I am childless. I’m not barren. I’m not selfish. I’m not happy about it. I’m responsible. I don’t believe that a child should be brought into the world if her father doesn’t want her. I love my husband and I am willing to wait for him. Additionally, I have a teaching degree. In short, I’m the perfect person to volunteer for something like Big Brothers Big Sisters or maybe an after school program.
I was at the mall last weekend and was bombarded with chastisement. The Ad Council in conjunction with After School Now had placed a number of incredibly offensive public service announcements on the mall kiosks. At first I thought they were a joke. They said things like:
“How much do I think about helping kids?” with a picture of a woman holding her fingers very close together and smiling happily about it.
“Need volunteers to shrug off the needs of children? Count us in!” with a picture of two strong and healthy men, canoeing.
“In our busy lives, we still make time to not help kids.” with a picture of a happy young couple in-line skating.
“We’re turning our backs on kids, and loving every minute of it!” with a picture of a happy couple tandem biking.
“There’s nothing more refreshing than neglecting our nation’s youth.” with a picture of a healthy middle-aged man, swimming.
They all seem to be chiding me for not taking care of other people’s children. They are reproaching me, the perfect candidate to volunteer for an after school program. Before I saw these ads, I didn’t even know that after school programs needed help. This is how they ask for it? This is the response that their advertisements elicited from me: “Tell them to take care of their own children, you ungrateful beggars!”
All of the advertisements seem to tell me that I am selfish because I don’t volunteer to help other people’s children. The irony is that if they had asked me nicely, I probably would have jumped at the chance. It could be that Joe has been born to another family and she needs me to help her. There is a hope for me to find her like others have found their unborn children. If she is part of an after school program, however, she is lost to me forever.
The entire advertising campaign makes me militantly against all child-based charitable organizations. I am responsible. I didn’t bring an unwanted child into this world. Other people haven’t been responsible. That’s not my problem. What gave these people the right to assume that it’s my responsibility to shoulder the needs of unwanted children? How dare they insinuate that I’m selfish because I haven’t brought children in the world before both my partner and I am ready for them? How dare they chastise the adults who have already successfully raised their children for not volunteering to raise a stranger’s also? I’m not like the lady holding her fingers very close together; I’m giving a one-fingered salute to them.