In our last podcast episode, Balt shared an article about adult bullying and hypothesized that this dynamic is an accurate description of how our larger culture and individual parents (or their cliques) treat people in the childfree by choice community. If this theory is correct, let’s look at one of the ways that behavior might manifest.
Labels & Stereotypes
“You’re so selfish and self-absorbed for not having kids.”
“You’ll never know the true meaning of what it is to love someone until you are a parent.”
We’ve heard them all. While we may not have to worry about name-calling quite so much as adults, labels and stereotypes for childfree populations are numerous. We’re told we’re sad, lonely, bereft, and inferior… that our choices, relationships and feelings are somehow less valid than those who have chosen to reproduce. There are so many ways we are represented in either the media or in conversation as though we are broken, diminished or pitiable.
People will often act as though somehow, magically, if we were to procreate a switch would flip in our DNA and suddenly we would be different, better, happier and more fulfilled (operating on the assumption and bias that we are not any of those things already and parenthood = better and more of only those positive things). Any time we may try to reassert ourselves to point out that our lives already do have meaning, that we are happy, fulfilled and even satisfied with our life choice we are told, “Oh, you may think that, but just wait. Once you have kids you will realize that your life before children was inferior (never mind the many parents who have regretted having children).” Not only does this behavior attempt to minimize and invalidate our lives, experiences and contributions to society, it also reflects an abusive type of behavior often referred to as gas-lighting.
It’s true that a “Childfree by Choice” life is different from a life with children; we have different kinds of activities and responsibilities filling our lives without kids. If creating a lasting legacy is important to us, we seek out more ways to create an impact without relying on our DNA contribution. Without the obligations and stresses that come with parenthood we can focus our time, energy and resources on self-development and altruism, as we choose. There are, arguably, pros and cons to both lifestyle choices, depending upon one’s personal inclinations. But the arrogance behind the assumption that all people must want to have children is both offensive and hurtful. While we may think that many children deserve better parents than the ones who chose to birth them, you don’t often hear child free folks telling parents they don’t have a right to want children even if we do expect them to take responsibility for the lives they chose to create. It seems to us that child-free folks deserve the same basic respect for our autonomy, life choices and the results for those decisions.
What kind of names or stereotypes have you experienced as a childfree person? How has this impacted you?