Matt HealeyTuesday,13 August 2013

The Snap:

Kids. There is an assumption that once you get married you will eventually have kids. After all “everybody wants and likes kids.” This is a perfect 1950’s view of life. The problem with it is that it we are living in 2013.

The Download:

My wife and I have decided that we are not going to have kids. We have been married for 8 years and are now well past the point where we should have had kids. We do not feel that our lives are lacking or that we are somehow missing something. We travel frequently. I took several months off this summer to hike almost 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT). We lived in Singapore for 2 years. All of these are things that would have been very difficult to do with kids. Your vacation schedules are dictated by the school calendar. Taking a new job in Asia is much more difficult, and forget about 3 months off to walk through the woods.

Unfortunately this choice puts us at odds with the expectations of the world and this can lead to backlash. Since we are child-free I appreciate being in environments without children around. I have not developed the patience to deal with misbehavior. I do hate screaming kids because I prefer quiet environments. I fully understand that in many situations children will be present. However not every situation is appropriate for children. I do not complain about kids when they misbehave at family restaurants. I do complain when they misbehave at The Capitol Grill, as happened to us one evening when a family thought it was ok for their kids to play tag in the restaurant.

The problem comes when you complain. A significant number of parents I have encountered take it as a personal insult of you do not adore their kids. If you have the nerve to suggest that there are some places that children should not go, then they are mortally offended. I have had this happen twice over the past few weeks. Both incidents happened on Facebook. The first was when I responded to a story by a doting parent who was indignant that a coffee shop owner had thrown out a family that was making a significant mess. I agreed with the shop owner. Having children leave a mess that you are then expected to clean up is outrageous. And yet it happens all the time because “that is what kids do” and we all should have to bend to the will of the adoring parents. Well no, actually.

This then lead to the second incident. I routinely do Facebook “friend” culls as I like to make sure that only the people I want to interact with are friends. Based on the backlash I received — because I had the gall to question the appropriateness of this location for kids — I decided to cull friends who talked way too much about their kids. I don’t really care if they do, but since I have limited time I don’t want to have to filter through stories about someone’s 3 year old. A few stories, fine. Half of your posts — also fine. 90+% you’re gone. This led to more backlash from someone who was not culled. I was told that my opinion — that I don’t really want to hear exclusively about your kids — was distasteful. For me, Facebook is a place where I can interact with people in a social context. I have culled people who talk too much about politics, people who virtually yell “get off my lawn,” and now people whose world revolves around the kids. For all three of these the reason was the same — I don’t want to hear about it on Facebook. I also expect that if you do not want to hear about my AT hikes, the run that I did earlier today, the New York Giants, fantasy football, or these posts from The Snap Download, then you should cull me. That is fine and I will not be offended. The same way this person should not have been offended that I culled people who talk about things that I am not interested in.

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