Childfree versus Childless

It’s Saturday night, and you and your love are headed uptown for a wonderful seafood dinner. Upon arrival you discover a 30-minute wait before you can be seated. You head into the lounge to enjoy a cocktail and immediately notice long lost friends sitting at the end of the bar. After several minutes of introductions, they delve into the topic of marriage and kids.

We’ve been married for 12 years now. Our son is 10 and our daughter is 8. How about you?” they ask eagerly.

We have two little ones, one is 6 and the other is 2; they’re our furkids,” we chuckle. After a long silence, you feel the need to further explain.

We decided to pass on having kids. It’s just not us,” you reply casually.

Oh so you’re childless?” they ask, seeking to understand your meaning.

No, we’re childfree,” you correct them.

What’s the difference?” they ask.

Countless individuals worldwide are living lives without procreating, but what exactly do you call people who don’t have kids?  After all, we tend to be a society that thrives on labeling people, for whatever reason.  Titles for parents include mom and dad, or mother and father. Depending on the person you ask, the response may vary considerably. Today, the labels most often used for individuals without children are childfree and childless, and make no mistake; there is a very clear distinction between the two terms.

Childless refers to people who have no children due to circumstances such as genetics, waiting too long to have a child, a failed relationship, an illness preventing conception, unsuccessful fertility treatments, not finding a suitable partner, or not having the means to raise a child. There are many reasons people are not able to have children as they may once have planned. Some childless individuals or couples embrace the cards dealt to them and find ways to move forward with no children in their lives; however, others struggle with a path they had not anticipated. A growing number of organizations worldwide are available for the childless.

Childfree refers to people who have made the conscious decision not to bear children. They have simply chosen a different path than others, one that does not include procreation. Motivations behind the choice to live a childfree lifestyle can range from influences experienced during childhood, fulfillment in one’s life without kids, the lack of desire, enjoying one’s freedom, environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the list goes on and on. The fact remains, whatever the reason, being childfree is a good option for many.

It is important to understand that although the childfree and childless have not procreated, whether by chance or by choice, this does not necessarily mean they lack children in their lives. Many enjoy roles as aunts, uncles, step-parents, or adoptive parents. Many find ways to be involved in kids’ lives despite not having any of their own.  Learn More >

Published by Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger

Raised an Air Force brat, Patricia traveled to numerous destinations worldwide before settling in Seattle, Washington. After investing many years in the aerospace industry with a career in Information Technology, she now enjoys her role as Professor and sharing in her student’s academic success. She also finds satisfaction and artistic enrichment through her writing ventures and is pursuing a Master’s of Arts in Writing at John Hopkins University. Patricia is a Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PWA) and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) member. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two wonderful dogs.

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