I’m a member of an online forum (as many are, these days) where a discussion about the child-free lifestyle has gone on for pages. And pages. Who knew people had so much to say about it?
It turns out there’s actually very little to reasonably argue: you either want kids, or you don’t. However, it turns out some won’t be satisfied to be content with their own decisions, but have more fun criticizing the decisions of others. For some reason.
Parents: “People aren’t living their life’s purpose until they have children.”
Childfree: “People who have children are throwing away their lives and their money and messing up store aisles with screaming kids knocking over spaghetti sauce jars.”
In the psychological studies arena, there seems to be a basic assumption that women have children because that’s what women do, but when it comes to women who don’t want children, you see book titles like the following:
“Unwomanly Conduct: The Challenges of Intentional Childlessness,” by Carolyn M. Morell; “Voluntary Childlessness: The Emergence of a Variant Lifestyle,” by Ellen Mara Nason; and “Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness,” by Laurie Lisle.
“Hey, now,” I say, as someone who doesn’t want kids. “My lifestyle is hardly ‘variant,’ I’ve experienced no challenges outside of having to answer ‘So, why don’t you want kids?’ and the occasional ‘You’re just selfish,’ and if I’m challenging the stigma of childlessness, I’m not doing it intentionally. Quit studying me. It’s just a preference!”
In the interest of presenting the idea of child-free-ness as a simple, personal choice, one that hardly warrants so many books explaining it, I wrote “How to (Not) Have Children” (update: this book ultimately published as No Children, No Guilt, written under the pseudonym Sylvia D. Lucas [used primarily for branding purposes]), a straightforward and humorous collection of musings, arguments, anecdotes, and even some helpful advice for those living, or thinking about living, a child-free life.
One reader wrote to tell me she, as someone who was “on the fence” about children, found it incredibly useful and was able to relate to several of the passages (people’s reasons for having or not having children, in particular). I don’t know what her ultimate decision turned out to be, but if “How to (Not) Have Children” helped (and, by the way, I don’t try to convince women not to have children), I’m happy.
I’ll post an update when it’s available for Kindle.
For an archived article I wrote for the Journal Inquirer titled “They’re Not Kidding – Childless and Loving Every Minute of It,” click here.