Reddit Forum Provides Intimate Glimpse of the Childfree Choice

reddit logoLast week, I noticed that a lot of my pageviews were hits from Reddit.com. When I clicked on the link, I found a childfree “sub-reddit” where people who don’t have children or don’t want them post and/or comment on links to articles, images, or videos they find online that are related to anything “childfree.”

I noticed also that many younger people who visit this sub-reddit are unsure about whether they want kids, are just realizing they don’t want kids, or they’ve known it for some time and are trying to come to terms with it (that is, they’re trying to feel okay about it even though society, friends, and family often apply the kind of pressure that makes them feel selfish or unnatural for choosing to not have kids).

Reddit readers also have the option to post their own notes and receive comments from a supportive community. I found this note today by “GOPACKGO”:

I don’t want kids….I have never even had the feeling inside me that I wanted kids…really never. Also I really never have had the feeling to get married.

I consider myself very scientific based.

One other reason I don’t want kids is that I think I am a horrible person to pass on genetic material.

I am blind in one eye and have horrible vision in the other (getting worse every year)

I have a disease that significantly increases my risk of cancer Neurofibromatosis

So Reddit please help me feel not weird…..I am a 27 Male.

And this one by “bubbletrousers“:

In all honesty, I’m not sure whether I’ll have kids someday or not. Just curious to hear your viewpoints, if you’re willing to share.

If you visit the “mommit” subforum, you don’t see things like this. No one says, “I’m thinking of having children, but I’m not sure. What were your reasons for having kids?” or even “I’m not sure whether I’ll have kids someday or not. I’m curious to hear your viewpoints.” Indecision doesn’t appear there–instead, you’re more likely to see questions about in-progress pregnancies and childcare, or the sharing of posts or pictures other moms will understand and appreciate, like this one:

I know it’s wrong of me but I get a little satisfied by this. I am a SAHM and my DH lets it slip sometimes how ‘easy’ he thinks I have it. And I love it when I am upstairs doing something and he is watching our 2 and a half year old son downstairs and I hear him say things like ‘omg you are destroying EVERYTHING. Why don’t you sit still?!’ Why are you on the table?! I was just trying to put insert random thing away’. I love it lol

I’m not discounting the difficulties parents (especially new parents) have. As someone without children, everything about having them seems infinitely more complicated than not having them. Husband and wife become mother and father, so they have to figure out not only how to maintain their relationship, but how to be parents together at the same time. If there’s a fight, they can’t just fight, because they have to worry about whether baby will overhear it and be permanently damaged. And if the parents ultimately decide they’re unhappy as a couple, breaking up is a much bigger deal than it would be with no child to consider.

But questioning whether to have children, and feeling the need to defend not just the decision once it’s made, but the fact that you’re even thinking about not having kids, can also be an extraordinarily stressful time for many people, and that stress can lead to anger, resentment, and even feelings of isolation. After all, the percentage of people who don’t want kids is still relatively small compared to those who have them (whether or not they planned to have them), so it’s easy to feel alone, or like you’re perceived as a freak of nature (which often provokes the “fight” instinct).

I was glad to find this sub-reddit and to see that so many people making lasting choices about their lives have found a place where they can meet up with others making the same choices. There are already few online forums for people who are living their lives without children (DINKlife.com, The ChildFree Life, and NoKidding.net, for instance), but there’s always room for more, and the people on the childfree sub-reddit offer thoughtful support and share a wide range of personal experiences that could easily benefit others working through a tough decision.

_____

What would you say to GOPACKGO and bubbletrousers?

Here’s what I would say:

To GOPACKGO:

You’re not weird.

Also, you say first that you don’t want kids, and you follow up with the reasons you think you shouldn’t have them (disease, blindness). Don’t feel like you have to defend your choice by explaining, “It would be bad for the child, anyway,” unless your decision is truly one that’s being made to protect a future child. You don’t have to want kids, and there’s no reason to defend your choice to anyone. Discuss it with a partner if you ever choose to have one, yes, of course. But defend it? There’s no more reason for you to defend your desire to not have kids than there is for someone to defend their desire to have them.

To bubbletrousers:

You never responded to your own post with what’s going through your own mind about having or not having kids. As you work through your decision, please know that the only factor you should consider is what’s right for you. What your friends, family, and even society say is irrelevant, because they won’t be the ones taking care of your child if you have one. Best of luck.

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8 thoughts on “Reddit Forum Provides Intimate Glimpse of the Childfree Choice

  1. Reddit is fantastic! I get tons of traffic from them on my blog as well, and the Reddit crowd always has some pretty hilarious things to say about my posts. I think GOPACKGO is pretty great for taking into consideration what he’d be passing down. Many people in his situation choose to adopt, but there are some that are so dead-set on creating a mini-me, they don’t care what genetic traits they might be passing on.

    1. Excellent point. I completely agree that it’s important to consider such things, and I admire those who recognize that it could cause complications for a child. It’s important to emphasize as well, though, that there’s no reason to feel they’re necessary defenses, or that “I don’t want kids” isn’t enough. (Like when people who don’t want kids preface their “I don’t want kids” with “I really love kids, really really, but…”)

    2. “but there are some that are so dead-set on creating a mini-me, they don’t care what genetic traits they might be passing on”

      THIS. It bothers me so much that people that do this….. do this….. You get what i mean? It really really gets me.

  2. Renij

    My husband and I have been married 22 years and are childless by choice. Last Christmas our niece and nephew came to visit and asked us why we didn’t have kids. I didn’t know what to say to them. My husband didn’t skip a beat, he said “just lucky I guess!”

  3. Jetski Owner

    Because of my personal choice not to have children, I used to love /r/childfree, but the constant hating on children and parents can get to you.

    In my case it started to negatively affect how I acted towards moms, dads and their kids in real life.

    So I left.

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