Author Topic: Moral Outrage and the Stigmatization of Voluntarily Childfree Women and Men  (Read 21529 times)

Bumperpuff

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I thought this sort of fit the antimustachianbill, apparently you need children to be a happy and fulfilled person.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-016-0606-1
"Extending past research, voluntarily childfree targets elicited significantly greater moral outrage than did targets with two children. My findings were not qualified by targetsí gender. Moral outrage mediated the effect of target parenthood status on perceived fulfillment. Collectively, these findings offer the first known empirical evidence of perceptions of parenthood as a moral imperative.

Slee_stack

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TL;DR  Does this mean the population as a whole view childless couples as more immoral than those with children?

Goldielocks

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TL;DR  Does this mean the population as a whole view childless couples as more immoral than those with children?

More likely, that those that have children tend to have their moral outrage tempered a bit in comparison. 

panda

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I thought this sort of fit the antimustachianbill, apparently you need children to be a happy and fulfilled person.
Not quite.

The study found that married people that do not have children are perceived to be less fulfilled than those with children. Additionally, study participants exhibited moral outrage that marred people would not have children as well. However, it is important to note that the study participants were "introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university" so several biases are likely at play as well.

marty998

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I wonder if the outrage stems from jealousy of non-parents escaping the insanity of childcare fees while their offspring-burdened friends suffer that horrendous drain on their wages :)

MgoSam

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason. I know couples that are white that are told by their families and friends that they have to have kids because otherwise there will be too many colored people in the US...though of course the family members chose their wording so as to not appear racist.

WhiteTrashCash

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They can be morally outraged. I will wave at them while sitting on top of my giant pile of money like Scrooge McDuck.

iowajes

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Without asking (or maybe they do?) how does one determine if someone is voluntarily childless?  A lot of the childless people I know are not there by choice.

mustachepungoeshere

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I cop this from one set of close friends. Well, the wife mainly.

Me: Oh our old fridge died and we had to buy a new one*. There goes the savings goal for this month.
Her: Try having kids. Then you'd never be able to save any money!
Me (mentally): Try not buying Disney-branded mandarins. Then you might be able to cut down your $400/week grocery budget...



*This just happened. It was the second-hand fridge we bought eight years ago. Replacing it lowered our projected savings for the month by 20 per cent.

JustGettingStarted1980

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I thought this sort of fit the antimustachianbill, apparently you need children to be a happy and fulfilled person.
Not quite.

The study found that married people that do not have children are perceived to be less fulfilled than those with children. Additionally, study participants exhibited moral outrage that marred people would not have children as well. However, it is important to note that the study participants were "introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university" so several biases are likely at play as well.


This says it all!

"Introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university". What a terrible polling population for just about anything!

I'm going to make my own awful assumptions here based on the fact that I once was young (alas...)

-18-19 years old
-Thinks they are hot to trot
-Taking mandatory basic psychology course ("do I really have to take this class for my business degree") to complete their "social sciences" requirement
-Picked psychology because it seemed easier
-"I'm here, and I'm in college, so obviously my parents were better people for having made and raised me"
-Midwestern US sounds alot like "bible belt" to me


BayAreaFrugal

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I cop this from one set of close friends. Well, the wife mainly.

Me: Oh our old fridge died and we had to buy a new one*. There goes the savings goal for this month.
Her: Try having kids. Then you'd never be able to save any money!
Me (mentally): Try not buying Disney-branded mandarins. Then you might be able to cut down your $400/week grocery budget...



*This just happened. It was the second-hand fridge we bought eight years ago. Replacing it lowered our projected savings for the month by 20 per cent.

Goodness, I have a child AND recently replaced a broken fridge without having to take out a loan or sign up for payments. Must be some crazy voodoo magic.

Just Joe

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Is this a different flavor of the same disapproval when we (collectively) don't spend wildly like our peers? We aren't making the same choices so we are suspect?

bobechs

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an old, old psychology department joke:

Q: Why do they use undergraduates for so many experiments?

A: Well, they are cheap and, unlike rats, you don't get attached to them.

Squirrel away

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They can be morally outraged. I will wave at them while sitting on top of my giant pile of money like Scrooge McDuck.

LOL!:)

Metric Mouse

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an old, old psychology department joke:

Q: Why do they use undergraduates for so many experiments?

A: Well, they are cheap and, unlike rats, you don't get attached to them.
I hadn't heard that one. Funny.

This says it all!

"Introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university". What a terrible polling population for just about anything!

I'm going to make my own awful assumptions here based on the fact that I once was young (alas...)

-18-19 years old
-Thinks they are hot to trot
-Taking mandatory basic psychology course ("do I really have to take this class for my business degree") to complete their "social sciences" requirement
-Picked psychology because it seemed easier
-"I'm here, and I'm in college, so obviously my parents were better people for having made and raised me"
-Midwestern US sounds alot like "bible belt" to me

While I think your statements clearly say more about your own biases than about those of the class, there is a well-documented issue of polling college freshmen. While useful for spotting trends over time, single studies such as this suffer from issues of sample selection - college freshman tend to be more liberal and more risk-taking than the American population at large, among other well-documented trends.
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WildJager

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I thought this sort of fit the antimustachianbill, apparently you need children to be a happy and fulfilled person.
Not quite.

The study found that married people that do not have children are perceived to be less fulfilled than those with children. Additionally, study participants exhibited moral outrage that marred people would not have children as well. However, it is important to note that the study participants were "introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university" so several biases are likely at play as well.


This says it all!

"Introductory psychology students at a large U.S. Midwestern university". What a terrible polling population for just about anything!

The psychology students weren't the targets evaluated, they were doing the evaluation of randomly selected married targets to gather data.

Quote
In a between-subjects experiment, 197 undergraduates (147 women, 49 men, 1 participant with missing gender data) from a large U.S. Midwestern urban university were randomly assigned to evaluate a male or female married target who had chosen to have zero or two children. Participants completed measures of the targetís perceived psychological fulfillment and their affective reactions to the target.

golden1

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.   

BlueMR2

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I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason.

I've heard that before and I can't even begin to comprehend it.  To me it's the ultimate selfish act to *have* children.  Causing another life to have to suffer through this evil world is unthinkable for me.  I'm still mad at my parents for doing that to me.

Slee_stack

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.   
You sound outraged yourself.  +1 to the study results!  :D

Chris22

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I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason.

I've heard that before and I can't even begin to comprehend it.  To me it's the ultimate selfish act to *have* children.  Causing another life to have to suffer through this evil world is unthinkable for me.  I'm still mad at my parents for doing that to me.

You, ah, should probably be talking to a professional about that...
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kelvin

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Without asking (or maybe they do?) how does one determine if someone is voluntarily childless?  A lot of the childless people I know are not there by choice.
Listen for if they use the term "childfree" vs. "childless".

I have asked once or twice, but usually with a disclaimer "this is a personal question, you don't have to answer if I'm making you uncomfortable".

stoaX

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.

My kids were adopted.  Should I be a smug self congratulator for not adding to the population or should I boast about having done my unselfish duty of becoming a parent?  I don't know which side of the fence I'm on!   :)

Cassie

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People need to make what is the best choice for them.  Having children is a lot of work and a lifetime commitment in many ways.  YOu always worry about your kids much more then anyone else on the planet. I had 3 kids and am glad I did. My 3 adult sons are choosing not to have kids and I am fine with that.  People that get talked into having kids are probably not very good parents.

WGH

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.

+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

stoaX

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+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

Yeah, but if times ever get really tough I can roast and eat my "fur baby".

TheGrimSqueaker

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.

+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

Having tried both, I prefer the pet experience.
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mustachepungoeshere

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Having tried both, I prefer the pet experience.

My mum has told me on more than one occasion that she should have just stuck with dogs.

I'm not scarred by it, she's been a terrific mother. And if I'm really good, she takes me walkies.

Slinky

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Quote
The study found that married people that do not have children are perceived to be less fulfilled than those with children.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

Study seems to hold up so far.

golden1

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Quote
My kids were adopted.  Should I be a smug self congratulator for not adding to the population or should I boast about having done my unselfish duty of becoming a parent?  I don't know which side of the fence I'm on!   :)

Nope.  You win and are untouchable. 

My point is that there is that people are going to judge you no matter what you do.  Make peace with that, and be happy with the choice you made.  Stop trying to justify your lives by criticizing others choices (and yes, I see the irony of that statement since I am in the shame and comedy section of the forum). 

starjay

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason. I know couples that are white that are told by their families and friends that they have to have kids because otherwise there will be too many colored people in the US...though of course the family members chose their wording so as to not appear racist.

You've summed up much of my life experience with your comment. Sometime in my early 20s I realized that getting married and having kids was optional, and I could choose one or both or neither. I have heard SO MANY TIMES how selfish I am not to birth a kid, how selfish I am not to contribute my pretty/smart/creative genes to the gene pool, how selfish I am to deny my parents grandchildren (I'm an only child). How I'm one of the problems with our country because I'm not contributing to the birth rate. Not even my medical issues, for folks who know about them, dissuade this commentary. It's incredible.

I briefly dated a guy who said marriage without children is a like a garden without flowers: useless. I was agog for multiple reasons. We did not date for long.

Another gem of an ex said it was his/my "moral duty" to have white babies to buffer against all the non-white people immigrating to the US and having children. It's the closest I've ever come as an adult to punching someone. That was 12ish years ago, and I'm mad all over again just thinking about it.

MgoSam

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason. I know couples that are white that are told by their families and friends that they have to have kids because otherwise there will be too many colored people in the US...though of course the family members chose their wording so as to not appear racist.

You've summed up much of my life experience with your comment. Sometime in my early 20s I realized that getting married and having kids was optional, and I could choose one or both or neither. I have heard SO MANY TIMES how selfish I am not to birth a kid, how selfish I am not to contribute my pretty/smart/creative genes to the gene pool, how selfish I am to deny my parents grandchildren (I'm an only child). How I'm one of the problems with our country because I'm not contributing to the birth rate. Not even my medical issues, for folks who know about them, dissuade this commentary. It's incredible.

I briefly dated a guy who said marriage without children is a like a garden without flowers: useless. I was agog for multiple reasons. We did not date for long.

Another gem of an ex said it was his/my "moral duty" to have white babies to buffer against all the non-white people immigrating to the US and having children. It's the closest I've ever come as an adult to punching someone. That was 12ish years ago, and I'm mad all over again just thinking about it.

I'm very sorry to hear this. As a guy I hear some of this from my family and can brush it off. I imagine it would be far harsher to women and I've heard just what you've said from multiple CF women I know.

MgoSam

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Huh.  I am seeing a lot of stigmatization the other way these days as more and more people opt out of having children.  In fact, this thread drips with it. 

The empathy gap between us "breeders" and the child-free is stark.  Most people I know without children are the first to judge parents for their children's actions with zero understanding of anything.  Also, there is a lot of self-congratulation and back-patting for being "smart" and protecting the environment by not adding to the population.   

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on.

+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

It's sad in general that some people spend their time imagining the motivations of people they know little about.

starjay

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Speaking from experience I do feel like some of the outrage given to CF people is jealousy as they don't have childcare expenses nor the lack of sleep and stress that comes with having children, but that is just a small factor.

I believe that many parents feel like it is a "duty" for healthy and financially secure couples to have kids, and for them to refuse to do so is "selfish," for whatever reason. I know couples that are white that are told by their families and friends that they have to have kids because otherwise there will be too many colored people in the US...though of course the family members chose their wording so as to not appear racist.

You've summed up much of my life experience with your comment. Sometime in my early 20s I realized that getting married and having kids was optional, and I could choose one or both or neither. I have heard SO MANY TIMES how selfish I am not to birth a kid, how selfish I am not to contribute my pretty/smart/creative genes to the gene pool, how selfish I am to deny my parents grandchildren (I'm an only child). How I'm one of the problems with our country because I'm not contributing to the birth rate. Not even my medical issues, for folks who know about them, dissuade this commentary. It's incredible.

I briefly dated a guy who said marriage without children is a like a garden without flowers: useless. I was agog for multiple reasons. We did not date for long.

Another gem of an ex said it was his/my "moral duty" to have white babies to buffer against all the non-white people immigrating to the US and having children. It's the closest I've ever come as an adult to punching someone. That was 12ish years ago, and I'm mad all over again just thinking about it.

I'm very sorry to hear this. As a guy I hear some of this from my family and can brush it off. I imagine it would be far harsher to women and I've heard just what you've said from multiple CF women I know.

I appreciate the sentiment. Thank you. At this point, I'm mostly immune to the unsolicited commentary on my lack of children. What breaks my heart is that my friends who have been suffering through miscarriages and, in a couple of cases, children who lived less than an hour, have to hear this garbage too. Because well-meaning noseypants think it's perfectly okay to tell a couple they barely know: Why don't you have kids? You'd make such good parents! You're successful, smart, attractive! You should have kids. Meanwhile, my friends are barely keeping it together because they're still grieving the loss they've just suffered.

Basically, I think people should just keep their mouth shut about other people's childed/notchilded status.

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I finally got my tubes out after about 10 years of research/multiple doctors and "You'll change your mind." and "You're too young to make that decision." I've heard every rationalization in the book, but my stock answers usually end the conversation pretty quick. :)



 

panda

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I briefly dated a guy who said marriage without children is a like a garden without flowers: useless. I was agog for multiple reasons. We did not date for long.
I might question the literately language that your date used, but I do understand the sentiment. Idea that you marry for love is a very recent concept and historically raising children was the de facto reason that you got married. From a modern standpoint there really aren't many benefits that you get by being married versus co-habituating. Most of the legal frameworks around marriage in the Western world are still based upon the idea of rearing children.

moof

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A couple weeks ago one fellow in the group was gone on a Wednesday.  Turned out there were 25" of fresh powder on the mountain, so he and his female "partner" (not sure if they are actually married, despite sitting by him for 2 years...) took the day off and went skiing.

As the three of us looked at each other in slight jealousy/contempt I uttered that 4 letter word "dink".  He regularly jets off to far locales like Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.  Good for him, but it can be a bit of gut punch for those of us a bit worn down from the inescapable grind of parenthood.

I love my kid, but it can be hard to wonder "what if" with regards to marriage and kids sometimes.  Plenty of doors close, a few others open.  On the whole your life is much more restricted with a wife, and far more so with kids.  The pluses are great too, but it can be hard to keep those in perspective when the grass looks so damn green on the other side of the fence sometimes.

Maenad

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There seemed to be more moral outrage back in the late 90s when I got my tubes tied at 24 years old, but these days, I don't know. I've ejected the critics from my life and have a group of friends that are supportive of each other regardless of our parent/non-parent status. I'm happy with my life and see no reason to poke fun at someone else for making a different choice. I don't need everyone to be like me in order to be "right".

That being said, my friends all made their decisions with much thought. I'm still critical of people who have kids without acknowledging the extra burdens they've placed on themselves (which they then complain about).

I'm also not very patient with other CF people who use terms like "furbabies". They're not children. They are animals - completely different interactions, despite also being a creature that is your responsibility to take care of.

wenchsenior

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There seemed to be more moral outrage back in the late 90s when I got my tubes tied at 24 years old, but these days, I don't know. I've ejected the critics from my life and have a group of friends that are supportive of each other regardless of our parent/non-parent status. I'm happy with my life and see no reason to poke fun at someone else for making a different choice. I don't need everyone to be like me in order to be "right".

That being said, my friends all made their decisions with much thought. I'm still critical of people who have kids without acknowledging the extra burdens they've placed on themselves (which they then complain about).

I'm also not very patient with other CF people who use terms like "furbabies". They're not children. They are animals - completely different interactions, despite also being a creature that is your responsibility to take care of.

I have heard about how CF people are judged my entire life, but only in the media and on the internet. I don't think I've ever actually encountered it in real life. I've had people express mild surprise at my lack of interest in kids, or mild worry that "people like me" don't seem to be having kids and therefore (presumably) the world will eventually be overrun by some less desirable demographic. But no judgement and no 'bingo' statements ("Oh, you'll change your mind when you are older!"). Not ever that I recall.   

It could be that about half my extended family has no kids, and a good portion of my friends don't either.  But most of my best friends have them. 

I wonder if this is unusual?  Or is it just that we all mostly judge other people for all kinds of things, but usually don't mention it unless a pollster asks?

Slee_stack

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I suppose its natural for everyone to want to self-justify their choices.

I know I do (but I do admit to some bad ones too!).

Are parents really concerned with the CF just 'missing out' on the joy of children?

Maybe all 'smart' parents are truly noble and working to prevent Idiocracy down the road. 

If so, I applaud you, but will have to remain 'selfish' and not have kids.  I don't necessarily hate kids, but I don't like them.  I refuse to make myself (and a kid) miserable in that respect just for the future 'greater good'.

I will try to do something positive (or multiple positive things) before I die, so please don't cast me into hell just yet.






Chris22

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If so, I applaud you, but will have to remain 'selfish' and not have kids.  I don't necessarily hate kids, but I don't like them.  I refuse to make myself (and a kid) miserable in that respect just for the future 'greater good'.

I also hate kids.  Almost all of them.  Except my own who (in my eyes) is the greatest person on earth.  Same with grandparents; I hate old people, but my grandma is (was) just the best.
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The other day I read a comment saying that childless/childfree couples should get less retirement benefit seeing as they have contributed less to society in their lifetime.

Personally, I don't have the energy for moral outrage, it just makes me sad. You can be a GREAT person. Work hard, be a good spouse/friend/family member/colleague, pay your taxes, donate your money and time to charity, take care of yourself so that you don't put any unnecessary burden on the NHS, don't spit, don't own a car, recycle...* and people will STILL think you're not worthy.

I take the opinion of my friend (who has two kids): Kids are HARD. Don't have a kid unless you really REALLY want one because it is HARD.

Imagine being raised by parents who didn't want you. I don't want to do that to a kid.

I used to be horrified by people having 4 or 5 (or more) kids. Then I read about how actually it really doesn't matter - wish I still had the article. You want none? Have none. You want 4? Have 4. Teach people to treat each other and the planet with respect and it will be fine. No need for judgement.

*fear not, I have plenty of annoying habits that prevent me from being an insufferable goody-two-shoes.

Slee_stack

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If so, I applaud you, but will have to remain 'selfish' and not have kids.  I don't necessarily hate kids, but I don't like them.  I refuse to make myself (and a kid) miserable in that respect just for the future 'greater good'.

I also hate kids.  Almost all of them.  Except my own who (in my eyes) is the greatest person on earth.  Same with grandparents; I hate old people, but my grandma is (was) just the best.
If this is a subtle suggestion that a person will make an exception with their own kid, I find it a very questionable one to make.  I don't doubt it would happen (as an exception), but the downsides of being wrong are pretty steep aren't they?

.....Hey Frank, you'll really love a dog if you get one of your own!  Hmmm.  Maybe.  But I think I would wager that Frank, who regularly talks about punting dogs, might not suddenly become the model dog owner.


I have three nephews and one niece.  All of them are VERY nice, respectful, kind, and cute children.  I still have zero interest in being around them.  If I have a choice, I avoid them.  Sorry, but not sorry.  I was even asked to be a guardian...in the event...  I declined.  I know, I'm evil.  Hell and all...  Or, I actually may know myself a little...

Its possible that some parents may have a hard time accepting that others might not share their view that having a kid is 'magical'.  And no, its not a religious 'miracle' either.  Its precisely the opposite.  This world-view is part of the problem isn't it?  My way or the highway?  It also might feed into the study results.  Raging true believers and all that.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 10:40:09 AM by Slee_stack »

TheGrimSqueaker

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The other day I read a comment saying that childless/childfree couples should get less retirement benefit seeing as they have contributed less to society in their lifetime.

Personally, I don't have the energy for moral outrage, it just makes me sad. You can be a GREAT person. Work hard, be a good spouse/friend/family member/colleague, pay your taxes, donate your money and time to charity, take care of yourself so that you don't put any unnecessary burden on the NHS, don't spit, don't own a car, recycle...* and people will STILL think you're not worthy.

I take the opinion of my friend (who has two kids): Kids are HARD. Don't have a kid unless you really REALLY want one because it is HARD.

Imagine being raised by parents who didn't want you. I don't want to do that to a kid.

I used to be horrified by people having 4 or 5 (or more) kids. Then I read about how actually it really doesn't matter - wish I still had the article. You want none? Have none. You want 4? Have 4. Teach people to treat each other and the planet with respect and it will be fine. No need for judgement.

*fear not, I have plenty of annoying habits that prevent me from being an insufferable goody-two-shoes.

And yet, astoundingly, when it comes to actually getting work done with a charitable venture, it's chiefly the people who don't have kids who get off their asses and contribute time and effort.

Once people spawn, their focus narrows. (As it should; kids take time and attention and they should be a high priority for their parents.) The effect of this is that such charitable effort as they perform tends to have a direct benefit to themselves or to their offspring. They volunteer in youth sports for their kids, the PTA, and so on. This leaves almost nothing for environmental, animal, medical, disaster relief, arts, science, or poverty relief. People who are raising kids disappear from that kind of charitable scene completely unless they, or their kids, are directly impacted. They may not ever reappear, or if they do it will be after the kids are grown. Volunteer-wise they're good for occasional efforts but extremely unreliable long-term.

Childfree people have been, and most likely will always continue to be, the backbone of charitable ventures worldwide. There's a reason, for example, why the Roman Catholic Church requires its full-time priests and nuns to not marry or have kids of their own: it interferes with the 24x7 service-to-humanity lifestyle.
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wenchsenior

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If so, I applaud you, but will have to remain 'selfish' and not have kids.  I don't necessarily hate kids, but I don't like them.  I refuse to make myself (and a kid) miserable in that respect just for the future 'greater good'.

I also hate kids.  Almost all of them.  Except my own who (in my eyes) is the greatest person on earth.  Same with grandparents; I hate old people, but my grandma is (was) just the best.
If this is a subtle suggestion that a person will make an exception with their own kid, I find it a very questionable one to make.  I don't doubt it would happen (as an exception), but the downsides of being wrong are pretty steep aren't they?

.....Hey Frank, you'll really love a dog if you get one of your own!  Hmmm.  Maybe.  But I think I would wager that Frank, who regularly talks about punting dogs, might not suddenly become the model dog owner.


I have three nephews and one niece.  All of them are VERY nice, respectful, kind, and cute children.  I still have zero interest in being around them.  If I have a choice, I avoid them.  Sorry, but not sorry.  I was even asked to be a guardian...in the event...  I declined.  I know, I'm evil.  Hell and all...  Or, I actually may know myself a little...

Its possible that some parents may have a hard time accepting that others might not share their view that having a kid is 'magical'.  And no, its not a religious 'miracle' either.  Its precisely the opposite.  This world-view is part of the problem isn't it?  My way or the highway?  It also might feed into the study results.  Raging true believers and all that.

I find it weird also that in a world full of people, all of those people having unique personalities and interests, that the idea that some of us just ARE NOT INTERESTED in kids or the experience of parenting is surprising.

I mean, there's TONS of things that I'm not interested in experiencing that other people love, ranging from  hobbies to lifestyle choices: Stock car racing.  Being an economist. Traveling to China.  Escargot.  Learning German. Being in an open marriage.

Then there's things I have tried, and am fine with or indifferent to, but would be completely fine never doing again in my life: Owning a dog. Taking care of babies  or really even seeing any. Conversing with children up to about age 14.  Cheese.  Living in Texas. Being single.  My current editing job. Interacting with much of my extended family (note: NOT the same thing as wishing them ill).

Then things I actually really enjoy, but that I have given up or could give up without suffering real depression or feeling my essential self is compromised: Roller coasters.  Horseback riding. Acting as a financial educator to friends and family that ask for help. Watching NFL football.  Travel to Europe, Australia, Costa Rica.  Interacting with an extended social circle of friends. Conversing with teenagers when they aren't in a snit (which admittedly is rare).

Then there's things I LOVE, persistently and passionately, that are fundamental to my personality. These things will always take priority over the other three categories: Being married to my current partner.  My relationships with a handful of friends and family members.  Conversing with smart well-educated adults.  Wildlife and wildlife research.  Gardening and plant research.  Science in general. Being around water.  Reading a good book. Etc. 

Everyone is actually like this.  Peoples' enjoyment of kids and parenting is probably on broad bell curve, and probably further subdivides by age/stage of child raising.  I mean, how many parents love their kids but hate parenting them as teens?   I have one friend who was a great mother, but who felt zero active love for her daughter until the kid became a toddler.  She just has NO interest in babies at all. She conscientiously took care of her baby in terms of physical contact, comfort, feeding, etc, because she knew it was important for the child's well being. Once the kid began developing verbal and motor skills, she gradually fell in love with it. By the time the kid was 3 or 4, she was fully emotionally engaged.  But she knew after that that should stick to having only the one child.

People are all different. Most have at least some interest in kids, but many don't. It's only recently that women even had the option to consider whether they were interested or not.

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I have heard about how CF people are judged my entire life, but only in the media and on the internet. I don't think I've ever actually encountered it in real life.

I wonder if this is unusual?  Or is it just that we all mostly judge other people for all kinds of things, but usually don't mention it unless a pollster asks?

I'm glad to hear that you haven't been judged in person. I can say that I have, and I'm a youngish (29) male that is single, I can't imagine how things would be different were I married or a female. Of course I come from an Indian family so it's full of people that sincerely believe that I would be happier if I stopped having independent thoughts and just did what I was told (ie, allow my mother to go to India and bring me back a wife who I will then promptly impregnate multiple times).

Cpa Cat

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On the one hand, I'm bewildered by why 18-20 year olds in a university psych class have such strong feelings about this topic, but on the other hand it kind of supports what I have experienced in my own life as a childless married person in the Midwest.

When I got married at 20, people were VERY CONCERNED about my breeding habits. People asked all the time what my plans were for children, what my timeline was, told me that I was wrong for not wanting children, that I would regret it, etc etc etc. This included other 20-somethings - who liked to tell me about their own plans for the future. It was like people had this ideal marriage/family in their heads and my unwillingness to conform to that ideal was a problem.

Then I turned 30 and people started being less concerned. Other 30-somethings casually ask about my family, but they know other people who are child-free, so it's nothing new to them. Older people seem to have gotten uncomfortable for fear that my womb is somehow poisonous and asking about whether or not my eggs are getting fertilized could lead to an unpleasant discussion.  It was almost like being over 30 was less than ideal for having children, so I was no longer shattering their "perfect family" picture, since I didn't fit in it anymore (being an elderly, barren over-30).

It's funny to me because I grew up in Ottawa and all of my high school friends from Canada waited until their 30s to have children or remained childfree. No one from my high school had kids in their early 20s. But in my midwestern state getting married and having children young is more the norm.

Yesterday, my husband was at the doctor and the doctor asked about kids. My husband said he was ambivalent and I didn't want kids, so it wasn't our plan. The doctor's response was, "Well, she has a career instead." That's right, I just filled my joyless womb with accounting. It's as close as I can get to the true happiness of parenthood.

Just Joe

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All it takes for me is seeing one of those unhappy parents with an unhappy child having a public meltdown - especially if the parent is not handling it well. There are ALOT of people who would have been better off avoiding parenthood. They'd have more freedom and more money for it. Maybe better adjusted adults for it. I imagine some of them would be happier for it too. Besides the world is a crowded place already.

DW and I both wanted children and were successful - eventually. We both adore being parents but are also eagerly an empty nest so we can regain our freedom to come and go. We got very little help from the extended family with watching our children so someday it'll be nice to pack and bag and head out of town on short notice. We have days when DW and I look at each other and wonder aloud (in private) what being CF would have been like. In the long run it will have been worth it for us though.

Enjoy your choice. You have my support whatever that is. If you choose kids, be a good, patient parent always improving their communication game with the child.

Cassie

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My sister always knew she did not want kids. She is now 71 so back then it was considered very odd and received lots of negative comments.  However, she ended up being a fantastic aunt to my 3 boys. She would take them places and do things with them and even babysit for me.  She is not a kid person but these kids were her nephews so it was different. I also see nothing wrong with people having furbabies instead. I now have 4 of them.

yachi

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+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

Yeah, but if times ever get really tough I can roast and eat my "fur baby".

Could you?  My grandparents had a goat that the kids named, and when it came time to eat it, they couldn't bring themselves to eat.

stoaX

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+1

I also see a rather disturbing trend of the childless extolling the virtues of their "fur babies" instead of having children due to the lack of neediness, responsibility, etc. that a human requries rather than a pet.

It's sad to me that people seem to be opting for a far lesser version of joy and companionship because kids are viewed as just too much of an inconvenience....

Yeah, but if times ever get really tough I can roast and eat my "fur baby".

Could you?  My grandparents had a goat that the kids named, and when it came time to eat it, they couldn't bring themselves to eat.

Probably not.  I assume goat tastes better than dog so if they couldn't eat the goat, it would be even harder with an old stringy dog...