When It Comes to Judgment, the Child-Free Just Might Have It Easy

Over the years, I’ve read many blogs and articles written by child-free women, and what never fails is that at some point, a child-free woman will express her anger or irritation at having been judged by someone who has had (or wants) children.

There have been articles (written by women) that say child-free women make poor employees, and women without children have been called selfish, freaks, sex-haters, cold, and any number of other flattering terms people use to describe the kind of woman who doesn’t want to procreate (you’ll find the comprehensive list in a Psychology Today article by Ellen Walker, Ph.D).

While I’ll not deny we child-free types do face some judgment and criticism, and although, as women, we’re marginalized when it comes to choosing the best juices (“As a mom, I want to know my juice is all natural,” one commercial advertised – do we non-moms not want natural juice, too?) and receiving special labels (“Coma Mom Defies the Odds” a recent morning show episode headlined – is she somehow special because she is a mom, and not just a woman, who defied the odds?), I think we have it easier than moms do – and not just because we don’t task ourselves with raising children.

Please don’t misunderstand; I know women who are uncertain about whether they want to have children, or who have just realized they’ll never want them, have a tough time, for a while. Deciding not to have children means being something of a social outcast (every woman I know, who is my age or older, has children), it means difficulty finding a life partner (it’s actually surprising how many men feel strongly about having children), and it could even mean periodically wondering whether being child-free was the right choice. (How many decisions – from what to eat for breakfast to the degree that cost too much money – aren’t second-guessed at one time or another?)

Of course, the child-free also have to deal with guilt trips from parents and in-laws who want grandchildren, the constant barrage of “Aren’t you afraid you’ll regret it?” and “What happens when you’re old and alone?” questions, and feeling unnatural, in general (because our society says it’s “natural” to want, and have, children).

Even so. I’d much rather suffer whatever judgment I might receive as a child-free woman than what I suspect I’d have to deal with if I were a mother.

For instance:


Other questions people ask about mothers (and many of them make the morning show segments):

– Is it okay for mothers to have a glass of wine during playdates with other mothers?
– Should mothers breastfeed?
– Should mothers breastfeed in public?
– Should mothers give their children milk?
– Should older mothers be allowed to have more children?
– Should mothers have more than one child?

And that’s just conversation in the media. Mothers also have to deal with other mothers. Other mothers, who are certain they’re raising their own children the right way, are the first to criticize the way other mothers raise their children.

“Really? You let them eat that?”
“Really? You let them watch that?”
“Really? You let them listen to that?”
“Oh, you don’t make him do his homework as soon as he comes home?”
“You let her boyfriend go into her bedroom?”
“You don’t go to every single soccer practice?”
“You let him have coffee? Really? At fifteen?”
“You bought condoms for her? Really? At fifteen?”
“You let her wear that?”
“You don’t let her wear that?”
“You went OUT?”

We all have our issues where children (or a lack thereof) are concerned, but I would much rather have gone through my years of non-mom guilt, two divorces, and pregnancy fears as a child-free woman than to have to hear one word about how I was raising my child.

And I’m pretty certain mothers have to deal with this for the full eighteen years. There are “right” ways to care for infants, toddlers, pre-teens, teens…

Related Posts:

Our Country’s Psychotic Obsession with Motherhood Is Psychotic

After the Vasectomy: “Um…Um…”



9 thoughts on “When It Comes to Judgment, the Child-Free Just Might Have It Easy

  1. Liz

    On the whole I think a woman, parent or child-free is judged much more and much more harshly than her male counterparts, no matter what choices she makes. It sucks.

  2. I have kids and am certain I made the right choice. Personally, the child-free people in my life are quite selfish, but that’s just my experience. I can’t claim all child-free people (men or women) are selfish because I don’t know them all. Also, I am judged on the daily for what I don’t (breastfeed, coddle) and do (let them cry it out, go to work) do as a mom. Who cares? People can kiss my…well, you know what they can kiss. I don’t know you, so I’m not sure if swears are allowed here or not. What I do know is everyone is entitled to their own life, and the haters can suck it.

    1. Liliput9

      Although you are being judged, you pass judgment on those childfree people around you. Haven’t you learn your lesson? You can kiss their you know what. Why are they selfish? Because they are not sacrificing like yu are? It’s your own choice to sacrifice, not theirs! When people call childfree people selfish, it seems that they resent what they are missing. if they feel rewarded for their sacrifice, why the hell would they label those who don’t receive such rewards as selfish. Perhaps because the reward is not big enough?
      How can someone who doesn’t neglect others who are in need be called selfish even if he wants all money or all time only for himself? It’s not that these children already exist? It’s his own evaluation that his life would be better without kids for time, money etc . People are not victims to sacrifice for things THEY think are not rewarding or are not rewarding enough.

    2. Maya

      Can you see the patter here? You are called selfish for your decisions regarding child raising, with which you disagree, and you are calling your childfree friends selfish. Isn’t it that both you and your critics just can’t accept that not all the people are supposed to be like you? With all due respect,you are also being hypocritical.

  3. Susan

    As a person who has had CFers from four generations of my family, from my great-great aunt (great-grandmother’s sister; I can never remember if that’s one “great” or two), to an uncle, a brother, and now a son, I think the claim that “CFers are selfish” is pure nonsense. The way I see it, those who make such claims don’t like the extra freedom that CFers have, and some may even strongly resent it.

    Similar negative judgments are often made about DAO (done after one) parents like me, so I totally get where CFers are coming from. The only difference in the negative judgments are the words that are used. In this one area, I feel that CFers and DAOs share something; being targets of often rude and insulting comments from others who think they have the “right” to tell us how we should live.

    1. Liliput

      You are absolutely right. They feel like they are victims because they are not enjoying parenthood enough or they are not finding their sacrifice worth it. SO the only thing they have is to elevate their worth above the worth of others in their own eyes and in the eyes of others so that they feel somewhat better for living the lives they resent. There is absolutely no other explanation, because childfree people don’t do harm to any single person.(What did I ever did to them except for living the life that they want but can’t have (this excludes prospective grandmothers are usually simply selfish for wanting their children to sacrifice their happiness for them).
      Just to ask you, CF-ers are childfree people? What are DAO?

  4. Pingback: How Do You Really Feel About Child-Free Women?


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