What "genius" dreamed up the idea that all people could or more accurately should be parents? It doesnt take a rocket scientist to see from both past and recent stories that more parents neglect, abuse, and even kill their children than we care to think about. Anyone who has ever been a parent, myself included, knows that being a mom or dad is far from a walk in the park. However, those who insist on taking on a rose-colored-glasses approach to parenting will tell anyone who will listen that the job is a breeze, despite hard evidence to the contrary.

Roughly two years ago, to satisfy a burst of curiosity, I took a look at a career development guide that is often used by high school and college students, to see if the job of "Parent" is even mentioned. Just as I thought, it was conspicuously absent. I have to wonder why that is. Parenting, for those uninitiated into the club, is a 24/7/365 job. There are no fixed hours. There certainly is no salary. Parents dont get benefits like those nice 401K plans, paid vacations or sick days. They rarely get "time off," unless theyre lucky enough to have an infant who is a good sleeper. Gone are the days when they can take off on a moments or at least a few hours notice. Uninterrupted sleep is a privilege of the past. A parents former carefree lifestyle will be replaced by the whims of a tiny little person who may scream or cry the minute he or she comes home. It usually falls on the mother to determine what the source of crying is, and for the sake of her sanity, learn how to stop it. Figuring out why the baby is crying and making him or her stop may take several hours, or even several days. Mothers of colicky babies often live with crying that lasts for days, even months.

It is hardly surprising that moms are more often the abusers and even killers of their own children, although most people are unwilling to admit it. Fathers usually can escape to work. Mothers dont have that option, at least not right away. Given the plain facts of the average mothers job description, would it not save a lot of time, heartache, and pain for future children if a section on Parenting were included in every career guide written? Perhaps career developers simply dont consider parenthood a "job," but believe me, it is. I am a mom, so trust me on this one.

Although some parents just lack the proper skills, and would benefit from counseling and community assistance, it is likely and even probable that many abusive parents went into the job reluctantly, even unwillingly. They may have been pressured by outside sources into making a decision that satisfied the pro-family agendas of others. Whether or not abusers had the desire or ability to be good parents was irrelevant to the pro-baby advocates.

When reading these tragic stories in detail, abusive parents often cite reasons like temper tantrums, excessive crying, or other typical child behaviors they "just couldnt take anymore." They just wanted the child to "stop crying" and didnt care how that objective was achieved. So why, one must ask, did they became parents at all? Despite the strong beliefs and opinions of the majority, the simple truth remains that the job of parenting isnt for everyone.

Why is a mom writing an article advocating the child-free choice, for those who have made it, or are considering it? The reason is simple. As a parent of one by choice, I know only too well how difficult and demanding the job is. From the time my son came home from the hospital almost eleven years ago, the challenges, demands and stresses were many. Despite the strong bonding that took place as soon as I held and fed him for the first time, infancy was still far from a picnic. Many nights were spent sleepless, while I tried for hours to get him to go to sleep. All too often, he would doze off in my arms after his bottle, only to wake up and start crying as soon as he was gently laid back into his crib. Then there was the colicky stage, which in retrospect lasted only two months. It only seemed like two years.

The toddler stage brought on a new set of problems, chief among them keeping him away from stairs to prevent accidents and listening to angry screams at being seated in a stroller when he preferred going his own way. Dont even get me started on the terrible twos. By the time my son reached his third year, I knew that my choice to stop at one child, a decision that had been made long before my son was even conceived, was definitely the right one for me.

Some thoughtless and overly-opinionated folks made caustic remarks about my "lack of ability" to handle two or more kids like they could. What they couldnt seem to understand or accept was the simple fact that I didnt want the extra responsibilities. I didnt want the additional stresses of sibling rivalry. I didnt want the trials and tribulations of having to travel with two or three crying, fighting, or whining children in the back seat. One was enough, thank you. I didnt want the financial burden of trying to feed, clothe and comfortably house more than three people on my then-husbands income alone. I didnt want the worries of putting two or more children through college. After a while, I stopped explaining my reasons, since they were obviously incapable of seeing my viewpoint. This is why I feel that parents of one and those who are child free by choice have at least one thing in common; being on the receiving end of verbal grenades from people who feel compelled to tell us how they think we should live.

A growing number of women and men have decided that being a parent isnt for them at all. They arent physically incapable of having children; therefore, not childless. They have made a thoughtful and conscious decision not to reproduce, whether they can or not. These men and women are childfree, a lifestyle with which they are happy. Due to the open hostility that many of them receive from various religious communities, acquaintances and even their own families, some prefer to be less vocal concerning their individual choice. Of course, it is a mystery to me why society at large sees the child free more commonly known as CF group as a serious threat, since the majority of couples will become parents at some point in their lives. During the last year, it has been my privilege to make the acquaintance of many childfree women. Some reached their individual decisions at a specified age, and there are others who just never felt the desire to have children. All share one thing in common; the lack of desire for motherhood and a wish that everyone would quit judging them for making the choice not to reproduce.

It is time for society in general and organized religion in particular to wake up. Parenting isnt a duty, it is a choice. As individuals, we are all given the freedom to make personal choices, some of which are more popular than others. A person who chooses the childfree lifestyle is no less an honorable and law-abiding citizen than anyone wishing to have a small or large family. There is no reason why the childfree cannot be treated with the same respect as that given to parents.