Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

The Childfree and Selfish Discussion July 17, 2010

This article, Is Being Childfree By Choice Selfish? first appeared in REDBOOK and was reposted on MSN. Obviously, we’re not going to have the “selfish” discussion here. We all have our reasons for not having children, and most of have at least one good comeback in our arsenal in case someone actually plays the “selfish” card with us. But there were some interesting points in this article.

One woman who has never wanted kids said this:

“When someone asks me if I have kids, I often feel almost apologetic when I say no, like I have to provide a ‘good enough’ reason or they’ll take pity on me and assume I can’t have children,” said Rebecca. “But I just don’t have the gene for wanting a child, and I don’t think having a child would improve our relationship. I usually tell people that we’ve chosen to go the dog-and-cat route and leave it at that.”

Apologetic? She’s clearly a woman who has thought through this and made an intelligent decision, but now she feels she must apologize for that? Haven’t we all done that to some degree?

The article goes on to quote Laura Carroll, author Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples without Children by Choice, who says:

 “I have been watching the childfree for over 10 years now, and I can say that they are not a homogeneous group. They come from all socioeconomical backgrounds and life experiences. They are no more selfish than parents who have kids for their own reasons. They so often contribute to the lives of kids (e.g., have occupations that revolve around children), to their communities, and our world. We need to realize and fully accept as a society that having children is an option, not a given. We also need to realize and accept that not everyone has the call to have parenthood be the central focus of their lives. There are many ways to lead fulfilling lives that make a difference, and raising children is one way, not the way, as many, many people out there will attest!”

Yes!! Finally!  I was happily thinking that the conversation about being childfree  is being brought into the mainstream. But this is how the article ends:

What do you think of the decision not to have children? Is it selfish? Or are couples who choose to be kid-free just self-aware enough to know that, for whatever reason, they’re not parent material? Are you childfree by choice?

So, in the end this article–originally printed in REDBOOK, the magazine for everywoman– isn’t addressing everywoman after all; it’s asking people with children for their opinions on the childless. Until a mainstream magazine publishes an article called, “Are parents selfish?” we aren’t really having a dialogue about this subject.