The XX Factor

The Case Against the Case Against Having Kids

Anne Kingston wrote a Maclean’s cover story on “the case against having kids.” Then she wrote another Maclean’s story-on all the hate mail she received for making the case against having kids. The bulk of the objections are, of course, about the “narcissism” of the childless, an accusation so stupid and baseless in its breadth that the no-kids people lob it at proud parents just as frequently. Most of the accusations the anti- and pro-child camps make against one another have this protean quality; the pro-child people say they’ll be better stewards of the environment because they’ve got someone to save it for. The antis point out the massive carbon footprint each new delivery promises. The antis say they’re sick of subsidizing the parents with their tax dollars. The parents say they’re, in fact, subsidizing the childless narcissists.

I’m struck by how furious people become at the existence of this one very particular familial arrangement: heterosexual monogamous pair-bonding without children. No one would question the childlessness of the couples in Kingston’s stories if they simply chose to be single; single and childless by choice, at this point, is culturally acceptable. But if you get married and still find no baby-shaped hole in your heart … well, ask the subscribers of Maclean’s . “One inflamed letter writer,” says Kingston, “even suggested it’s not safe to send trick-or-treating children to my house on Halloween.”