Our family’s love grounds us. It increases our confidence and self-esteem, adds more stability to life, and provides a better understanding of social interactions.
But as much as Reddit user OperaJunkie would like to enjoy the company of her closest kin, she can’t. At least not at the moment.
To explain her situation and possibly get some support, the 26-year-old made a post on the subreddit r/Childfree, where she detailed a recent conflict with her cousin.
It all started when the woman asked OperaJunkie to look after her kids. The Redditor refused because she had a vacation approaching and as the two continued talking, the cousin asked how much OperaJunkie is spending on her trip. $9,000 was the answer. And the woman was so surprised by it that she rallied the whole family against OperaJunkie, criticizing her for stupid spending.
This childfree woman has been planning her dream vacation for ages, and she’s prepared to pay $9,000 for it
Image credits: Claire Ward (not the actual photo)
But her cousin thinks it’s a huge mistake, since the sum could take care of multiple kids for months and months
Image credits: Marisa Howenstine (not the actual photo)
Image credits: operajunkie
Such conflicts might be more common than we think. A research team from Michigan State University recently discovered over one in five Michigan adults do not want children.
“We found that 21.6% of adults, or about 1.7 million people, in Michigan do not want children and therefore are ‘childfree.’ That’s more than the population of Michigan’s nine largest cities,” said Zachary Neal, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department and co-author of the study.
While the study was conducted in just one state, according to the 2021 census, Michigan is demographically similar to the United States as a whole. Because of this, Neal said, if the pattern holds up nationally, it would mean 50 to 60 million Americans are childfree.
“People — especially women — who say they don’t want children are often told they’ll change their mind, but the study found otherwise,” Jennifer Watling Neal, associate professor in the psychology department at MSU and co-author of the study, added. “People are making the decision to be childfree early in life, most often in their teens and twenties. And, it’s not just young people claiming they don’t want children. Women who decided in their teens to be childfree are now, on average, nearly 40 and still do not have children.”
Because so many people are childfree, the researchers said this group warrants more attention from the general public. “Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, a large number of Americans are now at risk of being forced to have children despite not wanting them,” Watling Neal said.
As the post went viral, its author provided more information about her life and family in the comments
While it’s impossible to say who is right and who is wrong in this situation from an outsider’s point of view, people noted that some things (like the use of the word “breeder”) might indicate both parties crossed each other’s line.
Without pointing any fingers, it’s interesting to note that Dr. Kathleen Kelley Reardon, USC Marshall School professor and author of Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation, estimates that 75% of how people treat us is under our own control. Because of this she advocates taking a different approach if you want to experience new, more positive results with these types of conflicts in the future.
“Communication is like chess where every move one person makes influences the choices of the other,” Reardon said. “A good rule of thumb is to not say what you would normally say in response to any provocation. If you usually meet a challenge with a challenge, try asking a question instead. If you let someone go on and on and that leads to anger, link something you have to say to his or her topic and then change to another one.”
If you think you’re being blamed for something, instead of getting your back up, try saying, “There’s some truth to that” or “I hadn’t thought of it that way but I see your point.” In other words, tweak what you normally do.