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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is Being Childfree Like Being Left-Handed? (Part 1)

Like many childfree folk, I am infuriated when people treat me as if I am mentally ill or even just plain bizarre for not wanting to have children. I find it annoying when people look for reasons to explain what went “wrong” with me – is it nature or nurture? a bad childhood? too much testosterone in my system? But when I look at the statistics… that only about 20% of women over 40 (an age typically considered the childbearing years, though that is changing “thanks” to fertility treatments) have not borne a child, and only about 6%-10% of women claim to have not done so on purpose… I have to accept that I am somewhat of an anomaly. This, of course, does not excuse others for judging me, but it should make me a little more aware and understanding of why people might be perplexed by me.

As I considered this, I began to make connections between childfreedom and left-handedness. Lefties comprise only about 10% of the population too. We struggle to navigate a world built for right-handers (ladles with spouts on only one side, salad bars/buffets designed for people to hold a plate in the left hand while serving up food with the right, machinery levers positioned so as to be grasped with the right hand, scissors, right-handed desks in classrooms and lecture halls, etc.). In fact, a 1991 study at the UBC in Vancouver found that right-handers tend to outlive left-handers, likely due in part to the dangers lefties may encounter while trying to use right-handed equipment/facilities.

We are a curiosity to many. “It’s fascinating to watch you write!” “Look at how she holds a pencil!” “How can you do that with your left hand?!” Even in the recent past, people have tried to force us into being right-handed. Acquaintances only one or two generations before me have told of being sharply wrapped on the knuckles with a wooden ruler by angry teachers as punishment for writing with their left hand. Parents have insisted on taking crayons out of their children’s left hands and pressing them into the right. Historically, we have been considered untrustworthy or evil, sinister (which also means “on the left side”). In some parts of the world, it is considered offensive to extend your left hand to someone, as the left hand used to be reserved for… er… bathroom hygiene.

In the meantime, right-handedness is the gold standard. You want to be the “right-hand man.” At dinner, the guest of honor traditionally sat at the right-hand of the host. Christ is seated at the right-hand of the throne of God.

But we lefties do have a certain degree of acceptance these days. At least now people don’t usually try to beat the left-handedness out of us; most serving ladles have spouts on both sides; classrooms have the occasional left-handed desk (though they are often relegated to the back of the lecture hall…). We even have a few champions from history:
  • The judge Ehud became a hero of Israel when he assassinated the corrupt king Eglon. Because Ehud was left-handed, he was able to affix a sword to his right thigh and smuggle it past the palace guards, who would be looking for weapons on a right-handed man’s left side.
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s left-handedness is sometimes at least loosely credited for his creativity and ingenuity. (oh, and he was childfree too)
  • Four of the last five U.S. presidents: Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Obama.
So, while left-handedness and childfreedom are both anomalous, face some discrimination, and are sometimes thought to be evil, my hope is that as our culture evolves, childfreedom can gain at least the amount of acceptance that left-handedness has. Better yet, maybe there will be a day when both are treated as “normal.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Regret, or The Path Not Taken

To some extent, I think most of us look over our lives and think, “If only I had done X instead of Y,” or, “If only I had not done Z,” or, “I wish W had never happened to me.” I sometimes look back at who I was in high school and wish I hadn’t dated that guy or hadn’t wasted my time and emotion being on a sports team; instead I should have been more involved in community service or spent more time nurturing friendships.

I think about college and about the couple of times I almost switched my major. On the occasions when teaching becomes nearly unbearable, I wonder what life would have been if I had indeed chosen geology and was now living out west predicting earthquakes and studying volcanoes.

I don’t particularly like the region where I live, and sometimes I wonder how things would have been if I’d stayed at the college where I attended grad school, or moved to a bigger city, or moved back to the state where my family is.

But then reality hits me. If I hadn’t dated that guy in high school or if I had been more involved in other activities, who knows what kind of butterfly effect that would have had on my life? All of those experiences in my formative years molded me into the person I am, a person I happen to really like. Additionally, those experiences influenced other decisions and relationships that further shaped my life as I know it today.

And maybe predicting earthquakes would have been a way cool job, but I cannot discount the amazing opportunities that my degree and my current career have brought to me. The financial rewards, the autonomy I have in my job, the flexibility in my schedule, the professional development in which I have been able to engage (which has included traveling all over the country), the artistic endeavors DH has been able to pursue because of where we live, the people I have been blessed to meet, my work with the animal shelter… and on and on it goes. A feast of life that I might not have enjoyed if I had taken a different turn. I cannot allow myself regret without showing disrespect or ingratitude for the blessings that have been and will be.

Even so, there is one thing that I fear regretting -- not pursuing a PhD. There is still the possibility of doing so 10 or even 20 years down the road, but right now the cost of such a pursuit would be too great, with few tangible benefits (other than my own ego-gratification, by which I do not want to be driven). If that time of regret comes, I will need to remind myself of why I made my choice, of the price I would have paid, and of what I was able to accomplish instead.

My point is that when we choose one path, that automatically precludes us following certain other paths. We can spend our lives worrying that one of those paths might have been better, or we can make the most of the path we followed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Possible Reason that Some Religious Folk Just Don’t “Get It”?

When it comes to disdain for not having children, I have witnessed virtually no difference between the secular world and the Christian world. Both groups seem to be equally judgmental (or equally accepting) and offer up most of the same bingos. The only difference would be that some religious types would invoke God’s name and use adjectives like “rebellious” or “sinful.” Fortunately for me, I have had very little first-hand experience with any church organization or individual member deriding my decision.

Be that as it may, a couple of weeks ago when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a survey showing that many Americans don’t know much about religion (particularly Protestants and Catholics, who scored the lowest when answering questions about even their own religion), I had sort of an “aha” moment that perhaps this is why some “Christians” think that a childfree life is evil. If you don’t know, for example, what the first book of the Bible is, how likely is it that you really know what else is or is not in there?

This also reminded me of one of the reasons I have a hard time attending church services anymore. I have thirteen years of private Christian schooling in my background, and so I spent a large portion of my life in very rigorous and intensive study of the Bible, including doctrine, apologetics, and inductive Bible study (i.e., how to study the Bible, not just reading what it says). As such, I often take it for granted that a Christian would be familiar with the structure and layout of the book, the stories, the cultural context, and so forth. But in most church services I attend, I find the messages empty. The content has been “dumbed down” to just a few platitudes. I then realize that if it were not for my background, if it were only for listening to sermons, I would probably know very little myself, and I would not understand the themes and connections that run throughout the whole book.

If people really knew what they were supposedly following, and if they were willing to take Christianity as a whole -- not just a verse here and there that supports what they desire -- I expect there would be more acceptance and understanding of each other.

Related (what people seem to not realize is in the Bible, or not):
Is "Childfree Christian" an oxymoron?
The Purpose of Marriage
Religion that is pure...
Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Childfree Confessions, #9 (parenthood)

I don’t think I would like myself as a parent.

I have observed a few parents in action who really seemed to know what they were doing. They are firm yet clearly loving toward their children, and the well-behaved kids respond with adoration. Obviously, there would be times of conflict as there are in any family, but I look at them together and think, “Wow, they were really made for each other!” Mind you, these parents aren’t “perfect,” but they are realistic, pragmatic, loving, and humble.

I wish this were the norm. I encounter plenty of people who are bad parents, but it seems that the largest proportion of parents (in the circles in which I run, at least) are just “ok” parents. They aren’t abusing their kids, but -- perhaps in an attempt to be “perfect” -- they might be overly permissive, indulgent, or weak-willed, raising narcissistic children who have too few manners and little self-control. Or at best, they are run-of-the-mill parents raising more run-of-the-mill children.

I have been told, despite my protests, that I would be a great mother. And though I protested, upon reflection it occurred to me that I probably would be just as good a parent as most everyone else… read: mediocre. I am certain I would not be one of the few excellent parents I admire. In fact, I would probably be a lot like my mother was: impatient, frustrated, angry, yelling a lot (I’m sure we kids gave her plenty reason for this). I would probably make up for it by doing an adequate job most of the time, but as a perfectionist, that is not good enough for me. I would not want to be that person.