As a childfree person who actually likes children, I often myself in what seems like an odd position of having to defend that yes, I generally think it’s OK to hang out with kids. With some children, my enjoyment of them even tends to border on unhealthy. My partner, for instance, has a colleague who has what might be the most adorable one-year-old I’ve ever been around. I have literally left my desk and walked to their office ten minutes from our house when I’ve heard that the chubby little toddler will be making an afternoon appearance. I even wear my hair down so he can yank on it (no, I don’t mind at all, though I do remove my earrings). I suspect the colleague thinks I’m very strange, especially when one day, I hung around long enough to essentially babysit the tyke while his dad went off to a meeting. He knows I don’t want kids of my own, yet I am unabashedly smitten with his. But is that really so hard to believe?
The older I get, the more I know that I both like children and don’t want any of my own. Often, the former is confirmed by strangers who allow me or even encourage me to take an active interest in their children. See the photo above? That little bundle of joy was placed in my arms a few years back his very excited grandfather, completely out of the blue in a park one day. I guess I looked friendly? Like I wanted to meet a happy little boy? Good thing I did! And we had an excellent time that included him pulling on my face, me pointing at some birds, and lots of giggling from us both. The grandpa didn’t speak English, and my rusty Spanish didn’t get us very far. I never figured out why he trusted me to hold and love his grandson. I don’t suppose it really matters.
But in the same way, chilling with kids helps me realize why I’m not ever going to have my own. I’ve tried substitute teaching exactly once and came home with an exhaustion-induced migraine. Granted, the school stuck me in the kindergarten drama class with no lesson plans, but even recess kind of bowled me over. I couldn’t imagine having enough energy to keep up with even one child every day, let alone one (or more) in my own home. I loved the kids, and they seemed to loved me, but it once again gave me a deep appreciation for the fact that I’m totally not cut out to parent.
Since I’ve pretty much always known I didn’t want to have kids, this has come up for me a lot over the years—specifically when talking to people who also like kids but don’t want to have their own. In my personal and professional life, I’ve met daycare staffers and school teachers who, like me (only to a greater extent), totally dig children but want to work with them, not give birth to and raise them. I have a good friend who worked for years in a nonprofit with at-risk girls and young women who has no desire to ever parent. Their good work is vital to so many young lives. So why can’t that be enough?
Why do these two things get treated as mutually exclusive? If you’re a childfree person who enjoys and/or actively works with children, how do you talk about and honor these seemingly conflicting choices?
Photo via factorytakeover.com
33 Comments Have Been Posted
I am a young adult/children's
Emily M. replied on
I am a young adult/children's librarian. I love working with teens and children, but have absolutely no desire to have any of my own. I get to see kids for a few hours a day, and then they go home with their parents. Works out perfectly for me! I get my few hours of kid time and them don't have to take them home with me. People (including the kids!) keep telling me I'd be a great mother, but to me they are missing the point: Working with kids is all I need and want. Maybe I am selfish, but I like the way my life is right now, and having children would change all of that. This way, I feel that I get the best of both worlds. Win/ win!
Ironic, I think, that most of
Jen Strange replied on
Ironic, I think, that most of the people who choose to be child-free have thought long and hard about WHY they feel that way, and they understand parenting to be a very serious endeavor. Meanwhile so many people who BECOME parents never realize what it entails, they do it so cavalierly.
I've always wanted kids, like before I even started Kindergarten I knew this. It took a lot of self-discipline to make it to 23 before having my first. :) (I have a friend in college who, every time I made moon-eyes over a baby, would remind me "Not until AFTER college!!!")
How? It's kinda tough.
E A Convery replied on
How? It's kinda tough. Especially since I'm 36, and family and friends from all sides keep asking if - with varying degrees of politeness - I plan to have kids. I worked a few years in an after school and summer test prep program, where I worked with kids aging 5 to 13. I loved it. And I currently work with freshman college students on their writing, and while it's exciting to see them coming into their adult selves, there's definitely still enough of the child in them to create challenges, which are for me usually more exciting than frustrating. But I like my freedom. I like my life. I like the ability to pick up and go whenever, wherever, and however far I want to at the drop of a hat. I like NOT spending my money on Fischer-Price or whatever, unless it's for my nieces and kids of friends.
Additionally, my husband is really at the top of his profession, and I'm still working toward my learning and career goals. If I stopped now to have a child, I legitimately worry that I would, if not resent my kid to some extent, resent my husband by proxy. I feel strongly that I have the capacity to be a good parent, but I really like being able to have positive impact and provide support and encouragement in multiple young lives rather than in just one or two. I feel paradoxically selfish and selfless at the same time.
I do wish as a society we could move on from that pressure to have kids, and respect women and couples who choose not to have kids of their own. I think this is shifting, but we have a ways to go. If I were able to speak to those moms and dads, friends and other family members who are pressuring their loved ones who are disinclined to have kids, I'd say thanks - it's great you love us so much you want us to procreate, now please love us enough that we (and all we happily do for future generations) are enough on our own.
Really enjoyed this post. I
Jenny replied on
Really enjoyed this post. I find myself grappling with what I want to do regarding children. There are days I cannot imagine growing older without having my own kids and others when the thought having them makes me want to run for the hills. I find it extremely frustrating that when I discuss some of my fears with mothers they look at me in horror. Like HOW CAN YOU NOT WANT CHILDREN?!?!?! I don't want to be obsessive and I don't want to lose my sense of self and who I am as a person. If I do have children, I still want to be Jenny, the woman, social worker, french fry lover, daughter, sister and mother. I don't want to be just Jenny, the mother. I want to care about things and discuss things besides my children. And I find that so many women I know who are mothers have difficulty doing that.
Besides the fear of losing myself, I don't know if I have the patience for it. And I'm selfish. I can't imagine not sleeping in when I want. Every mother I know tells me you have the patience and you just handle not sleeping. But they are mothers.
I also LOVE kids. I look forward to the precious time I get to spend with my 4 year old nephew, including our monthly sleepovers. I get such a kick out of his unknowing comedic one-liners, watching him explore the world, hearing him say "I love you Auntie" and cuddling before we go to bed.
Ahh, it's such a conundrum. I'm glad to see that there are other women out there who feel the same way. Sometimes I feel abnormal...
I feel just like you do!
EncoreBride replied on
I feel just like you do!
I really dig this post, and
SarahW replied on
I really dig this post, and the whole blog because it has given me something to think about. I am children's librarian and I work with the kids at my church. I am teaching the UUA Our Whole Lives Sexuality program. Sometimes not being someone's mom gives me a leg up with the teens. I get to be that cool adult they can trust who isn't going to judge or reprimand, even though, you know sometimes you have to be the grown up. Studies show that young adults need adults in their lives as mentors who are not their parents.
How do I deal with the conflict? Not very well. I am still working on finding the right language, which I am sure this blog is helping with because it is feeding my perspective. The other day someone was making mean comments about a librarian, you know, what does she know about kids, she doesn't have any of her own. I was just like, hey now, I have no kids and I know a lot more about development and early literacy than most of the parents. I have to be careful in the language I chose when I discuss my active choice to be childfree, but then again don't we all? On some level childfree is a dirty word. what does freedom imply here? I've read some childfree internet sites that make me think I should not adopt the term because other folks chosing the label are so anti-kid. I am not anti-kid, I am just working on a PhD. Ah books versus babies, I could write all day on that one : }
Then again, I am fat and queer, and there are assumptions by others that because of those identities that my childfree experience is not by choice.
Anonymous replied on
Yes! Thank you so much. I was starting to feel like the only one. :D You have made my day!
Philibert K replied on
I am a nurse and I worked with kids for many years, as a nurse or as a volunteer on various projects. I love kids, I always did! One of the best year of my life is the one I spent taking care of mentally and physically disabled children in Israël. That is when I decided to become a nurse.
Yet I never planned to have any kids of my own. It was perfect, being paid to be surrounded by fun loving kids from 9 to 5, and than return home and have the evenings and the week-ends just for myself! My family and friends knew of my decision, and had learned to accepted it, when I changed my mind at 34.
Now I don't say that people who don't want kids will change their mind one day, as you must have been told hundreds of time. I'm just saying that *I* did. What surprised me than was how my family and friends were convinced I knew nothing about kids and wouldn't have a clue about how to be a mother. I had to remind them that I had a lot of experience with children, with kids with much more needs than my little healthy daughter. Both my parents told me later that they were surprised by how I dealt well with motherhood, since I never wanted kids before. I don''t know why they assumed it would make it more difficult for me to relate with kids, just because I didn't plan to have any for so long?
ECE professional for 16 years + child-free = happy
KELLY MATTHEWS replied on
I loved the positive tone of this article and for your bringing it up for conversation; I've been in love with kiddos ever since my baby sister was born 20-some years ago . . . I adore young children. I think toddlers are *fascinating* and incredible learners; I go out of my way to be offered a chance to hold a baby. I've dedicated my professional life to children and the early educators who care for them. I read about them. I study them. I am going to graduate school so I can do that all the better!
And what is also true? I am absolutely happy in my life without children of my own. I *like* my life. A lot.
I have been told multiple times that "oh, you're just not ready yet" or "maybe later" -- well, 37 is around the corner, and I haven't come around. And nor do I think I will or should. There are many interests in the world that people hold, and we don't expect them to carry it out in their own lives -- people go to art museums, attend concerts, and sporting events (sometimes with a unbelieveable passion) and yet, we don't expect/demand these same peope to produce works of art or make the entire focus of their lives these interests. Children are a passion of mine, but that doesn't mean I have to produce one.
I think part of the reason I love being with children so much, and can attend to them the way I do in my work is precisely because I don't have children of my own. My focus, when it turns to children, doesn't have to be compromised with all the other pressures and desires of parents; I get to be present with them with the agenda of *being with them* -- which is pretty cool, if you ask me.
I'm with you!
Britta replied on
Brittany, GREAT POST, thanks so much!
And Kelly, I really relate to what you wrote!
I have loved children ever since I was a child myself. I started as a mother's helper when I was 9, began babysitting at 12, and moved on to nannying. I quit school at age 16 to spend more time working with kids, and started taking community college courses in child development and special education, then went to a 4-year college that was exclusively for teachers and social workers. I then worked with young children non-stop for many years, never having a job that did NOT involve children. I worked in schools, daycare centers, early intervention agencies, churches, camps, etc., and babysat for approximately 200 kids/80 families over the years.
I always thought I would be a mother, to the point where I started writing letters to my future daughter when I was only 15 years old, but I changed my mind along the way. After literally 21 years of non-stop work with children (if you count me starting when I was 9 as a mother's helper), I burnt out and "retired" at the ripe old age of 30. Quitting childcare was my 30th birthday present to myself. Now, 2 years later, I'm again babysitting part time - because I love children so much I just cannot stay away, and making the world a better place for women and children will always be my passion in life - but I really do NOT want children of my own. I spend time with kids, read about them, study them, advocate for them, and love them, and always will, but I don't feel capable of or willing to make the sacrifices that come with parenting. Having been employed by about 80 mothers over the years as an in-home childcare provider, I have learned SO MUCH about child-rearing and what it means to be a parent. I feel blessed to have been witness to so many different parenting styles and family cultures, often as an honorary member of the families. I have seen the incredible, amazing love that mothers' lives are bursting with (which I know I can't fully understand if I'm not a mother), but I've also seen, over and over again, the sleep deprivation/exhaustion, and the way in which one's baby/child becomes central to one's life, in a way that I'm not ready for. I don't want to give up my sleep, freedom, independence, ability to travel on a whim, ability to read thick books, time/energy for work and volunteering and activism, and deep friendships.
I feel honored to be/have been a part of so many children's and families' lives, and I also feel grateful for the return of my freedom and independence at the end of the day. It's POSSIBLE that after I've had a few years' distance from my intense and constant work with kids, I'll change my mind and want a child of my own... but for now, I'm content to be a friend to many children and a mother to none.
Thanks for sharing!
Jenn McCollum replied on
I find myself, like you, a real lover of children but not of having them myself. Thanks for sharing!
I tend to find kids
Jenny G-B replied on
I tend to find kids interesting if they are PEOPLE I would find interesting in general. Like my niece is a quirky kid who likes to draw, play piano, and loves animals, so if she talks to me about those things it's interesting. A kid who wants to talk to me about Barney the Dinosaur or Justin Bieber, not so much.
BTW, I added my sur-initials onto my sig since there's another Jenny posting, so we can be told apart :)
Thanks for your posts I've
Cara replied on
Thanks for your posts I've found them really enlightening. I don't really know where I stand yet on having children of my own or not, but I do typically like kids.
"Why do these two things get treated as mutually exclusive?"
I realize that for most people this probably isn't true, but for a while I've been kinda wary of the label of 'Childfree' mostly because of my experience with online Childfree communities. I had heard about them, and out of curiosity I decided to check out some posts, and the attitudes of most people there really surprised me. Posts were really negative towards parents and children just being in public, or mentioning their own children or pregnancies in conversation in a way that made me really uncomfortable. For a while that image really stuck with me, and I associated being Childfree with not liking children, but I'm glad to read another point of view!
I'm sure that in most cases this is not why people assume liking children and wanting children go hand in hand, but I thought I'd add my own perspective.
Liz replied on
I'm a graduate student and it may be that I'm too young to even think about children, but I do. A lot of people I know already have children, despite being young (23 years old - I think that's young!), so already I'm feeling some pressure to have babies or think about babies and it's all overwhelming.
I love working with children - I've been a camp counselor, worked with the public a lot, and I've always liked teaching children concepts or playing with them outdoors. I want to continue this in my career, specifically with environmental education.
That being said, I don't think I really want my own kids. It is a really hard decision to make, and is it ever really made until it is too late to get pregnant? My partner is supportive either way, but I don't like feeling like I'm in control of whether or not he has children. Having my own children when I'm older also can seem appealing, but that may be just because I am now older and don't mind spending time with my parents and siblings now. I feel really confused about the entire issue and that other women (particularly friends with children or women in my family) will see me as less than a woman because I don't want children.
Thanks for your article.
ACP replied on
Thanks for your article. I've been interested in joining online childfree communities, but there's just so much bile and vitriol directed "breeders" and their "crotch fruit." I'm childfree because motherhood isn't for me, not because I hate parents and children. I love my nephews and nieces, I love playing with kids. I wish the crass and negative childfree groups would grow up, so to speak.
I've always thought it was
Anonymous replied on
I've always thought it was funny that people don't really connect that people who don't have children can be great with children, because they are often able be more fun and present when it counts.
I also think liking children and having them are mutually exclusive, because most people agree that not liking children is a good reason not to have them. So, people subscribe to the binary of linking pleasure with the birth goal and distaste with the lonely, selfish life (I guess if you don't like children, you deserve to be lonely?...).
Pro-Child and Childless--Eegad!!
Esther replied on
I completely agree with you, and thank you for bringing this up! I am a childless 32 year old who, immediately after getting married to my partner, was constantly berated with "so, when are you gonna have kids?" from every person I encountered. Thinking I was clever, I often borrowed a joke from a comedian who once said, "First everyone says 'Oh, you're dating. When are you getting married?', then they ask, 'So, you're married. When are you gonna have kids?' What's next? 'Oh, you have kids. When are you gonna die?'" Of course, a lot of people didn't get the joke, but I thought it was funny because people stop barging in your life after you complete this step...
This entire discussion has enlightened me, because for a long time I felt pressure from society to get out and reproduce against my will, and it is harsher when I am spotted having a good time with kids (which happens often)...as if I should be a fire-breathing monster around children because I haven't given birth to one. I love being my nephew's fun aunt and the first babysitter that my friends call when they need a break, and I understand that they need a break because they are wiped out half the time I talk to them! I also know that I love living my own life, but I have accused myself of being selfish so many times in the past because I truly believed that was the ultimate problem behind deciding not to have children. I love that I can continue my education well into my thirties, continue working with my community and still have time to enjoy watching the future generation grow up while being their friend and learning from them. Just because I love children, just because I will be the first one out to the bounce house, just because I will gladly hold a baby, or take my teenage nephew out for burgers, arcade time and advice on puppy love does not mean I have to create one of my own! In fact, I think that all the free time allowed to the pro-child childless population is used wisely in a stress reduced mentoring, babysitting, educating, etc. environment.
It's nice to know that there are so many other women out there who understand where I am coming from, because I felt cornered for a long time by people wondering why I am not multiplying. Thanks to everyone for speaking up!
Sam Mackenzie replied on
okay, i don't necessarily have much to add, but i too work with kids on a regular basis and, in general, like them a lot. i also don't plan on having kids. i haven't had to deal with social pressure to reproduce, probably since i'm gay. i also come from a family of women who didn't get pregnant at early ages, so it's not like i ever felt like i had to be married and pregnant in my early twenties (my grandma wasn't married and pregnant until she was 26 - amazing considering it was the 40s, and my mom didn't have me until she was just shy of her 37th birthday, several years after getting married).
my decision to not have kids became more conscious a few years ago when i realized that my chronic illnesses would be really unfair to a kid of my own. if i can barely drag myself out of bed some days, how can i possibly take care of a kid who can't fix their own breakfast? it is because i care for kids and think they deserve the best that i will not be having my own.
the one exception i have considered and would possibly like to do down the road is be a foster parent, but only to teens since they would not be as dependent on me for things like meals and transportation and such. i suspect there is a lack of homes that would be truly accepting and loving for queer foster kids and other little misfits, and i would like to be able to provide that safe space for them.
emiline replied on
Thanks for this post! I am also a person who (usually) likes kids, and I definitely don't want any of my own. I get a lot of the "oh, you're so good with kids! Why don't you have your own?", and usually saying that I like kids but just don't want any of my own is enough to stop the questioning. If they keep pushing it, I joke that babysitting broke my biological clock, and that watching 4 boys between the ages of 10 and 14 have a dirty underwear fight is what broke me. Then I laugh and walk away before it can get any pushier.
I do really love spending time with my nephew and my friends's kids (my fake nephews), but there are times when I also really like sending them back to their parents. I just know I make a much better aunt than a mother.
I love children, and am
WritesAll Night replied on
I love children, and am endlessly blessed to be an aunt and to be a caring, helpful adult in the lives of the children of my friends and close community. Just as I can't imagine my life without the wealth of love and wonder that my relationships with children bring to me, I also can't imagine making the decision to bear or adopt a child. (Unless, god forbid, something should happen to one of my sisters and her partner -- in which case I'd mom it up & make home for any or all of those kids with never a backward glance.)
I also struggle with the term "childfree," because just as "childless" seems to convey a loss or absence, I think "childfree" conveys the desirable absence of something negative. As in "sugar free," "disease free," or "pesticide free." I've thought about this a lot and can't seem to come up with any other way to describe my status in relation to parenthood except simply to say "I'm an aunt." Being an aunt is immensely important to me, but the word still doesn't quite say it all. I wish there were a better term than either childless or childfree.
For those who love children but don't want to be a parent, what language do you use?
I just want to say thank you
Anonymous replied on
I just want to say thank you for writing this article--and thank you to all of the people who commented. It's great to hear that I'm not the only one who feels this way.
I couldn't agree more. It's a
punksocks replied on
I couldn't agree more. It's a cliche, but I like to hug 'em, play with 'em, read 'em stories, tickle 'em ..... and then hand them back!
I'm so pleased I don't have children. I almost went there with the wrong partner, and it wouldn't have been disastrous but I am so pleased it didn't happen - it was his wish, not mine.
Bringing up children is a special, important thing for everyone, not just parents.
If I ever end up parenting it will be for a child who is already about the place and who needs an adult to look out for them and love them.
Thanks again for the article. It's interesting and important to encourage lots of different ways of parenting. It doesn't always have to start at conception or birth - kids need parents, but they also need other adult friends.
Thank you for this post!
Jessica Teeple replied on
I regularly joke that the best kids are the ones that aren't yours, because you can always hand them back when the going gets tough. In truth, I'm actually not childfree, but dead-set on adopting and waiting until I have a great domestic situation before I do. (My mom firmly believes I'll change my mind "when I meet the right man." I don't bother arguing about it; she can find out the hard way.) I've said multiple times any time the subject of future-kids comes up that I'm only having a biological one by accident, because abortion disturbs me. I support it as a concept, and I firmly believe that every woman should have access to and education on that option, but there's no way it's ever going to personally appeal to me.
Until that future family, though, I love hanging out with kids. They're fantastic tiny people full of wonder and excitement over the simplest things. It's a dream of mine to start a community garden just for kids or kids & their parents, as well as disabled persons of all ages who aren't familiar with techniques that make gardening easier for them. But I often feel uneasy about my love of kids. I worry that people who see I dote on kids so much will think I'm a creep or even a pedophile. I once was covering Free Comic Book Day for my school paper and asking a mother if I could take a picture of her adorable son picking his allotted two comics [this particular store was breaking the rules, insisting people had to buy something if they wanted to have more than two FREE PROMOTIONAL items] gave me a huge amount of anxiety. (She was totally fine with it.)
You writing how nice people are about the fact that you love hanging out with kids (even though that wasn't the main point of your post) gives me a lot more confidence that adoring kids who aren't mine is socially acceptable and not a thing to be anxious about. :)
Childfree kid lovers
laura replied on
HI--author or Families of Two here...thanks for this topic and your personal story! I have to say in all the interviews I have done with childfree for the book and since that most childfree people would say they like kids. Most find their own way to have them in their lives, most commonly getting involved with friends and family members' kids to one degree or another. Some have professions that revolve around kids. Some help kids through non-profit work. They are clear about the role they want kids to play in their lives and just choose not to have that role be parenthood. Why it is hard for some parents to understand is because of strong child-centric social and cultural beliefs that we all are supposed to become parents. Unfortunately it does not reflect reality. Articles like these help move us in the direction of that reality.......Me, I love being godmother and wacky auntie! For those who commented about childfree sites that are negative toward parents, etc. like this column blog laviechildfree is not about this, but about productive, stimulating discussion about childfree topics and beyond~Laura http://laviechildfree.com
Mary Childress replied on
I often feel so alone in this area. I am a high school teacher, and I thoroughly enjoy my job and the kids I get to interact with on a daily basis. I have deep love for each of them, but I know that I do not want to have my own. Its so frustrating how sometimes I feel guilty or selfish for knowing that I shouldn't parent. It is also frustrating when my kids are so amazed that I am not a parent. I'm only 30, but they always ask if something is wrong with me. I think the world would be a better place for everyone if parenting felt more like a choice than an obligation by society.
I can echo the sentiments of
Kimber replied on
I can echo the sentiments of most of the other commentors. I adore children, often more than I like their parents. My husband and I spoil our niece and nephew and I'm very excited that my friends have just now started having kids. I've worked in day cares. I work with teen volunteers at my current job and I'm studying to be a youth librarian. I hope to continue to work with kids. I do not, however, want to have any of my own. I don't really know how to explain to people how that works out because it just seems like such a natural choice to me. Why should liking kids mean I need to give birth to one? No one expects me to spend 100% of my time with other things I enjoy. I like pizza, but I don't want it at every meal. Why would it be surprising that kids are any different?
I've been working with
Anonymous replied on
I've been working with at-risk youth for 4 years now. I LOVE my job and I feel that this line of work is my true calling. Every day is a different challenge, I push myself, I learn something new every day, and I make a difference every day at work. I am also childfree.
When I meet people and they learn that I work in child care, they automatically assume that I love kids (true) and will birth many of them (false). They are usually shocked to learn that I, in fact, do not want any children of my own. I've even had some people react with disgust, as if people who don't want their OWN children shouldn't be helping OTHER children. This makes no sense to me.
Growing up, I never wanted a family. I never dreamed of a fairy tale wedding, a giant house with a white picket fence, and a gaggle of spawn. I always wanted to do something greater, and I always wanted to give back in some way. This line of work helps me reach that goal. This line of work also cements the fact that I am not cut out for parenting, and reinforces my desire to NOT have my own children. This does not make me unqualified to work with children; in fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm pretty darn good at it.
Lesbians Love Kids
MarieTee replied on
I love OTHER people's children and as a lesbian, people don't really expect me to have any of my own. Yet the fact I love my nephew and my friend's kids makes people think I'm baby crazy when I'm not. When you have a lot of friends from high school get knocked up, you spend your years babysitting for them and buying kiddie clothes and toys. I even took my friend's 2 year old daughter on a trip with me once so she could get out and see the world because being a young mom is tough as many women who work with girls knows.
I love kids for a bit---maybe one or two days at the most. I never think "Gee, I want one of my own". I think that my young cousins and nephew and the offspring of my high school/elementary friends are so wonderful, so charismatic and full of personality. Yes, kids do say the darnedest things and a lot of good movies and books would be shit without the role of children. But in MY own personal life, I couldn't handle and wouldn't want to handle the responsibility and 24/7 commitment of a child. Not even one. Not even if I was making a ton of money.
I have a dog, and stop to kneel down and show a young child my puppy and let them pet him on the street because it makes the kiddo (and his parent*s*) happy. I see the look of adoration in a kid's eyes as he pets my wild, crazy dog and yes I get all feel-goody but I never have regret. I'm young yes. My partner is going to be 30 soon and has never wanted children. We look the adult lifestyle and don't intend to change it, but observing others with children helps us see the negative and positive aspects of parenthood. We make our decisions from that.
Some childfree women will go on to have kids, and there's nothing wrong with that. Having kids isn't the worst thing in the world, but there is a lot of freedom, liberty and independence with being childfree and I wouldn't trade that for the cutest offspring in the world! No apologies.
And feel free to check out my childfree blog on wordpress and comment! I love feedback from other women!
On (not) being a mom
Carm replied on
Sadly, I only discoved this commentary on the last post, so I have been reading it backwards. :) I am loving it!
I am a woman who is making a conscious choice to remain partner-free and child-free. If one of these choices is odd, the two of them together is often seen as tragic!
I also (gasp!) love children, particularly teenagers. I see no contradiction between a passion for kids, and a passion for not having my own. Unfortunetly, the paired up and child-bearing people of the world don't see through my eyes on this one.
I agree with the many comments throughout this commentary about the decision to not have children gives non-child bearing/adopting people more "credibility" with children, particularly teens. They need a safe outlet, and as a single person, teens know that they can trust me, where my boundaries lie, and that I am doing things with them because I *want* to, not because I am obligated through my own familial bonds. (For instance, I'm not a Girl Scout troop leader solely because I want my child to be involved in Girl Scouts, I am there because I am passionate for the organization).
Is motherhood a viable occupation? Certainly. I have no desire to devalue another woman's choice about motherhood. Any occupation I choose will be just as viable. With the income I am not spending on child-rearing, I am able to give to organizations to improve YOUR child's chances in this world through funding after-school, food, and social programs. I am truly a believer in "it takes a village to raise a child." As a member of a community, that is what I am doing. As a woman with 7 nieces and nephews, cousins beyond count, and an active member at church, this is what I am doing.
You're welcome. :D
I am also bombarded with comments such as "You will/would make such a wonderful mom!" Know what? They are right! I would make a kick-ass mom! I'm also good with dogs, a great cook, and I can scale a rock tower like nobody's business. That doesn't mean I want to be a dog-sitter, chef, or high-adventure leader for the remainder of my time on Earth. My choice to not have children is not about me choosing "my life" over "my future unborn children." My choice is me choosing to contribute in another way to our collective society--the whole. It's not a "good" choice, nor is it a "bad" choice; it is neutral. And that's ok!
While it is important for me
Elizabeth Bradley replied on
While it is important for me to work with and advocate for children, I am uncertain as to whether I would like my own kids. I'm happy to think of motherhood as a distant (if unlikely) possibility. This won't change unless I am Absolutely Sure it would be right for me and the child.
I have always felt that if I had children, I would prefer to adopt. Because I am healthy and capable of pregnancy, this seems to be as controversial and confounding to others as my uncertainty about having kids.
Some women defensively assume that I am judging them for increasing the population or am somehow worried about my figure. Honestly, I am worried about my own triggers, OCD, and the history of postpartum depression in my family.
Ok this is what I was looking for
Shawn replied on
I'm glad I found this! Like other people who have posted I have spent my career working with children with special needs. At parties I gravitate toward children because they usually have more interesting things to say than the adults--sorry! I love being with children, I just opened a preschool and am fascinated with how they think and learn and play and imagine. I was sexually abused as a child and possibly this is a way of healing for me. I have struggled with whether or not to have children of my own for years and my husband and I decided long ago to be a family of 2. He teaches music and also loves children and we share our teaching moments at the end of each day with great joy.
I have been through all the insensitive remarks from other women that all of you have been through. I have worked extra hours when parents had to pick up their kids or go on maternity leave. I don't have a problem with that, they deserve that time off. I could have used some paid time off to learn how to surf or have an adventure as well. It would be nice if society could open its mind a bit to see other life paths are equally as valuable as the traditional one. It has been hard being excluded by friends who don't think I want to be around them because they have children and we don't. Now that I am approaching menopause I am looking down the road at what else I can do with my life.
I have never had the biological urge to have a child. Perhaps the abuse I experienced in my childhood has something to do with this. As a child I thought I would have an international family, adopt one from each country and they would be my family. In a sense, because of all the different, unique children I have worked with over the years, I could say I DO have an international family of students.
Thanks for this article and the opportunity to share, I don't have many opportunities to talk about this.
T.Sev replied on
Yes, I had to yell. I came across this article just today and it reassures me that I am not a unicorn, as heartbreaking as that was. I love children, LOVE them!!! I am a preschool teacher and the proud Auntie to two super smart and amazing nieces and two rambunctious and airheaded (said lovingly) nephews. They are some of the brightest spots in my world. However, I don't want children. I've been lucky. Most of the people we have told just shrug their shoulders or ask us why and then say ok when we explain our reasons. But every now and then we will come across a stranger who upon learning that we are comfortable, home owning, working and education individuals can't not understand. But you'd make a wonderful mother is often cooed at me. I agree. I wholeheartedly agree that I would make one kick a*# mom. But I don't want to and that in itself would make me a terrible mother. I grew up always knowing that something between my mother and I wasn't right. I can remember even in my youngest years yearning desperately for her to love me more. It wasn't until I was older and in a fit of anger she screamed at me that I had ruined her life. I started putting the pieces together and could only come to the conclusion that yes at 21 years old and a college student getting pregnant had "ruined" my mother's life. Our relationship was never the same because I always knew that no matter how much my mother loved me she would always see me as the event that irreversibly changed her life. I hesitated for years about having children. I met my husband at 27 and was already beginning to waver more towards the no side of things. After spending half of our 6 years together separated by deployments we decided for many reasons not to have children. I will not lie there are still moments where I wonder if that was the right choice. But then I remind myself that if I am not 150% sure then it is not ok to bring a child into this world who may one day realize they are someone's greatest regret.
Happily childfree, but I do
Margareth replied on
Happily childfree, but I do love kids and having them around (not too often though).
Why is it weird that I don't want them myself? I like cats and capibara's, but that doesn't mean I need to get some.
I think it's crucial to know thyself well before making the choice having children. Too many people, especially youngsters, just go and do it, while they're not fit for being a parent. Not because of financial reasons, emotional reasons, housing, nurture and love them enough, etcetera.
I never felt the need, but also have issues that I do not want to pass on. If I want to be noble, I would adopt a child. There are so many on this world who need a family.
So when a parent tells me I'm selfish for not giving birth, I tell them they are too, because the world nor the kid didn't ask being born and there are millions kids who would love being part of their family.
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