Monthly Archives: February 2011

Facebook Post on Parenthood

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A friend posted the following as her Facebook status this week, and it really gave me pause. This is a direct quote:

There comes a point in life when “FUN” no longer means BAR hopping, drinking TOO MUCH & staying up ALL night. It means board games, trips to the park, & bedtime stories. Sleeping in means maybe 8 am. Becoming a parent doesnt change you, ITS REALIZING THAT THE LITTLE PEOPLE YOU MADE DESERVE THE BEST OF YOU! Re post if you are PROUD… be a “boring” responsable parent! There isnt enough in todays world!

First of all, I’ll never understand why parents assume they have the market cornered on maturity. Because that is what we are really talking about here. Tastes evolve and over time adults no longer find barhopping, drinking too much and staying out all night appealing. It’s called growing up.

And do people really need to have children to figure this out? YOU deserve the best of you, not just your offspring.

Not surprisingly, this type of post implicitly reinforces some of the assumptions about the childfree. It says that parents don’t “change,” but then describes how they shift into a whole new lifestyle when they have kids. Conversely, the childfree must be stunted because they are missing the necessary catalyst of children.

As a childfree woman, I know these stereotypes exist. I’ve had parents tell me that I don’t have any responsibilities, and allude to my so-called carefree life sans kids. But I argue that parents and nonparents share many of the same responsibilities despite one obvious differentiator. And are just as likely to behave irresponsibly.

While this Facebook message gives a collective pat on the back to a certain type of parent, it also carries a mild sense of regret for taking the path of boring responsibility. But let’s not forget that this lifestyle was freely chosen. There aren’t any victims here.

On a lighter note, I agree wholeheartedly that there aren’t many responsible parents and that sleeping in is a thing of the past once children arrive on the scene. Although I wouldn’t count it as a reason for skipping parenthood, it’s definitely an advantage to living in a childfree household.

The List of Reasons

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Lists can be really helpful. They can remind us of practical items we need to pick up at the store. Pros and cons lists can serve as a useful tool in decision making. And, importantly, a list of goals can make our aspirations even more tangible, real, and powerful for having put them into writing.

And some lists can help remind us of what we know we DON’T want, which can actually help us stay true to our other life goals.

When I was single and in my early 20s, I composed my first list of reasons of why I didn’t want to have children. Although I was young and unmarried, I could already feel a strong current of peer pressure to have a child.

I came up with nearly 50 reasons, and kept the document on my desktop where I could find it. It was basically a cons list for having children, with the opposing pros understood. It was also a reverse goal list, because it emphasized how my plans, such as travel, would be impacted and severely limited if I opted for parenthood.

I knew from previous conversations that I needed arguments to defend myself and hold my ground. I learned that when your lifestyle choice differs from the norm, you can often find yourself fielding uncomfortable and unwanted questions that could be shut down with good answers or reasons.

Sometimes I felt completely alienated by my stance, and my list was all I had help me maintain my sanity and desired lifestyle. Having seen babies happen to people that had no interest in children, I was afraid that if I wasn’t ever vigilant, militant even, I could easily end up a parent.

It wasn’t until later with the prevalence of the Internet that I would discover the online childfree communities, and the like-minded people and support they provide. Up until that point, I didn’t even know the term “childfree,” one that described my lifestyle, existed.

The virtual forums made me feel really connected where I hadn’t before, and offset the fact that I had practically no childfree comrades in my family, community or office.

Despite the support I have found in these communities, I still think it’s important to be clear about and to write down your reasons for remaining childfree. It can help make your resolve even stronger, and make you more accountable to yourself and your partner. Because if you aren’t clear about where you are going with your life, you can end up on any path.

One of my top reasons for not wanting children, both in my 20s and now, is that parents not only lose the freedom to do what they want, but are also bogged down with a set of new tasks and responsibilities that are completely undesirable to me. Children are also unpredictable, and you never know what type of child you are going to get personality wise, or what health, mental or emotional problems they could be born with or develop later in life.

I have seen how troubled and difficult children can tear at their parents’ relationship. And I have always asked myself if children are more important than and worth risking the primary relationship that brings them into this world. I find that they are not.

Those are just a few of my reasons, and I hope they will help you become clear on your own reasons for remaining childfree, and, if needed, serve as ammunition for defending your chosen lifestyle.