17 Truths About the Childfree

it's a babayChildfree blogger “Schmutzie” recently listed 17 untruths parents believe about the childfree. While I completely understand and appreciate her desire to dispel myths about the childfree that may be circulating in the parenting community, I think it’ s only fair to point out that some of those myths aren’t myths at all, but pretty accurate assumptions.

1. Non-parents get to go to bed late and sleep in like parents used to before they had children is not true, Schmutzie says.

Except, it is true. If we want to, we can go to bed late, and even on work mornings, we can hit snooze until we absolutely have to get up if we’re going to make it to work on time, because we don’t have to bathe, dress, and feed children, sign their permission slips, pack their lunches, brush their hair, and make sure they have their homework before sending them off to the bus or driving them to school.

(Obviously, “we” doesn’t include every single childfree person in the world. Some have dogs who wake them up, parents who call and wake them up, cats who pounce on their faces, etc. I’m not accounting for anything but the difference between having, and not having, children.)

2. Schmutzie says it is an untruth that Non-parents have the better and more plentiful sex that parents might once have had before they had children.

All I know is this: whether parents or not, pretty much everyone thinks they are being robbed of better or a different amount of sex, and we all have conditions to which we can point and squarely lay the blame. Mine is a combination of age, body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety, and possibly that hysterectomy I had as a result of cervical cancer.

Well, I mean, okay. But in general, adults without children can, if they want to, have sex on the kitchen island at 3 in the afternoon and not worry about anyone walking in for an after-school snack. And they can do it every day, if they want to. (Key words will often be “if they want to.”)

3. Non-parents eat better and more interesting food.

This is true only if you, unlike me, like to cook, have money to eat out every day, or haven’t lost your taste for chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Maybe having had regular high-brow gastronomic experiences is peculiar to would-be parents, though, because it’s not been my experience, at least not on a regular enough basis to make it a fact of my lifestyle.

Mini big macI have never heard anyone say childfree people get to eat better and more interesting food than parents, but assuming someone did say that, it was probably someone who wanted a turkey burger and their child was all, “Ew! Yuck! I only like McDonald’s hamburgers!” (I certainly hated it, as a kid, when my dad would want to make hamburgers at home. If I was going to eat a burger, it was McDonald’s or nothing. [Well, McDonald's or an ungrateful whiner who would complain about my dad's stupid homemade hamburgers.])

“Interesting” is relative. But, it seems likely that there would be some limitations on dinner for the kind of parents who plan what they eat around their child’s allergies or conditions. Or even their preferences. (Friends I have who are parents do not plan their dinners around what their kids want to eat. Nobody can or should eat hotdogs and mac&cheese every night. They’re the “This is what we’re having for dinner. Eat it or go without dinner” variety.)

4. Non-parents get to do whatever they want is a lie, Schmutzie says.

Oh, yeah. All the time, baby, except that I can’t afford that southern vacation, I have work and family responsibilities to take care of, this damn mortgage doesn’t pay itself…

Well, “whatever they want” is really being launched into the extremes, here. I think when parents say this they mean, “People without children get to do a lot of things we either no longer can, or that would take us (all other things being equal) a lot more effort and careful planning and saving.”

True!

5. Non-parents have much more disposable income than parents do is, according to Schmutzie, another untruth about the childfree.

Except that – again, all other things being equal – this is completely true, and even one of several reasons some people don’t have kids. Even when not a reason, it’s inarguably a result. With children: $$ for clothes, $$ for food, $$ for hospital bills, $$ for car seats and diaper bags and diapers and school supplies (etc. etc. etc.). No kids: money is not being spent on those things. It is a fact.

(Maybe there are some parents who believe childfree people are somehow magically wealthy cigar-puffing, monocle-wearing, diamond-dripping yacht owners, but such a far-out assumption is hardly worth addressing.)

6. Non-parents don’t know the true depth of human love, Schmutzie claims parents believe.

This one is definitely a myth, which really should go without saying (as should the “We love our parents! Our siblings! Our lovers! Our pets!” – all true, but so obvious it’s wasted faux blog-ink).

[This section has been edited for clarification in response to a relevant issue expressed on a childfree site.] However! Considering the difference between my love for my cats (creatures I care for and protect), my love for my dad and sister (unconditional), and my love for my husband (a creature I long for and am in partnership with), I do understand why some parents believe this. Love for one’s child can be a different kind of love, and (excluding those parents who dislike and/or abuse their children) maybe even a more powerful kind of love because with it come all the feelings associated with being the caretaker and protector: worry, hope, pride, AND – in the positive cases – unconditional love.

And, really, it would be silly to not assume that, for many (NOT ALL) women, the love they feel for their children IS a far deeper and more meaningful love than whatever it is they feel for their spouses (BECAUSE) have you SEEN many of the marriages people get themselves into?

7. Schmutzie writes that another untruth is that Non-parents are not very busy and have time for all kinds of frivolous activity.

Parents are correct to assume that we do have more time than they do (all other things being equal) “for all kinds of frivolous activity.” And non-frivolous, too!

8. Non-parents get to bathe, and parents never do.

What.

I do get that you cannot take long showers like you used to, and that you maybe don’t often get to take a shower or bathe alone, and for this I truly feel sympathy…

Oh! The kids banging on the door thing. Yes, this is a weird one. El Hubster and I were talking about this recently, and it went something like this:

“I probably could have knocked on the door once while my mom was in the bathroom before learning I should never do that again.”

“Yeah. My dad would have (not literally) kicked my ass. You did not bother him when he didn’t want to be bothered.”

I don’t know why so many kids these days seem to be so attached to their parents that they won’t even let them go to the bathroom, but in cases where that IS happening, yes. We get to take longer showers, and uninterrupted. Maybe tell your kids, very authoritatively and in a no-nonsense way, to go play somewhere else? I don’t know. Whenever my dad did that, it worked quite effectively.

9. Non-parents get to drink alcohol whenever they want is an untruth, Schmutzie says.

glow glassTrue! We can. Why, just last night I was out at a local establishment enjoying a gin and tonic under a blue sky. And I went to work bright-eyed and early this morning.

Yes, the childfree have responsibilities that are best tackled alcohol-free, but we really can drink whenever we want without worrying that we’re forgetting…something…kid in a bathtub? Kid outside? Making the kid dinner…? What is it?

10. Non-parents don’t have to deal with gross bodily fluids.

I have never heard a parent say this. But Schmutzie says this about it:

I grew up with an older brother with multiple special needs, and my mother also ran a daycare out of our home. I have dealt with the urine, poop, vomit, and semen (yes, even that) of more people both related to me and not than most parents I know. You can’t hold this one over me.

So, more her, and not so much childfree in general. Got it. So, the untruth is actually – all other things being equal – pretty much true. I don’t get involved in any of my husband’s gross bodily fluids, and he stays equally clear of mine.

11. Non-parents own nicer things than parents do.

If by “nicer” a parent who says this means “un-slobbered on” or “with sharp corners” or “white,” probably true, yes. And if we want to put something very expensive at what would be considered toddler-level, we have less fear of it being tipped over. Yes.

12. Non-parents get to keep the friends that parents lose after they have children.

Who says this?

From what I’ve seen, parents are so overjoyed by having children – and so busy taking care of them – that the last thing they give a hooey-toot about is losing friends their childfree peers get to “keep.” (Later, from what I’ve observed, they truly start to crave adult interaction, but I somehow doubt they’re thinking about the friends their childfree friends still have. If anything, they may envy that their childfree friends have more time and opportunity to hang out with other adults.)

The question, though, is: Do we get to keep friends that parents lose? Okay, yeah. Probably. If Nancy, Joanie, and Lucille don’t have kids, and Joanie suddenly has a baby, Nancy and Lucille will probably continue their friendship after Joanie drops out to tend to her child.

13. Non-parents don’t have wrecked bodies like parents do after kids.

This is not an untruth. Non-parents do not have child-wrecked bodies. They may be otherwise wrecked, but not from childbirth and breast-feeding. We find other ways.

14. Non-parents feel so much more attractive than parents do is an untruth, Schmutzie says.

This is another thing I’ve never heard parents say, but assuming it is a circulating myth, all other things being equal, I can see – generally – childfree people feeling more attractive than parents. We have more time to primp. No baby food or spit-up on our clothes. We’re (all other things being equal) probably less exhausted, and therefore less exhausted-looking. (That is not an insult. I’m not anti-mother or anti-baby. My best friend just shared what she’d been doing for the last two days for her kids, and I KNOW she’s more tired than I am. Today, anyway.)

15.  Non-parents have clean homes.

They are definitely easier to keep clean with fewer people around leaving toys and things places, yes.

16. Non-parents don’t have to worry about anyone but themselves.

Schmutzie makes clear that people with or without children will worry about other people, but I think the point a parent who would say this is making is, “You don’t have kids to worry about.”

True!

17. Non-parents stay out until all hours.

If we want to, yes. We do. No babysitter to pay, no kids to tuck in, no kids to make breakfast for in the morning. True, true, true.

THE POINT OF THIS LIST:

Nobody’s life is “perfect” (whatever that means). We all have stuff. But, all other things being equal, there is a clear difference in lifestyle between having and not having children (dependents vs. no dependents). No kids? More time to a. stay late at work, or b. volunteer for a charity, or c. help family members, or d. paint/write/read/play.

There’s nothing wrong with owning, and enjoying, these freedoms, or admitting that not having kids means there IS a difference (all other things being equal). It’s fine.

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18 thoughts on “17 Truths About the Childfree

  1. Definitely some good points here, and you listed many of the “lighter” reasons I’ve chosen not to pro-create (the “deeper” reasons being environmental, ethical, etc.). When I read #12 though, I was surprised, because in my situation, I haven’t retained friends as a result of being childfree; in fact, I’m more likely to “lose” them since we are all at an age where child-rearing is the thing to do. Most of my friends have children now and have become close friends with other parents (understandably), which means I rarely see them. I don’t begrudge them this at all. After all, they have a whole world of things to deal with as parents that I do not, but I still miss them. So I would say that #12 is certainly a myth, since non-parents can actually get “left out in the cold,” so to speak, by their parent friends.

    • I see that happening a lot, too, and I understand it’s pretty common that the childfree will see their friends fall away as they have kids. I was focusing more on the idea that women who have children lose their friends who don’t. I wonder if it’s just a matter of perception – that they feel like their non-parent friends don’t come around because they have kids while their non-parent friends feel like the parent friends aren’t coming around because they’re too busy with kids.

  2. I think that there really are no “truths” when it comes to this issue. Let’s take, for example, the truth? myth? that CF folks have more discretionary income. Some might. Others will actually have *less* than their childed peers. I have a health condition, and it costs a serious amount of money for doctors’ visits, tests, treatment, therapies, and medication — this is where my “discretionary” income goes. But I know childed couples who can easily afford a new house, new car, summer vacation for five (including the kids), etc. If I could keep all of the extra money I make, I could have a better lifestyle than I currently do. Such is not the case, though.

    I don’t complain about this. I’m grateful that I have a good job that provides great benefits so I don’t have to go without medical care. A lot of people don’t have that.

    Anyone can lead the type of life he or she wants to lead and damn the consequences. You can be a parent and be a total lush/drug addict/party girl/boy. You can be a nonparent, never drink, never spend a dime on nice things, and go to bed at eight on the dot every night. When we start making blanket assumptions about how other people live — people that we don’t even know, collectively or individually — that fuels misunderstandings.

    • Hi, Lelaina. Thank you for your comment. I agree with you about blanket statements. I tried to carefully include “all other things being equal” in these scenarios for that reason.

      Much of what I write here (on this site) is geared toward encouraging people to not engage in this weird parent/childfree battle.

      Obviously we’re all individuals, and what’s true for one may not be true for another. At the very least, I’d like to see childfree people not feel the need to defend their choice by making a list of how negatively I packed our lives can be, too. Is there a prize for who’s most put-upon?

      The original list felt like a defense, an assurance that “we suffer just as much, we have it just as hard.” And sure, in our individual lives, we all have the special circumstances that make things painful/busy/expensive. But – all other things being equal (very important to emphasize that) – the childfree do have one less responsibility and demand on their income, time, and energy than parents have. There’s nothing to defend – it just is. The more simple acceptance there is, the more confidence there is, it seems like the less anger, defensiveness, and ridiculous battling there’ll be. Maybe?

      • This just seems like common sense to me. Sure, some people’s lives are really hard WITHOUT kids, but if they HAD kids, their lives would be more hard… hence… their lives are easier without kids than they would be with kids. It doesn’t follow that anybody should, would, or does think that every person without kids is living lifestyles of the rich and famous. But everybody without kids has more discretionary income, time, freedom, etc. than that same person would have had WITH kids. Whether or not some rich family with kids has more than them has nothing to do with the fact that they are less burdened in their own personal life than they would have been with kids.

        I, for one, don’t try to minimize the good things about being childfree. After all, people who ask me why I don’t have children or try to “sell me” on all the awesome benefits of it should know there are actually a lot of perfectly logical reasons NOT to do it. If childfree, in order to be accepted socially by their childed peers feel the need to diminish the good things about being child free to look like they suffer too, all it does is reinforce the smugness of some parents who seem to think our lives won’t be complete until we make babies.

      • When all things are equal, oh definitely — there’s no doubt in my mind that most (if not all) of the 17 untruths begin to unravel. This post got me thinking about some of the female acquaintances I know who make more money (more like their *husbands* make more money), who don’t have the burden of a day job, and are in perfect health. If I had their lives, I would definitely come out ahead in the “quality of life department” being unchilded. Heck, I would even have a better quality of life *with* kids.

        I think what a lot of judgmental people don’t understand is that for some people (people like me, for example), having children isn’t just an inconvenience. My Best Half and I aren’t being tight with our time and money, either. Parenthood would have reduced the quality of life and inflicted excessive financial and personal responsibilities on my mate, family and friends to a ridiculous degree.

  3. What is it with some childfree now that they are trying to “under sell” this lifestyle… a LOT of those assumptions are spot on!

    So why deny them? Also… going on about how things are not necessarily true for a childfree person ignores the very real fact that having kids would make those situations that much worse. Just because some people have crappy lives even WITHOUT kids doesn’t exactly negate the fact that the financial and emotional stress of kids would add exponentially to that.

    I didn’t get why she started right off about how childfree don’t necessarily get more sleep. Um… I sleep 8-9 hours every night. I sleep WEIRD hours as well. Right now my husband is in the other room watching something on TV (He was playing a video game a few minutes ago) and it’s like 3:30 in the morning. Tomorrow is Saturday so… he can sleep in. Therefore he can stay up all night if he wants. We are not disrupting any little kids trying to sleep and stay on a normal schedule. We don’t have kids running in going: “Daddy Daddy why can’t WE play Wii???” I mean… we just don’t have any of this nonsense. Why make the childfree lifestyle sound less awesome than it is?

    re: sex, exactly. And we don’t have to “be extra quiet” so we don’t wake the kids. Or lock the bedroom door. Or get interrupted by a kid banging on the door asking why we locked the door. Sure, not having kids doesn’t MEAN we are all banging like crackmonkeys 24/7, but we could… if we wanted to. That’s kind of the key… the freedom to be ABLE to.

    Also, not having kids is one less thing making us too tired for it.

    Re: food, that’s pretty true. I know that a lot of kids are very picky eaters and you can’t exactly make “fancy food” for them. It’s mac and cheese and stuff with hot dogs in it for a lot of kids. My mom used to make this awesome thing called “quick chili rice dinner” I still love it and my husband does too, so sometimes we do still eat like kids, but I can also make New York Strip and carrots and green beans and not have to hear any whining about it.

    re: doing what we want, yes! Obviously within reason but a hell of a lot more freedom than those with kids. I mean… duh.

    re: disposable income… yes… this is why I can go to the spa for weekly massages. I would not be able to do that with kids. Both because I wouldn’t be able to get away long enough to do it most likely (unless they were in school, I guess), and two because of all the kid crap I’d have to pay for. I mean… like kids, I do… I just genuinely don’t comprehend what the hell kids “give back” that is just SO awesome to be worth all the loss of sleep, time, all the extra stress, and all the financial outlay. It just makes zero sense to me. Not knocking parents. I just don’t understand their rationale.

    re: love… you know I agree maybe the way many women love their children IS different and more deep than any other love they feel, but then when you have to invest most of your emotional energy into a kid and you don’t have the opportunity to develop much deeper levels of other types of love for other people, then you actually don’t know what you don’t know. If that makes sense. Yes, I don’t know a mother’s love, but I know a deeper love for my husband that a LOT of married women with children do NOT show or feel for their husbands… How do I know? Because I watch how they interact with their husbands (WAY different from how I interact with mine) and I listen to them bitch about their husbands constantly (something I feel is disrespectful.) So yeah… bully for them for having this “super deep love for their kids”, that’s great, but in the process a lot of them lose track of their friends, much of their family, and become indifferent to their husbands, so maybe it’s not all that.

    re: free time. Yeah. Duh. I know parents who can’t take a bath and read a book without a kid banging on the door DEMANDING attention right now. I know parents who literally cannot pee or poop with the door closed even. I know parents who can’t carry on a single conversation on the phone without a kid wailing. Yeah… it’s not even just time to do stuff, it’s privacy and time to do ANYTHING including the basic stuff like showering or using the bathroom. I like to use the bathroom by myself with the door closed.

    And I guess that goes into the next point of bathing. And it’s true a lot of kids ARE doing this crap and a lot of parents are allowing it… but… I don’t want to HAVE to yell at a kid or argue with them about my right to poop in peace. I just want to do it.

    re: alcohol… yes… though I’m not a big drinker. Though it is nice not to have to have a lock on the alcohol cabinet and to have the wine rack just out on the counter without worrying some kid tall enough to reach it is going to experiment.

    re: gross bodily fluids… true story. That’s another one of those privacy things. And we don’t randomly spit or drool on each other or pick our boogers and show them to each other. Cause we are… you know… adults and stuff.

    re: nicer things: yes. Though I learned the hard way that I can’t own a white couch period because *I* cannot handle it. LOL

    re: friends… a lot of parents become so wrapped up in their babies and kids that they either stop all interaction with their other friends (til they come out of that fog) or they actively alienate the other person by NEVER being present as an adult human being and every bit of conversation revolves around little suzy or johnny and how well they are pooping or that they said a word or that they have a tooth coming in or some other completely boring crap that is okay to mention in passing maybe but not going on and on forever about it. I can’t imagine why the childfree aren’t overjoyed about that.

    re: wrecked bodies. Truth. I mean I still ate a bunch of crap and put on a few pounds (and got some stretch marks dammit), but it wasn’t from a baby, and I didn’t stretch out my pelvis weird from pushing a child out of my body and my boobs didn’t do bizarre things.

    re: feeling attractive… I think that’s true. Also I think women don’t feel their age as much when they don’t have babies. I’m in my thirties and child free and I really feel like I’m in my early 20′s. I just don’t have the same feelings regarding my age that my childed peers have. And yes, I have more time to primp and dress cute, and i don’t have to worry about the clothing being kid-friendly. i.e. with kids some outfits just don’t work if you have to chase kids, bend over, squat down, or any of the other non-visually-flattering things you may have to do when being with a kid.

    re: clean homes… I’m constantly surprised by HOW MESSY I can make a house, with it just being me and my husband. I could never have kids and remain sane because it’s genuinely a challenge for me to keep my house clean even without kids. But yeah, it would be a LOT worse with kids. And at least my mess stays where it is… with little kids, laundry wouldn’t just be unfolded in the basket, it would be dragged all over the house and stepped on.

    re: no kids to worry about… sort of goes without saying. That’s the point.

    re: staying out til all hours… yeah… I was just hanging out with some friends of mine, until about 2:30 in the morning. Then I swung by steak and shake and picked up some food for myself and my husband. I can’t imagine that scenario going down with kids in tow, even on a Friday night.

    • What is it with some childfree now that they are trying to “under sell” this lifestyle… a LOT of those assumptions are spot on!

      So why deny them?

      This. That was the sole motivation for this blog entry. I’m seeing too many people engaging in a competition for who has it “worse.” If someone says, “You have more time than I do because you don’t have kids,” it’s probably a defensive instinct to want to argue. “I don’t have more time! I’m doing X, Y, and Z after work, and then I’m circling back to AA! And? You know what else? I’m also suffering in H, I, and J way.”

      What I wanted to to was emphasize that there’s no reason to compete. Those X, Y, and Z things? Yeah, you have more time for them because you don’t have kids A and B. When someone says, “My life with kids is different from yours,” what’s wrong with saying, “Yep! Sure is”?

      • LOL yeah I don’t compete for “who has it worse” because I actively seek to make my life better and eliminate all obstacles to that. So competing for the biggest martyr award would only take me farther from my goals. I guess for people who don’t have goals in life this is a legit “thing”, but meh.

        LOL I just don’t understand why people don’t respond to “You have more time than I do because you don’t have kids” with, “Yes, that’s why I chose not to have kids.” I guess if someone is using it as justification to try to get you to do something you don’t want to do I can see why someone would use it. But when someone tries to get me to devote my time to crap I don’t want to do through use of guilt trips, I just say: “No, I don’t want to do that.” They can call me selfish all they want to but at least I’m not smiling at them and then talking bad behind their back because I feel impotent rage because I couldn’t stand up for myself. (Also, a nice trick when someone calls you selfish is to turn it back around on them… since it’s pretty selfish of them to just ASSUME that your time belongs to them and you should obey them just because of what THEY selfishly want.)

        People don’t routinely ask me to do a lot of stupid things because I have consistently made it clear that I am not up for being used and imposed upon based on their personal desires and needs that are rarely really NEEDS. People who tend to be like that with a never ending list of wants that I’m supposed to fulfill, I don’t consider real friends and back away from SERIOUSLY. I don’t involve myself much with my extended family simply because I don’t want to be the first person they think is “obligated” to do random stuff for them.

        Now a friend in real need? Yes, I will help them. Someone just creating random stupid busy work “for appearances” that they don’t have time for and want me to take on because I DO have more time? Um, no. I didn’t make that bed, I’m not lying in it.

        People who want to run around constantly stressed and frazzled from putting too much on their plate are more than welcome to it but they need to leave me out of it. I think people would be pleasantly surprised just how few times you have to firmly tell a fellow adult NO before they start just leaving you alone. Who cares what they think about you? If they were a real friend they wouldn’t be trying to use you all the time.

        And when someone comments on how different their life with kids is from mine, I say “I know. This is why I made this choice.” It’s counterproductive for us to go about acting like this isn’t actually a GOOD choice to make with real, tangible benefits. It’s hard for a parent to “pity me” when they see I actually DO have a nice life.

  4. Also I agree with SallyAnne about lighter vs deeper reasons for not procreating. I’ve got a lot of reasons, those lighter reasons are things that make “my life” better, but the deeper reasons I think don’t contribute to making OTHER PEOPLE’S lives ultimately worse… including the child I would be bringing here without their consent. I think that since I also just plain don’t want kids for all those lighter reasons that it’s much easier for me to stick to my ethical reasons but if I had some sudden and overwhelming urge to parent I would still feel it was wrong to bring a kid here and would adopt. I don’t really foresee that kind of change of attitude happening… even a DOG is more than I want to commit to raising at this time, but just saying, I don’t think there would ever be a situation in which I would feel it was appropriate to reproduce myself.

  5. I generally agree with most of the points made here except #6: “Non-parents don’t know the true depth of human love.” Both points are wrong. I know way too many “parents” who expose their kids to methamphetamine production fumes regularly; who give their kids black eyes for forgetting to get the mail; who stuff their kids with McDonald’s because it takes zero brain power; who put their kids on anti-psychotics because it’s easier than actually being parents. On the other hand, I know men who want to be stay-at-home Dads and want their wives to work the long, money-making hours and Moms who are totally OK with that; parents who send their kids to boarding schools but who are devoted to both school events/visits and their own relationships; parents who hire babysitters and nannies because they, as adults, need time to be a couple and not worry about their children. But these are rare.

    In fact, based on the language in your response to #6 (“And, really, it would be silly to not assume that, for many women, the love they feel for their children IS a far deeper and more meaningful love than whatever it is they feel for their spouses.”), I think the cultural assumption that mothers somehow feel more attached to their children than do the fathers is part of the problem; for better or worse, it results in the idea that mothers should be the ones to sacrifice career and ambition to have a family. Mothers stay at home; mothers worry about healthy food and creative environments; mothers create the safe environment at home; mothers are the ones who don’t feel comfortable leaving children with babysitters and nannies in order to have date nights or vacations as a couple. The idea culminates in the natural progression that Mom stays at home (or Mom feels guilty about having to go to work), Dad works long hours to support the family and, for some reason, doesn’t care that he is less involved in his own children’s lives. Why, in “Western Culture,” don’t men bear equal responsibility for love and care of children?

    Also, I would argue that your statement, “Have you SEEN many of the marriages people get themselves into?” says more about the parents than their love for their children. Getting and/or staying in bad marriages because of your children is usually more about how the parents (quite selfishly) want the world to perceive them and less about the welfare of the kids. Staying in a loveless/abusive marriage “for your children” does more damage to the children than does getting a divorce. On the flip side, some of the most well-adjusted kids (and adults) I know are products of relationships in which the parents knew it wasn’t working and were just upfront about it.

    • Hi, Kat. Thanks for commenting! I completely agree with you about the danger of elevating a mother’s love for her children (and by extension minimizing a father’s love for his). I wasn’t touching that (I do that in another post: http://sylviadlucas.com/2011/09/30/our-countrys-psychotic-obsession-with-motherhood-is-psychotic/), but was addressing only the difference between a woman’s love for her child and her love for her husband and the popular understanding that – in general – the love for a child is greater than the love for a spouse. If the relationship isn’t already filled with great love (as many marriages aren’t), she’ll probably easily love the kid more than she loves her husband (and the husband will probably prefer the kids, too).

      • To me that’s just another reason not to have kids, not an argument in favor of doing it. Why would I want to bring someone into my home that would come between my marriage and become of greater importance to me than my husband, or who could possibly become of greater importance to my husband than me?

        Someone said somewhere that men in childless/childfree marriages were more likely to cheat than fathers, but all that tells me is that I am not valuable in and of myself and that someone just cares about not hurting the “little people”. That’s not a reason to have kids either. If a man can’t be faithful to ME for the sake of ME then he can get the hell out. (sorry tangent. you know me.)

    • re: mother’s love. I agree society has made it crazy and over the top, but I actually DO think the way a mother feels about the children and the way a father feels about them IS different because a baby is in a mother for 9 months, all sorts of hormonal changes happen, they go through an INTENSE experience together (childbirth) that bonds them further, just by virtue of the nature of that experience and the release of oxytocin. So I do think mothers are more attached and protective of their children.

      There was a thought experiment of… if you had to save EITHER your spouse or your kids, and you couldn’t save both, which would you save. Almost universally the women were almost EAGER to toss the husband over in this imaginary scenario. There was no hesitation. It was the kids. Period. A lot more husbands chose the wife because though they loved their kids, the wife was why they were there anyway. The male instinct IMO is to protect the mother who protects the kids. It’s a complicated mess of hormones and brain chemicals. This isn’t to say that I don’t think we socialize the hell out of this to make it a BIGGER disparity, but it’s also naturally there.

      When the lifeboats were being loaded on the titanic the men decided “women and children first”, they did not say children first, then women, then men. Logically yes, the women are needed to look after those children, but a man could have looked after children if he had to. They considered both the women and the children to be of equal value for saving. I think husbands feel that way as well but if forced to make a choice, some of them would choose their wives.

      Sorry that was long and ranty. But, re: mother’s love, since a LOT of that IS brain chemicals and hormones I’m not sure how much of it is “free will”. There is not only a lot of hormones and chemicals at play but a lot of social pressure as well… since you are a MONSTER if you don’t love your kids enough by some arbitrary standard. So it’s hard to be too impressed with that love given the almost hostage-circumstances involved with it. And then, I see a lot of mothers who love their kids intensely but pretty much become indifferent to their husbands, families, friends. Not sure that is an expanded “capacity” to love so much as a shift of ALL love energy into a narrow obsession of one or two smaller people.

  6. Thanks for all the good posts folks!! I am a 35 year old male who is not married, has no girlfriend or kids and I couldn’t be happier!! My life is extremely fulfilling for me without those things. I have no habits, eg. smoking, drinking, drugs etc. Am not sexually active, as sex is not important to me and have no desire to change that!! I am extremely involved in my church, have been for many years and have held the same job for 11 years now. Actually, I just dropped from working three jobs to just two!! What I have discovered about the people who choose to have kids versus people who do not choose to have kids is, that life choice is approached with a completely different mentality that is often not compatible with the other. However I feel the people who do choose to have a family often do not respect those who do not choose to have a family. I have found that while I fully respect the decision to get married and have kids, people on the other side of the coin (most of us on this blog!!) do tend to get the shaft from the married with kid folk!!

    Anyway, just a quick comment on the issue!!

    Thanks again Sylvia for an excellent blog!!!

    Take Care all and catch you on the web!!

    Steve Timm

  7. Pingback: Childfree Blog Post: 17 Truths About the Childfree by Sylvia D. Lucas | Childfree Reflections

  8. I think the reason some CF people “undersell” the childfree lifestyle is they don’t like the idea/implication that their lives are perfect and 100% bliss because they don’t have kids. And that IS a falsehood. There is not one person who lives a life of absolutely zero stress, so that assumption would understably upset people. It reminds me of how people would tell me I have nothing to be depressed about because of my age if I mentioned I had depression. It’s a baseless assumption made by knowing merely one fact and nothing more.

  9. I technically ‘want’ kids, but have decided not to have them. Lucky for me, my husband supports me in my decision. I don’t think I would be the kind of mother every kid deserves. My early childhood was spattered with verbal and emotional abuse from my father and neglect from my mother. Neither were ‘emotionally available’ and the nurture factor in my family was a 1 on a scale of 1-10. Its not that I’m incapable of giving and receiving love, I mean, my husband is wonderful and we are very emotionally close.

    Surely I would try my best with a child, but I really feel that I would inadvertently mess him/her up, whether by yelling when they disobeyed, or by being avoidant and uninterested in going to their soccer games, or by being overly critical when they made dumb decisions as a teen. etc. I’ve had lots of nanny jobs, and I see how all kids disobey… on a DAILY basis… and this… I could not handle. I just don’t like how little control I would have over a child. I don’t tolerate disrespect well.

    I think I’m meant to just have a dog.

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