What does it mean to be childfree?
We’ll keep it simple. The definition is:
Having no children by choice or by circumstance.
Breaking it down.
Essentially, a person is a non-parent and “free” of the obligation of a child. Isn’t this the same as “childless”? Not really; there are some semantics that come into play. This will be covered in a different blog (stay tuned). For now, the easiest way to say it is all childless people could consider themselves to be childfree, however only a portion of childfree people would say they are childless. Childless is an identifiable term that falls within the definition of childfree (see above).
Are “child-free” and “child free” the same as childfree?
In a sense, you could say that these two terms are homonyms of childfree – they sound the same but mean different things. Parents who just happen to not have their child with them might say they are child-free/child free. Meaning they have a child, but for a temporary time they are away from them. For example: a night out with just their partner/friends. Another example: their child is an adult and doesn’t live at home anymore. Of course, a person’s lexicon may have them type or write “child free”/”child-free” when they really mean “childfree” simply because that is the first rendition of the term that they learned. It seems like splitting hairs, but there is a difference.
Protective of our community.
There can be a lot of gatekeeping within the childfree community because people are passionate about the lifestyle. This definition simply serves as a starting point to define this demographic. There is a spectrum of people who could say they are childfree beyond the definition:
- Someone who does not have a child, but is dating or married to a person who does.
- A person who does not have a biological child, but fosters a child in their home.
- A person who does not have a biological child, but is the legal guardian of one.
- Someone who is a surrogate or donor (egg/sperm), but does not raise the child.
- A person who gives their child up for adoption.
Just looking at these examples, one can see how things could get cloudy based on circumstances and opinions. This topic is discussed often in various childfree forums and groups. Usually, with a leading question of, “If I <insert situation>, can I still say I’m childfree?” This potentially ends up circling back to some people in the childfree community gatekeeping and telling that person that they are “not childfree”. Simply because the person’s situation doesn’t fit into the responder’s definition of “childfree”.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a different definition? When someone says they are childfree, what comes to mind? Let us know in the comments!
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