Saturday 11 July 2015

That "Child-Free" Aunt Article

As I matter of fact, I do like the article, but in rereading it today one thing annoyed me.

It was the word "Child-Free".

"Child-Free" is what childless couples call themselves when they want to justify/celebrate deliberately not having children. I suppose unmarried women might call themselves that, too, now that marriage and child-having have been sundered. As I have mentioned a dozen times, I once found myself explaining to a divorced mother of two why I would not just go to a pub, pick up some guy and get pregnant. I doubt unmarried men call themselves "child-free". Nobody expects unmarried men to have children although--of course--they so often do.

I am not "child-free"; I am childless. Although I realize I have been spared a lot of work and worry, I recognize that this is the most noble work and worry available to a married woman (besides, perhaps, tending her sick or dying husband). Childlessness in a married woman is a real tragedy, whether she knows it or not. Even if it is not a tragedy for her, it is a tragedy for society, a society that needs a maximum of children born to happily married parents to keep it on an even keel.

I think the article describes me, except that I heartily dislike the word "child-free" and think it is anti-child and therefore anti-social. There are people in the "child-free" movement who object to paying taxes towards schools, day care, etc., etc., as if children were not fellow citizens but pets.

However, because the article describes aunts like me, I realize that I am neither entirely child-free nor childless because there are three children in my family and I have good friends with children, too. There are two little boys in Toronto on my birthday present list simply because I love their mother, and therefore them.

Now, it is Seraphic Singles Saturday, so does anyone have an issue or letter for the day?


  1. I'm a little late on this, but maybe at some point you could expound on the dividing line between a cultural Catholic who is potential romantic partner (i.e., she might grow in orthodoxy and holiness as you date her) versus a cultural Catholic (i.e., "I'm of a traditionally Catholic ethnicity and I commit x, y and z sin without blinking, who are you to judge?"), who one ought to avoid to protect ones' soul.

    Not that it's on my mind or anything.

  2. Ah yes. I have been there many a time. The cultural Catholic man may be surprised but amenable if the religious Catholic woman doesn't want to have sex before marriage or use birth control, for he will have heard of women like that before--perhaps women in his family--and heard them praised. However, the cultural Catholic woman may be slightly horrified by a religious Catholic man who doesn't believe in premarital sex or use birth control, for she will have heard of such men as disgusting patriarchal anti-choice yahoos.

    Love can improve people quite a lot, and I know culturally Catholic men who have married religious Catholic women and all is well. I don't know any religious Catholic men of my generation who married merely culturally Catholic women, but on the other hand, the merely-culturally Catholic woman isn't going to advertise this to religious types like me, for fear of being JUDGED.

    Not sure this is helping. There are lots of religious Catholic girls who need to be avoided to protect one's soul, too. We are just less obvious about it, or we are dumb and don't understand what havoc we are causing.

    I guess all you can do is discuss marriage and family issues frankly with cultural Catholics you date, listen to the answers, state your own positions, and wait for the inevitable soul-searching emails. It will come as a huge surprise to women of your generation that Catholic sexual teaching protects--not exploits--women and children.

    Women my age who came across hippy-dippy women's health stuff at least imbibed the notion that doctors can't always be trusted and that artificial birth control can be really bad for you. In the 1990s, the Boston Women's Health Collective recommended NFP as wonderfully feminist but warned their readers to beware of the courses run by priests and nuns.

    That reminds me: don't argue. Just listen and state your own position. Then, if attacked, defend your own positions without attacking the weaknesses in her positions. If she's that into you, she'll realize them soon enough. If it all goes wrong, you don't want her telling her friends what a patriarchal bully you are, etc. etc.


This is Edinburgh Housewife, a blog for Catholic women and other women of good will. It assumes that the average reader is an unmarried, childless Catholic woman over 18. Commenters are asked to take that into consideration before commenting. Anonymous comments may be erased.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.