Hey guys! I brought this over from the other blog, and I thought it’d be something to bring back. I’ve thought back on this post and wanted to add to it. My original was also a lot angrier, so I’ve removed a lot of that.
So as someone who has no intention of ever having children (a story for another post), being asked about my future plans involving children is a topic I’d rather avoid, and I’m sure other childfree people are the same. We associate these topics or certain phrases as ‘bingos’, where it’s like a bingo board to see how many we get to hear. And it’s a bingo board we’d rather not fill. I do try and put forth tweets to help try and combat stigma around being childfree. Will it work? Probably not, but it’s a gamble I’m willing to take.
So today I’m going to discuss the things us childfree people do not want to hear. And we discuss childfree as people who don’t have children through choice, rather than circumstances beyond their control or plan to have children but can’t. However, these things can also affect people who don’t have a choice in the matter.
1. “When are you going to have babies?” – this one also applies to people who have had miscarriages or are barren through no choice of their own. In terms of those who plan to have children but are struggling to conceive, or aren’t able to, it’s highly insensitive to ask when they’ll have children. In terms of the childfree, it’s suggesting that they will eventually have children. A preferred question would be ‘are you planning on having children?’ – it’s not as insensitive, plus it asks if the couple will or won’t.
2. “Why don’t you have kids?”– again, this is a harmful one to ask considering if someone has suffered a miscarriage or they cannot have children of their own. The best thing after asking if they have children is to not butt in – if they want to elaborate, then they will. If not, it may be a touchy subject, or they just don’t want to deal with the stigma. Move on from the conversation.
3. “You’ll change your mind.” – actually, I changed my mind. I thought it was inevitable for me to have children, but as soon as I realised that I have a choice, I decided to embrace not having children. It is not up for debate.
4. “You’d be a great parent.” – I was told this within the same conversation where I was told I was irresponsible and lazy. Someone may have great parenting instincts, but it doesn’t mean it’s for them. I mean, I ended up being really good at accounting and finance while at university, but it didn’t mean I wanted to go into that career path – it just didn’t interest me.
5. “You’ll meet the right person, then you’ll want children.” – actually, the right person wouldn’t want children either. An alternative to this is ‘what if your husband wants children?’ or ‘you’ll have to give husband a child.’ so it’s usually targeted towards women.
6. “It’s different when it’s your own.” – there are plenty of children that get abused by their biological family, or people that are forced into carrying their children to term, give birth and still hate the child. It’s not uncommon, despite the taboo circulating the topic of postnatal regret. Well, I can admit it is different when it’s your own because you can’t give them back to the parents at the end of the day because you are the parent.
7. “Who’s going to carry on the family name?” – this one is mostly aimed at men, as women usually take their husband’s name. It’s also worth noting if the man in question is the only child or only boy in the family. However, I got hit with this by my father-in-law, whose son I’ve been with for nearly seven years, mainly because his family name is uncommon compared to mine, which is common in the UK.
8. “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re older?” – yet another misconception that happens, as a lot of children grow up and live their own lives, sometimes even distancing themselves from their parents. For example, I’m estranged from my own father and have been for seven years.
9. “You’ll regret it later.” – I would rather regret not having a child, than bringing a life into the world and regretting that. Kids understand when they’re resented by a parent, even if that resentment was denied – I’ve been through that as a kid, and it sucked so much.
10. “You’re being selfish.” – as someone who has a lot of issues – heart attacks and Alzheimer’s run in the family – and with my depression and anxiety, is it wise to have a child and subject them to all of that? In fact, I criticise parents who know that their child will end up having a horrible genetic condition and still go on to have biological children. Plus I don’t want a mini-me in the world, I just want to see the world.
11. “You’re too young to decide.” – often said to women by gynos when discussing sterilisation. And usually, it’s only when you start getting to be in your 30’s that they sorta start listening to you. My idea is that if a 20-year-old can make the permanent decision to have a child and people are okay with it, then why can’t a 20-year-old decide not to have children?
12. “You wouldn’t understand, you’re not a parent.” – no, but some of us have much younger siblings, cousins, that sort of thing. Some of us research, observe and some even work with children. Plus how would a stranger know if you don’t have a child at home, at school, or being babysat? To be honest, if a stranger comes up to me with that statement I’d reply that I have a kid at home, just to see their reaction.
13. “You don’t know exhaustion until you’ve had a child.” – some people aren’t exhausted by choice. Some suffer from narcolepsy, others from insomnia, or some other sleeping problem. Some have tiring jobs, others are exhausted because they have depression.
14. “Accidents happen.” – doesn’t mean we want them?
15. “You’ll have to give up that career once you have a child” – also in tandem with “what’s the point in getting a degree when you’ll be a stay-at-home mum” and other instances thrown at women who are career-focused. It’s ridiculous to insinuate that a woman who is the breadwinner to give up that higher salary in order to have a child.
16. “But I want grandkids/nephews/nieces/cousins/etc.” – no, you do not get a say in whether or not your relative has a child. If you want a child for your amusement, get one yourself. I personally feel it’s unfair that someone chooses to dictate another person’s well-being because they want a grandchild. It’s like when friends say that their kids want a best friend to play with.
17. “God’s will…” – and this is where religion comes into it. This may come in when you’ve been sterilised or even unable to have children, and they still expect a biological child. Religion plays a heavy part in some bingos, but not all.
18. “It must be nice/lucky to (X) and (Y).” – it is, and we chose the lifestyle by not having children. At the end of the day, you chose to have a child and make sacrifices where necessary – although a friend of mine has two kids and still goes on holidays as a family. Yes, it was nice to move to Portugal for a little bit, or travel to Ireland to go to a gig (hindsight we could have gone to one in the UK) and make a holiday of it. But we could do that because we haven’t had to sacrifice our lives for someone else’s.
19. “The clock is ticking.” – the famous phrase that the biological clock is ticking is infuriating. Especially when some of us took the batteries out of said clock to use for the vibrators instead (think I stole that phrase from Reddit). It also puts pressure on those over 30 because of the increased risks of complications for pregnancy and the child.
20. “I didn’t think I would ever have children…” – my mother-in-law loves to pull this one out, as she didn’t have a child until she was in her 30’s. However, unlike me, she felt life was empty without a child. Now that her son is an adult…another story for another post I suppose. But she pulls it out whenever I have to state that I don’t want children, not ‘I don’t think I’ll have one’. My answer is a definite no.
21. “Having a child is the most rewarding thing…” – I’m sure there are more rewarding things to do, like curing cancer or making new discoveries. Saying the most rewarding thing is to have a child diminishes any accomplishments others have made in their lives. For example, Jennifer Aniston is a hugely celebrated actress – her biggest role was in Friends, which is still massively popular today – and she has no children. But are her accomplishments diminished because she hasn’t had a child? I don’t think so. Another take on this is “My life has meaning now that I have a child.”, and I feel bad for the people that feel that way, I genuinely do.
22. “All of that space and no children – why?” – maybe the people can afford the house because they don’t have children? Another variation is “A family could have lived there” – but the couple without children were clearly chosen over the couple with 5 kids under the age of 7! What if the couple is setting up a house for future children?
23. “You won’t know what real love is until you’ve had a child.” – so you don’t love your husband – is that right, Karen? There are different kinds of love – romantic love, platonic love and unconditional love to name a few. Everyone’s view of love is different, and I know I feel real love already without a child.
24. “You must really hate children.” – actually, no. I don’t hate children. My seven-year-old step-brother is pretty awesome. A lot of my close friends have children, and that’s how things are at my age. The only difference is that I decided not to have any of my own. After all, being childfree does not equal anti-natalism. In fact, I am pro-natalist, I agree that the population should thrive and continue, but slightly more controlled, due to overpopulation. Quality over quantity, I always say.
25. “If everyone thought like you, the human race would die out.” – not everyone thinks like me, I joked with a friend (she has five children) that she’s got my fair share of children, so it’s alright. I know people are having multiple children, and the population’s on the increase. I doubt humans are going to die out soon.
26. “You’ll have to get rid of that pet once you have children.” – it’s as if children and animals don’t mix. I’ve seen tons of adorable videos with toddlers and pets practically being best friends, and it warms my heart. I have friends with children and pets simultaneously, therefore I get an abundance of adorable cat photos on my social feeds. But I’ve seen people rehome animals because they’re about to have children. For me, a pet would be as much a family member as a child would, but that’s just my opinion.
So those are some of the things that are inappropriate to say to a childfree person. I hope it doesn’t come across as angry, just that we as childfree people hate these things being said to us, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing similar to parents who love their kids. I understand some people slip up and make accidents, but we still get annoyed by them. And oh damn, I made a long list. Oh well, I guess it shows the stigma behind not having kids.