Complete Without Kids

Exploring all facets of childfree living.

Direct and Subtle Pressure to Have Children—How Can a Childfree Wannabe Cope?

The whole topic of childfree living is controversial, and becoming more so all the time. Just this week a woman submitted a comment on my book, Complete Without Kids, saying she thinks it's ridiculous that a book had to be written on the subject. Read More

Blog is spot-on

Dr. Walker,
Thank you so much for creating this blog. I have been following it for a few weeks now and find your essays to be spot-on. I feel they are equally aapplicable to males such as myself.

I, too, am childfree - and plan on remaining so. Ironically, those of us who choose not to have kids are labled as selfish - even before they have taken the time to listen to why someone doesn't want to have kids. There are many reasons, but a few that come to the top of my head are:

* I cannot afford them (I see this as being kind to a child that will never be, and not selfish)

* I do not have the time or patience to raise a child (more power to those who do, by my life script is different).

* Constant worry. I would constantly worry about whether my child was harming someone else, or whether someone else was harming my child (think sexual predators, bullying in high school, etc).

Anyway, these are just a few of the reasons that come to mind.

I have a question: Do you feel the pressures / stigmas on being childfree are the same for men as they are for women?

I feel that for men, being childfree usually carries the (false) characterization that somehow you have not fully 'grown up.' Oddly, I see many fathers who could use a healthy dose of maturity - and sometimes I find myself wondering why some of them believed they were ready to be fathers. I think some simply caved in to social pressure or spousal pressure to procreate. Bad idea, but I know that is the case for manny of them.

And, as you correctly pointed out, the media is full of inaccurate images and themes about the ease of raising kids - particularly infant-related products. The parents are shown well-rested, smiling and happy as can be. The reality (in most cases) is usually the opposite.

Have you ever read the "Living Single" blog here on Psychology Today? It is hosted by Dr. Bella DePaulo. I see many themes between your blog and hers being consistent.

Childfree Men

Thank you for your comments. I'm intrigued now about what you mentioned about childfree men being viewed as not having fully grown up. Even thinking about Hollywood actors who don't have children, such as Hugh Grant. These men are certainly portrayed as either bad boys who party and are playboys or are immature in general. It's an interesting thing to think about and a great example of how unfairly many of us without children are treated.

Only Child!

Thank you for this article. I feel the parental pressure acutely as I am an only child -- I don't have kids, my parents don't have grandkids. It's hard, since they apply the pressure with offhand comments about "when I have kids", or "I hope you'll have kids", or even "when there's a new Easter basket" fairly often. But I know that this is my life and I can't make a decision that affects my entire future based on what someone else wants. I want to say to them, if you want a kid around so badly, go volunteer for a day care service and leave me alone! But oh the drama that would bring...
Anyway, this blog is a delight to me. The more childfree people I reach out to, the better I feel. Having a community of people who share my values and lifestyle is so important.

Although I'm not an only

Although I'm not an only child, my husband is, so until recently we've been under the same kind of pressure from my in-laws. I've gone so far as to suggest to my FIL that they should volunteer or become foster parents. After that, he backed off (or at least he learned not to make those comments around me). Kudos to you for standing strong, and keep putting your foot down.

Thank you!

I really appreciated the content of this article. My husband is a Naval officer and there is an INCREDIBLE amount of pressure to have children, and more specifically, have children at the most opportune times (i.e. between deployments, thus maximizing the service member's time home with the child). It has been an incredibly painful process to continually tell people (and watch the sweeping judgment mount their brow)that we are wanting to remain child free. Sometimes, I'm looked at like a horrible military spouse or perhaps it's thought that giving up the mobility of my career for the sake of moving several times isn't enough of a sacrifice.

I'd also like to interject that it's an incredibly invasive question to ask others - meaning their desire/ability to have children. What about people who are not medically able to conceive, have or carry children? It doesn't seem like this is a consideration when I'm asked about kids probably 5-6 times per week.

Thank you for posting this article. It honestly gives me some sort of philosophical respite in an otherwise unforgiving world.

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Ellen Walker, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living By Choice Or By Chance.


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