What to Expect When You'll Never Be Expecting

The October issue of Women's Health Magazine has an article by Carrie Anton that takes a clever angle on what to expect from others in reaction to the childfree choice. It's titled, "What to Expect When You're Not Expecting." I'd say to aptly reflect being childfree it should be, "What to Expect When You'll Never Be Expecting!" In any case, Anton lists 6 things to expect; I'll add a few more:

Anton's "What to Expect" list:

1. Not to be taken seriously Check. this gets at the ever popular comment, "You'll change your mind." In a childfree monthly On-the-Ground question, this was the top answer people gave when asked what childfree stereotype have they been subjected to most. Said another way, you can expect others to think they know you better than you know yourself when it comes to eventually becoming a parent!

2. Guilt trips This can come in the form of direct and indirect pressure, such as comments that hint at disappointment that the family line will not be carried on, or with more sting, that you won't be doing something for your parents that they want you to...and should. Guilt is a feeling that stems from the idea that "a good person would..." In this case, a good son would... or a good daughter would...give their parents grandchildren!

3. People to think that you hate kids Most of the time, this is a myth. As I have said, just because we don't want to raise them does not mean we hate them!

4. Everyone to think you're infertile Mmm. Not necessarily. More likely if you don't make it clear that you are childfree, not childless, or childless for right now.

5. "Mr. Right will change your mind." This one relates to #1 above. People often think that you might be childfree until you meet the love of your life....when you do, that is when you realize you will want to make a baby with that person...also a myth! If anything, when you are childfree, finding Mr. or Ms. Right means finding a like-minded life partner who also does not to raise children as part of their marital experience.

6. To be labeled as "success-obsessed" Yes, there can be the assumption that the childfree are materialistic, and overly focused on their career or work lives. However, it does not fit the profile of lots of childfree people. And many times it will be obvious because their occupations and lifestyles don't reflect an obsession with wealth.

To add 4 more--Expect:

1. Never to get inside the "Mom Club" So many childfree women have told me that one of the biggest challenges of being childfree is they will never be part of a special kind of sisterhood that comes with motherhood. Not that they want the motherhood piece, but that they miss out on the connection and special bond piece their friends, siblings, and relatives who are parents have because they have children in common.

2. Friendships will change When one friend becomes a parent and the other never does, the friendship has to change to hold two very different lifestyles. It is totally possible, but does take commitment, communication, tending and starting with love for your friend first!

3. To be perceived as knowing nothing about children No, the childfree aren't parents, but it does not mean they know nothing about kids, or that they can't be a good ear for parent friends who need it.

4. A different kind of "mid-life crisis"For women, mid life crises are very tied to the empty nest syndrome. Just because childfree women never experience the empty nest, does not mean they won't reach mid-life and question where they have been and how they want to live the rest of their lives. It may not be a "crisis" - and more of a life assessment. We can go through this whether we have children or not.

What other "What to Expect's" from others would you add?

Laura Carroll

Author of The Baby Matrix and Families of Two

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