Kids or not, we’re all pay­ing for our choices

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP -

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

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