The other morning I was listening to an inane radio show, when I heard a caller say, “I hate kids!” She said it with the sort of gleeful disdain that usually accompanies such a statement. She’s not alone in her sentiments. It seems that loudly and proudly vocalizing your hatred of all things child is now the cool thing to do. The reasons given for this hatred generally hinge on the purported stories of screaming kids in a restaurant or airplane. Yet, rarely do we hear people say with such vigor, “I hate adults!” even when presented with the most extreme examples of boorish adult behavior.
I’ve disapproved of the child hate sentiment since before I became a parent.
Not because I think all children are little angels beyond reproach.
Not because I think everyone’s personal goals should include procreation.
And certainly not because I can’t fathom that someone else might not find my kid as charming or as loveable as I do.
Essentially, the statement, “I hate kids” erases the personhood of children.
That statement doesn’t leave room for nuance. It doesn’t consider that each child is an individual with their own personality, culture, experiences etc. It doesn’t consider their different stages of brain development. Most of all it doesn’t consider that kids are human beings too. Hatred is a lot easier when we reject another person’s humanity. When we reject another person’s humanity, it’s all the more easy to oppress them when we wield more societal power than they do.
And boy do adults wield more power than kids do. No matter how many stories we can come up with about some “brat running wild,” the fact remains that adults still run the show. Because of that power imbalance children are vulnerable to being treated as lesser humans than adults. One example being that adults can recommend, justify and debate the appropriateness of hitting children yet have no problem calling it assault when an adult hits another adult.
There are other consequences of child hate. It leads to calls for and the actual banning of children from public spaces. It leads to harassment (and assault) of children and their caregivers. Since women in this society still take on the bulk of childcare responsibilities, child hate and misogyny tend to walk hand-in-hand. After all, aren’t women mostly blamed for their children’s “bad” behavior? Aren’t women the ones who will have to stay home if children aren’t welcomed in public spaces? Aren’t women criticized as breeders and welfare queens for bringing children into the world?
Eff that shit.
Here’s a simple truth: Every one of us started out as a child. Most of us were able to grow into adulthood. The current generation of children will do the same. That child you sneered at today might be making decisions that affect your life when s/he grows up. Wouldn’t it be in our best interests to cultivate an environment that encourages children to grow into empathetic, compassionate, ethical adults?
There are better ways to express not wanting your personal life to be child-centric. Say you prefer the company of adults. Say you don’t like being involved in children’s activities. Say your personal life is too adult-centric for kids and you like it that way. Don’t keep saying you hate kids.
Unless you really do.
But then I’ll have no recourse but to consider you a bigot.
Now check out what these writers have to say on the subject: