Fellow Child-free folk - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

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I'm not harboring a long post about this at the moment, but it seems like a good time to start this thread. This is intended as an exploration of people's philosophy and logistics; like the atheist thread, debating the existence of childfree people or their "appropriate" role in society is best left to some other thread.

How long have you been childfree? Are you single or attached? How has it affected your relationships with family, friends, etc.? Do you tell people or just leave well enough alone?

I certainly never hear the end of "when are you gonna start having kids?" from relatives on both my side and her side of the family. As a reference, we were married less than 2 months ago (actually two months ago tomorrow)! I mean, yeah, we've been living together for quite a while now and all, but we're still working on paying off wedding stuff.

Whenever anyone asks whether or not I have kids, I always respond "not yet, but still having fun trying". This usually results in their letting out a nervous chuckle and shutting up.

Generally our relatives have been good about not giving us grief. My parents had to be bludgeoned into that position over time, though my vasectomy more or less finalized the debate. Alexis still gets grief from (some) friends and workmates, though.

I've only gotten the kid question once from someone that obviously didn't know me very well. The expression on his face when I replied "None yet, but my boyfriend and I keep trying" was priceless.

I know two couples here that have adopted. For me, a dog is about the right level of responsibility. A kid is only a good idea if you want to invest the time and energy to make sure they're thoroughly screwed up by the time they hit puberty.

Firstly I want to say I have great respect for those who give parenting thought and take it all on and do their damnedest to do it well. From what I've seen this community is full of wonderful parents and I have very high levels of respect for them, these are generally the sort of people I'm happy to see being parents - that doesn't mean I want to join them as a parent however.

When I was younger I, like so many, didn't really think about it - the reality is I never wanted them, I just thought it was what people did. As I got older though and the opportunity arose I did what I always do before making big decisions - I researched and thought about it a great deal. With that as I was honest about the realities of being a parent and thought about myself in that situation I began to realize - it's a choice. Then I realized I actively want NOT to have them and so made the decision not to, I've not waivered since. That was about 7 years ago that I went from passive to active on the issue.

I don't feel it's risky per se but I do feel it's incredibly frustrating being 'out' about it, I'm sure the other childfree here know all the usual 'bingos', ignorant assumptions, expectations and what not we constantly endure, hell we'll probably see some in this thread sooner or later. Our society is generally very pro-natalist and both the childfree and the childless [note to those unfamiliar; these are not the same] tend to get the sh*tty end of the stick from working arrangements to social policy.

Currently single, I tell potential partners because I think it's relevant information in their decision making process, it makes finding a date harder but I feel that's better than keeping silent about it until later and I'm not going to yield on the issue just to get someone. It's also affects friendships as at this age most people tend to have them or really want them and just by the nature of the beast start associating more with other parents and that's okay, it is what it is.

I completely can't understand how or why a couple's decision to have or not have children is anybody's concern but their own. Yes, I've read the diatribes in the babies on a plane thread in both directions, and I still hold this opinion.

My girlfriend and I are lucky in that we have very small families who are low pressure and aren't even on our case to get married, much less have children. I do feel my Mom has some well hidden disappointment in the back of her mind as I know she'd love grandkids but she also respects our choice. We still have plenty of time to change our minds but we're still firmly in the "don't really like kids, definitely don't want them" category. We just got a puppy and he's driving us crazy enough as it is.

I do feel there is a very big societal pressure to conform to a certain expected standard when you're a working professional. That (at least around here) being that if you aren't married, own a house and have your 2.5 kids by a certain point in your life (usually your mid 30s), that you've somehow failed. I think that's complete bollocks and thankfully, my girlfriend and I really don't care what "society at large" thinks of our choices because our lives don't revolve around anyone else. We still rent because our research indicates buying isn't nearly the gold mine it's made out to be and houses are grossly overvalued in Ottawa, we don't have kids because we aren't big kid people and enjoy our disposable income, we think staying at home most weekends is more enjoyable that going out all the time and we think that having a career your enjoy is more important than having one that you hate but pays more. Others may want to do differently and that's fine but anyone who thinks us deficient in our lives because we don't want kids can pound sand. While they bemoan their lack of sleep, I'll be playing games bought with my disposable income.

Both my wife and I stayed child free. She is 30, I am 29. She and I have had a few conversations about our individual choice for that, also that combined choice as we are together, forever we hope.

On my part, I made no bones with women I was with, I had no real urge to have kids. Should things progress that we marry and she wants kids, I am in a very time consuming field. Depending on the work, I might be putting in a 100 hour week, and taking files home with me. Much of the child rearing would be done by her. And any inkling of "you work too much" is not really acceptable in my mind because I laid this all out before. Law is not a 9-5 job. At the time I was leaning to criminal, so in truth it is a 2 AM - Midnight job with my cell on all the time in case a client is in the clink.

For my wife, she has her own career goals, in the sciences (something about creating a Frankenstein Monster). For much of her 20's her mom and sister was very much dependent on her charity. At present her mom behaves in a very juvenile manner, and is encouraged by her husband to be so. Her past relationships ran the gambit of weak men, or men who tried to control her because she is smart and independent minded. One guy was 25 and never got his driving license; and claimed he wanted a family. She was at that point headed for clinical psychology, or pharmaceutical, so she was looking at doing most of the money making, the child rearing, and was the only one able to drive anyone anywhere.

We have a similar story, but she has an added physical burden on kids that I did not.

Talking together is the same tale. I have a career to consider, that consumes a lot of time, she wants to go back to school perhaps all the way to the PHD level. Kids would mean she is taking out at minimum a semester, more likely an academic year. Neither one of us feels a particular impulse to pass on our genes. We have a passion for travel, and you cannot travel with kids. Have you ever seen a happy dad at Disney, or a happy kid in Venice?

At present many of our friends are having kids. And well, this song sums it up.

As in another thread. Few people seem to realize that marriage and kids takes effort, and is not some magic. One couple chose, CHOSE, to get pregnant while the husband was unemployed and the mother was working nights and weekends and a good amount of financial dependence on the parents. Then they bought a cheap fix er up house, with an infant. It is like an episode of 16 and pregnant, except the two are in their mid 20's. And the kid has become the topic on which the 2 bicker and argue. And the mother's only real interest in my wife and me is as a cheap or free baby sitter.

What is great about no kids-we can leave for a weekend based on nothing more than a whim. We can go out to any restaurant we want. We can get drunk on a tuesday. We can sleep in on weekends until 11 if we want. We can spend a week in Puerto Rico without any advance plans other than someone checking up on our place. She is not ruining her figure after all of the work we have done with diet and exercise (her concern, not mine).

There will be 10 billion people on this planet in my lifetime. Why anyone thinks they need to have a kid is beyond me. And the benefits to myself and wife for not having them are innumerable.

So what do we do with people who feel that pressure, want us to. Well, they tend to be people who cannot engage in anything social with us anymore. There is this crapping, pissing, spitting, barfing anchor about them in a papoose. My wife worries about talking too much about how great it is to not have kids or offending any of the possessors of this magical and unique child, indistinguishable from a mating of Yoda and a russet potatoe.

What we are seeing is that there is a rift between people with kids and without for a good point of time. And this is unavoidable.

Ah well, off to Puerto Rico next week.

I don't have kids and don't particularly want them but I don't think I'd self-identify as child-free any more than I'd self-identify as anti-onion. I've never really thought of it in terms of being "out" about it or not.

Yeah, I can say when the subject comes up (so many of the people I work with are parents), I always say we're still kind of thinking about it, but haven't made a decision as of yet... biggest factor being the monetary. Neither of us makes all that much. While we're not in danger of being like out on the street or anything, a kid is a lot of money and we just don't see how we could afford diapers, formula, college, etc... Personally, I'm more in favor of puppies and being able to take more vacays and buying more video games, just because I feel that is good time for both of us. *shrugs* It's hard to take the idea that my not contributing to the continuance of the species means much on a planet with a handful of billions of people.

The in-laws annoy the f*ck out of my wife and i, but primarily because she's the only one of her sisters that didnt have a brood by the time she was 20.

LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't have kids and don't particularly want them but I don't think I'd self-identify as child-free any more than I'd self-identify as anti-onion. I've never really thought of it in terms of being "out" about it or not.

And yet, I can tell you I've noticed a similar friend pull-away with kids as I did with marrage a few years back. People want to hang out with those that are more like themselves, and kids are a big deal.

Demosthenes wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't have kids and don't particularly want them but I don't think I'd self-identify as child-free any more than I'd self-identify as anti-onion. I've never really thought of it in terms of being "out" about it or not.

And yet, I can tell you I've noticed a similar friend pull-away with kids as I did with marrage a few years back. People want to hang out with those that are more like themselves, and kids are a big deal.

Yeah. Not gonna' lie, this is something that concerns me as my "real-life friends" start to have kids. I don't have very many of those kinds of friends left right now and it does worry me that the general lack of free time that a kid brings plus this desire from both them and us to be nearer to people who share more common traits will become a thing. Hopefully that's something I can solve with my own efforts.

Demosthenes wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't have kids and don't particularly want them but I don't think I'd self-identify as child-free any more than I'd self-identify as anti-onion. I've never really thought of it in terms of being "out" about it or not.

And yet, I can tell you I've noticed a similar friend pull-away with kids as I did with marrage a few years back. People want to hang out with those that are more like themselves, and kids are a big deal.

I think this is ok, for the most part, though. Although there's a lot of tired, overworked cliches that try to compare the deep superiority of parents to non-parents, I think the fact does remain that it's difficult for a parent to find the kind of understanding and mutual support from someone without kids compared to another parent. You can, as someone without kids, know what's happening and get it, but there's a lack of empathy there that is hard to grok.

Part of that, too, is the quiet feeling of judgment no matter which side of the equation you're on. If you have no kids, you feel like the parents are judging you for not being "adult" or avoiding growing up or being selfish, etc. If you have kids, you feel like your friends that have no children think you're boring, annoying, or unavailable for stupid reasons. I don't think we do ourselves any favors by caring one way or the other about other people's situation in these things, but I have seen people overly exhibit both of these kinds of behavior.

Anyway, I don't have kids. I don't want kids. I think "I don't want kids," should be a perfect and impenetrable defense against people trying to argue into having kids. However, as everyone in the small company I work for gets older, everyone is having kids and/or getting married. I remained unmarried and childless, so I have less to talk with them about. It's hard to trade stories about their kid with my stories about how SW:TOR went free to play and my dude is now locked out of most of his imaginary money. I was dating someone who works here, and we were constantly the first go-to for people who needed the office schedule covered due to random absences because we didn't have kids. People will slink away from work early or come in late and use "... but my kids!" as some sort of flawless charm against retribution, whereas we were (and currently still are) assumed to have no "real" problems with our lives and schedules because we don't have them. So it's difficult to not get resentful of those things.

Overall, I think it's just harder to not have children as you get older. The argument against me has slowly shifted from (in my teens when I stated I'd probably never want them) from "Oh, you never know....*" to "You're going to be lonely and sad when you still think you're in your 20s and you're 40-something". It's definitely become a judgement and a threat from co-workers, some friends, and a great deal of my family.

(*while technically true, it's condescending as hell, because the flipside is that I will never know, but they are dead-set that THEY know I will in fact change my mind)

Before I found GWJ, I spent most of my time on a childfree board, and I've been this way since my very early 20s, as far as I can recall. I actually assumed at one point I would have kids, like some foregone conclusion, because that's just how the script goes: school, college, marriage, kids, rinse, repeat. Sat down one day and thought about it, and realized that I didn't actually want kids, it was just expected of me by society.

Decided I didn't want any part of parenthood and got snipped when I was 25. Thankfully, most people don't ask about it, but those that have, with the exception of our neighbor, are cool with it. The neighbor got butthurt after I came home to 20 kids playing soccer in my yard, rattling the house while my wife tried to sleep, with two huge teens jumping on her car's bumpers and rocking it like a see-saw. As a man, I don't dare talk to kids I don't know, because "he tried to touch me", even when completely fabricated, means you might as well kill yourself. We just asked the neighbors later who all the kids were, and if they could ask them not to destroy our property. Results:

  • "This place used to be Kid Central before you bought it!"
  • SSSHHHUUUUNNN

Both completely rational responses, as was the one my wife got when asking one of the kids why they couldn't go play in their own lawn: "Our parents won't let us because they don't want us to tear up their lawn."

I don't weep for the future anymore. They've brought it on themselves, and I'll be done in less than 50 years, most likely.

Demosthenes wrote:
It's hard to trade stories about their kid with my stories about how SW:TOR went free to play and my dude is now locked out of most of his imaginary money. I was dating someone who works here, and we were constantly the first go-to for people who needed the office schedule covered due to random absences because we didn't have kids. People will slink away from work early or come in late and use "... but my kids!" as some sort of flawless charm against retribution, whereas we were (and currently still are) assumed to have no "real" problems with our lives and schedules because we don't have them. So it's difficult to not get resentful of those things.

Ummm, you SHOULD be resentful of those things. Technically that is workplace discrimination if they are making you stay to cover other people's absences due to your child-status (though sadly not one that is protected by most workplaces' policies). I really don't do overtime unless there's a real financial need, because my wife keeps me plenty busy on my own.

Sorry, I may have phrased that badly. I meant to point out that the behavior of my office-mates make it difficult not to get resentful about the perceived silent judgment coming from friends who have done little (or nothing) to earn the resentment. It's hard to think that not all parents share this disdainful attitude when it gets shoved in your face so much.

If you have kids, you feel like your friends that have no children think you're boring, annoying, or unavailable for stupid reasons.

Solution number 1, don't tell me all about your child's life. I want that child to be happy and healthy, I really don't give a crap about his tantrums or snot bubbles or him taking a dump in your bed or how cute it was if you saw it when they did it.

I wasn't there, I didn't see it, and this is not my blood relation, thus, let's talk about things that are of interest to both of us. If you were vegetarian, I wouldn't go on and on about hunting.

It's hard to trade stories about their kid with my stories about how SW:TOR went free to play and my dude is now locked out of most of his imaginary money. I was dating someone who works here, and we were constantly the first go-to for people who needed the office schedule covered due to random absences because we didn't have kids. People will slink away from work early or come in late and use "... but my kids!" as some sort of flawless charm against retribution, whereas we were (and currently still are) assumed to have no "real" problems with our lives and schedules because we don't have them. So it's difficult to not get resentful of those things.

Ummm, you SHOULD be resentful of those things. Technically that is workplace discrimination if they are making you stay to cover other people's absences due to your child-status (though sadly not one that is protected by most workplaces' policies). I really don't do overtime unless there's a real financial need, because my wife keeps me plenty busy on my own.

Edit for Bonus's Message: Wow, oh heck no. I like kids, I'm alright with them playing in our neighborhood, even if it means I have to be more careful with driving and such. If they're in my yard or on my car being crazy little bastards, over it. Cops are being called. They're trespassing and you're legal responsible for any injury they may incur. And while those parents may be more than willing to let their kids be little sh*ts like that, if a cop is there saying next time you will be suing or sending an itemized list for repairs/rental of space, that goes a long way. (Guess who's had that problem in the past :D)

IMAGE(http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/family_decals.png)

This is a thing?

Sure, people associate more with other friends who have kids when they have kids, but that's only natural and convenient. Free time changes radically for over a decade. But beyond that, anyone who cares is sticking their nose in where it doesn't belong. I don't even think about it anymore when I meet people. It just does not matter.

I cannot imagine someone saying "Well, why did you get married if you don't want kids?" Does that happen? That's a level of stupid that's awesome to contemplate.

Robear wrote:

I cannot imagine someone saying "Well, why did you get married if you don't want kids?" Does that happen? That's a level of stupid that's awesome to contemplate.

Every time a politician implies that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation.

As a parent of two children, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for families that opt to remain childless -- through their taxes, they are essentially sponsoring the education system my children are enjoying.

There's also the assumption that if you're married and don't have kids, that you're "barren" and are to be pitied. Hence childfree rather than childless.

The condition of my uterus isn't so much your business anyway, remote acquaintance. But thanks for your concern.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

As a parent of two children, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for families that opt to remain childless -- through their taxes, they are essentially sponsoring the education system my children are enjoying. :)

And I'm completely ok with that, as long as you enforce some level of bilingualism in your household. I'm tired of dumb-American jokes.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:
LobsterMobster wrote:

I don't have kids and don't particularly want them but I don't think I'd self-identify as child-free any more than I'd self-identify as anti-onion. I've never really thought of it in terms of being "out" about it or not.

And yet, I can tell you I've noticed a similar friend pull-away with kids as I did with marrage a few years back. People want to hang out with those that are more like themselves, and kids are a big deal.

Yeah. Not gonna' lie, this is something that concerns me as my "real-life friends" start to have kids. I don't have very many of those kinds of friends left right now and it does worry me that the general lack of free time that a kid brings plus this desire from both them and us to be nearer to people who share more common traits will become a thing. Hopefully that's something I can solve with my own efforts.

It's exceptionally hard. I've found that you can maintain those friendships through one kid, but a second kid effectively turns your friends from interesting humans into baby rearing machines.

That and the tax code.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

As a parent of two children, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for families that opt to remain childless -- through their taxes, they are essentially sponsoring the education system my children are enjoying. :)

And they in turn will help me later in life with my medicare and social security. I figure they owe me at that point.

Depends on the caliber of your friendships, too. We have a couple friends who are on kid #2, and the dad, at least, considers our friendship to be one of the lifelines keeping him from being swallowed completely by the maw of the child-rearing-industrial complex. So he openly acknowledges that he's more boring, and we draw the line at poop stories, and it works. But he and I have been friends for fifteen years. I imagine shorter friendships don't weather this stuff as well, which is mostly what I hear about from other people.

::

I was one of those kids the sociologists call "early articulators"... I think I was four the first time I declared that I would adopt if I ever would have kids, and never much connected with the idea of having children at all. No epiphany or whatever, it just felt more natural to me.

I'm also completely devoid of the biological instinct to actually procreate, or carry on the family line, or schnuggle infants or whatever. That program was not installed at birth and I can only intellectually understand it in others, try as I might.

For a few years in my 20s I was somewhat on the fence about the experience of parenting, but I have never wanted to be pregnant or have a baby, so really I'm best suited for Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Girl Scouts anyway. I would rather make a difference for a bunch of underprivileged kids like I once was, than raise one comfortably-middle-class youngster of my own. Plenty of other people have that covered. I want to mold some young minds, but I don't need to make or own one to do that.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:

Every time a politician implies that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation.

I believe I've made it clear over time exactly how stupid I think that is. Unfortunately, we have a political movement that's dedicated to reaching (and exceeding) just that nearly airless elevation of stupid. But that does not reduce my disbelief that people accept that as a reasonable stance. I've never, ever, seen or heard of a pastor who only married people who had declared their ironclad intent to have children (barring physical incapability), and that to me says that it's not a normal position within a religion. It's just stupid, people not thinking about the consequences and implications of their positions.

Clover, that's not just a reasonable stance, but a socially and evolutionarily useful one. It's *laudable*. Not everyone has to follow one path.

I am beginning to understand why so many conservatives are so miserable. If sex is only to procreate. And they have 2-4 kids. That is probably at most 4-8 lays in the marriage.

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