Don’t Ask: August 1st is International Childfree Day


As the title says, August 1st is International Childfree Day, a day to celebrate those who choose not to have children.  Some may see that as a contradiction, to celebrate what looks like “doing nothing”.  In reality, being Childfree is a carefully thought out decision made by responsible people who have asked themselves:

  • Do I want children?
  • What about my ambitions, goals, and needs?
  • Am I financially secure?
  • Do I have the time to care for kids?
  • Can I give them a stable and secure home?
  • Am I physically capable of raising them?
  • Am I mentally and emotionally prepared for it?
  • Do I have a genetic condition I might pass on?
  • What about the environment and climate change?
  • Can I raise them in a politically stable country?

Among MANY other valid reasons.

Being Childfree is:

  • the choice not to have children
  • a carefully thought out decision
  • a personal choice, and a right of bodily autonomy
  • an environmental, human rights and feminist issue

Being Childfree is NOT:

  • “selfish” and “self-absorbed”
  • “euthanasia”, “genocide” or “baby killers”
  • “irresponsible” and “uneducated”
  • “failures” and “barren” women

Questioning Childfree people’s decisions is:

  • invasion of privacy
  • controlling and manipulative
  • sexual harassment
  • demeaning and insulting of people’s intelligence

The percent of people who are Childfree is increasing with every generation, highest among Generation Y and Millennials, similar to how they the most likely to be LGBTQIA.  These are people aware of their rights, who think globally informed, and are not as constrained by social pressure as earlier generations were.

Why a generation is choosing to be child-free

The biggest contribution anyone can make to the climate crisis is not to have children. So why do we still treat parenthood as the default?

When I think that it won’t hurt too much, I imagine the children I will not have. Would they be more like me or my partner? Would they have inherited my thatch of hair, our terrible eyesight? Mostly, a child is so abstract to me, living with high rent, student debt, no property and no room, that the absence barely registers. But sometimes I suddenly want a daughter with the same staggering intensity my father felt when he first cradled my tiny body in his big hands. I want to feel that reassuring weight, a reminder of the persistence of life.

[. . .]

Then I remember the numbers. If my baby were to be born today, they would be 10 years old when a quarter of the world’s insects could be gone, when 100 million children are expected to be suffering extreme food scarcity. My child would be 23 when 99% of coral reefs are set to experience severe bleaching. They would be 30 – my age now – when 200 million climate refugees will be roaming the world, when half of all species on Earth are predicted to be extinct in the wild. They would be 80 in 2100, when parts of Australia, Africa and the United States could be uninhabitable.

We are in the middle of a mass extinction, the first caused by a single species. There are 7.8 billion of us, on a planet that scientists estimate can support 1.5 billion humans living as the average US citizen does today.

How many boomers and Generation X people were pushed into unwanted marriage, especially LGBTQIA people?  Pressured into having kids are parent demanding “grandchildren”?  How many women didn’t have access to abortion and birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancy?  There could be millions of people over forty who wanted to be Childfree but didn’t know it was an option, or had it taken away from them.

There is nothing selfish about choosing not to make a problem worse.


 

Here’s a CBC podcast from 2018, thirty minutes discussing why people are Childfree.  Being interviewed is Meghan Daum, editor of “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids”.  This comic by Patricia Flaviana appears on the CBC page:

Daum’s title contains three insults and fictions hurled at Childfree people.

  • “Selfish”?  How is not adding another consumer of natural resources ‘selfish’?
  • “Shallow”?  People don’t choose to be Childfree without a LOT of thought.
  • “Self-absorbed”?  People who are Childfree have time to do – and actually do – charitable work and help take care of nieces and nephews, unlike parents.

Having children is an ability that some people have, not an “obligation” for anyone.

You.  Don’t.  Owe.  Anyone.  Children.

Not your family, not society, not the ovum or sperm that will end up being disposed by your body and never become people.

There are a collection of articles on being Childfree, below the fold.


Choosing To Be Childfree

To have or not have children is a human right that everybody should be able to exercise without judgment or criticism. Some people are unable to have biological children, and some people choose not to have any for social, economic, environmental or other reasons.

Many adults and couples that do not have children live very fulfilling lives. However, in some societies there is still a stigma attached to being childfree, particularly in the case of childfree women. These are some of the most common questions encountered about making the decision to be childfree.


No Grandkids Required: Child-free Couples Thriving after 50

There was a time when people expected newlyweds to soon add at least one or two babies to the family. Over the years, however, societal expectations for couples has eased, creating greater leeway with one of the biggest decisions of their lives — whether to become parents or remain child-free.

Nowadays, child-free couples in their 20s or 30s undoubtedly enjoy more freedom. They typically have more time and money than their friends who are parents of young children. But what is life like now for couples over 50 who haven’t had kids, whether by choice or by chance?

Are couples missing out when they have no grandchildren to take to the zoo or graduations to attend? Don’t be too quick to jump to that conclusion.

These child-free couples say that not having children or grandchildren hasn’t impeded their nurturing nature, marital happiness or ability to lead fulfilling lives.


I definitely agree with this item.  Much like non-smokers are forced to do extra work because addicts “take a smoke break”, those who don’t have children are not given concessions at the workplace.  And in the case of women, denied raises because “you don’t have a family”.  As if there weren’t enough sexism in the workplace.

The childless aren’t here to compensate for those who have kids

There is a silent friction in our society. It is expressed in shifty, sidelong glances, the disapproving pursing of lips and besmirching of absent parties on coffee breaks. I have observed it for some time. I have talked with friends about it, and colleagues. It is the attitude of parents towards those without children, and vice versa.

[. . .]

I couldn’t help but be a little bit interested. It seemed clear neither of them had children. One of them, the fellow with what you might call a slightly more “curated” appearance, who evidently enjoyed sporting activities, was complaining he found it unacceptable that a colleague sometimes left the office early to attend his son’s football matches. The complainer, through a mouthful of hummus or some other such drab and mysterious goo, pointed out he would consequently be late for, or miss entirely, his own evening football practice as the colleague’s absence meant he had more work to do before he could leave.

This is hardly an apocalyptic scenario. The very crust of the Earth will not scream open and swallow us all with the injustice. However, it speaks to a presumption that seems to run deep within us – that the time of parents is more valuable than that of the childless. In families of adult children, it is often the sibling with no offspring of their own to whom the burden of care of elderly parents falls. Why, I thought, should the time of this floppy-haired man at the cafe. . .be less valuable than that of his colleague who had chosen to have children?


Quoting from the audio on the linked item below,

“Not everyone wants to be a parent.  And research suggests that those without kids are actually happier.  Parenthood is like a rollercoaster, of ups and downs, of highs and lows.  And life without children is simply much more stable.  It has much less variation.”

Fifteen percent of US women have reached their forties without having children.

Why having kids doesn’t necessarily make you happier, according to research

Parents often refer to their children as their “pride and joy.” But research tells a different story: Having kids doesn’t necessarily make people happier.

Most parents feel that their children are incredibly important sources of life satisfaction, says Jennifer Glass, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and a demographer who studies the relationship between parenthood and well-being.

“But that’s not the same thing as happiness, and it’s not the same thing as financial well-being, good physical health or good emotional health,” Glass tells CNBC Make It.


‘I had second thoughts’: the Gen Z-ers choosing not to have children

Research finds some young people are considering staying child-free so they can retire early

Gen Z is coming of age in the Covid crisis, with school leavers and graduates facing a jobs crunch, environmental crisis and widespread social anxiety.

Their response? According to research, it is to decide not to have children so they can retire early and put less strain on an overpopulated planet.

One in 10 childless 18- to 23-year-olds are considering not having children, according to the research carried out by the online pension providers PensionBee, citing plans to retire early as a key driver of their decision.


There have never been “mini baby booms” after blackouts, and after one year of COVID-19 and lockdowns, the rate of new births in the US is below average.

“Blackout baby booms” are male rape fantasies, not a reality.

How the 21st century economy convinced millennial women that having kids isn’t worth it

  • American births are declining, and it’s partly because some millennials are deciding kids aren’t worth it.
  • The economy since 2008, lack of affordable childcare, and pandemic-era lifestyle changes are adding up.
  • Millennial women are also finding life fulfillment outside of having children.

The summer after I graduated college, I was cleaning out boxes in my childhood bedroom when I stumbled across an old journal.

Inside was a timeline written in chicken scratch: Marriage at age 20, with a child every two years for eight years, to be completed by age 30. I laughed as I thought to myself, “In today’s economy?”

I flipped the journal over to see the date: 1997. At age 6, only familiar with the societal standards I had grown up with, this was how I envisioned my future. Fifteen years later, I was thankful I had forgotten about this path.

I can’t help but recall that as I see the story of the pandemic baby bust swirling around the Internet. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped a new report that revealed the US birth rate had fallen by 4%, the sharpest single-year decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979. 

The total fertility rate — or the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime — also fell from 2.12 in 2007 to 1.64 in 2020. In 1960, it was 3.65.

 

Comments

  1. johnson catman says

    I am 62 and don’t have any children and have never wanted any. My wife is a few years younger than me, and she feels the same way. I feel like my father was never happy that he and my mother had children. Though I do speculate that it was somewhat selfish on his part because I always got the feeling that he was jealous of the attention that my mother gave to me and my sister. My mother probably felt the pressure from her mother and siblings that she should have children. She died relatively young because of the stresses that came with the path she took. Cancer and heart problems did her in. Living through that made me VERY hesitant to even consider having children. For me, I made the right choice.

  2. says

    I don’t wanna bother people who have children with this stuff – my brother has two adopted girls – but yeah. It is a fucking hilarious inversion of reality for the childless to be accused of selfishness. Bringing humans into this world right now can only be excused by saying, well, I guess that person has a life that is completely out of control. If you have any agency at all and you’re using it to make babies, fuck you. We got some serious shit to fix before you can justify that decision humanely.

  3. Allison says

    I’m someone who has children and does not regret it, but I agree that people who don’t really want children (or want them but don’t accept what a huge responsibility it is) should not have children. Period. There is no excuse for encouraging someone who isn’t committed to it — or hasn’t really accepted what a huge responsibility it is — to have a child. It is IMnot-so-HO child abuse.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but basically, my parents just blew off any responsibilities that were hard or painful; they wanted the fantasy of children but not the reality. It was pretty awful. My attitude now is that having children is a little like joining the US Marines — it’s tough, intentionally so, and everyone knows it’s tough, so don’t enlist and then bitch and moan about how mean they are. But add to that the fact that you have the ultimate responsibility for an utterly helpless human being, and that any dereliction of duty may damage them for life (or even kill them.)

    If anything, I think that people who want to have children should have to get a license for it and demonstrate that they know what it involves and are willing and able to do whatever is necessary for them before they are allowed to have a child. As it stands, people have children willy-nilly, for any reason or none at all, and it seems to be a matter of luck as to whether the parents will actually give them the care they need and not simply neglect or abuse or abandon them. And it’s not as though the society we live in (USA, at least) will provide resources that are all that much better than the worst home situation.

    Better not to bring a child into this world at all than to give them life but then not do whatever is necessary for them to have a life worth living. BTW, that’s why I support abortion on demand. If society is not willing to insure that they get the care that every child deserves, better that the child be spared having to be born. (I’ve had decades of therapy, and am still not entirely convinced that I wouldn’t have been better off being aborted.)

    • says

      Are you being dismissive?

      Or referring to the fact that people from industrialized countries consume many times the resources and energy of people in developing countries?

      Women in developing countries almost never have a choice, often forced into arranged marriages and denied the right to an education. It is only in countries where women have self-actualization, education, and freedom that they can choose. Definitely a worldwide problem.

  4. lochaber says

    chigau@4>

    I think there may be an unintentional accuracy in that comment?

    At least in the transition from rural/agrarian to urban/suburban living in the U.S., at some point additional children were seen as an asset – another pair of hands to help with the work, and eventually an additional child transitioned to a liability – another mouth to feed.

    And, I do wonder with birth rates typically being higher in developing nations, if the simple notion of consciously choosing not to reproduce is something generally limited to people in wealthier nations?

    But, within those first-world nations, there is a lot of shitting-on of people without children, for one reason or a couple dozen other…

  5. says

    Much like non-smokers are forced to do extra work because addicts “take a smoke break”, those who don’t have children are not given concessions at the workplace.

    On one hand, people who choose to become parents ought to understand that they will get a lot of extra work and expenses, and they shouldn’t expect to have as much free time and free spending money as childfree people. It is unreasonable for parents to demand that the rest of society ought to eliminate all their inconveniences caused by parenthood. After all, they made a choice, and should expect certain consequences.

    On the other hand, it sucks to be a child whose parents are always at work and cannot be with you when you need them. It sucks to be a child who grows up in poverty. Parenting requires a lot of financial expenses and time investment from the parents. If the society fails to ensure that parents are capable of providing their time and money to the kid, then children suffer. And kids are innocent, it is not a child’s fault that their parent made the irresponsible decision to create a kid while being unable to properly take care of said kid due to having little free time and no spare income.

  6. dangerousbeans says

    IMO, we should support other people around us, which also means helping out their carers. As much as i’m child-free and actually opposed to creating more people, the kids that already exist shouldn’t be punished for it. so i’m happy to do things that help kids, which occasionally involves helping parents

  7. says

    If I do have a concern about Childfree GenYs and Millennials it’s that in 10-30 years, there could be a mass breeding of “quiverful” white xians voting and no secular children to counter them. This is akin to selective abortion in India, China, South Korea and elsewhere that led to a massive gender imbalance. Here it’s a voter imbalance.

    Fortunately, this can be countered by education and white xians waking up to the reality of climate change and personal experience of a changing political landscape. Nothing changes attitudes faster than reality you can’t ignore and wish away.

  8. mailliw says

    I always thought that if I met someone who wanted a relationship with me and wanted children I would go along with their wishes. That never happened and I am very relieved that it didn’t. I am not sure I would have made a good father.

    Here are the Haden Triplets singing Single Girl, Married Girl which describes the many advantages of being a childless single girl over being a married one with children: https://youtu.be/7NBTwmjqUrY. The song was first recorded by the Carter Family in 1927:

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