I do not have any children. Don’t feel sorry for me, this is not due to lack of virility on my part, but because I have chosen to remain childless. I know that procreation is supposed to be a built-in evolutionary imperative to perpetuate the species, but what can I say: I was clearly away the day that the paternal instincts were handed out. Whereas some people have an all-consuming desire to have children all that I see is hassle, expense and sleepless nights.
This doesn’t mean that I have anything against those that do have children. There are many people that I think really should have been discouraged from embarking on the venture, and many others who I wish had been a little less enthusiastic, but on the whole each to their own, and thanks for keeping the species going.
I do, however, get irritated by the way people are treated differently just because they have chosen to have children. Of course there are minor things like the mother and baby parking bays at the supermarket, which are closer to the door than the disabled spaces, which just seems wrong. There are also the insufferably smug “baby on board” car stickers, or even worse, “little princess on board” or similar. But I have become so inured to these that I now barely grit my teeth as I pass them by.
What is getting on my tits though is the media’s increasing desire to label people by their status as parents even when it is totally irrelevant. The latest example was a TV programme earlier this week entitled “Murder of a Father”, about the mindless killing of Garry Newlove in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, I think that this murder was appalling and the scum-bags who did it are beneath contempt; my every sympathy goes out to his family. However, is it really relevant that he was a father? Does that fact somehow make him more valuable as a human being and therefore make the crime more heinous than if it had ‘merely’ been someone without kids?
Maybe you think it does. It is true that as a husband and father there are perhaps more people to mourn more deeply and therefore it does make the crime worse. Fair enough. But what about other cases. Here’s a random assortment of headlines and statements from the Gloucester Citizen in recent months
“Dad assaulted ex-partner after ‘good sex with another man’ boast”
“A Father-of-five who let his cats starve has been banned from keeping pets”
“Young mum stabbed boyfriend in drunken row”
“Jail Escape Mum in New Drugs Shame”
“Mother pulled knife on neighbours”
“Mum torches neighbours’ house in dispute over cat”
“Dad Jailed for ‘Lunatic Driving’”
What possible relevance is the parental status of these people to the story being reported? Because these people have taken time out of their busy schedule of being criminals or idiots to either get themselves pregnant or get some poor woman knocked up are we supposed to have greater sympathy for them? Or, more likely, are we supposed to be even more horrified by their acts because they are not the paragons of virtue that surely everyone becomes once they pop out a kid or two?
Whatever the reason, it is lazy journalism which relies on an American-esque cloying, schmaltzy, sentimental view of the family unit which just isn’t realistic any more – almost certainly not in any of the cases cited above anyway – so can we stop it please!