Kids or not, we’re all paying for our choices
This week Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm unleashed a deliciously bitchy debate between the barren and the breeders.
He called for welfare payments for parents to be abolished, saying childless Australians should not have to subsidise the lifestyles of those who choose to have kids.
In theory it sounds fair enough. But the opposite is true. I reckon the barren are sponging off the breeders.
Like it or not, childless people need my children’s taxes to fund their retirement. When they’re too old to work, it’s my hardworking kids’ income that will pay for their adult nappies and Alzheimers medication.
The childless are free to earn higher wages without the pesky inconvenience of having to get to school pickup, or be home in time to read bed-time stories.
And when they turn 65, they will be just as entitled to collect the pension as parents who’ve forked out literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in food, clothing and One Direction concert tickets.
Look at it this way. In 2002 in Australia there were more than five workers to support every person aged over 65. In 30 years’ time there will only be 2.5 such people for every oldie.
My three kids will be among those 2.5 workers. So I think the childless should be grateful I was nice enough to sacrifice my flat stomach and allow them to be born.
Regardless of what side you’re on, there is no doubt the man with a name that’s hard to pronounce from a party no one’s heard of got people talking about the rights of the childless.
Or, I should say, child-free. Child-free are the happy ones who never wanted kids in the first place. The childless are those who desperately wanted kids, but for some reason or other, couldn’t get there. Some have never met the right person, while others are infertile. It’s a tough gig because kids are everywhere, acting as constant reminders of what they’re missing out on.
But we should stop pitying those without kids and start worshipping them. Despite relying on other people’s children to fund their latter years, many childfree people lead pretty amazing lives. They get to go to the toilet alone, sleep through the night, and get laid without an audience of horrified toddlers standing in the doorway worrying that daddy is hurting mummy. They get to make dinners with chilli and garlic in it. They don’t have to fight to get the leg off a roast chicken rather than the boring breast.
They get to go on long boring car trips without playing “I spy” or listening to Frozen on endless loop on the iPad.
They never say things like “How many times do I have to tell you?” and “I’m not going to say this again” and “This is your last warning”.
I do think it’s wrong that our society is totally based around the nice little nuclear family of mum, dad and two kids. Anyone who opts out of this – either by choice or otherwise – is unfairly viewed as suspect.
Those without kids definitely get a raw deal. They’re the ones rostered on for the Christmas Day shift – again – while parents are more likely to get the day off. They’re the ones more likely to work late while parents sneak off early to pick up the kids.
And when they want to relax in a bar or café, someone else’s screaming bundle of mobile vomit, poo and snot is there to annoy them. Making matters worse is the fact that many parents today are inconsiderate and overly worshipping of their bratty offspring.
Children used to be seen and not heard, now they’re noisy and everywhere. Kids today – even the revoltingly bratty - are indulged and adored. Look, he spoke a word. Whip out your iPhone and record it for posterity. Look he’s preciously pooing. Film it for his 21st. Look, she finished last in a 100m walking race. Give her a medal.
I can totally see why those without kids are fed up. Still, none of this matters in the long run. You may be childless and barren, or happy and childfree, or you may just think children are God’s way of punishing those who managed to get lucky.
But it doesn’t change the fact that you need the next generation to look after you down the track. Try to remember that next time one of these “bundles of dribble and sputum” – as Leyonhjelm calls them – knocks your latte into your lap in a café. Blog with Susie at susieobrien.com.au, follow her on Twitter @susieob and Facebook.com/ NewswithSuse