Recently I ran across an interesting idea by blogger Jane Arizona—instead of characterizing those who knew early in life they did not ever want kids as “early articulators,” how about we call them: “Childfree by Orientation.”
Jane Arizona makes a good point that those who know early are not always most aptly described as childfree by “choice.” Why? Because they never really “chose” it; instead it has just felt like who they are. These kinds of people don’t “decide” to be childfree as much as have the “realization” that they are and will remain childfree.
I’ve lamented before about the words we use to describe those who do not want children by choice–how even though it has its own negative connotations, saying child “free” is better than child “less,” and how we are still left with the word “child,” which leaves us being described by what we don’t want, or who we are not, rather than who we are.
To chew on this a bit more, the word “orientation” to describe people who knew early just might work. To me it is certainly better than the verbiage researchers coined and used years ago—the “early articulators.” In addition to just sounding cold and forcibly scientific, the word “articulator” has not made a lot of sense to me.
What is an articulator? Someone who articulates. But articulates what? Definitions mostly have to do with our speech or giving “clarity or distinction” to something. Ok, using “early articulator” could reflect that we made it clear and distinct that we did not ever want kids early in life, but boy could the characterization be, well, more articulate!
I like the descriptor you see in early research–“early deciders.” But Jane Arizona is taking it further with the idea that early deciders really didn’t “choose” at all. She refers to the days when society referred to the “gay lifestyle,” and how being gay had been labeled as “sexual preference,” how now it’s a “sexual orientation” –a “huge, meaningful shift.”
You can argue that for early deciders, it is not a decision about lifestyle or preference either. It is about orientation because it feels more like it is about our wiring.
Me–as an early decider, I like the idea. Instead of CBC for the early birds, would it be more accurate to describe ourselves as “CBOs?” Would it be a meaningful shift in descriptor language for these types of childfree people?
What do you think?
This is so true. I never really thought about it but yeah, I’ve never wanted children, it was never a choice it just was, is. I’m a 37yo hispanic female and on May 27th I got the Adiana procedure and am so happy I did.
But before the procedure, I had friends asking me over and over if I was sure, they all thought I was gonna freak out after doing it, like PPD or something. No one really seems to understand that I wish I could’ve done it 20 yrs ago.
I’m so glad I found this website. Thank you. 😀
Thanks for writing in, Mellie! I have posted on Adiana on this site too…(did an interview with a doc who does it as well as essure)–can you say a few words about your experience with this procedure? ~Laura
This makes so much sense. I’ve known I don’t want kids of my own since I was 13 (I’m now 19). I plan to have Essure or Adiana as soon as I have a real job and a doctor who won’t give me nonsense about how I’ll “change my mind” or “regret it”. It’s a part of who I am.
This is a great site 🙂
Taylor–Thanks for commenting and glad you like! Essure has a directory of docs who do the essure procedure and won’t give you any flack! ~L
You make a very good point Laura, we are often described as who we are not rather than who we are. Having children is considered normal and automatic so we are described as being without something important; I have never seen it that way, to me not having them feels normal and is not something that was ever a decision for me, it’s just who I am.
You probably came across the Grist article a few months ago that compared coming out as childfree to coming out as gay, and the use of the word ‘orientation’ strikes me as similar. I was actually a little offended by the Grist comparison because I think gay people experience a heck of a lot more discrimination and face a lot more social, psychological, and legal challenges than the childfree do.
I knew (and declared, without any hesitation, to anyone who would listen) that I didn’t want kids when I was 10. But I also liked and identified with animals at a very early age, began to feel uncomfortable eating them soon after that, and eventually became a vegetarian. Would that make me, uh, animal oriented? I think we do continue to make choices based on what we feel is right or wrong for us. I’m not sure orientation is the right word for that.
Jennifer, thanks for your thoughts!I agree with you re that LGBTs face a heck of a lot more discrim than the cf…re orientation, I think what the blogger is getting at is that we don’t feel it is a “choice” at all. It is just something that just “is” — rather than making a conscious decision we “realize” it is sort of part of who we are. I would say given you “knew” at 10 in this context cf orientation would describe you. Sounds like it ws just something you just knew. On the other hand, becoming vegetarian– a conscious choice. That is how I would think about it given how the blogger contextualizes orientation. I found it interesting because so often the “early deciders” as they have been called have often told me it was not a decision they ever really made–it just was what it was. This is a way to experiment with language other than “early articluators” – which I’d like to see never used again!
I am liking this too. Not having children wasn’t a choice for me, that kind of implies that I actively decided. When I was young, I never considered having children. When I thought about my future, they simply did not feature. Only as I became sexually active did I have to start making choices and those choices were all about the best most effective contraception. Becoming a female of childbearing age meant having to focus on not getting pregnant.
Since having a hysterectomy at 40, I’m back to my “factory default setting” of not having to think about kids as part of future.
Of course there are children nearly everywhere so I can’t ignore them completely, but they certainly are not constantly on my mind.
Yup, sounds like me! “Childfree by orientation.” I dropped that baby for Barbies so fast you’d think I hated kids even as a kid.
Hi Jacinda and Laura,
I am the person who made the comparison to ‘coming out’ as CF as being akin to coming out as LGBT in the original BBC article and, while I probably could have thought a little bit more about the wording (my remark was taken badly out of context – I am SO angry with the Beeb, you wouldn’t believe the flack I’ve taken for it!), I don’t regret the sentiment.
While I apologise to any people who feel that I have ‘over-simplified’ discrimination – this really wasn’t my aim – my original intention was to imply something similar to Laura’s meaning here, in that, for many CFBC individuals, CFness feels more like an orientation than a choice, no more so LGBT people ‘choose’ to be gay or transgender.
Of course, there are exceptions to this – couples and individuals who have ‘come to’ the CF life following infertility, for example, or those who may have started out as ‘fence-sitters’ before making a clear decision.
However, I would argue that for those ‘early deciders’ (I like this!) among us, having children was about as likely as living on Mars – a concept so out there as to be incomprehensible. As such, it does feel more like an orientation – a ‘hardwiring’ – rather than a choice.
Hope I’ve cleared things up!
furrynumnah, I get it and am with you! Could you direct us to the original BBC article–was it the one that Grist recently talked about? Thanks~L
Here’s a link to the article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10786279
PS – obviously, when I said ‘impel’, I meant ‘imply’ – doh!
Thanks! Yes–I did see the article–boy do I know about quotes being taken out of context!
I also recall the bbc piece…
I changed wording to “imply” — no problem! I sure know how fingers can get going and have a mind of their own sometimes ; )