Child-free people vs. parents; it’s not a new concept. In fact, we are all child-free at some point in our lives, and I dare say we remember what those days were like – even if they do seem long-ago and a little fuzzy (that, of course, could have been all the wine and late nights). Being child-free was something my husband and I enjoyed for many years after we got married. Being parents is something we are enjoying immensely, too. It’s safe to say we’ve enjoyed both sides of the fence and both sides have places in which the grass is greener – and some where it is not. You do not have to have kids; never allow someone to make you feel as if your life is not complete until you do. Not everyone wants to be, or is cut out to be, a parent. But sometimes your friends without kids want you to know a few things – and it’s not because they look down on you, pity you or feel that they are any better or worse than you. It’s just that they’re not parents – and you are. So here’s what the child-free friends in your life want you to know.
Child-Free vs. Child-Less
There is a difference. Child-free is a term used to describe people who do not have kids by their own choice. Of course, not all people agree, but the general consensus is that these are the people who chose not to have kids. And that’s none of our business. Child-less is a term that is more commonly used to describe people without kids – for the moment. These are people who might not be ready just yet but would love to have kids. And they might be people who are struggling to have a baby. So instead of labeling your friends, just call them friends.
Please Don’t Harass Us
People without kids – by choice or not by choice – really do not want to hear others pressuring them to have kids. Listen, as someone who was not a parent for many, many more years than I have been a parent, I understand how annoying it is to be pestered about having kids. It comes from everyone, every second of the day. For a long time we were pestered about being pregnant because we were engaged (sorry – didn’t realize getting engaged was something you only did because you were having a baby) and when we weren’t pregnant people were shocked. Then we were married and people were asking at the reception if we were going to have a baby right away. It was many years for us before we were ready, and it never stopped. Don’t be that person.
Please Stop Telling us we Will “Get It” When we are Parents
“You’ll understand when you’re a mom,” is the most irritating phrase on the planet. I’ve heard it from moms before I had kids. I’ve been very tempted to say it now that I have kids. It’s a dirty, ugly phrase that implies so many things that aren’t necessarily true. Yes, people will get it more when they have kids, no, they don’t need you to point that out. They might not actually care if they ever know.
Some Comments are Insensitive
It’s almost impossible to say anything without offending someone these days, but there are some things you should keep in mind. In a world in which we know what a person we haven’t seen in 30 years wears to work every single day, whose kids we know by name and whose breakfast plates we’d recognize anywhere, it’s easy to forget most people share very little about themselves. So when you are giving a child-free friend a hard time about becoming a parent and joking with them that maybe they forgot how babies are made since they don’t have one, you might just be breaking a heart. Please remember that not all people without children want to be without children. Some are struggling more than you’d ever know and more than you’d ever imagine.
You Could Always Adopt
Here’s one that’s sensitive. When a couple struggling to have kids is just unable to do so, you might mean well with a comment like, “There’s always adoption,” but it’s not always well-received. These people, they know. But adoption is not for everyone. And it’s not selfish to want a child of your own. Please remember during times of loss or devastation in the lives of your child-free friends that sometimes a hug and an, “I love you,” is enough.
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