From Academic Kids

Template:Message box Childfree describes those who do not have, and do not desire, children. Also known as "childless by choice".


Etymology and usage

The term stands in contrast to "childless", which some argue implies that children are "lacking" and desired; childfree persons would argue that their lives are no more or less complete without offspring. Some may like children, others may be indifferent, and still others may dislike children; but the commonality between childfree people is both a personal lack of desire for parenthood and never having children of one's own.

The history of the word is somewhat unclear; it may have been coined in the 1970s by the National Organization for Non-Parents (now defunct). It achieved wider currency in the 1990s when Leslie Lafayette formed one of the first modern childfree groups, the Childfree Network.

Childfree is sometimes capitalized in regular usage, e.g., "He describes himself as Childfree."

It is also frequently abbreviated as "CF" among people who are childfree.

While gay men and lesbians can be childfree, they once rarely adopted the label; the vast majority of those who did were straight (or, potentially, bisexual). With the modern "gay-by boom" (gays and lesbians moving into the parenting sphere), today gays and lesbians are not uncommon in childfree groups.

Reasons cited

Childfree persons cite a variety of reasons for their position. Among them:

  • Concern regarding environmental factors and/or overpopulation.
  • Desire for increased free time.
  • Desire for decreased financial responsibility.
  • Perceived incapacity to be a responsible parent.
  • Fear that parenthood, being an irrevocable state, will be disliked.
  • Lack of biological urges to procreate.
  • Adolescent/postadolescent disdain for younger children.
  • Desire to maintian a particular level of power and control in one’s life: loss of time, energy, and freedom are not desired.
  • Content with enjoying other children, not their own, as aunts, uncles, educators, etc.
  • Desire for maintaining a level of emotional and sexual intimacy with partner, one that is not thought to be possible with the presence of children.


A 2003 U.S. Census study found that a record number of American women are childless; 44% of women in the age group 15-44 fit that category.

The number of these women who are childfree is unknown, but the National Center of Health Statistics confirms that the percentage of American women of childbearing age who define themsleves as voluntarily childless (or childfree) rose sharply in the 1990s: from 2.4 percent in 1982 to 4.3 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent in 1995.


Childfree individuals are sometimes derided by others as being "selfish" for never wanting children, for not contributing to their nation's future, etc. Childfree persons counter that those who desire children are at least as selfish in their reasons for wanting children, that some reasons cited for being childfree are selfless, and that there will always be enough children born to guarantee any nation's future. Childfree people may have difficulty finding people willing to perform sterilizations, especially in their 20's. This is particularly vexing for adult women, who often resent that doctors would never question the adult decision to have a child, but become suspicious at a woman's decision not to have a child...a decision often arrived at with much more forethought.

As shown by (my) study on voluntarily-childfree, electively sterilized women (Annily Campbell, 1999), the decision to be and remain childfree has usually been made many years prior to the decision to be sterilized. Therefore, the primary motivation of most voluntarily-childfree women who apply to be sterilized (rather than continuing to use 'traditional' contraception) is to avoid pregnancy (or further pregnancies and the need for termination). The medical profession 'infantilizes' childfree women of any age, often refusing to believe that they are capable of making a decison that flies in the face of women's perceived 'biological destiny'.

In recent years, childfree individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere have become more politicized (though they have exerted little visible political power). The Internet has advanced groups such as No Kidding! (a social group for the childfree, active in many major metropolitan American areas), as well as developing its own communities, such as the Usenet group and various message boards. These groups have not gone unnoticed by mainstream media, which have produced numerous articles about "childfree vs. parents" in recent years.

Many childfree individuals have become increasingly vocal about what they perceive as inequities in government (child tax credits; laws passed "for the children"; "family pandering" by politicians of all parties), as well as unfair workplace issues (unequal benefits and time off for parents; insurance plans that favor families over individuals; "family-friendly" workplace policies).

Childfree slang

  • BNP: "Breeder, Not Parent"; a "breeder" in the specific sense (see below).
  • "Baby rabies": Obsession with having or conceiving a child.
  • Breeder: Generally, someone who has, or intends to have, children. Is often used in a more specific sense to refer to obnoxious parents (in contrast with "parent", below). This is also gay slang for a heterosexual person.
  • Diaperwhipped: A term for parents who are controlled by their child(ren)'s every whim.
  • DINKs "Double income no kids;" childfree who have not only childless time to pursue their pleasures, but also the financial status to indulge in them.
  • Duh/duhddy: A term for a father with bad parenting skills.
  • Moo/moomie: A term for a mother with bad parenting skills.
  • Parent: One with children who behave in a non-obnoxious "good" manner regarding their children, and is considered to have raised those children well. (Some Childfree persons do not make the distinction between this and "breeder", above.)
  • PNB: "Parent, Not Breeder"; a "parent" (see above).
  • Snipped: Sterilized.
  • Sprog: A child. Also "yard ape," "crotch dumpling," "crotch dropping," "sproglet," "spawn".


The Baby Boon (ISBN 0743242645) is a book by Elinor Burkett, published in 2000, which outlines a case against many privileges granted to parents (as opposed to non-parents) at various levels of society.

Childfree and Sterilized (ISBN 0304337471) is a book by Annily Campbell, published in 1999, which describes the experiences of adult childfree women seeking sterilization in the UK.

Maybe One (ISBN 1862300046) is a book by Bill McKibben, published in 1999, which describes the environmental impact of having children. While the book advocates one-child families, there is an obvious unspoken case for having no children.

The Childless Revolution (ISBN 0738206741) is a book by Madelyn Cain, published in 2002, which describes the experiences of childless and childfree women, and their similarities and differences.

Why Don't You Have Kids? (ISBN 082174853X) is a book by Leslie Lafayette, published in 1995, an early treatise on the subject of modern-day childfreedom by the woman who founded one of its first groups, the Childfree Network.

"Without Child: Challenging the stigma of childlessness" (ISBN 0415924936) is a book by Laurie Lisle, published in 1996, which probes some of the myths and the stereotypes that surround non-mothers.


An episode of The Simpsons presented a scenario where people without children, including Childfree adults, squared off against the families with children of Springfield.

See also

External links

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