How About We All STFU?

Don’t you hate it when someone you think is completely awesome does something that makes you really upset? Yesterday, our friend Dustin over at Pajiba posted a rant about the complaints that people without children make about parents and/or children. And although I think we’re meant to view the post as tongue-in-cheek, it was still way harsh, Tai. Satire’s all well and good, but there was an awful lot of rage in there, and I think any hint of satire flew right over most of the commenters’ heads, bringing up a lot of these same arguments over (and over and over) again. As P-Mag’s resident vocal “non-breeder” (although I prefer “childfree”), I’d like to respond. Since the point of the article seems to be that there can be no civil discourse between parents and non-parents, I’ll do my best to refrain from screeching hyperbole.

The argument is that it’s infuriating when parents are all painted with the same raising-a-shrieking-demon, posting-pictures-of-poop-on-Facebook, self-indulgent brush. So obviously, the best way to respond is by lumping all “non-breeders” (seriously, what is that?) in together.

I’ll just take some individual points here:

“Obnoxiousness on Facebook is not limited to parents; it’s endemic to the entire social network.” 

100% agreed. No one post pictures of feces, and we can all be in agreement that Facebook is just pretty terrible in most ways.

“Look, if you see a kid at a restaurant, more times than not, it’s because you’ve chosen to go to a ‘family’ restaurant, and ‘family’ often means loud-mouthed little brats. Parents aren’t taking their kids to nice restaurants because we don’t want to waste our money on something the kid is going to push around his plate, throw at his sister, or complain about. So, if you want to avoid us, go to a nicer damn restaurant or go after the kid’s bedtime.” 

Absolutely. Except for those times when we are at a nicer restaurant, we do eat later, and there are still kids running around. Please don’t pretend it never happens. I don’t eat at “family” restaurants, mostly because the food usually sucks, but paying more money is no assurance of any kind of child-free dining.

“Cut us a f***king break and try to remember how you behaved last time you showed up at IHOP at 2 in the morning after 7 Bud lights and asked the waitress if the ‘no shirt’ rule applied to her.”

Yeah”¦ that was never. The last time I was obnoxious in a restaurant, I was probably 17, which is literally half a lifetime ago. Obnoxious people at IHOP at 2 a.m. are usually college students, and many of them are worse behaved than the most tantrum-prone toddler. (Many, not all. Please put away the pitchforks, college kids. Love you!)

“We just paid $7 plus (a very generous) tip for a crappy grilled cheese sandwich so we wouldn’t have to deal with that mess.”

Parents with messy kids are generous tippers? An informal poll of every waitperson ever shows that if you’re a parent whose kid just threw a bowl of spaghetti, a lake of milk, and some unidentified crunchy stuff all over the floor and you leave a good tip, you’re in the vast minority there. Also, most people, when making a mess at a restaurant, make at least a half-assed attempt to clean it up.

“You’re the same person who thinks that having a dog is the same as having a kid. Shut up.”

Until you can crate a child for eight hours when you’re at work, I’m pretty sure most people are clear that the two things are different. I have dogs. Do I think that’s the same as having kids? Nope, because if it were, I wouldn’t have them.

“When you’ve slept in an awkward position on a crappy armchair all night because it’s the only way your sick kid will sleep, or when you’ve changed a sh*tty diaper not once not twice but THOUSANDS OF TIMES and you’ve read the same book four hundred times, sat through countless doctor visits, and fed and cleaned up after a child three times a day for a few years, then you’ve earned the right for parents not to say, ‘You don’t understand.’ Until then, indulge us, OK? If we’re enduring all of this, the least you can do is humor us for one goddamn second and stop making it all about you.”

1) You made the choice. It had consequences. Sorry that some of them suck.

2) We’re the ones making it all about us? OK. Sure thing.

“Plus, do you know how hard it is to find a decent babysitter? Why, so we can go ‘clubbing’ with you? Look: We already did all that, and we found our spouses, and we got married, and we had kids SO WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT ANYMORE.”

Oh, calling childfree people irresponsible drunken clubbers. That’s new. The last time I went to a club, Party of Five was still in its first season and Kurt Cobain was still alive.

“Well, how are we supposed to ‘deal with it’? We yelled at the kid, didn’t we? We can’t spank them because you childless hippie liberals have taken that away from us. Oh, ‘time out.’ Yeah, like that works. Should we take away something? Because she’s three, does she really have anything of value? Oh, we should send them to their rooms without dinner? Great idea, if you want child protective services called on you.”

Dude, I don’t give half a fuck how you discipline your child. But don’t act like it’s the fault of the childfree that your avenues of corrective behavior are limited. I’m not even sure how that makes sense. I’m pretty sure parents are more invested in the issue of spanking than the childfree ever will be.

“You know what, imaginary person who is annoyed with all of these things you have to deal with by virtue of being friends with the people who choose, for their own happiness, to continue repopulating the Earth: Either stop hanging out with parents, or stop bitching”¦ You chose your path, we chose ours. We’re all annoying or obnoxious in some respects. We all have complaints or gripes or quibbles. It’s called THE HUMAN CONDITION and it is not exclusive to parents, so get the f**k over yourselves.”

First of all, “to continue repopulating the Earth”? How about you get over yourself? Earth’s population isn’t in any danger of dying out anytime soon, Captain Planet. And yes, everyone is obnoxious in their way, and yes, we all chose our path. The thing is, if you want some respect and patience and latitude in dealing with the results of the path you chose, how about you extend some of the courtesy back the other way around? People who’ve chosen not to have kids are called selfish, immature, lazy party animals who don’t know their own minds, who will never know what real love is, and who have no right to complain about being tired, overworked, or condescended to, because they aren’t doing The Most Important Job In The Worldâ„¢, and it’s a pretty shitty thing to have directed at you for your entire adult life.

All of the choices are valid. Even yours. Even mine. Maybe if we stop pitting parents against non-parents and start pitting people who are assholes against people who aren’t assholes, we’ll stop demonizing each other for our choices. Dustin, dude, I think you’re awesome 99% of the time. Let’s just get our kumbaya-yas out and I’ll buy you a beer and your kids a soda. At a family restaurant. Really early in the evening. And leave a really good tip.

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[E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

34 thoughts on “How About We All STFU?”

  1. Breaking news at 10: some child-free people are assholes about it. Some parents are assholes it. Sometimes people are just assholes.

    All joking aside, I’m not quite sure I understand why he posted such a vitriolic rant in an attempt to garner sympathy and understanding to his viewpoint. That’s not the best way to go about these kinds of things.

  2. I am unfamiliar with this writer, but I thought the whole piece was ridic. If someone with kids feels s/he can’t do social things, fine; there are other people. If your kid is melting down in public, I’m not judging you. I’m just thinking how happy I am that I don’t have to deal with it.

    His equating being childfree with being an obnoxious drunk single is really annoying. You can be mature and not get married. You can get married and not have children. I have a legitimate complaint with people propagating the idea that we all follow the same life script.

    If he isn’t generalising about childfree parents, and he just has some issues with a few childfree people he knows, perhaps he should talk to them directly about his frustrations.

  3. I am unfamiliar with this writer, but I thought the whole piece was ridic. If someone with kids feels s/he can’t do social things, fine; there are other people. If your kid is melting down in public, I’m not judging you. I’m just thinking how happy I am that I don’t have to deal with it.

    If he isn’t generalising about childfree parents, and he just has some issues with a few childfree people he knows, perhaps he should talk to them directly about his frustrations.

  4. And on the other side of the “I take my parenting very seriously!” side of the spectrum:
    http://reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com/

    But for real. This post is… it actually makes me not want to have kids just so I don’t end up a jaded, pissy parent like this. And I actually (usually) want kids in the future. I know from various comments that it was *supposed* to have been satire or something resembling humor. It really just reads like embittered, cranky, high-horse-ery.

    Thanks for repopulating the world for everyone else (because obviously no one else is). I hope your spawn don’t turn out to be privileged assholes (at least they’re not learning it from you). Imma take my “adult” juicebox over to the other side of the playground now.

  5. “When you’ve slept in an awkward position on a crappy armchair all night because it’s the only way your sick kid will sleep, or when you’ve changed a sh*tty diaper not once not twice but THOUSANDS OF TIMES and you’ve read the same book four hundred times, sat through countless doctor visits, and fed and cleaned up after a child three times a day for a few years, then you’ve earned the right for parents not to say, ‘You don’t understand.’ Until then, indulge us, OK? If we’re enduring all of this, the least you can do is humor us for one goddamn second and stop making it all about you.”

    Congratulations! You deserve a sticker for that!

  6. “Why, so we can go ‘clubbing’ with you? Look: We already did all that, and we found our spouses, and we got married, and we had kids SO WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT ANYMORE.”

    Wait. I find this insulting? Who’s going out to find a spouse? I just want to go to a bar so that there are no children there. More, I like hanging out with you. I do. But just like I don’t get mad at you that you can’t find a babysitter and come out (though I am disappointed), you don’t get to be mad at me for having a life past 8 pm because I didn’t procreate. And dude, if you’re going to be whiny about it, I’m not going to invite you to the bar anymore, k?

    Seriously, I admire people with kids. They are responsible for OTHER HUMAN LIFE. I ate Cheetos with a side of ice cream for dinner last night. Parents who are doing well impress the hell out of me. But you don’t get to be mad because I DON’T have kids and I don’t get it. Because I don’t have kids. And I don’t really want to plan my adult life around a child schedule. That’s why I don’t have kids.

    1. Also: People have spouses and kids just so they don’t have to go clubbing anymore?? Dude, I just started saying “No thanks, I think I’m going to stay in this weekend.” I think blaming your lack of going out on your spouse and child is really passing the buck there.

      Also, also: I babysit frequently for my next-door neighbors (married cis-couple with a five yr old and a one yr old), precisely so they can go out dancing! Don’t lump all the married with off-spring people into a don’t-wanna-have-fun-anymore category. My neighbors rock, and they are so happy (and sometimes high) when they come back late, the kids are asleep, and they didn’t have to deal with bed-time shenanigans.

    2. That part pissed me off, too.

      Not to mention…he got married and had kids so he didn’t have to go clubbing anymore! What a selfish decision!

      #trololol

      All seriousness aside, it’s really annoying that he’s accusing non-parents of being immature and selfish, but then he puts in a line like that.

  7. Ugh, I am still struggling with this article. The thing is, I read Pajiba all the time. And I love most everything Dustin posts. And he is generally awesome about the childfree, and actually links to STFU Parents pretty regularly. So…I want to find a way that this rant isn’t as angry and mean as it sounds. Because it seems so out of character for what Dustin usually posts. But…I still can’t read it without getting pissy. Because the thing is, as a base point, yes – there are some overly vocal childfree folks who need to be more understanding and stopping hating on kids just for existing. But I don’t think his rant really addresses those folks. It seems to address mostly points that are fairly reasonable, or at least could be if given the benefit of the doubt (nobody is perfectly articulate all the time). Which I think is what makes it come off as such a jerky post.

    I guess in my heart of hearts I just hope that it’s a badly failed attempt at satire, because everybody misses every now and then, and then I could continue eagerly looking forward to every substantive Dustin post (did you read the one about the birth of his twins? Even devotedly childfree me teared up at that) like I always have.

    On a related but kind of off-topic note, I told most of my extended family (on one side) that I don’t want kids last Sunday at our big Easter gathering. They all took it surprisingly well. Even my grandmother, at least after I explained that since being a grandparent looks awesome, I just want to skip being a parent and go straight to “spoiling kids who aren’t mine and giving them back when they’re a pain” stage of things with my nieces and nephews. I’m sure it helps that at least two of my siblings are definitely planning on having kids, and one is a “probably.”

      1. I’m not a reader over there, never heard of this guy before, so this was my first introduction to him. I happen to agree with the observation that *from this piece alone* one could assume he was less than enthused about raising kids.

  8. As a bona fide infertile who can’t adopt, these conversations make me have Feelings, some of which make me want to run around Gibbs slapping everyone until they all shut up. Part of it is certainly jealousy at all the glorious choices I don’t get to make for myself.

    But there’s no good reason, other than Internet Fights!, which, you know, have their place, to paint folks who are different than you with such a broad brush.

    I do think D. Rowles displayed some humorous self-awareness at the end of the piece.

  9. I couldn’t even read the whole thing/rant/whatever the fuck it is; it’s so awful.

    And if that’s how I feel as a parent, I can only imagine how you feel.

    Ugh, I really want to slam a few things over that whole “how are we supposed to discipline” boo hoo bullshit. Just … no. No, dude, you need a few goddamn parenting classes. And if you can’t figure out how to rein herd on a toddler, I don’t want to be in the same fucking zip code as your teenager.

    Jfc I keep going back to it to try to read more and I get three sentences in and I want to smash things.

  10. For about three years in high school (oh, and yeah, I’m now one of the college kids now. But no drunken iHop trips for me), I was like, um, no kids, thanks. I’m still kind of on the fence, and definitely will be thinking long and hard before I say yes to children. I also have a lot of opinions about children and parenting that drags me to the pro-children side of things as well. Either way though, his article is harsh. And does not seem to paint him like someone who wanted kids all that much either. I mean, he almost sounds more angry about the fact that anyone who has decided to not have kids have managed to skip out on this societal duty that we’re pressured to believe is a duty anyway. He got married, had kids, maybe wasn’t sure he wanted any, or didn’t realize what was coming his way and what he’d have to give up if he had them, and now there are people who don’t have to have kids because they say they don’t want to. Jealous? And how could he admit he’s jealous when he has kids, that wouldn’t sound right. So he definitely seems to be lashing out, especially in a way that’s not particularly rational. I mean, where are these complaints coming from anyway? Who has told them these things over and over? And yeah, what’s the need to vilify everyone who doesn’t want kids? Great article pointing out the flaws in his points.

    1. “And does not seem to paint him like someone who wanted kids all that much either. I mean, he almost sounds more angry about the fact that anyone who has decided to not have kids have managed to skip out on this societal duty that we’re pressured to believe is a duty anyway. He got married, had kids, maybe wasn’t sure he wanted any, or didn’t realize what was coming his way and what he’d have to give up if he had them, and now there are people who don’t have to have kids because they say they don’t want to.”

      Spot on.

  11. I still disagree that this was aimed at ALL people who are child-free. You’re not an asshole about kids, that’s awesome. Lots of people aren’t. However, I still felt like the article was aimed at the opposite version of the STFU-Parents-type, the STFU-“ugh why would you have children?!” type, a person that also exists. I really don’t think the post was aimed at reasonable people.

    Was the whole “repopulating the planet” thing a bit of an idealistic stretch? Sure. Was he angry? Sure. That still does not make him without a point. Even if “drunken clubbers” is a generalization, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people be surprised that both the mister and I can’t just both come out whenever (for any reason) without the kids, as though babysitters and the income to use them just magically fall out of the babysitter tree.

    Anyway, I get where you are coming from, but perhaps your anger and defensiveness comes from hearing, “But don’t you WANT kids? BUT WHYYYY?” and other annoying comments from people and having to defend your decision. And those people are also assholes who need to STFU, which is why I agree with you that we need to stop demonizing each other. Part of that though is realizing when someone is not talking to you, specifically.

    1. Wait, YOU KNOW OF A BABYSITTER TREE?!

      Because I got invited to a Mariners game last week at 7pm and a Cards Against Humanity night this week at 8pm and said no to both because The Littlest Turd Ferguson goes to bed at 7, and I would really like to win CAH for once.

      I do appreciate the “assholes vs. non-assholes” re-drawing of the lines, because I know plenty of asshole parents and asshole childfree folks, and I know both PoM and I want nothing to do with either camp. They can all go to their home on Asshole Island, where they eat at steak places after 9pm on a Friday and complain that the table next to them is too loud/messy (can apply to both children and adults). Later they can all micro-blog their/their child’s day on Facebook and Instagram.

      1. Ah, if only I lived closer to… anyone. I babysit a couple families on a regular basis so I can have extra weekend cash while in grad school. That’s right. Getting my phd, cleaning up toddlers on the side. My life: it is glamorous.

        But the actual point of this story: if you have a college with a grad program nearby to where you live, grad students are poor, regularly have no plans on weekends, and are so excited to have “fridge rights” while running around after the tiny people. It makes up for the fact that I refuse to even think about kids until I have steady income.

        1. Well, in my current situation, I have my mother available to babysit for most things (which is great, truly, but I try not to take TOO much advantage of her), but I suppose my point was more the cashmoneyz can be prohibitive sometimes. But yes, good point — grad students do need the money, and when it’s a situation where you’re primarily the responsible adult in the house while the kids sleep, the grad student can even get some reading done.

    2. If “part of that is realizing when someone isn’t talking to you, specifically,” then why does he assume people are talking to him when they bitch about bad parents? If it doesn’t relate to him, then why this quasi-satirical rant about “non-breeders” and our superficial lives? If he’s not that type of parent, why so offended by the generalizations? Probably because rude, judgmental generalizations suck. In both directions.

      1. I can’t speak to the specific inspiration for his article other than the CNN thing he referenced. I don’t know, but like I said, I still think it was pretty clear that it was not aimed at everybody and I am definitely not saying you are without a point. And maybe it wasn’t the most effective or clear satire, especially since people are so riled about it. Maybe it was just a matter of the post needing a better focus so that it would be even more obvious? I’m not sure.

          1. Well, no, Satire is:
            1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
            2.a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
            3.a literary genre comprising such compositions.
            (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/satire?s=t)

            So in that way, making fun of assholes by sort of being one… Well…

            And whether or not something is funny is subjective, obviously. I don’t think everyone agreeing that it’s funny is a requirement.

            Again: Could he have written it better? Yes. But is he without a point? No.

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