Childless vs. childfree—the great divide

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.

Author writes about her happy life without kids

In the interest of keeping us all up to date on books being published about childlessness, I offer one of the latest entries into the childless field. For an extensive list of books about childlessness, visit my Childless by Marriage website.

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman, Simon & Schuster, 2013. Kirkman, a stand-up comedian and comedy writer who frequently appears on TV in “Chelsea Lately” and other shows, has put her comic skills to work on this memoir about why she never wanted kids and how she deals with a world that seems bent on convincing her to become a mom. Readers who are childless by choice will cheer her on as she confronts relatives, employers and friends who just don’t seem to understand. Readers who did not choose to be childless will still enjoy the stories and identify with the challenges she faces. While I didn’t laugh out loud too often, I did enjoy reading it. Even the most mom-centric readers will enjoy chapters with titles like “Misadventures in Babysitting,” “Jesus Never Changed Diapers,” “I Don’t have the Mom Jeans Gene,” and “Faking It for George Clooney.”

On a more serious note,  I often get comments on this blog from people who are having a very hard time with their childless situation. One of the saddest came in yesterday. It’s the Anonymous comment from June 13, 2013 by a 47-year-old woman whose life has been full of disappointment. I responded the best I could, but it would be great if others here could offer sympathy and advice. Read the comment here.

Have a great weekend, dear friends. And if you’re a childless man for whom Father’s Day is no fun at all, I hope you can find a way to avoid the pain. Whatever happens, it will be over in a matter of hours. Hang in there.

Find comfort for the childless here

Dear friends,
It’s the second anniversary of my husband’s death. Although I promised myself to stay zen about it, the memories and grief are weighing me down today. So I’m going to share a few things off the web that give me comfort. tells us about a new report by a Harvard researcher that shows there are more households in the United States without children than with. So if you don’t have kids, you are not out of the ordinary. The report itself is a little harder to understand, but you can read it here.

There’s a new book out by comedian Jen Kirkman called I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids.” It sounds like fun. They’re talking about it on The View today.

Finally, I have probably mentioned it before, but the Gateway-women gallery of childless role models at Pinterest can keep you reading all day about marvelous, beautiful women who never had children. By the way, I’m in there, and I’m thinking: what should I do with my hair? 🙂

Have a wonderful day.