Childfree Woman by Karin Rahbek

How to gain respect and acceptance

Do You Like To Be Identified By Your Childfree Choice?

How do you feel about your childfree identity? Do you embrace it and proudly define yourself as childfree? Would you rather not be identified by your lifestyle? Do you believe the labeling as childfree is a good thing in terms of being socially accepted for who we are?

These questions came to me when features writer Anna Davies from the New York Post asked for my thoughts on how “childfree” is an identity that people embrace and that they’re actively labeling themselves as childfree. Finally, a quest with a new angle on the childfree topic!

What makes this angle particularly interesting is that it contains a implicit perception that we have chosen to define ourselves as childfree people. Who is actually labeling you and me as childfree?

I have passed the magic average age of 30 for first-time childbirth, and it feels like everyone expects there to be little people in our house. It’s the classic point in life: All my family and friends are pregnant or have had children. Many of my peers – and sometimes even strangers – start asking me about my plans to have children.

The feeling that motherhood is not for me has been with me for as long as I remember. So for a moment I consider whether it would be easier if I pretend that I want to have children, but can’t have any. But the feeling of playing the victim, as that statement will require, will be too hard. Also I do not want to lie to them, and that makes me choosing to be honest. Instead I simply try to avoid the interrogations about my private life from parents, who obviously want me to join the parents club, by labeling myself with an identity as childfree – a woman with no desire to have children.

It is just a choice, like many other choices. My lifestyle is a natural choice to me. Ordinarily I never think about my not having children, and I do not feel that I miss them in my life. Yet, it seems like I can choose between the perception of being invisible as a woman or accept to be classified as a selfish woman.

Really I do not understand why my decision not to have children is considered an opt-out and why it does get so much attention, when in fact by using contraception we are all opting out of having children through most of our lives. I just decided not to opt-in on motherhood. But I live in a society so focused on starting families, that it has a hard time accepting that I want to be a different kind of woman. To me, and I guess for all childfree women, femininity and motherhood are two different concepts, and they do not necessarily go together.

In fact it’s not only other people who can make me feel wrong. Our social norms are so ingrained in my bones that they also occasionally become my own unconscious expectations for myself. That’s why the Childfree labeling end up making me ask myself questions like: I am not a mother – who am I then? What makes me feel like a woman? Why do I feel like I have to justify and defend my lifestyle?

I find it scary that I have been so emotionally affected by society’s expectations that women should be mothers. Fortunately, my journey to find answers to these – and many other important  – questions – has given me a better understanding and acceptance of myself as a woman.

I believe that the classification as childfree just highlights a female difference that is associated with a lot of unwanted and even untruthful myths and prejudices. As I see it, the biggest problem is that most people have gotten used to defining you and me as childfree. Now I hope to get rid of the Childfree labeling someday. I don’t need it, and neither do you.

So what I am aiming for is a greater understanding and acceptance of women who don’t want motherhood, because it will be a tribute to tolerance and a victory for diversity. Too often, people want others to feel as they do, and to do as they do.  But that’s not what tolerance looks like.

Imagine if there were no social expectations; we would no longer divide ourselves and each other into the labels of Mothers and Childfree –  simply we would be classifying all of us as exactly what we are: Women.

What about yourself? Are you (still) actively labeling yourself with an identity as a Childfree Woman?

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.

  • Kristen Weaver

    I’m happily child free.