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BABYI’ve known for most of my life that I didn’t want to have kids, although I didn’t know or use the word “childfree” until I was in my 20s. For a while, it was easy to be childfree. My peers were also young, single, career-focused, and not worried about meeting The One, let alone procreating with The One.

Then I turned 30. Now that my friends are partnering off and starting to have kids, the way that I configure my childfree identity has changed. I still firmly believe that I don’t want children and am actively planning not to have any. But the way I talk about my choice with other people has definitely changed.  Being childfree is definitely different in your 30s than it is in your 20s.

1. Friends start to think that you hate kids – and, specifically, that you hate their kids. I don’t hate kids at all. I just don’t want to raise any of them myself. While I definitely roll my eyes at two annoying teenagers making out on a crowded subway car, this doesn’t mean that all children annoy me. In fact, some of the most important people in my life were adult relatives or family friends who served in mentor-type roles for me when I was growing up, and I dream of being able to fill that role for children in my life. Just because you’re not a parent doesn’t mean you have no interest in being involved in a kid’s life. So feel free to invite me over to have dinner with you and your kid next week. I’d like to be friends with both of you.

2. People assume you have fertility problems. Now that I’m in a committed relationship, people think that the reason I didn’t “change my mind when I met the right guy” meant that I was using my childfree status as some kind of cover for fertility-related issues. Thanks for the knowing nods, concerned shoulder touches, and those links to support groups, but I’m fine. Save your support for someone who genuinely needs it.

3. You will know a ton about every aspect of birth and pregnancy, even if you had no intention of learning.It’s normal for friends to want to talk about what’s going on in their lives. It’s normal for me to have coffee with a friend and catch up on work, relationships, travel, and whatever else is happening. But now that lots of my friends have children, I know more about the ins and outs of pregnancy and labor than I ever thought I’d find out. The upside is that while I may never use this information myself, I do feel slightly less panicky about what will happen if I’m trapped in an elevator with a pregnant woman. (TV has taught me that all pregnant women go into labor while in stalled elevators, so I feel I need to be ready for this situation.)

4. Sometimes you will have to answer awkward questions about marriage. I don’t want kids but would like to get married someday, which many people find confusing. Friends, acquaintances, and sometimes total strangers who read my work on the internet ask me why I care about getting married if we aren’t going to make babies. I don’t think that the two things have to be connected: I know unmarried couples with kids, married couples with no kids, and plenty of variations in between. If we’re going to say all families are valuable, then we should count families without kids in that group, too. Two adults choosing to commit to each other is not the same thing as two adults choosing to bring a child into the world, and each decision should be treated with respect.

5. You start wondering if you’re going to have any friends in ten years. Rationally, I know that plenty of my friends who have kids will still want to hang out with me. But I know how much time they devote to their family and how much less they have for late-night drinking and spur-of-the-moment weekend vacations. Every once in a while I start to panic that I’ll be the only childfree person in my social circle and, thus, the one who gets left out of every party invite. So far, this hasn’t happened, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get anxiety about it anyway. After all, I’m a New Yorker, so I get anxiety about everything.

Have you noticed people treat you differently when you are childless in your 30s? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

The FriskyThis post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • Darcy

    Reading some of these comments, it goes both ways. Respect people who do have kids and respect those who don’t. If people don’t have kids and are a certain age I don’t ask why because it isn’t my business unless the topic explicitly comes up.

    Obviously, it is a biological want/need of most people (and all animals) to want offspring so I think we need to not be so shocked that most people find children an important part of their life. Unfortunately, that thought does sometimes lead people to ask unnecessary questions to people without kids.

    These seems to be two extremes. Women with kids who make other women seem as though they should feel empty or are heartless if they don’t and women who don’t have kids who pity women with kids as if their life is over or consumed by being a parent. Just respect people’s decisions and stop with the ‘my choice is better than yours’ on both sides.

    • RE: Obviously, it is a biological want/need of most people (and all animals) to want offspring so I think we need to not be so shocked that most people find children an important part of their life.

      Is there science to back that up?

      Again, I commend those who consciously choose to have or not have children. I think it’s more a personal decision, rather than a biological need.

    • Darcy

      Yes, there is science that reports that mammals have an inclination to want to reproduce. Sex is pleasurable and not always for reproduction, but pheromones, attraction etc.is nature’s way of encouraging reproduction which people are designed to do anatomically.

      Even when some women do not mentally want children some report going through a phase where they get the urge to have a child, even if they don’t want to realistically. It’s biology and is covered in most high school curricula. This is not fiction.

      Certainly, having a child can be a personal decision, but it also does not negate that it is a biological process in which most (not all) go through during their lifetime. Nothing wrong with people who decide not to have kids, but let’s not pretend it has nothing to do with biology.

    • Obviously my question offended many…again, it was a question, thanks for your response.

      Again, bringing children into the world (or not) is a personal decision and women who choose NOT to, shouldn’t be ridiculed for that choice. Just because one does not go along with the ‘biological need’ to have children, doesn’t make her any less woman.

  • L

    @Darcy

    thank you. You are the only one making sense on this thread. Having kids does not equal a dull & boring life and Being single does not equal a “fabulous” well traveled lifestyle. I understand the audience on clutch is full of singles with no children. I get it. But i wish people here would respect everyone’s particular decision with life choices and not be so quick to throw someone in a box because of the choices they make.

    I think alot of your commenters are living in somewhat of a bubble where every decision in life is highly calculated. LIVE!!!

  • Blue

    To answer all five of those questions with one answer is to tell those people to mind their own business. I mean shouldn’t people respect the fact that some people actually PLAN to have kids. They have a thought process behind this. maybe they are not financially ready, maybe they want to be married first, maybe they want to reach a few goals before having kids. Not everyone wants a baby mama/daddy.

    • E.M.S.

      Agreed. I’m only 22 but I am VERY back and forth about considering any kids later in life. All I know is if I do decide to have any, I want to be very well established. If I wait til I’m 35+ but I’m in a good financial position or choose to have none at all, that’s my decision, and no one is entitled to judge me for it.

    • The Comment

      I suggest to any woman waiting till their 30s or later to have kids to see your OBGYN Now! You can’t take for granted that you will even be fertile after 35. Be proactive and get ur eggs frozen.

  • Truth Hurts

    The truth is that most women in the late 20s+ who claim they don’t want kids or care to get married are actually of that position because of their circumstances. In a nutshell, they didn’t find the right man in time who wanted to wife them up. So now they are beyond their “best by” date but fronting like this is what they wanted the entire time. The truth is that most men are NOT interested in STARTING a family with a woman already in her mid-30s. That puts you at having children still in the house in your 50s. People who had kids in their 20s will be able to have raised children, oftentimes with a career, and resume their “child-free” lives in their 40s. The difference is that they will have something self-sacrificial, priceless and substantial to show for their hiatus from a “child-free” existence, whereas those who never had children are less likely to be able to do so.

    For women in your (early) 20s, now is the time to be serious about defining the vision you have for life, especially if it includes marriage and children. Don’t let these old birds who have experienced neither serve as your guidepost. They have no clue and are bitter.

    • Wrong!

    • Rochelle

      You soulnd like you have no goals in life and have accomplished nothing but spreading your legs and making babies. Am I right? What do you do for a living? DId you go to college, grad school? Are you a doctor or lawyer? Engineer? Business owner, did you invent something worthwhile? Or do you work at the call center? Nevermind, I know what your answers will be. Everyone has the perfect life and know all the answers on the Internet. Have fun. LOL.

    • Truth Hurts

      I’m a marketing executive who makes nearly six figures. My husband does, too. We have three children. We’re good. Are you?

    • Maria C.

      You have a good point. Painful, but good.

    • Tera

      I got married at 19, 10 years ago, and have no desire for kids. I assume I am fertile but have always had birth control so will never know for sure. I am very happy to not have kids.

  • ETC

    @truth hurts, that may be the case for some people, but most childfree people always wanted to be that way. I’m in my early 20s and have been engaged before. I have had some good relationships and hope to be married but I’m not sure about kids. A child free life may be the best fit depending on my other goals. The point is that it is a personal decision to parent, childfree women aren’t that way because they “ain’t got no man”. A lot of them have partners.

    • Rochelle

      Truth Hurts sounds very bitter about life. She probably can’t relate to women with goals and ambitions that may not include children. She was probably a teen mother.

    • Maria C.

      I don’t think she sounds bitter. There is a rogue, cult mentality on Clutch. You also seem to really have a problem with women who are mothers. You are in disbelief that a mother could have completed school, have a career, be interesting as a person and have a good marriage. I’m not there yet. But I can admit it sounds like a nice life, if and when it comes to me.

    • Truth Hurts

      People’s positions change when their life circumstances reflect a certain reality, so my comment was generally framed with that in mind. It’s easier to try to claim something when it is in alignment with one’s reality than to admit being disappointed that their real life is a certain way. Of course, there are some women who set out to stay single and never have children. They can name it and claim it, but I dare say, most women did not naturally goal-set that example. They just have circumstantially entered into it and perhaps have now accepted it.

    • EbonyLolita

      Truth Hurts
      Your decision to have children was based on your REALITY! Ppl are not getting married in their 20s like years past. So…. unless you want to be a SINGLE mother you will wait until you get married unless you just don’t want any damn kids. You paint women w/a VERY broad brush & maybe you should think about what you say first.

    • Truth Hurts

      Every race of women except black women still typically get married in their 20s. Other groups (i.e. whites) are dealing with an entirely different politic. If black women could easily find suitable partners, you would not see so many on here acting like marriage and children are the plague!

    • aDORKable

      I am 26 and married. My husband and I do want children and have the means to afford them, however, our we have things that we would like to accomplish first before we start a family. We want to find the perfect home to raise our children in whether it be in the UK or the States, and we want to have a bit more time alone together, going on weekend, week-long, or even month-long vacations. You can’t do that with a baby in tow, at least the first six months. I know people who are the same age as me or younger with children and I know people that have no desire. Most of the women I know love their children, but wished they had waited a bit longer considering their circumstances. Some that don’t have or want children shouldn’t have them and others rather wait for their dream guy before they do. At the end of the day, it’s all up to what one chooses and others should respect their decision whether they like it or not. You also don’t necessarily have to be a parent to help a child either.