Childfree: adj. describing someone who has opted not to have children; often used in conjunction with the term GINK.
It’s hard to be a childfree individual in this society. Admittedly, it’s gotten a lot better in the past few decades, but people, especially women, who have opted not to have kids still deal with plenty of crap. First are the suspicions of lesbianism, sexual anomaly, and/or child-hating misanthropy. Next are the stream of impertinent questions — often from people who barely know us — about our reproductive choices. Here’s a list of six things you say that really piss us off. Please. Stop.
1. Kids are great/wonderful/fantastic/fulfilling! You should reconsider.
Imagine that I went up to a pregnant woman and said, “Hey, the childfree life is fantastic! Why don’t you reconsider?” This is what it feels like when you tell me to reconsider my decision to be childfree. I respect your decision to have a child and am willing to accept that you have good, valid reasons for doing so. It’s your turn to return the favor.
2. You’ll really miss out by not having kids. I feel so fulfilled by having produced genetic offspring.
I can see why this would be true from your perspective, but I’m not you, and what I find fulfilling may be very different from what you find fulfilling. In fact, what I find most satisfying – reading, writing, going out for solitary walks, spending time with animals – would be significantly hindered by having a child. Moreover, there are so many different experiences that an individual could find fulfilling that it is entirely possible to lead a highly fulfilling existence without all (or even many) of them. Maybe I’d find skydiving fulfilling and enriching if I just tried it. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
3. Having a child is an essential part of the female experience.
Rubbish. I don’t believe in gendered experiences; I believe in individual experiences. Having kids may well be a part of your individual experience, but that doesn’t make it essential or even rewarding for other people. Not following one particular biological imperative doesn’t make me an inferior, incomplete, or unfulfilled person.
4. But you’d make a great mother, and we need more smart/conscientious/whatever people.
We don’t need more kids in the world; we need to make sure that the kids already here have supportive, affectionate adults around them and access to the resources and education that will make them conscientious and thoughtful adults.
Morever, it’s pretty clear to me and the people who see beneath my mild-mannered facade that I wouldn’t be a good mother. I’m unabashedly self-centered, a few cents short of a dollar in the empathy [for humans] department, and savagely territorial about my independence, time, and space. I have no maternal instincts to speak of and am at a total loss when presented with a baby. (Not fuzzy enough to be cute, and not conscious enough to have an intelligent conversation with.) There are plenty of people who should never be parents. I am one of them. And even for people who would be good parents, they don’t owe it to anyone to make that decision.
5. Don’t you like kids?
Of course I do. I work with them (ages 10 and up), and they are some of the coolest and most interesting people I know — kind of like adults without the smarminess and social posturing. But there is a striking difference between enjoying working and interacting with kids and wanting my own child, for whom I would be responsible 24/7 for years. I would go completely crazy. Relationships don’t work for me unless they’re with other, mostly autonomous individuals.
6. You’ll change your mind later.
Don’t patronize me — and that refers to doctors, too, who refuse voluntary sterilization to women with no children. Most people who don’t want kids have known forever that they didn’t want them. I figured it out years ago when I joined the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and have become increasingly certain that I neither want kids nor would be a good parent. I’m willing to bet you anything that I know myself better than you know me.