Yes, it’s a choice the parents made. How does that change the fact that there are children who are literally unable to care for themselves? In the UK, you fail to show up to pick up your child from nursery on time, the state gets involved.

If you fail to show up on time for a drink with a friend — they have to drink alone for a little while.

This is not deifictaion of children — I certainly don’t deify my beloved brats. They’re tiny human larvae and I love them and get frustrated by them in equal measure. It’s more that if I’m not there to look after them, they die or I get arrested. Or both. Pretty sure that doesn’t happen to Gods. Or their carers.

I completely respect the decision not to have children. In fact — I respect it more now that I understand what having children means. Sometimes, I’m insanely jeasous of the childless, because I see the things they have the freedom to do that I just don’t. And nobody really understands what parenthood means for the way you live, for both good and ill, until they do it. It’s a horrible cliché, and I hate that it’s true. But it is.

None of this changes the fact that the argument the original post was making is true — parental leave is nothing like a time off for self-discovery. It’s more akin to indentured servitude in a piss, poo and vomit factory, with enforced self-deprivation and social isolation.

Nobody’s asking for sympathy — we may not make an informed choice, but we make a choice, and have to live with the consequences. But it stings to have it suggested that we’re getting a free ride on the back of the childless, because that’s just wrong.

Blogging since 2001, journalisting (which isn’t a word, but should be) since 1994, and sleep-deprived since 2012. Journalism lecturer, consultant and trainer.