“Do the childfree hate children?” and other questions from a Redditer answered

reddit cfA little while ago, a Huffington Post article by Ann Brenoff, “Midlife ramblings: What I don’t get about my childless/childfree young friends,” inspired me to write a quick Q&A post answering some of the more frequently asked questions people have about the childfree.

I linked the post to the childfree Reddit forum (I lerve the childfree Reddit forum!), and one of the responses to the link was left by “jkpinaz,” who expressed disappointment that different questions weren’t answered. These questions:

  • Why build an identity around not having kids?
  • Why ‘childfree’? ‘Childless’ is neutral, used more often, doesn’t trigger my spell check. ['Childfree'] is semantic douchebaggery.”
  • Do you hate children? and I mean it in the same way as asking if someone hates a certain race or sex of people.
  • Why don’t the CFs who want more childfree places/establishments instead want more asshole-free places/establishments?

I actually loved these questions and thought I’d try to answer them (without claiming to be able to speak for all childfree people).

Why build an identity around not having kids?

This question assumes the majority of childfree people are building such an identity. I don’t think they are. What you’re probably seeing is a gathering of a minority group drawn together by their common interest or experience.

Take any minority group – whether gay, a particular ethnicity, a situation (fathers fighting for more equal custody rights, say) – and consider why they’re drawn to each other or why they create a voice in whatever venue they choose, and the reason will probably be similar for the childfree: essentially, support or camaraderie.

If producing offspring is “normal” (which everything and everyone tells us it is from birth to whenever), then not wanting to produce offspring must equal “abnormal.” In some very public conversations, it also must equal selfish or cold or self-centered, as the Huffington Post article I link to above more than implies. To assure yourself you are, in fact, normal, you find others like you.

I apologize for choosing a graphic with such terrible grammar.

As for those who make habit of denigrating parents and/or children (see image to the right), I can’t really answer that. I have two guesses, though: a) they’re angry at being called selfish or “sinful” and are responding with their own “screw you” (sometimes preemptively), or b) they’re new to discovering they don’t want kids, understand it’s not the popular choice (your own parents often have issues with it, friends treat you like you’re weird, people patronize you quite a bit, etc.), and are planting their feet/finding their voice/constructing their shell in  preparation for judgment.

It could be, too, that some of those who are most vocal about being childfree are also very passionate about the environment, overpopulation, and/or what their taxes pay for, and being childfree is a component of that larger passion.

But, again, those are just guesses. I suspect everyone’s reason is different.

Why ‘childfree’? ‘Childless’ is neutral, used more often, doesn’t trigger my spell check, [and 'childfree' vs. 'childless' is] semantic douchebaggery.”

“Douchebaggery” triggers my spell check.

And “childless” isn’t neutral. When the assumption is that everyone wants kids, this is what happens with a word like “childless”:

MARY: (to Jennifer) Your wedding three hours ago was just beautiful! So, when are you two having kids?

JENNIFER: Oh. Well, we’re childless.

MARY (later, whispering to her husband over the shrimp platter): Did you hear? The poor Nelsons. They’re childless! Tsk.

“Childless” is an unfortunate situation.

“Childfree” is not. It immediately communicates that the couple (or person) doesn’t want children and that no sympathy is required.

Those who desperately do want children but are unable to conceive would probably agree that there’s a vast difference between childless and childfree.

Do you hate children? and I mean it in the same way as asking if someone hates a certain race or sex of people.

Not wanting to be a parent is in no way comparable to being a bigot.

Which is not to say there aren’t child-haters. (I mean, practically everyone hates someone, and everyone is hated by someone – why should kids get a pass?)

What I mean is that there are plenty of childfree who love kids – who even find work that will have them heavily involved in the lives of children – but who don’t want to be parents. There are also many who can’t stand kids, and many who are ambivalent about them. I’m one of the ambivalent ones. I see kids as plain old people, and I don’t like or dislike them until I know them.

Everyone is different. What I’ve seen in the childfree communities I’ve participated in, though, is a lot of “I just don’t want to be a parent.” It’s its own lifestyle, and one many of us have no interest in.

Why don’t the CFs who want more childfree places/establishments instead want more asshole-free places/establishments?

It isn’t only the childfree who want childfree establishments.

To the second part of your question: The thing about assholes is that when they’re adults, you can complain to the management (or tell the asshole to leave, yourself) without the risk of people gasping at you and calling you a monster.

When the asshole in question is a child (yes, little people can be jerks, too) or his or her parents, you’re pretty restricted. It’s usually bad form to try to discipline someone else’s child, and equally frowned upon is telling a parent how to discipline their child.

The best defense, they say, is a good offense.

___

Thank you for leaving these questions in the Reddit forum, “jkpinaz.” You can’t be the only one to have wondered such things, and I hope my answers helped a little bit.

If anyone reading this wants to share their own responses or experiences, please do! I’d love to read your comments. Maybe jkpinaz would, too.

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21 thoughts on ““Do the childfree hate children?” and other questions from a Redditer answered

  1. *Why build an identity around not having kids?*

    Because it’s nice to go out with friends and not have them bring out 10,000 pics of their kids and keep asking, “Isn’t he just the cutest wootest wittle thing in the entire universe?!” Or some of us do have major accomplishments in our lives that took a significant amount of cognitive abilities rather than acting like a biological process (i.e. making babies) was a superpower.

    *Why ‘childfree’? ‘Childless’ is neutral, used more often, doesn’t trigger my spell check. ['Childfree'] is semantic douchebaggery.”*

    Childfree implies someone who has chosen not to have children. Childless more implies someone who doesn’t have but wants children. Some will argue that the “less” part implies that something is missing from their lives when in fact childfree people do not feel that there is something missing in their lives.

    *Do you hate children? and I mean it in the same way as asking if someone hates a certain race or sex of people.*

    Who says all cf-ers hate children? I for one absolutely adore my niece, but at the end of the day she is going home with her mama because I want my peace and quiet. Maybe we should turn that question onto YOU….why do you hate childfree as if someone else would hate Atheists, Homosexuals,…..just because we’re in the minority you seem to have some very skewed misconceptions.

    *Why don’t the CFs who want more childfree places/establishments instead want more asshole-free places/establishments?*

    I think most parents along with childfree would love more adults only establishments. We all pay to go out for a nice meal and of course there is someone there who wants to shit all over that. I have seen people who let kids run free, screaming and knocking into other people. Leave huge messes then stiff the server on a tip, now that’s an asshole.

    • And, really, _IF_ I did in fact hate children, what’s so bad about that? Is that really the end of the world?

      If I’m a terrible person for hating children, then punish me. Perhaps you could punish me by keeping your precious little snowflakes away from me. Deny me the benefits of their company and your company. Socially isolate me from your family. Boycott all the public places where I hang out. That’ll teach me a lesson…..

  2. “It isn’t only the childfree who want childfree establishments.”
    “I think most parents along with childfree would love more adults only establishments.”

    Absolutely, says this mom of three. Considerate parents don’t bring their babies or small children to a non-family restaurant, period. It’s not only irritating to fellow diners (and boy, is it ever), it’s really unfair to expect a young’un to behave appropriately for the setting. This is why they invented McDonalds Playland and Chuck E Cheese.

    “['Childfree'] is semantic douchebaggery.”

    I don’t think so. Calling me a ‘breeder’ or my kids ‘crotch fruit’ is, though. That’s fucked up. Anyone immature enough to resort to that bullshit belongs at Chuck E Cheese, too.

    • I really should have added that I wish people wouldn’t do that (I can’t tell you how much I hate it). I’m truly trying to understand what’s behind that level of vitriol.

  3. *Why build an identity around not having kids?*
    For me it’s more about my identity not being built around being a parent. Semantically there is a difference. It’s often assumed a woman of my age (late 40s) is a mother and possibly even a grandmother (eek!).
    My identity is about my personality, what I believe (or don’t) what I do, who I choose to socialise with etc It is not a pre-formed box labelled ‘mother’ with optional extras. Woman does not equal mother but in the minds of many they are the same by default.

    I’m sure there are a lot of things I have in common with some mothers. I’m not a unique, special snowflake and those commonalties will come from things that are not child related eg socio-economic group, upbringing, education, type of job and so on.

    Until the default for woman is simply “woman”, without reference to parental status we will need to keep using the term childfree as part of our self-description.

  4. hi, i’m the one who created that image, the one with terrible grammar! Know that i speak 6 languages, english is not my own language!!! It is bad written well try writting on my language and we’ll see te result! Americans are so full of shit! They think they own the world someone makes a mistake when writting in “they’re” language they whine! When they go to another country don’t even fucking bother learning a word or two in the local language! And then wonder why the whole world hates them…

    • If you are the creator of the image, first, I of course had no idea English wasn’t your first language. How could I? Second, because I didn’t have that information, I had no idea I was insulting a foreigner’s English effort. What I meant to insult was an American’s failure to proofread. My apologies to you.

  5. For me, childfree and childless are two different categories. “Childless” means you want kids but don’t have any, while “childfree” means you don’t have any and don’t want any.

    I’m not as insulted as I used to be about being called “childless.” It’s just inaccurate, not offensive to me. As for “childless” suggesting that you’re missing something positive without kids, that’s not always what the suffix “-less” means.

    Sometimes “-less” means that you’re lacking something negative. It doesn’t just mean you’re missing something positive. Being “less” something could be a very GOOD thing.

    We could think of “childless” the same way we talk about something being “painless”…..

  6. There’s another group of people who are stigmatized for their choice: people who choose to have only one child. They’re called selfish, denied sterilizations because ‘they might change their mind,’ told they’re going against God’s will, and, to top it all off, accused of denying a sibling to their existing child, who, by the way, is sure to become a spoiled brat. Why aren’t one-child-by-choicers setting up boards seething against parents of two or more children?

  7. Don’t get me wrong: I understand the pressure that people without children get. There is a saying among people with only one child that if you have pressure to have your first child, just wait until you get pressure to have your second! And some of the more moderate members of the childfree movement are actually sympathetic to the pressure parents of onlies face. I’m just not sure why pressure hasn’t caused parents of only children to set up rant boards, at least none I know of.

  8. Thank you. I think that as more families have one child, whether by choice or by chance, books like this will be more than welcome!

  9. @RJ re: “Breeders” and “Crotchfruit” I agree this is really gross and insulting. The issue tends to unfold like this, however… someone keeps pushing and pushing and pushing and getting more and more insulting with someone about their decision not to have kids (when it could have been perfectly polite.) Finally the childfree person has just HAD IT. So they say the MOST OFFENSIVE thing they can think of to “that person” to just shut them the hell up. And I’ve done this, too. If someone really gets in my face about it and will not let it drop and just ramps up the insults further and further I will say the nastiest douche-y-ist thing I can think to say that will shut them the hell up and maybe make them cry after all the drama they put me through for something that is none of their freaking business.

    I think unfortunately, SOME people have this experience so frequently that they bring that attitude online and just make it about “all parents”, not just the douchenozzles that personally would not leave them the hell alone. So yeah… i’ve said some NASTY things to people, but only THOSE individual people who would not let it go or leave me the hell alone. I have never said it as a blanket statement on all parents. I don’t use it socially on the internet as any kind of blanket idea. And I don’t even really feel that way about the people I’ve actually said it to. It’s just something to piss them the hell off so they will get out of my damn face when nothing else will work.

    Those few people who have gotten that level of ire from me NEVER bother me about this topic again. To me, that’s worth dropping some really heinous labels their way. But I agree that it’s wrong to refer to parents in general as “breeders” or kids as “crotchfruit”. But again, I suspect the people with that level of vitriol get to this frustrated point with SO many people in their lives that they can’t separate a few assholes from “all parents” anymore, because in THEIR world it does feel like all parents.

  10. The world is terrorised by misbehaving brats and their infatuated clueless moronic parents who think they are geniuses and who cater to their every whim. This is just another symptom of this perpetual disease of most humans – stupidity. Just last week I was abused and hurled obscenities at by a rude father of a spoilt brat who was shrieking his lungs out on a plane. The father did nothing to make the brat shut up just observed it with endless admiration. After hurling abuse at me the idiot proceeded to croon to the brat. This is why I hate children. They simply become rude monsters raised in constant admiration of their parents. When I was a kid I was taught to behave. This is not the case today. Today the children are taught they are exceptional, without exception. No matter how stupid, fat, ugly, lazy and thick they are they are taught from day one they are the best. This is why I hate children and even more the morons who have them without any capacity to raise them to become civil members of the society.

    • love ur comment. i have a story id like to share. i bought my first flat 18 months ago i put my lifes savings into it but could still only afford an ex council flat. the other flats in my block are full of council tenants with babies and toddlers. the council are changing all the windows in the flats and even though i own my flat i have no power to stop them changing my windows and i am being lamped with a £3000 bill for new windows even though the old ones are perfectly working all because they dont comply with new building regulations as children could hit their heads on open windows if their running along the path outside my flat! they shouldnt even be running around my property and i have to constantly put up with hearing them thumping around upstairs disturbing my peace! i was taught from young to be responsible for my actions and have respect for others, manners comon sense and if i injured myself from not doing as i was told then it was my own fault! im sick of society pandering to kids. im actually really scared to get older because im dreading what kind of nasty morons these kids are going to grow into. it was quite refreshing to read your post and great respect to you for having the balls to say the truth and it is the truth there are just too many people trying to deny it but you said it for what it is

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