Complete Without Kids

Exploring all facets of childfree living.

Four Misconceptions About Childfree Women

Don’t jump to conclusions!

It seems unfair to generalize about women who are childfree, but just go online and you’ll come across many such stereotypes. They’re often negative and hurtful and they pit moms against their childless peers. Here are a few unfounded assumptions I came across recently.

1. Childfree women hate children

Just last week, I was in a local park doing a photo shoot for an article on childfree living, and I had my dogs with me. Two little boys came running up and wanted to greet my puppies. The photographer seemed a little surprised at how friendly and playful I was with the children, and she snapped a few photos of me with them. I often receive letters from teachers or others who work with children who say they chose their profession because it allows them to have relationships with kids – even though they have no interest in having their own. The need for affection, nurturing, and enjoyment of children is independent of parenting.

2. Childfree women secretly wish they had kids

I’ll never forget the time I told my mother-in-law about my book and she came right out and wondered aloud if I was writing it because I subconsciously wanted to be a mother. Her logic eluded me: I’ve never heard a mom expressing her love of motherhood only to be accused of secretly wishing she weren’t one. It’s psychologically healthy to embrace the life choices we’ve made; it helps us to have a greater sense of satisfaction and control over our destiny. And, of course, any life decision as major as having children or not will have its positives and negatives. Emphasizing the positives is a far cry from wishing we’d made a different decision. And misconstruing a childfree woman’s happiness as a side effect of suppressed maternal urges is just insulting.

3. Childfree adults are selfish

It’s odd how the people with the most free time for volunteering and helping out friends and family in need end up being labeled as selfish. The assumption here is that having a child results in one being less self-focused and more attuned to the needs of others. Joe O’Connor wrote in The National Post about how more and more Canadian couples are choosing to not have kids. He depicts these couples as focused on shopping and personal trainers – and oh, so self-absorbed.

4. Childfree women are less reliable at work than mothers.

Carol Sarler of the Daily Mail writes that bosses are right to distrust women who are childfree by choice. She goes on to describe the virtues of working moms over non-mothers, the latter whom she portrays as irresponsible partiers hung over and falling asleep on their computers. Her article on this topic includes a drawing showing the mom energetically working away while the childfree woman is slouched over the keyboard.

Think about the childfree women in your life, including yourself. Are these assumptions true? If not, let’s make a pledge, moms and childfree women alike, to put an end to the criticism and slamming of alternative life choices. Instead, let’s embrace our differences.

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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