A Thought Experiment For Childfree-by-choice Folks

I know you've made the decision; feel confident, free, and it's the one decision you are really confident about--you are childfree-by-choice, or going to be, but let's have a thought-experiment:

To help explain the correlation with family values and one's decision to be a parent or not, I will describe two different, but common descriptions of an individual's childhood experience, as well as some of their long-term psychological effects.

In the first version, your caregiver/s did a "good-enough" job raising you, and they met your emotional and physical needs as a child [comfort, security, safety, understanding, emotional availability, trust, affection]. Usually this "good-enough" childhood will lead to a secure foundation for healthy relationships, self-esteem, and mental health. Having such a secure childhood would also increase the chances of experiencing close relationships with ones families/caregiver/s, which may also lead to an increased value on the general topic of families/caregiver/s; and a desire to fill in the caregiver role themselves.

In the second version, your caregiver/s did not meet most or any of your emotional and physical needs as a child [comfort, security, safety, understanding, emotional availability, trust, affection]. It would be logical to predict the difficulties and anxieties one would have regarding wanting to be, or becoming a caregiver, which might be one reason some individuals decide to be child-free. It is also understandable why such a person would not know how to get to a healthier version of themselves (with their unmet childhood needs met as an adult); which then makes being a caregiver an even harder challenge.

Mary Cassatt, Breakfast in Bed, 1897

This is not to say that all who decide to be childfree-by-choice had this sort of childhood, [or that they did not have the first version above] but if one can relate to the latter experience and feels they want to try to explore unconscious or deeper psychological reasons for their choice to be child-free, I highly recommend doing so with a therapist.

Finally, I also recommend a thought-experiment-- think about who you may have become if you had your childhood needs met. Now, I am sure you realize that there are some things you feel you missed out on, and I hope that you have confidence in yourself to develop some of these unmet need for yourself (which a therapist can help you with) . Now this is the challenge: continue on this thought-experiment and go further. Think about how your life would be now if you had an increased value on family/caregiving. Would you be a caregiver, why or why not? And if so, what type of caregiver would you be?

(Just as I recommend individuals who have decided to be parents without really thinking about it, to really think about it, I challenge those who have decided to be childfree, to also deeply think about the choice).

Grace Garter wrote this song for her mother---too sweet!

No Nest

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