Go online to blogs written for or about childfree adults and you’ll see that we are, as a group, very misunderstood. Just this week I was surprised when one of my best friends told me, “Ellen you always say you’re happy with your choice to not be a mother, but your actions tell a different story. You’re always finding young people to give a helping hand to.” I laughed as I told him that, unlike a parent, I’m able to “choose” the children I give my helping hand to. I went on to explain that just because I don’t have children, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get pleasure out of being emotionally and otherwise supportive of a young person.
Later that evening, as I reflected on the conversation, I thought of more misconceptions faced by childfree adults in today’s society. Below are a few to consider.
Childfree adults are irresponsible/immature and not able to be a good role model with children:
I’m never sure if it’s true that people are thinking this about me or if it’s just my own paranoia, but I get the sense that when it comes to spending time with children, most parents would rather entrust another parent than an adult who doesn’t have kids. There’s a belief that if you don’t have children, you couldn’t possibly know how to make wise decisions for a child, especially in a situation of potential danger or morality. Who knows, I might let him or her have ice cream for dinner! What I’ve discovered as a psychologist is that knowing how to responsibly care for a child is unrelated to whether or not one has procreated. Think back to your own experience of childhood and you’ll recall that some of the parents in your life (yours and your friends’) were super, while others did a lousy job.
Childfree adults are not nurturing:
I wrote a blog last year on ways to meet your natural need to nurture other that through parenting. The response was overwhelming! I got messages from parents and also childfree adults letting me know that not everyone has the need to nurture. It was learning experience for me to realize that my own misconceptions on the topic. The bottom line is that the need to nurture is unrelated to whether or not one is a parent.
Childfree adults’ lives are not complete:
The title of my book and blog is Complete without Kids, and I truly believe that for most childfree adults, our lives are indeed complete. I watch parents and see that their lives are dominated by the demands of childrearing (which takes as much as 8 hours a day over the course of 18 years). That’s a lot of time spent making lunches, supervising homework, monitoring activities like video games, computer time, and TV, doing laundry, etc. My life is filled with other activities that many parents don’t have any time for now, including reading novels, going for regular runs, making wonderful home cooked meals, and going to bed at 9:00 so I can wake up refreshed and ready for work the next day.
Childfree adults are genetically flawed:
Many people believe that a primary life stage is that of childrearing, and still for the majority of adults it is. But this is changing! Even now, one in five women reach the end of childrearing years without being a mom. I predict that these numbers are on the increase, as they have been over the past few decades, and with good advances in birth control, both with availability and cost, there are sure to be fewer unplanned pregnancies. Plus, more women will delay motherhood to the point in which they are unable to get pregnant and others will realize as time goes by that they don’t really want to have kids—that parenting doesn’t fit in well with the life they’ve created for themselves.
Childfree adults hate kids:
It’s a fact that some childfree folks find children to be annoying and they do whatever is necessary to stay away from them. But for many of us, it’s a case-by-case scenario. Some children are fun and others truly are best avoided. Even most parents would take this position when it comes to hanging out with kids.
Childfree adults secretly feel distressed about not having children:
Believe it or not parents, we do not look at you with your children or listen to you tell your soccer field stories and feel sad, regretting that we did not become parents. The common reaction for most childfree adults is relief that we didn’t allow happenstance to put us in a parenting role. It’s a fact that over 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, so many children are being born with no forethought of whether or not the parent truly wants to have this life responsibility. It’s also true that many couple start a family because they think this is what’s expected of them.
If you’re a childfree adult, what other misconceptions have people had about you?
Photo by Graeme Weatherston: Freedigitalphotos.net