Childfree Don’t Hate Children

Childfree Don't Hate Children

Childfree Don’t Hate Children

Props to Jesse Nichols (@HappyNinjaUX) for reminding parents that childfree adults — indeed childfree couples — don’t hate children. Not necessarily. Not in his case, at least, nor in my case.

Kids have been (and will continue to be) an important part of my life. As a teacher, coach, advisor, uncle, friend, and unabashed man-child, children are central to my life, my love, my hopes, and my satisfactions. I don’t hate children. In fact, I’m pretty certain I’ve never met anyone who actually hates kids.

And yet all too often the childfree choice is equated with hating kids. Bizarre.

I Don’t Want Children; I Don’t Hate Children

Here’s one thing that parents seem to forget. Are you ready for this?

Believe it or not, my identity can include children without breeding on my own! … All of my other siblings are having children of their own and my wife and I can be truly engaged as an aunt and uncle and make sure we are always there for them…

Just because I don’t want to have my own children, doesn’t mean that I hate children. I love the children in my family… My wife and I consider ourselves very lucky to have such great people (and their children) in our lives! (Source: Why I Choose to Be Childfree — Medium)

My wife and I likewise consider ourselves lucky to have two amazing nieces, two amazing nephews, a goddaughter, and lots of cousins and friends’ children to enrich our lives. Our identities celebrate children, and most of the children we know seem to grok this quickly and enthusiastically. Perhaps precisely because we are not parents. Or perhaps because we’ve never grown up very much ourselves?

Less Judgment and More Respect

Jesse Nichols wraps up his childfree meditation with an important reminder. Let’s try to support one another’s decisions whether they be to have children or not. Let’s remember to judge one another less and respect one another more.

Having kids is a choice. No one needs to have kids. The world is not in need of more people. In fact, there is a serious overpopulation problem… But, if you want to have children… I am truly happy for you and I fully support your decision to do so.

I’ve decided that I do not want to have children. I think that’s pretty awesome too! Maybe you can do me the courtesy of supporting my decision as well, rather than giving me a list of reasons why you think I’m wrong. (Source: Why I Choose to Be Childfree — Medium)

Bye-bye, Breeder Bingo. Hello non-judgmental, respectful diversity!

I Respect Your Decision, But… Not Having Kids?

I respect your decision, but... (Source: Pixabay)

I respect your decision, but… (Source: Pixabay)

Childfree articles in the press usually get a lot of below-the-line debate. Lilit Marcus, writing for The Guardian about some of the factors behind her decision to remain childfree, definitely stirred the pot last week.

You just spent the last ten minutes telling me why I should make the same choices as you and that your choices and your lifestyle are better than mine, but I’m the self-obsessed one?

Some didn’t bother disguising their vitriol, but I’ve discovered that there’s a new passive-aggressive approach on the block. This approach isn’t directly insulting, but nonetheless manages to deliver heavy doses of dismissiveness and superiority and be seriously patronizing, all within a neatly wrapped socially acceptable little word package. I’ll follow with five of the best.

I do know that the dark place known as the bottom half of the internet is a hotbed of hyperbole. I’ve picked these, however, because as a childfree woman, especially one in a long term heterosexual relationship that could produce children if we weren’t so darn selfish, I’ve fielded most of these or variants thereof in real life. Just attending a family function is like a nonstop game of “baby question dodgeball”. So get ready to dodge these.

“I respect your decision, but….”

This one wins hands down and it’s up there with starting a sentence with “no offense”. You just know there’s going to be something offensive coming as soon as they’ve said it. Similarly, you know that whoever says this one to you is going to come out with a reason why your decision not to have kids is a bad one and they know better than you.

Here’s a little tip for “I respect your decision, but…”-ers. If you really respect someone’s decision about not having kids then you zip it after “decision”. You don’t add the “but”, because the “but” tells that person that you do not really respect their decision – in fact, quite the opposite.

“It’s a good job you’re not a parent”

This is a common response to declarations of voluntary childlessness. It took me a while to work out that this one was actually meant to be an insult, because I would just think, “Yes, it is a good job I’m not a parent, since I don’t want to be one”. I do now gather that it is meant to be insulting to childfree folks, but I’m still yet to understand how stating the totally flipping obvious is meant to offend me. So if you get this one, just smile sweetly and say, “I know, it is, isn’t it?”

“Self-obsessed people shouldn’t be parents”

My immediate response would be, “No, they probably shouldn’t, but quite a lot of them end up having kids anyway”.

Oh, you meant me? Let me think about this for a minute. You just spent the last ten minutes telling me why I should make the same choices as you and that your choices and your lifestyle are better than mine, but I’m the self-obsessed one?

“Being a parent makes you a better person”

The people that I know who are parents and nice people were nice people before they were parents. They are now nice people who are great parents. They didn’t need to become parents to improve themselves, because they were great pre-parenthood and still are. That’s why I like them.

Do you know another reason why I like them? Because they don’t now feel the need to tell other human beings (even in a sneaky, roundabout sort of way) that they are an inferior species because they don’t have children.

“That’s such a ridiculous reason not to have children”

Marcus got this a lot in the comments on her article, so I felt the need to address this one.

There are no good or bad reasons for deciding not to have children. There are only personal reasons. My reasons for being childfree are not the same as Marcus’s and maybe I don’t relate to some of the reasons she cites, but that doesn’t mean they are ridiculous, because to her, they’re not. It’s her life and therefore her reasons that matter.

I can’t relate to people’s reasons for having kids, but that doesn’t mean I would ever say that they were ridiculous, because well, that would make me quite rude (and probably also quite ridiculous).

Childfree Adults Can’t Relate

Are the Childfree Cut Off from Most of the Adult World?

Halloween strikes me as an appropriate day to wade back into the childfree wilderness for a moment. A day of tricks and treats for children. And for childfree adults… Happy Halloween, childfree adults!

I have a funky costume to model and lots of chocolate to wash down the hatch with ghoulish bourbon, so I’ll make this quick. No probing nulliparity ruminations tonight, just a “Hunh?” moment to pass along. Among the usual doltish Breeder Bingo questions in this recent post, 10 Ways I Win the No Children Argument, is one that bears repeating.

Aren’t you cutting yourself off from most of the adult world? You can’t relate to them!

True. I’ve been stunned into silence as parents of newborns talk about what baby poop should look like — and where to find helpful photos. I’ve never had to tolerate a play date with parents I can’t stand because my kid likes their kid. And I can only provide moral support as parents complain about their under-achieving teens. Then my wife and I dine with unmarried couples and talk about the rest of the world. Thankfully, it’s a big place with lots going on. (Debt.com)

Big world. Lots going on. Don’t worry, parents, we childfree adults will manage alright. But thanks for your concern. And happy Halloween!

Childfree Regrets?

Childfree Regrets?

You’ll regret being childfree when you’re older…

One of most common Breeder Bingos is, “You’ll regret being childfree when you’re older.” To which most of us roll our eyes or nod agreeably but dismissively.

“I hope not,” I say when feeling more generous. Or, “I’ll let you know when I get there…”

I sigh inwardly and add another mark to the childfree regrets blotter hanging on a hook inside my otherwise rather upbeat skull, and then I recite a quiet mantra to myself:

Do not encourage this condescending know-it-all.
Do not suggest that s/he will regret having children when s/he is older.
Do not explain my childfree choice because his/her judgment is made.

Rebuttals About Childfree Regrets

Despite frequent suggestions that the childfree choice will inevitably morph into childfree regrets, most of us learn to avoid engaging. We become tired with countering judgment with reason and dialogue. Parent conviction is deeply ingrained and generally inflexible. Trying to be understood (or, god forbid, respected) by parents who inflexibly assume that we will experience childfree regret down the road is akin to the dysfunctional dialogue between theists and atheists/agnostics. Patience, passion, logic, science, conviction, etc. need not apply.

So reading “What I Regret About Being Childfree” offered a welcome antidote. This admittedly snarky post written by Julie Was Here (aka The hiking Humanist) originally emerged from a response to a childfree-basher.

So this list was originally written as a response to a rather persistent troll on another website, who tried to insist that the childfree (namely, me) are envious of her life as a grandmother (by her own admission, breeding is about all she ever did with her life,) and secretly regret being childfree.

Her childfree regrets range from spot-on to hilarious, and the list is virtually endless. I’ve culled my favorites into a top ten parade to entice you to wander over and read the full post.

Top 10 Childfree Regrets

Please note that the following is excerpted and quoted directly from Julie Was Here‘s post.

  1. I regret that I don’t just mindlessly follow the herd like any lazy, unimaginative cow…
  2. I regret that I’ve served my country proudly, gotten a pilot’s license, competed in and won art competitions, traveled the world, and generally do all the things most people only dream of, and all by the age of 24…
  3. I regret having a healthy, fit, thin body, complete with perky (though admittedly small) breasts, an unmarred abdomen, and…
  4. I regret that I have never looked nor felt like a bloated whale…[nor] like a deflated balloon…
  5. I regret not being covered in the bodily fluids…
  6. I also regret enjoying peaceful slumber every night, not interrupted by screeching shit-factories…
  7. I really regret having an actual healthy and happy relationship… [that] is not strained or destroyed by children…
  8. I regret that my typical free-time resembles what other people consider a rare vacation treat…
  9. I regret that I never get calls from school about bullying or being bullied…
  10. I regret that there is no one around to smash all breakable objects in the house, attempt to feed inappropriate items into disk drives… [and] flush toys down the toilet…

 What are Your Top “Childfree Regrets”?

PANKs and PUNKs (Professional Aunties and Uncles No Kids)

Image representing SavvyAuntie as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

The number of PANKs (Professional Aunties No Kids) and PUNKs (Professional Uncles No kids) is growing and their influence on children is in the news. The founder of the auntie movement is Melanie Notkin at www.savvyauntie.com. She has an active blog and book that guides child-free aunties on all things kiddie. Notkin is the creator of the term PANK and she also owns the trademark.

From her website:

A few years ago, DINKs was the new segment marketers had their eye on – Dual Income No Kids. PANKs, while focusing specifically on women (married, partnered or single) who have no kids, is a pretty large market in the US. In fact, the 2010 US Census Report: Fertility of American Women states that 47.1  percent of women through age 44 do not have kids (check “All Races” report). And that number has been steadily growing over the last couple of decades. In 1976, only 35 percent were childless.

Notkin gives statistics on the spending potential of the emerging PANK market:

–  According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50 percent of single women own their own homes. They’re also the fastest-growing segment of new home buyers, second home buyers, car purchasers, new investors, and travelers. (Who hasn’t dreamed of taking the nieces and nephews on their first trip to Disney World?)

–  Twenty-seven percent of American households are headed by women, a fourfold increase since 1950.

–  Of American women who draw annual incomes of $100,000 or more, nearly half don’t have children. In fact, the more a woman earns, the less likely she is to have kids.

That means that these PANKs and PUNKs have money to spend on their nieces and nephews since they don’t have kids of their own.

A November Forbes article Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles says that many adults in childrens’ lives today are not relatives but close friends that are considered stand in aunts, uncles and godparents.

Notkin says, “The more aunts and uncles the child has, the more influences a child has,” says Notkin. “If the uncle is a fantastic artist, the child may be inspired by that talent.”

For kids the diversity of influences could be beneficial. Parents who share their kids with aunties and uncles might benefit too. And it fits with the notion that “it takes a village” to raise a child.

Author’s Note:

I’m not really an aunt, but I’m a godmother three times over and consider most of my friends’ kids my nieces and nephews, so that makes me a PANK.  I just finished shopping, wrapping and mailing all their Christmas gifts. I take my role of Auntie Amy very seriously at Christmas time, and put A LOT of thought into finding the exact right gift for each child. (One gift was noisy and I’m sorry for that.) And I hope, hope, hope the kids love them! I find that books are the best gifts and still remember all the books my PANKs and PUNKs and real aunts and uncles gave to me as a child. Hope you will share your favorites.

Hey WNKers (and PANKs and PUNKs) what is your favorite book to give to kids?

Enhanced by Zemanta