Childfree 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.
I 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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.