Do Childfree People Come Across as Strident and Bitter… or Happy and Contented?

Short… and potentially controversial.

We’re childfree and we’re happy about it. We wouldn’t change our lives for anything. So why is it that more an more I am seeing these kinds of comments…

“I can’t visit any of the childfree forums… everyone there seems so angry…”

“Why are childfree people always angry… and so nasty to parents and kids?”

“I really just want to find a place to discuses the childfree life… but they’re so hard to find….”

“Childfree people do sound rather strident… and bitter….”

After all the bingoes, the misrepresentations, the interrogations and the other tiresome stuff that comes along with the childfree life in a pro-natalistic society… it’s rather depressing to think that we’re perceived as strident and bitter and not  quite as happy and contented as we say we are.

And are these descriptors coming from parents? The answer may surprise you, because…

No.  They are mostly coming from other childfree people. And I find that both surprising and disturbing. The other day I got an email (by no means the first) from a childfree reader who said she enjoyed the blog because of the mature discussions and that, while people speak their minds and rarely beat about the bush there wasn’t the anger that said person encountered on other childfree forums.. and which they said they could no longer visit. I asked my husband what he thought (as he sometimes reads childfree blogs).

Let’s just say that although we’re happy and contented, it’s not the vibe he gets online.

I’ve always maintained that every forum, blog etc is different. Also that childfree people need a place to vent and let off steam and childfree blogs and forums should be the place they can do it (they often can’t do it off-line). But it’s a troublesome thought that as a group we’re being perceived as a bunch of angry people who just complain about parents and hate kids.  Because we’re most certainly not that at all.

What do you think, childfree readers? Keep in mind I’m talking about online rather than off-line.

69 thoughts on “Do Childfree People Come Across as Strident and Bitter… or Happy and Contented?

  1. Miss Fanny

    Do people with children come across as self-centred?
    Do people with children come across as superior?
    Do people with children seem oblivious to how life is for others?
    Do people with children seem oblivious to how badly behaved their children are in the company of others who seem annoyed at them?

    answers on a postcard…….

  2. SG

    I noticed CF folks are as varied as it gets. I don’t notice any imbalanced ratio of bitterness to happiness. Some CF folk are cynical and snarky, some are easy-going and mellow, some are intellectual and introspective. I think it’s a healthy mix and if anything it’s REAL. No maudlin emotions or faux-feelings that I see on pro-kid forums. I do see a correlation between education and confidence and the perception by the less educated of bitterness/stridency. It’s very “Us vs. Them.” I’m not sure what can be done about that.

    If there is bitterness and anger on the CF side, I believe it’s from CF’ers who have grown weary of having to defend their position against parental-types who cherry-pick arguments or have poor reading and comprehension skills.

  3. Luci

    Well I like your site, and when I read comments here most of people seem to be reasonable and respecting too. But yes I sometimes read a Czech childfree forum but I’ve never registered there because I dislike some of the members and their very rude and vulgar way of typing; they kind of make me feel ashamed for childfree people as a whole [because the forum is the community that represents us: of course many cf people don’t care about that site or foruming in general, but if people look for something online that community will be what they’ll find as a representative group].

    1. ParisKat

      Hi Luci,
      I know this is old but I was just reading the article. Is there any chance you could please send me the link to the forum? I am curious about it and would like to practice my Czech, and it sounds like interesting reading at the very least :).

  4. LHBean

    There is a gamut of perspectives within the child-free movement. Certainly on-line, we can be more blunt and honest about our frustrations. Sometimes that can be perceived as negative.

    I certainly would never dare to speak to the mother about “responsibility” when she was so preoccupied on her cell phone with her back turned that she didn’t notice her toddler in a shopping cart on an incline rolling away. I stopped the cart and returned it to a safer location. On-line I could vent about her negligence and carelessness.

    On Twitter, I can safely spout off about the monstrous behaviour of many children I encounter in my work and the laissez-faire attitude of their parents. It is a safe haven where I can light-heartedly complain about having to observe pro-natalist social customs and jokingly poke fun at the strange habits of parents.

    Sometimes the child-free have a right to be bitter. When we have to work less-desirable shifts or vacation time or endure the behaviour of badly-parented children in public places – we have a right to speak out about it somewhere. When our tax dollars are spent foolishly on programs that benefit only a certain portion of society and ultimately, not society as a whole and these programs actually serve to perpetuate the social ills that they are implemented to counteract – perhaps we have a right to be a little negative.

    Your site tends to portray a balanced and mature perspective. I appreciate that.

  5. Kat

    CF is pretty broad, and it encompasses everything from people who would have had kids had they been able, to people who love kids but have good reasons not to have their own, to people who would be perfectly happy if all kids and parents moved to the moon. CF forums reflect real life, and just like real life, there are always going to be some personalities and viewpoints you agree with, and some you don’t.

    I think some of the issue is that CF’ers use CF sites to say things they simply can’t IRL. So many of us are surrounded by people who are shocked and defensive if we say ANYTHING that isn’t seen as parent and child worshipping. So a lot of the time the rants and comments that we post in our ‘safe places’ are going to come across as negative and harsh to people looking in, even other CF’ers – but they’re being said in an environment where people understand and accept, and that’s very important. Generally we’re good people who just want to be left in peace with our decision., but the unwillingness of society to do that sometimes drives you crazy.

    I post regularly to a couple of CF sites, and they’re very different kettles of fish as far as the culture goes. The trick is to find one that suits you. Don’t assume that they’re all the same, or the first one you find is “how they are”. There’s a growing number of CF resources out there, and there’s something to suit pretty much everybody.

  6. nerd

    An interesting piece I think…I agree witht he sentiments of others who say that sometimes you just need a place to vent where other people understand. Myself I will admit there are times when I possibly DO come across as a bit strident IRL, because even though someone may be genuine when they say “but what if you change your mind?” but I have heard it so many times it can be like a red rag to a bull. Hmmm, maybe that choice of words may be an indicator to the times my response is more strident…

  7. Lurker

    I think parents are jealous..IF they use such terms about the CF…and as every other group the CF are not homogenous.

  8. Phoena

    I avoid childfree forums these days for exactly the reasons you outlined. There IS too much whining and bitching going on. I expect a certain amount of complaining about really shitty parents, but quite a bit of of it is wildly unreasonable or self-inflicted. (Don’t GO to McDonald’s with a playground (or if you do, get your food to go) or a place that attracts kids like a mini-golf/go-kart place if you’re going to object to seeing kids! Don’t go to a baby shower and then whine about it!) The Gen Y infiltrating our boards doesn’t help much.

    Some ranting is okay – when you see or hear something over the top. But I like more discussion in my online boards and less foaming at the mouth ranting.

    1. Britgirl Post author

      To that I would also add Turn off your Facebook “friends” who go on and on about their impending births and kids – or suck it up and don’t complain. I am having to seriously consider doing that as a good friend of my hubs is posting min by min status as they await their first baby. It’s a toughie because I like them a lot. I have zero interest in the min by min updates which I ignore.
      I stopped going to childfree forums years ago. I have no sympathy for parents who visit childfree forums. But even at my rantiest, sarkiest worst I was taken aback at the overall negativity in some forums. I agree a certain amount of ranting is necessary. But I also think when it is that extreme it harms rather than helps us.

      1. Cf-gertie

        Britgirl, if a friend was posting minute-by-minute from the waiting room at their veterinarian’s office because they were anxious about how their dog’s surgery would turn out, would that bother you? A friend who’s excitedly posting photos every ten minutes from what seems to you a hideously boring convention about dentistry? Is the huffiness reserved for children and parenting posts — and do you expect to be fascinated by everything every one of your Facebook “friends” is into?

        I think that Facebook should have a way to filter out certain kinds of posts, so anti-kid people wouldn’t have to be bored by kid-posts, and I wouldn’t have to be bored by posts about obscure German techno bands.

        But I also appreciate that the randomness of posts gives me insight into what other people care about. To me it’s a way to get out of my little homogeneous world, flex my atrophying sense of sympathy, curiosity, and compassion. Am I interested in how cancer treaments go, day by day, blood sample by blood sample? Not really. But I read my friends’ constant posts about it because it interests *her*. (Oh yeah, she happens to be fighting cancer herself.)

        In my everyday life, do I hang out with Republican farmers with motorcycles? No, so I think it’s interesting to find out what matters to them, hear about their lives, bite my tongue when they post something I disagree with. Yet they post information to help me out when my cat gets sick. Wow. Turns out we’re all human and we have things in common.

        Deciding everyone with kids is boring is sort of like a poet deciding all non-writers are boring. Should we only read status updates of people exactly like us? To their credit, I’d say that the parents I know on Facebook are very interested in non-parental things that I post about. I am a poet. They buy my books and post supportive stuff about my tours. They are open-minded and curious.

        1. Britgirl Post author

          cf-gertie: Save your Facebook advice (I don’t need it) and stay in your homogenous little world with your atrophying sense of sympathy, curiosity, compassion and whatever else you’re rambling on about. You’re doing just fine there. While you’re there you may want to read a little more carefully… I don’t recall “deciding everyone with kids is boring.” That must be your imagination.

          1. ARoss

            Woah, this response is characteristic of exactly the point you were making. I agree with the poster, the part about being upset that you have to block a friend for posting things that are boring seems petty, particularly when it’s a relative. The band metaphor was a pretty good one. You kind of bit their head off.

  9. Thea

    I consider myself happy and contented most of the time, but let’s be honest, we CF are still a lot under attack from society. For me there are many things that still make me angry, not all the time, but when they’re brought up again. For example, people with kids already have so many perks while we get nothing, so when they’re still not happy with what they have and ask for even more that might be an occasion for me to go online and rant about it. I think the bouts of anger and bitterness often expressed on the net are like movie stills, they don’t let you see the whole movie, just a short moment.

    I’m also not sure if there isn’t some sort of “Uncle Tom” syndrom going on right now with a lot of CFers. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to insult anyone, I just have the feeling that many CF want to “get along” with their family, friends, colleagues, etc, so they think “playing nice” will do the trick. Consequently they shy away from expressing any negative thoughts they still might have. Personally I think it’s totally wrong to suppress your anger about how you’re treated as a CFer in a pro-natalist society. No matter how much you try to fit in, you never will. It didn’t work for other oppressed minorities, it won’t work for the CF.

    So, while I agree that it’s unhealthy to dwell too much on negativity, it’s maybe unhealthy as well if we label everyone who expresses anger about our situation as too bitter and angry. They may just have had a moment of “enough’s enough” and need to say it out loud, even if it’s only on the net.

  10. Britgirl Post author

    Setting aside the wildly inappropriate use of the term “Uncle Tom…”
    My point is that no-one can be angry all the time and expect anyone to talk to them for any length of time. And it isn’t good for your health mental or otherwise. And if people have anger and choose not to express it all the time that’s called being an adult and choosing to live in the world at large.

    1. Thea

      I don’t think calling a spade a spade is inappropriate in any way, look up the description for “Uncle Tom” on Wikipedia and you’ll find that it exactly describes how many Cfers behave. It’s basically a similar situation for us. Of course we’re not as oppressed as slaves have been, but we’re still in the minority and are treated with a lot less respect than those with children.

      I’m not saying that everyone who likes kids or doesn’t want to rant about parents and their offspring on the net automatically behave subservient to them or want to integrate themselves at all costs into a society that despises them. But I do think a lot of those who complain that too much ranting is going on in CF forums are often driven by the wish to be integrated. They hope that we’re better accepted when we don’t attack anyone or anything. Unfortunately that’s a false hope. It never worked like that for women, gays and lesbians, or any other group. Usually the more you try to please the majority group that oppresses you, the less rights you gain. And once the initial push for equal rights ends, soon the backlash begins and you lose rights you’ve gained before. Just look at how womens’ reproductive rights are taken away again now that the womens’ lib movement has become watered down. I predict that it won’t get any better until women start to be angry again.

      Again, it’s not about being angry and ranting all the time. There might be CFers who are “on edge” all the time and can’t stop ranting on the net about the most irrelevant things. But IMO that’s an immensely small part of the CF community. I think most of those who rant online are exactly the happy and contented people IRL. They just use the net as a medium to vent.

      1. Sean

        The use of “Uncle Tom” is not only inaccurate, racially or sociologically, but doesn’t really indicate much of your overall point to begin with. Ignoring that and using hte definition you conveniently pulled from that term, still, I’m not trying to ingratiate myself with my friends who have made the choice to breed (not that I have to with them, many of us are in the same alumni); and I’m certainly not trying to do any such thing with society at large. I just don’t care.

        If you’re going to try wrangle literal terms with wildly varying social contexts/problems together, at least make sure they match. Racism and gay rights are not one in the same.

      2. Britgirl Post author

        Thea, if I didn’t already know what the term “Uncle Tom” meant I would hardly be able to say it’s been used inappropriately in this context, would I? It’s nothing to do with calling a spade a spade and the analogy between disenfranchised slaves and the childfree is quite a leap. I also think it’s a huge generalization to say that those (or a lot of those) who don’t rant/don’t wish to rant or who feel uncomfortable being in “attack mode” are simply trying to ingratiate themselves or trying to please the majority group.

  11. Childfreeeee

    BritGirl, I get similar emails from readers of my blog, thanking me for not going the “angry” route. I think some (actually, many) of my posts ARE angry, but maybe because they are not expressed in “breeder”/”moo” language, they come off as mature and reasonable.

    I have to admit, I don’t really enjoy CF sites or blogs where there’s a lot of name-calling. I certainly understand the need to vent (because god knows we CF have plenty to vent about), but I don’t think the name-calling approach does us any favors or furthers our cause. People read the angry “breeder”/”moo” stuff and immediately shut us off, thinking we’re a bunch of immature, angry lunatics. It even turns ME off, and I am childfree!

    Some may not care what people think of us – if they don’t like it, kiss off. But for me personally, I think it’s important for non-CF people to gain understanding and acceptance of the CF lifestyle so that eventually the stigma and marginalization we face will diminish. Understanding and acceptance will come through respectful dialogue, not through name calling.

    1. Sean

      Being CF is hardly a life-“style” so much as a life-“choice.” If a person makes the decision not to have children as a choice of style, and expects to exist in perfect equilibrium with others who have (obviously) not made that choice, don’t expect to be very popular at baby showers. Some parents have kids in the same fashion as woman picking out a Louis Vuitton accessory and, though, while that is sick unto itself, it can be consolidated to impeded intelligence of childbearing in general. At least we CF’ers can realize the life-altering choices to produce or not to produce.

    2. Britgirl Post author

      Childfreeeee…The name calling didn’t use to bother me… that was very early on when I first started blogging. But the more I blogged the less comfortable I became with the overt name calling. I have no problem with ranting and venting… as is clear we need to have places we can vent online.But I personally don’t feel the more extreme name calling is necessary and I gradually stopped visiting many CF forums where it was prevalent. I think it’s quite possible to rant, vent and sound off without tons of name-calling.
      I know of childfree blogs that tried to make their content work for both parents and the childfree. It can’t be done and I wouldn’t do it even if it could be :). If parents read my blog, cool… I hope they learn something then apply it in their interactions with others online and off.

      “I think it’s important for non-CF people to gain understanding and acceptance of the CF lifestyle so that eventually the stigma and marginalization we face will diminish. Understanding and acceptance will come through respectful dialogue, not through name calling.”
      Agree. I also am aware that people who are just considering the childfree choice also need to know that we’re not a bunch of angry loonies but just like anyone else except we’ve made a different choice.

  12. HogTownHarry

    Hmmm … Thea … where to start.

    First off – and I’m a life-long cheerfully child-free by choice man who doesn’t define himself by any one thing (even being CF) – please remember that rather than being enslaved by our chosen CF lifestyle, we are (well, I certainly am) actually liberated by it; I’m sorry, I just can’t get around the fact you used “Uncle Tom” and “slavery” to make your point – what’s next, the “N” bomb? (N=”nazi” btw); and do you really feel threatened or angry about the way other people choose to live their lives? While I firmly maintain that we have at least 4 billion more humans on this lonely spinning little rock in space, we do actually need some breeders you know.

    Angry, strident people come from any perspective of any chosen polarizing issue – ignore them, they’re cancer – hell, that’s why I rarely comment on this forum – I’m interested in what people have to say, but frankly my idiot filter allows me to skim 90% of all posts – let’s remember Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crud.” You seem deeply concerned, and YES, the non-CF don’t usually understand us, but frankly most of them don’t give a crap about us – in their eyes we have marginalized ourselves into obscurity (that damned selfish gene fails us again, I suppose) – and I find most breeders get a thoughtful look when I point out I’ve paid upwards of six figures in education tax that THEIR sprogs have had and will have the benefit of, and I don’t get any direct benefit – apart from the joy of having the pimply mouth-breather serving me my fries knowing what “nihilism” means.

    Fight for your/our rights, but maybe tone down the rhetoric a bit? Whatever – nothing bothers me, other than the designated hitter rule and the fact James Blunt is in the recording studio again (a sure sign of the End Times, or that the Universe hates me)

  13. serrin

    I definitely agree that in the online world there is too much CF ranting and not enough respectful discussion, HOWEVER that is true of every group found online.

    Go visit a series of forums about video games, or golf, or goldfish, or today’s weather forecast, and I guarantee that you will encounter more rage and nastiness than logical discussion.

    It isn’t childfree people that are angry raving lunatics – it’s the human race in general. (One of the many reasons I’m not going to procreate!)

    There are certainly childfree blogs that I avoid due to their negative comments and abrasive attitudes, in the same way that I avoid thrash metal nightclubs. I don’t belong there, so I don’t go there.

    All we can do is counter the negative sites with our ongoing level-headed and welcoming attitude on sites such as this one. :-)

  14. Miss Fanny

    The best defence to all the noisy kids and their superior-type parents is a pair of silicon earplugs. Or just turn your MP3 up!

    Or if you have to put up with their noise, just ask them if they’d like to hear some of your music without any ear protection……

  15. og217

    I see it as completely opposite – all CF people and books do is start every sentence with “but I love kids and I work as a teacher / volunteer with teenagers / donate money to schools in Africa.” It’s like they constantly need to reaffirm that they don’t dislike kids. It’s annoying and seems fake. I can’t stand children. And people who like them so much? They birth them. So all this “I looove children! All I want to do is waste my free time and money on other people’s kids! I work with kids! bla bla bla” is annoying and seems to be everywhere. It seems like pathetic sniveling to me. “Please like me! I am just like you! Really!” Give me a break. I am not a raging ball of fury, but I don’t like kids, and I actively hate bratty kids and their oblivious parents. In real life, I am resigned to having to deal with just dirty looks and loud sighs of irritation. So online, it’s nice to vent a bit. And its nice to se ethat other people feel the same way. I cannot stomach all the CF posts of people who profess their love for children for a full paragraph befor ethey say anything of substance. I get it – you don’t eat kids for breakfast. I don’t, either. I really don’t need to see your “I love kids” credentials, so save your volunteer portfolio for someone who cares.

    1. Michael

      *Slow CLAP*

      I agree resoundingly with this post. However … Britgirl’s question here confuses the actions of independent individuals as representative of a collective – “CF people”. Almost every post on this thread has highlighted the importance of ‘venting’ for CF folks who find so little freedom among post-natalist society and I think that explains a lot what we typically see in online venues.

      What I would contend is that the internet CF forums are dominated by those freshly making or recently having made the CF decision. That is, they are coming out of the closet. These are akin to the loud-and-proud homosexual set (“flaming” types) which are far less common now than when the movement first got going. Probably those new to childfreedom/honosexuality feel compelled to justify, to defend, and to lay claim to their decision in ways we are not compelled to. This takes the common form of name-calling and out-and-out anti-parent rhetorical battles.

      So no, I would not at all say that CF people come across as strident and bitter, but that this description fits somewhat loosely on the particular community of CF folks who congregate online to kvetch. What think ye all?

      1. Britgirl Post author

        I don’t think my question confuses anything. True I did not single out “independents” from “groups” my point was simply to ask the question and see what people think. You do make an interesting point. Let’s not forget that anyone who is visiting a childfree forum or group may not necessarily be able to draw the distinction as easily.

    2. Andrew

      I’d like to give credit to og217. While I don’t have the same reaction to people displaying their portfolios, I personally love when people can address a crowd of adults as an adult.

      I recognize that our culture comes soaked in a brine of infantilizing child-focus. We strip our artworks and entertainment of offending images and ideas. We plaster a smarmy romanticism of childhood and youth over everything. We get our cues for style and music from children. In so many ways we kow-tow, as a culture, to the whims and demands of the child. George Carlin was brilliant on this issue (can I post links here?):

      “What I’m talking about is this constant, mindless
      yammering in the media, this neurotic fixation that suggests that somehow
      everything–everything–has to revolve around the lives of children. It’s
      completely out of balance.”

      1. Chrissy

        YESSSSS!! I could hear exactly how Carlin did that routine in my head as I read it :) Such genius. Next time one of my FB friends posts a kid update, I’m going to selectively paste excerpts of this as a response. Well, I actually won’t do that… but I can daydream about how awesome it would be…

    3. Kieva

      That’s a shame – kids taste great topped with blackberry preserves. They don’t taste as wonderful as nOObs and honey though! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      1. Scott

        Slow-roasted over mesquite, basted with clarified butter, is THE BEST. European ones are preferable. American kids tend to be much too fatty for my taste.

  16. Lurker

    Just as I respect og217´s right to express her “anger” for people posting their portfolio I think its just as natural to express that you like children even if you are CF.

    I have a vasectomy and no kids. I do not cry myself to sleep every night and I do not bend over for every parent I meet. But at the same time I wont excuse myself if a post happened to mention that I sometimes like to be around kids.

    Overpopulation will be our biggest concern in future and CF are part of the solution, not the problem.

    1. Sean

      [Overpopulation will be our biggest concern in future and CF are part of the solution, not the problem.]

      So much for ignoring the either/or fallacy.

  17. serrin

    I started liking kids a lot more when I realised I never have to have my own. Suddenly they no longer represent the ruination of my life that they once did.

    That said, I like kids a lot more when their parents aren’t around – much easier to discipline them. And don’t mean smacking them or anything, I just mean treating them like adults and expecting them to clean up their own mess etc. It’s amazing how quickly a kid will do what it’s told when you say “I think you should do this because abcd, and I am not going to do it for you” and mummy isn’t around to say “it’s ok, i’ll do it sweetie”.

    Yep – kids are great fun, and I DO like them, and I don’t mind expressing that, but I’m also pretty clear about how much kids in myown life would NOT be great fun at all.

  18. ParentLurker

    Hello! I’m a parent, and I lurk a lot of childfree websites. Not because I wish I didn’t have kids, but rather because I want to develop a better understanding for people like my sister who is in her 20’s and childfree.

    My perception has been that there are a few boards out there where people do come off as overly bitter and angry, but that’s sort of the way the internet is. Online people feel more freedom toward venting because they can do it relatively anonymously. I highly doubt that many of the things one reads online would be said in a face-to-face setting (unless you were in a “safe” sort of environment where you know everyone else is like minded).

    Most of the CF gripes are pretty valid, I hate bad / inconsiderate parents as well. What sort of makes people upset I guess is the wide spread assumption that ALL parents are like the annoying ones. Painting everyone with one brush is never a good idea.

    I’ve learned quite a bit from CF websites, perhaps the most important thing being to not “bingo” my sister. If she wants to talk about kids, she’ll bring them up. Otherwise don’t bother with it.

    Anyway enough rambling. I don’t see CF people as a whole being a bitter, angry group. There are certain CF individuals that can be, and they all collect in the same areas online. Then again, there are certain parents that can come off as bitter or angry or militant as well… funnily enough they tend to congregate in the same areas as well.

    1. serrin

      I think it’s GREAT that you’re exploring your sister’s choice. My siblings are pretty accepting of the whole thing (hey – cheap babysitter, why complain!) but my parents are uneasy about it. I WISH they would stop talking at me and start listening to me. I WISH they would read sites like this one. Partly so they’d accept it as a valid choice but mostly so they’d stop worrying that I’m going to die sad and alone.

  19. Sean

    Personally, I think it comes down to a noisy few conjuring the worst image that gets associated with the CF.

    HogTownHarry invoked Sturgeon’s Law (which in modern times is incorrectly used, for the term has to do with the use of absolutes, but I digress) and I think it really represents the candor you find on most blogs and forums. That is, the people who are bothered to even make a comment on any given subject are largely forgettable. Taken as an instance of the Pareto principle, 80 per cent of the ruckus is caused by 20 per cent of the actual activity; which may or may not be any actual consequence.

  20. Christine

    I don’t find more bitterness and anger in CF forums than in other online forums — the web is a weird place and people say things they never would in real life.

    That said, I like kids (ones raised by thoughtful and responsible parents) but the folks who go on about how much they love kids bug me sometimes, too.

    1. Cf-gertie

      I’m wondering again, does it bother you when a friend goes on and on about their new pet or their new job?

      In CF forums I sometimes cant’ tell if we’re annoyed people get obsessed with the important things in their lives, whatever those may be, and that other people find the obsession irritating. I know a few dog-people and cat-people who like go on and on about their pets; loads and loads of people who’re obsessed with their artwork, political work, or filmmaking and talk about little else; and some parents who want to talk about their kids a lot. To me, that’s just life, and it’s not a personal attack on my decision not to have a dog or make a film.

  21. Amy

    I’m fairly new to the online childfree community, so my opinion is hardly that of an expert, but as far as I can tell, the reason childfree people come across as you say is because they’re so accustomed to being defensive about their decision all the time. I agree with other commenters that people can come across a lot meaner on the Internet due to their ability to stay anonymous and not face repercussions for voicing their opinions.

  22. Andrew

    This is more likely just a reflection of the pitfalls of internet forums and comment sections. Everyone on-line seems strident and bitter. It takes a high degree of writing skill and patience to set the right tone in a brief, anonymous, conversational post.

    How do child-free conversations compare to, say, political conversations on-line? I have been in a few unintentional political arguments with people where I am sure, in retrospect, that I came off as strident and unwavering and bitter as my interlocutor seemed to me to be at the time. To my own chagrin.

    I know that I sometimes read child-free forums to give me a confidence boost, when I find myself missing an ex with whom I separated on the kid issue, or something similar. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t sometimes wonder “what if?” (maybe some of us more than others.) So what people see as stridency, may reflect some internal conflicts that we, as child-free people, have the luxury of expressing.

  23. Anne-Marie

    Lots on interesting comments here, and I would agree that the online world generally brings out the more extreme feelings people have, whether those are positive or negative. That’s one of the reasons I’ve largely stopped going to a lot of forums- in the end, we just all have to live our lives the best way we can and reflect on our own choices.

    While I understand that people need to vent and that this is a safe place to do so, I am CF but I don’t find rude children any more annoying than rude adults, and know that my CF choice would not be altered if all the rude children (and adults) suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. I am completely confident that, had I made a different choice and raised children, they’d be civilised and presentable in public, because, as a teacher, that’s how I expect my students to behave. I also don’t care the most of the rest of the world wants children. Good for them, but it doesn’t change what I want. The fact that most people still eat meat doesn’t put any pressure on me to give up my veg lifestyle, and I am not on a mission to change the carnivores anymore than I am on a mission to slam those who want kids.

    My friends with children are, for the most part, pretty decent parents who don’t demonstrate the annoying traits people tend to complain about. They’re also, like my CF friends, decent folks. This might be why I am largely unfazed by the issue.

    Perhaps it’s time for us not to let others define us, and to just live our lives in the most full and interesting manner possible.

  24. Ann

    Very happy to have found this blog and to read everyone’s views. From the brief visits I have made to other forums etc. this one seems much more balanced and respectful to a variety of views than most.

    I decided I didn’t want children when I was in my teens. I don’t like children in general very much but there are a few specific ones I am quite fond of, in small doses. I’m not anti-children or anti-parent, but I am quite angry! I have now reached the age where people assume I am just desperate to find a man and pop out a baby, neither of which is true, and I am so sick of discussing my choices with people who don’t/won’t understand and who seem to think they are entitled to a say in my decisions. I’m sure most CF-by-choice people are entirely happy about their choice and would express nothing but satisfaction with it, if it weren’t for the attitudes of others. We are driven to be defensive and strident to respond to the misunderstanding and criticism of our valid and positive choices.

  25. Andrew

    Also, “strident and bitter” v. “happy and contented,” not the only two options.

    Without kids I have a challenge, to make my life into something I am proud of. It’s a fight and a mystery and a saga. Nothing contented about it.

      1. Andrew

        Of course. I just thought it was worth pointing out, for those of us who sometimes experience anxiety about our choices, and who may fear from time to time that our lack of contentedness may mean we chose wrong.

  26. Luxury Girl

    I am all of those adjectives.
    Strident because I hate this pro-child BS, and love that there’s another way.
    Bitter because I’ve been denied having just the one child I would love to have with my husband. But that’s my own fault.
    Happy to have so many choices and so much freedom.
    Contented… well maybe I’m with Andrew on that one.

  27. Merle Kruger

    I am not grandchild free by choice. I would have loved to have grandchildren however circumstances dictated otherwise. However, not having grandchildren is affecting my life radically as all my friends have grandchildren and dont stop boasting about it. I would like some tools to be able to deal with this so that it isn’t so hurtful.
    Any suggestions anyone?

    1. Emacfarl

      I wonder why grandparents boast so much when they know as parents what the long road ahead awaits their children, one of joy, yes, hopefully, but one of worry, stress and tremendous responsibility? Are they bragging because their children are able to reproduce? Are their genes that superior? It seems to me if they have to brag, why don’t they focus on what accomplishments their adult children have done that have made, or will make, this a better world. And not the fact that they have added to our overly populated planet.

  28. mary

    A good childfree article on Slate. It doesn’t say anything we haven’t seen before, but what *I* certainly haven’t seen many times is the realtively measured, sensible commentary from the public. There are still the usual bingoes here and there, but the majority of the comments seem fairly well articulated, regardles of what they might be saying.

    Further proof, perhaps, that the location of the comments is reflected in their quality. Slate isn’t the most high brow of sites, but I imagine most people reading it are well educated, and it shows.

  29. Daphne

    Andrew wrote:

    “This is more likely just a reflection of the pitfalls of internet forums and comment sections. Everyone on-line seems strident and bitter. It takes a high degree of writing skill and patience to set the right tone in a brief, anonymous, conversational post.”

    Amen. (Disclaimer: My fiancee and I are CF.) I find many strident, bitter posts from fellow CF folks on forums. I also find far WORSE elsewhere: sanctimonious essays from people who dislike their lives and everyone in them, and thus need to seek hollow justification online; vitriol from middle-aged people who equate anyone under age 35 with human sh*t; men who feel women belong in the kitchen, on the birthing table, or on the receiving end of a nice black eye; people who hope that President Obama fails – and I could go on.

    That’s why I gave notice to my forums that I wanted my accounts suspended today. There is more to life than other people who need to drag me down to make themselves feel good.

    Phew. Better. Love the blog, and I may have an idea for a topic. Thanks for letting me rant about idiots on the Internet.

  30. Donna Brite

    I firmly believe that some childfree people out there, deep down inside, feel they missed out on an element of life – having children. They will never know what its like to look into the eyes of a newly born, or newly adopted child. And that is the real reason for the bitter remarks they make online every day.

    1. Chris

      Keep telling yourself that, hon. My DH and I are blissfully CF and do not feel we have missed out on anything. I have, in fact, looked into the eyes of a newborn — many of them, since we have 9 nieces and nephews that we adore. Parenting just isn’t for us, and we are very happy with our choice. Try to be less judgmental and realize that people who make different choices from you can be happy as well. And BTW, you yourself sound just a tad bitter — what are you doing on a CF blog anyway?

    2. deegee

      Donna, one does not have to try something out to know we have NO interest or desire to move forward with it. I have never tried skiing, but I know I have no desire to try it out ever. Same for stamp collecting. Same for having children, and that, unlike than skiing or stamp collecting, is an irreversible lifestyle choice so if I try it out and don’t like it, too friggin bad, I am stuck with it!

      This is one reason there are many message boards from people (mainly women) who have had kids but can’t stand their lives and wish they never had them. But show me ONE message board for childfree people who have regretted their lifestyle choice and wish they had children.

    3. Scott

      Sure, maybe some do regret it. Why not? Lots of times bitterness and anger stem from regret. You can see that from parents and non-parents alike.

      I would just like you to imagine someone who didn’t want kids and never changed his/her mind, and never felt regret. Can you conceive that?

  31. Scott

    To be honest, I tend to be embittered and stressed far too easily for my own good. I’m childfree in part because of this. I have little doubt that having children would make me ever more bitter and world-weary.

    I do see a lot of comments on CF blogs that suggest a binary choice, either totally happy with one option or miserable with the other. I tend to see it on a spectrum, though, as a question of degree. I’m sure I would find some enjoyable things about being a parent, but comparatively less than I find in life know. I could be wrong, but there’s only one way to find out!

    1. Scott

      P.S. I don’t mean this to sound paranoid, just precise: you can’t assume that someone online claiming any particular family status really does have that status, and you can’t automatically take every anonymous message at face value, including the one you’re reading right now. For all we know, the bitter, angry ones writing onto the childfree sites could all be parents, and the bitter angry ones on the parenting blogs could all be childfree people. For all you know, I could be ‘britgirl’ herself. (Or himself. Or she could be me. In fact, how do I know for sure myself?….)

  32. jennyjen

    This is a tough one…I fall into the camp where I like kids, (I really, really do!) I just don’t want the lifestyle that comes with it…and the ‘roll of the dice’ element seems strange to me considering how carefully my husband and I have considered our investments, educations, etc.

    (Also, my Mum was one of those women who had children ‘to care for me when I am old’…and let me tell you…that hooey goes down like a lead balloon with us.)

    I hope I come across happy and contented…but one parent friend tearfully admitted that she sees ‘happy and contented’ Childfree-ers as self satisfied and smug. It seems you can’t really win with this one.

  33. Scott

    I think when you see enough of the world and spend time with people who are very different from you, you start to notice that there are no monopolies on personalities. You’ll see that close-minded evangelical types come from all over every spectrum on every issue. Bitter, angry people with not much to contribute come from all over. You can always find someone who thinks you’re terrible just because you chose differently. Because you chose what the majority chooses. Or because you didn’t choose what the majority chooses.

  34. Scott

    The parents who cry “discrimination!” probably don’t want an end to ALL age discrimination. They would probably like to keep the kinds that benefit them. If there were no discrimination based on age, then there would no more “kids eat free” deals, no more separate menu for kids, no booster seats or high chairs, no child loopholes for any restaurant policies whatsoever. Full price for all dishes, no exceptions to the “plate sharing” charge. Any child who is out of control can be thrown out without refund, just like any drunk adult in a bar.

    In fact, ending discrimination for/against children would also mean no special child price for any venue whatsoever: movies, the zoo, amusement parks, museums, any place where children’s admission costs less than adult admission. A truly age-blind airline would treat all carry-ons the same whether they are baby seats or not, and all customers would be charged the same regardless of age, whether you’re three months old or not.

    What does it say about our society that we charge children less than adults? Surely we value them as much as we do adults. Shouldn’t our pricing system recognize the fact that they are such treasures?

    Bring on the end of age discrimination. I dare you.

    1. Scott

      Crap. I just lost the page and sent my message to the wrong entry. This should be under the “No Kids Allowed” entry. No comment on whether the above message is strident and/or bitter…..

    2. Kasie

      Then perhaps we should end senior citizen discounts as well.

      In my opinion, senior citizens are the most entitled group of whiners in existence.

  35. Melvin

    There really are no good childfree discussion forums. All they do is compete against each other on which childfree forum is the most hardcore/militant.

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