Righto. As far as I’m concerned people are allowed to make their own choices and don’t really have to answer to anyone. But apparently when you choose to not have children, manners get thrown out the window.
I try to think charitably and understand for some they haven’t had that conversation before so it’s lack of practice. The more we talk about it the easier it will be for other child-free women to step into the light and not be judged. So here’s a list of things that have been said to me so everyone can learn, well, what NOT to say.
1. You are so insensitive to women who can’t have children.
No I’m not. I have a strict definition of child-free versus childless. Child-free is when you actively choose to not have kids. Childless is when you want to have children but circumstances prevent you from becoming a mother. It’s not just semantics there’s a bloody big difference. My heart breaks for the childless. But I love being child-free.
2. Do you hate kids?
No. I love my nephews so much my heart could explode. My brother and sister-in-law made awesome little humans. I like all well-behaved kids. I love being an Aunt. But stranger’s kids running wild at restaurants are pretty bloody annoying. Oh and screaming kids on planes. I probably do hate them. But I think even their parents hate them at that moment.
3. It’s not normal to not want kids.
I first wrote about being child-free a few years ago. I’ve been surprised at the incredible support I have received from other women similar to me. They were thankful to finally have a voice. A lot of women don’t speak up about their choice in fear of being judged. By 2031 the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts couples without kids will overtake the proportion of families with children, by 43 to 38 per cent. So it’s going to become more normal to not have kids. I do think people have to accept the change.
4. People don’t really judge you.
Oh yes they do. My fiancé gets none of this abuse. Men aren’t judged for choosing to not have kids. But oh boy, both men and women love to express their opinion to child-free women. I truly think some people say dumb things to child-free women simply because they don’t have experience in having those conversations. Luckily, I also got an amazing amount of support from mothers who rejoice in choice.
Listen: Think people don’t judge you. Explain this Lego store’s rule then.
5. Are you too selfish to have kids?
The selfish argument has always bugged me. I get angry and defensive when people imply I love my sleep-ins and don’t want kids to ruin that. I’m sure parents don’t have children to show the world how selfless they are? No, they had kids because they really wanted kids. It’s a choice. But maybe I need to embrace the selfish title? I finally found a great quote from Katharine Hepburn, who I didn’t realise was also childfree by choice, which I think is the perfect answer to such a question. In her biography Kate Remembered she’s quoted as saying: “I would have been a terrible mother because I’m basically a very selfish human being. Not that that has stopped most people going off and having children.”
6. You’ll change your mind.
Do you have any idea how condescending that statement is? Can you also predict Lotto numbers and who’ll win The Voice? Unless I can profit from your unbelievable crystal ball skills I’m not interested in your projections. I’m 41 years old I’ve been pretty good at mapping my life so far, so thanks but I’ve got the wheel on this one. My body. My choice. Imagine if I walked up to a woman who was seven months pregnant, cocked my head to the side and said “You’ll change your mind.”
7. Won’t you be lonely when you’re older?
Maybe. But there are plenty of lonely old people whose kids don’t visit them. Plus I have had a lot more time to nurture my friendships so I plan to hang out with my buddies at a nursing home that allows strip poker and vodka nights. We’ll regale each other with stories of the incredible travel adventures we’ve been on around the globe.
8. But it’s best job in the world.
That sentence should always be finished with “for me”. It may well be the best job in the world for you. And that’s great that that is your choice and you love it. It’s also the hardest job in the world and I salute mothers for choosing it. But It’s not my dream job. I want to host a chat show on TV just like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Tyra Banks, Rachael Ray, Diane Sawyer, Chelsea Handler – who all juggle their career and… Oh hang on… no… they are all child-free by choice. Interesting. Do you question them?
Have you been guilty of saying any of these things?