Tell us…

If you don’t want to have kids–whether you think of yourself as childfree or something else–we’d love to hear from you!

We’d really like to hear your answers to some of these questions:

  1. What is your story . . . ?
    1. (How) did you come to identify as childfree?
    2. How important is your childfree identity in relation to other aspects of your life?
  2. Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    1. If so, can you tell us about joining the group? What does this group mean to you?
    2. If not, would you consider it? Why/not?
  3. How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)
  4. Where do you live & what sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter there?
    1. How have you managed/dealt with these challenges?
    2. What support would you like to recieve?

We’re interested in understanding what it’s like being childfree in differenct places, so please do indicate where you’re from.

We look forward to reading your answers!

16 Responses to Tell us…

  1. Pingback: How to take part « The Childfree Choice

  2. 1) What is your story . . . ?
    A) (How) did you come to identify as childfree?
    I have known for as long as I can remember that I didn’t want to have children. Although I am an only child, I come from a large family and as a girl, babysitting younger cousins and second cousins was mandatory. I all but raised one of my cousins for the first two years of her life (since she was 2 weeks old) along with her older brothers (5 and 10), so it isn’t as though I don’t know what I’d be “missing.”
    Children are just of no interest to me. Babies hold my attention about as much as a raw potato. I like newborns alright because at least they’re small and quiet, but once they start walking and talking, I have no interest in being around them until they’re old enough to hold an adult conversation (middle school at least). I don’t like the noise and mess that surrounds them. I find their inane questions and observations trite at best, annoying at worst. Children aren’t “honest;” they lie all the time. Their “honesty” is just lack of a social filter. Rudeness and nothing more. Another myth that annoys me is the one that states children are kind/loving/innocent. Innocent in experience, sure, but kids are MEAN. Social and psychological studies have proven that empathy is LEARNED. And honestly, just because someone “doesn’t know any better” doesn’t mean the behavior is ok; or even less obnoxious.
    Really though, what I don’t like about children isn’t their fault at all; it’s their parents. The parents who cannot seem to allow their kids to ever fail. Those who would rather the entire world change instead of, you know, PARENTING…or at least letting their kids grow strong through experience. When a child is in a place acting badly (sometimes in a place that wasn’t meant for them in the first place like a fancy restaurant or a bar), it is their parents to blame. I understand that it wasn’t their choice to be there and that w/o guidance, they could never learn to behave properly.
    I didn’t hear the term “childfree” until I was in college, but I immediately latched onto it. It was nice to have a word to describe my choice/belief that neither sounded like I was missing out on something, nor that I was a child-hating psycho.

    B) How important is your childfree identity in relation to other aspects of your life?
    Very. It influences the relationships I have and maintain. I would never date someone who has kids and sadly, friends who do end up having children sometimes become less close. I find that we have less in common because our lives are very different, as our the priorities we hold. GOOD friends understand my choices and don’t expect me to change and those I treasure. Others, well, let’s just say that I have little time for someone whose entire identity is consumed by parenthood.

    2) Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    A) If so, can you tell us about joining the group? What does this group mean to you?
    Yes, I am a member of several Facebook groups. Some are just places where I’ve been able to meet and talk to other adults with like interests about the things that matter to us. Others are more of a space to rant and let off steam; a place to say all the things we can’t in public or to others, or risk being judged. These groups help keep me sane. It’s important to know that I’m not alone in my decision. I am grateful for their support, their humor, and even their venom. It helps to see others getting angry about the same things that bother me. It makes me feel more normal.
    3) How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)
    I call myself Childfree if I had to put a label on it, but mostly I just say that I’m not a kid person. If I’m talking to someone close to me, I may explain my reasoning, but with strangers it’s enough to say, “no, I don’t have kids and I don’t want to.” I have no need to justify myself to others. My choices aren’t at all dependent on others and I find that when someone presses, it helps to turn the question back on them: “well, why did you have kids?” I find that a lot of people who question my choice and act shocked really never thought about WHY they had kids themselves. To them, it’s an expectation, not a choice. I find that sad. I think that if more people thought about things like that and made an informed decision, people would be happier and there would be less unwanted, abused kids and messy divorces.

    4)What sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter where you live?
    People treating me like I’m immature because I’m not a parent. People assuming or outright calling me selfish for my decision. People not respecting basic social boundaries and asking very personal questions that are frankly none of their business. People being rude and thoughtless because OF COURSE the rules, my preference can’t POSSIBLY apply to THEIR kids.
    On the other hand, I have met some awesome people online who are a constant source of humor and support.

    A) How have you managed/dealt with these challenges?
    My mother is the hardest to deal with. She has that “it takes a village” mindset that I find so infuriating. After years of steadfast argument, she’s finally accepted that I do not want, nor ever will be pregnant. Now she’s pushing the fostering/adoption angle. To her, because (in her mind at least) I am capable of caring for a child (mentally and financially), then it isn’t a choice, but a RESPONSIBILITY that I do so. Since there are children without homes, it is her belief that NOT taking them in personally makes me less HUMAN. I find this incredibly offensive and small-minded. I’m not going to kick a kid down a flight of stairs, but I think I’d be a terrible parent because I would resent having to give up my life for one full of responsibilities and trials I DO NOT WANT. To me, the “reward” does not at all make up for the sacrifices. I can enjoy the good things vicariously through friends and family and still live a good, full life.
    With my mother, I get angry and it eventually turns into a fight. I thank the gods for my wife, who seems to have a gift with reasoning with the woman. She plays peacemaker and translates when she can, and changes the subject when she can’t.
    The rest of the backlash comes mostly from complete strangers on the web. Message boards seem to bring out the worst in people. With those my tactics depend on the situation. If the poster is reasonable and intelligent, I will debate with them using logic and facts. At best, we come to an understanding. At worst, we agree to disagree. If the poster is rude and/or stupid, I will either ignore or mock them. I have to admit that some part of me gets perverse amusement out of discrediting them.

    B) What support would you like to receive?
    I would like to be treated like a reasonable adult with the ability and the RIGHT to make my own decisions…especially about something so personal and life-altering as becoming (or not becoming) a parent. I don’t understand why people feel they have the right to question my decision; especially citing the over-used “you’ll change your mind.” No one would dare say such things if I told them I was, or was trying to become pregnant. If I am old enough to decide to have a child, then I am old enough to decide not to. Either I’m an adult or I am not. You can’t have it both ways. It took TEN YEARS of campaigning before I finally found a doctor willing to sterilize me. At THIRTY, he still had the gall to warn me that it was “a permanent decision.” Well damn it, so is HAVING a kid. You can’t get through a couple of years and decide, meh, this isn’t for me and throw it out. Even if you put the kid up for adoption, people would treat you like some sort of monster…not to mention the fact the kid is probably going to have abandonment and self esteem issues.
    At the bottom, I want to be treated with respect. No more, no less. I have thought long and hard about the issues before making my decision. To come in and act like you know me better than I know myself is arrogance. Also, please don’t act like because you are a parent that you’re somehow more grown up than I am. I have a career, a home and a marriage. I’ve tons of life experience to draw on. I have responsibilities and it isn’t like life is one big party just because I don’t have children. I’m not rich. I have bills like everyone else. The difference is that even if I wanted kids, I know that financially I am not in a place in my life where I could do that without sponging off the system, which I believe is irresponsible. My life isn’t empty. I volunteer. I have friends and family. I have hobbies and interests. My life is good and I am happy. I don’t need your sympathy. I don’t want your advice. Live and let live.

    • ingridlynch says:

      Thanks Brynn, I’ve also noticed that about message boards and online fora. It seems as if the relative anonymity makes people brave! Have you ever encountered hostility or judgement from Childfree people online?

      • Brynn Riya Delaney says:

        That’s a different can of worms. We may have struggles in common and sometimes these online friendships are the only positive support we have…but that being said, the Childfree aren’t saints either. People are people; some are good, some are bad, but most are just self-interested at the bottom.

        The big thing among any group is trying to agree on what qualifies as membership. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE Childfree who hate kids and that’s the main reason for their choice. Others have varying personal and sociopolitical reasons (such as overpopulation). There is and will always be arguments over whether or not someone is really “childfree” or who is more so. Grey areas include:
        –having biological kids who do not live with you and you’d don’t see (such as those who’ve been put up for adoption or live with their other parent)
        –having no kids of your own, but a partner who has partial custody and their kids spend 1/2 time in your home as well.
        –Donation of sperm or eggs to others, whether or not you have anything to do with the offspring produced.
        –Being godparents and/or whether or not you would take in the children of friends or family if a tragedy happened, rather than letting them go into foster care. Etc.

        In the end though, I find that most of the people in the groups I associate with are the sort to say live and let live. Whether or not we’d choose the same, they respect that it’s my choice to make. We tend to weed out those who are just self righteous about it and use it as an excuse to be a total asshole. 🙂

    • edina1 says:

      wow, as i’ve read this through, it was as if my thoughts would come to form a coherent whole finally (about how i feel about children). I mean, as for me, Im from a “small country” where the childfree choice is almost not even known of, maybe just in the capital city, or so ive heard. For me, although I never felt that i wanted to have children, i just assumed that i would at one point, after all, all i knew was that that’s what life is about. This is weird though as the reason i left my home country is to change that routine of schooling, getting married have children and all. yet, it never occurred to me that it might actually be a form of life not at all having children. my upbringing had such an influence on me, even when i flew i still had the thought that yes, eventually i will be a mother there is no way of changing that. until recently when my father brought the topic up (seeing that im 30, and in a 6-year relationship), asking about grandchildren. and even though i knew he wanted that, i was still shocked! i actually felt so intimidated, becasue thats my life, and dont push me, never ever, no one should push me, im the lead of my life, im in charge, and i dont need to know what is meant to come next according to other people. anyhow we got into a huge argument, and i was outright called a person without a soul. he loves me dearly, i know that, but he adores children, and he doesnt at all understand any other way. becasue we live far and other than that i didnt experience societal pressures (well, at home -home country- it comes from everywhere, but they dont bother me, i really just simply dismiss them, as thats all what they do ever, asking about the future,- the one they think should be, but i never pay attention to others, just my dad’s reaction what got into me) so generally no pressure here in England, in fact i dont have any friends who share my opinion, they all want kids, yet they empatise with me and sometimes defend my decision even better than i could! im really grateful for these friends! and believe it or not, i can get just as excited about a friend announcing to be pregnant as themselves! im easily pleased, and very easily get excited. i love happenings, so when something is up, im crazy excited about it. and i empathise with them, as i understand the weight of that happening, that they whole life is going to turn around, and my friend is developing a baby inside of them, and it must be amazing! but that doesnt mean i want the same things, i think that confuses people as when they see me excited, they think, oh, there you go, she clearly wants a baby herself, no matter how much shes saying no. and i seriously dont! im just a caring person, who has high levels of empathy. im happy for their change of life, im happy that they managed to achieve something they really wanted, but it doesnt mean i have the same goals!
      Anyways, I see these responses were more than half a year ago, so probably mine is too late, yet, i just so wanted to share this, as I was reading Brynn’s thoughts, i could so identify with them (with her relationship to children), which felt really great- and i think its probably as i never was challenged (apart from that one particular occasion with my dad) for my decision, for this thought, maybe im too young to be challenged, im not sure, but becasue my idea wasnt questioned really, I never built up a defense strategy.
      so yeah, like she mentioned she doesnt enjoy the company of children until you can hold adult conversation with them, i feel exactly the same way. i think they are cute, still, but only for like 5 minutes and then i dont know what to do with them. i cannot enjoy them. also when some of my long-to-be-mother-friends see babies on the street, they turn around and you can tell from their eyes, how much the adore them! i dont feel that. i have experienced it probably twice, that a baby was so cute i just wanted to cuddle them and nurture them and all, but thats kind of a momently thought. i do enjoy friends’ babies for the same time, only for a few moments, then its gone. i dont really bother, im sorry, they just dont hold my interest…on the other hand, i can really appreciate them when they are above 10 or so, when they are cute and you could talk to them, and its really interesting how they see the world, and then you see how vulnerable they are and you just really want to nurture them and help them and then i bond with them (not all of them), and as much i feel a sense of loss when they leave after a week’s visit, as i really enjoyed having them around, i still dont want any of my own. i just so appreciate my freedom. i think thats what i hold most precious. freedom. not necessarily that i want to do something, but i need to know that i can in a matter of seconds change everything around, without having to consult someone and take into consideration what would be best for the kids. i dont want that to hold me back from anything in life. i dont want to have regrets, things i couldnt do becasue of having kids. no, for me the pleasures definitely wont make up for the losses, neither.

  3. moment19 says:

    1.What is your story . . . ?
    Me and my spouse are both 35 years old; have been married for last 5 years. It was an arranged marriage. We live as a Single Income No Kid family of two+pets far away from the home-town, away from our parents and other siblings.

    A.(How) did you come to identify as childfree
    It was more of a progressive decision, where-in initially we were only aware that both of us do not really like kids as such, after a few years as the pressure from parents/in-laws increased for having kids, we went through a troubled phase in marriage before coming to terms with our choice. I even took councelling just to be sure that i am not being stupid to choose not to have kids. The counsellor was the first person to agree that it was a wise decision for my personality type. Later with the first search on google I came across the term childfree and identified it as as an appropriate term for our choice.

    B.How important is your childfree identity in relation to other aspects of your life?
    It is important because once we made this decision for ourselves we were more at peace with-in our marriage and could deal with the intrusions from outside in a better way. It was as if together we had finally drawn a line to the extent others could enter and interfere in our personal life.

    2.Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    Yes
    A.If so, can you tell us about joining the group? What does this group mean to you?
    A page called “Happily childfree” on FB and thechildfreechoice.com. It is mainly to just hear others’ stories and for humor – some childfree jokes are really outrageous and funny.

    3.How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)
    To the people whom I’ve told about it I just say I don’t want kids and it is our personal choice, like parents choose to have kids because they want them similarly we have chosen not to have kids because we do not want them. I refuse to get into the reasons to explain my choice.
    There are also few people, mostly the illiterate, headstrong and sentimental close relatives/friends, whom we haven’t told because – one : they cannot understand this choice as they don’t have the willingness to even listen to us for long; and two: they might feel hurt or get stressed over our choice. To them we just say that if it is God’s wish we’ll have kids but if it isn’t even then we are really happy to live as we are- Implying that it is more of a happy co-incedence (and we politely but firmly turn down their suggestions of infertility treatments). Which isn’t really correct, coz the truth is that it is a deliberate decison that we have made for us.

    4.What sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter where you live?
    No challenges as such; it is our choice and we are happy to bear its consequences; it is just that almost all the people we meet ask about kids and we have to explain our choice to them. It doesn’t really matter but it would have been good to not be asked this same old question repetitively.

    A.How have you managed/dealt with these challenges?
    I just say I don’t want kids and it is our personal choice, like parents choose to have kids because they want them similarly we have chosen not to have kids because we do not want them. If people interfere too much they are dealt with firmly.

    B.What support would you like to recieve
    More awareness in India of acknowleding procreation as an individual’s personal choice, also more visibility of the term childfree in the media (Radio/tv/magazines/newspapers), may be an India specific forum/portal on the internet. More pet friendly hotels, restraunts and modes of transportation trains/planes.

  4. Michelle says:

    1.What is your story . . . ?
    I used to want kids but the timing was never right. I got married at 30 and went off BCP but never got pregnant. Thank God!!! Later on I realized that I was just following the accepted plan of get married, have kids, work butt off, retire, etc. I would have been very unhappy.

    A) (How) did you come to identify as childfree?
    When I realized how awful child rearing is. Most of my friends with kids are miserable but the ones without children are the happiest. The moment it clicked for me was on Christmas Eve a few years back when I heard my cousin’s bratty daughter say that it was ok that the presents sucked and that Santa would bring the good stuff Christmas morning. Geez, I could have ended up with a brat like that! That was when I knew how fortunate I was, and that I NEVER wanted children.

    B) How important is your childfree identity in relation to other aspects of your life?
    It’s important mostly in a social setting. I want to be around fun adults having a good time. Or relaxing with my husband enjoying some down time. So I tend to avoid family gatherings and the like.

    2) Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    A) If so, can you tell us about joining the group? What does this group mean to you?
    Yes, I belong to a childfree forum. It’s fun to read about other childfree adults run ins with obnoxious parents and children. Also, it’s great to hear about other people enjoying childfree living.

    3) How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)
    I tell them I’m childfree, with emphasis on FREE.

    4.What sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter where you live?
    My husband is very supportive and feels the same as I do.

    A.How have you managed/dealt with these challenges?
    The biggest challenges come from friends and family that are unable to understand our decision. But these are a minority, and I’ve been told often enough that, “If I’d known what having kids was like, I wouldn’t have had them either.” This more than makes up for the ones that can’t accept our decision. Besides, it’s easy to be childfree.

    B.What support would you like to receive?
    I get enough from my husband and my own strength of will. I can be quite stubborn. It’d be nice if there were more books about ‘normal’ people deciding to be childfree. There are so many already on how PHDs, the environment activists, urban dwellers, and rich liberal elites came to be childfree. But I’ve not found any about ‘ordinary’ suburban couples being childfree.

    We’re interested in understanding what it’s like being childfree in differenct places, so please do indicate where you’re from.-
    I’m American, born, raised, and living in Orlando, FL.

    • ingridlynch says:

      Thanks Michelle. I think you’re fortunate that you and your partner see eye-to-eye on the issue. How did you arrive at consensus?

      • Michelle says:

        We’re happy with our lives.
        And we’ve realized most of our friends who are married with children are not! Most of them have been divorced and remarried. And most of them have admitted to wishing they didn’t have kids, or have to wait to do what they REALLY want to do until the kids move out, or they’re counting down the days until the kids move out.

  5. Sara says:

    1. What is your story . . . ?
    I am most definately an early articulator though I had a brief stint in my early 20’s where I thought that I would eventually change my mind and have kids. At 31 years old now, I am sure that I will not be changing my mind. I think that my identity as a whole is wrapped up in my independence and freedom…two things I would definately lose if I had children. I also strongly identify as feminist and as a bit of rebel and I like the idea of going against societal expectations and standards. Do not get me wrong, I do not do what I do simply to be a rebel. I do what I want and just do not care that I seem like one.
    2. Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    I belong to The Childfree Life Forum and have written pieces for them. I also follow CF people on twitter and facebook and am in a childfree study that is coming into it’s 3rd year (out of ten). At first the Forum was the best thing that happened to me because before that, when I was terrified that I would HAVE to have kids at some point in the near future, everyone I knew just said that “it would work out.” Finally someone said to me, “You know, you do not HAVE to have children…” I immediately got online and googled “I dont want to have kids” and quickly was connected to hundreds of others worldwide who felt the same way as me about having children (or rather not having them). This really helped to solidify my decision as an adult. I never waivered as a kid, but for a short while there I feared that I would just jump in and hope for the best. I am so glad I did not do that.
    3. How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)
    I describe myself by what I am and not by what I am NOT. My choice to have children is NEVER something that I bring up. This part of the conversation is always brought up by someone else usually by asking if I have children or plan to have them. I just say that I do not want children. When asked why I simply say that it is not what I want from this life. I do not explain myself to most, some people will actually here me say that I do not particularly like children but I have to say this caution with some people. Most people would say that I am a very independant and busy person who is always on the go. This makes for very few people who are surprised that I do not have or want kids.
    Where do you live & what sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter there?
    I currently live in El Paso, TX, U.S. where the population is heavily Hispanic (I am not Hispanic however). Originally I am from Pennsylvania and both places seem very pronatalist. My sources of support are always my partners who always are either also childfree or they already have children and do not want more. My mom is very supportive and I do not have any friends or colleagues who are not supportive as well (I feel very lucky in this respect). Challenges for me right now are few as I have a strong character and people rarely challenge me on issues concerning who I am.

  6. Stefan says:

    I thought it would be interesting to include a male’s opinion on the subject, since my decision to remain child-free is giving rise to some serious dilemma’s in my life at the moment. Normally only women talk about not having children and men have to respect their choice. Very few males voice an opinion on the matter.

    I am a 27 year old male living in Pretoria. I’ve been relatively indifferent regarding the decision to have children up until about 4 years ago. Having read Schopenhauer and some of David Benatar’s work, I have decided that humanity’s propensity for cruelty and violence makes it impossible for me to add another innocent life to this mess. I feel that it’s a moral obligation not to procreate. People often respond by saying there is no guarantee my child will be unhappy; and I am being selfish for not having kids. In my opinion, if I decide to have a child, that would be a narcissistic decision. I guess I’m antinatalist if you have to put a label on it. The sad part is, I love kids and it breaks my heart to think that I’ll never be able to raise a child of my own.

    To make matters worse, my fiancée seems to be changing her mind regarding our decision not to have kids. My fiancée is a geneticist and she is adamant that having children past our early 30’s is not an option for us, due to the risks involved. Since she is 29, she is essentially telling me that I have to decide within the next few years. I cannot help but sense her desperate plea for me to change my mind, or, at least, reconsider my position. She seems to be very conflicted between spending her life with me vs having kids; as I have made it very clear that I don’t want kids and I’m probably not going to budge on this.

    There is an enormous amount of pressure on us to have kids. The majority of her friends already have children, or want to have children, and we are constantly reminded of what we are going to “miss out on”. Although the annoying question about when we intend to have kids is usually directed at my fiancée, seeing her awkward responses has a significant impact on me. I feel extremely guilty and I cannot help but feel that this will become a big issue in our relationship down the road. I’m really scared that she might resent me for depriving her of the opportunity to have kids of her own. I’ve discussed the option of adoption with her, but she is ambivalent about this option, stating that she wants “my” child. This only supports my suspicion that the innate need to procreate and social pressure may be the main driving force behind her change of heart. As far as I am concerned, these are very poor reasons for having kids since they do not consider the well being of the unborn child and are essentially selfish.

    I apologize for this rant. I have no real support structure to speak of and I feel I have to deal with this on my own. I get the distinct impression that my friends and family think this is just a temporary situation and I’ll change my mind in a few years.

    • ingridlynch says:

      Thanks Stefan. You’re right about the gendered aspect of these decisions, I think. My research is on male involvement in reproductive decisions, so I find your observation very interesting.

      I’ve sent you an email about chatting further. You and your Fiancee might want to read The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll. I have an electronic version, but I’m sure you could order it online. It’s quite accessible and non-confrontational so you could pass it around to friends and family if you’d like them to understand your choice. Also, there are some online fora where you can get some support. We have a few discussion posts on The Childfree Life, which is quite an active online community. Hope to chat some more. Tracy and the research team.

  7. Amber says:

    1A. I remember being in seventh grade talking with a friend of mine on the playground. We were talking about children and she talked about how many kids she wanted and I gave some vague answer about how I might adopt kids someday. I knew then that I did not want to go through pregnancy and I did not want to deal with young children. That’s the earliest memory I have that put me on the track toward identifying as childfree. By the time I finished high school, I was certain that children weren’t for me. I’m not sure how and when exactly this transformation occurred, but I came to understand certain facts about myself that ultimately led to this conclusion. First of all, I’m a very career focused individual and while I changed my mind throughout high school about what career I wanted to have, I knew that I wanted to be able to devote myself to it. I also have many interests and activities that I want to devote my time to. Over spring break, I had very little time in which I was not working toward achieving some goal. Whether it was my novel, preliminary work for my master’s thesis, homework, or what have you, I stayed very busy, and I’ve been busy like this since at least high school. I have so little time to do everything I want to do as is that I cannot imagine having to give up a large portion of that remaining time to caring for children. I also despise domestic tasks/childrearing tasks and have since an early age. I babysat throughout high school and through that I learned very quickly that I did not want to be doing that kind of work day in and day out. Furthermore, I enjoy having money. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve scrimped and saved and now have a decent chunk of money set aside, for a grad student anyway. If my partner and I had a child, though, caring for the child would burn through our savings very quickly and I don’t want to end up again in the poverty that I was raised in. Lastly, my partner and I have a fantastic relationship. Kids would put a huge strain on our relationship and I don’t want to sacrifice what we have.

    1B. My childfree identity is somewhat important in relation to other aspects of my life, though it probably will become more important as I get closer to an age at which it is socially unacceptable to not have children. It does make developing and maintaining friendships with women with children somewhat challenging, because no matter how much I have in common with them, they have this large, often very consuming, part of their world which I can’t relate to. It hasn’t really affected my ability to form friendships with men with children, though, which shows that gender roles are still alive and well.

    2B. I don’t belong to one, but I would consider it, particularly if down the road I do start receiving a lot of negative responses to my decision to remain childfree.

    3. I’m 22, so I haven’t gotten a lot of questions about remaining childfree yet. When I told my mom that I didn’t want kinds, I just told her that I wasn’t having kids and she accepted that and didn’t ask me any questions about my decision. Similarly, when a good friend of mine who has children started talking to me and my partner about “some day when you have kids,” we told him we weren’t having kids and that was that. Most of the people I associate with are feminists anyway, so they tend to be pretty accepting and not ask questions. I think if I were to explain my decision to others, my approach would depend partly on who I was talking to and what I thought would resonate best with this individual.

    4. I live in Orono, Maine. I receive the most support from my partner, but my mother has also been very supportive of my choice to remain childfree. My sister has recently come to the conclusion that she does not want kids either, so we’re able to be there for one another and support each other in this decision, which is nice. I haven’t really faced any challenges yet, but I’m sure they will surface as I get older.

  8. edina1 says:

    I have left an earlier comment, that was purely meant to be a comment, and i found myself writing and writing, but after I posted, I realiesed it would have been nice if I actually answered your questions, so here they are:

    1 What is your story . . . ?

    A (How) did you come to identify as childfree?
    Not sure how it all started. I did say at some point in my life, that i want a baby, but that was exclusively the influence of my friend, who really wanted to have kids, and i, childishly, started stating the same and behaving so. I was under 20, so its ok. but other than that i just never felt the need, the urge or anything. i have the best family ever, so its not about that, we were loved and we loved in return and our parents were really caring and although did spoil us a bit, they were the ideal of how parents should be. and indeed having been brought up in that environment and the wider environment of my home country, where it is particularly stigmatised if someone is different- in any sense- but especially women who dont want to mother, i kind of assumed that i will be one as thats the norm. and i waited and waited and i wanted to want it, but it never came. i was always focused on other aspects of my life, so didnt even realise this or the weight of this until recently, when i had a major argument with my dad who wants grandchildren.
    anyhow, i accidentally came across an article about childless women and it instantly grabbed my attention and started reading on the topic, and that is when i actually realised that this is actually who i am, and its normal, and i can say it out loud, its ok. its weird, becasue i so remember my father telling me a story once about a women who didnt have children and i so remember him commenting on what kind of soulless women would not want a child, and he was my dad, and i drank his words and i remember agreeing with him! (that is brain washing!)

    How important is your childfree identity in relation to other aspects of your life?
    i never thought it was that important until recently. yet i dont have any childfree friends, to be honest. luckily my friends are although long-to-be-mothers mostly, yet they can totally understand me, and they even come up with possible explanations for being the way i am, that i would never even thought of- clearly they put more thought into this than i have lol. anyhow, yes, they defend my decision adamantly which is great! i so love them! (yes, we choose our own friends – btw no, i didnt choose them becasue of this)
    so yes, it is importnat in a way, as it does define me i guess, but to be honest, what i do for a living and that im a student, these are more important, and if i go somewhere, im not saying it out that hey, this is me, i dont want kids, however, i do like telling people what i do (my job) and what i study, those are the most important parts of my life, i think.

    Do you belong to an childfree (or similar) online group?
    If so, can you tell us about joining the group? What does this group mean to you?
    If not, would you consider it? Why/not?

    I actually recently signed up to a few groups, but i think out of curiosity as opposed to feeling the need to have some sort of social support. having said that, i do find support in these groups by reading other people’s experiences simply. on the other hand, i sometimes come across the opposite, a group i do not want to identify with, those chidfree who resent kids, and parents and make rude jokes and post anecdotes that i think are just improper, i feel they are treating people with children the unrespectful way some parents treat us. I dont think this is right, i mean we just want to be treated as people too, but demoralising them wont help achive equality, and im heavily against that. I think people should just have the right to decide about their own life and i dont want to judge people and i dont want to be judged either.

    How do you describe yourself/your choice to remain childfree to others? (colleagues/family/friends/online/partners/strangers)

    For colleagues, its fine, they are very understanding, generally, so i can go into details, with family, im literally numb. they all come against me but with the wider family, i dismiss them, i actually simply ignore them, but with my dad, its a true problem. he truly believes that life is about giving life and rasing kids and thats the beauty of it. and he is like that. he has sacrificed his whole life for us! and i admire that, truly, i do, but im just not into babies, and giving up my life, theres only one life i have and i want to enjoy that fully. and i do understand that kids bring happiness, but its not the kind of happiness im looking after. anyway, i cant explain that to my father. he wants to listen, but he doesnt hear me at all. he thinks its inhumane. and im helpless explaining this to him, as cannot see further than family. so i tend to not bring up the topic. and he doesnt really either, i think only when he is desperate, he will. i feel so sorry for not being able to give him something that he so wants (grandchildren) as all he did in his whole life was giving me and my brother, yet, i cannot sacrifice my life for someone else, how could i?
    with my partner, well, again this is difficult. i have voiced before we were together that i dont like the routine, i dont want to get married and all, and kind of implied i dont want kids, but we were young, and i think he kind of expected me to change this opinion. and subconsciously i did make comments of how we wouldnt bring kids up, what we would ahve to do, etc.. but think back, those were simply my observations of how not to rasie a kid, and not my kind of desires to have one. and i didnt realise i was doing that until one day after i told him about another long term plan of work (6 year project) he asked me if i ever wanted to have kids. and then i said not really. and then he told me that i was giving mixed signals as i was sometimes talking about a future that clearly involved kids. and i think that was the social expectation talking. but now as i hear people saying that they dont want it, and read blogs, i realise its an option, indeed, i dont have to do it and im kind of relieved and feel no need to have one. but this is difficult really and he adores kids, hes been wanting kids probably all his life. and hes good with kids. and i love him. how do we go about this? im not sure. i mean, i cannot tell him to hang around for another 5-10 years, as i might change my mind. on the other hand, i cant let go as i love him. so at the moment we’re not talking about this. i think we are waiting for something to happen. i think hes waiting on me changing my mind, and im waiting to gather strength to say i never will probably.
    for strangers, i wouldnt bother, i mean, unless they asked. i probably would feel more confident telling about this to strangers, as they have no effect on my life, so i can just sy everything i feel and even if they are judgemental, i dont care as they have nothing to do with me. but this is just my guess, i never really had to explain myself to a stranger.
    friends, as i mentioned are great and understanding, im so thankful for them!

    Where do you live & what sources of support and/or challenges do you encounter there?

    I live in London, England- i guess this helps, big cities, multicultural world, they are really more tolerant of differences.
    to be honest, only challenge i experience is from home (my boyfriend is also from my home country)

    How have you managed/dealt with these challenges?
    i dont i guess… i need to prepare better, as i only just recently realised that i dont want kids for real. I did say that before, but i always felt id change my mind at some point, whereas now, i accept that i might not, and im happy with that. but im not really good with confrontations, and especially with this, as i think its such a private decision, and dont even understant why people are trying to tell me what to do, when its my life to decide. i guess i become very defensive and probably childish as i really dont know how to deal with them, i dont want to deal with them. i think if i can accept people who are different from me, they should also learn to accept me. its different when someone asks, like they are really interested in how i feel and why i feel,but sometimes you hear the judgement in the question and i dont like that, i dont want to answer, as i get angry, like how dare they judge me? especially if they know me. im a nice person and if this changes their opinion of me, well, then.. i guess, im not interested in them any more.
    on the other hand, i also understand that sometimes if you dont know any better, it can be difficult not to judge, or voice some negative opinion. we re all human and it happens, even with good people. im just saying its difficult.

    What support would you like to recieve?
    to be honest, maybe media support, for the sake of those who just simply wont understand. media is the most influential, powerful thing that could possibly help the perception of people who do not want kids.
    other than that, im not sure, i havent really thought what there could be.

  9. Agathe De Pahuer says:

    1)
    A. I don’t like being with children long hours, “everyday” is actually unbelievable. I feel more helpfull in other topics than looking after kids.
    B. My life is mine and friends oriented. I refuse to risk my health making a baby. I refuse a little soft noisy and smelly thing governs my life, wakes me up at night to eat or other , decides mealtimes, naptimes and holiday destinations.
    2) Yes on Facebook; Childfree de France
    3) Same as 1B,
    +for environmental reason, we should minimize the world inhabitants numbers, so I let my hand birth to those who like to lay every year.
    For large families fundamentalist, i add the following lie: Am free to look after kids while my friends go to restaurant after 2 or 3 years staying at home changing Pampers.
    4) Internet is very helpfull and I do not feel alone in my choice.
    Miss Agathe 44 years old French living in Luxemburg, moving to Panama in 3 months

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