“Why is it that people react so strongly when the choice not to have children becomes known? Do they feel threatened by that childless choice? Is it because the idea is so alien to our culture and the world we live in? Perhaps expectations play a part.
“Choosing to remain single may also be looked at adversely in a culture which values family and marriage. Yet even those who do not get married may still have children. Those who choose not to, especially when married, seem to be considered odd, and on the fringes of society. Though the views of what constitutes a family may be changing, the choice to not have children still evokes strong responses. The decision not to have children brings even more animosity when it is a Christian couple who makes this choice. Though infertility brings about sympathy and understanding, if the decision is deliberate, then the couple is viewed strangely. Some even go so far as to consider the choice sinful.” (Debi, from the online article, “On Being Christian and Child Free”)
Judgment and Confusion
I’ve seen this scenario played out time and time again. A married couple is asked if they have children, and if they say no, they are asked when are they planning to have them. If they say that they don’t want any, judgment and confusion seems to hang heavy in the room.
I have to be honest about it, personally, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to have children. It is part of who I am. But I can sure get it as to why other people would not have the same inclinations. Raising children is a huge job. It is one that takes endless sacrifice. Some people just don’t want to put themselves in that place. I’ve also seen that some people don’t enjoy being around children. That one I don’t understand (unless the children are ill-mannered). But everyone has different likes and dislikes. And if they don’t enjoy being around children, why should they bring them into their lives to raise?
I appreciate their honesty and their commitment to not raise a family when they don’t want to, and feel like they wouldn’t be good parents. To me, that’s wise. We need more of that wisdom going on in this world.
Different Vantage Point
Since my husband and I have raised children and now we have grandchildren (and have loved having them in our lives), I acknowledge that I’m not the best one to write this article. That’s why I am going to point you to others who can express different vantage points than I can. Hopefully, this will bridge the gap of misunderstandings.
One thing I do know is that there is a need to address this issue. That’s because it’s an important one. It seems to be a topic that evokes emotionality. As Debi, the author of the article mentioned previously wrote:
“I do a Google search for child-free or childless blogs and am amazed at how much animosity is out there. There are some extreme child-free folks who not only don’t want children themselves. But they actually despise children and those trying to have them. I do not think they are the norm or standard when it comes to the child-free by choice. I certainly hope not!
“Personally, I have made the decision (with my husband) not to have children. That does not mean that I hate or even dislike children. On the contrary, I like other people’s children. I love my niece and nephew. I can enjoy other people’s children without feeling the responsibility of raising them myself. When my husband and I made the decision not to have children (a decision we discussed during our engagement), I didn’t realize how that would impact my life. I had never heard the term ‘child-free’ at that point.”
Childless by Choice
That’s what I’ve found. Being childless by choice isn’t discussed as often as it should be. And when it is, it usually isn’t approached in ways that helps everyone bridge the gap of understanding.
If you’re on either end of this issue —I hope the links I’m providing below to different web site articles will minister in some way.
This is not a “I’m right and you’re wrong” issue. Rather, it’s one of personal preference. We need to accept each other’s decision to have children, or not to have them, and be supportive.
So, on this issue, first, I recommend you read Debi’s article:
And then below, in a Christianity Today article, Emily Timbol gives her and her husband’s reasoning as to why they have decided not to have children.
“My purpose is not determined by my ability or desire to reproduce. It is determined the same way as everyone else’s. It is by gifts, passions, talents, and skills that God has given to use for his glory. Some men and women feel a strong passion and desire to become a parent. They can glorify God by accepting the blessing of children, and raising them with love and truth. This can become their purpose. Other couples might have passions for other things, while still harboring a desire to reproduce. They will find a way to balance a passion for career, or ministry, with the responsibilities of family. Their purpose can be twofold.
“When my husband and I think of our passions, we also see multiple things. But kids don’t happen to be one of them. I find purpose through writing, bringing God glory through the stories and ideas that he inspired. Likewise, my husband finds purpose through the many creative outlets in which God has gifted him. When he plays worship music for our church, and God uses it to connect with people in the congregation, he’s sharing that gift.
“We both want to follow God’s command to not be selfish with our lives, but to use our passions for others.”
To learn more, please read:
Another Important Point
Maurita Littauer makes another important point on the decision couples make to remain childless:
“Like any lifestyle choice—especially one outside of the standard routine—not everyone will understand. For instance, several missionary friends of mine tell me their families reject the choice they have made to serve the Lord in a foreign country for little pay. They must constantly protect their choice from criticism by others. However, they are able to do this because they have a firm commitment to their choice. They have a sense of inner peace about it, and they believe it is their appointed path from God.
Remaining childless is a very valid choice that can be freeing and rewarding in many ways. However, because it is not the usual choice people make, couples need to feel very secure about their decision. If they don’t they will needlessly feel isolated and inferior.”
To learn more, please read:
Praying About This
There are a lot more articles I could point you to read. Here is one more of them that you may find insightful on this issue. In it, Jean E. Jones gives pointers on what to say, and what not to say. To learn more, please read:
Beyond the above articles you can go for a search on the Internet to read more. But in closing, I ask that you prayerfully consider what you have just read. I hope all of this, with the Lord’s added insights will help us all to bridge our misunderstandings of one another. We need to give grace to each other, whether we understand each other’s reasonings, or not.
As we’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage one another, and build each other up…”
This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.
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Filed under: Childrens Effect on Marriage