The culture war between parents and those who are childfree by choice is one that is getting a lot of attention as of late. Buzzfeed published an article awhile ago, along with a video of an overwhelmed stay at home mom explaining to her Childfree friends why she never has time for them. The article sparked a heated debate, with people from both sides stridently defending their positions. Now, the same site has published an article from the other side of the fence.
As a childfree woman in my 30’s, I found the message in the video from the mom condescending, insulting, woefully ignorant, and downright incorrect. While I realize that it was meant to be humorous, that doesn’t change the fact that the assumptions this mom made about the lives of childfree people were hurtful, not to mention completely misguided. However, despite my disdain for what this mom had to say, I found myself nodding in agreement with the recent article from the other side, and I think that is the problem. There is a definite lack of communication and understanding between the two sides of this debate. So, to that end, I am going to take a leaf out of Buzzfeed’s book, and list my top most annoying things that are said to me by proud parents.
1. Do Not Bingo Us.
If you don’t know what bingoing is, this is your lucky day. It is all of the things that well- meaning parents and other kid-lovers say to us regarding our decision to be chilfree by choice. Here are a few of the most common:
“You’ll change your mind!”
“You’ll regret this after?it’s too late!”
“But I’ve always wanted grandkids!”
“Being a mom/dad is the best/most important thing you could ever do!”
While we realize that you are well- meaning when you say these things, you need to realize that all you are doing is showing a complete and utter lack of respect for our life decisions, and basically implying that not only are we incapable of running our own lives, but that our lives have less meaning simply because we choose not to become parents. Above and beyond all of that, people’s reproductive habits are simply none of your business.
2. Do Not Assume That We Are Built In Babysitters/Want To Be Involved With Your Kids.
In my experience, this is the number one reason childfree people start avoiding their former BFF’s who are now proud parents like the plague. Many childfree people are not comfortable with kids, especially in a caretaking position. Further, going to children’s parties, dance recitals, and other kid-centric activities are the stuff nightmares are made of for many of us. If you need help, feel free to ask, but don’t assume that we will be free at the drop of a hat when you need us to be, or that we are even interested at all. Many childfree people just don’t like kids. Don’t assume that your kids will be the exception, and, if/when you do ask for help, leave the door open for us to be able to say no without guilt trips and anger from you. We are not obligated to be involved with your children just by virtue of being your friend. Becoming a parent was your decision, not ours.
3. Do Not Say That We Are ‘Selfish’ For Choosing Not To Become Parents.
On the contrary, we could say the same about you. We live on a sick and dying planet that cannot support the humans it already has on it, not to mention an overburdened foster care system in the US and around the world with countless children who are waiting to be adopted. I cannot think of anything more selfish than ignoring these facts in order to pop out your own personal miniature versions of yourselves for any number of clearly self-serving reasons. Obviously, the exception to this rule would be parents who choose to adopt rather than birth their own biological children.
?4. Do Not Assume That Childfree People Live Lives Of Leisure/No Responsibility.
This is simply ignorant. Having kids is not some magical thing that makes people grow up. There are plenty of parents who lack responsibility as well, while there are plenty of childfree people with demanding jobs, volunteer work, and family responsibilities. Not having kids does NOT make us immature or irresponsible, and the assumption just smacks of disrespect. It is nothing but a backhanded way to imply that our lives have less value because we chose not to become parents.
5. Do Not Assume That We Are Okay Going On Outings With Unruly Children.
If you expect me to turn our usual night out with the girls into a Saturday afternoon dragging a screaming child around Wal-Mart or enduring embarrassing scenes in restaurants with kids who cannot sit still and stop bothering other patrons, you are sorely mistaken. The first thing you need to realize is this:?It is not the responsibility of other people to have their outings ruined due to the behavior problems of your children.? Arguments like “(S)he doesn’t know any better” or “(S)he’s just a kid” do not fly. If your child cannot be controlled, and people are starting to stare and complain, get your order to go, or leave your stuff in the store and come back at a later time (preferably without the child). I realize that this is not always possible, but that is your problem, not anyone else’s. In short, all it takes is for one failed, embarrassing outing with you and your kid where you couldn’t/wouldn’t control the situation for me to never go anywhere with you and your kid again. Oh, and it is your job to control your kids, not mine.
6. Stop Oversharing.
This is a very common one. Believe me, nobody wants to be bombarded with social media posts, or even verbal conversations or text messages, regarding how chapped your nipples are from breastfeeding or the consistency of your child’s poop. This simply falls into the category of TMI. Not only do we not care, but we are actively grossed out. Yes, I have had people do this. Please stop.
All in all, the message is this: there is a serious lack of communication and understanding on both sides of this culture war. This is a (slightly) humorous list from the childfree side. Every word is true, though, whether you find it funny or not. In short, friendships between childfree people and parents can survive. It just takes a bit of effort, respect, and understanding from both parties to make it happen.