There was recently some controversial press surrounding the choice of a Toronto couple to not reveal the gender of their baby (their third child) to anyone outside of their immediate family. The flurry of public judgment surrounding their family's personal decision reveals much about the state of our society.
Each breeder makes many choices in the course of their parenting journey. Some choose to release their children into other families. Some choose to continue breeding well beyond societal and global norms - China's one child policy has been in place for almost 32 years and, according to their authorities, the policy has prevented almost 1 billion births. Some breeding choices are more public than others. The Toronto couple's controversy stemmed from the fact that many people felt that gender is something the public is entitled to know. Gender is something our culture feels it owns and we are lambasted daily with media images defining gender norms. So it is no wonder the controversy brewed worldwide about 'hiding' the gender of this infant. Our culture has given permission for that to be owned by others and kudos to these parents for highlighting this fact.
I remember touring a day care facility while pregnant and the tour guide proudly declaring their ability to look after babies as young as three weeks (this was in the days of six month parental leaves). I recall being suitably impressed. Nearly immediately after giving birth I started to question this. My line of questioning revolved around the inane choice to breed and then hand off the responsibility of raising your infant/child to someone else...or most likely a series of other people that are paid very low wages. The average baby in full time care spends 40 - 50 hours of their prime awake times with someone else. This seemed logical before I gave birth but was extremely illogical, to me, postpartum. It was like a light switch went off the day I gave birth and it has never turned off. The era in which I was raised made me believe that the natural course of events in one's life included the farming out of one's children to other people's care. "Two earner families are a requirement in this day and age" is a line I've heard time and time again.
I feel strongly that the speed at which our culture changed in the 20th century did not allow time for our values and priorities to be thoughtfully re-adjusted. For example, in the middle of last century my parents were both raised in homes where a mid-day hot meal was prepared and served by a homemaker. Children came home from school for it. I believe this contributes to their mostly good health (ps Dad's okay). I look around at my peer group and I see many illnesses that were unheard of when my parents were in their forties. Heart disease and diabetes being the headliners. Cancer too.
The urgency of our world to reclaim feminine power in the 20th century usurped the basic human needs of healthy food (and nurture). Communities have been decimated and reduced to enclosures that families shuffle into at night. Neighbours are not regarded as allies but merely as temporary acquaintances until the next property flip or job change. Fear permeates most opportunities for interpersonal engagement to the point that it is discouraged as soon as a child is allowed to walk alone on the streets (which is now at a much older age, if ever). Families don't even eat together anymore!
But getting back to the gender free baby. Our society is quick to pass judgment on this issue. I myself was criticized many times for raising my child in a television free home ("but what about her friends at school? doesn't she feel left out?"). I was criticized for her father's and I choice to give her my last name ("you won't be a real family"). Etc., etc.
But that is not really the crux of it. At the end of the day we all have to be able to look in our children's eyes and hear their opinion on the matter. And last night daughter read me homework for her grade 12 english course. It was a narrative essay that, in part, applauded me for my choice to raise her in a television free home. As a parent I can think of no better way to capture how I feel while hearing her read it aloud: Snap, you've NOT been pwned. She'd shudder to hear me misuse modern vernacular this way but so be it :)