What exactly does “childfree by choice” mean? If you watched the video above, you may have been drawn into the antagonism that is often provoked by the term, but you may be further from understanding what it means rather than closer. A few confusing excerpts:
I like myself much more now than I ever did when I was single and childfree.
It makes me kind of sad to think that I, for so long, had decided against this life because I thought that having children would somehow limit my life experiences. But the irony is that… this is the single greatest experience that you could ever go through.
There’s irony in a group of people who are seeking victim status, who complain that they are being discriminated against, while actively discriminating against a group of people because of their age, children.
I am sorry for these people, that they feel the need to bash me for my choices, and it’s only because they’ve been bashed for theirs… That’s why people are angry.
Hmmm… Perhaps a momversation isn’t the right place to look for an unbiased, emotion-free understanding of the term “childfree by choice”. (Update: Check out the lengthy conversation about this video over at The Childfree Life.)
Background: Childfree by Choice
I suspect the “childfree by choice” reference was born as a tidy self explanatory response to questions like, “Are you having difficulty conceiving?” Or, “Do you realize that if you wait much longer you may have trouble getting pregnant?” Or perhaps there exists a more academic evolution of the term childfree by choice. Certainly there is plenty of debate around the usage of the term, often stemming from the distinction between the words “childfree” and “childless”. For some it is a battle cry, for others a pejorative epithet. For me, it’s a matter of convenience, an efficient way to encapsulate a decision that my wife and I have made (and continue to make) not to procreate.
Childless vs. Childfree by Choice
As it is a term often used at Why No Kids?, I’d like to offer some usage context borrowed from Wikipedia contributors all around the globe.
Childfree (sometimes spelled child-free) is a term used to describe individuals who neither have children nor desire to have children. An alternative term is childless by choice. The choice not to procreate has been a more available option since the development of reliable birth control, and has become increasingly common since the 1960s… There have been numerous books written about childfree people and quantitative academic research is now emerging. Childfree individuals do not necessarily share a unified political or economic philosophy… There are, however, a range of social positions related to childfree interests, and political and social activism in support of these interests has become increasingly commonplace. (Wikipedia)
A quick look at the etymology of the term “childfree” is helpful:
The term “childfree” is distinct from the term “childless” in that the suffix ‘-free’ indicates one’s free choice to forgo procreation, while the suffix ‘-less’ implies a lack. (Wikipedia)
Motivations: Childfree by Choice
Of course, no look at adults who are childfree by choice would be complete without examining some of the dominant motivations. The following is excerpted and/or adapted from the more compelling examples listed in the Wikipedia childfree entry.
- Little maternal/paternal instinct
- Not wanting to sacrifice time for children
- Prefer to travel, or maintain geographic flexibility
- Preferring not to sacrifice emotional and physical intimacy with partner due to the presence of children
- The cost of raising, amusing, and educating a healthy child leaves little money to spend on new experiences or even simple savings to reduce stress
Health and Safety
- The risk that an existing medical condition, such as diabetes or depression could result in difficult pregnancy or difficulty in raising the child
- Concern that the child could inherit a hereditary disease or an unwanted phenotypic trait
- The belief that one can make a greater contribution to humanity through one’s work than through having children
- Perceived or actual incapacity to be a responsible and patient parent
- Belief that it is wrong to bring a child into the world if the child is unwanted
- Belief that it is wrong to intentionally have a child when there are so many children available for adoption
- Concern regarding environmental impacts such as overpopulation, pollution, and resource scarcity
- Belief that parents’ particular career could prevent them from being a good parent
- Belief in a negative, competitive, declining condition of the world and culture and not subjecting a child to those negative conditions.
- Lack of a compelling reason or desire to have children
- Contentment with enjoyment of pets
- Belief that people tend to have children for the wrong reasons (e.g. fear, social pressures from cultural norms)
- Having to alter or forgo adult social life, some feminists view childbearing and resultant parenting role as a heteronormative social construct which subjugates by restricting lifestyle options and possibilities for personal advancement.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, and we’ll continue to augment these motivations in future blog posts. We welcome your comments too, so please share your own motivations and/or childfree by choice resources.