November 28, 2015

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 Regrets? (

Childfree Regrets? (Source:

Childfree Regrets? (Source:

Kate Banister and her husband Ian spent two or three years weighing up whether to have kids. “We both had our ups and downs, but now were equally on the same page about it which is very fortunate,” the 37-year-old business owner said. Getting their two dogs Ruby and Saffy helped the Banisters make up their minds. “We thought this is actually quite nice, you get the interaction and the nurturing with the dogs, and you can still have a life. But new research suggests one in four women who choose not to have children live to regret their decision, as they face growing old without family.” (Source: Will women who choose to go childfree regret it? |

Childless by Choice Issues? Enough Already!

Is it time to mute the childless by choice debate?

Is it time to mute the childless by choice debate?

Let’s finish the week off with a quick look at Dani Alpert’s rant on HuffPo about childless by choice oversaturation. Sure, it’s a few weeks overripe, and there’s something decidedly disingenuous about reposting a post about the fact that there’s too much posting about childless by choice issues, but… I can’t resist.

Why do the Childless by Choice still feel the need to defend their decisions? Why is this still relevant? With all that’s going on in the world; Isis, Ebola, climate change, George Clooney’s wedding, why does anyone give a sh*t about the 10 things not to say to a CBC person? ~ Dani Alpert (

Right. Why? Sometimes I want to throw around asterisk-ornamented bombs myself, let off a little steam and tell all the bingo brandishing breeders to cut me some slack. To cut us some slack. Why is it any of their business whether or not my wife and I are childless by choice?

The answer is that I don’t know. I don’t know why the debate grows louder and more caustic instead of vanishing quietly into the background. Are childless by choice adults defensive? Maybe. But honestly, it usually feels like it’s the way around. I’ve honestly never heard CBCs question a parent’s choice. Never! But parents frequently question our choice to remain childfree. So you tell me, who’s being defensive?

I will never understand why what I do, and don’t do, with my uterus matters to anyone else but me and my gynecologist. ~ Dani Alpert (

Okay, so let’s cut to the chase. This is exactly the sort of gem that I couldn’t resist highlighting and echoing back across the interwebs. Seriously! And here’s another.

Do us all a favor and read a book, go to the movies or join the army. Whatever you do… stay out of my bed and womb. ~ Dani Alpert (

Wow! Dani’s pulling no punches. Sure, it’s effective venting language, and she’s certainly grabbed the “Hey, look at me!” spotlight, but there’s more to it than that. She’s right. She isn’t refocusing the debate. She is annulling the debate. Parents who question and/or judge their childless by choice friends are WAY out of bounds. Period.

Dani touches briefly on feminism and explains that she’s metaphorically “mothered” people, things, even a short film. She totally groks the mothering/parenting instinct, a point that she underlines in her stream of conscious list of CBC related thoughts. But that’s not the point. The point, is she wants everyone to shut the $&@%! up and start talking about something more important.

Fair enough. Let’s distance ourselves from the judgment. Let’s remember that how a woman chooses to uses her uterus is her business. Let’s recognize that questioning/judging a woman’s childfree choice is no less inappropriate and offensive than a CBC woman questioning/judging a mother’s decision to get pregnant, carry the baby to term, and keep it after birth.

But healthy conversation about the childless by choice option is just as important, especially for young women, as information about pregnancy, birthing, parenting. There is an awful lot of social programming to balance out, and women should be empowered to make the choice whether or not to become mothers with knowledge, intention, and confidence. That will not happen in a vacuum. Nor will it happen in a bellicose atmosphere of judgment. Let’s create a friendlier, more informative, more nurturing process for women and men to determine the the best choices. Sounds reasonable, right?

We Forgot to Have Kids: Gas Station Condoms and Childfreedom

We Forgot to Have Kids

We Forgot to Have Kids

It’s Friday night CFers! What’s on your sybaritic to-do list? Ain’t childfreedom a $#@%?!?!

Okay, snark aside, I’m confident that you’ll have a wonderful evening (and weekend), especially once you check out Kevin B. Morrow’s (@kbmrg) lighthearted but sincere reflection on his childfree marriage. His HuffPo post is called “Childless by Choice – Gas Station Condoms and Rumors of Infertility“, but the subtitle should be, “We forgot to have kids!” I’ve used this awe-shucks explanation often enough myself, so his words resonated for me. Might for you too. Anyway, it’s a quick read. You can squeeze in this quick read between your après-work massage and happy hour! You know, when your friends are picking up the babysitter…

But if you’re feeling too mellow after your massage (or you’ve already jumpstarted happy hour), I’ll pull a couple of my favorite quotes.

It’s very strange that I had no problem buying liquor or illegal drugs when I was in my late teens but I was too embarrassed to buy condoms in a drug store… My solution to this dilemma was to buy condoms from a vending machine in the bathroom of a gas station that was at the end of the airport runway.

It honestly is odd how uncomfortable males are about buying condoms, many even once they’re all grown up. Why is that? Maybe we need to make it cool so that teens will make smarter choices…

Anyway, Kevin grew up and now he’s buying his wife’s feminine hygiene products and condoms without even flinching. I’ve got to admit that I’m still working on the cool-as-a-cucumber tampon purchase. Maybe I’ll update you once I master it. Kevin tacks from here to the first subtle look at why he and his bride opted for a childfree marriage.

Children can’t be let out in the yard to play until you get up at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday because you were out late the night before. Dogs can.

Obvious humor here, and I have a weakness for folks who can shine light on serious stuff by making me laugh. But there’s another aspect of this droll throwaway that’s less droll and not really a throwaway. When I grew up we were out in the yard, the woods, and everywhere else all day on weekends. And summers. And snow days. But somehow this basic and wonderful aspect of childhood vanished over the last decade or so. Poof! Gone. It’s uncanny how few children wander neighborhoods nowadays, how few sleds and snowballs fights criss-cross postcard perfect snowy lawns. I know this isn’t what Kevin’s talking about, but it’s on my database of reasons why I’m child free. Somewhere we lost something. How? When? Why?

The reality for me and for Kevin and many others, we just sort of forgot to have kids.

The reality was that neither of us ever had a strong desire to be parents. The wonderful mental images had crossed our minds; coloring with a cute three year old, taking them trick or treating on Halloween, or seeing their faces on Christmas morning as they opened presents. We recognized however that this was a romanticized view and not everything that was involved in parenting.

It’s interesting to me how often I hear this explanation. This is the main reason that my bride and I skipped breeding. We love children, but we felt no burning desire to make one of our own. We borrow them. We spoil them. We return them. And so far that’s worked out just fine for us. We weren’t – and we still aren’t – anti parenting/kids/etc. We just had a lot stronger interest in other parts of life. And the prime breeding years shuffled past without provoking much interest from us. We forgot to have kids!

I’ll wrap up with Kevin’s final funny anecdote.

My father-in-law had some sort of surgery and my wife had gone to Florida to be his “nurse” during this time. As he woke up from the anesthesia, she was standing there and he asked her “Have you had Kevin tested?” her response was “for what?” Thoughts of STDs and AIDS ran through her mind. He then said “well you’ve never had kids.” Her response:

“I guess it might help if we stopped using birth control.”

If only that were enough for most people…

No Kids No Worries: Childfree and Loving it in Australia

Ben Mahoney has started a group of people called No Kids No Worries for like-minded singles. Picture: Keryn Stevens.

Ben Mahoney has started a group of people called No Kids No Worries for like-minded singles. Picture: Keryn Stevens.

Seems that our friends down under manage to tackle the whole childfree question a bit more lightheartedly than we do in the United States. At least Ben Mahoney does. He landed in the limelight when he launched an Adelaide-based childfree  social group called No Kids No Worries.

The thirty something is gainfully employed, recently single and drawn to childfreedom over diaper talk. Go figure! He’s gambling that there just might be others on the same wavelength, and No Kids No Worries just might offer the sort of interaction that they’re looking for.

No Kids, No Worries is a social meet-up for people to share and enjoy nights out at the pub, conversation, travel and spontaneous new experiences without worrying about the babysitter. (

We’re seeing more and more of these initiatives all around the world. Childfree singles and couples are “coming out of the closet”, realizing that the backlash from peer-parents isn’t worth stifling their own life choices. It’s refreshing! And it inevitably flames the fiery tempers of those who believe that true happiness is only possible through procreation.

Evidence? Check out the comments below the article about Ben Mahoney. There are friendly, understanding cheers from other childfree Australians as well as constructive feedback about venues, etc.

But there are also the nasties. Why does parenting seem to make some people so darned angry? So vindictive? So defensive?


But that’s not new. Nor is it interesting… Back to Ben Mahoney.

“Obviously having children is a totally valid life choice, it’s just not for everybody… My career is a bit of a focus at the moment, and I want to keep travelling. I don’t want to be tied down. It’s nice to go out with friends and not have to hear about nappies or sleep or worrying about the babysitter.” (

Ha! Procreating is a “valid” life choice. Indeed. If only adamant parents could recollect that choosing not to have children is likewise a valid choice we might all be in a friendlier, more understanding soup. Mahoney is sympathetic to those who endure derision by others unable (or unwilling) to tolerate and accept their childfree choice.

“I think there are a lot of people out there that don’t want kids but are too scared to voice their opinions, because of the condemnation they receive. People say to me ‘when are you going to start being responsible and settle down, when are you going to grow up and have kids.’ There’s a prevalent attitude that you just have children – you don’t think about it – it’s just something you do. But it’s just not in my life plan at all.” (

What to do if you’re not in Adelaide? You could always book a flight. After all, who needs an excuse to visit Australia?

But that’s not the only option lonely childfree singles and couples can choose. Search for similar childfree social groups in your own area. And if you can’t find one, perhaps Mahoney’s decision will inspire you to launch your own group. Go skiing. Or swimming. Naked. After all, there won’t be any innocent children around!

DINK Debate: Sylvia D. Lucas on Childfree Guilt

WNK readers will appreciate this candid look at childfree guilt (or the absence thereof) and the persistent pressure on women (rather than men) to become parents.

Sylvia D. Lucas (@SylDLucas) wants to redirect the conversation away from why women are choosing not to have kids and toward the far more important message that women need to understand that they have the choice. In short, debating whether or not childfree women are selfish, etc. is the wrong focus and is overlooking an important demographic shift. Lucas (aka Kristen J. Tsetsi, @ktsetsi) and NBC Connecticut’s Shirley Chan. effectively dilate the conversation without succumbing to bingo volleying and book promo. Well done!

No Childfree Guilt

No Children, No Guilt, by Sylvia D. Lucas

No Children, No Guilt,
by Sylvia D. Lucas

That’s right, Lucas recently published No Children, No Guilt, a nonfiction book about the choice to opt out of parenthood. Drawing upon her own experience (including two failed marriages) Lucas offers a welcome antidote to the those concerned with the risks of childfree guilt. I just purchased a copy from Amazon, and I’ll pass along my verdict shortly. For now, I’ll defer to the ever wise Laura Carroll.

You will turn the pages grinning, definitely be prone to giggling or even laughing out loud, as I did. Ideally for those who have not 100% accepted they are childfree or are not quite completely ok with it yet, this slim Ebook is also for those who have made peace with it. Like any fun ride, it ended too soon. ~ Laura Carroll (“Anonymous” Was a Woman)

Or, in the words and interpretive dance of the author, “Guilty? Hahahaha…” Take that, childfree guilt!

Friday Funny! Our TIME Magazine response (just kidding)


The TIME magazine article, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children,” has sparked an electric storm of media attention. It’s a shame the writers at WNK are too busy enjoying a childfree summer on the lake to respond. We kid! No…wait! We DON’T kid! We have a lot to say but we are busy boating AND reading all the articles about the TIME hoopla. We promise to comment soon! For now we offer you a “Friday Funny” and hope that you all remember to laugh a little more today since everyday is Friday when you are childfree!


For some reason we find this cartoon hilarious.

Do you agree? Funny or not here we come!

If you have a “Friday Funny” for WNK please share!

Study: Wanting Things (Kids?) Makes Us Happier Than Having Them

theofficebabyThis article, Study: Wanting Things Makes Us Happier Than Having Them,

does not mention children specifically, but… should it?

Is the modern desire for children, like our want for other new, shiny things, a result of relentless marketing?


The most defensible, obvious answer to both of the questions above is “No”.  Biology, instinct, and the innate need to survive and thrive fuel our animalistic drive to procreate. Hormones propel us to copulate and populate, so chow can one lay the blame for overpopulation at the feet of media and advertising?


For starters, in developed countries at least, children no longer have utility beyond fulfilling the (selfish) desires of parents. As many others have reminded us (as in the first story on the following link) children are no longer needed to work the farm or otherwise help support modern families. While children were once a valuable asset, they now appear exclusively on the debit side of a family balance sheet. They are expensive, and the return on capital is not something that can be measured with a calculator. (Nor should it, I promise all the detached, cold calculus leads to something resembling a point.)


So how do we modern, western humans place a value on having babies and raising families? Well, this is where one might reflect on what we see in commercials or hear from celebrities. What about the endless celebration of babies on movie and TV, starting with Disney movies? Which life events are repeatedly, FOREVER, packed with the most drama, joy and possibility? How many babies do you think are born to TV characters every year during sweeps week? More importantly, WHY?




Babies are big, big business. Since the value of children can no longer be calculated, corporations are compelled to fill us with fantasies of a perfect life dependent upon, or punctuated by, a perfect child. The messages we constantly hear and see tell us that babies are priceless, and they make us happy. So, am I imagining things, or is this possibly the western worlds most effective marketing scheme?


Since babies are priceless, there is no ceiling on the amount of money that can/should be spent on them. If you do not spend every earned and borrowed penny on them, you are depriving them, and probably guilty of bad parenting. Your kids probably won’t succeed because you didn’t buy them every possible toy, tool and opportunity. No one is allowed to openly disagree. Parents, especially celebrities, must constantly and publicly repeat the same vague platitudes like “It’s amazing!” or “It’s all about the baby.” or “It gives my life meaning.” If you have 1 child, their birthday better be the best day of your life. (Meaning that it was all down hill from there?) If you have 2, it better be a tie!


Biology does not account for these things, does it? So what does? Marketing? Brilliant marketing?

This item is priceless + it is virtually guaranteed by your neighbors and celebrities to make you happy + fear + guilt + insecurity = ?


What do you think?


The links in the text above provide more links to related stories. And here is one about an actor swimming upstream:

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The Happiness Project – “Lighten Up” on the Childfree

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon

The NYTimes bestseller by Gretchen Rubin is a year-in-the-life exploration of a writer trying to live her life happier. What does that mean? Each month is broken into a theme: energy, love, play, etc. April’s theme is “Lighten Up” with a subtitle: Parenthood. Hmm. Maybe that means you don’t need to “lighten up” if you don’t have kids or you are already pretty enlightened?
Nope. Not according to the author. Rubin cites a study that says “child
care” is only slightly more pleasant than commuting, and one that says
marital satisfaction declines after the first child is born (picking up
again after they leave the nest). Then she disputes these findings, all
the while complaining about her kids and marital satisfaction mostly
relating to fights about her kids.

“Now as a parent myself, I realize how much the happiness of parents depends
on the happiness of their children and grandchildren.”

Really? But then again the kids did give Rubin a reason to write a bestseller.
We at WNK believe that by being childfree, everyday is a project in

From the Happiness Project Blog:

Do your children make you happy? Some research says NO! I say YES!

Read the article here

Hey WNKers have you read The Happiness Project?


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Schmutzie’s Kid-Free List

I just discovered Elan Morgan, aka Schmutzie (which in and of itself makes this a pretty super duper Friday), and I also discovered Schmutzie’s kid-free Twitter list (think, icing on the double dark chocolate cake), and — as if that isn’t already the limit for TGIF decadence — I read Schmutzie’s post on BlogHer called “Why I Made A Kid-Free List On Twitter And What Happened When I Did” which is quirky and smart and a perfect match for WNK readers.

Pushing the Baby Button

Shmutzie (Elena Morgan) Doodle

Shmutzie (Elena Morgan) Doodle

Read Schmutzie’s post for yourself. Until then I’m going to tempt you by highlighting a few choice passages.

Creating my kid-free list seemed innocent enough to me at the time. I tend to swim in a sea that seems primarily comprised of mommybloggers and daddybloggers, and I was suddenly possessed of the urge to find and collect those out there who fit my particular demographic: people over 30 who do not have children… The kid-free Twitter list had only existed for about half an hour, though, before I started losing followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook. I received a direct message on Twitter telling me that not everyone wanted to celebrate infertility like I did. An e-mail said that the list was cold-hearted. On Facebook, I was asked what I was trying to accomplish with it. (Elena Morgan, BlogHer)

A familiar rant, right? A familiar frustration for the childfree. If we openly acknowledge that we’ve opted out of the birthing bonanza, we inevitably piss people off. Just in voicing our preference to remain childfree we trod on something sacred. “What? You don’t want kids? That’s blasphemy. That’s, that’s inhuman!” The textures and color patterns vary, but the theme is the same. Parents too often become defensive when confronted by childfree couples, as if our personal life choice is a judgment on their marriage, their offspring, their ethics, intelligence, etc. Not all parents I should quickly add. My bride and I count many parent friends who are understanding. But I’d venture that it’s not the norm. Yet. But it is changing, slowly, for the better, I believe.

Beyond Breeder Bingo

And Ms. Morgan fleshes out the familiar Breeder Bingo cliches with some other similarly condescending and/or ignorant comments she’s endured regarding her choice to remain childfree. Here are a few choice comments:

  • Why don’t you like children?
  • It must be nice to still get to live like you’re twenty.
  • When I’ve spent time with women who don’t have children, it feels like there is just something missing. They are incomplete.
  • Are you worried that your husband might find someone else who can have children? (Elena Morgan, BlogHer)

The first two are annoying for the obvious reasons. Logic, for example.

Schmutzie, baby.

Schmutzie, baby. (Photo: rubyshoes)

And the second two rub my fur backwards because they are simultaneously ignorant and presumptuous. And let’s add smug to that. Especially because it’s so easy to imagine the look on people’s faces when they uttered these genius observations. It’s offensive to assume that childfree by choice adults are incomplete. And equally offensive to assume that a partner would betray a marriage because of a decision to remain childfree. Does it really not occur to parents that the choice to remain childfree is a joint decision? It’s not a power play. It’s no an evil plot to blunt the geneology of a partner. My bride and I discussed whether or not we wanted/intended to have children throughout the first four years that we dated. And we’ve continued the discussion throughout the seven years that we’ve been married. That’s how relationships work. If not, then the question of whether or not to get pregnant is probably the least of the problems a couple needs to deal with.

Back to Schmutzie since she navigates the issue with more grace than I, especially when it comes to the condescending assumptions of some (not all, thank gawd) parents.

Schmutzie Gets Tribal

These kinds of assumptions are common, and they make me more than a little angry. They minimize who we are in this world and the roles that we play, and they define us by what we are perceived to lack. This is why I felt moved to find my tribe on Twitter. An individual’s basic worth does not reside in whether they procreate…

The kid-free Twitter list is simply here to recognize the nearly 20% of us who may not feel as seen as those in the large parenting niche online in which we often socialize. We can sometimes feel a little ignored, and little less well-loved, a little passed over, and it feels kind of nice to be able to put up a hand and say “I’m here” in a group of other people whose lives look a little more like our own. (Elena Morgan, BlogHer)

I’m here. Mommy bloggers and daddy bloggers, we’re here. And we’re childfree. But we’re not the antichrist. And we’re not judging, bashing or mocking you. Well, at least most of the time we’re not. 😉 Sometimes we chide you just a little, but you take yourselves pretty @#$% seriously most of the time. And you don’t hesitate to chide us, so thicken your skin and try to understand why your childfree friends sometimes want to connect with others who’ve decided that two is enough for a happy, fulfilled life.

Thank you, parents. And thank you, Schmutzie!