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

DSGamer wrote:
goman wrote:

Hey child free people, I get the annoyance. I have three kids and am asked if my wife and I plan on more. I try to laugh it off but it is annoying to be asked.

Not the same. Not by a long shot.

How do you know? I used to not have children, now I do. They may not be the exact same but the sentiment is still similar.

Prying into the private choices of my wife and I.

Dragonfly's analogy to virginity and celibacy is pretty useful here, too.

Virginity is a state of being that everyone experiences, for some duration of time (so is being childless).

Celibacy is a choice a comparatively small number of people make, for a variety of reasons (so is being child-free).

Someone who has been a virgin and now is sexually active doesn't (in general) presume that they have privileged insight into what life is like for the celibate.

Not having children is, despite some superficial similarities, not the same thing as choosing to never have children.

Dimmerswitch... I get that. My point is not necessarily that. But rather the prying/asking of others close or not into my and my wife's choices is similar. To me it is never appreciated. But from my personality I don't get defensive about it, I try to laugh it off or change the subject.

DSGamer wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
clover wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

To ask someone whether he or she is going to have children seems like such an invasive and inappropriately personal question to ask.

It is, but that never seems to stop people.

To be fair, it's not nearly as bad as people who think it's okay to put their hand on a pregnant woman's belly, unasked.

I don't doubt that. But who actually does that? It's so weird and creepy. I imagine the people who do it are other parents.

There's no shortage of rude, oblivious people in the world.

While parents may get flack for not giving an only child a sibling, not trying for a child of the opposite gender even if they have 4 or 5 of one, or just plain not having more .. yes that is still prying into your private choices, however as child free it goes further. As a parent they will see you as already in their camp, the CF are something they just can't relate to and so the demonizing and vilifying comes out. As a parent in the eyes of many making these sort of comments you're already "worth" far more than any CF person will ever be.

goman wrote:
DSGamer wrote:
goman wrote:

Hey child free people, I get the annoyance. I have three kids and am asked if my wife and I plan on more. I try to laugh it off but it is annoying to be asked.

Not the same. Not by a long shot.

How do you know? I used to not have children, now I do. They may not be the exact same but the sentiment is still similar.

Prying into the private choices of my wife and I.

Because there's a big range between "exact same" and "similar": check out these two good posts from earlier in the thread (1) (2). The difference is you have a much more acceptable answer, an answer that limits the prying to a qualitatively different level.

There's a difference between asking someone if they're going to have more of something they already have, and something they don't have. It's a pretty safe bet as far as social interaction bets go that someone with three kids wants kids.

In fact, I'd say it's not even so much the prying; it's not even just the judgement that you are wrong; it's the judgement that you are weird if you aren't going to have any kids. Those are two qualitative differences you don't have to deal with if you have three kids from anyone who isn't going to have far more disturbing questions for you like "have you ever thought of the benefits of living on a compound?"

Vrikk wrote:

What about asking if you want to buy someone's children? Is that still rude or invasive? It becomes a business transaction!

Then it wouldn't be child-free

Spoiler:

I'm sorry.

My family said things to my wife and I that were so hurtful that I don't dare repeat them here. Feel free to PM me if you're curious but I won't say those things in public because they were really really really really terrible. And I don't want to risk a relative stumbling on here, connecting the dots and realizing I aired some really personal, hurtful stuff. I've probably already said too much.

I tend to overshare. So maybe that gives you an idea, Gonman, of how much different those situations are.

Here's a vague-ish one. Do relatives say things that give you the impression that they see divorce as a good option given your choice?

Perhaps it is childless people asking me the questions... Not the child free.

Yes, I have 3 daughters and am asked if I want a boy.

I don't feel like I am in any club. Maybe it is just me though. I am not a much of a joiner and much more of a loner.

Without me asking or prying I know for certain two people that are child free. Why? They let me know. I never cared in the first place.

I know many more childless people who I don't know if it is by choice or not. I don't care.

DSGamer wrote:

Here's a vague-ish one. Do relatives say things that give you the impression that they see divorce as a good option given your choice?

Never. My relatives are not like that anyway. Much more accepting.

Childfree and having children are both end states (that, in the 21st century first world, are chosen). Childlessness is an intermediate state that sometimes becomes permanent, but it does not equal childfree. Parents are not childfree before they become parents, categorically.

goman wrote:

Perhaps it is childless people asking me the questions... Not the child free.

Yes, I have 3 daughters and am asked if I want a boy.

I don't feel like I am in any club. Maybe it is just me though. I am not a much of a joiner and much more of a loner.

Without me asking or prying I know for certain two people that are child free. Why? They let me know. I never cared in the first place.

I know many more childless people who I don't know if it is by choice or not. I don't care.

It might have more to do with the fact that having three kids is beyond the socially expected 2.1 kids. The assumption likely is that if you're willing to have three kids, then there's good odds you'd be OK with five, seven, or more (or that your religious beliefs demand those numbers).

DSGamer wrote:

Here's a vague-ish one. Do relatives say things that give you the impression that they see divorce as a good option given your choice?

Yes. How about flat out stating the world would have been happier if you had aborted one of your children. Or suggesting that I should have them "tested" because of what their father did so they don't do the same thing (as if that was possible). Or any number of other cruel, vicious things.

Women who are pregnant are fondled without asking by perfect strangers in public all the time. Every choice you make is questioned and often publicly. Putting alcohol in the grocery cart is grounds for people asking you if you "really want to do that" and getting a couple pointed comments from the cashier. You can't do anything without someone having a fit. If you let your child act up, you're a bad parent. If you do something about it, no matter what choices you make for discipline, you're either doing it wrong or should be arrested.

A couple weeks ago, while I was fending off someone else's intrusive questions about my health, a lady at church informed me that she feels that I was too hasty to get that hysterectomy, and she's praying for me and my unborn children. For the record, I've been single and celibate since 1998, and my children are all old enough to drink and she knows my children.

What goman is trying to say that there is no magical state where people don't feel free to say insane stuff to you. No children is just another topic to them.

We're not trying to minimize how horrible these things are. We're trying to say that you're not alone, and we feel empathy for the sh*tty way people are treating you.

I would say that's probably the exception more than the rule. You don't have to keep secret that you want kids. Whereas you generally (at least not long ago) had to keep the childfree thing to yourself.

Edit - nevermind. Not helping, and I'm sorry.

momgamer wrote:

we feel empathy for the sh*tty way people are treating you.

Thanks for the empathy - it's appreciated

Come on, the point of the thread is for people to discuss their similar situations and experiences, not to argue over who has it worst.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Come on, the point of the thread is for people to discuss their similar situations and experiences, not to argue over who has it worst.

Yeah. Hopefully it's clear that I wasn't saying being Childfree was worst. Just that no one could understand the experience of how loved ones react when you say you're never having children.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Come on, the point of the thread is for people to discuss their similar situations and experiences, not to argue over who has it worst.

There's no argument to be had there anyway. When I'm having a bad day, all I have to do to cheer up is say to myself, "At least I'm not Quintin_Stone."

Well, you are classier than me.

I don't understand. What is so specially awful about people commenting on your choice to be childless? What makes it so different from the awful things I was told that I listed above, and many more on many other subjects?

momgamer wrote:

I don't understand. What is so specially awful about people commenting on your choice to be childless? What makes it so different from the awful things I was told that I listed above, and many more on many other subjects?

You're not getting this. Gonman said that he knew how we felt based on pressure he got to go from 3 to 4 children. A few of us said, "No, it's different".

Like I said, PM me. All I can say is that I had relatives suggest to my wife that she divorce me. That I may not be her soulmate. That I was somehow ruining her. Simply for choosing not to have kids. And that's the least bad thing I can say here without going further than I'd like.

momgamer wrote:

I don't understand. What is so specially awful about people commenting on your choice to be childless? What makes it so different from the awful things I was told that I listed above, and many more on many other subjects?

One thing that stands out is that for a lot of the things you listed there's a valid argument to be made. Choices a parent makes on how to parent have an impact on how that child develops--no one actually disputes that chain of causation, right?

Compare that to how there's absolutely no sense to "you don't want children? Maybe you should get a divorce." That's like...that's more like arguments about how allowing homosexuals to wed destroys the sanctity of marriage (in fact, there's a post over in the gay marriage thread that I think is somewhat relevant given how semantically challenged the anti-gay activist is).

You don't even have to get into the topic of how much privacy or discretion or whatever one person should have for the choices of other people: there's no possibility of ever making a good argument that the the child free should get divorced without appeal to some stance on the metaphysical nature of marriage and how two consenting adults are doing it wrong. That's how it's different. Hey--maybe the criticisms you mention are worse. But they're different. And there's a certain kind of bad when the person criticizing you can't even point to a real-world effect of what they say you are doing wrong. There's a special kind of bad involved in telling someone they shouldn't be doing what they are doing when you can't even point to a harm outside your own personal tastes and metaphysical beliefs.

Also, when offering sympathy, maybe it's best to split up the offer of sympathy from the argument that the person you're offering sympathy to is wrong. Telling someone you sympathize with them goes way better when you're also not weaving it into an argument about how they're wrong about something.

Parents also can't control everything their offspring or spouse does, either, so attributing everything to "yo' mama didn't raise you right" or bad genes or whatever is lazy whether it comes from someone with or without children. No one knows the specifics of other people's situations, so crossing the line from observing behavior to speculating on causes or motives is not cool.

And too many asshats love to do that, of course, which is where the common ground is here.

Sorry to hear DSGamer.

My wife is in a similar, albeit less openly offensive boat - it still sucks either way when those we consider loved ones just can't accept our decisions.

We're child-less for the moment, and plan to be that way for a few more years until she wraps up school. I'm 30, she's 32, and for whatever reason, my father finds some way, every time the two of them are together, to remind my wife that he'd love to have grandkids.

I get to have ground rules with my parents that any mention of grandkids is the end of our time together for that moment. Car's packed, and we're heading back home, thanks for having us, see you again in a few months when you hopefully don't bring up grandkids again.

My mother can at least empathize, my father - not so much.

My wife has this knack for taking whatever little comment dribbles out of my father's mouth and turns it into some soul-crushing weight, and drops into a depressed state for days. Its to the point that my wife unfriended my father on Facebook, to save herself from seeing his endless comments. Her greatest achievement over the Thanksgiving holidays was that she only had to endure a single sentence from my father, and less than 2 minutes in his direct presence.

McIrishJihad wrote:

Sorry to hear DSGamer.

It's fine now. That's why I didn't want to go any further details except through PM. Time heals, etc.

Yes... I am trying to show empathy and that is why I don't ask anyone about this topic. I cannot control other people, just myself.

I agree that it's not a matter of worse - just different. I have no idea how it feels to be told as a parent things like you should have another child, or that your parenting techniques are wrong, or that you are a failure as a parent. That all sounds horrible.

I can only remark on my own experience, which, in addition to people saying that my choice is flawed, is capped by people telling me that I am flawed. That I am a useless, parasitic drain on society, a failure at compassion, a selfish, shallow, juvenile idiot who doesn't know my own mind... I've heard that we CF folks should just go kill ourselves if we voice concerns about overpopulation. Some people view us as child-haters, and I've even been told that we are a major reason why violence happens to children. I am not exaggerating.

There's often a nasty dose of sexism thrown in, to add insult to injury. As if, somehow, it were even more of an outrage to opt out of motherhood than fatherhood. Phrases that you'd think were left back in 40's and 50's surface again, until terms like "duty" to reproduce and accusations of CF women not fulfilling our "biological purpose" get brought in. If it wasn't so terrible, it could easily be mistaken for parody or satirical humor.

I'm glad that it seems to be easing up somewhat over time. It's ridiculous - why anyone feels they have the right to attack others for their personal life choices. It's comforting to hear so many other folks on this forum, whom I respect so much, sharing their experiences.

I cannot have kids. I had my boys stabbed with two needles, my scrotum cut open with a scalpel, some reproductive tubes seared with an electric cooking device followed by my boy bag sown up with coarse black thread. They didn't even ask me any questions.

There is a reason I went this route but it is a personal issue dealing with another person, so I cannot speak it here.

I also laugh my ass off (internally anyway) when people get uncomfortable when they learn I cannot have children. It is like they are sad for me or something. Jeebus.