I Don’t Want Kids, but I’ll Keep Fighting for Parental Leave


parentalleaveBy Whitney Kippes

[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]here is nothing that makes me more irritated or angry than this country's insistence on pretending that workers are somehow separate and distinct from parents.

When it comes to people we know personally, we are a relatively generous. For better or worse, we treat expecting mothers as people warranting full community involvement. We offer up welcome seats and (sometimes unwelcome) advice like it's going out of style.

We are even more generous with new parents we know. Just this past month I have seen how generous people can be, as I saw my brother and sister in law welcome twins into their home. Family and friends dropped everything to be there. Strangers cooked meals and sent gifts. The whole community valued their choice to become parents and gave them as many considerations as they could.

We understand when new parents aren't able to keep up with commitments, or have less energy, or just can't do what they used to.

We get this when they are our friends and family.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

I get this, even though I don't plan to have any children. I know I need to be patient and generous with new parents. I know that they might be exhausted and unable to hang out as much as they used to. And I know that in order to be treated equitably, they need some special considerations that I might not need.

Even though I don't want children of my own, I know what it means to treat parents like human beings.

Yet the second we stop thinking of parents as people and start thinking of parents as workers, it's like the whole country forgets all about their friends and family. The generosity and kindness and patience goes out the window and suddenly we stop giving them the consideration that we would think essential to a loved one.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]

This is why, even though I am not a parent and will never be a parent, I will fight tooth and nail for parenting leave. Because parents, regardless of whether I know them personally or not, deserve the same consideration I would give my own family.

They deserve to take some time to focus on their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their children without worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. They deserve to know that when they are ready to come back to work again their job will be there and they won't be passed over for promotion just because they have children.

How this is even a question when more than nine in 10 adults say they already have children, are planning to have children, or wish that they had had children? That doesn't even include the people like me, who don't want kids, yet appreciate the challenges of being a parent.

I'm tired of this incredible nonsense attitude. Workers are people. They are human beings. They should be treated with the same kindness and consideration that we would treat family and friends.