The Rift Between Parents and Childfree Adults: Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Read More
Until I went through a "pregnancy" scare a few years ago. By the time I told my mother the danger had passed, but her face LIT UP at the very possibility that I could be pregnant. That was a little frightening in itself.
Right now I'm celibate, until a doctor who will perform ligation on a childless woman can be located. +2 years without sex, because every doctor thinks I need "counseling", and won't perform the procedure on me. I'm 36, with money to pay, so WTF?
Come to the Bay Area. You will find what you seek.
I don't have any children and I lead a very subdued quiet life. I have a neighbor who thinks she is better than everyone else. She's very materialistic even though she doesn't work her husband buys her everything she wants and then some, while he does without.
This woman had a baby a few months ago. Prior to reading some Psychology Today posts regarding good-without-kids I would have felt obligated to congratulate her and then put up with this woman's passive negative comments about my lifestyle. Instead, I'm just not. If this lady wants to have kids that is just fine, but I no longer am buying into the necessity to fuel her superiority flames.
I was a little blown away when we told people. I'm not a baby person and I've never understood this obsession with babies (babies thankfully grow up...why do we obsess over the first 2 years of a person's life?)
I knew my mom-in-law would be over the moon (the first and likely only grandchild), but the other people who have found out have been so thrilled it's very weird. It must be a society thing - you elevate something really mundane to this precious miraculous status.
I think the rift is really a subsection of (very vocal) parents.
As the last person to have a kid in our group of friends i've dealt with the: no time for you anymore(you would understand if you had a kid), your life must be terrible(as you don't have a child), you had better enjoy your life now(you will have to give everything up when you have a kid). To be honest I think some of them are now gleeful that I'm pregnant since now my life can be as miserable as they think theirs are. This is a subset of mothers, the women that thought their lives were going to be complete with children and then got a shock because children involve work. They decided to be martyrs and give up "everything" for their kids and then they go on facebook and complain about it.
The "other" parents are too busy with their kids to snark at you, they are traveling, working(the horror of putting your kid in daycare), taking their kids out or *gasp* getting a sitter and going out with their "child-free" friends.
I don't know why people like putting others down to make themselves feel better, but the "rift" would go away if we could take the internet away from those sorts of people.
Way to go! Whaddya do for an encore?
The first reason is that there are always people who have to feel superior by tearing the other person's choices down. Both sides are guilty of that, but these are the people who will forever stoke the fire. There are also people who think they know what's best for YOU. Also exist on both sides and will stoke the fire forever.
The second reason is that understanding parenthood requires going through it. You can read about it, you can watch other people do it, you can talk to other parents, but until you are a parent you don't know what it really is. You won't know how this incredibly complex lifelong process will impact YOU. There truly is a gap in understanding not because of mental capacity or lack of empathy, but because understanding requires experience. To a lesser degree the lack of understanding runs the other way as well. While parents have been childfree at some point, the priority shift is so dramatic that they loose that insight. This comes from some of my own experiences on both sides of the fence. I've been childfree till 35 and lived plenty since then.
Moreover, childfree and parents are not some mythical blocks that march in lockstep. We, as people, are pretty bad at understanding each other even without these differences. :)
"You won't know how this incredibly complex lifelong process will impact YOU."
False. Some people have enough self-awareness to know how parenthood would affect them. Besides simply not being interested, part of why I'm childfree is I know if I became a parent, either me or the child would be dead before the kid's first birthday.
And all not parents have been on both sides. Someone who became a parent at the age of 15 will never know what it's like to be a childfree adult.
Parents have never been childfree. Childfree = Never had 'em, never will.
Here is my take on the rift...
All breeders hate us, each and every one of them.
Because late at night, when no one is looking, no one is listening, they
look at themselves in the bathroom mirror. Haggard (and I don't mean
Merle), sleep-deprived. They woke up in a cold sweat, realizing, maybe
for the first time, that haven't had a shred of fun in TEN FUCKING
YEARS and they are finally, FINALLY thinking to themselves "I have
ruined my life. I have made my own living hell while the people who were
smart enough to avoid this are out having fun, going to Costa Rica,
having beach parties in San Diego, conventions in Virginia, trips,
shows, toys, a new computer whenever they want, lowered housing costs,
you name it.
Even if all the material things are eliminated, we are free of the hell
they've saddled their lives with. We will never deal with the hell they
They get the entitlements we all bitch about, they get every possible
Yet for all that, their lives are a living hell. They've mindlessly
bought a bill of goods and now the warranty has run out, the product is
defective and they're stuck with it. They're the ones who have to keep
their kiddiez chained to themselves because they're all afraid that the
next Richard Allen Davis (or boogeyman du jour) is lurking around the
corner in the bathrooom, waiting to snatch li'l shitleigh and turn them
into semen-stained hamburger.
They're the ones who have to wince, every time the phone rings, once the
kiddiez become teenagers because they're afraid it's the cops saying
their vermin's in jail, dead, missing, been in an accident or some other
They're the ones who are going to not only raise their own stinking
vermin, but in a growing number of cases, raise their stinking vermin's
stinking vermin because verminella got knocked up by some Tommy Lee
lookalike and is strung out on meth.
Childfree has one accepted definition among the childfree: Never had 'em, never will.
Anything else is childless.
There is a rift because breeders insist on making every god-damned square inch of the universe into their child's personal space.
Then there is the money the childed steal from the childfree in the form of higher taxes to subsidize breeders.
Those two factors alone make me want to stay as far away from children and breeders as I possibly can. Better off without 'em.
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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.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?