A Safe Place for the Childless Not by Choice

Dear friends,

Lately in the comments, a few people have been sniping at each other. That’s not good. We get enough of that in the rest of the world. As childless people, we face questions, disapproval, accusations, and folks who can’t resist giving you unwanted advice. Right? Let’s not do that here.

Last week we talked about how some of us—maybe all of us—sometimes keep quiet about our childless status because we don’t want to deal with the reactions. We’d rather blend in and let the parent people think we’re just like them. We don’t want them coming at us with why, what’s wrong with you, etc. Most of us don’t know how  to explain or justify our situation because we’re not sure how it happened or what to do about it. We’re still trying to figure it out. There aren’t any easy answers.

Of course, I’m talking about those of us who have not chosen to be childless, who are hurting over their childless status. The childless-by-choice crowd sometimes gets pretty militant about their choice: Never wanted kids, happy about the situation, feel sorry for you breeders who want to waste your bodies, money and time adding to the world’s overpopulation. Get over it, and enjoy your childfree life. But how can you when you feel a gaping emptiness inside?

In an ideal world, we would all accept each other’s choices, but the world is not ideal. We feel left out, guilty, ashamed, angry, and hurt. We need a safe place. Let this be one. If someone asks for advice—and many readers do—chime in, but we need to support each other’s decisions once they’re made. Don’t add to the hurt. And if a certain gentleman wants to leave his childless older wife for a young, fertile woman who will give him a family, ease up on him. We women might resent some of his sexist comments, but we don’t know what it’s like for him. He’s aching for children just like we are. And sir, don’t be knocking older women. Some of us take that personally. 🙂

Let’s try to be kind here. I am grateful for every one of you. Hang in there.

P.S. Easter was brutal for me. All those kids in Easter outfits. All those happy families while I was alone. Luckily I spent so much time playing music at church that I was too tired to care by Sunday afternoon. How was it for you?

Parents are not ‘breeders;’ they’re people with children

Have you ever used the word “breeder” to refer to a human being who has children? Please don’t. Somehow in this crazy time when one-fifth of us are not having children and many of us have chosen the “childfree” life, “breeder” is becoming like a curse word. I’m reading posts on childfree and childless websites where the writers, mostly women, complain about all those breeders posting baby pictures online, daring to bring their children to restaurants, or surrounding them at holiday celebrations.

Breeder is a term that should only be used when we’re talking about people arranging for the mating and procreating of animals or plants, not humans. Wikipedia says: A breeder is a person who practices the vocation of mating carefully selected specimens of the same breed to reproduce specific, consistently replicable qualities and characteristics. This might be as a farmer, agriculturalist, or hobbyist, and can be practiced on a large or small scale, for food, fun, or profit.”

But this is how I’m seeing it used on countless childless/childfree sites and how it’s defined in the Urban Dictionary: “1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way. A female breeder is commonly called a moo, and a male breeder a duh.”

The definitions and examples go on and on. Each one offends me more. Not having our own children, by choice or circumstance, does not give us the right to use terms like these or to assume that every parent is a senseless idiot bent on destroying our lives by making babies and actually showing them in our child-deprived presence.

The usage has ramped up lately as people prepare, often with dread, to join their families for the holidays. I know it’s a hard hurdle to get over, but let’s try to stop feeling angry or sorry for ourselves and just enjoy the children around us, even if they’re not ours, for the little miracles they are—even when they’re crying, making messes or generally being less than charming. For Pete’s sake, if our parents hadn’t “bred,” we wouldn’t be here.

If you truly can’t stand to be around kids, just avoid them. Unfriend their doting parents and grandparents on Facebook. Spend the holidays camping or on a cruise. But don’t call their parents breeders unless they live on a ranch. They’re not “breeders.” They’re people just like us who happen to have children.

One more point. This may sound silly, but think about it. If you wanted a dog and couldn’t have one, and you went someplace where there was a dog, would you hate the dog or the dog owner for being there? No, you’d pet that dog and play with it and love it. Why can’t it be the same with children?

I look forward to your comments.

What’s wrong with wanting a baby?

My Google alerts (great service!) brought to my attention a scathing review of Madelyn Cain’s The Childless Revolution. Jessa Crispin writes on her Bookslut page that “those who choose motherhood and those who choose childlessness are on opposite sides. Once you’ve chosen, you’re alien to the other group.”
Well, I have noticed a divide between the “childfree” and the “breeders,” but can’t we reach across and find a peaceful way to relate? A lot of us who don’t have children wish we did, and some of those who have kids wish they didn’t.
In her review, Crispin begins by telling us Cain isn’t qualified to write about childlessness because she had a child when she was almost 40. The fact that she had trouble conceiving for all the years before that doesn’t count. And the fact that she had an intense desire to be a mother puts her on the “other” side, the breeder side. Do you agree?
Crispin goes so far as to note how many pages Cain devotes to each of her three sections, the childless by choice, by chance and by happenstance. The childless by chance get the short end, she says. “This isn’t really a book about being childless. This is a book about women who wanted children but didn’t get them.”
She also also complains that Cain’s book is poorly written and that it has too many personal observations. I disagree. The issue of having children or not having them is personal.
All this makes me sigh. I hate to see women dividing into enemy camps. Also, I happen to think the Childless Revolution is fine book. See my review on the Childless Resources page on my childless by marriage website.
What do you think? Can a mother write about childlessness? Are mothers and non-mothers so different they have to live in separate worlds? Have you read Cain’s book? What do you think?