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Why I choose to be happy

By Nina Steele 

I was asked by a handful of people recently on social media, why I insist on calling myself childless instead of childfree and some were rather upset about it. I must say that I was not at all surprised by the reaction and in many ways I expected it. My reply that it was all about choice and that whatever people choose to be called needed to be respected, did not satisfy some. This made me think about how people can easily become entrenched in their choices and expect everyone to follow or be damned.

Isn’t that the very same attitude that many childless people have been complaining about from the mainstream. We complain about being stigmatised and some of those who are childless by choice often make a point of remembering everyone of the fact that having children is a choice, yet some of those very same people are now doing to other childless people what they have been complaining about. If we are going to be taken seriously and become a force to be reckoned with in society, we cannot be divided on issues such as this. We cannot be seen to be preaching one thing when it suits us and another when it does not.

My happiness is entirely up to me and I strongly believe that everything comes from within as opposed to being decided by events outside. My thoughts and my behaviour are what shape the world around me, not the other way around. Because I choose to be happy, I make a point of not letting my mood be dictated by matters outside of myself, which is why I make a point of not giving power to anything or anybody over me.

By accepting that I can be called a non-parent, childless or childfree, as opposed to insisting on being called just one of those three, I am eliminating whatever power these words have to hurt me and make them completely neutral. This is my choice and my way of ensuring that I continue to be happy.

I do however understand that for some people, being called childfree is important, as it helps them in their journey and I am fine with that and respect their choice wholeheartedly. It took me 9 years to come to terms with not having children and once the switch happened, I never looked back. I am rather fierce about my happiness and once I make up my mind about something that contributes to it, I don’t let go and nothing can make me do so.

That is me and every one of us is different and I respect and rather value that difference, which is why I will not question what anyone choose to call themselves, that is entirely up to them and their prerogative. We are all trying to send a message to society that childlessness is as worthy a path as being a parent and that should remain the focus, not what we each choose to call ourselves.

I have chosen to be happy and I am grateful for life itself. That choice, most of us have, particularly those of us living in the West. I consciously try to refrain from judging others and society would be a better place if more and more people chose to do the same. For one thing, childless people would not feel as stigmatised. Live and let live comes to mind.

Comments

  1. I didn’t realise that thee was a difference between the term childless and childfree. I would make an assumption that the term ‘less’ implies something is missing and therefore is sounds as though it is not a choice. While the term ‘free’ feels more like an active decision was made. Are these terms widely used and how do others interpret the meanings?

    • Some people view childless as having a negative connotation and so prefer to use childfree. From some of the reactions I had, it can be quite a divisive issue.

    • I don’t mind being called childless; I don’t see a problem. I am fine with whatever people want to call themselves as well.

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