Thursday, June 14, 2012

Slate on choosing to be childfree

As I posted last week, Slate has been running essays on choosing to be childfree this week, under the banner "No Kids for Me, Thanks."  While I didn't exactly "choose" to be childFREE (childLESS?)(potay-to, potah-to...) -- dwelling in that ALI Twilight Zone between parenthood & militant childfreedom -- there is still much in these essays -- well, most of them -- that I can relate to (and even if I can't entirely relate, I can respect). Here are the links:

I Don't Enjoy Alien Parasites
I'd Rather Die Alone
I Value My Professional Mobility
I Tied My Tubes at 26
There Never Was One Reason, Just Life 

I was also interested in a related Slate piece:  Where Are They Now:  Do the Child-Free Change Their Minds?  which revisits a New York Times Magazine article from 2000 by Lisa Belkin, Your Kids Are Their Problem.  The NYT piece is definitely worth a read -- although it is more than a decade old, not much has changed, and it still rings very true.
Go to work, watch the news: the sound of institutions competing to be ''family friendly'' can be deafening. ''Let us create a family lobby as powerful as the gun lobby,'' Al Gore says, and every issue, from gun control to tax reform, is now presented as being good for children. The unintended result of all this is that the 13 million childless baby boomers are left bristling because their lives -- whether chosen or the result of circumstance -- don't seem to count. [emphasis mine]
Writing the article was an eye-opener for Belkin, the mother of two:
Just as I didn't realize how often I ate carbohydrates until a nutritionist told me not to, I had no idea how often I talked about my boys until I tried to stop. They are, I admit, one of my favorite subjects, not only when chatting with friends, but also professionally; I think nothing of swapping ''cute kid'' stories during interviews.
But then I spent weeks interviewing childless people, and hearing how sick they've become of parents who chatter endlessly about their children....   
The most sweeping societal clashes, are, at their core, deeply personal -- an accumulation of moments between people who didn't realize they were making assumptions until they collided with others who assumed something else.
The Slate article revisits several of the childfree people interviewed in the article. All have remained childfree;  none say they regret their decision today. 

Even though we are don't have children for different reasons, I found that sort of comforting.


  1. Great roundup!! Thank you!! So many thought-provoking articles...

  2. I am so glad they revisited because it answers that obnoxious statement people hear all the time: "you're going to regret it!" A statement that completely invalidates living child free as a viable option. Which it is.

  3. I just realized that I left out the best quote of all from Belkin's NYT Mag article, right near the very end:

    "Life without children should be respected as a legitimate, full, admirable life, not a consolation prize or an insult to those who are parents."

  4. Thanks for all these links, Loribeth. I enjoyed the original article, and then the follow-up. I thought the original article author was almost charming in her complete naivete about how people with kids might be seen by people without them, or vice versa. I did of course got incredibly angry at the quotes from the head of the National Parenting Association at the time, and the NPA's founder. I wonder now, ten years on, if they'd still take such an offensive stance towards those of us without children.

  5. I have fallen behind in my blog reaading, but I made note to come back here and read all the articles. Thanks for all the links and information it gave me a few things to think about.