This blog post is taken almost directly from the outline I used for my speech. These are my own thoughts and my own opinions. I will include references at the end of the post. I encourage you to preform your own research and form your own opinions. So let’s get crackin’!
Essentially I am an evolutionary failure. I have no desire to create viable offspring. I do not want children.
We live in a kid-centric world. When I tell people that I don’t want children, they do not hesitate to tell me, “You’ll change your mind” or “You don’t mean that!” But I do.
I have had numerous experiences with people who think my decision to not have children is terrible.
When I decided to use long term birth control in the form of an IUD, the nurse who was present during the procedure clearly opposed it. I could tell that she thought I was making a huge mistake, despite the fact that it is only a temporary solution.
My boyfriend’s mom is always good-naturedly harassing me about having kids. I don’t think she understands that I (we) truly do not want kids. She actually once told me to take out my IUD so she could have grandbabies. Did I mention that I’m 20? I tweeted that to Cosmo under their crazy mother-in-laws hashtag and got immediately retweeted.
In case I didn’t get the memo that people don’t like it when you don’t have kids, the universe sought to remind me at work. Yes, that’s right; a customer at work once told me I was selfish for not wanting children. Actually, she said people who don’t want children are selfish…but she said it after I had told her that I was not interested in having kids. I could see what she was getting at.
The purpose of my speech was not to convince my fellow classmates, or you guys for that matter, that living child free is the only way to be. My purpose was simply to convince you that being childfree is not an inherently bad thing.
In my speech, I sought to define what it means to be child free, address and dispel some of the myths concerning child free living, and to spiel the pros and cons of a child free lifestyle. I also covered some of the grey areas around being child free.
Being child free by choice means that an adult has made the decision to not have children of their own. According to childfree.net, “We choose to call ourselves ‘childfree’ rather than ‘childless,’ because we feel the term ‘childless’ implies that we’re missing something we want – and we aren’t.” Those who are child free by choice consider themselves, “free of the loss of personal freedom, money, time and energy that having children requires.” (Childfree.net)
After understanding what exactly it means to be childfree, I wanted to jump into some of the myths surrounding CF living.
I mentioned earlier that I was once told it was selfish of me to not want children. This is one of the biggest myths out there about people living child free. A study performed in 1992, by two psychologists, Rathus and Nevid, interviewed hundreds of couples on their reasons for having or not having children. They found couples with children had 9 common answers for their decision, and that couples without children had 13 common answers for their decision. Among the common reasons given for having children were:
- Personal experience- to have the experience of being a parent,
- Personal extension- to carry on the genetic heritage or family name,
- Personal status- culture affords some respect for just being a parent, and
- Moral wealth- that is, some find it is a good and selfless act to put the life of another first, or that it is a moral obligation to have children
Among the common reasons given for not having children were:
- Freedom- more opportunity to pursue other areas of life
- Difficulty- parenthood is a demanding and difficult job which is not always enjoyable
- Irrevocable decision- once the decision is made it cannot be changed, so people must be sure it is what they want
- Failure- some people had unhappy or abusive childhoods and fear that they would not be a good parent
It seems obvious that the people who do not want children have far less selfish reasoning than the people who do want children of their own. I would much rather make the conscious decision to not have kids than to have them and be a bad parent. Call me selfish. In my speech, I included this clip from The Early Show, it is an interview with Laura Carroll, author of Families of Two, and she speaks out about the myth that CF people are selfish:
Another myth is that having children makes one happier and/or more fulfilled. However, many studies show that married couples experience greater unhappiness throughout their marriage at times when children are present. (Miller) I also hope to shed some light on this through my survey. Many responders stated that they believe couples have children in an attempt to save their marriage.
Some myths concern only women specifically. These are myths such as:
- Women who don’t want children won’t find a man
- Women who don’t want children are lesbians
- Women who don’t want children have physical issues and do not want to admit it
- Women should have children because if their parents had thought like them, they wouldn’t be here
Of course all of these myths can be disproved. There are many women and men who don’t want children who are in loving relationships or are happily married. Some famous examples include Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Mary J. Blige, and me. (Bahaha!) (Vaughn, 2010) Neither is it necessarily true that women who don’t want children are lesbians. There are many lesbian mothers. Sara Gilbert is a prime example. She has two children with partner, Allison Adler. There are also many famous examples of straight women who are not interested in having children…again, me. (Hahaha! Again.)
The last two myths concerning only women are the ones that really get my goat. I really wonder about the thought processes of people who think that just because a woman doesn’t want kids, she must have physical hindrances preventing her. Really? That is like saying that just because a woman doesn’t want to stay at home and cook and clean that she must have some physical or mental handicap preventing her.
I can’t help but shake my head at the last myth – Women should have children because if their parents had thought like them, they wouldn’t be here. The fact that my parents and grandparents had children is not enough of a basis on which for me to make my own (LIFE CHANGING) decisions.
After dispelling some of the greatest myths concerning CF living, I turned to addressing the pros and cons of not having children. In an attempt to promote the recency effect, I will address the cons first.
- One’s social role is not easily defined
- One will never know what it is like to have children of one’s own
- “One will miss out on the joys of raising children.” –I hear this one a lot and I believe it is biased.
- One will have to put up with their family constantly disrespecting their decision to not have children (This was my own addition to the list in reference to the aforementioned mother-in-law.)
- One may be scared to tell people that they are child free by choice because of the implications that will be made (see myths concerning women number 3)
The pros of not having children:
- Time to pursue hobbies or travel
- No pressure to choose between family or career
- Bigger financial savings
- More time to devote to one’s significant other
- No fear of failing as a parent
The reasons above show that having children can be a rewarding experience in some cases, but there are also many perks to living a child free lifestyle.
With anything in life, there are grey areas. Child free living is no exception. There are many circumstances that fall between the lines of childfree and childful. (I made childful up! Tada!) Adoption is one such circumstance. Some people would prefer to adopt children who need good homes, but never feel the need to biologically reproduce. Also falling under the grey category are blended families with step-children. Many people find that while they do not want children of their own, they do not mind being parents to the children of their spouse. The aforementioned Mary J. Blige is one example of this. This goes to show that while you could only see black and white over this subject, there are always grey areas and there are always those who are an exception to the rule.
To conclude my speech, I urged my classmates you use their brains: We are grown men and women in this class. All of us are considered, by law, capable parents. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should all procreate. Today we have learned that while there are many positive sides to being a parent, there are also many positive sides to not having children. We have learned some of the myths that plague those choosing not to have children and we have learned that they are just that, myths. As humans under the pressure of the environment around you, I would strongly urge you to use your brains and critically think about your actions before you bring another person into this world. Regardless of your choice concerning the matter, because ultimately- there is no wrong one, please show respect for those who do not choose to have children as well as those who do.
I would also like to mention that I didn’t not approach this assignment with the thought that people who do have children are selfish; I just wanted to show that I think it is not selfish of people to live child free. I also did not, in this assignment, address any environmental, population, or religion based circumstances though I realize these are concerns of many.
You can probably tell that I’m all about respecting other’s choices. I would like to thank my own family for never pressuring me about my decisions and always supporting my choices. You guys are great.
With Love & Respect to All,
Childfree.net. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved 11 27, 2011, from childfree.net: http://www.childfree.net/index.html
Miller, R. B. (n.d.). Do Children make a marriage unhappy? Retrieved 11 27, 2011, from Google Scholar: https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/MarrFam/article/viewFile/10974/10939
Vaughn, S. (2010, 5 29). Dispelling six myths about women who don’t want children. Retrieved 11 27, 2011, from Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/relationships-in-chicago/dispelling-six-myths-about-women-who-don-t-want-children-stc2-carrie-has-no-kids-with-big