Throwing my 2 cents into the “Childfree” fray

childfree comic

Hello, my name is Alexis, and I am a woman who doesn’t want kids.

I also don’t want to talk about it.

I don’t want to talk about why I don’t want children, or what my husband thinks about it, or how I can bear denying my parents the opportunity to be grandparents.  I don’t want to talk about who is going to look after me when I get old, or biological clocks, or accidental pregnancies, or how different it would be if they were mine.  I don’t want to talk about domestic population decline, or social security or what I owe humanity or the black community.  I just want to be able to say that I don’t want children, and for that to be a fact that can exist in space and time; a fact that can be acknowledged, then left alone. I don’t want to talk about why I don’t want kids, because it is the least interesting thing about me.  Honestly.

You see, the “Childfree community” has recently gained a lot of visibility, thanks to a lovely picture of a childfree couple “having it all” while lying on a beach somewhere, without a care in the world.  TIME_childCover_500This led to a furious cascade of response articles describing the Childfree as everything from unnatural to Un-American, selfish, rational, fulfilled, and everything in between.  In addition to reinforcing one of the most obnoxious stereotypes about people who don’t want kids (ie, self absorbed), I think where Time Magazine, et al., got this wrong, is that they are making childfree into a thing, but it’s not a thing.      I don’t want kids, just like I don’t want a Lamborghini.  (Surely me not wanting a Lamborghini is not a thing, right?)  Childfree does not need to be reified.  Childfree can merely be acknowledged as a benign fact of life, and left well enough alone.  Honestly, that’s what most of us want the most.

It’s difficult to define a group of people based on what they don’t want, because it puts them in a box then presumes that the box means something.  Childfree folks are as varied as parents; we are the employed, the unemployed and underemployed.  We are teachers and doctors and lawyers, social workers, writers, artists and engineers.  We are introverts and extroverts; we are kind, and we are unfriendly.  We are not a monolith, we are merely a group of people defined by our shared experience of critique and scrutiny by a mainstream culture that does not see our decision as valid, or valued.

Childfree men and women do not need pity, concern, or even understanding.  We simply want our choice to be accepted without push back or further explanation.  It is not an invitation to question how we spend our free time, so that people can approve or disapprove of our decisions.  We don’t want a soapbox to convince other women and men not to have children, and we don’t want to hear all of the magnificent stories about how fulfilling parenthood is for you in particular.  We don’t want to have to prove that we are still good people, or that we don’t hate children, or that we are good citizens that volunteer and help the less fortunate. We don’t want to be subject to some litmus test of how we should be, some acceptable version of “childfree” that society can live with.  Most importantly, we don’t want to be made into apologists about our very lives.

My name is Alexis, and I don’t want children. Now, can we PLEASE talk about something else?

–          Alexis D.

Alexis is a 30 year old woman living in the D.C. area with her husband, and a dog that she loves, but does not consider “her child”

 

*** If you are also a childfree black woman, run, don’t walk HERE to participate in childfree research so that your voice can be heard!  And tell her Alexis sent you! ***

 

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Here at Water Cooler Convos, we like to feature diverse voices who align with our nerdy, artsy, bourgie stances on blackness. Interested in writing with us? Email contact@watercoolerconvos.com.

13 Responses

  1. Wednesday says:

    THANK YOU! I completely agree. No one ever asks parents why they had kids, why should we childfree have to explain ourselves? Someone telling me I will change my mind is extremely offensive. It`s just like me asking you what religion you are and then saying ”Oh don`t worry, you`ll change your mind.” Implying you will grow out of that silly choice, my way is obviously better!

  2. As the author of, “Confessions of a Childfree Woman” amazon.com, I agree with your heartfelt thoughts. In a perfect world, how we choose to live our personal lives should be just that….a choice. Sadly, it’s not. We,the childfree by choice, are still considered to be marginalized “others” by society. Although more and more are coming out and sharing their honest feelings, too many walk away tsk tsking and thinking the childfree are mutations of biological destinies who will surely regret their selfish choices when it’s too late.
    The article left out so much. Where were the mens opinions? Why are the women always being interviewed or quoted? Where are the poorer people who acknowledge they prefer living a lifestyle without children? Why is it the higher IQ’s are always represented as being those who don’t want children? And why are we always depicted living lavish, hedonistic lives?
    I wrote my memoir for support,education and defiance.I’m considered a pioneer in the childfree lifestyle. In 1974, after being interviewed on “60 Minutes” about not wanting to have or raise children, I faced the wrath of society, lost my job and had death threats. Many felt I would either change my mind or regret the choice. At 70, I can now look back and share the lessons I’ve learned. One of them is that as bad as this article was,more and more are needed to enlighten and educate about the realities and not the myths about having or not having children. When our education offers better education and includes the viable choice of never having kids, we won’t need anything any more. Sadly, in my opinion, we’re still in the dark ages. Our feelings, my book and this article are so necessary. Kudos to you. Keep on keeping on!

  3. KD says:

    This is an excellent piece. Thank you for linking my research. Please keep writing. We need to hear your voice.

  4. Professa X says:

    Very well written; however, some of us really DO NOT LIKE KIDS. Again, we are as varied as HTML color codes so some of us are self-absorbed…. and some of us find zero population growth as a solution to the world’s many issues. I always wonder why the story is not told of the childfree-I believe we all have a story and have arrived to this decision in some defining way, whether we’ve never felt the maternal tinge or have wondered over the seemingly earth-shattering declaration of being childfree to friends and family.

  5. I don’t want kids, just like I don’t want a Lamborghini. (Surely me not wanting a Lamborghini is not a thing, right?) Childfree does not need to be reified. Childfree can merely be acknowledged as a benign fact of life, and left well enough alone. Honestly, that’s what most of us want the most.

    Nice article and a perfect example of where we childfree wish things were at. The problem is that we’re not there. Many people still fail to see that being childfree is a choice that they themselves can make and I think it useful to raise awareness of this.

    People also continue to think it is their right to have an opinion on our choice. And I think it will get worse before it gets better. Some demographers and economists are concerned about dropping birth rates and governments in first world countries are spending vast sums of many to encourage reproduction.

    So, I think the choice to be childfree does need to be reified at least for now.

    Lance @ werenothavingababy.com

  6. Jill Hunt says:

    Thank you for this. I’m so glad to see childfreedom being discussed lately. I have a very strong reason for it, it’s that I will not give my baby the rest of this century. And what if had a little girl, and what if she decided not to give her own child the NEXT 80-90 disgusting years, and had to deal with pressure and disrespect for HER decision? No, I’m ending this cycle here, no child of mine will have to watch this mass-extinction we’re starting and deal with this pressure from people who’ll die before the worst of it anyway.
    There are all kinds of reasons for making the right decision. No woman who makes it deserves the disrespect some of us get for it.

  7. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    Jill, I’m amazed at how little conversation about climate change happens in the public sphere! I was childfree before I became more environmentally conscious, but I agree with you completely that all of the studies and their implications are incredibly alarming, and it really makes me glad I never planned to have children.

  8. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    Hi Lance,

    I agree completely that awareness is good! It’s certainly going to take time before we find balance, but its hard not to feel like things got a bit overblown when everyone was weighing in at once. When you get into both the science and economics of population, it seems that people have a tendency to speak from a place of emotion rather than reason. Globally, over population is a real concern, which has obvious economic ramifications, so it’s all pretty complex. We’re so accustomed to thinking in terms of nation states, though we are all part of the same larger ecological system. We aren’t as separate as we pretend to be.

    And, I certainly don’t shy away from respectful conversations about my choice to be childfree, but even well meaning conversations tend to follow all too familiar normative scripts. BINGO! 😉

  9. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    I hear you Professa X! I’m intimately familiar with the strong feelings about children that can run in Childfree circles. 😉 It does seem that our very worldviews differ substantially from the general population. As far as Zero Population Growth, I think that’s a tough topic for the mainstream to tackle in general. We’re still publicly pretending that Climate Change is a debate, so I think we’re a long way from acknowledging that fewer people in the long run can be a net positive, and that the Childfree are at the vanguard!

  10. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    Thanks Kimya! We’re very happy to support your very important work!

  11. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    Marcia,

    Truly humbled to have a trailblazer like yourself read, let alone comment on my piece. I can’t even begin to imagine the censure and treatment that you endured. It’s amazing how the very important histories of people and marginal groups can just disappear if no one shares their wisdom. The Childfree community owes you a debt of gratitude for the work that you did to get up to today. I remember in my early days of coming to terms with the fact that I was disinclined to have children, I scoured local libraries and web forums to try to reassure myself that I wouldn’t wake up one day with a biological clock ticking loudly and riddle with regret. Then I realized that I didn’t really have those fears, those fears were being projected onto me. Over time, I began to realize that almost everything being said to me was more of a reflection the person who was saying it, rather than of me. The challenge today, for the childfree community, is to speak in our own voices, over and above those who would be critics or detractors, even if it is to say, “you aren’t entitle to question my decisions or choices.” I truly appreciate your kind words and support.

  12. Alexis Pankey-Dickerson says:

    Yes, respect for our decision is fundamentally absent, and incredibly frustrating! I actually get more, not less certain, with age, lol. Glad it resonated with you!

  13. What a lovely thing to share. Thank you Alexis. I’m here for you and anyone who wants to know what a 70 year young has faced or learned about the childfreedom. I used to repeatedly hear,”There’s no need for any book or memoir because now it’s a viable choice”.
    Of course it’s a choice. However, reactions to that choice vary from acceptance to trying to change minds or, even worse, condemnation.
    I have asked 60 Minutes to revisit the piece where Mike Wallace said,”Pardon our perversion for airing this on Mother’s Day”. There has never been one answer even to say, “Not interested”. I would love the opportunity to shed light on those who felt I would regret the choice! If any of your readers have time, write to 60m@cbsnews.com. Request a revisit to a topic they covered in 1979.
    Again, I am warmed by your reply.
    Marcia Drut-Davis