September 20, 2017

How to Explain your Childfree Choice

"How to explain why you've chosen not to have children", by Scott Meyer

"How to explain why you've chosen not to have children", by Scott Meyer

As we’ve pointed out before society has a deeply engrained bias toward to breeding portion of the population. Biology ensures this bias. In the big picture it makes biological sense. Procreation prevents extinction while advancing evolution.

Nothing new there. Except, I’d like to offer up a warm “Thank you!” to all of the breeders around the world who are saving the human race by breeding so that I can focus on my energies elsewhere. Yes, as is often pointed out to me, if we all stopped having children humanity wouldn’t endure for long. I get it. I agree. And I’m deeply grateful to all of you who’ve opted to perpetuate the human race…

Of course, that isn’t what most DINKs are thinking about when they opt out of the breeder program. I’d venture to guess that most DINKs feel pretty confident that enough babies will continue to be born despite our personal choice. And, yes, their are some childfree folks who genuinely believe their choice should be universalized (Don’t dismiss until you’ve considered this. Still hoping for a thoughtful, articulate post on this topic.), but I’m not one of those folks.

So can we step beyond the bias? Perhaps not.

According to Lilit Marcus childfree women endure a deluge of judgment.

Despite the advancements that women have made in the public and private spheres, our bodies – and the choices we make about them – continue to be a battlefield. (TODAYMoms)

In many respects the 20th century was marked by a leveling of the gender playing field. And yet I am consistently made aware of how much more difficult it is for a woman to explain that she’s opted not to have children. When I express my childfree choice I often get hit with a barrage of questions, but acceptance is rarely hard-won. Men who choose not to breed are given a pass in the way that cowboys weren’t forced to pick the new drapes or iron petticoats. Deep in our cultural DNA we make room for men who break with conjugal and domestic conventions. But women are rarely granted this same freedom.

it shouldn’t be important whether a woman has children or not, but most of our culture doesn’t concur. “You’ll change your mind when you’re (five years older than age I am),”… I tried to imagine the opposite situation  – a woman my age (28), pregnant or with a child, being told that in five years she’d change her mind about wanting to be a mother. Or what about a guy my age being told that his “daddy instinct” would kick in soon and he would start wanting to pop out kids? I’m old enough to vote, to drink alcohol and to die for my country, but I’m still being told – sometimes by my own peers – that I’m not mature enough to decide about my body, my family and my future. (TODAYMoms)

Hats off to Ms. Marcus for saying it like it is! Women have a singularly difficult time explaining their childfree choice as I witness again and again when my bride sidesteps the patronizing, dismissive comments and endeavors to communicate her intelligent, considered choice. This is especially challenging with other women who often seem to consider Susan’s personal choice an affront. Instead of explaining her choice Susan frequently ends up listening to an emotional diatribe about the merits of motherhood.

Is their a sensible way to explain your childfree choice? I continue to believe their is, but the conversation rarely remains sensible for long and too often veers into emotionally charged, defensive territory. Perhaps we need to develop a less antagonistic methodology. And perhaps parents need to asses why they become so sensitive when our childfree choice is personal and doesn’t imply judgement of their own choice.

Do you have a foolproof way to explain your childfree choice?

About virtualDavis

G.G. Davis, Jr. (aka virtualDavis) is a writer, storyteller, unabashed flâneur and eager-beaver uncle. Despite two whiz-bang nieces, two superstar nephews, and rewarding teaching/coaching stints at the American School of Paris and Santa Fe Preparatory School, he remains willingly, enthusiastically and happily childfree. His WNK posts are part of an ongoing attempt to understand why. Rosslyn Redux, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks, offers a more ironic twist on his childfree adventure. He also blogs at virtualDavis.com and EssexonLakeChamplain.com. Connect with G.G. Davis, Jr. via Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Comments

  1. Spinsterlicious says:

    It’s not foolproof, but I like to simply say “it’s not for everybody”…with a smile.
    -The Spinsterlicious Life

  2. Brief. Mysterious. And charming! 🙂

  3. I say “I want a lot of things in life and a child is not one of them”. Seems to throw people off long enough to escape into a new topic.

  4. I’m going to test drive that this afternoon, Jackie! “I want a lot of things in life and a child is not one of them.” Thanks!

  5. What I have to do is not explaining but living happily as a cfer.

  6. I think the onus is upon the reproducing population to justify their decision to have children. With the Earth gradually being destroyed by a weed species(you and me!), we are truly running out of time for it to remain habitable, at least by the human race. Environmentalists, especially those who don’t have children, are true humanists. They are truly concerned for the future. No need to worry about people not having enough kids; that’s hardly been a concern. Humanity is an unquestioning herd inexorably pushing itself to its collective downfall.

  7. Thanks for your response, Rob. Several provocative and intriguing ideas here, and one of them, e idea of humans as an unchecked weed species choking out the earth’s biodiversity, etc. deserves a blog post ASAP. I think I’ll tackle it unless you want to tackle it…

  8. True. But the question [too] often begs. And besides, there may be merit in demystifying (read: helping myopic pre-parents and parents dilate their view of) the decision-making process CFers undertake. I think, for example, that many of the pre-parents who ask CFers questions are actually trying to work it all out for themselves. I suspect many more are on the fence about having children than care to admit it, and our answers, our experiences, our shared decision-making journeys just might help them. Or so I hope! 😉

  9. Schopenhauer Pauer says:

    Oh come on. The fate of humanity is only a problem for those humans who haven’t met theirs. The dead and unborn aren’t ‘thanking’ parents for keeping the race going. Really, considering that life is objectively meaningless, how are parents doing something useful? The word meaningless should have some kind of grammatic meaning, at least. Maybe even some policy adjustments. Ok, I’ll concede, keep ahving kids until we have robot staffed retirement homes. Not everyone has the guts to go to dignitas at the first sign of senility, some want to take the long way down. Glad that a ‘pragmatic unchilded’ will acknowlesdge the existence of us more principaled antinatalists, though I suspect flaubert, benatar, schopenhauer, zappfe, darrow etc need no introduction to you good sir.

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