• 5 Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Is Childfree

    I had a thoughtfully-written introduction to this blog. Then I went online to find a nice photo for my header. Went to Google and searched, “childfree photos.” Well, damn! Based on the search results, this blog and many, many more discussions about the decision to be childfree need to happen. Apparently search engines perceive people who are childfree as dog-loving, chronically-vacationing, child-haters who have chosen to climb the corporate ladder instead of having children. While there are many, many reasons why people make the decision to be childfree, I will save that discussion for another blog. Today, I want to share with you, 5 things NOT to say to women who are childfree.

    Please note the use of the term childfree (vs. childless). Childfree typically refers to the decision not to have children whereas childless usually refers to those who can’t bear children.

    Don’t say:

    • “You’ll change your mind.” Maybe, but probably not. Research indicates that most women who choose a childfree life are confident in their decision and have often put a significant amount of thought into this decision, often more thought than those who choose to have children.
    • “Oh, do you not like kids?” Of the plethora of reasons women elect not to have children, this is probably the least commonly reported. Many women who choose not to have children are actually very actively involved with children in other ways, as step-mothers, aunts, teachers, and therapists. 
    • “You’ll regret it.” Again, probably not. And wouldn’t it be worse to have children and regret that decision?
    • “Who’ll take care of you when you’re older?” Yikes! What a selfish reason to have children. 
    • “Oh! But you can adopt or get a surrogate. Anderson Cooper did that and look how happy he is!”  Don’t make the assumption that someone who is without children is infertile. Again, there are many, many reasons why women choose to be childfree.

    Do say:

    •  “Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into this decision. Good for you.”
    •  “I love you and support your decision.”
    • “I have some questions. Do you mind if I ask?”
    •  “Oh ok.”
    • Nothing. More than likely, it’s none of your business.

    In the United States, more women than ever are choosing to remain childfree. Whatever their reason(s), most report that they are questioned and judged negatively for this decision. Many describe themselves as feeling misunderstood. It is often assumed that they are selfish. As a psychologist, I have worked with a number of women who experienced depression and anxiety as a result of the lack of support they receive based upon their decision to remain childfree. 

    We talk about the importance of authenticity. We say, “You do you.” We claim to accept and celebrate individual choices; let’s include the decision to be childfree as one of those choices. 

    Author: Dr. Beverly Pedroche