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.
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?