I recently mentioned how I was planning to read and review Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance by Ellen Walker. Today is the day for that review, so I hope you will read on out of curiosity and participate in the discussion!
Our nation has an obsession with motherhood. Babies are much like an additional accessory to celebrity mothers, with little thought to the responsibility and attention a child requires. Marriages are sadly shoved aside when the focus is “all about the children” and leave little to the relationship after the last bird has flown the coop. Although many parents find extreme fulfillment through raising little ones, it is still a significant time commitment. Perhaps that is the reason more couples are ending up childfree.
Ms. Walker’s definition of childfree is,
Being free to put your energy into endeavors other than raising children.
Couples are considered childfree by three different sets of circumstances.
1. Childfree by Happenstance
Couples may plan on having children, but were either so caught up in their careers or hobbies that “it just never happened”.
2. Childfree by Choice
These are the couples who have talked about children and have decided not to have them, for a variety of reasons, such as not wanting the responsibility, not having a nurturing or motherly instinct, or because they want to put their energies into other activities.
3. Childfree by Chance
These couples want to have children but are physically unable to do so.
No matter how husband’s and wives end up being childfree, each couple has a unique road ahead of them, full of both positives and negatives.
Being childfree allows a couple to,
- Focus more on their marriage.
- Travel to less kid-friendly destinations.
- Go out on spur-of-the-moment dates.
- Pursue careers, especially for the women.
- Be more financially secure.
- Spend more time on personal hobbies.
- Find opportunities to help out others in the community or family members, financially or otherwise.
Being childfree also has its drawbacks,
- Many friendships fall apart once other couples begin having children.
- Couples often “feel alone” and like they “don’t fit in” because social conversations often revolve around updates on each others children.
- Constant pressure from others to have children.
- Often seen as selfish individuals or perceived to dislike children.
- Discrimination by the gov’t come tax time with tax credits.
- Discrimination in the workplace because they have to cover for co-workers with sick children.
- Extra planning for the future – who will take care of the couple when they are old and who will be the beneficiaries of their estate?
- Missing the “little moments” that make parents smile and say it’s worth it.
I believe the entire concept of this book can be summed up in one of Ms. Walkers’ quotes,
Parenting ought to be an option rather than an obligation. ~ pg. 46
While I do appreciate some of the points made in Complete Without Kids, I feel Ms. Walker wrote this book only to validate her own decision to remain childfree. The subtitle implies this publication is “an insider’s guide”, but it wasn’t filled with brilliant writing and childfree tips as I originally would have thought. Instead, Ms. Walker uses multiple stories to back up her claims and many of the couples are used repeatedly throughout the book, only in different circumstances.
Socially, I have to agree with her assessment of life predominantly revolving around a couple’s children. I have personally experienced the frustration and disappointment of friends changing once they’ve given birth. Their priorities are different, and rightfully so, but they also leave little time to keep friendships alive with those who cannot contribute to a play date.
One final thought I would like to mention is Paul’s words in 1 Corinthian’s 7 about celebrating the freedom one has to serve the Lord without a spouse. Would not the same line of thought be applied to a married couple without children? There are many ministry opportunities one can have as a childfree couple, including the freedom to say yes to a volunteer opportunity without concern for childcare, or to go on a third world country missions trip without worrying about diseases affecting a little baby.
Although I appreciated the opportunity to review this book, Complete Without Kids will probably not end up resting on my bookshelf. I have two copies of this book to giveaway though, so if you are interested in reading Complete Without Kids for yourself, please contact me and I will ship one out to you!
What do you think of the childfree concept?
Do you view childfree couples any differently then those with children?
Regarding Mother’s Day by Radical Womanhood
- A well-balanced article debunking motherhood as a sole means of identity.
Motherhood as a Calling by Desiring God
- On the other side, this article represents motherhood as a means of sacrifice to your children.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Greenleaf Book Group for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.