Saturday, August 17, 2013

The 'Childfree' Life: The Latest Version of Having It All

 Jeanne Safer, Ph.D.


Alex said...

I think the author is being a little disingenuous. The phrase "having it all" has a pretty well-understood definition in American culture--it means having a career/outside life and kids. It doesn't mean "no regrets" or "my life is perfect." No one uses it that way. And by that definition (i.e. the one everyone uses, except, apparently, this author), being childfree does mean "having it all" because the CF don't have to sacrifice one side of that equation to balance out the other side. It's not a sacrifice to not have kids if you don't want them anyway, therefore the CF do get to "have it all" (though the childless do not, since they wanted kids).

And unlike that mother she quoted at the end who sometimes is jealous of her unburdened friends, I have never met a childfree person (online or in real life) who is jealous of parents' lives (childless, yes, but not childfree). The grass is decidedly greener on my side of the fence, and the best part is that, unlike parents, I didn't have to sacrifice anything else that I wanted in order to get here.

L.T. said...

I think you're right. The context in which I hear "having it all" is usually work & kids, but having a career and a personal life is a much better definition, since it doesn't presume those without kids have less than "it all."

I've also never met a childfree person who is jealous of their friends. But why should *anyone* be jealous of their friends? I have older childfree friends who take amazing vacations. They went to Italy last month and are in France right now. Another couple in our group has sailed down the Amazon, just for fun.

My life is not any less because they're enjoying themselves. I had just as much fun reading, and was just as unable to go to Europe right now, as before I learned of their adventures. Hearing about them only makes me happy, as I get to live vicariously through them, see their joy and their pictures, and get some really good traveling advice when I do get to go. It also gives me something to aspire to when I reach the point in my career they have, and remind me of what I am working for.

I also have a friend with a child. I'm not coveting what she has, but it makes me glad when she posts about how much fun she is having with her new daughter. I like to see her happy.

Why can't we just be glad for our friends? Why must the media paint it as a competition?