Recently one of my favorite interviewers – and a childfree one at that – was interviewed on the podcast, The Longest Shortest Time. Check out this interview with Terry Gross,  the host and co-executive producer of the radio show, Fresh Air:

Terry Gross Interview

Listen to the interview Here

A few of my favorite sound bites of hers in this interview include:

On choosing not to have kids: “I got the life I wanted to have.”  Boy, this sure is something that the childfree community resonates with!

As childfree people, we: “rewrite the rules.” Yes, indeed. I would add we rewrite the pronatalist rules!

On the parenthood decision: “We want the choice”…not have it “be an obligation.” Amen!

She does comment on not liking the word, “childfree” to describe herself.  A lot of childfree agree; it’s not the perfect descriptor. Terry Gross also comments on how it brings to mind other irrelevant descriptors, like “sugar free.”  While I get it, I still think “childfree” is better than “childless”…

Childfree vs. Childless

Years ago the word that was used for those who did not have kids by choice or not was “childless.” This word became criticized by those who chose not to have kids because it denotes a lack or an incompleteness. In the 70s “childfree” started as a reaction to this “less” concept. While it has more positive connotations than “childless,” “free” is also interpreted negatively, reflecting the myth that somehow it means we are shunning the responsibilities that come with “adulthood.”

This belief has its roots in pronatalism, the backbone of why those who don’t want children are judged. It’s our deep seated value system that is pro-baby, encourages reproduction, and exalts the role of parenthood.

With pronatalism in mind, take the focus off “free” and “less.” What’s left? The word “child.” The very words we’ve used begin with the focus on child—at its root, it comes from a pronatalistic context!  What could we use instead –to finally get away from ties to pronatalistic thought?

There are other words out there. “Non-parent” is used…pass.  That focuses on “parent” and describes us as “not” that so in the same way starts with a pronatalistic context.

I have also read versions of the word “nulliparity” out there…while technically correct – it meansthe condition in a woman of never having given birth,” when I think about describing myself as nulliparious, it just sounds more like a medical condition! Like “Not Mom” this definition also lumps the by choice, chance and circumstance people together.

I would love to identify a descriptor other than “childfree,” one that does not have a pronatalistic connotation. In the bigger picture, it would use the power of words to challenge our pronatalistic society and its reproductive ethic.

I tweeted Terry Gross about ideas she might have…what about you? What word or phrase other than “childfree” could be used?

If you have not already, check out Terry Gross‘ interview. She is one amazing person!





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