I’m going to write this piece as politely as possible and my intention is to get everyone to think rather than offend people. This piece also is not directed at any one person as this is a societal norm.
Until infertility came along I never fully recognized the bias society has towards those with children. In the work place in families, in the media and everyday life people with children are given a break more so than those without children. If you have two employees one has kids who can’t stay late because of their kids softball/baseball game and the other doesn’t have kids but has a dinner date with their spouse it’s easy to know which one will have to stay late. Same goes for families with aging parents where the sibling without kids has to take on the responsibility of taking care of their parents rather than the sibling who has kids. The idea is the person with kids and their time and life is more valuable than those without children.
The situation when this is at its worst is when someone tragically dies young be it from cancer or some other awful tragedy. You’ll hear how a person died at the age of 34 and had two young kids and how awful it is. Yes, it is awful. Anyone whose life ends so young is an awful situation that is unfair. However, would it have been less awful if they didn’t have two kids? Would it have been less awful if it was just a spouse and other relatives that were grieving that person rather than adding on the kids? I know the intention isn’t to do this but basically our society is saying that those with children have more valuable lives than those without children. It tells me that my life is less valuable because I’m unable to have children.
Things like this can drive the so called “commodification” of children that opponents of third party reproduction and anti adoption groups talk about. Though none of them recognize or talk about the bias against those without children nor did any of them have to make the choice that those going through infertility have to. I’ve always taken them with a grain of salt and recognize their agendas that could care less about those going through infertility. But they do have a point in this regard, having children has become a status symbol in our society as the difference between the socially acceptable haves and have nots.
I don’t believe that all people with children are like this. I also don’t think they believe their life has more value than those without children. But I believe they have the power to think about the message they are sending to their kids and society that people without children are just as important as those with children. Next time someone tragically dies or faces some unfortunate circumstances I hope they recognize what’s happened to them regardless of whether they have kids.