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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  • Rochelle

    Ever notice it is the very unaccomplished people who brag about or have nothing else to talk about, besides their children. It is always the CNA or the telemarketer or the housewife that brags about their five year old knowing the alphabet. LOL.
    On any note. This author seems like a well rounded individual. She obviously can put two sentences together. I say this to say that if the author is a blk woman, it is truly unfortunate that she is choosing not to procreate. We need more people like her to make children. Not the stupid hoodrat on section 8. That is my pet peeve. It is always the accomplished and/or educated that choose not to have children. I guess they are too busy saving and making the world a better place………Oh well, still a shame.

    • RE: We need more people like her to make children.

      Can the child-free folks live??? I get where you’re going, but studies have shown the more educated you are, the longer you wait to have children, IF you have them at all. Those who know better, do better.

      We are definitely living ‘Idiosyncrasy’.

    • The Comment

      Those career women in the fancy suits talk about their children just like a battered woman in a shelter w/kids or a regular old plain Jane. All woman who care about their children are amazed what babies can do.

    • Kemba1248

      Thank you!! We need less of the “Pookies” out there making babies and more of the educated people out there populating the earth…..

      Spot on!

  • Finally an article from The Frisky that i can get behind. I’m still in my 20s but the latter half and even now, can say this is pretty darn spot on. Especially #4. Its astonishing how many people seriously cannot fathom how you could want to get married but not want kids.

  • Even with money and as a couple, kids are STILL a lot of work for parents who want to invest in them and their future.

  • So with all this “knowledge” you are dropping, I’m assuming you have a kid or two?…

  • gsutiger

    I’m in my 30’s married with no kids. I don’t want them. Had a great childhood and no fertility issues that I am aware of. I totally agree with your article. I am able to enjoy spur-of-the-moment weekend vacations lazy weekends and ridiculous splurges. No one should make you feel bad about your decision. Being a GOOD mother takes commitment and dedication.