There is so much misunderstanding between the childfree world and the non-childfree world, so I thought I’d answer some questions to hopefully clarify some things and narrow that gap between worlds. Of course, these are my thoughts and opinions and I cannot speak for all childfree people, so please consider having conversations with the childfree people in your life, while maintaining and open mind and open heart.
Did you ever want kids? Yep! I used to want a big family and had told my husband that I’d like to have four kids and later decided two might be more manageable.
Why did you decide to not have kids? We really didn’t have any “big defining moment”. My husband and I somehow ended up setting our anniversaries as times when we’d re-discuss the plan for kids. As the years passed (we’ve been married for ten years later this year), we kept deciding to put off having kids until a later date, until we really started to realize it wasn’t a priority in our lives and started to toy with the idea of just not having kids and what that might look like. We realized we are really happy with life how it is and didn’t want to disrupt or change the life we have created for ourselves.
Do you ever think of things that you might miss out on by not having kids? For sure. Since I overthink everything, anyway, I’ve definitely played this out in my mind on more than one occasion. As with any decision, there are always perks and there are always drawbacks, and you have to weigh these against your priorities. Things that come to mind are little kiddos jumping into bed in their adorable little onesies for morning cuddles (tradeoff, sleeping in and waking up to dog cuddles), attending soccer games where they wear their cute oversized jerseys as they run aimlessly around (tradeoff, staying inside where it is warm versus sitting on the sidelines in rain and sleet and wind), no seeing my baby for the very first time (I’ll admit, there is probably no equal tradeoff here, but I like to think that getting my PhD and publishing a book (two big goals of mine) are somewhat equally awesome in terms of being labours of love).
Are you ever worried you’ll regret not having kids? Yes, sometimes, but not as worried as I am that I’d have them and regret that. We, as humans, naturally feel a need to procreate and I think that some of the worry about not having children to carry on our genes comes from this
How much time is “too much” for your friends/family with kids to talk about their kids? I mean, friendships go both ways, so if all you do is talk about what interests you (whether it’s kid related or not), I’m going to be annoyed and probably eventually distance myself from our relationship. I may not have kids but I still have interests and passions and
like to think that I am at least somewhat interesting. However, I’m very much aware that your kid is probably the biggest part of your life and you love them immensely, and as your friend or family member, I care about what you care about. I maybe can’t sympathize with you or make good recommendations on strollers or child-led weaning (that’s the one child related buzz word that even I’ve heard of), but I’d love to listen and will try to empathize!
So now that your friend has had a kid, you don’t want to hang out anymore? No way, (in normal, non-Covid times) I love hanging out with my friends and their kids. I think it is so neat to see someone you knew before they became a parent as they transition to being responsible for this little person! Just…maybe give me some pointers on how to communicate with your little person because for some reason, I so desperately want them to like me and also have literally no clue how to talk to kids in “their language”.
I mean, yes, sometimes, I’d love to hang out with my friends without their kids so we can do “regular adult things”, but I hear that’s something parents want anyway?
Do you hate kids? No. In small doses, they’re great, if a little intimidating.
I hope that over the next few decades, we as a society can move away from the stigma that childfree by choice people hate kids. Sure, some people truly don’t like kids, but I’d argue that the majority of childfree by choice individuals have realized that children don’t necessarily align with their life goals or fit in amongst their priorities. I would also hazard a guess that many of the people who have claimed to hate kids have felt pressured to state this because the explanation of “I just don’t want kids” isn’t a socially acceptable answer yet. It is (somewhat) easier to convince others to accept your decision if they believe you vehemently hate children than it is if you confess that you do like kids but simply don’t want your own. These statements are often followed up with “oh just, wait, someday you will!” or “oh, you’ll change your mind” and sometimes it is just easier and less frustrating to say you don’t like kids instead.
What would you do if you found out you were pregnant? I’d definitely grieve for the life I’ve pictured for myself and the plans I’ve had, because while some of my goals would still be achievable, it would be under a very different timeline than what I’ve had in mind. But I would still have the baby and love the baby so much. And I know that in some people’s minds, me saying this makes me “less childfree” than others or suggests that I secretly do want kids and won’t admit it, but this isn’t the case. I believe there are consequences and outcomes for every action, and sometimes these result in things we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. I don’t think it’s healthy or right to think we can just simply make these outcomes disappear because they don’t align with what we want. For me, there is a difference between choosing to not create a new life and choosing to end that life after it has been created. (I hope this makes sense. I really don’t want to turn this into a pro-life/pro-choice debate here because it simply is not the right place for this. This is another topic that requires compassion and open conversations and so much more than an internet comment war, so please take this paragraph as what it is, my thoughts and beliefs and not me condemning others.)
Who is going to look after you when you’re old? I mean, ideally, I want to be that little old lady still puttering around her garden and going for long walks, but if that isn’t meant to be, the nursing home staff, who are trained and paid for the job, will look after me.
You do realize that dogs/cats/jobs/travel/education/(fill in the blank) are not the same as having children, right? I realize that nothing is the same as having kids and respect that it is an incredible and amazing journey. I also realize we are all meant to have different journeys and that there are so many different possible journeys for each person. I’m not mindlessly trying to fill some “childless void” with other activities or other creatures, though. Rather, I’ve carefully curated my life based on what is important to me.
So there you have it!
Are you childfree by choice? What questions do you get asked?
Are you a parent or someone who has questions for people who choose to be childfree? I’d love to answer them, feel free to leave them in the comments below! I believe that honest, open-minded and kind conversations are so important to help us all connect and understand each other.