About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reason for Being Childfree, or Just a Fringe Benefit?

When I read articles and editorials, I generally try to avoid reading the “Comments” section because of the deluge of poorly written, misinformed, or otherwise ignorant drivel that many people post. However, at the end of an online article I read on childfreedom, I broke my rule and found this little gem (I need to paraphrase here, but I am not too far off from the original quote): “…people want to be selfish and not have children so that they can sleep in on the weekends...” Now, I know that some people leave comments that are intended to be sarcastic or ironic, but from the context, I believe that this comment was serious. Mind you, there was nothing in the article or in the nearby comments about sleeping in or about selfish reasons for not having children. It seemed that the author of this comment could think of no reason for childfreedom other than the ability to sleep in on weekends.

I began pondering (as I so frequently do) why people choose to be childfree, and more specifically, I asked myself, What is a reason for being childfree versus a fringe benefit?

Certainly there may be people out there who choose childfreedom for a reason as “frivolous” as wanting to sleep in. Personally, I have not encountered such people (and even so, we all have our own physical needs -- who am I to decide how important sleep and rest should be to someone else?). In addition, research has shown that people’s reasons for not having children tend to be unselfish, unlike the generally selfish reasons people give for pursuing parenthood.

Nevertheless, I think some of us childfree do tend to rave about the fringe benefits rather than our actual reasons for childfreedom, and that may be why some people get the impression that we are selfish. As an early articulator, I was quite unaware of some of the fringe benefits when I made my decision, so I can guarantee that I was not motivated by “selfish” reasons like wanting to sleep in, wanting to spend all of my money on myself, and not wanting stretch marks. I took the time to make a list of my reasons, a list that started with the simple “I just don’t want them” (my first reason from a very young age) and has grown as I have grown and as I have had my choices questioned.

While this is probably not a comprehensive list, I think it is a decent summary.
  • To my best recollection, knowing at such a young age that I did not want children was probably due to my general dislike of being around children (as a child myself, all I ever wanted to do was grow up) and to the horror I felt toward pregnancy and childbirth.
  • On a related note, I have no urge to reproduce. No biological clock ticking.
  • As I have stated before, I felt a call to take care of the world’s orphans instead of bearing children. I used to think adoption was in my future, but I’ve begun thinking that other things are my mission, like child sponsorship and support of other people’s adoptions.
  • I don’t like being around many people, even my own relatives. I’m somewhat of a loner, and I like to spend time by myself. No, I need to spend time by myself to maintain my sanity.
  • I love my husband and I cannot bear the thought of anyone coming between us. A child would divert my attention from him.
  • I already feel complete. I don’t need motherhood to make me feel better about myself, and I don’t have a void in my life that I need to fill.
  • I adore my career, and I have been career-minded ever since I chose my profession when I was 12 years old. And as a perfectionist, I want to be the best I can in my career. A child could only make me less of a professor/colleague and would distract me from my ministry to my students.
  • I need a significant amount of peace and quiet. I could not abide the commotion that comes with children.
  • I am independent, and I avoid relationships with anyone who is too needy. This is why I have cats instead of dogs; this is why the few friends I have are educated and talented people who are self-sufficient; this is why I fell in love with a free-thinking and free-spirited artist.
Don’t get me wrong about the fringe benefits -- they are fantastic. I love that I have not wracked my body with a pregnancy; I am happy that I avoided all of the pain, discomfort, and distortion that my friends have rued. I love my extra disposable income, income that I can use to sponsor children, support Show Hope (adoption) and other charitable causes, pay off my house, save for retirement, or travel. I love the flexibility of my schedule which allows me to work more if I want the extra money. I love my free time, which I use to volunteer at the animal shelter, relax with my husband, work on my garden, exercise, and even occasionally waste. I love being the center of my husband’s attention. No need for “date nights” for us, since we are always spending time together.

And, yes, I love being able to sleep in!

But just remember, the reasons came long before the fringe benefits, and the reasons are good.

Do you distinguish between reasons and fringe benefits? What are your reasons for being childfree? What are your fringe benefits?


  1. I, too, consider myself an early articulator (told my German Catholic grandmother when I was about 8 that I didn't want kids — you should have heard THAT set of bingos!), so I'm trying to remember why I initially said it. I think I saw what my mom was going through with being pregnant with my sister at the time and just thought it wasn't for me.

    I have many reasons for being childfree. Some are hard to explain. I guess I've never REALLY seen myself in the motherhood role, even though when I was very young I assumed it would happen, because it's "what you do." Also, my husband and I both have some family medical issues we don't wish to pass on. Those are my main reasons.

    Fringe benefits: Last night, we drove 2 hours at 11:30 at night to eat at a 24-hour restaurant we don't have in our town. My job is from 3-midnight and DH's is a 9-5, so when we have time together, it's nice to not have to do what the kids want. We go to one of the least-child-friendly cities, Las Vegas, nearly every year for vacation. I also volunteer for hospice and play roller derby, neither of which I'd have the free time to do if we had kids.

    The lists go on, but I'll spare you the rest. :-)

  2. Oh, wow, I just discovered your blog and am happy to find yet another childfree person who is also a Christian. We seem to be few and far between it seems. I too knew at an early age that I didn't want to be a mother. Not sure if I had reasons other than I didn't really have a mothering instinct or desire to take care of children. I did my share of babysitting but wasn't all goo-goo/gaga to have one of my own. As an adult I have most assuredly not changed my mind and have become even more sure that I don't want kids and I made the right decision.

  3. I was not an early articulator but married a man who was. I did not want to give birth to children but did want to adopt or foster one or two. I would have to say I fell into the mindset of a postponer. When the time came to decide my husband did not want to be a parent so I had to imagine my life in another way. I embraced the CF life and now volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and teach children with special needs. I find my role as teacher and mentor very satisfying. I am looking into sponsoring a child but was disappointed with the agency that I had originally signed up with.

    Thank you for writing such a strong statement on many of the reasons we choose the CF path. As a Christian it has opened more doors and windows for service. Wonderful blog!

  4. Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I absolutely love to hear your stories, and it is nice to know I'm not alone.

  5. Thanks for this. A lot of your reasons ring true for me as well - never liked being around kids, never felt the urge to reproduce, feel complete as it is, etc. I also feel called to a life of ministry, and being childfree means I can devote that much more time, money, and attention to the Kingdom. I also feel a call to poverty, and while I haven't figured out exactly what that means, but it would be a lot harder to devote myself to that if I had to worry about providing for kids.

    It's hard for my husband and I, as we're about the age that all our friends have started having kids... or are trying and finding themselves infertile. We're feeling the pressure, and I find myself wondering, "Am I wrong, here? Do I really want kids after all?" (Even though I've said NO since I was 13!)

    Anyway, I'm glad this blog is here.

  6. ~Q, thank you. I am moved by your statement about being called to poverty. I am continually reflecting on how I spend money, what I actually need, and what would please God with regard to my finances; and I'm never sure if I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing in that area of my life. My prayers will be with you as you explore your call.

  7. I just discovered your blog this evening, and I really enjoyed this post. We sound a lot alike (unable to handle commotion well, needing signifigant time alone, deep marriage relationship, no desire for preganancy, etc.)the difference is that I am called to motherhood, and it's been an interesting experience meeting my child's and my needs at the same time (not to mention the needs of my hubby, 5 dogs, and rabbit!) I really appreciate that though you aren't called to motherhood, you do have compassion towards orphans, and use your resources to that end (as well as help families who need one another come together.) Many child free people are rather snide on the subject of children, and claim that the hurting children in the world aren't their problem. It's very refreshing to read such a different (and beautiful!) view.

  8. Thank you, Laura. I like the way you described motherhood as a "calling" for you. I wish more people would think so carefully and seriously about such an endeavor.

    There definitely are some nasty childfree people out there (though there seems to be no shortage of nasty people across all subcultures of society!), but I have been surprised at the number of childfree people I have encountered who really do care about children. I had always assumed that most people who didn't want to have kids were, like me, not too keen on children. But I am meeting more and more teachers, "Big Brothers/Sisters", child sponsors, adoption supporters, doting aunts/uncles, etc., who have no desire to be parents. It has really opened my eyes to the diversity among the childfree.

  9. Hi!

    Can I ask a question (or two)? I'm genuinely curious - not trying to be snarky or put you down, I'm just wondering....

    Do you regard children as a blessing?

    You say that you don't like being around people and need time alone. I can relate to that, as I'm something of an introvert (ie I draw strength from being alone rather than being with others). But how does that fit with Jesus' concern for people and deep love of others, and the time He had for those in need?

    You say that you are independent and avoid relationships with those who are 'too needy'. Does that mean you would drop a friend who was widowed suddenly, for example? How would you feel about your husband if he became seriously ill or found himself in a situation where he needed your care? And again, how does that mindset fit with Jesus' concern for the sick, the blind, the lame, the woman who was so starved for affection she had had five husbands?

    I would love to know what you think!


  10. Liz, thank you for your questions. I will answer them in a few separate comments. In regard to how being an introvert aligns (or not) with Christ’s concern for others…

    I’m not sure if you have experienced this, but many times I have found myself in the very disheartening and painful situation of people reading my introvert characteristics (solitude, quietness, shyness) as aloofness/unfriendliness. I say this is painful because many introverts, myself included, feel very deep compassion for others and have extremely deep, meaningful relationships with a select group of people -- people to whom we are fiercely loyal and for whom we would do anything. It’s just that we don’t always wear these feelings on our sleeves, and being in the cacophony of a crowd is overwhelming. In fact, there are many times in the Gospels where Christ exhibits these same things (small circle of close friends; need for solitude, e.g. Gethsemane; pulling back from the crowds, e.g. Mark 4), and I have always suspected he may have been an introvert himself.

    It was not something I wrote about in this particular blog post, but my job as a teacher and department head puts me in an analogous position. All day, every day, I have literally hundreds of people around me demanding things of me… students (about 100 of my own, plus other people’s students) and colleagues alike. I care deeply for all of these people and spend most of my day serving them so that I have come to see my job, though in a secular field, as a ministry. By the time I leave campus, I feel almost completely drained physically and emotionally, hence the need for time alone.

    In summary, I did not intend to imply that I have no compassion nor that I refuse to do anything for others, but rather that I have limitations on my energy to interact with others.

  11. RE: needy people
    As I mentioned in my previous comment, I tend to be fiercely loyal to those close to me. Would I drop a friend, spouse, or family member who was going through tough times? Never. I’ll attempt to clarify my comment by giving two examples of “needy” people.

    My sister S once had a friend who seemed to be incapable of doing anything on her own. If S bought boot-cut jeans from the Gap, the friend went out and bought the same jeans. If S acquired a purple sweater, her friend needed a purple sweater. If S read such-and-such a book, her friend had to read it too. It was a source of constant frustration for my sister.

    When I was in high school, I dated a guy who was very insecure. While the strong attachment did go both directions in the relationship, he became extremely clingy -- taking the same classes with me whenever possible, checking in on me between classes, pouting and whining if I had the audacity to spend my morning break with my girlfriends instead of only with him, trying to turn himself into the center of my universe, etc. Being young and ignorant, I put up with this behavior for far too long; it eventually isolated me from my friends.

    I consider both of the relationships above to be unhealthy, and I hope that I have learned enough lessons from my past to never find myself in such an unhealthy place again.

  12. RE: children as a blessing
    I believe that children can be a blessing for some people. I also believe that God does not bestow the same blessings/gifts on all people (Romans 12:4-8), so that what one person perceives as a blessing might be considered a trial or even a punishment by another person. As an example, I believe my academic abilities and my job are blessings/gifts, for which I have immeasurable gratitude. However, I have lost count of the number of times when I have described my job to someone only to have them contort their face in disgust and horror and blurt out, “Why would you want to do that?!” or “I don’t know how you can stand that!” To many people, teaching what I teach and working with the people I serve is completely unpalatable. They think I must have done something terrible to deserve this “sentence.” My abilities, my job, would not be a blessing to these folks.

    I do realize that there is a verse in Proverbs about children being a blessing. Proverbs (31) also says that a godly wife buys property, plants vineyards, and sells clothing that she makes. However, I don’t think this means that all married women are meant to be real estate investors/agents, farmers, and fashion designers. We are all given different callings and different gifts.