80% of metafilter threads a pass for similar reasons.

I hope people find some support in their distress; I know it's nearly impossible to come by, as everyone is falling apart in their own ways (my therapist just went on leave for a nervous breakdown, ha) but remember that MeFi is a big place and for every doom thread you can find one instead where people are coming together in support and hope.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:48 AM on February 8 [28 favorites]


(Also, look, I'm gonna put it out there: Metafilter doesn't know everything. Metafilter doesn't even know most things. Metafilter is a small group of people, many of whom are very smart, but most of whom aren't really...representative. It's embarrassing to me how often I forget that Metafilter isn't omniscient, it isn't the whole world, and just because you read something here, even when it's a whole 200 comment thread of people agreeing, doesn't mean it's true. This is important to remember with all social media; it's people, just speculating, venting, spitballing, shit-stirring, musing, trying on ideas, working through their own shit. Right now on Twitter all anyone's talking about is someone who smashed a guitar on SNL. These little worlds aren't real. You can't let them spin you up.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:54 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


I am, by some people's standards, a super-breeder: I have 3 kids and 5 grandkids.

This may be simplistic but it seems to me that the problem is really consumption and materialism, how much each person consumes in finite natural resources and how much they think they need to consume. And, of course, it's capitalism that spends fortunes figuring out how it can convince people they need more and more. And the military-industrial complex, consumer and destroyer.

But it's so much easier to pick on people with kids than to question the systems that many of us here on metafilter have benefited from.

Sometimes I think it's just easier to think of it in terms of money spent. How much do we really need to live comfortably.
posted by mareli at 2:11 PM on February 8


It's not picking on people with kids! It's saying "I, personally, am glad I did not have kids, and find that it has x effect on my anxiety about climate change."!

I personally agree with everyone saying that the article pretty much demanded commentary on the intersection of family and climate change - I'm so confused about what people expected the conversation to be about in that thread.
posted by sagc at 2:25 PM on February 8 [15 favorites]


I do have to emotionally perform in order to keep my family together.

I find this inability you've demonstrated more than once in this post to imagine close emotional ties that require care work which don't arise from the nuclear family to be...really kind of astounding for 2021.

I don't have children. I am currently supporting one close friend through the terminal illness of her beloved dog and the threatened loss of her eyesight. Another--and her children--has COVID, with all that entails. Meanwhile, my senior-citizen mom lives alone and I've been doing everything I can to help keep her occupied and happy so she doesn't take any unnecessary risks out of loneliness, also trying to help her with the vaccination process without interfering with her autonomy and causing her to shut down. These are not things I can just opt out of. And me, I'm an ordinary straight woman, not really hooked up into the queer communities of care that so many are.

You are actively disparaging and devaluing the relationships of people who don't have children, while complaining that it makes you feel bad about your own choices just to hear other people say that they're happy with their own, different ones. Please stop.
posted by praemunire at 3:30 PM on February 8 [45 favorites]


I find this inability you've demonstrated more than once in this post to imagine close emotional ties that require care work which don't arise from the nuclear family to be...really kind of astounding for 2021.

In defense of the OP, I do not think that they were talking as much about the emotional ties and care work itself as about the social perceptions of that care work.

I don't think the social pressure on people to perform emotional stability for their adult friends and relatives is quite the same as the social pressure to perform emotional stability for the minor children in their care. If I am supporting my friend through their divorce and move, and one day I'm just feeling too bleak to be very helpful it's totally healthy and OK for me to say "hey, I just can't text today." If I'm helping my elderly mom keep her quarantine life on track (which I also am, not singling out your situation), and I need to take a weekend off of Zooms so I can just be a total unshowered crying mess, not only is that OK because she's an adult and will completely survive, she might even have the resources to offer ME support in return.

None of these are the case for a parent of young kids. You can't be "too despairing to parent this week." You gotta parent through the despair and that's hard mode for real.

But the problem is that it isn't up to the random internet world to shield your mental health; that's unfortunately something each person has to do for themselves, parent or no. The adults you know in your LIFE can help; you can ask your FRIENDS and your FAMILY to avoid the doomsaying and direness, you can absolutely ask them not to say shitty things about the future to you. But that's not the job of the whole world, and that's where this thread has started off on the wrong tack.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:38 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


(Now as someone who has zero kids but definitely had two parents, it always seems to me that parents can and in fact should allow themselves to be less perfect sometimes, provided it doesn't lead to actual, like, persistent neglect. But what do I know.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:44 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


None of these are the case for a parent of young kids. You can't be "too despairing to parent this week."

You'd be surprised at the number of parents for whom this has proven not to be true, and with no real social/legal repercussions.

But that's sort of beside the point. We all have our perceived ethical obligations to other people. Most people will (correctly, in my opinion) perceive their obligations to their minor children to be extraordinarily important, so important as to trump almost anything else. Fine. Other people perceive obligations arising from other relationships to be as important, or at least so weighty as to outweigh most other considerations. The idea that the parent-child relationship uniquely invests and enmeshes you in the world in some distinctively inescapable way is just not true. Human nature is just far richer and more complex than that, and I don't understand why that peculiar 1950s zombie view is still lurching around.

"Your happiness in your choices makes me feel bad" is not a good basis for policy, but of course it's sympathetic in its own way--most of us have felt that with respect to something.

"Your happiness in your choices, which are clearly less fraught and significant than mine, makes me feel bad" is just unnecessarily offensive.
posted by praemunire at 4:51 PM on February 8 [27 favorites]


Can we just make praemunire Queen of the Internet forever?
posted by daybeforetheday at 10:31 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


(I mean, okay, I guess you can totally be a bullshit parent who drops the ball on their obligations consistently and not go to jail or have your kids taken away. But it isn't repercussion-free--the repercussion is you turn a screwed-up kid out into the world as an adult to do more generations of damage you know what I legit don't care about this argument anymore, I gotta go find a therapist who isn't having a nervous breakdown.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:54 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I find this inability you've demonstrated more than once in this post to imagine close emotional ties that require care work which don't arise from the nuclear family to be...really kind of astounding for 2021.

You are actively disparaging and devaluing the relationships of people who don't have children, while complaining that it makes you feel bad about your own choices just to hear other people say that they're happy with their own, different ones. Please stop.

"Your happiness in your choices, which are clearly less fraught and significant than mine, makes me feel bad" is just unnecessarily offensive.


I created this thread to talk about an issue from the perspective of parents, not to diminish or dismiss the needs of non-parents. Really, all I was trying to do is ask for some courtesy for parents in climate change threads. Some people found that reasonable, others did not, which is alright. I still think that climate change discussions on metafilter are often unproductive, and should be held to a higher standard, as climate change looms larger than any of our individual concerns.

Unfortunately, it seems beyond my ability talk about the needs of parents without non-parents feeling attacked. I promise I've not meant to attack anyone, and I've only written my comments in good faith.

The idea that the parent-child relationship uniquely invests and enmeshes you in the world in some distinctively inescapable way is just not true.

I think the underlying problem is that modern western society has broken down local communities and compartmentalized our lives. As such, people are left on their own in overwhelming care roles, and everyone feels that their hard work is chronically undervalued. I hope going forward we can work together to ensure that our societies recognize and support this work.
posted by Alex404 at 11:59 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I think most of what can be said here has been said. Once again though, it is not "un-courteous" or rude, or unseemly, or mean, to state you are happy to not have kids. Even in a climate thread. I will push back on that kind of disparagement forever.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:25 AM on February 9 [24 favorites]


I think the underlying problem is that modern western society has broken down local communities and compartmentalized our lives. As such, people are left on their own in overwhelming care roles, and everyone feels that their hard work is chronically undervalued. I hope going forward we can work together to ensure that our societies recognize and support this work.

Agreed. Also, many people holding the 'default parent' role in their family (mostly women) identified that underlying problem 40+ years ago.
posted by kimberussell at 6:27 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


This article belongs here I am so sick of being asked if I regret not having children.
posted by theora55 at 6:48 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


TLDR this entire thread; in lieu not managing one's own emotions, you can't control other people
posted by erattacorrige at 12:27 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


This whole thread is gaslighting. Controlling your own emotions will only be trotted out when the victim is politcally correct for metafilter, in which case the knives come out, and the pretense of civility and compassion goes out the window.
posted by Wood at 10:26 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


How is it gaslighting and what comments, specifically, have been uncivil?
posted by superfluousm at 11:13 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Oh is this the fun part of the meta where we conflate someone saying they're happy with their own individual decision not to have kids with someone being openly racist or transphobic or such?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:44 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


"This article belongs here I am so sick of being asked if I regret not having children."

That article is a good example of how children are squeezed between the idea that they are a personal choice, from those on the left, or a personal responsibility, from those on the right. The idea of children as a collective responsibility is missing from large swaths of contemporary discourse.

"Children or not? Who cares. Married or not? Who cares. Living in an endless, orgiastic bacchanal of non-monogamy? Who cares."

Those are not the same category of thing from the perspective of your society!

"Whatever it is that will bring, through you, the most happiness to the people in your life. Whatever that is, for you or for them, it’s of no one else’s concern."

The idea that there are values beyond happiness, or duties to those that you don't know personally, are not present.
posted by Kwine at 1:40 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I find this thread truly troubling. As a parent of one child i feel shut down and downright scared, like my experience in life is invalid and opinion unwanted.
I rewrote and rewrote this comment, but what i really think is, if it is Impossible to share the lived experience for fear of being attacked i just feel disappointed and sad.
posted by 15L06 at 1:49 PM on February 10


It wasn't non-parents who started this thread. Wasn't non-parents that are asking anyone to change their behaviour, other than perhaps a couple of individual posters who took extreme stances on why non-parents should their change their language.
posted by sagc at 1:50 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm just not sure what you're scared of, other than nebulous attacks - what don't you think you can't express? The one thing I've seen shut down and attacked here is the idea that parents have a better claim to the moral high ground than non-parents.
posted by sagc at 1:52 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


We're getting into "political correctness gone mad", so I think it's safe to say things are right into "It's not enough to have the world on my side, I'm bothered that minority opinions exist".

Can we skip past "silenced all my life" this time? You've won. You've got the world running in your favor. (or, at least, where it's running against you it's coming from people aligned to your world experience) Big bad mean people daring be non-normative aren't coming for you, we don't have power over you.

All we've got is saying we exist and we aren't feeling particularly eternally tormented for defying the natural order. Anything more, you've got grievances to take up with other people about. I agree, it's a bum hand. But don't go taking it out on people inclined to support you having better options, just because we're closer at hand.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:03 PM on February 10 [14 favorites]


This thread was started by a parent who was unhappy about how non-parents described their own experience. And now somehow it's come around 180 degrees and is about it not being "safe" for parents to share their experience?

At this point, the returns aren't diminishing, they're negative.
posted by Lexica at 2:07 PM on February 10 [25 favorites]


He folks we've been reading along with this thread and have been talking about whether there are some useful moderation nudges we can make so people feel okay participating here regardless of their parenting status. However, this conversation has gotten to the "going in circles" point and we're going to close it up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


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