December 22, 2014

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?

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Video: Childfree Cartoon

Something warm and fuzzy post Thanksgiving:

Well, maybe not so warm and fuzzy. I’m still not sure if these are cats, dogs, or bears.

Breeders vs. Non-Breeders

Promo shot for Last Splash

Image via Wikipedia

Some people hate the term “breeder.”  Mostly it’s breeders that complain. To me a breeder is someone who chooses to have children and a non-breeder someone who does not. I’m a non-breeder and think it’s a funny title. You are welcome to call me a non-breeder even to my face. Also The Breeders happens to be the name of one of my favorite bands, so named because the term “breeders” is gay slang for heterosexuals. Interesting, right?


Urban Dictionary
has a slightly modified version of the term breeder:

1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way.

Okay. Ouch. That is not so nice. When did “breeders” become derogatory term against parents?  An alternative definition is  a person who breeds livestock or other animals or plants professionally. (That could be taken a couple of ways perhaps.) Apparently defining the word breeder is not that simple and a touchy subject for many including Renee from the blog www.womanist-musings.com:

“The main slur that has been directed at me from the LGBT community is the term breeder.  I understand that this a reaction to the fact that straight people constantly shame same sex couples for their inability to reproduce.  Though many straight couples spend a lifetime together and chose never to become parents, the biological impossibility of two women, or two men producing a child has been constructed as a negative.”

And on www.christianforums.com

“Are you aware that we parents are sometimes referred to as “breeders” by childfree people? It just made me sad, as I am one of those people who doesn’t judge couples for not wanting a child. That’s their decision, but why should we as parents be termed “breeders” because we decide to have children? The term is primarily use in reference to someone breeding animals! Really… I do find it offensive, and very hurtful.”

So why do we need labels like breeder, non-breeder, childfree, non-parent? Do names and labels hurt or discriminate? What do you think breeders and non-breeders? Are you loud and proud?

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Breeder Bingo

Breeder Bingo Card created by Deadly Sinners

Breeder Bingo Card created by Deadly Sinners

I recently mentioned a typical Breeder Bingo response posted by Nullipara Life (@NulliparaLife), and ever since I’ve been hyper conscious of the usually presumptuous, often daft questions and assertions breeders dish out to childfree folks. Time for a Breeder Bingo expose!

What is Breeder Bingo?

Breeder Bingo means one of the “usual” phrases we hear over and over again from breeders, so much so that someone created a bingo-like card to use. As they say the dumb things to you, you cover the blocks on your card until you have Bingo! (Happily Childfree)

Fun right? Think of it as making lemonade when you’re repeatedly dished up lemons. Or clinging the levity despite the cloying, nagging, persistence quest of friends and family to bust out a baby before meaningful life leaves you in the dust…

Ramona Creel recently posted a Breeder Bingo primer of sorts on her blog that explains the game:

It’s a fun little game we no-kidders play with those who think that (with enough bullying) they can convert us to their way of thinking and convince us to have kids. For those of you who have never had your life choices and values questioned by complete strangers who don’t even know you, you’re missing out on quite a treat. (RamonaCreel.com)

Many childfree bloggers have published lists of Breeder Bingo examples, often with their own responses. Here are a couple of examples:

The lists are endless. And familiar. It’s staggering how often perfect strangers presume to know me  better than I know myself. So quick to assume, to judge, to advise. It might be time to print a Breeder Bingo card (here’s another Breeder Bingo card) and start keeping track of my wins! Maybe if I celebrate my wins often enough, perform goofy enough victory dances while chanting “Breeder Bingo! Breeder Bingo!” breeders will start to get the message. Probably not…

Every time a child-free individual comes upon a baby-zealot, he or she is guaranteed to hear the same mindless arguments over and over again — an endless braying and baaing and mooing of natalist propaganda. These folks like to explain why the decision not to breed is wrong, why the unencumbered are shirking their duty by not reproducing, and how much the other person is going to regret having gone down this path later in life… The biggest problem I have with most of these “reasons” for having kids is that they are emotionally-driven, backed by no real logic — and smack of a desperate attempt at justification on the part of the breeder attacking you. (RamonaCreel.com)

I’m choosing to be a bit more optimistic than Ms. Creel, but nevertheless, it makes sense to reconsider the typical Breeder Bingo scenarios I encounter as a childfree married man. Instead of sighing inwardly and thinking, “Really? Again?” I’m going to start celebrating the parade of cliches!

You’ll change your mind

Mind Games (song)

Mind Games (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In case you missed it, Nullipara Life (@NulliparaLife) has been posting “Bingo Breeder Responses” which is to say, sometimes-funny-sometimes-flip-almost-always-thoughful answers to the questions and assertions childfree folks encounter. Each post includes several Q&A style exchanges, and the seventh post tackles the all-too-familiar, “You’ll change your mind.”

Ugh! This has to be the most common and most ignorant bingo out there. Being that ‘you’ll’ is the conjunction of ‘you will’, I think we can all assume you’re telling me that I am definitely going to change my mind. Right. Because clearly you must know me better than I know myself… Telling a childfree person they will change their mind one day only makes them want to prove you wrong even more. What if I were to tell you, “you’ll change your mind” about being a parent? Because admittedly, a lot of parents do change their mind. Oh but no one ever thinks of it that way. No one ever bothers to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and think about how they’d feel if they were being antagonized by a bunch of mombies… Next time someone says to you, “you’ll change your mind” just tell them, “you’ll change your mind.” Or if they ask you, “why don’t you have kids?” ask them, “why did you have kids?” They’ll probably start stuttering and end up lost for words, which is always a good thing… (Nullipara Life)

I’m a bit torn here. I like the questions. It would be nice if we all contributed to a more open Q&A cultured world. It would reward curiosity. It would encourage dialogue and possibly even understanding and respect. But “You’ll change your mind” isn’t a question. It’s an assumption. An assertion. And it’s frankly out of line. It’s amazing how different the same idea becomes when voiced as a question: “Do you think you’ll change your mind one day?” This question conveys genuine interest and respect. And it is unlikely to make the childfree answerer defensive or dismissive. A constructive conversation will likely follow.

Nyx (@Nyxks) reflected on the “You’ll change your mind” assertion:

I do think that even if I had meet him early on that I would still have kept my childfree status and wish. In part because I’ve never had that maternal side when it comes to children, I can get along with them for short periods of time, but at the end of the day I do have to give them back because I just can’t do the 24/7 deal with them. (Nyxks Musings)

Childfree couples come to their choice for many different reasons, and discussing these reasons can be useful. Defending one’s childfree choices against breeders who insist that we’ll regret our choices one day or that we’ll change our minds is less useful. And less inviting. Consider a childfree friend asking a parent about the choice to have children and then asserting, “You’ll regret your choice to have a child!”