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.


  1. See, this is why I'm glad you're here - I know that there's SOMEBODY out there supporting me in my choice.

    I had a great moment on a women's retreat this weekend - I was talking to a small group of women about my plans for the future, namely, whether or not to pursue a PhD. And one of them asked me, "So, do you have plans for a family in there somewhere?"

    I was confused for a moment and responded, "I already have a family. It's pretty great."

  2. "parents receive constant societal support for their choice to be parents"
    I so envy parents for that :( Almost everything I've done in my life is against what society wants so I feel very much as an outsider...
    Another annoying thing is when something happens to a person, it seems to be more important if that person is a parent. That really bothers me! Don't I have the same worth as a human being as parents have? Sometimes it feels like childfree/childless don't even exist... :(

    "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. "
    That sounds great!! :))

  3. Well written! The societal support is what I am always searching for. Sometimes I wonder if you have to have babies to have a real sense of community and friendship with people. As my friends all start having babies we drift apart and they drift towards others with babies. The online community of childfree is great, but what about the real life community??

  4. I am single and Christian and I want to eventually get married and have children, but I don't see anything wrong with Christians who choose not to have children. I think that it is a tragedy in the Church to assume that people are all supposed to just step in line like a bunch of lemmings and want and feel and do the same thing. Much of the burden falls on the woman - because the conservative side of the church assumes that women naturally want to be mothers - when that is not really the case for every woman. Not everybody who is Christian wants to get married either or should feel obligated to marry. I'm behind anybody who is childfree 100%.

  5. Hi, Laura here--thanks for writing about this. Your comment about getting back to the place of clarity as child made me think of the Picasso quote: "It takes a long time to become young." That youthful space of "knowing" gets clouded with social pressures, judgments etc as we get older, and there is a time in our adult lives when we just have to say who cares what others think, I don't have to justify anything--and live from pure heart, like we had a children...

  6. Thank you for the comments, everyone!
    @~Q, ah, yes, the PhD. I sometimes worry I will regret not taking my education that far. But I have a friend (also childfree) in her 50s who is working on hers, and she inspires me that there is plenty of time. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best!

    @kanjagblifrisk, I understand about going against society. A lot of childfree seem to be outside the box in more ways than just their family status. I'm slowly working on a post about that, which I hope to put on the blog someday.

    @Jaelyte, in the same way, I feel that I have lost the few friends I had. I probably don't need as much close social interaction as many other people do, but I have resigned myself to not having any "real" friends for about the next 15 years or so. On a more positive note, I have found some wonderful friends in their 50s who have moved beyond the "only hang out with other parents" phase!

    @Numb Buns, your comments are refreshing. I feel much as you do, and in particular about people marrying. Though I am married myself, I see no reason that everyone should have to marry, and I fully support anyone who does not wish to take that path. In fact, I think (as the apostle Paul did) that family obligations hinder people's effectiveness in ministry.

    @Laura, always great to hear from you. It's funny you mention Picasso, as I was just at a Picasso exhibit a couple of weekends ago. The quote you gave was very similar to another I saw at the exhibit: "It took me four years to learn to paint like Raphael and a lifetime to learn to paint like a child." I loved it!