Childfree: The Way to Be?

More people are choosing to remain childfree.

My friend, Katherine, has always been sure that she wanted a house full of children; she’s just one of those people who falls into motherhood easily and happily. Another friend, Anna, does not want to have children. I walk the middle line, with the mother role being something I’m still learning to wear comfortably.

It’s a cliche by now that those with children encourage, pressure, even browbeat all the misguided people who claim to care less about having children. But why should this be so?

Taking On Parenthood

Parenthood is a major life change and it requires a huge emotional, financial and lifestyle investment for the rest of your years. How can we blame anyone who honestly assesses their hopes and dreams and decides that being a parent is not part of them? What our society should do is encourage and support those who do want children, and applaud those who realize that they don’t. Pushing people to take on such a huge unwanted responsibility can only spell misery for everyone.

Many people call the childfree choice selfish. Selfish, to me, would be having children and then always placing your needs and desires above theirs, resenting them for demanding time, money and energy you don’t want to give, and making them feel unwanted. Realizing that you don’t want to go down this path is simply being self-aware of your mental, spiritual and financial demands, and knowing that a child simply doesn’t fit.

If You Don’t Want to Be a Parent, You Can’t Be a Good One

I recently read a comment by a woman who spelled out all the reasons she chose not to have children and why she didn’t want to be a parent. She then added that she really resented it when she told people this and they assumed that she would be a poor parent. They’re right. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that you don’t want to invest the time, emotion, or money it takes to be a parent, and then say that, nevertheless, you would be a great parent.

I don’t choose to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into attending law school, spend hours studying kitchen plumbing or log enough airtime to become a pilot so similarly, why would I force anyone to become a parent? While no parent is perfect, the baseline requirement is wanting to be one.

The Great Divide

While I support a person’s right not to have children, I also don’t want to be glared at in restaurants, resented in the workplace, and disparaged because I chose to have children. Similarly, childfree adults also don’t want to be discriminated against for their choices.

The family landscape is changing, and the point is choice. The number of women not having children is rising whether society chooses to accept it or not. We can let this issue drive a wedge between parents and non-parents, or we can see it as a way to improve our society’s health. Is it such a bad thing to promote fewer families with children, and stronger family units? To have individuals who lead better, more contented lives because they are encouraged to feel proud of their chosen lifestyle?

Image: kevindooley

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DISCUSSION

4 thoughts on “Childfree: The Way to Be?

  1. I would say that having children, especially multiple children,u00a0is selfish inu00a0as the world is over populated and it is taxing the Earth’s resources.u00a0 People are living much longer, not dying because of war and disease.

  2. The family landscape is changing, in so many ways. Raising children in our culture is incredibly challenging. This is because of major shifts that have already occurred in our family landscape and in our daily lifestyle:nn1. We often live hundreds of miles from our extended families. In most places families live near grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. In these places parents have support to raise children. They can share the challenges of time constraints with family members who are happy to be included. Whether they need a night out with friends, a weekend away, support for a business trip, daily care while they work. Many parents in our culture lack this family involvement. It takes a toll.nn2. In the US our maternity/paternity laws and benefits are sad compared to other civilized countries. While it is not supposed to cost women their careers, it often does. I have know too many who have lost their jobs because they had a baby or they have been relegated to a different tract within their company because it is still acceptable in our culture to see mothers differently than other employees. nn3. We need to work. We need to have health care for our children, which is still tied to employment in the US. You have to have a certain kind of job to even get these benefits. Throw in the cost of living and most families have no choice to balance work and family.nnWith all of these challenges I can understand that many people decide that being a parent is not for them. I can respect that. Would these people be good parents if they did have children? Most likely, yes. The article misses one point in my opinion. Being a parent transforms you. I do not know of any parent that resents their children for the time and money they cost. I know many parents who had not planned to be parents. They all love their kids without any trace of resentment. Being handed a person and knowing that they are entrusted to you to help them become a whole person, a good citizen, an artist, someones lover, a scholar, a doctor, a mother, a sister… It brings such joy and hope into your life and it is deeply humbling. I think people who are unsure about being parents should save a little hope for their innate instincts, their inherent generosity and the true goodness of this world. Maybe being a parent is not for them, but I encourage people top realize that they could have a positive impact. Resentment? I think that comes from not having access to health care, quality child care options, and good education resources. Resentment is really an issue with employers that see people as tools instead of a community of people invested in their business and as people worthy of investing in.nnI am a mother to three wonderful children. I see the world differently because they open my mind and my heart in a way that I alone am too limited to do on my own. They are also really cool people that I am looking forward to knowing as adults. I am tired and broke and frazzled. But I tend to think, how can I simplify and find more energy for us all? I have many wonderful friends that have chosen not to be parents. Most of them like my kids and I am happy to share them when appropriate. My family lives hundreds of miles away. I have learned to make my family where I am. It is thanks to many of my child-free friends that our family life is so rich and blessed. Most of them would be amazing parents, but they do not need to prove that to anyone because they are amazing friends to me and my kids.nnSorry to go on and on, but this is close to my heart. I wish people would stop trying to prove points and try to build stronger communities.

  3. Lately this has been on my mind, as I find myself in a serious relationship with a man who is somewhat older, and whose friends are in the baby-making phase. nnAnd the more I am faced with babies the more I look at them with an apathy: “Cute, I guess, but I don’t want to take it home with me.” My other friends have said babies are so cute their wombs hurt. Not me. nnI just don’t want to engage in an activity that makes my body to “shocking and disgusting” things, as one writer put it, and then makes my “heart walk around outside my body.” Romantic? No, just anxiety inducing. nnFinally, there’s the fact that I consider it hubris to bring another being in the world in order to impose my will and values and lifestyle on them, and to validate myself as a productive member of society.

  4. This article should be recommend to couples who are still undecided of whether they will be having a child or not. Thanks a lot for sharing this article. This is really helpful.

 

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