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.”


  1. I.Am.Free--what a great post! Very creative thinking--but that happens with lefties too. Research tells us that one side of our (yes I am aleftie too) brain is better at talking to the other than righties! Makes me wonder if you could ask all the childfree, how many would be lefties? Your theory? ~Laura Families of Two http://lauracarroll.com

  2. Thanks, Laura! I hadn't thought much about what percentage of the childfree might be left-handed, but you make a good point that there might be an association based on the ability for creative thought. That would be interesting research.