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 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.

6 comments:

  1. I'm so much like you! I don't have the social life many childfree have and I feel vulnerable and alone... =(

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  2. Thanks for your honesty. My "regrets" are more trivial too, like no baby shower. The selfish person in me likes the idea of being showered with gifts, not gonna lie. But the gifts aren't for mom anyway. They're for the baby.

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  3. I'm finding my only disadvantage is trying to convince people that really, I honestly don't want kids. Why does no one believe those that choose to be childfree?

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  4. @kanjagblifrisk, I understand the feeling of being alone. Most of the time, I'm OK with it -- in fact, I often enjoy spending time alone. Fortunately, my teaching job allows me to get my "people fix" during the day, and my volunteer work at the animal shelter allows me to interact with like-minded folks on the weekends (plus the animals, who are usually more pleasant than humans! :) ). If you like animals, I would highly recommend volunteer work in animal welfare.

    @flamencokitty, thanks for your comments. :)

    @Melissa, ah, yes, I would probably file that under "bingos." For some reason, most people do seem to believe me when I say I don't want kids. When the topic arises, I often deflect further questions by telling people what I DO care about (like teaching, or animals, or orphans, or work I have done with teens, etc.). There are the occasional folks who are too thick to understand, but I have had the good fortune to avoid them most of the time.

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  5. Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this in her Facebook status:

    “You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.” --William D. Tammeus

    Of course all the mommies "liked" it, one wrote something along the lines of "you know I wouldn't have understood that before Oct. 31st, but now I do", etc.

    I rolled my eyes so much it hurt :-D

    First, human nature has its good sides, but somehow the history of mankind is made of much more of the bad sides, and it hasn't gotten better over time.

    Second, I have seen my parents being heartbroken almost to death when my sister told them, a couple of years ago, that "they are not her parents" and that she wants nothing more to do with them.

    So yes, we CF people will not be able to understand some feelings that parents have. But thankfully we will also be spared a lot of hurt that parents have to endure.

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  6. Whether one is childfree or not, there will always be people thinking they know better than us. I am becoming aware of that whenever someone talks to me in a very "looking down" on me way, or talking as what I have experienced in life is nothing compared to what others might have gone through, or making what I share with them as being of no importance to them, e.t.c... I feel as I get reminded each time, that most of the time it is part of their own problems in life. Because of their own unhappiness or arrogance, they decide that they will feel better if they can manage trampling over someone else, especially someone that is a more sensitive person.

    At least it has nothing with me to do, it is more about the person reacting or treating me in a bad way. And even though others treats us bad, we still have to keep ourselves in an Christ-like manner in thoughts and deeds.

    When I talk about this now, this goes a lot the same for non-Christians as well as with those who see themselves as Christians. It saddens me each time when another brother or sister in Christ misjudges me or only wants to treat me badly. A lot of them are so quick to judge, even to judge my Spiritual relationship with Christ. Sadly, many of them are not aware of the grief they are giving Christ for hurting more than wanting to build up.



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