Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Defense of the Childless

I have no plans of having children. Ever. At least for the foreseeable future. I may reevaluate at 30. Maybe. But probably not.

Instead I've been thinking that childless folks are a real boon to a company. If you have children then whenever your child is sick, you (or the other parent) are effectively sick. When your child misses school for a snow day, you will need to stay home as well. If you child is on a school break, you will either need to take off time or pay for day care. Plus there are all the lessons, practices, school plays, play dates and other things that mean that you as a parent are probably less likely to work extra hours, and will have a reasonable excuse not to.

Over the course of a career, this means the childless are giving a lot of additional time and energy to their work, but they really have little recourse to say, take a month or two off, work part time, or leave early once in a while. Imagine a person saying "I'm going to be away from work for a month, since my wife and I are having a baby." And then imagine someone saying "well, I've just turned 30 and I've worked pretty hard so I'm going to take a month off." One of these things would probably get you fired.

I think those who forgo children deserve a little something for the time they've given. Nothing extravagant, but here's a small thought - let childless workers convert a few sick days to vacation days each year, assuming that they're a good worker and not using all their sick days. I think this would be a lovely way to say to a worker - "We think the time you get in and out of work is as valuable as those with children."

Now I know this will never happen, and that's because even in 2009 in our post-race, post-class, post-gender, post-everything world, it's still mainly going to be mothers taking off for snow days, taking kids to cello lessons, and working a shorter schedule. Still, I don't think a few vacation days will set back gender relations.


AZ Winer said...

a reason not to have children based entirely on work production... hard work, mind you, dedicated to helping a soul-less corporation increase it's bottom line by .00005% ?

I can't imagine raising children to be anything but difficult... but I imagine people have children not because they add to the chores in their day but because of the rewards.

but, I suppose you took a difficult position to defend in not supporting children, and an even tougher choice of arguments, so, okay.

Ozkirbas said...

Hmmmm... I see Max's point, but I'm not sold. I'm not entirely sure that working parents hold the market on time off work entirely (particularly when parents often form communities of friends to help transport and take care of kids when they have to work) and it's not like the childless never take vacations.

Still - I think Max makes a decent argument. Just not sure if it's quite finished yet.

(pokes computer screen)

Yep. A little doughy.

Max Nova said...

I agree it's not a perfect argument, and there are many valid reasons for children (I suppose) just something that popped into my head this afternoon during my after lunch walk.

Jstone said...

What about all the childless workers that don't put more effort into the company but still do their job as described?
I don't think no children=better worker, in fact I would argue against it. No children=less to lose. Which isn't to say that childless people have nothing to lose, but taking time off to go skiing doesn't quite compare to taking time off to go nurse a new life.
Parents get special privileges at work or from taxes because they've taken a much harder path than non-parents, so they deserve it.

Damo said...

@Jstone -

Parents get special privileges at work or from taxes because they've got a helpless life to take care of, but I'm not sure "deserve it" is the proper phrase, it gives too much credit. They get tax breaks and dispensations at work because they "need it." But again, that says nothing to whether they're good at their jobs, or good at parenting.

But we're in a discussion here with two legitimate sides debating against each other instead of finding a universal solution. Fact is, "work" should be easier for everyone because it CAN be easier.

Human beings should be freed to an extent from esoteric routines that have little to do with the development of their existential being. And that means being able to have and raise a child OR climb Mt. Everest if you so choose. Both are incredibly powerful experiences that will last a lifetime. Both can change a person, helping them grow personally, spiritually, whatever. In fact, anything I can think of doing just because I'm interested in it would be better for my soul than the cubicle I'm sitting in now. :-/

Max Nova said...

Thanks Damo.

I would also add that a child IS a choice, to contradict all of those pro-life bumper stickers. Well a lot of choices really, but while I think there is worth to giving tax breaks etc to people with children, not having children is also a valid choice.