It’s the busy time of the year for families, while many of us who are not parents have too much time on our hands. This is especially true for childfree adults who live far from family. I’ve coped with the abundance of free time in a variety of ways through the years, including baking for colleagues, reading, enjoying time in coffee shops, and going skiing. It’s a time when even those of us who feel good about our childfree status can have some twangs of pain, thinking what it must be like to enjoy a small child during the Christmas season. How have you coped?
There’s a myth that seems to be growing, as childfree adults begin to come together for support and to voice our views. This myth is that folks without kids hate kids and don’t want to have anything to do with children. In my experience with talking to childfree adults, I’ve found that many of them enjoy being around children in a variety of ways, either in the role of aunt or uncle or professionally. I find it frustrating that non-parents who want to work with children are often viewed with suspicion. How could we know how to interact appropriately? We might be a poor influence? We might give them the idea that choosing to not have children themselves is an option when they become adults? We might even be pedophiles? I’d love to hear some comments from folks on this topic. If there were more opportunities for people who like kids to have them in their lives, without having to actually bear the children themselves, perhaps more adults would choose a childfree route.
My book, Complete without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance, features a number of interviews with folks who are childfree. Most of us without kids have a story to tell about being discriminated against. I recall a young woman patient who worked in a deli and was unable to get Halloween night off to go to a party because the parent employees were given it so that they could go trick or treating with their children. I also was approached by a university professor who complained that the parent colleagues in his department were given first choice of teaching schedules each semester. He was planning to seek legal advice on the matter, because his less formal complaints had been ignored. I’d love to hear others’ stories on this topic.
I’ve often been curious about the data indicating that women earn so much less than men for comparable jobs, and my thought has been that it’s related to being moms. It’s only logical that, once a child comes along, it’s harder to be 100 percent focusing on a career, giving the hours and emotional energy it takes to be a top player. I’ve seen it happen so often with friends and colleagues. As a rare woman psychologist in my town who doesn’t have kids, I’ve earned as much as any man in my field. It’s been a joy to not have to juggle the way I observe my colleagues with children do.
Just back from a wonderful, relaxing Caribbean cruise, which was especially great since there were only a few children on the large ship. We were frustrated, however, when we arrived for our six hour flight to Seattle to find that twin infants were seated just a couple of rows ahead of us. The family of four was given an entire row so they could spread out, despite paying for only two seats. Needless to say, these children cried throughout the flight, and mom and dad spent lots of time walking them around trying to console the screamers. My question is, should parents be able to bring small screaming children on a flight for free, when those of us who are full-paying passengers cannot relax and have a positive flying experience?
Check out this article: http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2010/11/03/letters-increase-tax-for-the-childless/ The writer suggests that childfree adults should pay more tax than those with kids, because we have more discretionary income. We use the fewest services (no kids in school, for example). I actually think that there should be a tax break for childfree adults, instead of a tax credit for kids. It just doesn’t make sense in any practical way.
Many people say that raising children is the most important experience of their lives, and that the love that one feels for a child is unmatched. As a longterm pet owner and current “mom” to two amazing dogs, I’d have to disagree totally. I believe that most humans have the need to nurture something or someone but that this need can be met in a variety of ways, including raising a pet. The emotional commitment and the bond are equally strong for many pet owners, even stronger than this is for many parents that I’ve observed. I feel quite offended when parents say that their bond and love for their children is stronger than the one I have for my pets. In my forthcoming book, Complete without Kids, I inteview a number of childfree adults who have very strong bonds to their pets and couldn’t agree with me more.
I couldn’t agree more with Fabi, that we must take bold action to protect our planet. I see a declining birthrate as a wonderful thing. What is the ideal world population that the earth can readily support? If you know the answer to this, please let me know. Making choosing to be childfree a more accepted option for young adults is a great way to accomplish both goals- reducing world population and therefore protecting our planet. We, of course, must also reduce our personal footprint by using fewer resources. Many of us are already doing so and are eager to do more in this direction. We as childfree adults need to have strong spokespeople to represent our position, to speak out for us and also for those who are sitting on the fence and unsure. The fence-sitters get nothing but pushing from society, friends, and family to procreate, so it’s up to us to let them know that they do have a choice, and it’s just as good a choice as being a parent would be.
Ellen\'s kitchen, childfree living, life without kidsToday I had a long conversation with Billie, a 25 year old childfree woman who told me that she likes to make everything from scratch, including her own bread. I shared that I too love to cook and to take lots of time in making great meals. I’ve even created a blog to document my cooking experiences. Here’s a clip of a recent meal at home.
This morning I had an interview with a young woman, age 25, who is writing a book about her decision-making process related to whether or not be have children. She spoke candidly about how all of her friends now have babies, and she is feeling subtle and not so subtle pressure from them to follow along. She expressed frustration with the lack of available literature on perhaps the most life-changing decision we make in our lives. I implored her to continue to explore this and I gave a few suggestions on how to proceed. One practical step to take is to intentionally take time to be in the homes of friends with children, for an overnight visit if possible, so that she can get a sense of what daily living is like. She should also do the same in the home of a single friend or couple who don’t have children. Ask questions of these people and use both your emotional sense and your logical self to evaluate carefully.