Children: love them or hate them, but you can’t eat them.
I don’t have any myself. Partially on the grounds that I wasn’t that keen on them when I was one, partially because right now I really don’t have the means to support one or raise one and partially because I’m a selfish bastard.
I find other people quite hard to cope with in general: I’m not always entirely sure what they are there for and mini people who shout all the time are particularly hard to cope with. In general I much prefer a good book to a conversation.
Sometimes, when I stop and listen to kids talking today, I’m surprised by how much their language has changed. Don’t get me wrong: we were no angels when I was a kid, but they seem so much more knowing and less bound by the rules of society. It’s not that they don’t know the difference between right or wrong: they just don’t care.
We live in a society where it often feels like slacking off is often better rewarded than working hard, where ignorance has somehow become something to achieve and where it is no longer important why you are famous, just so long as you are (hence we have singers like Amy Winehouse who are now better known for their boozing than their singing)
But even if I were to have kids and be the best parent in the world I would still have to compete with all the rubbish parents out there not teaching their kids right for wrong, I would have to cope with rampant consumerism: where TV Soap operas and PS3 games hold a bigger sway on kids attention than any parent’s idea of right or wrong.
And yet, as a country, we are breeding like rabbits. England has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe and I have begun to worry about what they’re putting into the water here at work: as a larger than usual amount of women are going off on maternity leave as we reach the end of the contract.
It’s a well known fact that having a kid is a quick way to ensure a council house and also increases any household allowance – meaning that as a person who has chosen not to have kids I am effectively paying for educations for a bunch of strangers through my taxes.
Meanwhile fertility treatment requests are at an all time high. What always interests me about these cases is that the women involved always talk about their right to get pregnant, their right to have fertility treatment.
This is going to sound harsh: but fertility treatment is not a right. Having a fair trial is a right; freedom of speech is a right: fertility treatment is a privilege of living in a developed society that recognises rights.
The desire for kids can actually be a big strain on a relationship: I’ve known several couples that have practically put together a flow chart to show the optimum time to have sex to ensure pregnancy, whilst others try any number of alternate therapies to ensure a child.
For those for whom no amount of IVF, strict timing of ovulations, turkey basters or rubbing of potato peel on the forehead at midnight during a full moon will help there is always adoption: and not the rather disturbing kind of celebrity adoption that has famous stars jumping the queues and running to third world countries to “rescue” a trophy child because the parents are so desperate to survive that they are willing to sell their own children – the kind that everyday people spend years going through a variety of governmental hoops to achieve.
A couple of years ago I was watching Question Time (a weekly debate programme where questions are put to a panel of experts in a variety of subjects) and the question of homosexual couples being allowed to adopt came up.
To be honest I had, until this point, assumed that gay couples could already adopt under the law – apparently I was wrong.
The argument being put forward by those against them being allowed to adopt seemed to be two-fold: firstly that there was a chance that the child/children would be influenced by their parents to become gay when otherwise they would not have been, and secondly because statistically gay partnerships are more likely to end than heterosexual ones.
When I heard these two arguments I had to restrain myself from yelling “utter bollocks” at the TV.
Firstly: no one really knows what degree of homosexuality is due to nature or nurture, but the question I would ask is “Why the hell does it matter?” As long as the child is brought up in a happy, loving environment and reasonably well adjusted (as well as a human can be) then does it matter whether they are gay or straight?
Secondly: if a couple are serious enough to spend two years jumping through hoops proving that they are willing and capable to adopt a child then they must be fairly committed to one another – so it is wrong to apply statistics, especially when 69.5% of statistics are made up on the spot (think about it)
I live on a street where a lot of the mothers have two or three different kids, each one from different fathers. Some may have little or no relationship with their father.
And I find it interesting that people wishing to adopt have to go to such lengths to prove that they’re suitable parents. As a heterosexual male I could go out for an evening, get very drunk and get the first woman I meet pregnant (assuming that a: I wasn’t currently in a relationship and b: she was equally drunk). After that there isn’t any law that can force me to have any kind of involvement with that child’s life (other than financial). I can chose to raise it any way I want, in accordance with any beliefs that I want: and no one, at any point, no one will ever ask me how secure my relationship is with the mother and no one will ever stop to ask me if I am suitable to be a parent.
And yet those people who have actually thought about the decision have to wait. I guess the reason is that a child coming up for adoption is going to require different emotional support to one coming through birth to a family – but is there an argument to say that all parents should have lessons to ensure they know how to teach their kids right from wrong?
Watch any programme about problem children and ask yourself who the expert is actually focussing on? On every edition of Super Nanny that I have watched it is always the behaviour of the parents that has to be adjusted in order to correct that of the child. We give our kids no sense of right or wrong and then complain because they’re out of control – blaming it on popular music, TV, e-numbers or anything so long as we don’t point the finger of blame at ourselves.
But even so I still believe that there are decent parents out there doing their best to raise their kids in an increasingly hard world. Most probably they are battling for every penny and fighting against the tide of parents who don’t care as long as the child is out of sight or mind. Perhaps living in a rundown area where kids are constantly given mixed messages has jaded my view of the world: if so I hope not irrevocably.