Not having children is a form of privilege, and it's one we don't talk about nearly enough.
Yes, raising a kid is, on balance, wonderful and rewarding. I wouldn't give it up for the world. But also, parents bear huge costs, and the ongoing survival of civilization as we know it literally depends on them continuing to do that grueling job.
I recently saw YET ANOTHER conversation where someone attempted to relate to a parent's struggles by mentioning that their pets "are like children".

Pro tip for the childless: never do this. I get you want to say *something*. But just… don't.
CW euthanasia

Your pets aren't "basically children". They're adult domesticated animals, and as hard as it'll be, if they live long enough to get old and sick and become even 1/10th the burden of the easiest child, you'll have them killed, and it'll be the right thing to do.
And really, I get it. I have an elderly cat that I love dearly. She's a handful. But she's also, like, a fucking cat. She needs her litter cleaned, bowl filled, and some petting. Not 110% emotional availability. And she's not gonna be a completely different cat in 6 months.
She doesn't need me to constantly model and teach her by example how to be a healthy and well adjusted cat, while giving her room to explore and become the sort of cat she needs to be in her heart. She's a cat already. You don't raise pets, you just take care of them.
Things you can pretty trivially do if you have a pet:

Change your plans
Fold laundry
Be alone with another adult
Talk on the phone
Sleep at night
Read a book
Watch any tv show you want
Have a bad day and just be alone
Go to work
Leave the house
Leave the room
Of course, parents do all these things. But they all take planning, teamwork, coordination.

You know how they say "it takes a village"? Well, it kinda does. A functioning society, with schools and daycares and play dates, that's our village. And our village is on fire.
By saying "not having kids is a privilege", I'm emphatically NOT saying that it's bad to not have kids or that everyone should. Probably fewer people should than do, in fact! Being able-bodied isn't bad, or Caucasian, or neurotypical, or cis gender, or male, or straight, etc.
But like those other things, parents bear a burden that is largely invisible to non-parents, who have the luxury of being oblivious to the lack of that burden.
Our culture is *deeply* rooted in patriarchy, especially in how the burden of parenting is traditionally borne almost entirely by women. Much of the system of oppression that works to advantage men does so by erasing and minimizing the multifaceted costs of parenting.
Systems are hard to break out of. In our case, as it happened, my job pays a lot, because tech, and the many ways that my path was cleared for success before I even showed up. So when Covid happened, should I quit my job to be a full time parent? That's dumb.
We've got a lot working in our favor, to be fair. But the loss of daycare and even sitters or friends has meant my partner's career is in an indefinite holding pattern, which isn't fair to them.

And let's be clear, we're all just hanging on the best we can, which ain't great.
"What, so, because I don't have kids I have to work harder while they get a pass for missing meetings? How is that fair?"

Because in 50 years, when you need people to tend to you, and food to eat, and a functioning society to support you, these are the people making that happen.
And another thing! The "helpful" activity ideas and shit? Not helping. No one with a young kid bouncing off the walls is short on activity ideas. They're short on help, sleep, spoons. They walked over legos in the dark to tend a screaming child while you were in your bed.
I'm not complaining about being a parent. The fact that I get to witness this little person becoming who they are, bit by bit and day by day, its like the most trite cliche thing you can say, but it really is amazing. Words can't do it justice.
But amazing as it is, it's not EASY, and the not-easy-ness of it is literally unlike anything else. Parenting is the pinnacle of human experience, in so many ways.
If I'm really honest, "parenting" in the abstract? Fucking sucks. Every parent knows it. *My kid* is great. The job itself is awful and no one should do it if they don't have to. But some of us do have to. And right now, with support systems cut off by a pandemic, it's extra hard
I think, if we had a just society, if we hadn't somehow politicized the idea that people should be able to live happy full human lives, we could have support systems that make parenting more of a priority. We kinda treat parents like shit, tbh.
And not just parents, but everything related to children and childcare is undervalued. We build dangerous cars and streets, we put cops in schools instead of keeping guns out of them, we pay teachers and childcare workers basically nothing, the list goes on and on.
One nice thing about a thread like this is hearing the good news that some absolutely terrible people have chosen not to reproduce. I am so grateful! Thank you! Future generations are no doubt improved by your decision!
And yes, of course having kids is (usually) a choice. If you actually read the thread, I think it's clear it's one I'd make again in the same way a thousand times, given the chance. On balance, my kid has improved my life immeasurably, and will continue to do so I'm sure.
But it is also the truth that: (a) having a kid has makes life significantly more challenging, (b) parenting imposes challenges that non-parents don't face, and (c) civilization existentially depends on continued reproduction.
Non-parents benefit from the existence of parents and children, and they don't face (and have the luxury of being oblivious to) the challenges that parenting imposes, so they also benefit simply by not facin those same hidden challenges.
So one group has to work harder than another for the same result, and society is structured in such a way as to reward one group to the disadvantage of the other. That's what privilege is, in a nutshell.
The appropriate response to learning that you benefit from a form of privilege you were previously unaware of is "wow, I'd never thought of that, I'll try to be sensitive to that dynamic and make it better (or at least, not worse) in the future. Thanks!"
The shitty average response is "how dare you! That's not privilege! My life is hard, too! Stop whining!"

Be better than the shitty average.
Note: there's also been some really thoughtful good faith responses from non-parents who I believe are mistaken in their take, but seem to be decent people. This was re the sock puppets and trolls.
And here comes the troll army, so imma go private for a bit until I have time to break out the ol block scripts. Stay safe y'all.
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