There are two kinds of childfree people. Those who are often referred to as “childfree-by-choice” are those individuals who have chosen to remain childfree for any number of reasons. Those who are often referred to as “childfree-by-chance” always thought they wanted children and had planned on having them, but never did, also for any number of reasons.
Do these two groups of people have anything in common? Can childfree-by-choice people and childfree-by-chance people get along with one another?
For starters, I should tell you that I consider myself to be childfree-by-choice. I have never had a maternal instinct, and I have never wanted children. There are people (mostly parents, I’m guessing) who believe that the two distinct groups of childfree people cannot comfortably be friends
Yes, we probably feel differently about having children. But, would someone say that an “on purpose parent” and an “accidental parent” wouldn’t get along? There are plenty of parents out there who didn’t plan on having kids, but it happened to them anyway. I doubt anyone would ever say that those parents wouldn’t have anything in common with the parents who carefully planned their pregnancies.
Today’s Guest Post is by a 30-something professional living with with her dog in a west suburb of Cleveland OH. In addition to leading a chapter of No Kidding!, she works as a case manager for a non-profit organization, and blogs at DINKSChildfree.wordpress.com about her childfree life, her recent divorce and getting back into the dating world. She loves to spend her days working out, reading and checking out local bars and restaurants.
I wondered, do childfree people have more in common with each other that could bring us together more closely than say, childfree people and parents?
Let’s start with discussing childfree and parents. What do the childfree and parents have in common (besides the obvious – we are both human, we both might like the same movies, etc.)?
Well, in my opinion and experience, not a whole lot.
Our lifestyles are completely different. My main responsibility (other than my bills, which my parent friends would also have) is my dog, who does need to be walked and fed, but who can also be left home alone for long periods of time, sleeps throughout the night (most of the time), doesn’t need diapers, expensive daycare or clothing.
My parent friends’ main responsibility is their children, who cannot be left home alone, who do need expensive daycare and clothing, and who do not always sleep through the night.
Me, I do not need a nap during the day, but if I wanted to take one, I could. My parent friends probably do need a nap during the day, but they often do not have the time for one.
If I want to, I can go out with my friends on a Tuesday night. All I have to do is go home to feed my dog and let her out, and then I’m off having beers, for as long as I want. If my parent friends want to go out on a Tuesday night, they have to first find a babysitter, which can sometimes be impossible, and then they have to decide if they can even afford her. If, after all of that, they decide to go out, they most likely will have to leave early in order to feed the children and put them to sleep.
If I want to splurge and buy myself something nice, I can typically do that. I do not have unlimited money by any means (I work in the non-profit field after all), but unlike my parent friends, I’m not conflicted about buying for myself instead of for the little ones. (I’ve witnessed this time and time again with most of my parent friends.)
And what about conversation? How long can the childfree person listen to stories about their friend’s children? How long can the parent listen to how much fun the childfree friend had on their most recent vacation?
Basic questions: Can I truly understand why my friend can never come out for beers with me? Can she understand how I can spend so much time and money on playing on kickball, volleyball and skee ball teams and going out for beers afterwards?
As for those who are childfree-by-choice and by-chance, both groups have very similar responsibilities. They can go out any night of the week if they choose, splurge on an expensive item for themselves and only themselves. They have time to join groups and socialize. More importantly, they can understand and relate to those things about each other.
Please know that I love my parent friends very much. But, I do find myself hanging out with my childfree friends almost exclusively. When I do see my parent friends, it’s often me going to their house since they need to be home watching the children. When I see my childfree friends, we are out and about, doing things and seeing things. My parent friends would prefer to be at home with their family. They want play dates with their parent friends, they want to vacation with their parent friends. My childfree friends would prefer to be at a baseball game, a bar or a concert, surrounded by others and not worrying about children.
I don’t think there is any question about whether both sides of the childfree equation can get along with one another. I believe people who are childfree (for any reason) share a bond not unlike the one shared by people who are parents (for any reason). Others who have experienced the same circumstances, the same emotions, will always be more connected to each other than to any other group.