Making the Right Decision vs. Making the Decision Right
Please don’t ask me why, but I decided to give one of the characters in the book I’m working on a Dr. Phil obsession. In my extensive research on the man (which has consisted mainly of laughing at his mustache from different photographic angles), I came across what I have to admit is a real gem of a quote:
“Sometimes you make the right decision, and sometimes you have to make the decision right.” ~ Dr. Phil McGraw
Wow. I kind of liked that. A lot. Because the implication there is that sometimes you can’t always make the “right” decision, or that there is no right decision. The more time I spend on this issue and the more Fence-Sitters I talk to, the more I’m convinced that there are a category of people who aren’t destined to be parents, and they aren’t passionately Childfree either. But unfortunately, each of us must make a decision, because at a certain point, even inaction is a decision thanks to ‘ole Ma Nature.
The idea that you don’t have to make the right one is somewhat comforting. But then the onus is on you to make it the right one. At first blush, it almost seems like that’s an easier task for those who choose parenthood. Because quite frankly, they don’t have much of a choice. They now have a tiny someone to mold into a productive adult, and doing it while moaning and moping around just isn’t going to work, and isn’t fair to the kid. Even those who didn’t enter parenthood willingly or enthusiastically usually find a way to find joy in the little things. If they didn’t, there’d be a lot more suicide attempts from top row of the bleachers after being subjected to watching a pack of seven year olds take turns scoring points for their opponents or dribbling the ball off their shoe. And to be perfectly honest, parents just don’t have a whole lot of time on their hands to whip themselves into a What-If tizzy.
So what about making the decision right for the Childfree? Suddenly seems a little harder. Maybe it’s because the Childfree are always being asked to defend their choice. To explain why they needed to keep all their time and money and sanity to themselves. And we feel like we have to have some pretty damn good answers. Needing the freedom to do things like spend more time with the extended family you already have, devoting yourself to a meaningful career, volunteering in the community are all good checklist items…but those To-Do’s seem awfully far off when one finds themselves wasting another Friday night on a cheap sauv blanc and a Netflix Cheers marathon. We should be out doing the more noble, interesting things we said we would. But without anyone hanging over our heads to demand it, who’s gonna be around to make sure we make the decision right?
No one, I guess. But much like those who choose parenthood owe to their kids to make it right, the Childfree owe it to their spouses, their pets, their careers, the world (which does, in fact, need Childfree people), but most importantly themselves, to make it right. They may just have to work a little harder at it.
Dr. Phil, thank you for the stimulating quote. I take back every bad thing I said about you when you’re ridiculous hillbilly accent.
And now, just because I love it, a Dr. Phil’s Take on Men Meme: