The Childfree Lifestyle is Growing: Here’s What to Know
by Megan Pavek
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s spring editorial intern Megan Pavek. Find her on Instagram at @megan.pavek. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The childfree lifestyle has been gaining momentum as individuals are becoming more open and sharing the why behind this intentional decision. Recently in 2023, Chelsea Handler has stepped to the forefront of this topic, using her large influence and following to help spread the word that “it’s okay to be childless by choice”. While it shouldn’t be surprising to find a comedian playing with the fire of a controversial issue, Handler has helped create an even larger, accepting space for people who are childfree. Aside from causing a frenzy amongst conservative figures, her blunt and witty dialogue on this lifestyle is beneficial in stopping the stigma of the childless.
Childfree vs Childless: Know the Difference
According to an article written by the BBC, the term childfree refers to individuals who have consciously made the decision to forgo having children. In contrast, there are others who are not childless by choice due to medical issues, infertility or other cicrumstances outside of their control. It’s important to note the distinction between these two groups as they have completely different experiences, attitudes and motivations.
Historically, most of the academic research conducted on this topic has combined anyone without children into one large group. This is problematic as it results in an overall lack of data on the subject. It’s also a disservice to both groups because representation matters. Feminists originally chose the term childfree to amplify a sense of freedom or lack of obligation that is a driving force behind the active choice to skip procreation altogether.
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Every individual has their own personal and unique reasons for identifying with either of these terms. For example, We Are Childfree is a support organization that was founded to spread awareness, create a safe space and provide validation for those navigating this lifestyle. On their Instagram account, they highlight different members and their reasons for joining the childfree community.
One member shares that they have faced scrutiny for not having kids, even though it was not originally their first choice. Pushing forward, they used their grief to build a beautiful life where they felt proud and empowered to ultimately choose being childfree.
Building a Movement
The childfree lifestyle manifests itself in many ways, but some draw their influence from a philosophy based on antinatalism. Antinatalism is an ethical stance against human reproduction, and seen as a solution to reduce overall harm. To whom you may ask? Mostly future generations and the environment. According to Stophavingkids.org, Antinatlists believe that “refraining from creating new life is the most effective means of minimizing suffering for all current and future sentient beings.” Followers emphasize better care for existing life, and that this movement is in no way associated with taking away reproductive rights and freedoms from others.
Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, you’ll find a myriad of other reasons why individuals choose a childfree lifestyle. From saving money, avoiding medical issues and having less obligations in general, to prioritizing travel or not feeling well-equipped with a support system or natural maternal instinct; the lists can stretch for miles. One thing is for certain – the childfree are often not judgemental of those who have chosen to procreate. Instead, they are frustrated with a society who has raised them to believe that being a mother or father is their sole purpose. Many are also seeking acceptance after being shamed or receiving a negative reaction to their choice.
What Does a Childfree Lifestyle Look Like?
Users who see content promoting a childfree lifestyle may feel like the creator is bragging about a carefree and lavish existence while simultaneously hating on children. This can create a negative stereotype and cause childfree accounts to receive backlash on social media. Advocate Jackie Dives responded to these accusations with a simple and honest message. It was important for them to model what a childfree lifestyle can look like for others. Making this choice is not always roses and catching last minute flights to sprawl out on the beach- it can be scary and isolating. Especially growing up in a world where the majority are having children, it’s easy to doubt yourself and feel lost.
Whether you’re a fan of the childfree lifestyle or not, it boils down to an age old question: why have a negative response to something that is not creating a harmful impact, but a sense of joy and peace within others?
Have you ever wondered what a childfree lifestyle would look like or are you already living one? Please share your experience with us in the comments below!