Childfree

I’m going to go slightly off-topic today, both to have something to post, and to satisfy my own need to voice my thoughts.

Having kids is not the only challenging life choice.

There, I said it.

Living child-free is becoming a more common, more talked about, and dare I say it, a more accepted thing. Slowly but surely, people are getting used to the idea that some people might not want to raise children.

“According to 2010 U.S. Census data, the number of childless people age 40 to 44 is close to 20 percent ā€” compared with 10 percent in 1979.” (cited)

I’ve often used the excuse “I’m selfish,” to avoid lengthy conversations about why I don’t want to have kids. I’m gonna open the honesty box here and say: that’s not true. I’m not especially selfish (like everyone, I can have my moments), and even if I were, that’s not the reason why I don’t want to have kids.

The Guardian has an article,Ā The Choice to be Child-Free is Admirable, Not Selfish, which sums up my feelings on the topic pretty well. The conversation I want to have revolves, I think, around two points:

1.) Neither the choice to have nor the choice not to have kids is “better”, “smarter,” or “more right” than the other. Every person needs to decide what is best, smartest, or most right for themselves.

and then, once we can agree on that:

2.) Not having children is NOT the “easy” choice!

And that is not to suggest that having children is the easy choice; we all know that raising kids is HARD. (Those of us who don’t have kids have been told countless times that it’s even harder than we already think it is.) Just because raising kids is hard, though, doesn’t mean that not having kids is easy. Ignoring the social stigma that still lingers around being child-free, there is still a lot of pressure attached to this life choice.

Parents tell you that their kids are their world, their kids give their life purpose, their kids will carry the family legacy, etc. For those who have decided that child-rearing is not for them, the responsibility of giving life purpose falls entirely on themselves and whatever endeavors they come up with to fill the time they’re not spending changing diapers, chasing toddlers, or trying to decode teenagers. People seem to envision life without children as an easy life spent in hammocks with adult drinks in fancy glasses actually made of glass, and while that may be true some of the time, if that is ALL a person’s life is…well, alcoholism and depression can be just as tough to live with as children, with much fewer rewards.

Living child-free, REALLY living that life, is HARD. Filling each day of your life with meaning is a challenge. To be able to wake up each morning and feel that whatever you are doing that day has purpose is tough when you can’t say, “Well, I’m working this Monday-Friday, 9-5 job to feed my family, and then I’ll come home to that family, and on the weekend, I’ll spend some rejuvenating time with that family.”

When you don’t have children, you have no excuse to work a job that isn’t fulfilling, other than that currently the job market is awful and you have crushing student loan debt – hardly as rewarding a reason to work an unrewarding job. Having kids is much more motivating.

So, cut child-free people some slack, because they didn’t choose the easy way out. Neither did you. We’re all working hard to make our lives matter, and there’s no point in trying to step on each other to get it done.

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this! I can relate to what you’re saying. In a world full of choices, people are judged negatively if they don’t make the society-approved “normal” life choices.

    Reply
  2. Gede Prama

     /  March 23, 2014

    Well written. May peace be with you šŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. As a parent myself and a teacher, I liked your insight and courage to write these thoughts. Because I was raised by parents who believed heavily in the significance of family and family time, it always came naturally to me that I also wanted the same for my marriage and children. From my late teens all through my 20’s, I totally imagined myself being one day a father (a great father!). Yet, it didn’t happen for me until I was 31 yrs old because of my passion for a pro soccer career and traveling. I knew it would’ve been impossible to be a “great” father while gone half the time; I didn’t want that. And now, with my divorce, a 20-yr old daughter and my son now 13 yrs old, I DO NOT want to be anymore further away from him than his mother has already taken him: 320 miles away; which has rooted me here in Texas at the expense of career opportunities outside of Texas and the U.S. Bad life choice on my part? Perhaps because I sometimes struggle with the harsh Texas Family Laws and subsequent child-support demands — I could most likely be providing for them & the child-support demands BETTER if I were working outside of Texas and the U.S.

    In hindsight now, perhaps the amount of time & energy my family, parents, and my own dreams of my own family spent forming those parental plans, should’ve been spent first on how to best manage love and a marriage! In my haste, I put the cart in front of the horse.

    My point? Even parents make poor choices. *chuckle*

    Reply

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