Childfree as Families of Two
While not having kids by choice is becoming more accepted with each generation, some attitudes remain a bit more stuck.
One is the idea that two people in a committed relationship who live together and have no kids by choice aren’t considered a “family.” The childfree feel they are a family, but aren’t often seen that way by others with children or those who want them.
I brought the idea to the fore with my book’s main title” Families of Two." In media interviews I often had to justify why, just because you don’t want kids, does not mean you are not a family. I’d get challenged with the formal definitions of family, which always has children written into it.
Take dictionary.com’s first definition: “a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children;” and “a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for.” Fifteen definitions follow—none get at the idea of a social unit consisting of two adults in a committed and/or marital relationship without offspring.
The good news is GLBT couples with children would formally be considered “families” with common definitions like these. But it does not include couples without children, by choice or not. With common definitions, are you a “family” when you are a social unit, want kids and just don’t have them yet? Those couples think so.
While on the ground, what it means to be a family takes many forms, the formal definitions of family need to catch up and change. The traditional nuclear family is no longer the predominant “family” structure and definitions of family should reflect this.
Definitions need to shift from starting from the place of marriage and children, and instead start from a context of social bonding and attachment. A family can be a social unit of at least two people who are or consider themselves blood related, and share their lives together, whether it be for matters of survival or personal fulfillment.
Seen in this way, it can encompass all the different faces of family in today’s society.