On the Advantages the Childfree Have For Parents and Kids

There remains the popular stereotype that the childfree must not like kids, and because we choose not to raise children we don’t want them to play a role in our lives.  This is just not true for so many people who don’t have kids by choice. As associate professor and sociology department chair at the University of Maine Amy Blackstone writes in her piece…

Childless & Loving It: Not Being a Parent Has Advantages For Families & Kids” the childfree have an “important role to play in the lives of children.”  Her interview research lines up with what I have found, starting with the fact that many childfree would say they “enjoy the company of children.”

Many childfree would go further, as Blackstone indicates, “Even more, many childfree adults maintain significant, meaningful relationships with children that make a positive difference in kids’ lives.” They serve  as “mentors, role models, back-up parents, playmates, fun aunties, big brothers, partners-in-crime, advisers and buddies to the children in their lives.”

Not to mention they can be, and are, of great help to parents.  As Amy writes: “Child-free adults may also be more available – in terms of time, money or other resources – to take on special legal or emotional responsibilities with kids than their parent counterparts.”

There many stories of the childfree who are there for their parent friends and family, whether it be to watch the kids, to help financially with kids’ schooling, or even have kids come live with them for a time. Being there can also take the form of emotional support for the parents, as an ear in times of parental challenge. We hear lots of stories of how parents won’t go to those who are not parents to talk about child rearing challenges, but the reality is, many do.  They get that one does not need to be raising children to be there for those who are.

What we read online too often is the back and forth judging between parents and non-parents. When it comes to the lives of kids, I’d like more digital air time to the good that is happening between those who are not raising children of their own, their parent friends/family and their children!

Do you have a story like this? Let’s hear it.

Amy Blackstone has just launched the blog,  werenothavingababy, where you can read about her research and more on “childfree adventures in a child-centric world” – check it out!


12 thoughts on “On the Advantages the Childfree Have For Parents and Kids

  1. Just speaking for myself and no one else, I’m a childfree person who doesn’t really like children. I don’t hate them, but if I had a choice I would prefer to be in a place that doesn’t have any. I will sometimes go out of my way to avoid them. I do sometimes enjoy the sights and sounds of children happily playing, and kids can be cute, but a tiny bit of that goes a long way for me.

    The child-hating stereotype is unfair because it’s an overgeneralization that doesn’t apply to everyone. It’s not unfair because everyone’s supposed to love children. Not liking children is NOT a bad thing in and of itself. There’s no reason to be defensive about not liking children. I think we should be mindful how we react to that stereotype, because I’d hate to just reinforce pronatalism through the backdoor.

  2. I definitely have experienced this many times: as a CF couple, my husband and I provide an outstanding service to parents, which is to provide them with awesome fun experiences whenever they get a rare chance to have a night out!! Many of our friends who are parents call us the minute they line up a babysitter or convince their parents to watch the kids for a few days. Parents know that we are up for anything. We will take them to the best bars and restaurants, have impromptu champagne parties on our rooftop, watch movies with them all night, go shopping in the middle of the day, whatever they want. Parents love that. One downside for us is that *we* are often exhausted by everything the parents want to do with their small window of freedom!!!!! They want to party from dusk till dawn. But we are happy to provide them with a way to relax and feel like grownups again, I can see it on their faces how much they value those times.

    I also want to say that b/c I am not dealing with small children at home all the time, I find that I am usually very interested in what small children have to say. I am often the *most* attentive to little kids’ babble when I am in a group of adults and kids, in fact. I just find their thoughts and articulations really interesting!! But their own parents are just freaking exhausted at their kids going on and on, and are also just trying to keep them from making messes or hurting themselves, so they don’t listen as much. I think just the fact that we CF people have a “fresh perspective” on their kids can be a good thing for kids, probably.

  3. I’m not sure how to ask this without sounding snarky, but here goes:

    Does anyone ever ask how parents and their children can be good for childfree people, or is it always about how childfree people are good for parents and children? Are there any articles on parenting sites saying what a great contribution parents can make to the lives of childfree people?

    All I’ve seen so far is the apparent assumption that childfree people need to make themselves useful somehow, and “useful” is frequently defined in terms of helping parents and children. Not a lot about what those people can do for us, only how we can make their lives better. This is just reinforcing a second-class status, like we’re just adjunct parents or something.

    1. Asked another way-What advantages do parents and children have for those people who decide not to raise children? What are answers to this? I am having a hard time coming up with one…

      I know that many childfree feel like – why do we have to justify this anyway – getting at the idea that – we do like kids – really – we are normal – that kind of thing.

      Justifying is surely not my intent here – more just trying to talk facts and poke hole in pronatal fiction.

  4. We are the free uncle and aunty to our nieces and nephews. They adore us. We try to give the children experiences they would otherwise not have – very simple things such as taking them to art galleries or sitting up all night playing slot car racing. My sister also calls on me when she needs advice on where to go on a night out. The children are also lavished at Christmas. Makes me wish I had an uncle and aunty like us.

    1. I wish I had had an aunt like me too ; ) Well in my case a god mom… I had her a brief time when I was a girl, and sadly she died at 29…

  5. The only advantage of parents I see is they are raising the people who will be providing services and labour, etc. Someone has to pay tax so we can receive the same benefits as those before us.

  6. Oh I definitely receive many benefits from my friends who are parents. The main one is that people who are parents are very good at being *parents*, i.e., taking good care of people. My best friend who is a parent and lives close to me will do absolutely anything that I ask in the way of picking me up from the airport, helping me problem solve situations that involve mundane things like dry cleaning/laundry emergencies, housecleaning, etc. She has taken me in at the last minute in an emergency, she has picked me up in the middle of nowhere, she has housed me for WEEKS on end. And when I say “me,” I really mean both me and my husband!!! Parents are good at being parents and sometimes I need some parenting!!!!

    As I said above, what I am good at is *not* parenting, but fun-having, and I am so glad that I can give my friend weekends in Vegas (okay what she does mostly is sleep, I admit it), long girl talks, dinners at fancy restaurants, and so on.

    I think people with different skills complement each other! Parents and non-parents make good friends!!

    1. Dee Kay, Now that is a great answer to Scott’s question! Parents can be so good at caring for people indeed. Geez why didn’t I think of that when Scott posed the question!!

  7. But, Adele, many of those parents will do a terrible job raising their kids. Those kids will end up being burdens on society (i.e. welfare recipients, unemployable, criminals, deadbeats, etc.) so the rest of us will have to pay for their day-to-day living. We childfree will subsidize the raising of all kids through school taxes and through income tax breaks only the childed receive.

  8. When I asked the question, I was being slightly sarcastic, though maybe even _I_ didn’t realize it at the time.

    I don’t actually think of parents and children in terms of what they can do for me. I don’t think of other people in that way. I’m just thinking out loud that the same cannot be said for the way that many parents think about childfree people. Despite the stereotype that childfree people are more selfish, we aren’t the ones treating other people as underlings just because of their reproductive status.

    I asked the question because the question seems glaringly absent, not necessarily because I’m all that interested in the answer. Frankly I don’t like discussions about the utility of human beings. It tends to go off in creepy directions. We shouldn’t have value just based on how “useful” we are.

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