The overwhelming concern of child-free people is that they have a right to choose without their choice constantly being questioned. They would like others to respect their decision. It is no different to choosing where to live, with whom you live and what you do in your spare time. Unlike having children, staying child-free rarely interferes with other people’s lives and should be of no concern to anyone other than the person who has made that choice.
‘I find your particular reasons for your decision not to [have children] most reasonable,’ wrote Kirk, 28, following a radio interview conducted during the writing of this book. ‘The fact that you do not find children an attractive option, among other reasons, is your own belief and decision; a right that is yours and yours only; a right that should not be open to criticism or argument. It doesn’t matter whether this “right not to” is to do with not accepting responsibility, or because you’d rather save for a holiday, or you’d rather adopt a homeless child, or just because you don’t like children.’
Child-free people are tired of other people not taking their decision seriously. When you tell others that you don’t want children the usual response is ‘you’ll change your mind’. Parenthood is still seen as inevitable for anyone who marries, so some people choose to remain single or live de facto as this reduces the pressure from family to reproduce.
Jacqui, 25, says she is sick of ‘answering the same silly, intrusive question over and over. Why are people so fascinated that we are choosing to go against the grain on this issue?’
‘One thing I would like to see change is people’s insistence that they have a right to convert me to their way of thinking on this issue,’ wrote Monica, 30. ‘I have a horse…which I gain a great deal of joy from but I don’t insist that everyone else should love them and do the same. I realise people are different and that what is right for some is not for others.’
‘Over the years, I have done my fair share of defending myself to others with kids, which to me is strange because I have never demanded to know their justification for having children,’ said Julie, 37. The point is that people don’t have to justify having children. Humans have been reproducing for millions of years. It is only recently that we have been able to think about it and choose.
People are now presented with an almost limitless array of options in their lives. You could fill a dozen life spans with recreational activities alone. The boundless opportunities often seem to catch active people out. They are simply too busy living life to be bothered having children or even think of it in time.
It is obvious that non-parents simply cannot know what it is like to have a child, so it is slightly insulting when parents claim they somehow know ‘better’ than you and imply that you are ignorant of the joy that children can bring. Of course we don’t know. But we have some idea, and have chosen not to experience it. As Erica, 34, puts it: ‘I often get the comments: “Oh but Erica it’s different when they’re your own” and “it’s something every woman should experience”. Bollocks. Some women are meant to be managing directors of multimillion dollar corporations, some women are meant to be sprinters, some women are meant to be electricians and some women are meant to have children and some aren’t.’
It’s simply about exercising the right to choose and then not being judged on that choice for the rest of your life.