Childfree is a term used to describe individuals who neither have nor desire to have children. An alternative description is "childless by choice". The choice not to procreate has only been popular since the development of reliable birth control and therefore was not commonly seen before the 1960s. Additionally, such an option is rarely seen in non-industrialized countries. Childfree groups began to form in the 1970s, most notable among them The National Organization for Non-Parents and No Kidding!. There have been a significant number of books written about the childfree, although quantitative academic research on this group is just now emerging.

The childfree are a diverse group of people, much like the reasons behind the choice not to procreate. However, childfree people tend to be less conventional, more highly educated, and professional. Despite similarities, childfree individuals do not share a unified political or economic philosophy, and most prominent organizations tend to be social in nature. However, there are a range of social positions related to the childfree that some choose to endorse. To this end, some political and social activism is starting to emerge from a subset of this population.

Etymology and usage

An individual who neither has nor desires to have children is known as a childfree individual. The term is distinct from the term "childless." Because the suffix "-less" implies a lack, the term childfree has been adopted to differentiate those who choose not to have children from those who desire children but do not have them.


There has been a debate within religious groups about whether a childfree lifestyle is something to be condemned. Some religious conservatives have stated that it is a rebellion against God's will. In numerous works, including an Apostolic letter written in 1988, Pope John Paul II has set forth the Catholic emphasis on the role of children in family life. However, the Catholic Church also stresses the value of chastity in the non-married state of life and so approves of nominally childfree ways of life for the single. Any couple who "marries" with the intention of not producing children, is not married within the church.

The Southern Baptist author R. Albert Mohler, Jr. says, "Couples are not given the option of chosen childlessness in the Biblical revelation. To the contrary, we are commanded to receive children with joy as God's gifts, and to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.", a position consistent with some Protestant denominations' condemnation of homosexuality, gay couples, and gay marriage. In response, there are new churches being formed with the childfree movement. For example, a group called The Cyber-Church of Jesus Christ Childfree is a group of Christians who feel the call to have no descendants by fleshly means, just as Jesus had none.

Other mainline evangelical Christians have more balanced views, as published in ''Today's Christian Woman'' in an article by Raymond Van Leeuwen entitled "Is it All Right for a Married Couple to Choose to Remain Childless?" He shows that Gen. 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply," what people generally think of as the Biblical mandate to procreate, is really not a command formula but a blessing formula: "You shall be fruitful..." He writes that while there are many factors to consider as far as people's motives for remaining childless, there are many valid reasons, including dedicating one's time to demanding but good causes, why Christians may choose to remain childless for a short time or a lifetime.

Political activism

Just as people with children come from all shades of the political spectrum and temper their beliefs accordingly, so too do the childfree. For example, while some childfree people think of government welfare to parents as "lifestyle subsidies," others accept the need to assist such individuals but think that their lifestyle should be equally compensated. Still others accept the need to help out such individuals and also do not ask for subsidies of their own.

There are suggestions of an emergence of political cohesion, for example the Australian Childfree Party (ACFP) being proposed in Australia as a childfree political party, promoting the childfree lifestyle as opposed to the family lifestyle. Increasing politicization and media interest has led to the emergence of a second wave of childfree organizations that are openly political in their raisons d'etre, with a number of abortive attempts to mobilize a political pressure group in the U.S. The first organization to emerge was British, known as Kidding Aside. Despite becoming increasingly more numerous, vocal and organized, the childfree movement has not had significant political impact. Indeed, it is entirely possible that childfree advocates are simply making a lifestyle choice and do not have political intentions. It is also entirely possible that childfree advocates do have political intentions, but their voices are often silenced by child-centric cultures.

Portrayal in media

The opening scene of the dystopian film Idiocracy suggests that an inverse relationship between intelligence and birth rates will result in a bleak future for humanity.

Childfree slang

There is a growing corpus of slang terminology, some of it borrowed from other groups or pop culture. The terms are often derogatory in nature, generally focusing on names for bad parents ("breeder"), lifestyle choices ("baby rabies" as a reference to the strong desire to have a child), annoying parental behaviors (parents who blatantly attempt to solicit comments about their offspring are said to be "baby stalking"), and terms for the children themselves ("sprog," an old British term for children; "Bratleigh," and "crotchfruit" are amongst negative terms to describe children).

Disdain for the social construct of family is sometimes expressed through deliberate misspellings of related words -- famblee, moomie (often "moo" for short), duhdie, baybee, etc.

Positive terms are focused on well-behaved children and parents who demonstrate a willingness and ability to properly care for their children. Most of the positive terms for children ("angel," "darling," etc.) are common to most, and the most common one aimed at good parents is the "PNB" (Parent Not Breeder) label. Slang that has been used to describe childfree couples, especially those that are career-oriented, are DINKs (Double Income No Kids), or DINKYs (Double Income No Kids Yet).

See also


Further reading

External links

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