We’ve all been in public and encountered a parent (or parents) who are really struggling. Their child is loud, unruly, causing a scene, and, for lack of a better word, generally being a nuisance. While this wouldn’t phase many of us, there’s sure to be an individual rolling their eyes or even blatantly asking the parents to calm their kid down. But hating kids isn’t a personality trait, so why do we treat it like it is?
These are the facts: Kids are needy, messy, noisy, bratty, and sometimes sticky for unknown reasons. You never have to guess what they’re thinking or feeling, and there’s something we can all learn from that. It’s perfectly understandable to not be comfortable or at ease around them, but outright hatred of kids has sown an attitude in our culture that isolates parents, putting them in a “not worth our time” box in their childless friend groups and enabling the mindset that all children are a scourge, not a blessing.
Many of us can’t understand this attitude at all, especially if you want kids or already have them. But nowadays you’re more likely than not to encounter a young individual or couple who are proudly vocal about their feelings and believe that “hating kids” is (by their own arbitrary standards) completely acceptable.
Why Do People Hate Kids?
While this isn’t to say that child-rearing is impossible to learn, some people might feel they come inherently equipped or ready-made to have and raise kids. But as most adults know, many people for various reasons won’t make the best parents, and this isn’t meant to place a lens on people who have personally chosen not to have kids.
Hating kids is a completely different story though. And there’s a stark difference between not enjoying being around kids or being responsible for them and outright hatred of them.
When you do the research, most of the reasons why people hate children seem pretty low stakes. They’re needy at all times. They’re loud, gross, messy, etc. I mean, sure, they’re children, and we were all kids once ourselves too.
Our society likes its convenience, and children are a complete drain on that.
Other reasons have a deeper impact behind them. Some might feel that their own dysfunctional childhood or mental illness should prevent them from having kids altogether. Again, there are valid reasons for choosing not to reproduce...and then there’s getting on your high horse every time you see a human under the age of 10 in a restaurant or on a plane.
When it comes down to it, children are reliant, making it even easier for them to be seen as a burden on our time, finances, schedules, and social lives. Any parent will tell you that it is often a thankless job, and is constantly fraught with giving effort, time, and attention to kids who don’t understand the sacrifice (at least until they're much older). Our society likes its convenience, and children are a complete drain on that.
This kind of attitude also ingrains the mindset in our own children. How many times as a kid did you notice that people were annoyed or irritated by your presence or your actions? Choosing not to have kids is one thing, but the overbearing moral superiority of choosing to be childless and judging those who are parents takes it a whole step further. It demeans parents as people who’ve essentially “thrown their lives away” for tiny humans.
The Socially Acceptable “Pet Peeve”
Sian Ferguson for Redbook writes that the hating kids attitude isn’t just socially acceptable, it’s now cool and edgy: “The culture of hating kids affected me when I grew up, too. When I was in high school, many of my peers and I loudly proclaimed that we didn't like children. Whether we consciously knew it or not, it was meant to be an edgy thing, an ‘I'm-Not-Maternal-Like-Other-Girls’ thing. In a world where girls were expected to want and like children, it seemed like a radical stance to take.”
In a world where girls were expected to want and like children, it seemed like a radical stance to take.
Therein lies the issue. The gender and social norm for women since the dawn of civilization is to be mothers, and the hating kids fad is a direct revolt against that mandate. In this day and age, no one wants to be Charlotte York. We’d all rather be Samantha Jones.
Being maternal might’ve been cool in pioneer times, but those days are gone. Now, we strive for academic and professional success, which is in itself admirable, and only consider kids as an afterthought as middle-age looms over the horizon.
The Forces behind the Anti-Kid Sentiment
Our culture is suffering because of it, too. While many theorized that Covid-influenced lockdowns and quarantines would result in a baby boom, the opposite happened. In fact, economics professor Phillip B. Levine reveals that the U.S.’s birth rate has been declining for the past 15 years.
The major reason has been attributed to finances. Millennials don’t have the wallets to get a foot in the housing market, and prospects in the job market have understandably looked bleak during the past year. We’re groomed by the media to believe that kids are not only a drain on our finances, but on the environment as well. America isn’t the only country suffering from a baby bust, as it’s known — many other industrialized countries around the world are experiencing similar problems.
The U.S.’s birth rate has been declining for the past 15 years.
Climate change, so-called overpopulation, the economy — all these factors reinforce headlines like “having kids is selfish” and “parenting is overrated and won’t satisfy you.” These kinds of narratives are found anywhere from communities to casual friend groups where the hatred of kids isn’t just accepted but is the overall preference.
Whether it’s in a restaurant or on a dating app, people have never been more vocal — and comfortable — about blatantly hating kids.
If you’re a parent, you know this firsthand. But we shouldn’t let that kind of behavior diminish the vital roles of parents, our children, or even our desire for children.
Any average person can recognize how important children are, not just in the continuation and functioning of our society and communities, but in enabling us to realize that there’s much more to life than just ourselves. Hating kids isn’t edgy, cool, trendy, or admirable. It’s just cringey, and we have to wonder if those who are the most outspoken about it ever grew up themselves.
Love Evie? Let us know what you love and what else you want to see from us in the official Evie reader survey.