It has been said that the child-free lifestyle is one of society’s last-standing taboos.
As a member of the child-free community myself, I was surprised to learn that many people still disapprove of people making the decision to never have children. There are a lot of questions and assumptions about the community. Here are ten common lies about child-free people and why they're wrong.
1. They hate children.
It is true that some child-free people do not enjoy children and don’t have a desire to interact with them, but to say that the entire community hates children is highly inaccurate. Many of us have children in our lives that we love a lot, and most of us care about the welfare and future of children in general. You probably won’t find many child-free individuals who will help you change a diaper, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be present in their lives in a different capacity.
2. They want everyone to stop having children.
The beauty of personal decisions is that we all get to make our own. Anyone who wants children and is able to take care of them should certainly be able to have them.
3. They won’t have anyone to take care of them when they are old.
Many people think that children are a way to insure against growing old alone. Many people also find that, after spending much of their income raising children, there is little left for retirement, and frequently their adult children have little or no interest in keeping them company. Instead of spending money on diapers, toys and tuition, child-free individuals can invest heavily in retirement plans for decades, ensuring high-quality senior care for themselves.
4. They are selfish.
It's not selfish to be child-free. It's selfish to bring a child into the world that you may not be able to love or support. It’s selfish to make such a massive decision without seriously considering if you’re prepared to devote your entire being to that path. Having children is a MAJOR decision that you can never be undone, and it is a good thing that society is becoming more intentional about when or if they want to have children.
5. They would love their children if they had them.
This is a treacherous assumption to make. Many people have had children under this assumption and are forever filled with regret and resentment for themselves, their partner and even their child. If someone tells you that they do not want to be a parent, please believe them. There is nothing more unfortunate than a child born into a family where it is unwanted, unloved or uncared for.
6. They will regret not having children.
There are plenty of people who have had very happy and fulfilled lives without children, and they have no regrets. Alternately, there are plenty of people who have said after their children are raised and out of the house that although of course they love their children, if they had to do it over, they may have chosen a different path. Every journey is unique, and it’s vital that we all consider our options instead of simply having children because that's the “normal” thing to do.
7. They are just young, and will change their minds.
No, they won't. Many CF people choose to take part in medical procedures such as vasectomies or hysterectomies to permanently prevent chance of pregnancy. It’s not “maybe later.” It’s a no.
8. They have no true meaning in life.
Child-free people can devote their lives fully to anything that they choose, such as scientific discoveries, improving their communities, building and growing businesses, writing books, making art, become a real estate mogul, build empires, founding nonprofit organizations or changing lives. This article highlights a number of highly accomplished women who chose not to have children.
9. They are all "crazy cat ladies".
Because child-free people are lonely, right? Wrong. Child-free adults can have much more active social lives than parents do, as well as unique hobbies and interests. Many of them certainly do have pets, however, some CF individuals are opposed to taking care of life in general, which is why they don’t want to be parents. Some people do not want to be caretakers at all, for children or animals.
10. They are only child-free because they physically can’t reproduce.
Most child-free people are physically able to have children, they simply choose not to. Most child-free people are child-free by choice, but certainly not all. As time goes on, the community will probably grow larger as more people realize that it is acceptable to not have children for no reason other than that they simply do not want to, and also as reliable contraceptive and family planning services become available to more people.
Every child-free person is different. Although we exist as a community, you will find people on all sides of the spectrum regarding the aforementioned myths. One size does not fit all, so it's never safe to make assumptions about why a person decides to not have children. We all have different preferences, and different reasons why we decide to be child-free. One thing that the child-free community can agree on is that it would be a beautiful world when all everyone has the freedom and opportunity to choose their own path.
Aubrea Ashe is an accountant, sustainable fashion advocate, and author of the book “83 Reasons I Don’t Want A Baby: Deal With It."