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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

So, Am I Really “Childfree” Anyway?

As I navigate the childfree community online, I have found a variety of definitions for being childfree. Some of them are extremely strict -- you cannot call yourself childfree if you have or are even willing to have stepchildren, godchildren, or foster children, or even if you would be willing to take in someone’s children (nieces/nephews, for example) in an emergency. And you must be committed to having an abortion if you were to get pregnant. Some definitions are looser -- stepchildren are OK and godchildren are fine, as long as you don’t actually want to be a parent. And others don’t seem to worry too much about the details; you haven’t borne a child and don’t want to? You’re childfree.

I have spoken several times on the blog about adoption and have occasionally described how I thought I would adopt an older child someday. I have also stated that it seems that God is not asking that of me, at least not right now.

But the reality is that I am open to it. I always have my heart wide open, ready if the right circumstances presented themselves. That seems to be the way God works with me; I think he knows that I can be a little distracted and oblivious, maybe thick-headed when I start to over-analyze things, so for the big stuff, he pretty much drops clear-cut opportunities right in my lap.

A friend told me a story of a woman who opened her home for a few months to a teenager from another country as a humanitarian gesture. During that time, she fell in love with this young person and decided to adopt him. Another friend of mine adopted her first child, a teen, when my friend was in her 50s. One of my favorite stories is that of a couple who mentored a young adult and adopted him when he was in his mid-20s!  I could see any of these things happening to me and my husband.

And I think that one of the appeals of a relationship with a young adult is that I would much rather have a mentoring relationship with a young person than to be a parent. I have neither the stamina, nor the wisdom, nor the patience to be an authority figure or disciplinarian. In addition, when I see what parenthood has done to most of my friends & acquaintances, how most of them have changed for the worse with their sense of entitlement, their self-absorption, their myopia, their descent into traditional gender roles, etc., I don’t want to fall into those traps. I would be loath to have a young person refer to me as “mom.”

So I’m definitely pregnancy-free and baby-and-kid-free, but perhaps I should say I’m comfortably on the fence with respect to teen/young-adult adoption, accepting whichever way God would nudge me. And if I’m only ever nudged in the direction of mentoring, child sponsorship, and supporting the adoptions of others, that’s just fine with me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day

I don’t have a problem taking a day out of the year for each of us to thank our mom. After all, I would guess that for a significant number of us out there, mom loved us when we were unlovable, and she tried her best to help us grow into decent people.

I know that some childfree people have a beef with this celebration, and I understand their reasons. Some feel it is society rubbing in that they are second-class citizens; some just want recognition for their contributions to the world; some feel left out. For me, rather than feeling left out when I saw people on facebook posting greetings to each other, I was flooded with relief. No one was going to equate me to my uterus with a “Happy 1st Mother’s Day, So-and-so!” In fact, I actually felt a little sorrow for some of these women -- interesting people who have done some pretty magnificent things, but now people treat them as if they are only a mother and nothing more. They are their reproductive ability. (This kind of treatment of women is similar to something I described in Love Being Married, Hate Being “Mrs.” I suspect that even if I had children, I would want to keep a low profile on Mother’s Day.)

Actually, however, the toughest part about Mother’s Day for me is picking out a card for my mother. I love her, she loves me, and she has helped me through a few really tough times in my life, but she doesn’t fit the profile of the typical card oozing about how perfect, how great, how best-in-the-world she is. (I hate the sappy sentimentality of most greeting cards anyway, which is not unique to Mother’s Day.) There is no card that says, “Thanks for trying.”

Attributable in part to my mother’s upbringing, she was an impatient parent who was quick to grab a belt. I’m sure she would swear up and down that she wanted to be a mom, and I know she loves her kids, but from all appearances she did NOT enjoy being a mother (and probably should have been childfree; she would have made a wonderful aunt). As soon as I was old enough to watch my siblings, she left stay-at-home motherhood for a 70 hour/week job. I don’t know whether I should be relieved that she wasn’t home all day to scream at us, or remain bitter that I was saddled with raising the other kids. Ultimately, her other interests left little time for the rest of the family. We took family vacations without her; she never attended any of my sporting events; I think she made it to a few of my music events …but always arrived after I had performed.

That’s not to say that she did nothing good. I do have some fond memories of her looking after me when I was a child. Once she left our family, I was able to see a kinder, very nonjudgmental side of her; perhaps the stress of raising children is what had brought out the worst in her. And when I was an adult, my relationship with her improved significantly.

So on this Mother’s Day, I thank my mom for loving me, and I pause to reflect on how hard it must have been for her to raise me, given her family history and her temperament. She did the best she could with what she had.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Reader Asks for Help

I received a message from a reader asking for help. Rather than have the message buried in the comments section of another post, I thought I would share my response here and invite other readers to weigh in on the dilemma.

“I need help please” wrote:
I have been married for 3 years now and I have never wanted children. I am willing to have a child with my wife because she wants one but she just told me, 2 days ago, that she wants more than that. First, I cannot and will not have more than one if we do. Second, she wants me to want to have children, to want to be a father. Now she believes that if we separate for a few months and we go to counseling on our own that I will come back and want children with her. Its not that I don't want children with her, I don't want children at all. I have no desire to be a father. Am I selfish for this? Am I sinning?

I am humbled that you would seek my advice, though I am not sure that I am qualified to speak with any authority on your situation. If you do believe that I can offer any valuable insight, I would like to first direct you to some of my other posts on the topic of whether or not it is a sin to limit the number of children you have (including 0).
Is "Childfree Christian" an Oxymoron?
Rebellion Against God
The Purpose of Marriage
Being Childfree and Christian Part I and Part II

The short of it is that I can find no biblical evidence that not wanting or not having children is a sin. But as with all major decisions in life, we should consider where God is leading us.

I recall a story from a pastor whose daughter came to him in tears one day. “Dad,” she said, “I’m afraid that if I tell God I’m willing to go to the mission field, he’ll send me to Russia, and I don’t want to go to Russia!” The pastor wisely replied, “Sweetheart, if you open your heart to God, either he will not ask you to go to Russia, or he will ask you to and you will want to go.”

I have no idea whether or not God will ask you to become a father. But if he does, I believe he will give you the heart that you need. And if he is asking you not to become a father and you do anyway, the children may suffer for it. I have seen in my own extended family the agony caused by ambivalent parents.

Adults can suffer too. Study after study has shown that marital satisfaction takes a serious hit when children come along - and many of these were wanted children!

Are you selfish? Of course, as we all are. But you are no more selfish than your wife is for trying to push you into having children that you don’t want to have. And, I see modern procreation as an immensely selfish act, one that usually is done with little to no regard for what is in it for the child.  In contrast, the fact that you are willing to have a child in the first place tells me that you are the kind of person who is willing to make a selfless sacrifice for the sake of someone else’s happiness. That your wife would ask more of you makes me wonder whether she is willing to make any selfless concessions in return. Perhaps there is more to this than just the issue of children?

I wish you the best and hope that you can find the answers you are looking for.

Readers, what do you have to say?