I posted this at the end of last year but after the latest poll I took on childfree acceptance, it’s still so relevant:
The numbers of childfree may be growing, but awareness and understanding of having no children by choice still has a ways to go. But there are tangible things we can do.
As the new year begins, here are three resolutions that can help get us further down the road to full acceptance of this choice.
- Don’t lie about not wanting to have kids. Don’t even sugar coat.
On Ms. blog, Meloday Moezzi talks about how much pressure she gets from family and loved ones about having kids, that she almost decided to lie and say she was infertile just to get them to shut up. I say, never lie!
When we lie about not wanting kids, we just to continue to perpetuate the notion that there is something wrong with not wanting kids, and reinforce pronatalistic values. Be willing to say clearly say why you don’t want kids without qualification if it is not true for you, e.g., don’t start with–“I think kids are great, but…”
- Take the opportunity to be a role model.
Many childfree women in particular speak to how they have had a childfree role model or at least someone they were acquainted with in some way that chose not to have kids. These childfree women not only showed them not having kids was an option in life, but that you could have an awesome life that didn’t include parenthood.
I say if you see the opportunity to make a younger person aware of the idea that parenthood is optional, do it. If you see an opportunity to be a role model for a younger person, do it. Don’t shy away from a chance to contribute to the next generation, and who knows what great things you will get back in the process.
- Be bolder in your communications.
Often childfree talk about how they find themselves having to continue to explain this choice to family and loved ones. As a resolution, try this on: Explain less, question more. Be willing to ask those who are querying, or pressuring why they are asking you what they are asking you, why they are pressuring you. Assert more in the direction of getting them explaining themselves.
Being bolder can also mean just speaking out instead of staying silent when you hear something you know is wrong about being childfree. At my talk at the 2010 No Kidding! convention, a woman in the audience talked about a time when she heard a professor inaccurately speaking to the childless by choice issue.
Instead of not saying anything, she spoke out and clarified what she knew from studies and how she saw it as a childfree person. She didn’t shy away from taking an opportunity to increase awareness about this choice and using herself as an example.
I encourage you to try out these resolutions. If we put ourselves out there in productive ways, we will all be a part of chipping away at pronatalistic values being such a dominant force in our society.
Can you think of other childfree resolutions to do this?
I will be taking on all three of these resolutions. I think the second is especially strong. It’s so difficult to present an issue or a decision fairly when one has been put on the defensive and this is a great way of redressing the power imbalance!
Another personal resolution I have is to make a point of really exploring the unique opportunities my ‘childfree’ status involves. These can be all but invisible in a culture which assumes either parenthood or plans/hopes for parenthood. I notice myself working, saving and behaving as though I have dependents to be responsible for, mainly through a lack of any real alternative vision for my life. So in 2011 I’m committing time and energy to researching and creating a different vision for my life – one which fully celebrates and makes use of the unique opportunities and freedoms of the lifestyle I’ve chosen.
Matilda, You go! Add your personal resolution as #4! I love it. ~L
This year finds me thinking seriously about talking to my doctor about voluntary female sterilization and maybe pushing a little to see how far I can get. I find it incredibly unfair that men encounter so much less resistance about getting a vasectomy, even at a young age. I’ve heard horror stories about young women without kids trying to find a doctor in America willing to perform sterilization (do they really think we don’t know our own minds?), and I’d love to see more childfree women push their doctors for this option. I guess that will be resolution #4 for me.
I love your role model resolution, and I know exactly the person who first began to show me that a life without children was wonderfully rich, spontaneous, and interesting.
The first suggestion is so hard to do. The more firm I am in my convictions the more certain people try to argue me out of them! 😮
Agreed but worth it…when othes try to argue you out of them go to resolutino 3 — bold communications! ~L
Great post, Laura! You’ve inspired me to do a follow-up post on my blog once again.
Like Jennifer up there, I too am planning on getting more serious about birth control. I am having an IUD inserted soon and Jake is going to start mentally preparing himself for his eventual vasectomy.
Oh, and thank you for the link to my post, my traffic shot way up because of it and I gained some new followers on my blog 🙂
Amy, you are welcome — love your blog and always happy to create e-waves to great sites! ~L
I live in a small town (meaning everybody knows and talks about other people´s life), and I had my tubal ligation a few weeks ago. I imagined people would hear about my check in at the hospital. But I got surprised by the impertinence of people. When the nurse was preparing me for surgery, she asked how old are you?, I´m 31. When I woke up at the OR, another nurse asked the same question, but the curious thing was the answer from my Doctor: It was her choice. It seems to me like he was justifying his procedure. He was doing his job, but it seems like their colleagues will give him a hard time about this.
When I was still under the effects of the anesthesia, BUT awake I could hear the nurses saying, what if I find prince charming and want to have a baby?
I couldn´t answer at the moment, but I´d like them to know, my prince charming was waiting for me in the hallway, and we don´t want to have babies.
Thanks for writing, and your story! Amazing the assumptions people, and the medical community is no exception…
I forgot to write the part related to your post.
As this is a small town, my friend lied about my surgery (as she wasn´t sure if I wanted to say it out loud). I thought about it, and said, no, I won´t lie about this, I haven´t done anything wrong.
If they don´t like the truth it´s their issue, not mine.
If you hide something, you´re implying there´s something wrong with it. Be careful with that!
Excellent post! I agree that it’s still relevant. I love these resolutions and totally agree with your reasoning. With lying about having kids in addition to perpetuating the idea it’s wrong not to have them, lying just leads people to continued pestering.
In addition to being bolder with communication I’ve been even turned it back on the questioners to let them know what they’re really asking when they ask when I’m going to try to have kids, etc which is a way of asking about my sex life. They’d never outright ask me directly if I have unprotected sex hoping an egg is fertilized by my husband’s sperm but that’s exactly what “trying for a baby” is.
I was subbing in a junior high music class once when a girl had read an essay about a musician in which it was mentioned she’d had like six kids. She mentioned how painful that sounds and how she doesn’t want to go through the pain of childbirth and seemed to think she eventually had to. I told her she didn’t have to unless she wanted to which lead to her asking whether I had kids, how old I was, if I was married etc. I don’t know what choice she’ll make, but I’m glad I had an honest dialogue with her so she (and her classmates who were listening) at least knows she (and they) have a choice in the matter.