The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Talking About Child-Free or Childless Made My Head Explode

I just read this and sent it on to a friend and wasn't going to blog it and got halfway up the stairs and said to myself, "if you don't write it out, you won't get anything accomplished today because it will bother you for the next six hours."

Read it and come back.

My largest problem is her strident stance without knowing the history or division within the larger community of those living child-free. That there truly is meaning behind the word choice within infertility. That the term "childless" is used prior to resolving infertility and "child-free after infertility" is often used after the person has stepped onto that path out of infertility. That "childless not by choice" is equally used and accepted. That not everyone who is without children wants to be without children. And that this woman's post would be especially hurtful to every woman living child-free after infertility because seriously, does she need to figuratively hold up her infant and rub it in the face of every woman who is unable to have children whether it is due to infertility or life circumstances?

Her commenter apparently stated that she preferred the term child-free over childless, and this suddenly becomes an attack on a person's decision to have children? If I don't buy a house and state that I'm an apartment-dweller, does it make me anti-house, hateful of everyone who has to mow their lawn? If I don't eat meat and say that I'm a vegetarian, does it mean that I hold those who eat hamburgers in complete disgust, wondering how they could make such a hateful choice?

I'm a vegetarian. I cooked steak for Josh last night. I made the twins chicken. Seems like you can make your own life decisions and not negate another person's if you wish.

My head exploded off my shoulders because she takes a step from someone asking for respect in regards to their own life decisions to attacking those who apparently listen (hence, read) her in the first place. She could have opened the door to a conversation about terminology, about why those who are child-free by choice prefer the term child-free over childless and why others utilize different terminology. She could have explored the many reasons why people do not build their families.

To answer her question, as a mother, I would tell the child-free that I'm grateful that they write their blogs so I can walk in their shoes and try to understand their world because it is a person's unique life that makes the world a beautiful and interesting space and I am just thankful that everyone else has not conformed their life to match my own. And that my heart goes out to those who are unable to build their families and I will always support you and take your lead in how you are resolving your infertility and continuing to live life.


Anonymous said...

What a great response. Her short post make my head want to explode, and her snippy little remarks to her commenters made me want to reach through the interwebs and smack her.

The woman has no clue.

Bluebird said...

Her worst response to a commenter, to me, was this:

Shell: You missed the point. I do think think the "child-free" are missing out on something.

That is just so freaking rude on so many levels. A) Not everyone wants the same things out of life, and B) Even those who want the same things can't always obtain them. Rude.

S said...
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S said...

I had to skip her list of great things about being a parent because I am just not in the right place at the moment to be reading that sort of thing.

This writer is a good example of the near-militant "Moms" of the world who drive me nuts. If being a parent is so great, why are working so hard to convince people who don't have children?

Most of my friends with children are not like this, and I doubt I will be should we ever succeed and have a child.

Missy said...

I find it funny that a blogger that's supposedly dedicated to working mothers can't see what many women who are childfree by choice would say they are not missing: a fulfilling career and other interests. As wonderful as children might be, there are still sacrifices that must be made. I very much wish we were not childfree/less right now, but still think about how my career will be impacted once we are finally able to bring home a child.

Life is about choices and trade-offs. If you don't want someone to judge the decisions you made, don't judge the decisions they made.

Barb said...

Oh how embarrassed I am. This is my hometown we're talking about. I left a lengthy comment pretty much agreeing with your sentiments.

I agree that the militant "converters" are often insecure in some way. I was definitely insecure adn unhappy in my IF, which is why I was so sensitive and overreacted to peoples' insensitive (though well meaning) comments.

And much like I always feel the very religious who feel they need to shout it from the roof tops and vigorously convert you are not the super religous they claim to be.. I feel that those so defensive of motherhood must be insecure about some aspect of it. Ridiculous.

I know there are some obnoxious "child-free by choice" people, but it's not their job to force that decision on others just as it's not her job to force hers on them.

Joanne said...

After reading her post so many thoughts were traveling around in my head that I couldn't quickly organize and felt comfort knowing I could see your response and feel at ease again. I could trust Mel to intelligently and thoughtfully put into words my disorganized reaction - probably stemming from the seriously one-sided view of the world this post represents. I chalk it up to just lack of understanding.

Barb said...

P.S. You should leave a link to this post in her comments. You always say things so much clearer than many others.

Christa said...

Perhaps I am interpreting this article differently. I think there is a different between "childless" and "child-free" and even if a woman experiencing infertility chooses not to adopt, etc and live the rest of her life with no children, I don't necessarily think that's considered "childless by choice". If it were me and I decided that IVF was enough and I didn't want to go through the pain of adoption or surrogacy, I would still consider myself childless because HAD things gone as planned I would have been able to have a child naturally. Just because I choose not to continue with the pain of infertility doesn't mean I don't want children. You will always want a child whether you have one or not.

I do agree with other readers that blasted her for saying that couples CHOOSING to live without children are missing out on something. Your life does not start when you have children, it's already begun so just enjoy the ride. Unfortunately for those with IF it's hard to remind ourselves that, myself included.

Flying Monkeys said...

She doesn't want to understand though, she wants to be right.

Julia said...

My head is not exploding. But I do want to vomit. A lot. What a self-centered entitled horror show!

I have to disagree with Bluebird-- I think the worst response is this: Shannon: Very thoughtful response. I guess I've just run across way too many obnoxious child-free people. I know not all of them are, but the ones who are so vocal really get under my skin. This is in response to a woman explaining what childlessness sometimes entails-- stillbirth, death from prematurity. The proper human reply to that can't, shouldn't start with anything other than I am so sorry for all the pain in your life, and damn if it shouldn't include an apology for spouting off without knowing/investigating. Instead she assumes defensive victimhood posture. The vocal ones get under her skin, do they? Seems her entitled self-absorbed motherhood got under mine. Somebody, please pass the bucket!

Banana Pancakes said...

Awesome response to this woman's snide remarks about parenthood. She clearly has no clue.... Thanks for thinking of us that are still childless not by choice. Somehow I think I it is MUCH more painful being on the end of obnoxious overly fertile women boasting about their stellar, awesome functioning innards (which we are not all blessed with) than to be the Mother enjoying those giggles heaing the occasional person refer to themselves as "child-free". But maybe thats just me. said...

Thank God, I am in a good mood today.

That lady is a stellar member of the fertile community.

She perhaps believes that her uterus was the seat of her determination, and so she just said Sit when she wanted two.

She totally tries to rub salt when she points out what she has what others do not.

She is sitting on this pink couch and telling that they really lost it coz nobody got the pink couch.

God knows that I have tried, but if nobody is going to string to my dress and tell me to pllllllleeease give just one candy then, it is not my choice.

I did not want to leave a comment on her post...Can't take an idiotic, am-right-as-usual reply.

Respecting others is a lesson everybody should never forget.

You put it on so nicely! said...

Forgive my grammar errors.

jill said...

Wow that post and comments were hard to read.

At one point in her post I actually got the vibe that she had suffered with infertility but oh boy, I really hope a member of the IF club would never rub motherhood in others' faces like that.

What a thoughtless post. Oh excuse me, I mean, thought-FREE.

sherylhs said...

Thank you so much for writing this. After I read this blogger's 'piece', my head DID want to explode, but you reaffirm my faith in people. I had to comment to her (I wish I hadn't been so nasty, though. She made me so angry!) that it was painful enough dealing with IF without stupid, thoughtless comments like this - that we deal with almost daily. And she wants sympathy because SHE'S discriminated against? Sister, PLEASE. If people out there without children WANTED to be as callous and unfeeling as her, we could create our own list. It would include such things as:
vacationing at a moment's notice. Spending the afternoon reading and sipping red wine. Making it in the living room in the middle of the day. But, I would never force such a list on anyone who wasn't walking in my shoes. How dare she force hers on me.

Kim Hays said...

First off, I apologize for offending anyone. I was writing about people who choose to be child-free, not women who are experiencing infertility.

My head was about to explode after reading a child-free blog ranting about how much kids suck for various and sundry reasons.

This is an open letter of sorts to those obnoxious child-free people. You know, the ones who say kids should never be allowed in public under any circumstances.

I've lived the childfree and childless life at various times in my life. So, I do know it's like. I struggled with infertility to have a child. So please don't assume that I'm a member of the superfertile club.

The militants of the "child-free" movement have never walked in the shoes of a mother, and my rant was a response to them posted on a blog aimed at an audience of mothers.

And regarding my comment to Shannon: She is personal friend of mine. I know all the pain she's been through and respect her view on things. She's not someone who would want me to rehash her life on the Internet.

I appreciate all you guys have said and will definitely take it to heart. I honestly had no idea that this would offend women struggling with infertility.

Kim Hays

m said...

Ok, my heart is POUNDING and my pressure is rising and I have not even clicked over to read this post first-hand.

I don't think I am up for this today.

Please tell me at least one deadbaby mama smacked some sense into her.

Two daughters were born to me. Now they are dead. I am neither child-free or childless. I am trying to live with the fact that they are no longer here. And that is by no means a choice.

Anonymous said...

Wow !

I am one of those who is struggling to come to grips to living without children after over 7 yrs. of ttc.

I guess her lack of compassion shows in her post.

m said...

there. I did it. went an added my 2 cents.

Hooray to Jen for linking back to Mel's post. Her "apology" is bogus.

Hyla said...

"To answer her question, as a mother, I would tell the child-free that I'm grateful that they write their blogs so I can walk in their shoes and try to understand their world because it is a person's unique life that makes the world a beautiful and interesting space and I am just thankful that everyone else has not conformed their life to match my own. And that my heart goes out to those who are unable to build their families and I will always support you and take your lead in how you are resolving your infertility and continuing to live life. "

This sums it up for me. Well said.

areyoukiddingme said...

I have a friend who is child-free by choice (I found it amusing that she attended my baby shower in the afternoon and a No Kidding group event in the evening). She's also an elementary school teacher. I'm pretty sure she knows EXACTLY what she's "missing."

I understand the need to reply to obnoxious people, but I think the writer should also understand the annoyance of being placed into the wrong stereotype.

still life angie said...

I find that disgusting. And I have a living child. I do not understand the need to be aggressive and hostile to other people who make different life choices. Period. Not to mention the unkind implications to those who suffer from infertility or birth all seems so effing unnecessary.

Jem said...

Wow. I'm almost speechless. There is enough space on this planet for both species of women (BTW I find being defined by if I have kids or not a bit offensive).

Anyways, growing up I had very special relationships with women who chose (or not) to have children. They introduced me literature, how to think critically, how to swim, cook, knit, and laugh.

I ran to them and hugged their knees as a toddler. With my aunt (who had IF issues and gave up on having children), I share more about my IF than I do with my own mother. I will be with her as she grows old and hold her hand when she die.


Joy said...

I'm sorry to all the infertiles out there that are going to hate this comment...but as a forever infertile myself...give the woman a break. I of all people will remind others that we do exist and perhaps you need to be more sensitive, but she wasn't talking about people with infertility problems. She explained herself, and I know exactly the people that she is referencing, I was one of those too at one point, yet I wasn't offended at all by her post.

annacyclopedia said...

Mel, thank you as always for responding with such clarity and wisdom. And I'm glad you decided to write it out - since Kim has come over and commented here, clearly your choice made a difference today.

Also, I wholeheartedly second your response to the childless/child-free. Please continue to tell your stories - I learn so much about what it means to be a woman and a human being from you.

Kim, if you're continuing to read the comments here, I hope that you can see that as grateful as you are to have children in your life, there may be other women and men out there who are just as grateful to be without them, people who are grateful for the lives that they have, just as they are, in spite of having emerged from loss and grief. All of these choices are the individual's or the couple's to make, and no one's to judge.

Sunny said...

What a stimulating discussion! I haven't had any coffee this morning, but I'm wide awake now.

I too felt the article was sad, and I struggle to understand how ANYONE who has dealt with the pain of IF could write something like this.

Yes, there are people without children (by choice) who bash parenthood. I guess it just doesn't bother me. We all have different opinions and visions for our lives. I'm glad not everyone feels pressure to have children, because it's HARD WORK. I don't feel superior to anyone because I have a son. We all have significant experiences that challenge us, make us grow, know more of the world, know more of ourselves. Having children is one of those ways -- but not the only way.

Serenity said...
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Larisa said...

Wow. I will say I wouldn't have ever read it if you hadn't linked to it, but it made my skin crawl.

She mentions later that she suffered from infertility - I find that impossible. Why would someone post something like that if she had ever faced the real possibility of wanting children and never having them?

Me said...

Thoughtless and poorly written. I completely agree...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Deb. She wasn't trying to offend people who are struggling with infertility, as was obvious to me when I read the piece and as was stated in her response here. I also know the kind of people she's talking about, and they are obnoxious in a way that goes beyond annoyance. Some of them seem to hate children, and that, to me, is misanthropic and frankly repugnant. Moreover, there is the issue of women who have children being discriminated against in the workplace, which I personally have experienced. It makes you a little defensive of your children when you're belittled and devalued for having had them, whether it's by your boss or the people who stare at you with contempt when you dare to bring your child to a public place (and god forbid he cry or make any kind of noise while you're there). There is social pressure on both sides, to have children and not to have them. I have been on both sides.

Bottom line: She just wasn't informed about the use of the word child-free in the IF context. Now she is. No need to crucify the woman.

Serenity said...

See now, I had a comment, which after reading Kim's comment and apology, I deleted. (I should really read everything before I comment.)

And so I DO get why she would post about it in the first place - because there ARE militant child-free advocates who DO bash people who want kids. Happens in infertility too - they're the people who tell us that we're trying too hard, or would should "just adopt." Or question why we'd EVER think about going through what we do for kids.

But. At the same time.

Why can't we just all respect that other people have different views and opinions and desires and just shut the hell up about what you SHOULD do or not do?

I will NEVER understand the inherent judgment on either side. And your last paragraph, Mel? Beautifully captures how I feel as well. Very well put.

Joy said...

Let's just face it. Neither group should be bashing the other. It kills me to see women going after each other like this.

erica said...

She cites empathy as one of the gifts of parenthood, but the empathy she reveals in her article and even her apology ('I didn't direct it at *you.* *You* shouldn't take offense' - really?) seems to only be directed at parents like her. Which strikes me as not a very valuable kind of empathy, really.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

There is a book by an author from France that is currently getting a lot of play in the media in Canada. Forgive me, I'm drawing a blank on the title, but it is written by one of the vocal-militant "children are a pain and drain on the environment, the economy, and on a parent's freedom" sorts of people. I can only assume that is Kim's intended audience, but when writing something that is going to be published for a wider audience to read, she should have considered her choice of words and should have been more explicit in who she was directing this towards.

I applaud those who make the choice to live child-free (here I refer to those for whom IF is not an issue) after carefully weighing their options. Some people are just not meant to be parents, and rather than exposing a child to a lifetime of indifference and poor parenting (at the best of times), they recognize that it's not for them and move on. One of my biggest pet-peeves in the world is a parent who sees their child only as a badge of honour, existing for the sole purpose of making mom or dad look good.

I also applaud those in our community who have the courage to make the choice to live life without children, after facing IF square in the face. These people do not deserve to be judged as selfish or lazy (her sleeping in comment pissed me off) because all Kim sees is someone without a child.

I think most of us make choices based on what we determine to be the right thing to do. We look at the options, add in our personal experiences, and see where that leads us. We just don't all get the opportunity to lay our reasoning out there for the world to see.

(getting off my soapbox now... feeling a little dizzy)

Kim Hays said...

I thank everyone for reading -- and giving me guidance on my blog post. I do appreciate it and will now think a little more before throwing around terms like "child-free" and "childless" willy-nilly.

I sat in a waiting room with an ecoptic pregnancy (that would eventually rupture and almost kill me) with literally a hundred pregnant women. It was one of the hardest days of my life.

I listened as my best friend announced she was pregnant while my husband was dying awaiting a liver transplant.

I cried on the phone with my doctor when he told me my husband's sperm count was 4. FOUR.

I can tell you this, too: My experiences with infertility have made me a better mother. It will make YOU a better mother, too. I appreciate so every tiny little thing that goes along with it.

Maybe that is why I'm offended when people tell me that children aren't worth it or they're a pain in the butt. My intention was explain some of the intangible reasons WHY children can make people happy.

I hope and pray you all will get to experience the joys of motherhood. You deserve to.

Kim Hays

Chickenpig said...


Face it. You're just more empathetic and open minded than most people. :) It is just impossible for some people to realize that *gasp* there is more than one side to EVERYTHING.

And I have three kids that I love dearly and worked soooo hard for, but I can give a kick ass list of why being child-free can be a good thing. Once upon a time I was determined to live my life child free. I'm glad I changed my mind...most of the time. It would come as a shock to many infertile people, but there are two sides to having children too. I have frequently been slammed down for having the audacity to say that children don't necessarily make for happier people.

I find that many of the militant non breeding people are not as child free by choice as they would have you believe. My sister is two years older than me and has no children. She often complains about the world being over populated and the usual "ppl with kids are selfish" clap trap. But then she holds my baby girl and I can see the longing in her face. Long ago she used to make noises about "adopting maybe, one day". Hmmm.... I think there may be a lot of sour grapes in the childfree world.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Hyla said. Great post, Mel. Kim is being defensive but I'm betting she's feeling pretty dang crappy and wishing she could go back and never have put up that stupid blog post in the first place. Think before you write...

ratbasgirl said...

Re: Sour Grapes

I'd prob'ly have a kid if it were all sunshine and roses. It's because of the SOUR GRAPES that I choose not to.

The difference btwn your sister and myself is that I don't even want to touch or hold anyone else's either. I don't like the way my own shit smells; why would I want to deal with someone else's?

Sour grapes it will be for me - Pinot, Cabarnet, and Sangiovese, to be specific.

Alison said...

Wow... I don't even have the words to describe the way I feel about this lady's post. My mouth is gaping open and I don't even know how to respond to that... It's quite sad that she is so insecure that she has to make it seem that those without children are "missing out"... she's just trying to make herself feel better! I would think that those that are happy with their "parent" status wouldn't have to put others down like she does!

Amy said...

Mel, Brava and good luck.

Kim, "This is an open letter of sorts to those obnoxious child-free people. You know, the ones who say kids should never be allowed in public under any circumstances."

Huh? All..both of them? I'm childfree by choice (CFBC), have CFBC friends, follow CFBC blogs, etc., and have yet to come across anyone who says children should not be allowed in public. Where are you finding them? I don't especially like being around kids, but they exist and have the right to be in restaurants, movies that aren't rated R, my friends' homes, and wherever else their parents take them

Chickenpig said...

ratbasgirl: I don't really know what your comment is about. My point is that in any circumstance where people are rabidly opposed to something they MAY harbor secret desires for it in their heart. (for example, the most homophobic people are often closeted homosexuals). When people really want something badly that they can' have they sometimes become nasty. My sister is who I think of when I would slam the militant and nasty child free people. Sometimes those ppl are like that for a reason.

As for all your talk about shit and how it get good wine and roses it takes a lot of shit and hard work. The same for having good people on this planet. My sister is lucky. She can have her cake and eat it too. And luckily for me, she's not like you and doesn't mind changing a diaper or long as the kid comes home with me at the end of the day. How unfortunate for you that you can't say the same.

nycphoenix said...

I tried to post it over at the blog but it won't accept it:

I read your comment over at Stirrup Queens and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that your intent was to speak to the "obnoxious child-free" folks.

Problem is that distinction was not apparent and when you wrote this piece it brushed a whole segment of the population with such a large brush tht there was collateral damage.

I'm one of them. Five years of trying everything short of adoption and deciding enough was enough. I know what I'm missing. It still makes me cry even though I trule believe I havea wonderful life and will continue to have a wonderful life healing from infertility.

And if this piece was supposed to be a response to obnoxious child-free I don't think it did your side of the divide any favors. Call me dense but what was your point?

Child-free by choice know what they're missing. And some of them get some of the things you listed from nieces, nephews, children they mentor or teach. Is it the same? No but the child free people I know tell me that its the best option for them. They get the affection and joy children bring without the parenting they do not want.

But yeah thanks for letting me know that the love I have for my nephews isn't the same. I KNOW THAT! But its what I have so could you kindly not rain on the lemonade i'm trying to make?

And as for those who have no interest in interacting with children I don't see them as obnoxious, I admire the self awareness they have to know themselves.

Lisa said...

On the terminology:

*I* feel childless because I couldn't make having a child happen, not from sex with my husband, not from fertility treatments, and now not from the rest of my individual life circumstances that prevent me from trying DE or adoption. I have my own feelings about childless vs child-free, and I'm guessing they will shift in subtle ways with time. I also don't give a rat's patoot what term anyone else wants to use for herself. What works for you is what works for you, and I respect that.

If I don't know someone, I don't use either term. I describe her as she is, not as she isn't, unless there is some reason to speak to whether she had children. Then I say No if someone says "Kids?" or "She doesn't have children" if need be. If I do know someone and know she wants a given term used, I use that. If someone describes me as child-free even though I feel childless, who cares???

Here's a blog I did on the terms a few months back. I'm not sure I know what it says anymore, but it's what I felt about the terms ----for myself---- at that moment in time.

On the small article/post/whatever it is:

I am saddened to know that someone with such a seemingly significant brush with IF struggles didn't come out of that with a better sense of the choices people make . . . with an understanding that we are not all one-size-fits-all. It seems the writer instead has developed enough arrogance to say that she knows something about life others don't and should. That she knows what I should do, what you should do, what the truly child-free by choice should do. We all have a path, we ALL know stuff, some of it's different, all of it's valid to the human experience.

And, please, if someone doesn't want children, I say thank god they're not having them. But oh, wait, that must be the wrong attitude because we of course EVERYONE on earth is a wonderful, loving, skilled parent and peachy-keen role model. Or, wait again, maybe it's just that everyone on earth should do what I want them to do -- or more to the point, what I do, because that's the only thing I can fathom?

All the writer is really doing is pointing fingers to say that she's cooler/wiser than a whole bunch of "deficient" people.

Tash said...

Firstly, Mel, thank you for this calm and rational response.

Secondly, Kim, thank you for being a big enough person to come here and comment and clarify and pony up to your mistake in terminology.

I think I know of the people to whom you refer -- there is a super, vicious and ugly group who actually attacked Alexa of "Flotsamblog" putting pictures of her and her daughter on line and questioning the amount of money spent to keep her alive (this after her brother had died). But like any spectrum, I think there are people who are way out in in the field on this issue, just as there are people way out in the "every woman needs to be a mother to be fulfilled!" field. The words from the ends can get very hurtful, and sometimes the words from the centers can get jumbled and confused.

I try and make a point now (and I did before, but now more than ever) to never, ever judge or question why someone doesn't have children. Bella actually asked me a month or so ago, "why do people not have kids?" and it led to a robust discussion of people we know. I think until you know someone's personal backstory and attitude you need to be careful painting everyone who looks like that with the same brush.

Coffeegrljapan said...

Thanks for taking on this subject Mel. I think it's a great thought piece and clearly Kim - the author has been giving it further thought and explanation via her comments here. To me, this kind of dialogue and discussion is actually a great way to a better understanding for all involved.

Baby Hungry said...

People like her who get pregnant just by looking at their husbands have no idea how it is for the rest of us. I'm not asking that they understand because there is no way they can, but I would hope they could be sensitive. Good response!

Kate said...

I am obviously an IFer so I skipped over what she wrote after reading the first reason because I thought I was going to puke.

HOWEVER- what just because I desperately want children, I don't look down on people who choose not to have them and/or don't want children. She says that she is mad at people judging her for her choice about having a kid, but . . . why is she judging people who made the other choice? If someone is childfree and someone is childless and chooses to identify one way or another, why is it so offensive?

Anonymous said...

Mel, as usual, thank you.

Frankly, I think even less of her blog piece after her explanations here. I understand even less how someone who went through what she did could say something that hurtful to so many people.

loribeth said...

I'm late to the party & everyone has already said it so much more eloquently thatn I can (particularly since my brain is fried from proofreading long columns of numbers for more than FOUR FRIGGIN' HOURS this afternoon...!). Just wanted to say thank you, Mel, for once again being the voice of reason & thoughtfulness. If everyone just showed a little more respect for others' choices & life circumstances, the world would be a far better place.

WannabeMommy said...

Oh. My. God.

I hope you blasted her a new a-hole.

AnotherDreamer said...

That woman has no clue.

What a great response Mel.

caitsmom said...

Wow, your last paragraph brought grateful tears to my eyes. Just to know that someone with children has some sense of how it sucks to be childfree/childless for someone like me. It would be nice if the little bit that a bereaved mother (in my case) could control, like the words I prefer to be called, would be honored. You did that. She doesn't know how.


Busted Tube said...

Mel, I love your thoughtful, peaceful and reasonable response to this. As I've come to expect and appreciate in your posts you certainly take time to compose your thoughts and show a great deal of respect for language and how we use it.
Although the author of the article wasn't directing her comments at the IF community it was a publicly available article and I am glad that she's more aware of that community now.
My verification word is 'daggerma'! Funny!

ME! said...

*POP* Seriously made my head pop too. I just don't understand this mentality. How is she to know a woman didn't have a child that passed away...or children that passed away? To me this includes miscarriages. Perhaps the woman had cancer and for financial reasons CAN'T adopt.
Ugh- I think NO ONE person is better than another in this world (um, except for child abusers/etc.).

Why can't we just love?

FET Accompli said...

An interesting and passionate dialogue. The author of the blog that Mel discussed posted at least two responses and explained her point of view (under the name Kim Hays). I wonder if we are being a bit harsh now that we have gained some insight on where she is coming from, and moreover she has apologized for offending anyone. Shall we be compassionate and extend her an olive branch?

Kim Hays said...

I'm all for an olive branch on this one. I've been monitoring the discussion for 12 hours now and am beyond exhausted. I read ALL your comments.

I also stumbled on this:,91626,91646,quote=1

So, let's just say I've been beat to hell today.

Kim Hays

Good luck to all of you!

Aurelia said...


I get it and I'm glad you came here to explain.

I remember the post Tash spoke of, and in my 13 yrs of real life parenting and online discussion, I've met many of militant far out members of the child free by choice group, and they are not kind, and I completely understand why they would make you upset. (I'm living next door to one right now, she moved in next door after we did, to a neighbourhood overflowing with kids, and now spends most of her time telling the kids in the neighbourhood that she hates them, and she says it to their faces. Nice. Try explaining that one to your kids.) I've also met lots of women living child free by choice, who are kind and tolerant of others' kids but just don't want their own, and I do believe they are in the majority.

But I am glad that you will distinguish between the groups of women who are childfree by choice and those who aren't in the future.

I do think it's odd that only women group themselves like this. Men don't have these groups. Is this another thing where women fight with each other over words, while men are out their secretly grabbing all the power?

I mean, I spent the first 27 years of my life child free, and once my kids are grown, the rest of my life is child free. In between, I had some kids after IF. So? Can't I be both child free and with child in the same lifetime?

Does it matter? Do I need a label to be happy, or does society just say I should have a label? And why is it only women really have the label? Some men do, but not in the same manner or the same numbers.

Some thoughts are now percolating on this....

And yes, I saw that last link--I'm sorry, this must be a rough day.

Bea said...

Well said, Mel. But kudos to Kim for taking out the olive branch. Big kudos.


ratbasgirl said...

Quote Chickenpig:

My sister is lucky. She can have her cake and eat it too. And luckily for me, she's not like you and doesn't mind changing a diaper or long as the kid comes home with me at the end of the day. How unfortunate for you that you can't say the same.

Are you serious? Do you actually believe what you wrote here? If you need to convince yourself that your sister is lucky to have the opportunity to change your kid's dirty diapers and that it is "unfortunate" that I can't say the same for myself (I'm an only-child anyway but that's not really the point), then the least I can do is pretend that you're right. I hope that makes you feel good.

Unknown said...

Well said Mel very well said.

inflammatory writ said...

So, let me get this straight - the author is sorry she offended the infertile, but is not sorry she offended women who are childfree by choice? Nice.

Might I remind you that there are militant haters on all sides of the motherhood spectrum. I had a friend of mine get berated by a member of La Leche League because she was having difficulty breastfeeding her infant son. As much as there are obnoxious child free women, there are equally obnoxious mothers. Hays has proven herself one of them - the very worst self-important kind who thinks she's Jesus because she pushed a couple of kids out. Congratufuckinglations on doing what most species do to propagate their species. It's not rocket science to procreate, though being a good parent is much harder, obviously. It doesn't make her a nice person, or a good person, and it clearly made her LESS empathetic, especially to her fellow women.

inflammatory writ said...

Additionally, my heart goes out to women who cannot have children who really want them. I'd lend you all my uterus if I could. I mean that.

Barb said...

I give kudos to Kim too. Thank you for taking the time to reply. It's very open minded and open hearted of you, and I mean that sincerely. Please understand that when some people went on, they probably hadn't seen your replies in the comments before they posted. Very best wishes to you.

Kim Hays said...

I'm sorry. And I'm very publicly sorry for the things I wrote that hurt you and the other people in this forum.

Kim Hays

Orodemniades said...

What a clam. And her 'apology'? "Sorry you took offense at what I said" still means "I did nothing wrong, the problem is yours".


Freewheel said...

The columnist is truly obnoxious. As the father of 2 children, I know that they bring me great happiness. I also know that children are not the only way to find happiness. Given that the world's population is at 6.8 billion, and it won't be long before it's 10 billion, maybe it's time to start celebrating the choice to have no children.

Valerie said...

It's not that children "aren't the only way to find happiness", they shouldn't be a way to find happiness at all! Having a child to make YOU happy is selfish, wrong, and sick. It's a parent's job to take care of a child's emotional health, not the other way around!!! Have a child to further the human race and to pass on your wonderful DNA, but not to MAKE you happy, or for goodness sakes, to "fix" your marriage. You need to be happy and emotionally healthy BEFORE you take on the responsibility of a helpless child's health and happiness.

I am child-free, and I'm happy. I've shadowed my siblings with kids, I've worked in child-care, and I know very well that having children is not for me, at least not right now. I've thought this through carefully not because I hate kids, but because I care for human beings in general, and won't create a new, helpless child until I know that I am truly and fully ready to take on that responsibility, the right way, and for the right reasons.

If people don't like kids or don't want kids, for goodness sakes, they shouldn't have kids! It's a waste of time and bandwidth to try to convince them that there's anything wrong with that choice. They are making the right choice for themselves and for the greater good.

Freewheel said...

Get real Valerie. Couples have children because of the profound happiness they bring, not out of some notion of "furthering the human race." You may think that's wrong, but hey - it's reality.

girlwithpen said...

I appreciate your post, but as a happily married childfee woman, I don't agree with the implication that those without children (whether by choice or not) aren't "building their family." My husband and I are a family. Thanks, Kristen

Valerie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

Freewheel, you know what else is reality? an epidemic of bad parenting, neglect, and abuse. I just think it's awful to burden a CHILD with being responsible for YOUR happiness. That's not to say that children don't add some joy to a person's life, there's nothing wrong with appreciating that. But the idea that a child will MAKE you happy, if you aren't already, is very unhealthy. All a parent like that will do is make their child miserable.

Robin said...

great post. there are militants in every group and they push each other to the breaking point. if everyone could just accept people's choices and go on with their own lives we'd be much better off.

Anonymous said...

To Kim Hays - Kim, people often pick apart and analyze words and you won't be able to please everyone no matter how hard you try, it's just one of those very touchy subjects which can be interpreted in so many different ways depending on the reader's perspective. Don't take it personally and don't spend time reading all these comments anymore, you will just make yourself upset. As for the nasty comments - you don't know these people and don't need to know, so just ignore it all. All the best.

Anonymous said...

I just appreciate that you responded, and that you took note of the fact that some of us are childless by choice, some of us want children badly but our bodies cannot have them, and some of them, like myself, would love to have a baby, but life just hasn't provided that pathway for me, and I'm personally not into having a child so that I can call myself happy. I think your response was great, and I thank you.

Anonymous said...

I guess I read it differently. Maybe I missed something because I didn't read through all the comments... I'm basing my impression solely on the article itself. But, I got the impression that she was not talking to people who struggle with infertility. I read it as more of a response to people who equate children to some kind of disease or poison to be avoided. The words "child-free" just sound to be the same line of "smoke-free," "toxin-free," "dirt-free," KWIM? The term connotes a kind of hostility toward children and people who have them or want them, IMO.

I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Robin said...

To address the "childfree" in the same way as "toxin-free" is ignorant. Maybe you need to learn more about what it really is and get to know some people who are might learn something.

Anonymous said...

Regarding post from "Robin" above mine; is a great example of how posters can't say anything without someone else taking offence (so Kim Hays doesn't have a chance writing a whole article)! Good grief Robin!!


Anonymous said...

One more thing - have you read any posts from posters on the bratfree forum? Some are very combative unfortunately. These are the type of folks to whom Kim Hays was referring to I'm sure.

Robin - yes, some of them do use the term child-free in similar vein to toxin-free because their views against having children are that strong.