My Childfree Rules Re-Write: About Being Childfree
Wow, I never thought my post, My Childfree Rules, would be so popular! I got a lot of “hell yeahs”s and other praises, for sure. That was certainly nice to see. I also seemed to earn a lot of haters too, many of which didn’t seem to have any real point of contention that they cared to name, but were nonetheless still certain that I was wrong anyway. That was at least entertaining. And within only a few days of being published, the post even managed to be plagiarized! What a turn-out!
I’ve decided to re-write my original list. Partially to kill some time, I admit, but mostly just to do it better. The original list that I wrote was pretty much farted out, something I added to now and then whenever I had a few minutes of spare time between tasks, and then decided to publish more or less as-is. I liked it quite a lot, but it was really only meant for me so quite a few people didn’t really “get it.” Looking back, some portions seem to have been just ambiguous enough in some for people to manage to read things into what I wrote that simply aren’t actually there.
I’m not rescinding or watering down any of my original rules. You can compare this post to my earlier one to confirm this. Every single rule translates over and to an equivalent degree of certitude. I stand by my words.
The difference is that here, I’m writing more clearly and specifically, and going into more detail in some places. Additionally, I found that I had a few more rules to add that weren’t part of my original list. As such, this list is significantly longer, written out, and so I’ve decided it would be most prudent to divide the list into multiple posts, rather than one super-long, page-eating one.
So here they are again, with some additions:
About Being Childfree
1. My first rule is that I am certainly childfree, meaning that I choose to never have children.
Indeed, I will never have children either by my own body or by adoption. This is what it means to be childfree. I might temporarily take care of the children of others, if extreme circumstances call for it (I am a “god(less)mother,” after-all,) but I will never play the role of mother in any sense. I could only be, at most, baby-sitter.
I do not accept being told that I could still have kids, either by changing my mind or by becoming accidentally pregnant. I will not change my mind. Some people are able to make solid, informed decisions and stick to them. I count myself as one such person. Moreover, I do not accept that kids “just happen.” They don’t – there is always a choice. In the highly unlikely even of an unintentional pregnancy, I’ll have an intentional abortion. My life is controlled by myself, not by chance.
I’ve heard people complain that the term “childfree” is “loaded” or “aggressive.” I don’t think that it’s either, I simply think that it’s unambiguous, straightforward and unapologetic and serves to make a clear distinction between people who choose to never have children, and people who are childless in general who may or may not also be childfree.
The biggest argument against use of the word “childfree” is that it paints having children (parenting) as undesirable. This argument is 100% correct. Yes, having children/being a parent is undesirable for me. Yes, having children/being a parent are negative things to me. That’s exactly why the word “childfree” is such a perfect term. And when I speak about being childfree, I stress the suffix “free” because that’s exactly what I am – free of a childed life. It’s impossible for me to talk about my childfree life without also referencing the alternative.
3. And yes, the word “childfree,” when referring to a person (rather than a place like a restaurant that bans children, for example, which would be more accurately labeled “child-free,”) does mean a person who has chosen to never have children, and no one else.
Making this distinction between such people and the childless in general seems to be the reason that the word was coined in the first place decades ago. And so when a parent hears the word, can’t be bothered to know the real meaning, decides it sounds hip, and wrongly uses the word to describe themselves after dumping the kids, or themselves prior to having kids, I will correct them. Being childfree is not a temporary state, but a permanent one. A person can no more be “temporarily childfree” when away from the kids that they have had than they can be “temporarily a virgin” if they’ve had sex before but aren’t screwing away at the given moment. (And yes, I understand the virginity myth issue, but it’s not a topic I’m trying to explore here as I’m just trying to make an analogy.)
A parent is the opposite of childfree, and they will always be. A parent is a parent no matter where the kids are. (And really, it seems a sad commentary on their opinion of their own children if a parent would describe themselves with a label meant to refer specifically people who never want to have children.) So upon correction, a parent can then either throw a hissy fit, declaring me to be some kind of dictator who thinks that I “own” words (because obviously, one must own words to know what they mean,) or they can take correction like mature adults and benefit from the learning experience, and thereby be good examples to their children.
4. I won’t be shy about being childfree either.
I won’t make a point of being careful not to let the cat out of the bag. No matter what the situation, I am very openly childfree. I won’t necessarily offer such information to people out of the blue, but I won’t hide the fact either. I am not “in the closet.” I’m quite proud of my decision and I don’t give a dirty diaper what anyone thinks about it. So if the topic comes up, I will be straight-forward about my decision.
If an awkward situation follows my disclosure, it won’t be because I spoke up about being childfree, it will be because another person failed to accept that.
5. I will speak up about childfree topics where appropriate in conversation and here on my own blog.
Because there IS something to talk about. Being childfree is not simply an absence of children, but is a completely different lifestyle from that of an adult. There is A LOT to talk about, because there is a lot going on in my life that is affected by this particular decision. I will not be silenced as if only topics related to parenting deserve discussion. Additionally, the harassment and downright discrimination faced by childfree people simply for not having children needs to be pointed out and addressed.
It seems common for people to say that there is nothing to talk about when it comes to being childfree, as if any topic must involve children to be worth discussion. This is nonsense, obviously, as a non-parent’s life is no less valid a topic. Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why people who make a point of commenting on CF articles, saying “who cares if your childfree?” bother to read and comment at all if, indeed, they do not care?
6. I will not try to appease people by appearing uncertain or unsteady about my decision to be childfree in the slightest.
I won’t let people think that children are a possibility by saying things like “I’m not ready,” “not yet,” “maybe someday,” nor will I give any hit that there is any chance at all that I might one day change my mind, or regret my decision. It is for this reason that I won’t even try to quell someone’s “concern” by saying things like I might adopt if I decide I want kids, because I will not make such a concession for the sake of someone else’s comfort.
When I was trying to get my tubal, as I was trying to convince the doctor, I told a lie. I said that if I ever change my mind about having kids, I’d adopt. It’s true that I think adoption is far superior to breeding new children for a plethora of reasons. But it isn’t true that there’s actually any chance at all I would want kids and adopt. I only said that to put the doctor at ease so that I could get what I wanted. I will never make such a concession again.
7. I am happily childfree, and will not pretend otherwise in order to make other people more comfortable with me or my decision.
I won’t say things like “I’m sorry, but I won’t be giving you grandkids,” because I’m not sorry in the slightest and won’t even use those words in the “I obviously don’t actually mean “sorry” literally and am just using a figure of speech” sort of way.
I won’t pretend to envy anything about parenthood. I simply don’t. Some CF people do claim to envy certain aspects of parenthood, and for all I know they could actually mean it. However, when asked about “pros and cons” of parenthood, I honestly can’t think of a single thing that I would consider a “pro.” I am not swayed by the unrealistic, fairy-tale portrayal (“Kodak moments”) of parenthood as is so popularly promoted in popular culture.
Not only do I not wish to be a parent, but I honestly can’t see why anybody ever would. Simply, I can no more relate to the appeal of parenthood, as a childfree person, than a strictly heterosexual person can really relate to the appeal of homosexuality. We can accept it for others, but do not “get it” in a personal way.
A “bingo” is a cliched argument. Arguments made against the childfree life are often referred to as “breeder bingo.” These arguments are so common and vacuous as to be nauseating, yet the people spouting them always seem to cave the conviction that they are both original and convincing.
So I will call someone out if they “bingo” me, and slap that bingo down. I won’t even pretend that they’ve made a valid point and I will shame them for their presumptuous attitude towards the goings-on my my uterus. Bingos are rude, so I feel no need to be polite in return on such an occasion.
9. I won’t use my sterility just to shut people up.
It seems common for childfree people to say “I’m sterile,” to make others feel awkward enough to drop the subject when the topic of breeding comes up. Indeed, I am sterile and will openly say so, but I won’t use that as an excuse. I am damned proud to have finally gotten my tubal ligation. I’m happy about it. I don’t want anyone to pity me in the slightest for it. And if I really want to end a conversation, I will be considerably more blunt about that desire.
If I do choose to mention my sterility at all, I will point out that it is a choice, a testament to how serious I am about my childfree position. And I would be childfree, sterile or not.
10. I will not offer my career or other ambitions as an excuse for being childfree.
It’s true that my major goals in life are likely incompatible with child-rearing, but that’s entirely besides the point. I do not have to be too busy to have kids. I do not have to have an excuse to opt out. My decision to never have kids can be fully independent of any other life goals that I might have.
The truth is, I’d be happy living out my days as a slacker, while never having kids. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life. Breeding isn’t a required complication in life that I need the excuse of a significant conflicting and equally consuming interest to opt out of. And really, having kids simply out of having nothing much better to do with one’s life is kind-of pathetic.
11. I will not allow anyone to press me for an explanation for why I am childfree as if I owe them any justification.
I have many, many reasons for deciding to be childfree, and I’ve written about them here before. However, I don’t owe anyone an explanation of any kind just because they want one. It is not for other people to judge whether or not my reasons are good enough. Consider this: who finds it acceptable to demand to know why someone wants to have kids, and argues against those reasons? Arguably, one would be more justified in this hypothetical scenario, I believe. Someone should have to have very good reasons to have kids, not to remain without them (the default.) Not only is having kids, as opposed to not having them, the major life change, but it’s the one that carries far-reaching consequences for everyone, including the new person to be forced into existence.
Some time back and not long after my tubal ligation, my boyfriend’s parents came to our home to visit us. It was a lovely visit, all things considered, and I’m glad they came by. However, at one point while I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and alone with BF’s mother, she asked me out of nowhere, “So why don’t you want children?” I told her that she was asking the wrong question. I don’t need a reason to not want children, but a reason to want them. Sufficed to say, I have never had one single reason to even consider having children. None. And as I recall, she didn’t have any convincing reasons to offer.
Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why she even bothered to ask me that as she knew that I’d already had a tubal ligation by then. Seriously, what was the point?
12. I will not refer to being childfree in a self-deprecatory, natalism-worshiping way in order to make others feel more comfortable.
I often see the choice to be childfree referred to in depreciating ways that seem engineered to give parents a big pat on the back. It’s like saying, “See how much I bend over backwards to praise you? I’m not threatening! Can I have some respect now, pretty-please?” I don’t play that game. “I’m not ready to have kids,” “ I don’t have what it takes (patience, sense of responsibility, etc) to have kids,” “I’m too selfish to have kids,” are all things that I’d never say. Simply, they aren’t true. The only thing that makes me someone who would not be a good mom is simply not having a desire to be a mom. I am not less as a person, in any way, than someone who happens to be a parent. And I won’t pretend that I am.
On a related note, nor will I pretend that parents are in any way superior beings, or that they necessarily posses the traits of selflessness, responsibility, etc, any more than anyone else. Arguably, breeding new children is a selfish action, and doing so in an overpopulated world is irresponsible. Note: I’m only referring to the action of breeding as being considered selfish and irresponsible, not the people themselves. There’s a difference.
13. I will not act as if being childfree is something that I should have to make up for in any way by involving children in my life in other ways, especially ways that go beyond what’s normal for the average person.
I don’t have any need to get a “kid fix,” nor do I feel a need to prove that I don’t really hate kids by having excessive involvement with them. It’s true that I like some kids, just as I like some adults. But that doesn’t mean that I have to be very interested in every single one that exists ever, or that I have to act like I absolutely need to have minors in my life somehow.
I’ve heard people talk about the childfree women needing “outlets” for our intrinsic maternal desires and “need to nurture.” I call bullshit. I am not defined as a woman by being a servant to others, but I have my own life. I try to help people, but that’s out of my nature of not being a prick, rather than any subverted mothering impulses. Seriously, the notion that the childfree or childless people must find alternative ways to be “mothers” in order to still be women is misogynistic and stupid.
14. I will not write the disclaimer, “I love children, but..” before expressing an opinion that sits in contrast to the natalism-worshipping sentiments people are used to encountering.
As it is, I don’t hate children, nor do I love them, in general. (I neither love nor hate adults in general.) Regardless, such a thing would likely be irrelevant to whatever statement follows anyway. Honestly, if someone is set on painting me as a childfree, child-hater, then it won’t matter much what I actually say or write anyway. That’s their problem, not mine. I really don’t give a fuck.
15. I will not concern myself with building bridges to the point of making concessions and generally being fake.
I will not censor myself, sugar-coat my words, feign interest or reverence, or in any way be fake for the sake of making others more comfortable. I will speak my mind openly, exposing discrimination, calling out entitlement-minded behavior, committing the grave sin of mentioning the elephant in the room – overpopulation, and ranting about general failures to parent. Indeed, although I consider this list, both what I’ve already said in this post and what is to come in future posts, relatively tame. Yet I’m sure people will find offense with my view that one must have a good reason to breed new children, my refusal to predicate statements with “I love kids, but…” as well as my refusal to degrade myself for the sake of congratulating parents (“I’m not X enough to be a mom.) I don’t go out of my way to be needlessly hostile, nor am I what any other unapologetic childfree fold would refer to as a “breeder-pleaser.”
Well, anyone who doesn’t like what I say is free to argue on the merits of my statements. However, anyone who simply doesn’t like that I have the audacity to challenge the pro-natalist status quo and has no valid points of contention about what I say but none-the less is offended that I’ve said it is free to grow a thicker skin/bugger right the fuck off.
Next- My Childfree Rules: My Personal Life
Posted on 2012/04/06, in childfree, Feminism, Humanism, Prochoice, Sexism and tagged abortion, birth control, child, childfree, feminism, feminist, free thinker, free thinking, kids, pro-choice, prochoice, sterilization, tubal, tubal ligation, women. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.