Parents are not ‘breeders;’ they’re people with children

Have you ever used the word “breeder” to refer to a human being who has children? Please don’t. Somehow in this crazy time when one-fifth of us are not having children and many of us have chosen the “childfree” life, “breeder” is becoming like a curse word. I’m reading posts on childfree and childless websites where the writers, mostly women, complain about all those breeders posting baby pictures online, daring to bring their children to restaurants, or surrounding them at holiday celebrations.

Breeder is a term that should only be used when we’re talking about people arranging for the mating and procreating of animals or plants, not humans. Wikipedia says: A breeder is a person who practices the vocation of mating carefully selected specimens of the same breed to reproduce specific, consistently replicable qualities and characteristics. This might be as a farmer, agriculturalist, or hobbyist, and can be practiced on a large or small scale, for food, fun, or profit.”

But this is how I’m seeing it used on countless childless/childfree sites and how it’s defined in the Urban Dictionary: “1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way. A female breeder is commonly called a moo, and a male breeder a duh.”

The definitions and examples go on and on. Each one offends me more. Not having our own children, by choice or circumstance, does not give us the right to use terms like these or to assume that every parent is a senseless idiot bent on destroying our lives by making babies and actually showing them in our child-deprived presence.

The usage has ramped up lately as people prepare, often with dread, to join their families for the holidays. I know it’s a hard hurdle to get over, but let’s try to stop feeling angry or sorry for ourselves and just enjoy the children around us, even if they’re not ours, for the little miracles they are—even when they’re crying, making messes or generally being less than charming. For Pete’s sake, if our parents hadn’t “bred,” we wouldn’t be here.

If you truly can’t stand to be around kids, just avoid them. Unfriend their doting parents and grandparents on Facebook. Spend the holidays camping or on a cruise. But don’t call their parents breeders unless they live on a ranch. They’re not “breeders.” They’re people just like us who happen to have children.

One more point. This may sound silly, but think about it. If you wanted a dog and couldn’t have one, and you went someplace where there was a dog, would you hate the dog or the dog owner for being there? No, you’d pet that dog and play with it and love it. Why can’t it be the same with children?

I look forward to your comments.

10 thoughts on “Parents are not ‘breeders;’ they’re people with children

  1. Great points. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my childless world and get annoyed with those with children. Until I realize that the reason they are distracted on a phone call, or unable to focus on a lunch visit is because they are in charge of another human being who needs to be protected and loved. Me I just need to make sure my handbag doesn't get left behind. I can't always grasp that responsibility that parents have.Other times, I find myself at a loss for conversation with parents. Then I realize (like you pointed out) that they are people too – only with children. When I look past the children and attempt normal conversation, I usually learn that my party companion is an avid reader or loves to cook.I personally would never refer to parents as “breeders.” Not even those that choose to have many children. I don't refer to their children as “a litter” either. Even if I did have children I'd probably only want one or two, but I know many happy large families who are not “breeding” like barnyard animals.All that being said, I do find irritation with those who can't seem to understand that their children are not the center of my world. I'm certainly interested in your life, your family, your children. But I don't want to know everything about her bedroom decor, her bath habits, her babysitter. I don't want to sit in mid-conversation and watch you decide to gurgle and coo to your child as you “pretend” to have a rapport with me. (sorry, dealing with anticipated, upcoming family drama)Many might disagree with me but I don't fully adopt the comparison of the dogs and children. Enjoying the presence of a dog (even if you can't have one) isn't as difficult as enjoying a child (when you don't have one). This is only my opinion, but I have three dogs which I love and respect very much. But for me they aren't close to being children.Anon S


  2. I agree totally. I felt myself thinking about what I would say to a friend who had a miscarriage, and who was complaining about not getting an anniversary card, and honestly all I could think was “well, at least your husband has sperm” but that’s not who I want to be. You are correct – if we like dogs but can’t have them, we love every one we see. We should do the same for kids.


  3. *Never* have referred to parents as “breeders.” Always enjoy being around children, it is their self-righteous parents that are sometimes a pain. To paraphrase a Wise Woman, “We're people just like them who happen not to be parents. “


  4. Thank you all for your comments. Keep them coming. I'm sorry for the delay in approving them. Something is going crazy with Blogger. I'm getting notified about the spam, but not about the real comments.
    Anyway, I'm so happy you're all here. Keep coming back.


  5. “Breeders” is usually slang for those who reproduce mindlessly like Octomom. I can't tell you how many times parents complain about 'childless hipsters'. That is as insulting as if you lack value, since, like myself, many are not this way by choice. Even so, why are parents allowed to criticize 'hipsters' and not the other way around? Whether I had kids or not, if I am in a public place, I expect parents to control their kids. I would have never been allowed to act as some of these kids do now.


  6. 'Breeder' in the childfree world usually does not mean anyone with kids. It means specifically anyone with kids who doesn't parent said kids.

    Child free folks who use the term almost exclusively are referring to BNP (Breeder, Not Parent). If you have children and raise them properly and responsibly, CF folks will tend to use PNB or parent. If you see the term 'breeder', please note that it is *not* all encompassing.


  7. Seriously, I can't see what all the fuss is about regarding this particular term. When two members of a sexually reproducing species cohabit and produce offspring, they are said to be breeding. (example: You need a male and female cat to breed kittens.)

    Since parents, by definition, have bred – and, furthermore, since most parents one encounters seem quite happy and proud of the fact – why be so upset about what is, after all, a perfectly accurate term?

    Many parents might dispute that they are “Moos,” or “entitlemoos,” or that their beloved offspring are “snowflakes” “brats” “crotch droppings” “toadlers” etc… but surely the term “breeder” is, by definition, hard to refute/


  8. Alan, Thank you for setting us straight. I think it's not the word, which as you say is accurate, but the way people use it, the snide insinuations that come with it. Also, that it's usually applied to non-human animals. But you're right. When a man and a woman have children, they breed.


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