Child-free by Choice

This is a guest post from Juliet Swann, who can also be found blogging in her role as Head of Campaigns for Friends of the Earth Scotland.

When I was 16 I was desperate to have a baby, but sensible enough to know it was a silly idea at that age. Perhaps then I talked myself out of ever being broody.

Twenty years later and many, if not most, of my friends have children of various ages, or are planning to do so at some future moment. My partner and I remain resolutely childless and have no plans to alter that status.

I don’t dislike children, I’m happy to babysit for others, and am just as inclined to hold a new baby as the next woman, but I don’t feel clucky or broody, I don’t want one of my own, and when I get home, pour that glass of wine and contemplate a quiet evening on the sofa followed by 8 hours slumber, I am not in the least bit envious.

Oddly, I quite like the idea of being pregnant so I have offered to be a surrogate for a friend should she be unable to fall pregnant.

I have also, of course, thought about what might happen if I accidentally fell pregnant. Which is a pretty impossible thought experiment. I am defiantly pro-choice, but can’t be sure I could make that decision; I think adoption is a profound and beautiful choice to make, but would I be comfortable knowing someone else was raising my child…

So I stay safe, I take my contraceptive daily and I hope I never have to make those decisions.

Why am I, and my partner, so firmly child-free? Partly it’s selfish, I enjoy my time to myself, I adore sleeping, and I like being able to switch off and not talk to anyone, including a curious toddler or rebellious teenager. Partly it’s that I honestly don’t think I’d be a great mother. I love my Mum, of course I do, and she brought me up well, but she is not a great mother, and I have much less patience than she does so can’t imagine how I could ever even be the parent she was, let alone the better version I would want to be. But mostly it’s because I don’t much like the world we live in. It has its moments, and I make the most of them, but would I gift this life, this future, planet earth in the 21st century, to another human being? Not in a million years, sorry.

12 responses

  1. I think this is a bit of a lost opportunity for Juliet Swann here. As someone who is myself childfree by choice I would have hoped for a more environmentally aware post given her connection with FoE. I think the only reason to tell other people to be child free is to talk about environmental damage and overpopulation. Even I have little sympathy for a woman who comes across as mostly not wanting children for all the selfish reasons.Even when she does mention the state of the world it’s in a negative ‘this place isn’t too good’ way rather than saying ‘I love this planet and don’t want to overburden it in the future with children who then will inhabit a vastly denuded world’

    I also think it is useful to say that being childfree isn’t the only option for environmentalists (despite what many childfree advocates seem to think). Environmentalists who bring up one or two children to tread gently on the earth are making as much the right decision as those of us who decide to be childfree.

    Sorry that’s quite a long comment!

    • Hi Crafty
      I actually wasn’t looking for sympathy, or trying to make an environmental comment. This was a personal comment (I think the stuff about my Mum makes that clear) that Dorky Mum chose to link to my work blog. It’s funny you should make this comment actually as I have recently been contemplating the difficulty of the fact that my work is others favourite non-work conversation topic. It makes socialising, or providing random blogs for friends, difficult.
      But thanks for sharing. 😉

      • Apologies if I’ve caused tension by linking to your work blog – I should have made it clearer that you were writing in a personal capacity! From my time at Stop Climate Chaos I completely sympathise with the difficulties of other people wanting to talk about your work all the time!

    • Very happy to have long comments! Juliet has responded herself, and as someone who very evidently isn’t child free myself, I don’t feel I’m in a very good position to get into any debate about other people’s decisions and the rationale behind them… other than to say that if you ever want to do a guest post that expands on the thoughts you’ve just shared, I’d be very happy to host it!

  2. HI Juliet, ah yes, I know the difficulties of having confusion between work and personal identities! And I don’t always try to promote the environmental message when I talk about not having children. Just that it is the most important aspect of the issue for me.

    Dorkymum – I’ll see if i can write something for you then!

  3. Pingback: DorkyMum’s Blog Carnival | dorkymum

  4. You deny and defy your key role as a human and mammal, to procreate. What are you actually for then? Why bother living if the world is so shitty? Have you considered that your child might be the one that saves this world, especially if you invest properly in the child? You will never know the absolute wonder of loving and caring for your own offspring, something unique and super special that just cannot be replicated by babysitting for other peoples’ kids. It is magical and you will be missing out on one of life’s most enjoyable, worthwhile and exhilirating experiences. You come across as very sad. I imagine you in a house full of cats and books, neither of which will be much use to you when you are old and lonely. I had a shitty relationship with my crap parents, but I used that as an example to learn from. I avoided making the same mistakes and I am a good parent, even if I say so myself. You could be too, if you were not so self absorbed.

  5. Pingback: Child-free by Choice | Love All Blogs

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