Pets vs Progeny

Kristen

A single, childfree man on Instagram doesn’t understand why any childfree person with pets would still call themselves childfree.

If you have pets… you’re NOT Childfree! Pets are just kids with 4 legs!

 As someone with four pets—three cats and one dog—I can appreciate the pet-free position.  “When the last one dies,” I’ve told my husband, “I want no pets for at least five years.” 

Here’s why. This is what I want, just for a little while:

No more vomit. No more heart attack-inducing cat screams. No more having to book a kennel for the dog and hire a cat feeder when we travel, no more litter cleaning, no more vet visits…

“Sorry.”

The task list above probably explains why the single, childfree Instagram man writes things like this:

Why do all (alleged) childfree have a pet? If you don’t need a human child, why would you need one with four legs. I never understand these “CF” pfff. No children SHOULD mean No children!

and

do you think you’re Childfree but you have pets? Here is one more proof that pets are as much hassle as children: in Spain, a court has decided that a couple will need to share the custody of their dog, the same way they’d do if it was a child. 😂 Claiming you’re childfree while having pets is just like saying you’re a “non-smoker” because you “only use e-cigarrettes”

Well, surely no one needs either children or pets, and whatever he thinks childfree “should” mean, it means “no children.”

To the second, that a couple loves their dog so much that neither one is willing to cast it out of their lives forever is just kind of beautiful, isn’t it? Especially when you consider the people who leave their dogs chained up outside in the cold, abandon them during hurricanes, or drop them off at shelters when they just “don’t feel like having a pet, anymore.”

Let’s embrace responsible and loving animal care.

I understand that some people don’t want children because they don’t want the added responsibility. Both children and pets are a serious, years-long (or life-long) commitment. Both require their guardians to put pet or child first (don’t feel like getting up to feed the baby? too bad! you have a baby. don’t feel like walking the dog? too bad! you have a dog). 

But many people don’t have children just because they don’t want children. 

To be clear, animals are not–no matter how many people insist on dressing them like babies or pushing them in strollers–children. For more in-depth writing about why not, here are some writers who have demanded that pets not be called children, treated like children, or used as replacement children

(Links TL;DR: 1. Calling your dog your child is insulting to moms, who work harder; 2. treating dogs like children isn’t nice to dogs; 3. using pets as replacement children isn’t nice to animals and only prevents some people from having babies [which is bad, I guess…?].)

Here are my own ten observations about the difference between having pets and having children:

1.

I’ve had a total of ten pets in my life. Never once been pregnant.

2.

There’s no budgeting for diapers, strollers, car seats, school supplies, college tuition, extra-curriculars… 

3.

I’ve not argued with my pets to “get a job to pay for your own entertainment, or use your lunch money like your father and I had to!”

4.

Pets are usually quiet. They sleep a lot.

5.

Dinner, lunch, brunch, and/or a trip to the bar are all possible at any time of day and with no guilt about leaving the pets at home.

6.

No teenage pregnancy fears (pets get fixed young).

7.

My husband and I can move anywhere we want without worrying about our pets not liking the area, leaving their friends, first finishing the school year, being in the right district, or living too close to a registered sex offender.

8.

No PTA meetings. Ever. Not even the guilt of not attending PTA meetings.

9.

If my husband left me, my cats and dog wouldn’t care if I started seeing someone new.

10.

I get no pressure about why I let my pets watch R-rated movies, whether I have a glass of wine or three in their presence, or going to the dog park more often to socialize with other pet parents.

Here’s where the big difference between pets and kids made itself really, really apparent to me:

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

A few months into having my first real, as-a-grown-up dog, after worrying over feeding her the right food, getting her no-walking self to go on walks, talking about her needs way too much, dealing with side-eye, and being barked at incessantly while she tested my limits and my Alpha-Dog worthiness, I was happier than I’d ever been that I’d never had kids.

Children would require 100 times more of everything, because children are human beings with complicated and exhausting human needs.

I’ll take pets, please. (But with that five-year break.)

Signed,

A former smoker who doesn’t smoke, but who does use an e-cigarette

Kristen Tsetsi is the author of the novel The Age of the Child. “It’s rare to find a novel that portrays childfree women at all, and if they do, they are often assigned very stereotypical characteristics. This is not the case in The Age of the Child.” (Goodreads review)

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