A green guide to getting along for parents and the childfree
Lisa’s posts about being a GINK (green inclinations, no kids) have provoked some feisty discussion, and that’s great — getting people to talk openly about the childfree option was one of her main goals. But when it gets to the point where parents and GINKs are hurling insults at each other and declaring that folks on the other side of the aisle can’t be real environmentalists, then we’ve got a circular-firing-squad problem.
We enviros are all on the same team, remember — pushing for a cleaner, greener, saner, kinder world. We should be fighting apathy and pollutocrats, not each other. Let’s all of us green-minded people support each other’s choices and get each other’s backs.
To that end, Michelle — a Grist contributor and mom — suggested that we collaborate to come up with some cross-cultural communication tips for both GINKs and green parents.
What not to say to GINKs
“Why don’t you like kids?”
Most of us do like kids. We’re glad to have them in our lives — nieces, nephews, friends’ children, students — and are happy to be able to play with them, teach them, and occasionally use them as an excuse to see the latest Pixar movie. (And then, yes, we’re happy to hand them back.)
“Kids are fantastic. You should reconsider.”
As another childfree blogger puts it: “Imagine that I went up to a pregnant woman and said, ‘Hey, the childfree life is fantastic! Why don’t you reconsider?’ This is what it feels like when you tell me to reconsider my decision to be childfree. I respect your decision to have a child and am willing to accept that you have good, valid reasons for doing so. It’s your turn to return the favor.”
“You’ll change your mind.”
Don’t patronize us. There’s no reason to believe that GINKs are any more likely to change their minds than parents (and if by chance we do, it’s a lot easier for us to reverse course).
“You’re just the kind of person who should have kids.”
Thanks for the compliment, but there’s no reason to think my kids (or any kids) would make the world a better place. Good parents try their best to instill in their children strong social and environmental values, but ultimately kids determine their own destinies, parents be damned. Plus, quite simply, no one should have a child if they don’t really want one. (More on this.)
What to say to GINKs
“Congrats on making the decision that’s right for you.”
Green parents get congratulated all the time — everyone can get behind a cute baby, after all — but GINKs rarely get recognized, which can feel pretty lonely. If you understand and respect where we’re coming from, let us know.
“How’s your biodynamic garden?” (or house or job or goldfish …)
Even though we don’t have kids, we do have things in our lives that matter a lot to us. Ask about them and show you care.
What we can all quietly think to ourselves
“Thank God that’s not me.”