6 Things You Say that Annoy the Hell out of Childfree Women

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.

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26 responses to this post.

  1. The one I hate is …. “Who will take care of you in your old age?” Sad that anyone would consider having children just so that they’d have a care-giver.

    Here’s the thing … the earth cannot continue to support massive population growth. At some point in time, there won’t be enough resources to feed us all. So … we can make decisions, now, to limit population growth or … we can simply keep reproducing until the the lack of resources will make the decision for us. I’m pretty sure that population control through starvation isn’t anything which anyone wants.

    Wonderful, thought-provoking post!

    Reply

    • Posted by ailanna on 05/27/2010 at 08:37

      Oh yeah, I forgot about that one! Expecting your kids to support you in your old age might be even riskier than expecting social security to be around. And hey, kids are probably more expensive than assisted care living anyway. ;-)

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

      • Posted by isaac sherman on 05/27/2010 at 18:27

        As a single father, I am simultaneously amused and saddened at the same time. Mostly because this is the first time I’ve encountered this sort of attitude; but to each his own. However, if you figure for the massive cost in child rearing in time and money, you could put all of it into a savings account and likely buy a rest home by the time you needed it.
        I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t want kids, though. It’s a total life changer. No one should be expected to make that kind of change to their lives- we don’t demand that at some point, people get cancer, or develop agoraphobia. Interesting take.

        Reply

    • Posted by Nyx on 05/27/2010 at 13:27

      There is no guarantee that in your old age that what ever children one has will be there to help you … just look at all the elders already in nursing homes who never get to see their offspring save if they are really lucky on their birthday or during some holiday or such deal (mothers day, fathers day). Other then those “special” days they are forgotten about.

      The one that ticks me “But I wont to be a Grandmother!” is the one I hear all the freaking time from my MIL she is already a great grandmother soon to be double great as it is.

      Reply

  2. Posted by khan on 05/27/2010 at 18:12

    5. Don’t you like kids?
    —————————————
    No I don’t. I didn’t like them when I was one.

    Reply

    • I didn’t like kids either when I was one. Why must we get so uptight about what other people’s choices are?

      I don’t like white chocolate, so don’t expect me to eat some every day just because everyone else is consuming.

      Reply

  3. Oh my favourite is, “you were a kid once too”. Ya? So? I actually don’t like kids for the most part. I like my friend’s kids (so far) but when I tire of them, I leave. I like restaurants where there are no kids because they are noisy, smelly and generally inconsiderate. I understand they can’t help it because they are kids, but it still annoys me. I really, really, REALLY hate the “you’ll change your mind” line. Nobody tells a 25y/o who wants kids that she might change her mind. What is it about ME that makes me so totally incompetent and incapable of making life decisions at 25? I am smart and highly educated. Pretty sure I know. Argh!

    Reply

    • Posted by Amy on 05/28/2010 at 08:00

      I love “you were a kid once too”. It’s by far the easiest to answer, because I /hated/ being a kid. My peers were bitchy brats who ostracised me when they couldn’t get something from me, and while the grownups reminisced about their childhoods, all they could tell me was to grow up faster. Joyous times, those were- so much so that I’ve chosen not to inflict them on anyone else.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Lyn on 05/27/2010 at 19:22

    I’ve never – ever- been maternal. When all my friends were gushing over babies I was gushing over puppies (and I still do!). I’m blessed to have met a man who is not paternal, and we intend a long happy life with animals and sleeping in.

    I get “Oh you’ll change your mind” a lot. A. LOT. I’m 31 now, surely if my biological clock was going off I’d be aware by now? One friend even cursed me with “Oh you don’t like kids? You’ll end up having 10!”. Thanks. Love you too!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Holly on 05/27/2010 at 20:31

    Another fun one is how the childfree are “selfish”. And we all know that that Merriam-Webster defines “selfish” as “Not taking care of a child that doesn’t exist”.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Emec on 05/29/2010 at 07:24

    Arrhg! I am told #6 from time to time and it pisses me off so bad! Don’t tell me how I’m going to think or feel in the future! You obviously don’t know anything about who I really am…

    Holly: Yes, the “selfish” assumption is a popular one that I get, too. So, I’m selfish because being child-free leaves me with time and energy to do good things and make conscious decisions that benefit the Earth? I’m selfish because because I only have to support one person, so my over-all impact on the planet in minimal? The “selfish” assumption is absolutely nonsensical.

    The most irksome comment I’ve ever received was from my 5-year-old niece (whom I adore): “My mommy says that you might have a baby someday.”

    This is what I wish I has said: “Your mommy is wrong.”

    Reply

    • Posted by Isaac Sherman on 05/29/2010 at 08:18

      I can see where they get the selfish- it’s a kind of projection. They’re jealous- kids completely hijack your life in a lot of ways. So, they see themselves as almost a martyr, doing “the right thing” for their species, while you take “the easy way” out.
      I’m a single father of 2 with a deadbeat mom, and I think (and get told frequently enough) that I’m a good father- but some days, I wish I’d never had either of them. I think that sort of discontentment is the spring from which these comments swell- an attempt to peer pressure you into going with the crowd and being miserable.
      It does have it’s benefits- I love both of my kids to death, and we have a great time together. I’m not complaining, just trying to illustrate where the negativity comes from.

      Reply

      • Posted by ailanna on 06/07/2010 at 14:40

        I think we really need to get away from the selfish label. It’s used both for people who do have children — you’re contributing to overpopulation and climate destruction — and for those who choose not to — you’re so self-absorbed you don’t want to sacrifice your own life for kids. Choosing to have kids is just a choice. Full stop.

        (However, have more than two, and there is no way I’m taking you seriously as an environmentalist.)

        Reply

  7. I never seemed to have maternal felling, wasn’t desperate for kids and wasn’t that interested in other peoples. But I didn’t dislike them either. Then the right guy came along and I have a daughter. I wouldn’t say being a parent is a better life and a decision to stay childless is bad, but it’s a very different life and I’m glad I chose it

    Reply

  8. Posted by Jackie on 06/07/2010 at 09:17

    Fantastic, and I agree completely! I especially like 4 and 6. I’m child free by choice. I say “free” as I feel free. Great blog.
    See mine on the same thing:
    Part 1: http://goodqueenbess.blogspot.com/2010/05/child-free-by-choice.html
    Part 2: http://goodqueenbess.blogspot.com/2010/05/101-reasons-i-am-happily-child-free.html

    Reply

  9. I agree TOTALLY and COMPLETELY! I get the “you’re selfish” a lot, too! I’ve known since I was about 5 that I didn’t want kids. And I’ve never changed my mind. I LOVE, LOVE animals, but I have no maternal instinct whatsoever, at least not towards human babies. I’m all for giving the best care and education possible for children that already exist — and I have no personal desire to bring in more kids into the world. End of story.

    Reply

  10. I would recommend adding “when you have kids….” to this list. I get that one ALL THE TIME, especially in comments on my blog. I thought I made it very clear that my blog is all about stylish living without kids, yet I get people leaving comments which say, “That’s a great idea now but when you’re no longer ‘child free chic’ you’ll need something different just like me cuz I have 3 kids and used to be childfree and know!”

    People just can’t wrap their tiny little brains around the fact that some of us don’t want kids and aren’t changing our minds. It’s HIGHLY annoying.

    Reply

  11. Posted by shortystylee on 06/16/2010 at 16:31

    I’ve made it loud and clear to both my side and my husband’s side of the family that I will not be having my own (read: genetically my own) children. I have clearly expressed my wishes to adopt and I get many responses along the lines of “oh it’s so expensive to do that” or “do you really want to go through that process” etc etc.

    I do WANT children. However, I think that it is entirely irresponsible to continue to bring more children into the world when there are so many children that are waiting to be adopted in the US and abroad.

    Now if only my mother-in-law could remember that I am only 24 years old and stop asking me when I’m going to “just have a dang kid already.”

    Reply

    • Posted by revolutionaryandjoyful on 06/29/2010 at 09:34

      Amen to you sister!

      I completely support your decision and wish more people would look at the greater effects their choices will have instead of just worrying about what they want. In this case, their “own” baby.

      Reply

  12. […] Things You Say that Annoy the Hell out of #Childfree Women: http://digg.com/d31TY2P?t … interesting blog writing […]

    Reply

  13. […] I don’t like humans enough to want kids […]

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  14. […] The cat satisfies my [minimal] maternal instincts at a fraction of the carbon footprint. Huge childfree win. […]

    Reply

  15. I hate being told I’ll change my mind later too, whether it’s from an acquaintance or a medical professional. Like I am incompetent and have no idea what I want now. Give me a break!

    Reply

  16. Posted by Kate on 05/11/2012 at 23:43

    Thanks for this article. I have heard all of these things, but the most annoying of all is the “you’ll change your mind” one. Extremely annoying!

    Reply

  17. Posted by ekim on 06/21/2012 at 08:53

    I find this one disturbing: “you will regret and it will be too late” because it’s like saying “you will be an unhappy oldie”

    Reply

  18. Posted by Sarah on 07/13/2013 at 13:59

    I love your blog and agree that all the comments you mention in this post are annoying; I would never say any of them to a person who has opted not to have children. Having decided to have children myself, however, I find the ‘childfree’ label quite annoying. It implies that the people who have made the choice not to have children are somehow ‘liberated’ compared to those who have chosen differently. As a mother, I don’t consider myself to be unfree. I’m also trying to raise my three children to understand, care about and want to be part of the solution to the problems that threaten our planet.

    Reply

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