The Child-Free Trend

We want to talk about a trend that is happening on Twitter, #childfree. Jeff, I was curious what your thoughts are about this. There was an article written about this that I thought was pretty interesting. This is Meghan Daum, and she said, “The next person who says child free gets a timeout,” is her article. She wrote, “Headlines like Childless and Loving Every Minute, and Nine Things I Love About my Child-free Marriage abound. Type #childfree into Twitter, and you get an avalanche of results that range from poignant [inaudible 00:00:39] statements about reproductive freedom, to snarky, even gloating memes about the horrors of children and the joys of adorable fur babies,” another term that should be outlawed, but one thing at a time. “Not only is choosing not to have kids lost its stigma, its become almost fashionable in the sense that it’s cool to be cool with it. If calling yourself child free isn’t the ultimate example of giving yourself a trophy for something you didn’t do, I don’t know what is.” This is another one of those kind of cultural conversations that I find interesting.

I think that we can look at the culture and see this trend and try to understand the reasons for it. Primarily you guys are watching this, you’re not most likely child free, and not celebrating that lifestyle. But I think that what’s really tough, and one of the things that we want to point out here a lot, is that man, because this is a trend in the culture, it is really hard on families because it can cause you to be overwhelmed with the sort of cultural messages that maybe you made a mistake having kids, that maybe life is really better without kids, that life’s about again, being free. That’s really the primary lie that undergirds this entire conversation, which is the definition of freedom our culture has embraced, which is uninhibited free choice to give your impulses basically any freedom that they want. That is how we are defining freedom in our culture. It doesn’t jive well at all with the kind of commitments that it takes to stay married or raise children, and so this is a really tough cultural moment for a lot of families. Jeff, what are your thoughts about how about that?

Yeah, I agree. I think these conversations are just really interesting because they kind of show, they bubble up the cultural spirit. One caveat I will say too, if you’re struggling with infertility or something like that, then I know these conversations can be tough. We’re not talking to you. What we’re talking to is more that spirit of almost consumeristic marriages and parenting, where you see kids as just this life suck on you that you don’t want, that you think is just an added burden. That’s where I think we need a heavier indictment, but that’s who we’re talking to, not the folks over here. We are with you in your corner.

But to those in this more paradigm, yeah. I think what’s interesting though, is most people, or almost everyone? Is built to parent. We just do it with our work or we do it with our dog. Right. All we’re doing is transferring kind of, I think, the natural parts of the stages we’re supposed to hit in life. Again, that’s generalizing at some level. But I just think, like you said, yeah, we see so many people … Millennials are the classic example of getting a dog as their baby, right, or work gets treated as the child. What’s interesting is, you don’t want to have a child cause you don’t want it to suck the life out of you, but yet work actually does that 10 times worse, especially if you’re in more of the spirit of actually idolatrous work, not honoring work for what it is in its goodness.

I would say, man, just see that children are a blessing. You can’t open up the scriptures and be saturated in the scriptures and not see that children are a gift. And they’re not just a gift to you, but they’re a gift for you in the sense of, children and becoming a parent shapes you so radically. I think I would love to see more in society understand that it is a gift of sanctification in the same way that getting married is, and that those … It’s not for everyone, but for those who do choose that path, to honor it as a gift, to see it as a gift, and to welcome it actually as a gift rather than like what you said. We’re so far on the end of the spectrum, that once you start actually considering it, not just like something to not do, but actually consider it fashionable, then I think we really, really, really need to reconsider our cultural values.

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