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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Myths and Justifications

It has long been researched and written that parenthood does not make people happy, so that much is really not news.  That notwithstanding, our cultural mythology still insists that children bring happiness.  A couple of weeks ago Wray Herbert published an article about the Myth of Joyful Parenthood in which he provided some explanation for why this belief is held so strongly even though the data says otherwise -- i.e., cognitive dissonance, a way of justifying life choices.  Now, I'll let you read the article for yourself because I want to take my thoughts in a different direction rather than worrying about whether or not children bring happiness, whether or not happiness should be anyone's ultimate goal in life (I personally don't think it should be), or whether or not there are kinds of fulfillment that are more important than happiness and what those things may be.  But I digress.

Author Laura Carroll posted her own insightful commentary about the article, and what stuck with me were her statements about how the childfree might experience cognitive dissonance and sometimes feel a need to justify their choices.  Like Laura, I find it easy to focus on all of the perks of being childfree.  In fact, not a single day goes by that I don't sigh with relief and say, "Boy am I glad I don't have kids!"  So, like parents, we childfree can be so focused on the positive aspects of our choices that it becomes easy to downplay any of the negatives.

In contrast, however, parents receive constant societal support for their choice to be parents (that is my perception, at least) while the childfree do not.  So while parents may feel a need to justify their choice to themselves, we childfree are often put on the defensive and asked to justify our choice to the rest of the world.  When I first realized -- as a child myself -- that I did not have to have children when I grew up, that seemed the most normal, natural, and correct path for me.  At the time, I felt no need to justify it; I just knew it was right for me.  But when I became an adult and people began assaulting my decision (not always directly, sometimes it was just in a cultural undercurrent), my "I have no desire to have kids" became this long list of "I'm not going to / shouldn't because of A, B, C, D, E, F, ..."

I need to get back to that place of clarity that I had as a child and let go of the justifications.  The truth of that moment is the only reason I need.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Disadvantages of Being Childfree

After seeing this topic on other blogs and forums, I began reflecting on it and decided to share my own perceived disadvantages. After all, I have already talked about the fringe benefits of being childfree, and every decision in life is not without its opportunity costs.

One of the disadvantages that I have generally come to grips with is disappointing my family. I’ve confessed before that it saddens me to not give my mother the grandchildren she so desperately wants, especially when her siblings’ kids are populating small villages with their oodles of offspring.

And then there are lots of more “trivial” disadvantages, things over which I don’t lose much sleep, but they are annoying at best and often unfair -- I’ll never get to cash in on maternity leave; the “family” health insurance premium my employer offers costs me the same for 2 of us as if we were the Duggar family; on that note, I’m also paying for my insurance that covers prenatal services that I will never use; fewer opportunities for tax deductions; I don’t park in the “expectant mother” spots; no shower gifts; ignorant people with their “bingos."

But the one I have struggled most with, especially in my thirties, is… alienation. I’ll be the first to admit that as a pretty extreme introvert, I’m more likely to find difficulty creating and maintaining friendships than the average person. I imagine that some childfree people who love children or who are more outgoing would suffer less from this. As for me, I often joke that I have no “real” friends. I realize that I am as much to blame for this as anyone else. Because of my disdain for being around most children and my lack of tolerance for potty-talk from adults, I have allowed nearly all of my friendships to dissipate after the birth of people’s children. I sometimes grieve the loss, but I cannot say that I regret allowing it to happen.

It’s not just about friends, though. Sit at a table with a half-dozen people, and it seems that pretty soon the parents take over the discussion with talk of diapers, play dates, or school lunches. Yes, tell me to change the subject. Many of us introverts aren’t much for conversation to begin with; I’m not jumping into that lion’s den. So there I sit on the outskirts of yet another kid-centered conversation.

And then there’s the tired old bingo, “You’ll never understand unless you have children of your own.” I become annoyed when people say this because it is usually accompanied by a condescending, holier-than-thou tone, as if I cannot possibly understand love, fear, commitment, or anything else because I haven’t reproduced. Once I get past my annoyance over someone purposely trying to insult my intelligence and my human experience, I am willing to accept that there may be some things with which I cannot empathize. For example, though I sympathized with the pain and loss of friends whose grandparents died, I had a deeper understanding of it after sitting at my own grandmother’s deathbed. I get it.

So, with respect to being childfree, I also feel alienated because maybe I won’t ever empathetically understand X or Y (or maybe I just don’t want to, but that might be another analysis for another day).

Fortunately for me, I do have some strong allies -- my husband, for one, and some wonderful childfree colleagues at work. And in the virtual world, many of us have found solace in ranting with each other, encouraging each other, and reminding each other that we are not really alone. All things considered, the disadvantages seem like a small price to pay.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Look for the Blog

I'm no designer, so I rely completely on Blogspot's templates for my blog layout.  The last template was nice, but I have long felt it was a little too crowded and probably did not fit my personality -- which tends to be much neater and tidier.

I was bored last night, so I began playing with the design settings.  The new look is a little plain, but I find the simplicity and the clean lines very soothing.  We'll see how it goes.