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The Hypocrisy Of The Childfree

Photo: ViChizh / Shutterstock
The Hypocrisy of the Childfree

When we first decided to pursue a life without children I was longing so deeply for community.

We were bombarded by pregnancy announcements and newborn babies and I needed to find someone, anyone, who knew what I was going through. The adjustment period from wanting kids to not wanting kids is hard, especially if you’re going at it alone. I joined a few childfree pages on Facebook and stumbled upon the childfree subreddit. I was dismayed and disheartened at what I found.

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The terminology used amongst many of these groups is offensive and cruel. Children were referred to as little leeches, crotchfruit, gremlins, and their parents were coined breeders.

I was childfree, yes, but I didn’t hate children or parents. Were these terms really necessary to use on people who were essentially doing the same thing we were — making the choices that best suited their lives?

Children can definitely be irritating, any honest parent would agree. There are plenty of times that children have been inconvenient, annoying, difficult and any other word you can associate with something akin to herding cats (I’ve had to do that before and I can attest it isn’t fun).

Personally, I try to avoid places children spend a lot of time. I opt to get seated in the bar side of the restaurant so I can enjoy a quieter meal and I would be willing to pay extra money to have a guaranteed flight without a crying baby or a toddler kicking the back of my seat.

All that being said, I still wouldn’t refer to said toddler in any derogatory way. There’s a difference between disliking being around a group of people and downright loathing their existence.

Children are incapable of identifying and regulating their emotions until approximately five years old and even then it’s not going to be something they can do very well without assistance.

They are spending the formative years of their lives pushing boundaries, learning about and testing their environment, just trying to figure out their place in the world. We would (hopefully) never react negatively to a person for needing sign language, a wheelchair ramp, assistance, or stimulation and yet we condemn children for being in the same situation.

Woven through the posts of criticisms and contempt are also complaints that the childless/childfree of the world are judged unfairly and disrespected by parents.

Although much of this is also woven into patriarchal views and unfounded mindsets, how much of it lands on us? Why should anyone, especially parents, be respectful of our decision to not have children if we aren’t also being respectful of their decision to have them?

Is this how we’re expecting to gain respect and acceptance? Is someone unable to enjoy their lunch because a person with a medical condition still wants to one day be a father? Judging someone on the name of their kids because it’s against your own personal taste?

It feels as though we’re demanding respect by trying to beat them into submission to get it. Why do I care if the mom up the road names her kid Elsa or if Dad can’t drive his kid to school because he’s narcoleptic? Unless either of these choices is putting children in actual dangerous situations, it’s not really our place to judge.

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I want people to stop asking me when I’m having children and instead ask if I even want them.

I want people to stop telling me I’ll change my mind one day or immediately launch into a story about a friend of a friend’s dog’s cousin who also didn’t want kids blah blah blah. I want people to hear me say I don’t plan on having children and simply have the conversation end there. I want people to hear that I’ve made a choice and have that choice accepted.

In order to have these things happen, in order for the narrative to change, we need people to listen and no one listens when someone is screaming obscenities at them. Are there still going to be people to claim us to be selfish? Of course — the trolls are bountiful and there’s ignorance aplenty. This doesn’t mean we need to stoop down to their level.

To gain the respect we need to be willing to give it and have the discernment to know who is willing to listen and who is an ignorant toss pot. What you’ll notice is none of these paths ever require us to tear down parents or harbor any animosity against their children.

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After being diagnosed with infertility and choosing to pursue a life without children, Tiffany J. Marie she wanted to create a positive space for childfree and childless people to connect and engage without the negativity of parent/child-hating interwoven into the narrative. Tiffany is committed to being a voice within the community, encouraging those who've made the choice, supporting those on the fence, and giving resources to those hoping to support and connect with the childless/childfree loved ones in their lives.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.