1. Childfree people are child haters: While certainly a percentage of childfree people do not like children, for many childfree folks, this assumption is not true. There are plenty of childfree folks (including myself) who like children, work with children, donate to children's charities, enjoy their time with nieces, nephews and friends' children, but simply have no desire to undertake the parental lifestyle and all the burden that comes with it.
2. Childfree people are selfish and their lives revolve only around themselves: If I had a dollar for every time this assumption is made, I'd be a rich woman. The idea that a childfree person's life is all about themself is completely false. Childfree individuals do not live an isolated life inside a bubble. We are spouses, significant others, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, uncles and aunts, devoted friends, pet companions, employees and volunteers. The idea that the only way to be other-people-centered is to have a child is nothing short of ridiculous.
3. Childfree people are rich hedonists: Sure, because we don't have kids, we generally have more disposible income and more free time to do the things we enjoy than our child-encumbered peers, but I don't know many childfree folks who are throwing money around like it grows on trees, or spending their days prancing around naked at Club Med. We're struggling through the same recession as everyone else, we have rents, mortgages and bills to pay just like people with kids and only in our fantasies do we have unlimited vacation time.
4. Childfree people have no lives, or empty lives: In response to this assumption, I'd like to quote the very wise and eloquent Sharla, one of the women I interviewed for my masters thesis, because she really hit the nail on the head: "Yet another misconception is that childfree people lead empty, sad, lonely lives; we are missing out on children, and every adult's life should revolve around children. Because parents' lives are so wrapped up in their children (since children require constant time and attention) they feel as though a person whose life is not run by children would just have a big, empty space inside it. Of course, what they do not realize is that that space is filled up with things they have lost: friendships, hobbies, education, personal time, and career. Our lives are not empty; they are filled with the very same things parents give up before their lives become child-centered."
5. Childfree people are cold, unfeeling, uncaring, immature, underdeveloped human beings: Sadly, the erroneous notion persists that the only way to be a fully developed, productive, self-realized adult is to have children. In fact, often the opposite is true. Because childfree folks are not tethered to incessant demands on their time and energy (by children), they can devote more of their time to pursuing activities that enrich their personal growth and self-actualization, for example education, spiritual pursuits, civic involvement, charitable activities and substantial, meaningful personal relationships. Parents often have to toss these things by the wayside for many years on end just to keep up with parental demands.
6. Childfree people are lost, confused souls who don't know what's important in life: We know what's important in life. It just may be different than what's important in a parent's life. Most childfree people have come to their decision after very thoughtful deliberation and in many cases, have put more thought into the having-a-child decision than many parents who enter into it mindlessly simply because it's what's expected of them. While folks are busy piting us for how confused and lost we are, we're busy enjoying the fabulous lives we've thoughtfully designed for ourselves, most of which would not be possible with children. We often find ourselves pitying the parents we know who have sacrificed so much of themselves (and their lives) at the altar of childrearing.
7. Women who choose not to have children are career-hungry: While it's true that childfree women have a clear advantage over moms in the workplace, since they are fully present in their jobs and not constantly being whisked away by maternity leave, problems at home, sick children, etc., career is only one of a myriad of reasons women choose not to have children. It is erroneous to assume that because a woman chooses not to have children, that she must be obsessed with her career. There's a whole lot more to life than children and career and childfree folks embrace all of it.
8. Childfree people are not parent material: Of course if a person does not want to have children, she should not be a parent. But the assumption that childfree people are automatically not parent material is false. Many childfree people would make terrific parents if they chose that route, but they instead choose to do other things with their lives. For example, I am really good with kids, I like kids and they gravitate to me. People have constantly told me I'd make a great mom. But liking kids and being good with them is one thing. Choosing to be a parent is a whole 'nother bag o'worms. I like dogs too, but I choose not to have them because of the impact they would have on our lifestyle.
Can you think of other childfree assumptions and stereotypes that we need to address? If so, please post a comment...