December 7, 2022

I Don’t Hate Kids

I don’t hate kids. And I’m guessing that Steve Shives doesn’t hate kids either. After all, he’s created both a “Why I Hate Kids” video and a “Why I Like Kids” video for your lighthearted consumption. This tongue-in-cheek parade of reasons why he could hate kids is arguably inappropriate but strikes me as a reminder that loving kids or hating kids isn’t at the heart of the childfree/breeder divide. Far from it!

But like this Jam Hands post, exaggeration and laughter are a necessary and healthy part of the conversation. That said, here are a few of my favorites from Steve Shives “Why I Hate Kids” list:

  • they are loud
  • the really smart ones can take 3 or 4 years to learn how to wipe their own asses
  • they take over your life
  • they think black and white movies are boring
  • they pee in their beds
  • they get bored easily
  • you have to watch them constantly
  • they’re afraid of cooties and harmless insects but not guns
  • most of them are too small and weak to get any real work out of
  • they lack perspective
  • they are expensive
  • they stole Halloween
  • they don’t get subtlety
  • they don’t look good wearing glasses
  • they get to piss in your face while you change their diaper, and you’re not even supposed to get mad
  • they consume everything and produce nothing
  • they speak openly of their bowel movements

It’s okay to laugh. It’s humor. We won’t tell your spouse. Or your kids! 😉

Childfree by Choice

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.

Personal Wellbeing

  • Little maternal/paternal instinct
  • Not wanting to sacrifice time for children
  • Prefer to travel, or maintain geographic flexibility

Relationship

  • 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

Altruism

  • 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.

Other

  • 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.

The Childless Revolution

The Childless Revolution, by Madelyn Cain

The Childless Revolution, by Madelyn Cain (now available at Amazon.com)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that our tagline for Why No Kids? is “Childfree by choice and happy! Here’s why…”

Childfree. Choice. Happy. Our vision for this site was born out of those three powerful, empowering and surprisingly complicated words and the inevitable questions they provoke when conjoined.

Why would you choose to be childfree?

How could you or anyone be happy about being childfree?

We believe that a happy, rewarding, truly intentional life is in many respects made more feasible when the often difficult choice not to procreate is made and maintained.

Our personal reasons and answers are merely the springboard for a much broader conversation. Just as we bemoan (or mock) the myopic Breeder Bingo exchanges we encounter, we don’t pretend that our individual preferences, biases and hypotheses are universal. We do not proclaim an antinatalist manifesto, not do we categorically judge or condescend to breeders. We do endeavor to cultivate broad reflection and conversation about one of the biggest choices humans make during their lives: to have — or not to have — a child.

For this reason, we’re thrilled to witness and participate in a steadily dilating childfree chorus. You’d have to be living under a well trafficked jungle gym slide in a busy suburb of babyland to have overlooked the mounting buzz from childfree advocates, nulliparity advocates, etc.

Madelyn Cain’s The Childless Revolution is one of the voices connecting the childfree choice with happiness. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read the book,

but I’m intrigued by the perspective of this reviewer.

This book recognizes and heralds a new dawn for women, opening up their lives (and minds) to fact that one is not less of a woman just because one did not choose or happen to become a mother. This is the next step in women’s revolution: that women be able to choose for themselves consciously (and be accepted by the general population–those this has yet to happen) that it’s OK to be childfree and to choose not to be a mother despite having the equipment for it. (Niconica’s Pinpricks)

Reviews differ, and Jessa Crispin’s harsh criticism is altogether less encouraging.

Motherhood is the new divisive issue amongst feminists and women… The more you try to explain your position the more head shaking and sighing there will be. Which is why I could tell Madelyn Cain’s The Childless Revolution would be a mess by one simple sentence: “Cain lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.” She is a mother writing about “what it means to be childless today.” … She has chosen her side while pretending to occupy middle ground… In fact, the “childfree” as she calls them receive the least attention… This is a book about women who wanted children but didn’t get them… The only thing we know for sure at the end of this book is that Cain thinks motherhood is the greatest thing ever, even if she does envy the free time of the childfree. (Bookslut)

Not such a promising review! An excerpt from Madelyn Cain’s The Childless Revolution appeared in The Utne Reader and it sounds thoughtful and provocative.

Childless women today are on the precipice of redefining womanhood in the most fundamental way ever. Entering the workforce was merely the initial step toward redefining women—and possibly the first toward childlessness. The advent of the pill, the legalization of abortion, and advanced education for women were essential adjuncts to this change. The move toward remaining childless, however, is more profound. For a society based on “family values,” this shift is historic. At its most fundamental level, the emergence of childlessness means that women are seizing the opportunity to be fully realized, self-determined individuals—regardless of what society at large thinks of them. (The Utne Reader)

Have you read The Childless Revolution? Would you recommend it?

No Kids Trending

Recently whynokids.com has been getting pounded with traffic, an uptick that prompted me to poke around in search of answers.

What are people searching for? Are they finding what they’re looking for? What “sticky content” are we offering visitors to Why No Kids?

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Why No Kids? logo on Facebook and Twitter

Combing through our stats (analytics) and tickling Google’s ivories has offered afew hints. For example, the term “no kids” seems to be driving the surge. But why? Is it possible that suddenly there’s an upward trend in couples considering a childfree lifestyle? Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s something else happening. What do YOU think?

I’m reserving judgment for the time being. It’s exciting. It’s encouraging. But it’s premature to determine why whynokids.com is experiencing a dramatic increase in readers.

That said, I know that our readers are responsible for spreading the word, so it’s time to thank you. All of you! You’ve encouraged and prodded and joined Why No Kids? conversations on Facebook and tweeted up a storm with Why No Kids? on Twitter. You’ve emailed posts and emailed us suggestions. In some cases you’ve even emailed us guest posts. You’ve joined the conversation about why not to have kids (and even–in some notable exceptions–why to have kids), and this conversation is what fascinates us. The four bloggers who founded Why No Kids? have chosen childfree lives, childfree marriages, but we don’t preach. We encourage breeders (I know, it’s a loaded term, but sooo catchy!) to participate in conversation. Bring on the debate. Bring on the disagreement. But bring on the civility, and bring on the levity.

Life’s too short to anger and alienate over personal decisions of childbearing. But the Why No Kids? crew firmly believes that ongoing, informed conversation about whether or not to breed stands to improve the lot for all of us!

Endless Summer (Vacation)

I hate that summer has to end. But I love comedienne (Canadian female comedian) Samantha Bee from The Daily Show. Her article in Saturday’s WSJ  “A Long Summer for ‘Weary Tiger’ Moms” made me pine for summer vacations past. She explained that as a child of the 1970s she spent her lazy summer days,

“languishing in front of the TV watching Phil Donahue and eating Boo Berry until my skin turned purple. Nobody cared if I read. Nobody cared if I wore sunscreen, or pants. I was like a house cat; my parents barely even knew if I was still living with them or whether I had moved in with the old lady down the street who would put out a bowl of food for me. In the ’70s, parenting was like a combination of intense crate-training and rumspringa, so I would typically spend June through September burnt to a crisp and wandering listlessly around the city, verging on scurvy.”

Kids and parents of 2011 are busy and exhausted all summer long. There are tutors and classes and camps and play dates and so many things that fill up the space that is meant for restoration and relaxation. Even as a member of the child-free community I am guilty of playing catch up with work and to-do lists on splendid summer days when I should be outside playing!

As a kid, my summers were crammed with summer camps and activities like many kids today. The days that I wasn’t programmed to the gills I was thrilled to lie around and stare at the TV, or go for meandering bike rides, or make chalk drawings that filled the sidewalks. I loved the freedom that came with having nothing to do. I would maybe wander home when the street lights came on for a quick dinner only to rush back out to meet the neighborhood kids for the late night kick-the-can session.

As a former teacher I can smell the first day of school rapidly approaching and still get excited to see new notebooks filling the store shelves at the end of July. September is always a crazy rush to get back on task with school and work, so why do we all feel the need to keep a tightly packed schedule during the summer too?  Maybe next summer parents, kids, and even the child-free can remember that the lazy days of summer are fleeting and it’s okay to enjoy the warm summer breeze and the long lazy days and just…relax.

Hey, parents:

Do you feel rested after summer vacation or are you eagerly awaiting the first day of school so you can finally get some rest?

Hey, Why No Kidsters:

How did you spend your summer vacation?

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Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents

"Psychology Today" magazine... Could...

Click Here for the full article: Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents | Psychology Today.

This post may be worth revisiting, especially for those uncertain about having babies, or how doing so may affect their life and relationships.

To sum it all up, don’t have a child because you think it will bring you happiness or improve your marriage. If you’re not content with your life prior to kids, this discontent will likely continue after the child is born. Plus, it’s important to recognize the challenges that parenting will bring. There are positives and negatives in every life choice, and it’s important to weigh these out as you create the landscape of your future.

Psychology Today is an excellent resource for a variety of perspectives and studies.For more information search “parenting” or “childfree” on the Psychoogy Today website. There are many compelling pieces by Ellen Walker, Ph.D., author of Complete Without Kids.

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Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?

Marriage and divorce rates in the US, 1990-200...

Image via Wikipedia

Vicki Larson: Are Childless Couples Headed Toward Divorce?.

“People assume children are the glue that holds a marriage together, which really isn’t true. Kids are huge stressors,” says Scott, head of the Childless by Choice Project whose documentary on childfree couples was just released. “Despite that, there is a strong motive to stay together. The childfree don’t have that motive so there’s no reason to stay together if it’s not working.”

This article is great, really layered and probing. It answers a lot of questions about who is “childfree”, why, and what the impact of such status on their marriage may be. However, there may be some confusion, or even unintended/inaccurate conclusions, as all couples without children are lumped into the “childfree” category, including couples frequently categorized as “childless” (those who want kids but cannot conceive) that “make up the bulk of the childfree” in this story.

As I read the article I wondered how many of the divorced couples were simply victims of a decision to marry too early. According to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, the rate of divorce among people that marry before 25 is astounding. I also hoped for statistics comparing older married couples. How do those who CHOOSE not to have kids compare to couples with empty nests at the same age? When the decision  for parents to divorce can be made without complicating child rearing, like the childfree by choice, then who APPEARS to be more successful or happily married? (Not that remaining married is an accurate indicator of “success”) When I was in college, my parents finally divorced, and there was a rash of divorces among my friends’ parents as well.

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More NYC women are saying no to having children

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, New Jersey
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Whether they call themselves “childless,” “childfree,” “childless-by-choice” or even just “still on the fence,” a significant number of New York women in their 30s and 40s are taking a pass on motherhood.

via More NYC women are deciding not to have children – NYPOST.com.

What do you think WNKsters?

Does having a career in the big city mean you can’t have kids? Why are NYC women opting for childfreedom?

What if…Oprah had kids?

Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), The Bath Oil on canv...

Image via Wikipedia

I admit that sometimes I think, ‘What if I had kids?’  Would I be a better teacher? Or a better person? Would I write better children’s books? How different would my life be now?

What if certain childfree female role models throughout history had had kids? Would their lives have had the same focus?

What if Oprah Winfrey had kids? Would she have felt the need to educate hundreds of African girls?

What if Mary Cassatt had kids? Would she still have created countless paintings and pastels of mothers and children?

What if Condoleezza Rice had kids? Would she have felt differently about sending other people’s children into war?

What if Florence Nightingale had kids? Would she have been the “lady with the lamp” running from patient to patient night after night?

What if Sally Ride had kids? Would she have been the first American woman astronaut?

Do you need to be a mother to have empathy? To better understand children or humanity?

Do you ever wonder ‘What if I had kids?’

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Is the no-kids-allowed movement spreading?

 

 

 

(photo by ThinkStock)

What’s the matter with kids today and why doesn’t anyone want them around? In June, Malaysia Airlines banned babies from many of their first class cabins, prompting other major airlines to consider similar policies.

Lately, complaints about screaming kids are being taken seriously, not only by airlines, but by hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, and even grocery stores.

via The no-kids-allowed movement is spreading – Parenting on Shine.

What do you think? Is the no-kids-allowed movement spreading? Let us know if you see any evidence in your life.