There’s a sort of trend, the last few years, of trying to be the one who has it harder than the next person.
The childfree community isn’t exempt from this trend.
But that we engage in it isn’t entirely our fault; parents will often question the legitimacy of a childless/childfree person’s actual or theoretical complaints or woes like this:
“Oh, you’re ‘tired’? Try having kids. If you’re not a parent, you can go to bed any time you want and sleep in ’til noon.”
“Oh, you’re ‘busy’? Wait until you have kids. (You are having kids, aren’t you?) People without children have all the free time in the world.”
“Ha! You call that anxiety? Try letting your kid walk down the driveway to be picked up by the school bus! Whatever you might worry about is nothing compared to thinking some freak could kidnap your baby.”
We who are without child are understandably compelled to argue that we absolutely can be just as tired as parents, just as busy, and just as anxious, thank you very much, because not having children doesn’t mean life is PERFECT.
While I completely understand and appreciate the desire to dispel the many myths about the childfree that may be circulating in the parenting community, I think it’ s only fair to point out that some of what parents assume about the childfree is actually true.
1. Non-parents get to go to bed late and sleep in like parents used to before they had children.
Yes. If we want to, we can go to bed late, and even on work mornings, we can hit snooze until we absolutely have to get up if we’re going to make it to work on time, because we don’t have to bathe, dress, and feed children, sign their permission slips, pack their lunches, brush their hair, and make sure they have their homework before sending them off to the bus or driving them to school.
(Obviously, “we” doesn’t include every single childfree person in the world. Some have dogs who wake them up, parents who call and wake them up or who require care, cats who pounce on their faces, etc.)
2. Non-parents have more, and better, sex than do people who have kids.
All other things being equal, absolutely, adults without children can, if they want to, have sex on the kitchen island at 3 in the afternoon and not worry about anyone walking in for an after-school snack. And they can do it every day, if they want to. (Key words are “if they want to.”)
3. Non-parents get to have whatever they want. Total freedom.
Someone will always raise a hand to argue, “I can’t do whatever I want because I have a demanding job and six horses and an ailing uncle and personal issues that are preventing me from doing many things I wish I could do. Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I’m free from restrictions.”
Yes, but all other things being equal…
If all of those conditions existed plus children, there would be even less freedom (the horses would probably have to go).
So, if what’s being said is that those without children get to do a lot of things parents either no longer can or that would take them a lot more effort and careful planning and saving, then, yes.
4. Non-parents have much more disposable income than parents do.
Obviously. If a childfree person and a parent are both making the same salary, the person with children is going to spend X amount on those children, and the person without children will have that same X amount to use for something that isn’t children.
(Maybe there are some parents who believe childfree people are somehow magically wealthy, diamond-dripping yacht owners, but such a far-out assumption is hardly worth addressing.)
5. Non-parents don’t know the true depth of human love.
Considering the differences in love feelings between my love for my cats & dog (creatures I care for and protect), my love for my dad and sister (unconditional), and my love for my husband (a creature I long for and am in partnership with), I do understand why some parents believe this.
Love for one’s child can be a different kind of love, and (excluding those parents who dislike and/or abuse their children) maybe even a more powerful kind of love because with it come all the feelings associated with being the caretaker and protector: worry, hope, pride, AND — in the positive cases — unconditional love.
And, really, it would be silly to not assume that, for many (NOT ALL) women, the love they feel for their children IS a far more intense combination of emotions than whatever it is they feel for their spouses (BECAUSE have you SEEN many of the marriages people get themselves into)?
While it’s not accurate to say those of us without children don’t, can’t, and won’t know the depth of human love, it’s definitely accurate to say we’ll never know what it’s like to love our own child.
And that’s okay, because people who don’t want kids simply because they don’t want kids don’t desire to know the love a parent has for a child. If they did, they’d probably have a child.
6. People without kids aren’t very busy and have a lot of free time to do meaningless and silly things.
Parents are correct to assume that we do have more free time than they do, all other things being equal.
There’s nothing to add to that. Just, yes. And it’s very nice.
7. Non-parents own nicer things than parents do.
If by “nicer” a parent who says this means “un-slobbered on” or “with sharp corners” or “white,” probably true, yes. And if we want to put something very expensive at what would be considered toddler-level, we have less fear of it being tipped over. Yes.
8. Non-parents get to keep their non-parent bodies.
This is not an untruth. Non-parents do not have bodies that have been changed by childbearing.
They may be changed, but not from childbirth and breast-feeding. We find other ways!
9. People without children only have to worry about themselves.
I think what’s really being said here is, “You don’t have kids to worry about.”
THE POINT OF THIS LIST
Nobody’s life is “perfect” (whatever that means). We all have stuff. But, all other things being equal, there is obviously a difference in lifestyle between having and not having children (dependents vs. no dependents).
No kids? More time to a. stay late at work, or b. volunteer for a charity, or c. help family members, or d. paint/write/read/play.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these freedoms or admitting that not having kids means there IS a difference (all other things being equal). It’s fine. In a competition of suffering, why would anyone want to win?
Kristen Tsetsi is the author of THE AGE OF THE CHILD, which imagines a childfree woman living in a newly post-Roe v. Wade America. “Reading the news these days is terrifying enough for women concerned with bodily autonomy — why would I invite that into my leisure reading?! What I hadn’t counted on is how compelling Tsetsi’s storytelling is, and also how darkly hilarious some of the scenes are. This is a book that begs to be discussed and dissected. The world Tsetsi has created is terrifying and fascinating, if entirely too close to where we seem to be headed in America.” — Amazon Reader Review