Colorado mom Heather Jensen and Georgia dad, Ross Harris, are bookends for a disturbing trend in this country for parents to de-prioritize or devalue the lives of their kids, leading to brutally careless behavior - such as leaving offspring in hot cars and forgetting about them,
In the case of Harris, it now has emerged that he'd text-messaged six women, sending and receiving explicit texts -- some including nude images -- from work, while his 22-month-old was dying in a burning hot car. Prosecutors, rightly or wrongly have sought to portray Harris as wanting a "child free" life. See e.g.
But irrespective of that, it shows at the very least that Harris didn't put his child's welfare first. If he had, as opposed to subordinating it to his own self-obsessed actions, this abominable incident never would have occurred. From that perspective, one could say Justin Ross Harris really did hanker for a child-free life. What better way to sex- text strange women at will while forgetting (deliberately?) his own duties as dad and husband. Did his wife deserve this? Hell no! She expected much better of this guy than to treat their precious only kid like yesterday's fish wrap.
Then there was Heather Jensen, who Prosecutors claimed carried out a "death sentence" against her two young sons when she locked then in her car on Nov. 27, 2012, while she had went to have unbridled sex with a guy in a car park. The children were said to have spent 90 minutes in the car- with the heat on, and an investigation revealed temperatures could have reached 60 degrees Celsius (113F) . Both boys died from hyperthermia.
Careless? Indeed, but the subtext is that she also obviously harbored a desire for the"'child free" life or she'd not have been so damned negligent. Though the case has also been made that her low IQ (of 76) played a role, it still doesn't exonerate her since many low IQ moms don't exhibit such careless behavior. They have enough sense and perspective to put their child's welfare first. See more here:
Both these cases highlight the reasons, mostly wrong, that people have children in this country - since these cases are by no means exceptional or unusual. In each case, it is arguable the culprits should never have had children at all. So why did they? Family pressure? Spousal pressure? Possibly. Then there might also be the lamebrain media talking heads, many of them, who make childless couples feel like freaks. Look no further than Abby Huntsman who in August last year on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' - asked the author of 'The Childless Life' (related to a TIME special issue that'd just appeared on newsstands):
"Well, how do you go about asking a woman if she's going to have children? Or when she's going to have children? I mean, it's what we do when attending social outings!"
TIME editor Radhika Jones (responsible for the Childfree Life investigation in TIME) had to constrain herself from erupting in mocking laughter. Instead, she put on her most professional air and responded:
"Do we really have to ask such questions? I can understand curiosity but perhaps the best thing is not to ask."
Indeed, they shouldn't be asked at all. Period! The couples making such a decision clearly know they aren't cut out for parenthood. Being childless by choice is a personal matter, but in a nation that not only harbors a cult of motherhood but a cult of child worship that can be like climbing Mt. Everest. What we as a society ought to be doing is making the decision to be really child free - as in CHILD -less, easier, not harder. In this way, parents are less likely to treat their offspring carelessly down the line - as Jensen and Harris did.
My wife and I both knew from early on that we were simply too self-absorbed to have children - which, let's face it, are 24/7 demanding especially when young . And so we declined to be parents. This was despite enormous pressure from family as well as friends, including one former Headmistress of Janice's old school (Queen's College, Barbados) who informed us bluntly if we didn't have our own kids we'd be "contributing to the dumbing down of society".
But we knew in our hearts that reproducing just to maintain some perceived societal "I.Q." was the wrong reason. We also knew that once having had children, one couldn't just take it back and decide not to. Once you were in you were all in and this we never wanted to be. So childless by choice was a no-brainer for us.
The bottom line here is that the choice to have a child ought to be each couple's own. Not to be second guessed by anyone else, or looked askance on via clueless moron questions by an Abby Huntsman. In the same way I don't second guess anyone who has their own kids, or adopts them- provided that they are actively caring and responsible parents.. It is not for me to say they did the right thing or not. They have to live with their choices and the possible negative repercussions arising from them, i.e. finding they don't have enough money to provide in a society that refuses to support families economically.