Childfree by Choice

Published on January 11th, 2013 | by Rayne

26

Mummy Martyrs

The wonderful lovelies over at the Hiking Humanist and The Golden Coathanger have done me a wonderful thing and guest blogged my post on Mummy Martyrs. Check them out here and here.

For those who want to read it here, scroll down:

Childfree people maybe selfish but at least we aren’t insecure

I had a troll come onto my blog recently and post this gem:

“Don’t pretend you’re childfree for any other reason than selfishness. You want time for yourself. You want money for yourself. It’s all about you. I don’t care that you are childfree. It’s your choice. Just don’t pretend that it’s not about self-absorption. Also acting like your pets are the greatest is just as annoying as bragging parents.”

The age-old “Childfree people are selfish” line, the bane of the childfree individuals existence.

Over the years I’ve asked numerous parents exactly how are childfree people selfish? And to no-one’s surprise, they haven’t been able to give me an answer. So unfortunately I don’t have any insights into what the statement means to a parent but I can give you an insight into what it means to a childfree person.

Parent martyrdom.

When a parent says “Childfree people are selfish” all I hear is “Parenthood made me selfless and self-sacrificing! I’m such a great person. That must mean childfree people are selfish because they don’t want to give up anything for anyone”.

I will concede and agree, yes I am selfish – I don’t want to give up my lifestyle. My partner doesn’t want to give up her lifestyle for a half-formed dependent human being. Our purpose in life is to be happy with each other and to live our lives according to how we want. We don’t want to live according to the life script that others think that we should. Happiness to us means spending together, it means not being constantly broke and having the ability to save money by not having to spend money on children, we can spend money on Playstation games, books, restaurants, books, holidays, clothing and books. We are able to sleep at night and go wherever, whenever we want. As a consequence of our rebellion against the life-script; we get individuals constantly attempting to police our lives.

So yes I am incredibly selfish but why parents attempt to use that as a weapon against the childfree is beyond me. The same weapon wielding parents forget that being a parent is a choice; you chose to be a parent and live with the consequences of that – you don’t get to play the selfless martyr card. Remember you chose to A) not have an abortion and B) not to give the child away. You chose to put yourself in the position of sleepless nights, limited travel and debt.

Parenthood is as much of a choice as being childfree is. We’ve elected to not raise children meaning we’ve rejected the massive responsibility that comes with raising a completely dependent human to ensure its survival. While I concede and admit my decision has a degree of selfishness (and disinterest in children), it also has a large degree of maturity attached to it. I don’t want the responsibility of a child so I’ve elected not to do something that would make me miserable and ultimately make the child miserable as well. Childfree people take precautions not to get pregnant or to get someone pregnant, we use birth control (or in my case lesbianism) and get vasectomies. We’ve thought a lot about our choice and came to the conclusion that not raising children would be in our best interest.

Yes we are selfish but it comes from a place of maturity, honesty and courage – honesty with ourselves and society at large and the courage to rebel against the imposed life-script and do what we want with our lives rather than living in the safety of a nuclear family where we will never be questioned.

I would also argue that bringing a child into the world but not looking after it or using the child as a weapon in a custody battle or using it as a way to get things – is quite selfish on the part of the parent.

Thinking about it over the years, the best I can come up with is that the line “Childfree are selfish” is yet another vain attempt for parents to convince themselves that their decision was the greatest decision they’ve ever made and that despite all the difficulties that childrearing brings – it’s still the greatest thing they’ve ever done in their life. It’s nothing more than a validation tactic. Let me just say that if you need to justify your decisions that badly simply to reassure yourself that what you are doing is right – you probably didn’t make a fully informed choice and it sounds like you’re having doubts.

Numerous parents over the years have attempted to validate their life choices via the steaming pile of emotional blackmail that is the “Childfree are selfish, you don’t want to be selfish do you?” line and the fun breeder bingos we’ve all grown to loathe and despise. In my experience there are two types of parents – those who bingo and those who don’t when presented with your childfree status.

Those who bingo you (and bingo they will) seem to be quite insecure about their status as a parent. If they weren’t insecure about their choices – why would they need validation via bingoing and attempting to convince the world around them to make the choices they made? These types of parents don’t care whether being a parent would make you happy as long as you make the same choice they did. My favourite childfree anecdote is when I was attending university; I had this conversation with a pregnant friend of a sibling:

Them: So when are you going to have kids?
Me: I’m not.
Them: Why not? Don’t you like them?
Me: I don’t want them because I’m not interested in raising children.
Them: It’s all worth it in the end! It’ll be different once you have your own.
Me: That implies that either I need to make the choice to fall pregnant or accidentally get pregnant and keep the child which I don’t plan on doing since I’m gay or fork out money to foster or adopt which I don’t want to do. Even if I did want them which I don’t, I’m a poor university student with no money and I’m not in a position to raise a child.
Them: You can just drop out of university and get government money

You heard it first here readers “You can just drop out of university and get government money” I can just drop my career plans in order to appease a random woman and validate her decision to keep an unplanned child. There’s nothing more that annoys me than someone attempting to police my life according to their thoughts as to what I should do with it. Whose life is it again?

On a side note: I really do hate when parents go “It’ll be different when you have your own”, this implies I need to acquire a child, which first implies I need to make the decision to acquire a child. The best I can come up for as an explanation to the above statement is that those who say this believe you’ll be acquiring a child without thinking about it or that a child will just suddenly appear in your life one day much like herpes (both never ever leave). This statement should be amended to “It’ll be different when you have your own via an unplanned pregnancy”, even then this statement is pointless because it implies that everyone who has an unplanned pregnancy is obligated to keep the child.

Have these people never heard of adoption or abortion? I highly doubt it. The above statement implies that adoption or abortion as a valid choice never entered their minds because those types of people are so wrapped up in the life-script that they can’t see any other way.

And that is why child-freedom freaks them out.

P.S. Speaking of Parent Martyroom – this is hilarious. Yes lady, childfree people have more time to do things like have careers and disposable income and holidays and books and better clothing because we have chosen not to breed. We’ve made a choice and that choice has given us some great rewards like sleeping in on weekends and more money in our savings account. I’m not sorry that our childfreedom somehow threatens your parentdom. Your life is a pile of busy parenthood and we get to sit back and enjoy life with more money and have more sex, more sleep and more time to ourselves – whose fault is that? Not ours.

If you like some of the things I say – feel free to add me to your RSS feed, comment or email me: rayne@insufferableintolerance.com. I now have a facebook page! Feel free to like my page by clicking here!

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About the Author

Goth. Metal music. Tea. Books.



26 Responses to Mummy Martyrs

  1. Joe says:

    Childfree maybe selfish but at least we aren’t insecure

    (Note: I’m Australian and write in British Standard English – there are less typo’s than you think).

    The Irony:

    Childfree may be selfish but at least we aren’t insecure

    (Note: I’m Australian and write in British Standard English – there are fewer typos than you think.)

    I stopped reading there for grammar and syntax.

    • Rayne says:

      Well you’re missing out. Spelling errors and syntax errors don’t devalue a great blog post. If you rate the worth of an individual’s written voice based purely on whether or not they make errors or how many there are then you won’t be doing a lot of reading.

      Live long and prosper random high maintainence reader!

      • Joe says:

        No, spelling errors don’t devalue a great blog but they do make it more difficult to read and interpret. I’ve been on the internet long enough to take most of the common typos in stride and this posting here is far from egregious in that respect. I find it difficult to read anything written in text-speak and still have involuntary twitches at any writing that substitutes “ur” for “your”.

        I actually did read the post all the way through but found it more amusing to comment that the disclaimer of it containing fewer typos than one thinks itself contained two typos.

        As far as your post, the content is not unreasonable but I don’t consider my choice to be something that needs defending and those who disparage or criticize it aren’t even worth the time it takes for me to respond. As with religion and politics anything I say isn’t likely to get them to accept it as a perfectly reasonable, rational, well-thought-out, and ethical choice so most of the time I don’t even bother to take the time.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for elaborating on your original comment.

          • Metz says:

            HEY. HEY YOU. YEAH YOU. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY HIRE AN EDITOR WITH THE SQUILLIONS OF MONEY TYPE SUBSTANCES THAT YOU HAVE TO APPEASE THE GRAMMAR NAZIS OF THE INTERNET THAT HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO IN THEIR DAY OTHER THAN BE CONSTANTLY IRRITATED BY GRAMMAR ISSUES.

            ALSO I BET YOU’RE READING THIS LIKE YELLING IN YOUR HEAD. THIS ALSO IRRITATES GRAMMAR NAZIS.

  2. Zoe says:

    I actually had a man tell me once that I should just stop thinking about it, and do it! “You’re thinking about it too much, just get it over with.”

    Seriously. WTF.

    • Rayne says:

      Wait..get what over with? Having children?

      • Zoe says:

        Yes exactly that. I told them that I didn’t want children, and then had to list a few of the reasons I felt that way. (There are many reasons, but I refuse to go through the full list with people as I shouldn’t have to justify myself).

        I was told that I was overthinking it, that kids were great, and I should just stop thinking and do it, have a couple of kids, and things would be good.

        Err no thanks I will just carry on using my brain, and stay the hell away from that option!

        • Rayne says:

          Wow, what a way to totally disregard your thoughts and wants and impose their own :-(

          • Zoe says:

            I know – tbh I just laughed, shook my head and walked away. Other than this, the guy seems really nice, so I suspect it’s a case of misery loves company, or please also jump into this thing without thinking so that I feel validated in my choice to have children. Either way, it’s not changing my mind. :)

          • Rayne says:

            It’s quite sad that some parents need validation.

    • Kara says:

      Someone said something similar to me once. I said I didn’t want kids and never wanted to be pregnant and she said:

      “Think like Nike. Just do it.”

      o_o

      • Rayne says:

        But why? That’s like a parent saying “I don’t want to have an abortion” and you reply “Think like Nike, just do it”. Why do these people think they have the right to try and police others?

  3. CriminySTFU says:

    An enjoyable post to read. It definitely seems some folks are insecure.

    As a mid-30s aged single woman, I get a lot of “So, do you have kids?” when I’m at meetings and classes for work and am forced into awkward conversation with another woman, usually older than me, that is married and has children. The response is always no and always followed by “why?”. I always say that I haven’t found anyone suitable to have any with yet. This always gets the somewhat dumbfounded look of “You’re over 30 and still single?”.

    I’m surprised the parent martyrs haven’t started openly attacking single people for being selfish more.

    • Rayne says:

      I find your comment and post display picture quite enjoyable.

      Personally I would look at those women who say “When are you having children?” and reply “When you get a personality”.

      ^_^

  4. FluidMoon says:

    Common guys! It’s completely different when it’s yours! You can’t give it back to the parent :D :D :D It’s not there for a few hours, it’s there forever! Hundred times worse than with other people’s kids. And of course you are responsible for the kid’s every stupid moves too! :D :D

  5. Mercy says:

    Saw your link on Scary Mommy and had to click over to find out what CF meant.
    After reading this, it makes me sad that most parents act that way towards those who don’t have children. I may have teased my close friends once or twice about having kids, but it was just that, friendly teasing. I would certainly never push them to try out parenting. I don’t understand why someone would feel the need to do that.
    I have 3 kids, and while I love it, of course life isn’t peachy all the time. It’s hard work, but I’m not going to try to convince someone to have kids just so I can feel better. Having a baby is definitely a personal decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are plenty of people who have kids who should not have, because they don’t care for them or they abuse them.
    I don’t see choosing to not have kids as selfish. It’s a personal choice that everyone has to make at some point. I grew up in a religious organization that didn’t allow birth control and the only small families were those just starting out or those who couldn’t have more for some reason. The argument was that if you used birth control, you could be denying life to a child God wanted around.
    When I got pregnant with my third child, I knew I didn’t want any more after that, so I didn’t (and still don’t) feel bad for opting to have my tubes tied. I feel it was a responsible decision. Some may see it as selfish; I see it as giving my best to the children I have instead of pumping more out like a factory but not being able to care for them. And no, I am no longer a member of that organization. I don’t like living my life the way others think I should.

    http://www.dayslifedreams.wordpress.com

    • Rayne says:

      Which is exactly why I try to not generalise all parents. Not all parents display this behaviour but the ones who do – really do seem insecure about their decision to have children.

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  8. Christine says:

    I had someone pull the ‘it’s different when they’re your own!’ card. She’s the sibling of a distant friend’s boyfriend. Someone I’ve met exactly twice. The conversation:

    Her: “So, do you have kids?”
    Me: “Nope.”
    Her: “When are you planning on starting?”
    Me: “Never. I don’t want any kids.”
    Her: “What?! Why not?” (note: she did not and still does not have any kids)
    Me: “I just don’t like kids. I can’t stand most of them. And I really don’t want any kids.”
    Her: “It’s different when they’re your own! You’ll like your own kids!”
    Me: “What if I don’t? Can I send it back?”
    Her: “Eeeh…fair enough.”

    Luckily for me she realised how horrible her reasoning was.

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