When the book arrived in the mail, I looked forward to reading it—until I realized it was aimed at parents. A Childless Woman’s Guide to Raising Children by Ageleke Zapis is not much of a book, to be honest, just a childfree woman’s rant about how kids should be kept quiet, well-behaved and out of situations designed for adults. Zapis offers the typical childfree attitude that parents are mindless breeders and that she is smarter than they are, so they should take her advice. I’m amazed that people, all parents, have posted positive reviews on Amazon, but then I’m not a parent.
The book had “childless” in the title, but clearly neither the author nor the publicity agent who wanted me to review the book understood what “Childless by Marriage” is all about. I had to write back to her to explain that most of the people reading this blog do not have children AND they feel bad about it.
We all wish sometimes we could tell parents what to do with their kids. I admit that when somebody’s toddler is screaming at church or banging his metal toy car against the back of the pew, I want to scream, “Get that kid out of here!” But I would never presume to know how to handle it any better.
The point I’m trying to get to is that the world of people without children has broken sharply into the childless—we wanted them, didn’t have them for reasons not of our choosing, and grieve the loss—and the childfree—didn’t want them, glad we don’t have them, no regrets. It really is quite a difference. We don’t seem to speak the same language.
I’m sure you all have met people who told you they didn’t have kids and were happy about it. They enjoy their freedom from the burdens of raising children. They don’t understand why you tear up when you see a baby or why you ache with jealousy when someone you know announces she’s pregnant.
We can find lots of blogs, groups and books for the childfree crowd and a few for the childless. Just last week, I told you about Jen Kirkman’s book I Can Barely Take Care of Myself. I enjoyed that book. Kirkman is a good writer, but she is not mourning the loss of her would-be children. She never wanted them.
For a list of other books about being childless/childfree, visit my Childless by Marriage webpage. You’ll see that the attitude of people writing on this topic has changed over the years from the sorrow of infertility to struggling to choose whether or not to have children to the happiness of being childfree.
These days, “childless” means different things to different people. There’s a divide between childlessness by infertility or circumstance, and childlessness by choice. Have you experienced the disconnect between the “childless and the childfree? I’d love to hear your stories.
3 thoughts on “Childless vs. childfree—the great divide”
As someone Childlessly-free (as in I am graduating to really enjoying my freedom, and not wanting kids now but trying to really enjoy other people’s kids instead of mourning forever) I do have a hard time with those who find children horrible and those who have strong “having children is selfish” opinions (as if having to put down those whose situations are the opposite of theirs to feel better, wow those child-free'ers are Childless (mourning) but in denial~ ! What I have noticed though, is because I was a pining for child so long–and then mourning the loss, and visibly avoiding friends whom I was not related to when they had children until the child was talking, is that some with kids avoid me, and others (like a dear friend who is a great grandma) try not to talk about it. I didn’t realize it until the great grandma a few times asked if it bothered me when she cooed over other people’s babies, because she just loves them. I told her no, I have accepted my lot in life, but I really appreciated her concern for me. (I really am in the best congregation–almost 8 million of us worldwide)
I agree. I don't think that having children is necessarily selfish. I also do not think that NOT having children is selfish–it's much better than having them irresponsibly.