Childless vs. Childfree
The term “childless” refers to anyone who wants a child but is unable to have one. The term “childfree” refers to anyone who has consciously chosen not to have children. I am childfree.
It’s really no surprise I chose not to have children. All the signs were there when I was growing up. Like any little girl I had dolls, but I don’t remember playing with them much. By the time I was in junior high, I happily unloaded all my dolls at a garage sale. I loved my Barbies and played with them all the time. Except for the baby Barbie. I had a tendency to put the baby in its cradle and set it off to the side. My Barbies were career women and the baby wasn’t a part of the storyline.
When I was little, family members would often make comments to me about how I would get married and have children when I grew up. My response to that was always “Do I have to? Why do I have to get married? Why do I have to have kids?” Because that’s what society expects of women. We grow up, get married, and make babies. But more and more women — women like myself — are challenging that norm. A 2012 National Health Statistics report found that 43% of American women ages 15-44 did not have children, and of that number 6% had no children by choice.
They Mean Well
I’ve taken a lot of grief over the years for my choice, some of it from well-meaning individuals, others who were more judgmental. Here is a list of my favorites.
But how do you KNOW you don’t want children? This one can be a little irritating. I know I don’t want children because I know myself. I have never, ever — EVER — looked at a baby and said “I want one.” Not. Ever. I’ve never felt envy when I saw friends and family with their children. I never heard my biological clock ticking. It was always blissfully silent.
You don’t like children. So not true! I may not have wanted kids of my own, but I couldn’t wait for my siblings to start having kids so I could be an aunt. And I LOVE being an aunt. I have 10 nieces and nephews and never miss a birthday or Christmas. Spending quality time with with them is one of my favorite things to do.
You’ll change your mind when you meet the right man. Nope. Not happening. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years and he is the love of my life. And I still don’t want children. My maternal instincts have not kicked in. My biological clock is still quiet.
Who will take care of you when you get old? Seriously?! I plan on taking care of myself, thank you very much. I’m making good lifestyle choices now so I can live independently well into my retirement.
You’ll change your mind when you get older. I heard this one a lot when I was younger. Again, I know myself. Let me put this another way: As much as some women know they DO want children, that’s how much I know I DO NOT want children.
Still Childfree. Still happy.
I’m 47 now and I still have no regrets about my decision to not have children. Zero. None. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, or that my life is lacking in some way. I have a wonderful, loving relationship, two spoiled dogs, a beautiful home and a fun, challenging career. My parents, siblings and extended family are an amazing, lovable bunch and I have a good group of friends, some who have been a part of my life for decades.
If you have chosen not to have children, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about your decision. Your life is your own. Live it how you want and do what’s best for you. We live in a big world full of opportunities to create our ideal life. Having children is only one of the options, and there is nothing wrong with you if that option is not for you.
For those of you who have children, or are planning to have children, don’t worry about us childfree types. Don’t pressure us to change our minds or tell us we’re making a mistake. Be supportive and understanding. Sure, some women will change their minds. But for those of us that don’t, just know we’ve made the right decision for us and we’re perfectly happy. Our version of happy just looks a little different than yours.