While those with no children by choice have the no children thing in common, there are plenty who don’t resonate with their fellow childfree–especially those who show up online.
Some thoughts from a childfree guy who wrote me recently illustrate how the childfree can often feel isolated from those who have made the same choice…
“I don’t seem to fit the internet model what a childfree male seems to be. I realize that our cause is undertaken by folks from a myriad of lifestyles and opinions and the idea of solidarity outside of the realm of not wanting children would be improbable at best.
Despite this, there is still a social separation that I am reminded of each time I peruse the forums or read the articles about the childfree. To clarify my point, I must do a little stereotyping so please understand that I well am aware of this.
I am not a rabid animal lover and the pets that I do have (two dogs and a turtle) are not surrogates for children. I do not have any hereditary medical or mental conditions that I don’t want to pass on. I am not a vegetarian and I am not all that interested in the environmental movement.
None of my CF friends identify themselves with this label and actually resist the idea of being labeled at all. I am militantly Pro Choice but not a Liberal or a Conservative. I don’t have a problem paying taxes that go towards schools and social programs that attempt to educate and help children integrate into society.
I have never experienced discrimination in the workplace due to my familial status and it is a very rare event that I get bingoed anymore.
I am an avid on/off road motorcyclist, I own many firearms, I am a guitarist who plays semi professionally. I can’t afford to take lavish vacations, I don’t own the latest of anything or dine at the same type of restaurant that I have read my counterparts have had their meals ruined in.
Sometimes I think that I represent a very large and silent majority of the Childfree who are too busy living their lives and trying to make ends meet to broadcast their ailments/opinions or to make snarky comments all over the web.
I don’t have a problem with those that do but I certainly don’t feel represented by these folks. I won’t make excuses for them and I feel that they are all valid in their positions but I can’t help but to feel that I have very little in common with the childed and even less in common with the childfree.”
Childfree reading this: Do you feel you’re not like the childfree you read about on the web?
How are you different than or similar to other childfree you read about online?
Do you think there is a silent cf majority out there?
Let’s hear from you…
Wow, I have been reading your website for a few weeks now. After a really really bad bingo session I started doing searches online trying to find blogs of people that I can relate to. I find that you promote a healthy childfree attitude. You don’t start debates, you do not go on and on about how children ruin the world.
I’m not the childfree type that has snarky things to say to mothers online. The only time I’m snarky is when I get bingoed. I am not an atheist, I do not feel like I should be exempt from paying taxes that benefit children. I’m not even 100% committed to being childfree. I certainly do not want kids now, for many reasons. Basically I just want people to stop bugging me about it. I can say that I don’t like children, mostly because they make me so uncomfortable, something that the childed and socially ignorant people in my life have helped me become. I find that whenever (yes, nearly EVERYTIME) there is a kid around me, all focus goes on me. The kid made a noise and she made a face, did you see that? Look at the baby, does she want to hold the baby. She doesn’t want to hold the baby?! Hold the baby maybe you will want one. OHHH look she is holding the baby she’s a natural, when is she going to have one?!. Look at the kid, look at her. Nothing? Nothing? I realize a lot of it is built up paranoia now after five years of being married and not having a child and if I were playing, I would have run out bingo cards by now. I can have children, though medically it would have a negative impact because I’d have to go off my meds that help control a neurological condition I have. I would say mostly that I’m not ready and if I need to make that medical sacrifice, I need to be ready. Basically, I can totally relate to not fitting in with the childfree or with the childed. I’m fortunate to have my husband who is on the same page as me and understands my position.
Sorry for the long-winded comment. I guess I just want to thank you for having a diplomatic approach to childfreedom and helping me realize that there are at least a handful of people that understand how I feel 🙂
I do fit in with many of the childfree you describe. I’m passionate about animals, and I have four cats and a dog. While they are not surrogate children, they are important to me and I do consider them family. I’m married. I’m a vegetarian, a pro-choice liberal, an atheist, an environmentalist. I grow my own food. I like to cook and read and hike and garden and decorate my house. And I don’t like children. I don’t like being around them, I’ve always known that I didn’t want them, and I don’t like a lot of parents, mostly because they’re not good parents. We don’t take expensive vacations, but we like doing home improvement and gardening projects, and we like to eat nice dinners out once or twice per week. But that said, it doesn’t really matter to me whether I “fit in” with a certain type of childfree because I don’t fit in with the people in my community. I live in a mid-sized city in the midwest, and virtually everyone here has kids, goes to church, votes Republican, eats meat, drives an SUV, etc., etc. Almost everything about them offends me. It is very isolating. Most things to do around here are based around children or church. We’re getting ready to move to a slightly larger city about two hours away, but I don’t know that things will be different there. It doesn’t much matter that I have a lot in common with many (most?) online childfree people.
Your post reminds me yet again of the degrees of differences that lie in the larger societal categories that we find ourselves in. Because I didn’t have the luxury or comfort of joyfully arriving at a concerted choice, I also don’t wear “childfree” on my sleeve, though the uninformed might assume otherwise. I think of myself more as a woman without children, a non-mom. I lead a life different from the “norm,” but it’s no less rich or meaningful.
I actually identify quite a bit with the man who wrote that. I don’t fit many of the stereotypes/generalizations of child-free people either: no pets, no serious health conditions that have influenced my choice, and my four-year-old nephew is one of my favourite people in the entire world. 🙂
I simply wasn’t born with or didn’t develop any interest in raising kids. It’s as simple as that.
Your post reminded me of similar experience within the bisexual community. Like the child-free community it is incredibly diverse. One cannot look at a single bisexual person and extrapolate his or her experiences to everyone else in the group. Some bisexual people are monogamous, others prefer to be in polyamorous relationships. Yes, some people identify as bi as a stepping stone to coming out as a lesbian or gay man….but this in _no_ way means that all bisexual people are confused/hiding/actually either straight or gay.
People are complicated. There’s nothing wrong with adhering to some or every generalization made about your group. There’s also nothing wrong with being completely different than everyone would expect based upon one facet of your identity as a human being!
I don’t know if there’s a silent CF majority out there. Some people are much more vocal about their beliefs or identities that others so it’s very difficult to tell.
I imagine that many of the differences between us stem from the generic universal generation gap. All of the things that act as identifiers for Gen X, Gen Y separated us before we ever grasped the implications of our choice. These differences don’t change the bottom line but they do act as a modifier in how we promote this choice. There are few things that the various generations can identify as having in common. This is one of them. How CFdom has manifested itself now that there are young people who have never known life without the Internet is indicative of our commonality as well as our dissemblance.
I must admit that the the younger set has taken the bull by the horns and refuses to budge even one inch in their pursuit of acceptance. They are a lot more “in yer face” about it than my generation is. I also must admit the guilty pleasure of enjoying the lingo, and attitude that they have put forth. They take no prisoners and show no deference to age or status. In some respects, their interpretation of the cause has honed it to an instrument capable of surgical precision. I must and do appreciate the energy they put into defending our choice.
I agree that there is no standard or specific image that we are supposed to adhere to. As long as diversity does not result in division I’m fine with it.
I share many of the views of the childfree male who wrote in the original post.
I am male and childfree but I consider myself a “moderate” in the childfree world. I am not a big animal lover (I have no pets but was raised with cats), nor am I some big environmentalist. I am a political independent with views all over the spectrum although I tend to vote Democratic (mainly because I abhor the rightward lurch and growing social intolerance of the Republicans in the last 20 years). I am an atheist, too.
I have rarely been bingoed by friends and family, as my relatives (especially immediate family) were always the type to respect personal decisions. I do volunteer work with children (ages 10-14) so I hardly hate being around them. In my everyday life I am not around them much, other than my volunteer work.
I don’t like paying school taxes which are not based at least IN PART on the number of kids a household has. I don’t like government policies which reward or encourage having kids, either.
At the same time, as I have posted on many early retirement forums, I am not afraid to let others know that being childfree was the main reason I was able to retire 2 years ago at the age of 45. I take great joy in getting out of the daily rat race and having a simpler and more enjoyable day-to-day life (including being able to do my aforementioned volunteer work with children) because I am childfree and would not hesitate to advise anyone who really wants to be able to retire early to be childfree.
If the childed can boast about how great their lives are because they had kids, I want to be able to boast about how great my life is because I did NOT have kids. Oprah Winfrey did just that in that interview with Barbara Walters, so can I!
I also sometimes feel like I don’t “fit in” with the childfree, mainly because I’m a practicing Catholic, and many childfree are Atheist or Agnostic. I also have no problem paying taxes for services I’ll never use. I believe the poor have a right to free healthcare, free food, free education. I do get annoyed when middle class people expect all these favors from the government. They seem very entitled to me.
I’m a teacher so I’m not anti-children, but I don’t hold many romantic notions about them anymore! I like having my adult time outside of work. I’m fully immersed in the land of kids all day and I actually do enjoy it. But I need a break at night.
I do have two cats and am Vegan, but my main reason for being childfree is not so much environmental. I just don’t have the burning desire for raising kids. Although, I don’t see why I should add more human beings to this planet when there are plenty of orphans.
However, I do have a younger brother though who is very careless and irresponsible. I can see him having a kid or two out-of-wedlock someday (and both parents losing custody). The only kids I would take in are nieces or nephews (currently I have none), but to me that’s more of a service, of helping out the family, not so much a burning desire to raise kids. If no one else in the family would take them, I would take them just to keep them out of foster homes. I hope my brother defies my expectations!
We don’t have children, not by choice, so my path is different from yours. As i’m a “not by choice” person, it is indeed childless for me rather than childfree. But i’ve been reading a few weeks now and so appreciate the things you write. I think creating a “family of two” takes some doing and isn’t easy and i can use all the help i can get!
It recently occurred to me that there are so many different reasons for being childless/childfree and how we come to that place. Some people seem to know raising children is just not for them. Some of us have the opportunity slip by with the years. Others seek children desperately but still are not successful. There isn’t just one path.
When mamas get together, they immediately have some form of bond from comparing their pregnancies, labor/delivery, breastfeeding (or not), preschools, etc., etc.
Those without children do not have one common point of reference (i mean, the “no children” is a commonality, but there isn’t just one way to be childless/childfree). Folks without children are so diverse!
Often we don’t even have that conversation. Ninety percent of the time i don’t ask other women if they have children. I would guess other childless/childfree women would be the same. And i certainly DO NOT think to ask if they don’t have children or how many children they don’t have! So, where do we even start to begin to find each other?
Thanks for these thoughtful comments–this is clearly a question that deserves more attention. Others reading this, please take the plunge and write in your thoughts. It is in this way we learn more about what the cf are thinking and feeling out there. Re Kathryn’s question on where we find each other– here is sure one place, but to find people to hook up with near you that is another thing….meet ups are more and more common all over..other cf– do you find this to be the case? ~L
Hmm tricky to put oneself in box. I was ever interested in children, and the idea of just getting on with my life without them seemed obvious to me, in that whenever I faced various life choices I made I never considered “the what if I have kids?” scenario. Plans were made base on my as-is situation.
The awareness that I was living a childfree lifestyle came about as I approached serious relationships, and then marriage. Suddenly my womanly value seemed to be based around my potential for procreation, at least to those who were in my work and social circles. My (now) husband and I identified, early in our relationship, mutual feelings about children, and it was just one of many things we had in common.
Only as i changed my societal status through engagement and marriage did i find the need to identify myself as childfree, previously I was probably child disinterested, ie never even considered them part of my life.
We have cats, which are loved pets and definitely not child substitutes. I’m not a Greenie, and my interest in preserving planet earth is probably fairly selfish; I’m not going to have to be here to care. I only discuss such topics with those who force it… usually joking that I’m going to use up my full share of resources so parents better make sure they save enough of the planet for their kids.
The childfree on the web probably seem more out there than most of us feel simply due to finding an outlet through which they can vent their frustrations.
I don’t like badly behave children in public, I abhor poor parenting but these things aren’t exclusive to the childfree – we simply, seem to be judged more when we comment on such things (because not being parents we somehow can;t know good behaviour from bad – sheesh).
I have some extreme views and some very middle of the road views, not based on my being childfree just based on ym being an individual. C’est la vie.
One thing I have noticed is that many childfree are quick to proclaim that, even though they don’t want children, they enjoy them and like spending time with them. I feel different from most childfree, and women in general, because I really can’t stand being around kids at all… I am completely lacking maternal instinct, and the patience it takes to tolerate children. It seems that it has become a disclaimer that childfree people, especially women, feel the need to add when they say they don’t want kids, “It’s not that I don’t love children, I do!”. I’m always relieved when I read about another childfree person giving this as a reason why they aren’t having any, I feel like I’m not alone in my feelings!
Jancinda, I do see lots of childfree that may feel they need to debunk the “we dont want kids so must not like kids” myth out of the blocks, but for those who are sensitive to it, and who do indeed like kids. I would say that more cf I have talked to would say they like kids–one kid at a time–as in some kids they like, some they don’t…much like meeting new adults–some we like, some we don’t. It is still harder to be forthright about just not liking being around kids at all, but I say don’t hold back. Put it out there as part of all that it means to be childfree~L
No pets, no medical conditions, like kids. I believe we all share some similarities and at the same time have our differences, and I don’t really think there is any CF stereotype. I think the one sentiment most of us share is the hope that we can openly talk about our happy and satisfactory CF lives(whatever the reason for being CF) without being judged.
I don’t know whether there is a silent CF majority or not – but I do think there is a strident majority of people who feel entitled to criticise and lecture us on the basis of this one fact alone(being CF). We react to this judgemental attitude according to our own unique natures – some rant, some ignore, some lash back(attack is sometimes the best form of defence!) and some are amused.
Ultimately, we all just want to be left alone to live our lives the way we want without having to justify a very personal decision – a basic ‘Unity in Diversity’- we may have different reasons and reactions, but we are all CF!
Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like an outcast my entire life, never fitting in anywhere or knowing anyone who seemed remotely similar to me, that I don’t really see what the big deal is. I’m childfree, you’re childfree, this guy in your post is childfree, most of the readers of this site are childfree…that’s something huge that we all have in common, what does it matter why we chose the lifestyle?
Since joining the online childfree community, I’ve yet to find someone whose reasons for not having kids are exactly the same as mine, nor do I expect to. We all come from different parts of the world with radically different backgrounds, so it’s hardly surprising that we came to the decision in many different ways.
To use myself as an example, there are many factors that contributed to my decision:
I have a horrible back problem that would make carrying a child to term extremely difficult if not impossible
The back problem is hereditary and I have no desire to pass it on to future generations
I am not a huge environmentalist, but I do appreciate that aspect of my lifestyle choice
I am not a kid person at all, never have been
I have two cats and I do love animals, but I don’t think of them as surrogate children, just much-loved pets
I am fairly liberal and pro-choice
I am an atheist
I am happy to pay taxes, especially for public schools – I think it’s foolish not to want our future generation to have a top-notch education whether they are relatives or not
The idea of childbirth, while fascinating, terrifies me beyond all reason and I want no part of such a thing
I tend to be materialistic and I don’t want my stuff broken or covered in jam
There is no way I could ever allow toys and bottles and diapers and other baby/child crap to be scattered all over my nice tidy house, I’d go insane
I could go on and on and on, but my point is, the gentleman in your post says he doesn’t expect solidarity, so what is he complaining about? The childfree people I’ve met online have all made a brave decision not to follow the pack and therefore we are clearly not the type of people who mind being thought of as “different.”
I’m sure there is a silent childfree majority, but I have to laugh at the idea of trying to find them…their silence clearly indicates that they do not wish to be found.
Amy, I get what you are saying. I will say though I also hear a lot from folks that as childfree folks they can feel socially isolated, and really do want to find like minds, and people they connect with…~L
I don’t identify with the childfree stereotype either, but that doesn’t mean I can’t identify with some of the people in it, nor does it stop me from calling myself childfree. The term only states one thing: I don’t want kids. What ever else I am are not depending on that label, and I don’t think anyone expects it to.
I have one thing in common with *most* childfree people: I question the ‘should’, in everything. And that’s a pretty damned good place to start.
Sebastyne–Bravo for having the hutzpa to question the “should” in everything! I think many of our cf cohorts would say the same~readers, do you agree?
I definitely question the “shoulds” in life, and have found that many of them aren’t for me. If more people truly took the time to ponder their life choices, there wouldn’t be as many unhappy people. I also know some parents who had kids because “that’s just what you do”, and “it just seemed like the next step”- that way of thinking leaves me shaking my head! And to Laura, I’m usually pretty honest about not liking children, especially if someone presses the issue with me, but it seems that some people just aren’t comfortable with that as my explanation, even though it’s just one of the reasons I won’t be having any. I think they will just have to get over it!
Jacinda, Good for you that you are usually honest about not liking children. I do think that honesty is the way this choice will ever have a chance at full acceptance. Every time cf sugar coat their explanation it only serves to reinforce child-centric values….~L
I’m female, 25, and I’ve known for a very long time that I have no innate desire to have children… probably since I was a toddler and ditched my baby doll for adult Barbies that I could depict in playtime melodramas (lol.) I don’t have any pets and I was an only child, although, being a cat person, I intend to get one eventually with my boyfriend. He is someone who doesn’t want the responsibility of raising a family, having watched his father struggle to provide for him and his two siblings and stay-at-home wife, but at the same time, he’s amenable to “peer pressure,” and when my mom starts bingoing him, he stays quiet or says, “Not right now… maybe later.” He’s 28-years-old. I know that deep down, children are not what he wants, but should he ever change his mind about the decision, I would of course tell him to find a woman who can give him children if he feels that that would fulfill him. My commitment to CF living in resolute and certain. I do not even particularly like being around children (who are not baby cousins or something… and even then, not for extended periods of time.) I prefer the company of adults. One benny I would say to being a CF woman is that there are always going to be men who appreciate that mentality. Some will be threatened by it, sure, but many more will be intrigued and want to date you as you don’t come with the added “baggage” of children.