23 and childfree

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.”

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About Amelia

feminist, seafood enthusiast, bookworm, blogworm
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9 Responses to 23 and childfree

  1. Bianca says:

    I am 20 and know for sure I don’t want kids, I dislike it when people just assume I will one day have kids. I have know for a while that I don’t want kids and have never had that maternal instinct when I have been around kids. It’s just the way it is, so you are definitely not alone 🙂

    • ameliaglebocki says:

      Yea! I like kids and work with them (I babysit two girls, age 5 & 8, and have been doing so regularly for the past year and a half). But I think that not having any children of my own is exactly what makes me able to work so well with them. I can be 100% “on” when I’m with them, knowing that I have a quiet house to return to once their mom gets home.

      Similarly, my aunt (who I mentioned in this post) is one of my favorite people, and has been all my life. She made things fun in a way that my parents just couldn’t, and I loved her for it. It really bothers me when people assume that people who don’t want to have kids are “cold” or “distant.” We’re not. We just want to focus our energy on things other than raising children.

  2. Lucy says:

    Interesting topic. I personally wouldn’t mind having kids, but the nature of my relationship with Lina (our age difference, our interest in pursuing higher education, having parents who aren’t accepting of the gay let alone children with gay parents) is leaning us toward probably not having kids. But what I’m finding, which is related to your post, is that Lina and I both feel some guilt about just accepting that we might not have kids and we feel guilt that we think we’ll continue to be perfectly happy if we don’t. I think it’s interesting how that stigma exists even when we’re making an educated, realistic decision not to.

  3. lauracarroll says:

    Hi there, Laura Carroll, author of Families of Two here….There are LOTS of 20 somethings out there who are dedicated childfree. They visit my blog la vie childfree and my facebook page all the time…. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Families-of-Two-Childfree-and-Beyond/139821682696375?sk=wall&filter=1

  4. Sarah says:

    So there’s a post that relates to this, sort-of, on NYT Motherlode today, and I thought I’d share the link, along with the comment that made me say THANK YOU, SOMEONE!

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/growing-up-before-motherhood-or-because-of-it/

    I read the article and took supreme issue with the 27 year old daughter saying that she felt that her lifestyle allowed her to live like an overgrown 8 year old with no rules, a huge “allowance” and her own place… No words.

    However, a commenter named Bette spoke to this, meaning the child-free, side of the issue:

    I dislike Samantha’s comment in the above article :

    “…having a baby as something that transforms you into an adult, rather than contingent upon already having become one…The 20s are a rare opportunity to be as selfish as an 8-year-old”

    because it seems to imply that those who remain childless remain children themselves, and that the childless are selfish. I am childfree, in my 30s, and am neither a child nor particularly selfish.

  5. I enjoy the Childfree hashtag on Twitter. It brought me to learn about Childfreedom last year, and it’s great for connecting childfree people. But don’t despair! I’m 22, and am adamantly childfree as well as a frequent poster on Twitter. There are a lot of young women there, some who post often and others more sporadically.

    I agree with you, though. We need a league of young women who are as vocal and comfortable with their choice to forego parenting as our older counterparts. Why should we live our 20s-30s quietly, adding to the stereotype and social standard all women want kids…when it isn’t so.

  6. Jen Dean says:

    What a refreshing post! I, too, am child-free by choice. Although I am in my early 30s, I knew early on that I did not want children of my own. As a child I reluctantly played with dolls as though they were my children. As an older child, I often cheated by entering all 0s and one 1 for number of children I would have on the paper triangle fortune teller game. By my late teen years I knew that my purpose was not to have children of my own but to make the lives of existing children better.

    I love children. In fact, I love them enough to dedicate my life to improving the lives of not one but many. This is a concept not always understood or well-received. “When will you and your husband have children?” “You and your husband would be such great parents.” “You like children but you do not want any of your own?” “You’ll change your mind.” I’ve heard each of these phrases too many times to count. The strange thing is that most of these questions and comments come from women. Most of the time they are older women however, some of them are my peers. Being in my 30s and not having children, I am used to the questions. The questions do not bother me but the mindset sometimes does.

    I look around and see almost all of my girlfriends have children. If they don’t, they anticipate that they will. My close friends are all accepting of my choice and those that know me well never ask about my choice. This I am thankful for. Yet, I would be dishonest if I said that they understood or truly felt my choice was acceptable. Although I have wonderful, accepting friends (many of them proclaimed feminists), I’m not sure that they have not all succomb to the stigma that a woman’s role is to have children, and that is it. My concern is that despite the advances we’ve seen in women’s rights, the underlying thought processes and beliefs are much the same as they were 100 years ago.

    I do not advocate that women should not have children. I advocate that men, and women, allow themselves to imagine and begin to really think of women as something other than mothers. Until we see women for all of the things that they are, and could be, I’m afraid we still have many miles to travel.

    • ameliaglebocki says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. It’s good to know that I’m not the only person who knew early on that I didn’t want to have kids. I too am bothered not by the questions that people ask, but rather, by their mindset; that’s an important distinction to make. Because the latter carries a judgment that should not be there.

  7. Pingback: Conversation with a close friend, who recently had a baby | XYZ-PDQ

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