This post is based on a YouTube tag game (which operates in the same way as a game of tag in a playground, where one person is nominated as ‘it’ or ‘on’, then they tag someone else who becomes ‘it’ or ‘on’ etc). A predetermined set of questions are answered by all players when they are tagged. The childfree Tag game was started on YouTube by The Childfree Curly Girl in a video you can watch here. While most replies will inevitably be on YouTube, I prefer to keep my internet presence on a text-only basis, at least for the time being, so I have answered the questions here.
Disclaimer: I mean absolutely no offense to anyone who reads this post. I have simply tried to answer all of the questions in an honest (and hopefully interesting and entertaining) way. As a childfree individual, my opinions are not intended to reflect the views of all childfree people, or any other person besides myself. I write on this subject to share my experiences and opinions as a childfree individual, for information and entertainment. I am not trying to convince others to avoid having children, nor am I condemning anyone for the choices that they have made. I am fully aware that many of my views are directly influenced by me suffering from depression and I hope that I address this aspect as directly and objectively as possible.
- Do you dislike children?
I don’t hate children, or dislike them any more than I dislike adults. If anything, I’m just apathetic towards them, but mainly because I’m not a huge fan of people in general. I don’t get the warm, soppy feelings that most people get around babies and small children, nor do I automatically find all children cute. I am also quite an impatient and irritable person (an aspect of my personality which I am trying to improve), so I tend to find children annoying for the same reasons I would find adults annoying – like being loud, rude, obnoxious, inconsiderate etc. While most people are more tolerant of children’s behaviour because of their affinity for them, my apathy towards them just means that I am no more tolerant of a child being annoying than I would be of an adult. I don’t have the automatic filter that most people seem to have, which make all children’s actions adorable. If I thought an event I was going to attend would be full of over-excited, screaming adults, I would probably avoid it. I tend to do likewise for anything involving a lot of children. On an individual basis or in a small group, such as when you visit friends or relatives who have a child or two of their own, they are usually fine.
- Why did you opt out of parenthood?
I was around 23 years old when I consciously made the decision (2006) and it was mainly due to having suffered from depression for my whole adult life. Until that point, I had always previously thought I was putting off the idea until an unspecified later date and assumed I would want children eventually, but when I actually thought about it properly and considered all aspects of parenthood, I realised that I am not suitable parent material and that it was something I really didn’t want for myself. My main concern about my mental health is that I would pass on a higher likelihood of depression and anxiety, whether through genetic predisposition or by environmental conditioning. I also had other reasons, such as economic concerns (which have not changed in over a decade, despite improvements in my own personal finances), sociological and environmental issues which will inevitably make life more difficult for future generations and, admittedly, an element of selfishness, because there are so many other experiences that I want to have in my life which would be difficult or impossible with children. That being said, the other reasons were relatively minor in comparison with the mental health issue.
- Do you think your childhood experiences and/or your parents actions influenced your decision?
I and my siblings took a very active role in raising my youngest brother during my early teens. My parents obviously took care of him for the vast majority of the time, but they both worked a lot, so we had to step up and babysit for extended periods, taking care of feeding, bathing, changing nappies etc. We all had a lot more experience of homemaking and child-rearing than most kids at that age, so it is possibly a subconscious reason I wouldn’t want to go through it all again, although it hasn’t deterred my siblings from starting families of their own. As far as the possibility of my parents influencing my choice, I suppose that they may have played a small part, subconsciously, although probably not in the same way that most childfree people would have been influenced. They were extremely good parents to us in that they each sacrificed almost every other aspect of their lives for their children, leaving very little room for their own interests, limiting (or crippling) their options for travel and constantly struggling financially to provide for us. I am just not prepared to make that level of sacrifice, nor do I have the patience or fortitude to withstand all of the hardships that they did.
- What is the most common reaction/comment you get when people find out you’re Childfree?
The most common question I’m asked is ‘Why? Are you just too selfish?’ To be honest, a lot of the time I have just said ‘yes’, because it’s quicker than explaining all of the reasons.
- Do you have any Childfree friends or relatives?
Definitely not many. My younger brother hasn’t had children yet, but as far as I know, has never indicated wanting to stay childfree. My other three siblings all have children. Most of the childless people I know are planning to have children at some point in the future, or at least haven’t ruled out the possibility. The only friend of mine who is openly childfree is a woman in her early thirties from a muslim family. Being childfree was one of the first things we bonded over and each of us found it refreshing to actually have someone else with whom to discuss the subject. I have always had a great deal of respect for her having made the decision to remain childfree, especially given that her cultural and religious background can only have made the decision more difficult to address, as it would for anyone from a religious background.
- Do you think people are aware that parenthood is a choice?
I don’t think enough people think of it as being a legitimate choice. Too many people just assume that everyone has children and that it’s a matter of when, rather than if. I think too many people have children before actually taking the time to consider their options and their suitability for parenthood, but the tide seems to be shifting in this regard. With the continuing rise in childfree couples and individuals, there are clearly more people aware of the fact that they have a choice than in previous generations, plus there have been significant shifts in attitudes and expectations which have allowed more people to consider their choices independently of archaic societal expectations.
- How do you feel/react when your loved ones announce they’re expecting?
I always try to be excited for them and I say congratulations and the usual platitudes, but I probably come across as insincere. I guess I am being insincere, because I feel like I’m congratulating someone for receiving awful news, even when I know it is something they want.
- What is the most ridiculous Bingo you’ve ever received?
(A Bingo is one of many common statements or questions that people say to childfree people, often without thinking. It has become a term for anything ridiculous, thoughtless or mind-bogglingly stupid that has been said in response to telling someone that you are childfree.)
A guy I worked with as a security guard said “I’ve worked in a lot of care homes and spoken to people who know they’re dying – and the one thing I never heard from a single one of them was that they regretted having kids. I’ve heard the opposite, when people wished they’d had them, but never that they regretted having them.”
I argued that no-one wants to admit regretting having children because they know most people would think they were a monster for saying it, but that doesn’t mean no-one thinks it.
- Are you worried you might one day regret your decision?
Absolutely not. Even if I did regret it, it’s better to regret not having them, than to regret having them. Also, even if I regretted it for some reason, it still will have been objectively the right decision, because I know that I would not be a good parent.
- (For women) Don’t you want to experience being pregnant?
Obviously I can’t answer this myself and, although I usually don’t like to speak for my partner, I can tell you that this is one of her main reasons for being Childfree (amongst many, many others). The thought of another human growing inside her, let alone the absolute horror-show that is childbirth itself, are the absolute last things she wants to experience. I certainly would not wish that ordeal on anyone, let alone a person I care about.
- Is your current partner Childfree as well?
Yes. In fact, she was completely adamant about it on our first date, before I had even said anything about how I felt about it. It was one of the first things we found that we had in common. She was the first person I had properly dated since making the decision for myself, so I have never had to address the issue with a partner who felt the opposite way.
- Is it possible to be in a happy, fulfilling relationship without children?
Absolutely. Being happy and fulfilled is nothing to do with external relationships anyway, it is a completely internal process. In terms of a relationship, fulfillment comes from the love, support, friendship, encouragement and shared experiences between the people involved. If the relationship feels improved by introducing a third party or by maintaining a permanent external stimulus, then the relationship itself was never fulfilling to begin with.
- Define parenthood in one word
- Do you think you would be a good parent? Why/Why Not?
Absolutely not. I suffer from depression, have very little patience, have little to no financial stability and can be completely irresponsible. I basically feel that I lack every necessary trait and skill required to be a good parent and have absolutely no desire or drive to rectify that.
- Do you have pets? Do you think you transfer the nurturing and love intended for a child unto your pet(s)?
I have a dog, who I think of and treat as my child, but with more positives and nowhere near as many negatives as you would get with a child. I would guess that any external observers would say that I am guilty of this transference, which is probably true to an extent, but I certainly don’t view pets as a replacement for children. I have no desire to have children in my life at all, so why would I need a replacement for something which is not missing? If I was to have children, it would not preclude my wanting a dog by default. I would still want to have a dog, because they add very different things to your life than a child does. Basically, this assumed nurturing and love intended for a child just doesn’t actually exist within me, but the nurturing and love intended for animals does. The two things are not dependent on each other, existing only as some compulsory ratio in which neither value can be zero. Therefore it is not a transference of one to another, but a completely separate impulse.
- Which Childfree stereotype do you not fit?
I am not materialistic in the slightest. I do not like to necessarily own things for the sake of owning them, or to indulge in luxury items and designer brands. If anything, I am pretty cheap when it comes to shopping for myself and I would rather spend money on experiences than physical things. I also don’t drive and have never had a single driving lesson or even applied for a provisional license, so I am a far cry from the stereotype of childfree people in sports cars wearing designer clothes and sunglasses, dripping in jewelry.
- Is it hard to find a Childfree partner?
It probably is, but I didn’t have to look. I decided that I would be childfree and the next person I dated was also childfree, although neither of us knew that about each other prior to the date. It just so happened that we were well matched in a lot of other ways too, so we’re now married and are approaching 13 years together.
- Which label do you prefer? Childfree or Childless?
I much prefer Childfree, because Childless implies that the person is missing something in their life, whereas childfree implies that a conscious decision was made. I think it is important to have the distinction between people who have made the choice for themselves and those who are childless by circumstance to avoid any confusion or any offense being caused, so having distinct terms for each is very helpful when discussing subjects such as this.
- Do you actively encourage the people around you to think about their reproductive CHOICES?
I’m always honest about the choice that I have made, but other than expressing that everyone has a choice, I don’t actively encourage people one way or the other.
- Are you worried about who will take care of you when you’re old?
No, I seriously doubt that I will live long enough to be old, but if I did I would be looked after by qualified and trained health professionals, as will everyone else. People who think that their children will look after them in old age are not only incredibly selfish to expect that, but are also very likely to be severely disappointed. This might have been the case circa the 1940s, but these days the average family unit is not as insular and hands-on with care as it used to be, nor should they be. While there are genuine concerns for older people without children, I would not want the burden of my care to fall on family or any other unqualified well-wishers.
- What is the best part about being Childfree?
The freedom is definitely the best part. I can drink, smoke, eat, swear and do whatever I want all the time, without limitations. I am free to pursue my interests and passions without interruptions and responsibilities tearing me away and I have the freedom to be able to travel at short notice and to be spontaneous when the mood strikes. I definitely would not want it any other way.
Thank you very much for reading. If you enjoyed this piece, please like, share and follow my page. You can also read my previous articles on this subject –