Today’s post by team writer Laura LaVoie introduces new terms for this site. After reviewing comments from NotMoms online and off: “child-free” will be used as an umbrella descriptor (a hard thing to find!) for all women without children. “Childfree” will address women who made a deliberate choice; “childless” will be used in references to NotMoms by-chance. This vocabulary reflects readers’ preferences as we know them, so please, share yours, too! –kmw
“I’m way too selfish to have a child.” This is a common phrase thrown around by the childfree-by-choice communities. I propose that we stop perpetuating this stereotype if we ever want to be taken seriously by society.
See, having children is still considered “normal.” When you don’t have children, whether you’re single or in a partnership, it is considered abnormal. Even childfree people understand the biology of this. Friends and strangers alike make awkward comments whether it is out of ignorance or insecurity:
“Oh, you’ll change your mind.” Or, “You’ll understand better when you have kids.” Or even, “You won’t know how to really love someone until you have a child.”
Sometimes people don’t even recognize the difference between child-free by-choice and by-chance and make unwelcomed comments that can really hurt a woman or a couple who have tried but had to eventually make the call. Then sometimes, the comments change to: “There is always adoption.” While the heart might be in the right place, the words cut like shards of glass.
Some of the onus falls on those of us without children. We continue the cycle by making statements like “I’m too selfish to have a kid.” Let’s break down that statement.
What does it mean to be too selfish for anything? Certainly, when someone is selfish it means simply that they want everything for themselves. What are the deeper implications?
What we are saying to childful women is that we don’t feel that their lives are as rich as ours. We don’t believe that they can do all the wonderful things that our lives allow us to do because we don’t have kids. They can’t drop everything and travel. They can’t afford the nicest and newest gadgets. We are judging their choices for having children. So,why should we be surprised when they make defensive comments back to us?
Childfree women often say they feel like they have to justify their choice. We often feel like we are the ones on the defensive, but the conversation is give and take. The way we choose to describe our lifestyles is enough to make someone lash out at us if they feel our words are judging their choices as well.
This world shouldn’t be made up by two kinds of people; Moms and NotMoms. We are all women and we should support each other rather than constantly feel like we are fighting a battle.
It isn’t selfishness that made some of us decide not to have children. Childfree-by-choice women decided not to have children because we didn’t want children. Let’s change the way we engage in conversations with one another so no one has to feel judged.