Bright Side’s recent piece, “What Childfree People Really Want and Why They Deliberately Refuse to Have Children,” needs some serious cross-checking. Since the late 1990s, I’ve been gathering qualitative data on childfree people and have interviewed and talked with thousands of them. Let’s look at the “most popular myths about childfree people” Bright Side talks about:

“Deliberately Refuse”?

First, a little commentary on the choice of wording: “deliberately refuse.” Would this be how childfree people would characterize it? In my experience, I’d say no. “Choose,” “decide,” yes. Refuse has connotations like spurn, protest or scorn. It unnecessarily casts this choice in a negative light.

As for the “most popular myths about childfree people” the piece lists, l’ll briefly touch on each of them:

Childfree people hate children.

Is this a “most popular” myth about childfree people? Yes.

Many childfree people would say that children are not their favorite thing. However, many others like kids, and have them in their lives in one way or another. The work lives of some, if not many, include children, teens, even babies (yes, e.g., even gyn’s are childfree – I had one for years!).  As I have said many times over the years, just because childfree people don’t want to raise them, it does not automatically mean they hate them!

Childfree people try to impose their opinions on others. This is why they have their community.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

Rather than impose opinions, I’d say childfree people more commonly spend time trying to help people in their lives understand their choice. Childfree people have built community, particularly since the evolution of our digital world, as a place to find like-minds and connect with each other. Imposing opinions on others has little or nothing to do with it.

Childfree people are either infertile or mentally ill.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

There are popular myths associated with a larger idea that “something is wrong” with us, but if it had to do with being infertile, it could easily point to childLess people – those who want children but don’t have them. Mental illness as a most popular “something wrong with us” myth? Not.

Childfree people are lonely and they can’t find a partner.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

While being lonely is a myth, I would not say it is one of the “most popular.” The same goes for the notion that childfree people can’t find a partner. Plenty of childfree are in committed relationships, are married, and happily at that!

The point of life is having children, so a person who doesn’t have children has a pointless life.

Is this a “most popular” myth? Using the word, “pointless,” no.  The phrase, “lacks true fulfillment in life” – more so.

A very popular myth is that because childfree people don’t have children they are missing out on “true” fulfillment in life, they don’t know what true love is, and the like.  These beliefs are hogwash.

Childfree people want humanity to become extinct.

Is this a “most popular” myth? Definitely not.

There are childfree people who would relate to and/or consider themselves part of the “voluntary human extinction movement,” or VHEMT, but it is such a small percentage, saying it is a most popular myth is, well, just wrong.

A man can be childfree but a childfree woman is completely unnatural.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

Now it is a popular myth that it is unnatural for a woman not to want children – that somehow she is violating her instincts or what it means to be a woman. However, the phrasing of this purported most popular myth implies it is ‘natural’ for a man to be childfree. While women get more air time in this area of myth, when a guy does not want kids, pronatalist society also does not see it as “normal.”

Our children will have to support childfree people when they are old.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

Does this mean parents’ children will have to pay tax dollars to support people with no children when they are old? Their kids will as well. In any case, is this a most popular myth about childfree people? Negative.

In the past, there were no childfree people.

Is this a “most popular” myth? No.

In the past, there were many more men and women without children than most people know about. If they were childfree, it would mean they did not want children and did not have them, which was much harder, given the birth control options in the past, not to mention the weight of social and cultural expectation. Were there a lot of people who would have preferred not to have children but did anyway? You bet there were. In history there have been lots of people who did not want children and had them, which does not make them childfree. Whatever the historical scenario, is this a most popular myth about childfree people? That’s a no.

Childfree is forever.

Is this a “most popular” myth? I’d say this one does not even qualify as a myth to begin with. This most popular myth reads more like a back door to the most common bingo childfree people get: You will change your mind.

Sure, people change their minds on things, and some do on being childfree over the course of their lives. But claiming this is a most popular myth reeks of the notion that at some point, more childfree people than not will no longer be…I can tell you that in my experience this is just not the case.

With twenty years of studying and tracking the childfree choice and those who make it, I have to say these are mostly off the mark. Pieces like this also exemplify how easily myths can get started and spread!





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