September 28, 2006

Am I a childfree advocate?


I have spent over three years working on a book and documentary project on childless by choice couples. Do I call myself an advocate? No. I don’t advocate a childfree life. For many of the childfree, it’s not an easy decision. It’s a process. It requires that you be self-aware and impervious to external pressure. It can be isolating. Your motives will be questioned.

Most people can’t imagine a life without kids. But it was the right choice for me.

All I advocate is that people listen to their heart and make the best decision for themselves. Or not.

[Blog Administrator's note: This topic was also raised in this post by Teri if you wish to read more.]


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7 comments:

kT said...

But you ARE an advocate -- if not for child free by choice, for respect of that choice. And thank you for it.

twiga92 said...

It is so important that people think about the decision of children. Regardless of whether or not they have kids, it should at least be a well thought out choice, not just a "oh, everybody's doing it" kind of thing. That's what I think being an advocate is - showing people that there is a choice and it's a decision not to be taken lightly.

JR's Thumbprints said...

The problem with being childless is that our society is very judgmental, and as you approach your later years, people will think something is wrong with you--biologically or mentally. It sounds like you're already prepared to deal with this, and for that, I congratulate you.

Teri said...

kt, Twiga, JR, - thanks for weighing in.

I attended BloHer '05 along with about 750 other women bloggers a couple of months ago and one of the more intense sessions was on this very topic. The workshop was called Identity and Responsibility or something like that. As bloggers, I believe we do have a responsibility to represent, as women and as adults who are childfree.

Does advocate = recruiting more to be childfree like us? I say no, but it does entail enlightening others to what and who we are.

I am still developing my own voice on this, experimenting with how I respond to uncomfortable questions from strangers. This blog is just one tool, and it's for everyone.

LauraS - As writers, researchers and bloggers who are working on independent projects about childfree, (your documentary, my book) we are advocates of what some would call a movement (toward enlightenment). Who knows what's next...perhaps a collaboration on a stage performance a.k.a. Eve Ensler?

On the same note, the designated leaders of the international social club for childfree adults, No Kidding! with 90 chapters around the globe also place a strong emphasis that they are not an advocacy group. I think they really mean, we don't try to change people's mind, however they place great importance on being spokespeople and doing media interviews. They want everyone to know that their organization is stricly social, AND, their second agenda is to present childfree people in a more reasonable light. This makes them advocates in my opinion.

It's okay to be an advocate; what's important is to clarify what your key messages are.

My 2 cents!

Elise said...

I think that while active advocacy isn't quite needed, I like the idea "making room for more discussion". The question of kids vs. no kids has been taken for granted for so long (first because of a lack of viable options; then, for the last few decades, out of mere inertia..."It's just what you *do*" or some very heavy kid PR suggesting that somehow, CFs are "out of touch with our essential feminine energies" (I actally had a parent of one of my students tell me this, in all seriousness, about a decade ago. Wow).

Just making room for the conversation, just advocating that people truly, really *think it through* is so important. And such a huge step up from what we've had in the past.

Elise

alpahgirl said...

Like it or not, by living a lifestyle unheard of in prior generations, we are all CF advocates in our own way. Whether we are silent or outspoken doesn't matter. By the very action of living well, we are advocates. =)

M said...

I think advocacy is absolutely needed, however none of us are obligated to be advocates simply by virtue of choosing to be childfree. We do not have to speak for or defend the group just because we are a(n unofficial) member.

And I agree that many or most of us are not pushing for a childfree society; only speaking up for the legitimacy of our personal choice to not have children and defending that choice as one that is equally valid as the choice to be a parent.

Some think childfree means wanting no one to have kids, or hating kids, or hating parents, etc. etc. etc. when all it really means is voluntarily choosing to not have children of our own.

I think most of us just want our choice to be respected and not routinely criticized, questioned, or judged (of course, we can't control others' thoughts or speech, about any matter, nor expect others to think as we'd like them to). And, we want to be treated fairly in society (this I think we can and should expect to change or better control), which is partly where the advocacy part comes in.

I, for one, think it's really important to speak up and work toward employee-friendly policies at work and elsewhere, or family-friendly policies that are truly friendly toward all families, including those without children.