Parenting: A Lot of Work and Not For All

Cameron Diaz speaks out about being childfree by choice

Posted Jul 06, 2014

“It’s so much more work to have children,” said Cameron Diaz in an interview for Esquire magazine to be published in August.

I found her words to be refreshingly honest. She spoke openly about her unwillingness to take on the responsibility of another person’s life—a child who is yours to take care of all day, every day, for eighteen years.

Diaz went on to say, “To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for—I didn’t take that on.” In our society, many do not view this particular brand of selfishness in a positive light. In fact, there’s a new online poll asking folks if they think Diaz is selfish or selfless because of her choice.

I haven’t yet responded to the poll, but since I’m writing this blog, I’ll just say that I admire Diaz for taking an incredibly courageous step in speaking out about this topic. She’s simply saying what we all know is the truth—that raising a child is indeed a fulltime job and a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone. What could possibly be the benefit of minimizing just how difficult childrearing really is?

My friend Sheri comes to mind. She just spent the weekend with her niece, visiting to help out after the birth of her niece’s first child. Sheri is, like me, childfree, and she hasn’t been around many newborns. She shared that her niece seemed to be a bit “shell-shocked” due to sleep depravation and the constant demand to hold and feed her two-week-old. She’s taking a break from her career just a couple of years after finishing up her master’s degree and she’s at home all day with the baby while her husband goes off to the office.

Sheri described the drastic change that took place in her niece’s life literally overnight: She went from being a career woman working a fulltime job with an active involvement in her community trails-restoration group to a housebound, sleep deprived, somewhat depressed mother. Of course she got a lot of attention during the pregnancy and immediately after the child was born, but now she is finding herself at home, alone, and feeling somewhat trapped. Hopefully, she will have a positive adaptation to the role of motherhood and she and her husband will work together as a team to make this job easier, but as Jennifer Senior writes in her book, All Joy and No Fun, it’s indeed a huge commitment filled with challenges.

How many young parents say, “I never knew it was going to be so hard”? And how many secretly wish that they could turn back the clock and do things differently? Childfree adults have historically been in the background, not saying much about how liberated we feel by not having the responsibility of parenting, but now that we’re starting to speak out openly, what will parents think? Will they resent us? Will potential grandparents try to stop their adult children from even considering a childfree life?

Meanwhile, I’m grateful to Cameron Diaz and others for their willingness to simply speak the truth. What’s your opinion? Is she selfish?