Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice
I take part in a few different online discussions about childfree living and if you do too, you’ll be keenly aware of how much people disagree on what it all means, both as a concept and as an experience.
One of the main points that polarises the discussions is the attitude taken to parents and children. Some regard them as the enemy, refer to them in strongly pejorative terms and openly resent and rail against them. For others, this is the very opposite of what we were looking for when, fatigued by having our choices questioned or feeling like the odd one out, we looked for people who were in this sense ‘like us’.
Let me be 100% clear, firstly, that I am not questioning anyone’s right to feel angry or to express their anger and secondly, that I am not suggesting the concerns are groundless. (Where I live, that would be impossible.) I’m only suggesting that if what you were looking for in an online community was solace and a peaceful retreat from a society that can feel very parenting-oriented at times, you will have quite a bit of rage to navigate.
In confronting this, I think it’s important to remember that we are dealing with ideas that are, in many ways, new. Childfreedom itself only became a serious option for sexually active women after contraception became effective and easily available (post 1970s). And the possibility for global communities to form around shared interests held by minority groups (especially those with a slightly taboo nature) only really became viable after the development of the internet as a space for social interaction (post 1990s). So we’re actually only in our teens as a movement and we’re populated by a youngish demographic too. We will have to be patient with ourselves and with each other. If the best we can do for the moment is to find a common enemy to caricature and rage about, then we are just setting out like many other groups have done, early in the journey of creating a new identity. We have had to start somewhere. It doesn’t mean that something more workable and constructive isn’t coming.
The other point that I think is crucial to remember, especially if you are new to the community, is that while no one speaks for everyone, the angriest members will almost inevitably be the most vocal and the most egged on by others. A story about how you had a constructive conversation with a mother about your mutually nourishing friendship will never be received with the same enthusiasm as a story about the hilarious put-down you levelled at a parent who inconvenienced you by struggling to cope with a screaming toddler.
Stick around for a while and speak up when you feel like it. Join in the rage if you find that helpful, too. But if you’re looking for us, stick around. You’ll find there are quite a few peaceful souls whispering just under the surface.
If you’re interested in the online childfree community you might enjoy reading an affirming alternative to the popular ‘breeder bingo’ approach or exploring some diverging comments on a post about the possibility of childfree women experiencing doubts about their decisions.