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  • Writer's pictureLance Blackstone

Childfree – Who Gets the Label?

Rachel’s post about going from childless to childfree sure generated a lot of commentary, both here on the blog and on Facebook in various childfree groups where I posted it. If you haven’t read it yet, please do…we’ll be here when you get back.

So assuming you’re up to speed now, I want to make a few comments.


Bravery

First, I think it is incredibly brave of Rachel to put herself out there in front of a tough crowd. Whatever you may think about the post, this took guts. Thank you Rachel!

In the future, we’ll be asking more people to share their stories. We think it is illuminating to hear how people have reached, or are reaching, their decision to be childfree. We hope you agree.

Build Up or Tear Down

Second, I want to talk a little bit more about why I asked Rachel to guest post in the first place. Since Amy and I started blogging about childfree life I’ve spent a loooooot of time in various childfree groups on Facebook and other places. I’ve seen a lot of kindness and support extended to people who are dealing with the downsides of childfree life like disapproving family, friends, and complete strangers, condescension, accusations of selfishness, etc. This is great and it’s what we should be doing for each other.

I’ve also seen a lot of cruelty and hate. Derogatory terms for parents and children and sometimes even for people that are sitting on the fence. This is not great. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do understand the need to vent. Believe me! But what I see on occasion goes way beyond that.

What w{n}hab! Is About

Third, I want to clarify what we’re {not} having a baby! is about.

  1. Foremost we are a welcoming place for the childfree.

  2. We are also welcoming to those who have not yet decided. We recognize that choosing to be childfree – or not – is a journey. That journey is longer for some.

  3. We educate on the realities of the childfree life so that people who have not yet decided can make a good decisions for themselves.

  4. We try to educate parents and those that want children about what being childfree is; that a decision by some to not have children does not invalidate their decision to have them.

  5. We defend everyone’s right to choose whether or not to be childfree; we do not hate parents or children.

  6. We strive to be positive although we will defend the rights of the childfree. 🙂

  7. Through all of the above, we try to reduce societal pressure to procreate so that people are free to make the right choice for themselves.

Back to Rachel

So, is Rachel “childfree”? Let’s define “childfree” first. I am a true believer that definitions matter. However, in this case, things are a little tricky. You see there is no broadly accepted definition and the dictionary definitions that do exist really miss the mark:

  1. Merriam-Webster: no definition

  2. dictionary.com: having no children; childless, especially by choice

  3. Oxford: pertaining to adults who do not have or live with children

What I’m going to go with is the definition provided by the eminent scholar and sociologist, Amy Blackstone. Her definition, used in her research, is as follows:

People who have made the intentional and explicit choice not to have children

I think most childfree people can get behind that as a definition. For me it gets to the heart of the matter which is a person’s intent as opposed to circumstance.

So, with that definition in our pocket, is Rachel childfree? In my opinion no, not yet. I think if her circumstances changed she would still have a child. But that matters less to me than the answer to this question…is there something the childfree community can do to support Rachel and people like her?

The answer to that is yes. We can help people to see the advantages of being childfree, to enjoy their lives in that context, and to be supportive as they move forward.

Maybe a switch will flip and Rachel will, like me, decide that she’s happy she dodged a bullet. After all, I thought I would have kids someday.

Maybe she’ll continue to always wish for what could have been. We all do this for all sorts of things. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t control your life.

Maybe she’ll decide she can’t live without a child and choose to adopt. I’ll celebrate that as there are so many kids that need a good home.

Not matter what Rachel eventually decides, childfree or not, we support Rachel making the right decision for herself.

Thanks to everyone who commented and special thanks (again) to Rachel for being brave!

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