Cameron Diaz showed up in my parenting timeline and I didn’t think much of it, used to celebrity parenting stories as part of the media norm. But wait, I scrolled back up, Cameron Diaz doesn’t have kids.
The article was posted on Today Parents, and claimed that Diaz, “unintentionally or not, has become the patron saint of women who are childless by choice.” The writer, Tamar Anital, takes on the topic as a childfree by choice woman herself—a woman willing to express the unpopular opinion that life doesn’t start at parenthood, and who is open about being happy with the choice she and her husband made not to have children.
No one’s debating the legitimacy of being child-free, but…
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having this stance. I know plenty of women who have chosen this path, for various reasons—to pursue careers, because there were artistic or travel pursuits they didn’t want to give up, for economic reasons, or because they just didn’t have the urge or desire. Living in Toronto, there are all kinds of women to meet who have chosen this path. I myself had never wanted or thought about having kids until the latter half of my 20s. And while I don’t entirely relate to the childless friends I have anymore, I respect these women’s decisions.
The question, for me, is why these articles appear in parenting context, and if it makes sense for them to.
And no. Child-free essays don’t belong here.
In some ways, it feels out of place, defensive, and like a cry of being misunderstood. There is a childless woman contributor in probably every motherhood, pregnancy or parenting anthology I’ve read. I appreciate this perspective when it makes sense: I find it helpful to remember that there are different reasons women don’t have kids. There is the gamut of fertility-related reasons. There are mothers who have lost their children. There are women who struggled with decisions around whether or not to parent. And while just not wanting kids is completely, entirely valid—it is not a part of motherhood or parenting.
Anital claims that her decision not to have kids is constantly blowing peoples’ minds, and often framed as a future regret. Kudos for her for telling people that this is none of their business, that her decision was carefully considered, and that she is happy with it. But why here, now, like this? I’m trying to read about time-outs and ear infections and day camps—all topics that would be of no interest to a person in Anital or Diaz’ situation—but topics that have a place and purpose on a parenting site (or magazine, or book, or whatever other form of media.)
I’ll admit that I’m, perhaps, a little envious of what a childfree life offers these women in terms of mobility, ease and flexibility. Beyond that, though, I’m also thrown by this “in defense of” appearing on the digital pages of exactly what it’s not interested in.
What do you think? Should kid-free couples get a voice on parenting sites? Tell us in the comments, below.