A few months ago, I stumbled upon the #childfree hashtag on Twitter. And since then, I’ve become a little obsessed with the various posts I’ve found through it; the many Tweets, comics, and blogs have all helped me to feel connected to others who, like me, do not want to have kids.
I still feel a little out-of-place, though, because one thing I’ve noticed about the childfree community is that almost everyone who’s part of it is quite a bit older than I am.
Childfreedom, like anything else that goes against the status quo, is, I’ve noticed, something that people tend to keep quiet about until a bit later in life– once they’ve gotten old enough to realize that they’re not doing things the way that society has told them to (or, in this case specifically, once they find themselves having to “defend” their decision against those who are tired of waiting for them to “grow up,” settle down, and procreate).
So, are there any other 20-something (or younger!) childfree people out there: people who, like me, knew from a very young age that they didn’t want to have kids?
I say this about a lot of things (homosexuality, abortion, etc), but I think that the key to erasing the stigma of childfreedom is teaching kids from the get-go that it’s natural and normal–something that very well might become part of their future–thus erasing the expectation that they have to grow up to do any particular thing a certain way.
I have an aunt who, at fifty, has never married and doesn’t have (or want) any kids. I think she’s wonderful and have always admired her, but one thing I noticed very early on is that her siblings (who, unlike her, have all married and had children) treat her like an overgrown child because she hasn’t done things the way that they have.
During my first year of college, I regularly exchanged snail mail with a friend of mine who lived several states away, in Amherst, MA. One thing she sent me was a copy of this poem by Nicole Blackman.
I loved the poem because I thought that it was well-written– not because I could relate to the experience described. I sent a copy of it to another friend of mine (47, single, childfree) because I was curious to know what she’d think of it.
And I’ll close with her response to it, because what she said sums up how I feel just perfectly:
“The thing is, if I’d gotten married and had children, I probably wouldn’t have time to do most of the things listed in that poem. And that’d be a huge bummer, because I actually find most of those things to be quite enjoyable.”