Welcome to the third and final installment of this series. Part one is here and part two is here. This is an interview style conversation with myself and my good friend Petra, exploring our lives being child free by choice. Thank you for joining us!
For some people, having children brings purpose and richness of experience to their lives. What would you say to those who believe we are missing out by not having children?
Petra: Thanks for your concern? Haha, I am actually curious why so many parents are impassioned that some people choose not to be parents. I’m not offended not all choose to go into the medical field. It doesn’t threaten my professional validation, and I’m happy for those who successfully determine what it is that gives them joy upon self-investment. So to those particular parents, I’d like to know why it upsets you that I’m minding my own business and not creating a life to raise. Self-reflection is a boon to all!
I am happy and fulfilled, and self-aware. I adjust my life as needed.
Leandra: I’ve learned a ton about life and had many enriching experiences from living with a visible disability that I think a lot of people who don’t experience some type of body battle never understand. But I know there are experiences other people have had that enrich their lives or perspectives that I won’t get. We all get to choose to take our experiences in life and use them to grow and learn and flourish—or use them to remain closed off, use them as excuses, and stagnate where we are. Some people have kids and are complete j&rks whose lives are no better for having children. Some people face tremendous body battles and learn nothing and take their pain out on everyone else. I believe none of us ever get every single piece of the jigsaw puzzle in life, but we can do what we can to collect as many pieces as possible in the time we have. My puzzle will never have children in it, but I’m still going to have a fairly complete picture by the time I leave this life. And that is what I hope for others, whether they have children or not.
Imagine your life if within the next year you were to have children. How would your life be different?
Leandra: My first thought would be that I wouldn’t have what it takes to care for a child and keep my life on track. I work full time, write quite a lot, and help run a household as my husband also works. I rely on several medications to get my body to function in the “real world” and there are days that just getting to my Day Job takes all my energy and focus. I would likely sacrifice my writing and taking care of the household to take care of the child. That would likely lead me to being depressed as these two items provide a lot of stability for my mental health. I would also be in more physical pain. I am in constant physical pain as it is when I am able to focus my energy on caring for my body and health instead of caring for another person. I wouldn’t be able to care for the child fully and might even get fired from my job if I couldn’t keep up… So. Uh. Remind me again why I’m a Bad Person for not having children?
Petra: My emotional state would experience a decrease in satisfaction. My time is already carefully budgeted, and I’d be spread so very thin. I’d have far less time to spend with my husband. We wouldn’t be able to travel as easily. Our finances are not aligned to budget for children, and that would be another factor to adjust. The things that I invest myself in would no longer be something I could pour myself into. Options would change. We donated a sum of money to a legal fee for a friend who was battling for custody of their child from an abhorrent situation. If we were raising a child, this likely wouldn’t have been an option for us. Everything changes when you change everything.
What are your thoughts on fur-babies?
Petra: I love my pets! I think it’s ridiculous that some people take such offense to Child Free people’s loving something. Why would anyone care that I smother my pets with love? It isn’t some poor substitute for a child. I happen to love my pets, independently of my love for certain humans. That’s okay. I enjoy doting on them, and I enjoy that they don’t require as much raising as a human. I enjoy that they AREN’T human! I enjoy giving love and care to a creature, not in fulfillment of an unrequited desire to love a human (I have a lot of humans I love), but because I enjoy caring for creatures. We aren’t all “animal lovers” but I don’t expect everyone to be.
Leandra: The companionship of animals can be important or even crucial to some people’s lives. Not everyone, but many. When pets die, people grieve. They are a part of our families. Sharing love for living things is beautiful and teaches all of us, adults and kids alike, to be compassionate. When people get their underpants in a twist over the term I just think it is funny, if I’m completely honest.
What is your best advice for someone who feels ashamed for being child free by choice?
Petra: Don’t!!!! Invest in yourself to learn not only about what makes your heart ROAR, about your own passions, but also about learning healthy boundaries. Learn about objectivity. Reaffirm your basis on what is actually “wrong” and “right”— does it violate your relationship with God, with His law? (Remember, I’m a Christian, this is my perspective in application.) What is your source of internal tension? Analyze and determine if it’s because you want to be a parent, but doubt yourself (analyze deeper and dig into that!) or is it because a pervasive social expectation is contraindicated to your own heart’s passion? Dig in deeper to understand and own your decision- whatever it is- to move forward with confidence and satisfaction. You are a worthy investment.
Leandra: I spent too many years doing things only because other people thought it was best for me and I was very sick and unhappy, on top of all the stuff I have to deal with from my health issues. When I lived my life like that, I couldn’t give to others or be productive. Now that I am happy and living life on my own terms, I am able to give and help and be there for others. Which is something that is very important to me and what I’ve always wanted to do. I refuse to feel ashamed for pouring my heart and soul into helping others just because those others are not my own children. You aren’t selfish for not wanting to have kids if you know you don’t want them. By living your life with purpose and meaning, you will make the world a better place, I promise. Don’t let other people shame you for that.
Thank you so much for reading! If you are interested in another installment in this series or have additional questions we might answer, let me know: email@example.com
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