Childfree Woman by Karin Rahbek

How to gain respect and acceptance

Why Every Woman Should Stop Defending To Be Childfree

Childfree women are prone to getting themselves in trouble. We are often our own worst enemy. In the moment we make an effort to justify or defend our lifestyle we rarely get accepted to be who we are. The consequence is often that (m)others more or less unconsciously get the mistaken idea that we are selfish, shallow and self-absorbed people.

“Are you aware that your lack of desire to have children is becoming a social problem?”. This evening’s unknown tablemate has just violated my private sphere and is waiting for my reaction. Just a few years ago, that kind of moral argument about having a social obligation to give birth would have triggered an immediate revolt against being viewed and judged from a single angle: the notion that all women must join the ranks of motherhood.

My fast-talking machine gun would have fired away with rebuttals that society’s lack of productivity is not only due to low birth rates, but also the public sector’s lack of efficiency and well-educated women working part-time.

I would come up with a song about society not needing us to make copies of each other, and how the diffuse nature of my role compared to that of ordinary women with kids doesn’t mean that my choice is wrong. I would add that mutual condemnation smothers all creativity, flexibility and individuality.

Then I would conclude by saying that my social contribution is no less than that of mothers – it’s just different. My professional productivity as a self-employed person is above average, and I create jobs for mothers who need to support their children.

The best defense is good offense, as they say. However, after many years of that kind of discussion. I’m exhausted with my role as public defender against an eternal prosecutor.

Like every childfree woman I know that situations where you experience lack of acceptance awakens bad feelings of anger or frustration. Perhaps it makes you feel different in a bad way, too. This means that you will be inclined to justify and defend your choice of remaining childfree.

With that in mind here are four reasons why every woman should stop defending to be childfree.

Avoid putting parents down on their choice

Be careful when you are telling parents about your reasons for remaining childfree because it will make them reflect on their own choice of having children. Especially if you are talking to parents who themselves have not had children based on careful consideration about starting a family.

Those parents are likely to unconsciously perceive your choice of lifestyle as a rejection of their choice, and their reaction to your choice will reflect those feelings. Simply because they will notice that you obviously have taken a very considered decision, and perhaps it makes them think about why they decided to have children.

We are not critized because our choice is terrible

Some parents decide to have children because they have always known that they wanted children in the same way many of us know that being a parent is not for us. Other parents may have choosen to become parents out of social reasons simply because it seemed like a natural next step when their pears are starting to have children.

Choosing to remain childfree is a very conscious decision. No matter what you and I do, we will probably never completely escape other people’s condemnation of our lifestyle. Therefore, we will have to remember that the majority of the time we are not critized for our choice because it is terrible, but simply because it is different.

Avoid putting our choices to debate

When we choose to justify or defend our choices in the face of moms and dads, it is an attempt to gain recognition of our lifestyle, because we also need to feel we are an accepted part of society.

At the same time we also open our choices to debate, and unfortunately we do not find acceptance, anyway. Therefore, justifying and defending makes no sense.

We need to find another way to show other people that we deserve to be respected and accepted for who we are, not what we are.

Free yourself from the social expectation of motherhood

Sometimes justifying or defending our childfree choice may also occur if we need to convince ourselves that it is okay not wanting motherhood. We have grown up to believe that every woman want to become a mother. Not feeling socially accepted as a woman can make you feel different in a bad way.

Social expectations are not always a good thing. This is certainly true when it comes to motherhood. Your own unconscious expectations that you should want to be a mother even though you feel no desire at all to have children, often tend to make you feel easily provoked or irritated by parents and their children in a variety of public situations.

Anyway, strongly defending and justifying your childfree lifestyle will never make those situations disappear. My guess (based on my own experience) is that it has never made you feel better afterwards, either. Instead of defending or justifying your choice, try to find a way to accept yourself as the woman you are.

Once you have managed to free yourself from the social expectation that you should want to be a mother, your life gets so much better and easier. All the bad feelings will disappear since you will no longer feel the need to justify and defend your lifestyle.

So whenever you consider or find yourself tempted to defend or justify your choice to be childfree, please remember that most likely all you will be doing is giving (m)others one or more reasons to confirm themselves in their cultural based perception of you (and other childfree women) as selfish, shallow and self-absorbed people.

About Karin

I’m blogging at ChildfreeWoman.com with the purpose of having a conversation about what childfree women can do to create a cultural change that will make us socially accepted and respected for being who we are. I’m the author of the childfree memoir: “Do I have to be a mother? – A childfree woman’s honest and unspoken thoughts and feelings” . I send out a newsletter with free blog posts on how to gain acceptance as childfree women. Follow me on Twitter.

  • Marianna

    Thanks, Karin, for reminding. Defending – not a good idea 🙂 I came across your book on Amazon and looking forward to reading it.