Childfree – Who Gets the Label?

Yesterday’s post sure generated a lot of commentary, both here on the blog and on Facebook in various childfree groups where I posted it. If you haven’t read it yet, please do…we’ll be here when you get back.

Meme courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com/

Meme courtesy of http://www.quickmeme.com/

So assuming you’re up to speed now, I want to make a few comments.

Bravery

First, I think it is incredibly brave of Rachel to put herself out there in front of a tough crowd. Whatever you may think about the post, this took guts. Thank you Rachel!

In the future, we’ll be asking more people to share their stories. We think it is illuminating to hear how people have reached, or are reaching, their decision to be childfree. We hope you agree.

Build Up or Tear Down

Second, I want to talk a little bit more about why I asked Rachel to guest post in the first place. Since Amy and I started blogging about childfree life I’ve spent a loooooot of time in various childfree groups on Facebook and other places. I’ve seen a lot of kindness and support extended to people who are dealing with the downsides of childfree life like disapproving family, friends, and complete strangers, condescension, accusations of selfishness, etc. This is great and it’s what we should be doing for each other.

I’ve also seen a lot of cruelty and hate. Derogatory terms for parents and children and sometimes even for people that are sitting on the fence. This is not great. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do understand the need to vent. Believe me! But what I see on occasion goes way beyond that.

What w{n}hab! Is About

Third, I want to clarify what we’re {not} having a baby! is about.

  • Foremost we are a welcoming place for the childfree.
  • We are also welcoming to those who have not yet decided. We recognize that choosing to be childfree – or not – is a journey. That journey is longer for some.
  • We educate on the realities of the childfree life so that people who have not yet decided can make a good decisions for themselves.
  • We try to educate parents and those that want children about what being childfree is; that a decision by some to not have children does not invalidate their decision to have them.
  • We defend everyone’s right to choose whether or not to be childfree; we do not hate parents or children.
  • We strive to be positive although we will defend the rights of the childfree. 🙂
  • Through all of the above, we try to reduce societal pressure to procreate so that people are free to make the right choice for themselves.

Back to Rachel

So, is Rachel “childfree”? Let’s define “childfree” first. I am a true believer that definitions matter. However, in this case, things are a little tricky. You see there is no broadly accepted definition and the dictionary definitions that do exist really miss the mark:

  • Merriam-Webster: no definition
  • dictionary.com: having no children; childless, especially by choice
  • Oxford: pertaining to adults who do not have or live with children

What I’m going to go with is the definition provided by the eminent scholar and sociologist, Amy Blackstone. Her definition, used in her research, is as follows:

People who have made the intentional and explicit choice not to have children

I think most childfree people can get behind that as a definition. For me it gets to the heart of the matter which is a person’s intent as opposed to circumstance.

So, with that definition in our pocket, is Rachel childfree? In my opinion no, not yet. I think if her circumstances changed she would still have a child. But that matters less to me than the answer to this question…is there something the childfree community can do to support Rachel and people like her?

The answer to that is yes. We can help people to see the advantages of being childfree, to enjoy their lives in that context, and to be supportive as they move forward.

Maybe a switch will flip and Rachel will, like me, decide that she’s happy she dodged a bullet. After all, I thought I would have kids someday.

Maybe she’ll continue to always wish for what could have been. We all do this for all sorts of things. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t control your life.

Maybe she’ll decide she can’t live without a child and choose to adopt. I’ll celebrate that as there are so many kids that need a good home.

Not matter what Rachel eventually decides, childfree or not, we support Rachel making the right decision for herself.

Thanks to everyone who commented and special thanks (again) to Rachel for being brave!

21 Responses to Childfree – Who Gets the Label?

  1. Ama April 8, 2014 at 5:52 am #

    Some of the comments are incredible and remind me of fascist tendencies of excluding everything that is not exactly a 100% their terms. And this is exactly what this world is suffering from. That is exactly why women are against women. No moms versus moms. Late moms versus young moms.. and so on. It’s sickening. It’s fascist. I am as well child-free. It shouldn’t matter to anyone why. Fact is, we live in this pro-natalist world with mothers being put on pedestals miles high. And I am asking myself, if, here in Germany they will re-invent that damn mothers cross the Nazis had given out 70 years ago. We are all in the same boat, we, the people not having, why ever, procreated. We women ( I can only talk from a German woman perspective) without children are judged, left out and looked down upon. We do not play a part in this wonderful middle-class dream of mother father and two children surrounded by a white garden fence. No. That 50s backlash does not apply to us, thank god. Instead, there is a great deal of shit coming down on us in terms of “they need to pay more into the retirement system” and so on. I am sorry? So, please, let’s not separate further and label the shit out of everything. And seriously-I doubt many women that run into the next clinic to get an abortion as soon as they realise that they are pregnant. Some friend or family member will take care of the emotional manipulation, I saw that too often. Why can’t we stick together and embrace each other friendly? It’s tough enough out there with all these people asking perfide questions “it thats really what you want?” BLAH BLAH BLAH. As if that is ever so easy.

  2. Jody Jackson September 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I just happened upon this blog as a fellow Luther grad who loves sociology. So many labels, though! A little freaked out at the label I earn raising five kiddos . . .

  3. Zara September 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    WowRachel, you have such courage guts and quality. You rock, you have moved on from the mommy good. Some people can’t do that. They suffer for it all their lives. Your life will be filled with joy, and love.

  4. Remi September 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    I commented on the post from yesterday, but I thought I’d drop this thought here, too. There’s some middle ground for people who aren’t quite “Childfree” in the DINK and SINK community, after all, the term is self defining. “Dual income, no Kids” or “Single Income, no Kids”, there’s room for everyone; infertile, infertile and no longer trying, fertile but not trying, fertile but not ready yet, or childfree.

  5. Mrs. K September 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    I never knew the “childfree movement” existed. I think it’s wonderful that people consciously made the decision to stop fertility treatments and embrace the goodness their lives have to offer. I’m astounded and perplexed by so many negative comments. They are elitist and very judgmental. They make you sound very self-centered. Who the hell cares what label one wants to give oneself? Good for you Rachel! I am a new “empty-nester” and I just rescued a dog. I can honestly say he is giving me as much joy as my children did and is a lot calmer, less expensive and happier to see me than my kids (they turned out great but those early 20’s they’re pretty self involved). I can’t wait to learn more about this movement. I think I might start calling myself childfree, mostly just to piss off those self-righteous guys from yesterday. Hee hee. We are having a LOT of fun now! We feel like newlyweds again! Enjoy!

    • Lance September 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      OMG! Tears of laughter! I hereby decree you honorarily childfree!

      • Arlene September 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

        Can I be a honorary childfree person to, my kid is grown up most of my friends are childfree. I love my kid, yet understand the choice of childfree people. It takes courage guts and a tough skin to be childfree. I knew that over twenty years ago. I did not think I could cope with all the negative opinions about being a non mum. It is a shame twenty five years ago there was no information or research on the childfree. Now I hope I don’t get grandchildren.

  6. Anna September 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I’ll be honest. People can define themselves however they want to define themselves, as long as other people are not defining them for them. I don’t usually talk about this, but sometimes I feel like a fraud in the Childfree movement. Because years ago I did give a kid up for adoption. This is a disconnect I have with those CF folk who like to bodyshame the post-baby body (we’re supposed to be better than those stupid mags that slobber over baby bumps and then obsessively post articles about celebs unhealthily slashing off their baby weight) The reason I did what I did is because I found out particularly late on about my pregnancy. Would I like to do it again? absolutely not. I still have no mother instinct to speak of, which is why I found myself in this movement to begin with to get away from the pronatalistic crazies. As someone who has kicked anorexia’s ass though the body-shaming bites even worse though– do people have amnesia about knowing how a mother’s insecurity affects their daughters? Because that is what I did as a kid, learned how to pick myself apart watching my mother of 4 do exactly the same over her motherly figure. This is especially why I am against any kind of body-shaming. I’ve had enough of that. Yes! I did what I did– but don’t be comparing my saggy stomach with melting blubber. I’m actually quite fit though. Do not compare my vagina to a windsock. I do my kegels and am actually pretty tight. Enough demeaning women. Enough. I am not put on earth to showcase insecurity by lashing out at other people and comparing them to myself. That is probably my sole complaint regarding the movement. Other than that I am absolutely fine.

    • Reese September 12, 2013 at 1:10 am #

      You gave up a child for adoption….That seems pretty CF to me!! 🙂

  7. KD September 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    “So, with that definition in our pocket, is Rachel childfree? In my opinion no, not yet. I think if her circumstances changed she would still have a child.”

    I agree with your assessment. When Rachel truly becomes comfortable with not having children and stops speaking in “what ifs” and potentials (regardless of how slim), she will then see herself as someone who does not want to have children and will therefore begin to live a life that is happy and fulfilled without children. As far as many childfree are concerned, that includes preventive measures of birth control rather than playing Russian Roulette with even the small probability of pregnancy. You were never childfree if you do not use preventive measures and would potentially say “I guess it was meant to be” if you are impregnated despite the low probability.

    We are not telling Rachel how she must define herself to herself (internally) or how she should feel about her own life. We are responding to someone whose “childless to childfree” voice has been heard by the childfree. I hope Rachel is open to varying reactions to that voice because that is the risk we take when we use our voice.

  8. Lizzy September 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    I was kind of bothered by some of the comments yesterday and I’m not entirely sure that strict definitions of childless and childfree are helpful, they seem to be more divisive than anything else. I think it’s possible to face infertility and come out on the other side feeling thankful or to be fertile and consciously decide not to have children but also experience sadness at the path not taken. Mourning the loss of an opportunity or feeling sad about choosing not to experience something doesn’t make you a faker or pretend childree person. And insisting that somebody who is trying to embrace the childfree life isn’t really one of us because she came to that decision differently is neither kind or particularly helpful in building a community that supports each other.

    • Lance September 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

      We were bothered by some of the comments too but decided to let all of them stand. I think that was the right choice. We think it’s more useful to have people speak out against them than to censor them.

  9. Maggie September 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Very well said. I hesitate to define the labels too, but there is a difference. Even so, it doesn’t mean Rachel and her husband can’t find support among the Childfree. There are definitely groups that will not be accepting: the adamant, negative groups, but there are positive CF groups, websites, message boards, and people around too.

  10. Gwen. September 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    WOW. I hadn’t read the comments on that post until now. I’m always shocked by the vitriolic and self-righteous nature of anonymous online commenters. Thank you for reminding us all to play nice, although it shouldn’t be necessary. Karly, if I could “like” your comment, I would! http://www.badinkadink.wordpress.com

    • Lance September 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      LIKE

  11. Karly Martin September 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m in a long-term, same-sex relationship and we tried for a few years to get pregnant. We eventually gave up and mourned the loss of the family we dreamed of. Emerging from the crippling fog of infertility, we now feel happier and more connected than ever. Now we are so relieved that it didn’t work! Over-the-moon ecstatic that it didn’t! We describe ourselves as ‘childfree’ and have no qualms about doing so. We are happy to live out the rest of our lives together surrounded by our four-leggeds. This is the face of a happy childfree life after infertility!

    • Lance September 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks for the comment!

      We’d love to hear more about your experiences being in a same-sex relationship as it relates to childfree-ness. 🙂

      If you’re willing to, contact us at werenothavingababy@gmail.com.

    • Brooke September 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      We are working toward coming to a similar place. I don’t think I’ll ever identify as “ecstatic” but more and more every day, we enjoy the merits of not having children. Coming to a good place after resolving infertility with a childfree lifestyle takes a long time, and I’m glad to know that there are couples out there who’ve “made it” through.

    • Adrianne September 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      My husband & I are in exactly the same situation!
      I’m also shocked by some of the responses I read on yesterdays blog. For me, I began reading and following various childfree sites/blogs because I love the positive messages you guys have regarding living without children. It helped me to embrace and appreciate what I feel like is the life I was meant to have, even if it took me years and an unconventional path to get here.

      • Karly Martin September 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

        Brooke & Adrianne: I started reading about the benefits of a childfree life for the same reason. Corinne Maier’s book ‘No Kids’ helped kickstart the happiness and finding blogs like this have helped to cement it. I never thought I’d make it out of the other side of infertility with such peace about the whole thing but I’m here to say it’s possible. Wishing you all the best.

        • Ama April 8, 2014 at 5:59 am #

          That book is indeed awesome and it helped me a great deal to feel good with that decision.

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