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

clover wrote:

It's not the suggestion that one might make a great parent that's insulting, it's the all-too-frequent parade of people who want to make you feel like something is WRONG with you for not, or that you're being SELFISH for not giving your parents grandchildren, or that we are disposable parts of society because we're not undertaking The Most Important Job in the World™.

Come on now. People don't actually say stuff like that. The idea that there are individuals that would is imaginary... like rape culture.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
clover wrote:

It's not the suggestion that one might make a great parent that's insulting, it's the all-too-frequent parade of people who want to make you feel like something is WRONG with you for not, or that you're being SELFISH for not giving your parents grandchildren, or that we are disposable parts of society because we're not undertaking The Most Important Job in the World™.

Come on now. People don't actually say stuff like that. The idea that there are individuals that would is imaginary... like rape culture.

Yeah, I'm actually getting really tired of being told I'm ruining Christmas and secretly running the international banking system too.

clover wrote:

It's not the suggestion that one might make a great parent that's insulting, it's the all-too-frequent parade of people who want to make you feel like something is WRONG with you for not, or that you're being SELFISH for not giving your parents grandchildren, or that we are disposable parts of society because we're not undertaking The Most Important Job in the World™.

Atras wrote:

As a parent, though: please don't be a dick to my kids. If they are crying in the restaurant, I will remove them if they can't be calmed down. If they are being unruly and I don't know, inform me. They can't vote, but they are still people. They are ignorant, but not necessarily stupid. Support your town school budgets, these kids will be running things one day, and it benefits you to have them be well-educated. And don't ask them about their reproductive organs - trust me.

With all due respect, have you actually read through the thread yet, or did you just come in and start typing?

Let's see, on one side we've got a sarcastic assumption (born out of frustration) that parents don't think childless adults have value. On the other, a request from a parent not to be a dick on the assumption childless adults don't like kids. I don't see any need for defensiveness, I think it's ok to vent frustration without it being directed at any specific person. It's clear the people participating in the discussion so far don't fit either mould.

clover wrote:

With all due respect, have you actually read through the thread yet, or did you just come in and start typing?

Really? Yeah, I did. I even read the Kids on a Plane thread and the posts in the Post a Picture thread that caused it. Thanks for asking. There isn't anyone in this thread that said they like to punch kids or steal candy from babies, so my last little paragraph wasn't a "you childless monsters must hate the young", it was a "this is what I expect from all people regarding my kids" - I even put a little nod to your "poor barren lady" problem that could double as a pedophile warning. I'm sorry it was open to be taken badly.

Demosthenes wrote:
As a parent, though: please don't be a dick to my kids.

[snip]

This is, however, a rather sad post to make in this thread because there's the assumption that those who don't have kids would be dicks to kids.

Personally I saw it as just a general statement from a parent that I assume has in fact had to deal with people (parents or not) being ultra nasty to them in public due to the behavior of their children. It was relevant because it seemed like someone attempting to say, "Yes, people without children should not be judged or have to deal with the kind of crap as described. As an example of more reasonable behavior - so stating as a way to agree that more reasonable behavior should be encouraged - here is what I think.

No need to turn this very thread into a breeding ground for immediate assumption of judgment or derision. There is a lot of shared ground to dwell in - parents are themselves judged fiercely and harshly by other parents. People enjoy looking for nearly any sign of bad parenting so they can get self-righteous and judgmental and thus imply that they are far better parents than the ones being observed. In this, we are all joined in a common cause: We Do Not Like Jerk Parents Who Like To Judge.

Certis wrote:

Let's see, on one side we've got a sarcastic assumption (born out of frustration) that parents don't think childless adults have value. On the other, a request from a parent not to be a dick on the assumption childless adults don't like kids. I don't see any need for defensiveness, I think it's ok to vent frustration without it being directed at any specific person. It's clear the people participating in the discussion so far don't fit either mould.

Oooh, yeah, I didnt mean there that you were saying those things yourself, Atras. Let me try once more, with context:

Atras wrote:

Seriously, if someone is giving you a hard time about not having kids, you can ignore the "don't be rude" reflex and tell them to bug off.

Clover wrote:

It's not the suggestion that one might make a great parent that's insulting, it's the all-too-frequent parade of (for context: other) people who want to make you feel like something is WRONG with you for not, or that you're being SELFISH for not giving your parents grandchildren, or that we are disposable parts of society because we're not undertaking The Most Important Job in the World™.

I definitely don't think all parents assume childless adults have no value, only the ones that feel the need to make it clear to me that that's the case

My comment about your "don't be a dick" comment was because it seemed weirdly out of place in a thread where a lot of people are talking about volunteering and nieces and nephews and other things. It just felt really tone-deaf to me, like people going into the atheist thread to argue about believing in God.

Atras wrote:

There isn't anyone in this thread that said they like to punch kids or steal candy from babies, so my last little paragraph wasn't a "you childless monsters must hate the young", it was a "this is what I expect from all people regarding my kids" - I even put a little nod to your "poor barren lady" problem that could double as a pedophile warning. I'm sorry it was open to be taken badly.

When society and many individuals are stuffing "you childless monsters must hate the young" down your throat all the time, it makes one a little sensitive to people implying it. We hear it a lot. Thankfully not from you.

No harm no foul?

Even as an openly gay man, I get plenty of people asking me when I am going to step up to the plate and raise kids, kids I am to garner either through artificial insemination or adoption.

I make it quite clear that Rubb Ed and I have no interest in being parents. That is following by the inevitable comment, "But you and Dave would make great parents."

And no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot convince these individuals that the beginning of being a great parent does not start with the words, "We have no interest in being parents."

I think they're trying to say "Hey, we need more awesome people like you in the world."

Which, for a lot of people on GWJ, is completely true. Still stupid to harass people, though.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

Even as an openly gay man, I get plenty of people asking me when I am going to step up to the plate and raise kids, kids I am to garner either through artificial insemination or adoption.

I make it quite clear that Rubb Ed and I have no interest in being parents. That is following by the inevitable comment, "But you and Dave would make great parents."

And no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot convince these individuals that the beginning of being a great parent does not start with the words, "We have no interest in being parents."

I know a childfree lesbian up in PA who gets even more pressure to have kids from other lesbians. As far as she can tell, the logic goes "two uteri == you should have twice as many babies".

My apologies for the previous post. I was under the impression that it was more of a command than a statement on someone's ideal or expected world. Wasn't trying to be a jerk or anything.

Personally I love having child-free friends. It's easier to find time to hang out when at least one of has no parental duties.

My rule of thumb is I don't talk about my kid ever unless someone asks (beyond the "how's he doing" kind of pleasantries). I just take no pride in talking about him. He's awesome to me and that's all that matters. But boy do I have some awesome slideshows for you, really no wait where are you going...

CheezePavilion wrote:
DSGamer wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Let my contribution be this: I think a lot of people assume child-free means anti-child, while in many cases, it's the opposite. I think a lot of people who are child-free are so because they don't think they could live up to the expectations they have for themselves as parents.

I also think this is something parents don't take into consideration when dismissing the child-free when they offer their opinions on parenting. I think they assume all criticism is "I could do better" when it's not that at all.

Yep. One of the great joys in my life is in being an uncle. I love visiting my nephews and watching them grow up. I literally melt when they call me uncle and talk about me to their parents after a visit. I would literally take a bullet for them. I just never considered myself cut out for doing it myself. I would post one of the hundreds of photos I have of my nephews giving me a hug or playing with them at the chilidren's museum or whatever, but I'm sensitive to the whole "kids pictures on the Internet" thing that parents worry about. Somehow I picked that knowledge up.

Yeah, along those lines, the ironic thing is I'm probably *more* tolerant of a lot of the 'inconveniences' children create and decisions parents make than a lot of actual parents.

Are you guys reading a transcript of thoughts in my head?

I only have 1 right now but have to say that when it comes to parenting decisions you can't win. Sure, childless couples think they have it bad with harassment, but at least you don't have people thinking its perfectly ok to criticize your parenting skills or give you grief when your little one acts like a little kid. If my kid throws a tantrum, my in laws are always quick to jump in and comment about how you can't give in to tantrums, and furthermore their kids never "got away" with tantrums when they were young. They say this s$&t with a straight face as their pre teen daughter talks about how she wouldnt be caught dead wearing non Justice/Juicy Couture clothing. I also love the people who used to give me dirty looks at Starbucks or Dennys when I had a crying baby. I understand being mad at a baby in a romantic restaurant, but getting angry because I'm waiting in line for my latte with a fussy baby ( not wailing, fussing)? C'mon.

Oh, and the whole pressure to have more kids doesn't go away after you have one. In fact, it only gets worse because having an only child is dooming your offspring to a life of selfishness and loneliness.

TLDR - It may seem like childless adults are pestered and ostracized by society, but parents get harassed as much if not more by their family and total strangers. I really don't understand why it's impolite to talk about religion,politics, or how much money you make, but perfectly ok to pester someone over their parenting choices.

jdzappa wrote:

Sure, childless couples think they have it bad with harassment, but at least you don't have people thinking its perfectly ok to criticize your parenting skills or give you grief when your little one acts like a little kid.

Yeah, guess we better all just suck it up then?

I really don't understand why it's impolite to talk about religion,politics, or how much money you make, but perfectly ok to pester someone over their parenting choices.

Totally agree.

jdzappa wrote:

I understand being mad at a baby in a romantic restaurant,

and that's only because nobody's getting any (hetero) action after their date has had to listen to a crying baby all night.

clover wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Sure, childless couples think they have it bad with harassment, but at least you don't have people thinking its perfectly ok to criticize your parenting skills or give you grief when your little one acts like a little kid.

Yeah, guess we better all just suck it up then?

I really don't understand why it's impolite to talk about religion,politics, or how much money you make, but perfectly ok to pester someone over their parenting choices.

Totally agree.

Let's just say I got empathy but no pity brother I'd love to go back to the days when I didn't get lectures while already dealing with a full on toddler meltdown.

That's the thing though, I'm certainly not looking for pity... we're just commiserating. I hope I'm misinterpreting because it feels like you're coming in and minimizing our experience because it isn't the same as yours.

jdzappa wrote:

Let's just say I got empathy but no pity brother I'd love to go back to the days when I didn't get lectures while already dealing with a full on toddler meltdown.

I don't get why people would give you a lecture. I've probably rolled my eyes at a toddler meltdown, but engaging the parents is completely counterproductive. Unless you're talking to them because their kids are running wild and they're ignoring them, you're just making the situation worse.

I feel very lucky that I grew up when...

A) Parents weren't freaked out by media hype about kidnappings, etc. When I could ride my bike all day long and burn off every ounce of energy I had.

B) I could ride in the back of a truck or play on sweet, but dangerous playground equipment.

C) My parents would take us to McDonalds for a Happy Meal and then we could entertain ourselves in the car with the windows rolled down while my parents got to enjoy lunch in a "grown up" restaurant.

Being a parent now, I imagine, would be demonstrably harder just from a rules and "nanny state" perspective than it was 30 years ago.

I am trying to figure out what the impetus of the harassment is (and it is, at the end of the day, harassment).

1. "Be fruitful and multiply."
Well, that's a nice religious sentiment, but with nearly 8 billion people on the planet and diminishing resources, I can't even imagine that a god would set out a pernicious plan for us to overpopulate the planet and slowly kill ourselves. As my Old Testament Theology professor said, "Be fruitful and multiply? Yeah, I think we can put a big, old check mark next to that one."

Tangentially...

2. Continuation of the species.
Again, nearly 8 billion people on the planet, with plenty of them having children. I guess I could understand if we had just been through the ravages of a world war or plague that decimated 1/2 to 2/3 of the population, but now? The species will continue on just fine without me having or raising children.

3. Experiencing the joy other parents have had via children.
That is pure arrogance. No person can determine what will or will not bring joy to another human being. The idea that procreation and the raising of children is a joyous event for all who experience those things is naive at best. I do know people who had children out of a sense of obligation and, while they love their children, they did not consider bringing offspring into the world an even of joy.

4. Experiencing the misery other parents have had via children.
I have had a few people say to me, in a joking manner, that they want me to be miserable with children like they were/are. I know it is said in jest, but I am willing to bet some good money that there is a kernel of truth in the jest. Some people do regret having children; not because the children were terrible or whatever, but for a variety of reasons. In many ways, I think they believe that if other people experience what they did, there is a bond, a sense of camaraderie. That still doesn't mean that everyone should have children.

5. Obligations.
This one is always bizarre to me because there is no obligation for everyone to produce and raise children. This is more of a guilt issue from family, friends and houses of worship that believe that some people cannot be whole unless they have or raise children. But the underlying flaw here is that there is nothing intrinsically more noble in having children than, say, traveling the world to be a better person or dedicating yourself to your career or vocation or spouse or community.

I am sure there are other reasons, but it still bothers me that we as a society are willing to entertain the notion that it is okay to hassle people about their choice to not have children.

It really isn't and should never be acceptable.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
fangblackbone wrote:

What I have been coming to resent are the couples that decide to have an army instead of a kid or two. I see them not be able to handle the oldest and it makes me think,"what made you decide to have three more with another on the way?"

They want to bring their little minions to the mall as they talk to their friend the whole time. I'm sorry but if you have 3-4 kids, you do not have time to talk to your friend. Watch your kids!

The Quiverfull movement is gross in general. Thankfully, a lot of the older daughters forced to essentially raise their own siblings decide not to have kids of their own.

I wouldn't consider 3-4 children a 'quiverfull'. And in the interest of full disclosure I have four children, with the age difference between the oldest and youngest being almost 12 years.

And I basically don't care if another couple has children or not. It's their choice.

You know what I get asked a strange amount of times after people find out we don't have kids? People ask if we're swingers. Does that happen to anyone else?

MacBrave wrote:
Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
fangblackbone wrote:

What I have been coming to resent are the couples that decide to have an army instead of a kid or two. I see them not be able to handle the oldest and it makes me think,"what made you decide to have three more with another on the way?"

They want to bring their little minions to the mall as they talk to their friend the whole time. I'm sorry but if you have 3-4 kids, you do not have time to talk to your friend. Watch your kids!

The Quiverfull movement is gross in general. Thankfully, a lot of the older daughters forced to essentially raise their own siblings decide not to have kids of their own.

I wouldn't consider 3-4 children a 'quiverfull'. And in the interest of full disclosure I have four children, with the age difference between the oldest and youngest being almost 12 years.

And I basically don't care if another couple has children or not. It's their choice.

I was responding more to the first paragraph than the second. I don't think 4 kids is unreasonable, particularly if you can afford and raise them.

When it starts getting into Octomom/Duggars territory, I have a problem with it, whether it's because mommy wants unconditional love or Jesus needs soldiers.

Seth wrote:

You know what I get asked a strange amount of times after people find out we don't have kids? People ask if we're swingers. Does that happen to anyone else?

Hasn't happened to us, but if it did, "That's nice of you to ask, but you're not really our type." Unless they are. Find out if they're offering.

Seth wrote:

You know what I get asked a strange amount of times after people find out we don't have kids? People ask if we're swingers. Does that happen to anyone else?

LOL. No. What kind of friends do you have? I have gotten the *vibe* before that something like that must be going on. That it's impossible we don't want kids, that we must have some deviant lifestyle where kids don't fit in. Like it's all 50 Shades of Grey and we have no time for children when the reality is that most weekends we go out to movies at night.

Bonus_Eruptus wrote:
Seth wrote:

You know what I get asked a strange amount of times after people find out we don't have kids? People ask if we're swingers. Does that happen to anyone else?

Hasn't happened to us, but if it did, "That's nice of you to ask, but you're not really our type." Unless they are. Find out if they're offering.

I am not sure if we engage in a lot of deviant sex. But there are a few things in the night stand that without kids we need not worry about explaining to another human being-various oils, feathers, rings, etc.

So much I would have wanted to say has been said very eloquently and succinctly by others. So I have no excuse for my super long TL:DR ahead. ^_^;

Tyrian and I are happily childfree. I like kids, I work at a place for kids, and I wish my nieces and nephews didn't live so dang far away. I don't think it's as risky to be out as it once was, due to my generation opting out of parenting in such remarkable numbers. I hang out on childfree forums, and I am happy to find others that are CF, because I immediately get a sense of relief. I won't have to answer questions. And CF people don't have the expectations.

I can attest that others do say some ridiculous things. And honestly, being a childfree woman was something I used to feel the need to keep quiet, because for years, it was a source of serious anxiety. Since my tweens, I have known that I didn't want to be a parent. I am not maternal, and my genes are rather unfavorable.

As a female (especially in the South, and of childbearing age), it is generally treated as unacceptable that I do not want kids. I possessed a uterus, therefore I should want kids, want to be around kids, and want to coo over babies. I dreaded being around other women that I wasn't close to, and tried to avoid doing so, because it was an inevitable awkwardness.

As a grown woman, the parent question was the first thing to come up in 'small talk'. I was forced to decide on the spot whether I would be honest or not. If I said I didn't have kids, I was usually either told I would, or I was pitied. If I told the truth, I was often subjected to condescending, hurtful commentary. And for some reason, it wasn't considered off limits or terrible manners to do this. This is a very pro-natalist society, and being a childfree woman has painted me as being selfish, or a kid-hating monster, and most patronizingly - someone who didn't know my own mind or desires.

Weirdly, while very poor and in a too-young marriage (ex-husband), I was hit with it constantly. I was told, repeatedly that: I wasn't capable of real love or compassion because I didn't have children. I wasn't ever going to be a true adult until I had them. I wasn't a 'real woman' until I had children. I was a selfish woman who was denying my husband of his 'rightful role' as a parent. I would change my mind. I should never have gotten married, and my marriage wasn't real since I didn't have kids.

Those 'bingoes' came repeatedly from my own mother. A Jewish co-worker of mine was told by her mother that she was acting the part of the Nazis by letting her 'line' die out. Over the years, I've dealt with the judgments, the comments, the debates, and the rude questions. There is a reason why the majority of my close friends are childless men. I still occasionally deal with the assumptions about my choice - but I've also been surprised at how much support crops up, too.

TL:DR - It used to be very risky and distressing for me to be out. Now, it's more common for me to find CF people, and as I'm older, I don't feel the need to defend my decision anymore.

DSGamer wrote:

I have gotten the *vibe* before that something like that must be going on. That it's impossible we don't want kids, that we must have some deviant lifestyle where kids don't fit in.

Ha! This. Although, after reading/hearing the assumption that we have tons of disposable income, go on luxury cruises every weekend, and sit around drinking martinis, I thought, 'fine, then', and I buckled. I started drinking martinis. And a love I never knew could exist was born...

clover wrote:

That's the thing though, I'm certainly not looking for pity... we're just commiserating. I hope I'm misinterpreting because it feels like you're coming in and minimizing our experience because it isn't the same as yours.

That wasn't my intention. I just wanted to give my experiences and also complain about how society really needs to back off when it comes to parenting choices. About the only time I'd feel comfortable intervening is if I saw a kid being abused or a parent doing something really stupid - for example, the time I went to a Saw movie and saw a guy with his six-year-old there.

Also, I completely understand the frustration with having to cover for coworkers who are out with their sick kids. I got some of that in the Army. The commander had a "Thursday afternoon home with the family" where we would get some extra time off as long as we weren't ramping up for an operation. But of course some people still needed to remain on duty, and it always seemed to be the single guys who drew the short straw. The flip side unfortunately is parents will get singled out if they work in an environment where the bosses are all single/divorced workaholics who are married to their jobs. A few years ago I was one of several people who was cut from an important project with little to no warning. I had just gotten a stellar review and so had my other coworkers. But I'm pretty sure a major factor was we all had young kids and sometimes had to take days off to handle sickness. We were also the ones who didn't stay at the office until 8 or 9 pm unless it was absolutely necessary.

Society really needs to back off when it comes to personal choices of any kind that don't affect anyone else.

FTFY

Seth wrote:

You know what I get asked a strange amount of times after people find out we don't have kids? People ask if we're swingers. Does that happen to anyone else?

My boss (Joe, you know him!) actually assumed the very same thing of us.