We welcome Veronica Prager to talk with us about voluntary childlessness. In this episode we go deep into why someone may choose to not have children, what kind of social repercussions it brings and why, and how we can work to build a world where people that choose to opt out of having and/or raising children are given more empathy and compassion.
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[00:00:00] Veronica: Um, so we only launched our YouTube channel about four months ago. So it’s a fairly new project. We talked about it since last year. Originally what happened was during 2020, obviously it was a really challenging time for parents and kids. And we kept getting this, you know, people would be, you two are so lucky.
[00:00:26] You don’t have to worry about acts. You don’t have to worry about why you don’t have to worry about see. And we always find that common to be so interesting because we’re child free by choice. So it wasn’t luck that brought us here. It was a decision and a decision that took quite a bit of time to make and a choice and a lifestyle that we chose.
[00:00:47] So. We really just started to have a lot of conversations about what child-free life looks like for us, not obviously just during the pandemic, but in general. And I really started to diving into the research because I’m 45 now. And I think, or that I had so much pressure and judgment and criticism during my twenties and my thirties, but my assumption, which is, you know, assumptions are not necessarily correct.
[00:01:15] And we talk about them in our videos as well. My assumption was that this wasn’t. It wasn’t looked at that times had changed, right? Because there’s so much acceptance with people’s choices. So I assume there is no way that women, people, couples can still be feeling the pressure and the criticism for not having children.
[00:01:39] It has to have changed and it has to be more accepted. And the more that I dove in, the more that I read blogs and books and stories and heard what people had to say, it made me realize that although decades had passed, not a lot had changed when it comes to that, especially globally. And it’s also a dip, you know, I thought it was going to be geographic as well.
[00:02:03] I thought big cities, people who live in big cities, everything is so much more accepting, but that’s not necessarily the case. So Rick and I were talking about, okay, I think we want to get involved in this conversation. And what we want to do is advocate for choice. We’re not trying to advocate for this Lex lifestyle we’re advocating for choice and what can we bring to the table?
[00:02:27] And what we could bring to the table is to show people I’m 45, he’s almost 50 what our life looks like at this point with no regrets, with lots of fulfillment and lots of joy. And we thought that would be really beneficial because when we were in our twenties and thirties, there was no one that we could look at and say, oh, that’s really interesting.
[00:02:51] That’s where they are in their journey. So we decided to launch a child for your connection.
[00:02:57] Clément: You mentioned the child-free connection, what is it? So the goal is to bring about more awareness as to this kind of lifestyle.
[00:03:05] Veronica: Yeah, it’s also, it’s true. It’s to bring awareness. It’s also to connect people. And obviously because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do as much as we want to do as far as the connection part, because I think a lot of people are a little bit tired of the virtual experience and they’re ready to get together physically.
[00:03:24] The number one pain point that we see in this community is that they don’t have other child-free friends. So it becomes really challenging, especially in your late twenties, early thirties, when all your friends start having kids, you tend to get. Um, you’re not really in that circle. You’re not getting invited to the birthday parties.
[00:03:45] You’re not getting invited to the get togethers because you don’t have kids. So people feel very alone. So we wanted people to feel less alone and we thought let’s start growing this community. And as the community grows, we do have a lot of plans on how to bring everyone together, which we’re not ready to talk about yet because there’s so many options and we’re trying to focus on the best one, but connection and making people feel not alone was one of our priorities.
[00:04:16] Clément: Um, yeah, I mean, for, even from, for me, I’m 38 and they don’t have children and it’s not because I don’t want to have children. It’s just because I haven’t gotten to the point where I’d feel like that’s an option for me. Um, but I can, I can see how different the. People are, when you become a parent, you are almost like immediately categorized and put into this, um, kind of group of people and you have to adopt, you know, because it’s kinda like it’s a, it’s an instinctive thing.
[00:04:52] You adopted a different way of looking at the world. You’re no longer thinking about just you. You’ve got to think about what the best is for the child. And so it kind of puts you down this path and me being single and, uh, well, not single anymore. I just got into a relationship, but me having been single, not having any children, um, and the 38 years old mixing has really started to change over the last five years or so where I’ve met more and more parents at my age.
[00:05:21] And I just don’t know how to connect with them because we don’t have the same. Uh, interest. It’s funny. I mean, this is just one minor observation, but I think it’s quite funny. I usually work when I’m, you know, in my late twenties, my early thirties, when I would meet someone, usually there wouldn’t have kids if there were, and we would just talk and it would be fine.
[00:05:44] Um, we would, we would have a good connection. And then as soon as I started mixing with more parents, I started to notice little changes in interactions. Like they be half there and half not there because their brain is also thinking about like the kid and it’s, so it’s a striking difference. So you can get the whole community thing.
[00:06:09] I think that’s, that makes sense.
[00:06:11] Veronica: It is. It is. And people feel, we actually did our video on this on while you lose your friendships when they start having kids and. The thing is that I completely understand. I understand that once you have a child, you have different priorities, you have a different focus.
[00:06:30] So if, even if we get to the point where we can actually have a brunch, which probably took three or six months to plan to get together, your phone is, you know, you’re getting text messages, you’re getting phone calls. You have a limited window of time because you have to pick somebody up, you have to drop somebody up.
[00:06:48] So the lifestyle is so different between the two that, that the connection tends to absolutely be disrupted. It’s just, it just happens. But what is good? What I have found is now that most of my friends have children that are not young. They’re teenagers, they’re either in high school or they’re off to college.
[00:07:13] The friendships that really matter the ones that. That love you, no matter what it do come back and they do start because it’s now they have the time and now they have time to just not talk about their children, but they have time to focus on other things and, and it can be sad for some people to lose their friends.
[00:07:35] So that’s when they, like you just mentioned absolutely start looking elsewhere for a community that can relate to their current lifestyle.
[00:07:47] Clément: Hmm. Right. Yes. Um, and I, and I, I’m already thinking ahead and I, I, you know, I wonder what are the reasons for you specifically that, um, mean, you know, you’d rather not have children and also what kind of experiences have you had with the people around you while you were.
[00:08:08] Explaining yourself, let’s say, because like you said, it’s not, it hasn’t been a normal thing, you know, and we can understand that, right. I mean, we’re talking about essentially the next generation of humans and I think every human has a stake in that. So that’s why I probably see a lot of judgment calls from people who aren’t even in your own family.
[00:08:29] But, but yeah. Tell me a little bit more about
[00:08:32] Veronica: in your family, actually, that’s actually quite the, yeah.
[00:08:37] Clément: I’m interested in how your parents have, uh, you know, if they’re still around or not, how they had dealt with so far,
[00:08:47] Veronica: I got quite a lot of pressure from my family to have children and to be completely honest, one of the reasons that I was.
[00:08:58] Not a hundred percent sure that about the, about launching the child-free connection is because I still felt that, you know, I still at 45 years old, I still felt that twing of shame of, you know, them telling me why haven’t you had a kid, this is how you’re going to find true love. You’re going to regret it, all these comments that came at me pretty much my whole life.
[00:09:23] So, so I’m very familiar, which is why I can so openly. And so honestly talk about it because I’m so familiar with those comments and that pressure and that criticism, my main, um, the main reason that I decided not to have kids, definitely for me personally, with lack of desire, I just didn’t, I wasn’t that child that was playing with baby dolls and dressing them and trying to.
[00:09:54] Play mom. I didn’t foresee myself. I wasn’t excited to be pregnant. I wasn’t excited when I envisioned my life. It wasn’t with having kids around me. And it doesn’t mean that I hate kids. I actually, a lot of people don’t like kids by the way. And that’s perfectly okay. I happen to like kids. I love my niece and my nephew so much.
[00:10:15] There are such a big part of my life. I love my friend’s children matched. Super motherly, which is which people find to be odd sometimes, but I’m just a mama bear by nature. I’m very caring. I like to take care of people. If you’re sick, you definitely want me around because you’re going to be taking care of so well.
[00:10:36] And that’s just who I am by nature. But just because I’m motherly doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to have my own kids. Um, it was just something that I realized wasn’t for me, it wasn’t something that I was pulled towards. It wasn’t something that I felt that I needed to have in my life for complete joy and fulfillment.
[00:10:56] But on top of that, because when I was in my twenties, lack of desire, wasn’t really an accepted reason and you should, and I feel that people definitely do not need to list out their reasons of why they’re not having kids, especially if they’re not comfortable with it, they can, that’s just who they want to be in the lifestyle tools that they want to have.
[00:11:15] But when I was younger, It was questioned so much. So I happened to be a very analytical person. I do a lot of research and I for myself, had to really list out all my reasons I want it. My time freedom was important to me. The ability to be spontaneous was important to me. Finances were important to me. I did this whole, I had this notebook where I broke down, how much children costs to how much high school was college.
[00:11:51] It, I just really dove into it deep. And for me, the only reason I did that, and again, nobody needs to do that, but I did that because I wanted people to understand that this. This was a decision that was really thought through, at least for me, some people actually know, and we get some of our audience members giving us messages from the time they’re kids.
[00:12:16] They already know from the time they’re 10, they know 18, they know 20, they know. So it’s just not in them to become parents from. And it’s so clear. So there’s really no decision-making process. There’s really no need to build a list because they just know from day one, which is really interesting as well.
[00:12:37] Clément: You know, there’s a lot of, I guess, parallel social issues that are happening right now around the basis of like individualism and freedom of choice. You know, we, I, and I, I don’t need to. Or want to make this conversation about those things, but there are parallels to the, um, the whole abortion, uh, which I think I can understand why it’s still an issue.
[00:13:11] Although I personally feel like in this day and age, um, it shouldn’t be an issue, uh, and also, you know, to other social, uh, you know, kind of movements that are happening right now where people want the ability to be able to choose what is best for them. And so I, I totally understand this and it’s, it brings, it brings into question.
[00:13:40] Um, you know, a lot of things, I think the first thing it brings into question for me is, and I wasn’t thinking about this while you were explaining all of that is, is this the first time in the history of the human race, where we are actually. Making these decisions consciously, because like you said, prior to this generation, our generation, rather I’m 38, more or less our generation, right.
[00:14:06] It’s kind of like, it was just a way of life. It wasn’t even a question.
[00:14:12] Veronica: It was an assumption. You meet somebody, you get married, you buy the house, you have the baby there. There’s all these steps lined up for you. Even with work, right. Work has changed so much before if you switch jobs, it was frowned upon, you know, you wanted to get that 30, 40, 50 year gold watch or whatever it is that they gave people back in the day for being in a company for so long.
[00:14:36] And now people want to be on their laptops, traveling the world. So it definitely has changed greatly. And you’re absolutely correct. That was set up for us. So. I never, it was never presented to me as a choice. I knew inside that it’s not what I wanted, but it wasn’t because it was society had presented it to me as an option.
[00:15:00] You can be a parent or you can not, it’s completely up to you.
[00:15:04] Clément: I don’t see an issue with it at all. I think that it’s really, you know, something that is not gonna, uh, harm other ones, other people in any way. Other parallels you kind of could make is the whole gender dysmorphia conversation. And I see that as a different, having different, uh, impact implications.
[00:15:26] Right? So if you’re, you may, you may say, oh, so people already know there are people who already know that they’re, you know, female at the age of 10 when they’re male. However, with that whole argument, there is a physical component. That is irreversible. And so if they do make a mistake and they weren’t entirely sure when they thought they were, then that has serious implications later in life.
[00:15:54] So that’s a really, um, very important decision to make, I think, whereas with, uh, you know, your own children, yes. Do you, you could change your mind. Absolutely. 100%. That’s my own opinion, by the way, I definitely change your mind and it may be too late for you, but you know, I do not see that it’s, um, as, I guess, damaging as changing your gender physically at the age of 10.
[00:16:27] Veronica: And also, yeah. And it’s also important to note that, I mean, people can just Google it because there’s so much information out there that for some reason, there is a correlation between choosing to be child-free and changing your mind, but there’s not a correlation between parenting and changing your mind.
[00:16:47] And there is quite a bit of data out there that shows show parents have regretted their decision to have children, but for some reason that’s not spoken about. And I guess the obvious reason is because people are going to be judging you of you’re saying you’re not really thrilled about having your kids, right?
[00:17:10] So it’s taken some time for people to come forward and to feel comfortable about it. But what’s interesting is I spoke to a family therapist a couple of weeks ago. Who supports specifically, specifically with parents. And she was telling me that one of the main problems that people have about raising their kids when they’re really struggling is that she has this conversation with them in the beginning.
[00:17:36] And they say to her, I didn’t really want to have a baby, but so-and-so, you know, my mother wanted grandkids. My partner really wanted kids. So it’s, it’s really interesting to look at it that way, because regret and changing your mind can really be a part of both stories.
[00:17:58] Clément: Interesting. I mean, the devil’s advocate approach that I would take to that statement is I think there’s a lot of things in life that we don’t want.
[00:18:07] But then at the end of the day, we find out it’s kind of what made us grow or what took us to a new level of living that we previously just couldn’t understand. We couldn’t even fathom it. And so I think there’s definitely a good argument there to say, Well, it may be in your best interests to do it, even if it’s not what you want right now.
[00:18:34] However, I can also see again, coming back to the whole individualism and maybe it’s the first time in the history of our race. Again, I don’t know. I would love to know this, so I might do some research after, but I think even in the times of, of opulence in history, like the Roman empire, for example, I, I believe that having a kid was just the way it was going to be like many kids actually, even right.
[00:18:59] Uh, but I, I, I, I think it’s possible and I don’t know what your thoughts are about this, but I think it’s possible that we’ve reached a stage where, you know, the choice really should be yours. Like you, you know, we don’t, we don’t struggle from that anymore. We’re actually overpopulated. The planet is arguably suffering because of the resources that the human race.
[00:19:23] Is, uh, consuming at an ever-growing rate. I can’t remember what the statistics are, but, you know, by 2050, we’re going to have a, a much bigger, um, population globally. And that will be an issue, uh, going into the future. Um, so I don’t know what your thoughts are about that, but yeah.
[00:19:43] Veronica: Yeah. I think it’s interesting because I’ve talked to quite a few people who are, are child-free by circumstance, not by choice, and that’s a completely different journey in itself.
[00:19:56] But what I find interesting is that at least the conclusion that I’ve come to is that it really it’s really about our source of joy. And what we’re taught that our source of joy is so sometimes. A couple or a person. My found find that their source of joy is having children. And once they find out that that’s not available to them, it does.
[00:20:25] And I can completely understand how that could feel so draining and that there’s not going to be any other type of, of joy coming your way. And I think that people feel that about relationships. Like they can’t find joy until they’re in a relationship or they’re not going to find joy until they’re, they work their way up and their CEO of their company.
[00:20:46] So there’s different forms of joy for everyone. But the people that I’ve talked to that are child-free from circumstance have, have found that they were putting. All their joy eggs in that basket. And then once that basket was no longer available to them, they had to go through this journey within because joy really lives within us.
[00:21:08] Right. And see that there’s actually other parts of their life where they can find joy and that’s where their healing has begun. And I think that’s really just an important thing to note as well, that that joy means different things for all of us. And it’s just not one source.
[00:21:28] Clément: Hmm. That’s a very good point to make.
[00:21:31] Um, I have been running this through my mind as you’ve been discussing that. Uh, and I want to ask you about what you think of the possibility that we are in a, a bubble in time where we are. Potentially sowing the seeds of a future issue. If we’re not careful of just maybe drawing ourselves more into individualism and look, this is a pretty deep topic, but it’s something that I really try to understand because it’s so difficult to see it for what it might be right now, because we’re in it.
[00:22:21] And we can’t see the bigger picture easily, but I have noticed that there is a move towards more liberal, progressive ideologies across the globe. Uh, you know, where arguably it’s good because people have more, uh, I guess, are supposed to have more freedoms and rights, although that might not necessarily be what’s happening, but the goal is for, to have more individual freedom and rights, whereas.
[00:22:52] Traditionally, we’ve kind of functioned more as a community. And, uh, and that meant more conservative values where, you know, we would put the values of the community or the importance of the community before ourselves. Like you, like, you’ve kind of touched on it’s the whole, Hey, you do your part. You know, you have your kids, you raise your home.
[00:23:11] Right. And you, you know, be part of the community, the system. Um, so, but, but the reason why I bring it up as a bubble is because I think, I think it’s really interesting to see how just how much we’ve moved from one side to the other and how quickly we’ve moved from one side to the other. And I think it’s causing a lot of friction.
[00:23:36] With the systems that are in place like the government and the institutions and the, uh, just a general culture. It’s, it’s just a huge shift. Um, and I think it’s bringing with it a lot of problems too. And we’re, we’re becoming very divisive now where we’re kind of like fighting each other over these principles, but do you think this is just a bubble in time?
[00:23:59] Do you think that it’s kind of gonna, do you think that people like yourself are a product of society at large? Like for example, you know, you kind of settle into the freedom of choice, um, because that’s what you’ve kind of grown to, to, to see as, as the world, whereas generations before, maybe didn’t even look at it that way.
[00:24:24] They were just like, this is what I got to do. This is.
[00:24:28] Veronica: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that a big part of what you just said has to do with the idea of being selfish and the idea of being, um, of having self-love and self-care being packaged into the world selfish and being in turning selfish into a negative personality trait for so long, I think is definitely really meaningful because taking care of yourself, you’re mentally, spiritually, um, just doing your best to provide yourself with growth and self-help and introspection, in my opinion, Huge and should not be seen as something negative and should not be seen as something outside of the norm outside of what you should be doing.
[00:25:28] Because I think that having the freedom to look within is what was lacking before. Just like you said, because everybody was following this cookie cutter way of doing things and you weren’t really given the autonomy to dive into yourself. Do I want to get married? Do I want to be a homeowner? Do I want to sit behind a desk all day?
[00:25:51] Do I want to have children? And. And that’s part of being selfish. That’s part of being like what is going to bring me what I need out of life. And that was seen as such a negative trait for so long. And I think that that shift is really meaningful. And it’s, it’s something when people start to think about themselves and be proud that you’ve spent this time thinking about yourself and what’s best for you is, is really what’s, what’s foundationally making a difference.
[00:26:30] Clément: Yeah. Arguably you could stay that by giving yourself that space to explore the universe for whatever it’s worth. Right. Um, and, and, and not have to develop. Those important resources that you have time, energy, money to someone else, or some other huge responsibility opens you up to give so much more of who you are and what you are able to bring to the
[00:27:01] Veronica: world a hundred percent.
[00:27:03] And, uh, so much of our audience, it’s interesting because although they don’t have their own children, they’re very much involved with children either by being teachers, by being volunteers, by just working with children, therapists, just working with children different ways. And I think it’s really beneficial for children to have child-free people in their lives because they’re not having these conversations under the parental umbrella.
[00:27:31] They’re able to, I mean, even with my own nieces, my own niece and nephew, I am able to have different conversations that they can have with their parents. And that’s crucial and that’s really beneficial to, to children as well.
[00:27:47] Clément: Um, although I must say as well, that argument can be made, which is why I’d argue at the beginning, that by having that responsibility, all of a sudden you’re catapulted to another level of goals and achievements.
[00:28:06] And, um, you know, you hear it over and over again, at least I have that the whole, just the fact of knowing that you’re going to be a dad or a mother is almost like a call to action. It’s like, okay, I’ve got to get everything ready. Now I’ve got to put, you know, get my shit together and focus. And so there’s, there’s different ways of looking at this, but you know, if you are the kind of person who has a direction who has clarity knows what they want and decides not to have kids, arguably that is freeing you up to do so much more.
[00:28:41] I know people. Uh, you know, I, I love these people. I respect them greatly. I, and, and I just get this feeling based on the experiences that I’ve had with them and who I know them to be, that they choose not to have children, because they’re simply, simply not open to the idea of the challenge that they want to relax.
[00:29:07] They want to, and that’s okay. I don’t have a problem, but I think that is a, is, is another, uh, another outcome of this is that you, you know, with, without that clarity and that purpose, you know, it’s, it’s really just a sandbox for just relaxing and being, you know, free to do whatever you want. And I can see why the collect the, the community, the community, uh, kind of.
[00:29:35] Politically right. People would say that that’s selfish, uh, you know, in a, in a negative way.
[00:29:42] Veronica: Right? I mean, it depends, right. It depends. Everyone’s so individualistic and there in what they decide to do with their time, but the sense of wanting to avoid responsibility, I actually have a real issue with, because it, basically a thing that responsibility by is, is measured by taking care of children and raising them and not by, you know, there’s a slew of other things.
[00:30:12] For example, a lot of our audiences taking care of elderly family members, um, they’re taking care of very ill siblings. Um, they have very high pressure jobs. They have pets. They have, the sense of responsibility is actually. At, uh, such an overwhelming level that adding to that doesn’t feel like something they want to do.
[00:30:42] So it is very individualistic because you can also argue that a couple that has children, but is wealthy enough to have all the childcare and full-time nannies that they want also may not be taking on the responsibility of raising their kids, um, and leaving it up to somebody else to do so, you know, it’s really, it depends, it really depends on each person,
[00:31:11] Clément: cookie cutter response, I guess, just like many other subjects and topics receive cookie cutter answers as well.
[00:31:18] Veronica: Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is like, you have to be really thinking about this topic and. And another reason that we launch a chop reconnection is because we want it to hear from our audience and the individual stories are what really take us deeper into, into this topic because we learn about it makes it real.
[00:31:44] It makes it real. And it’s, and the things that we’ve heard are some things that we haven’t would never even cross our minds. Um, people being completely shunned from their families because they’ve opted out of parenthood. The parents aren’t even talking to them or their siblings. Aren’t talking to them.
[00:32:03] Um, the relationship
[00:32:04] Clément: with your,
[00:32:06] Veronica: oh, I have a good relationship with my family now. They they’ve accepted it. And it’s actually ironic because my mom now is at the point where she, where she completely she’ll be like, I get it, I get it. Now, you know, it’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of time, it’s a lot of financial pressure.
[00:32:22] Um, so she’s definitely at that point, my. I think my sister and my brother-in-law, they definitely I’m 45 now. So the pressure has subsided. Absolutely. But I moved from, cause I think between 40 and 45, I mean, the pressure was so great in my twenties and thirties, but between 40 and 45, I, I was getting the it’s not too late because more and more women are having children between 40 and 45 now.
[00:32:52] So I was getting that now that I’m crossing over into the 45 and 50 range, I don’t get, it’s not delayed, but I’ll get, well, you can always adopt. And it’s really interesting to me because those comments to me seem like I have a problem that I need someone to solve, you know, like you’re offering the solutions to my problem.
[00:33:18] And, and uh, I just find that to be quite interesting. And don’t get me wrong. I’m adoption, I think is beautiful and something great. And I’m all for it, but it’s just interesting, right? That now that’s what I moved into. And I talked to someone who’s in their seventies. Who’s child-free and this is something I had never thought of.
[00:33:36] And, um, she tells me, people tell her, oh, you’re missing out on the grandkid experience. So even though she feels super fulfilled and happy in her life, she said that as we get older, every stage, just the comments change they remain. But the actual comment just changes. So it’s, it’s interesting.
[00:34:00] Clément: Uh, you’d think in a global situation with the overpopulation that I mentioned that this would be something that is actually welcomed rather than kind of shunned.
[00:34:10] And I. There, there, there are, there are situations where limiting or not having children enough, we’ll put, you know, entire nations at risk. I’ll just mention a couple Japan had that issue for a while and still, I guess they still have that issue actually where people just weren’t having kids. And I think it all really boiled down to the, uh, economy was stable and, uh, there’s a correlation between poverty and the number of kids.
[00:34:48] If you didn’t know that, like, uh, and if people are who live, who are listening, didn’t know that, you know, generally speaking the poorer you are, the more children you’re going to have. Um, and the, the proposed reason for that the most popular one is that there’s less chance that some of them are going to survive.
[00:35:07] So you want to make sure that there’s some kids that carry your genes through. Um, but so what we’re seeing is with the more, uh, with the more financially well off nations, there’s less children per household. And Japan had an issue with that and still has an issue with that. There is a developing situation in China, uh, which is going to potentially put them at a huge disadvantage economically whereby the one child policy that was practiced for quite a while had actually completely reduced the number of, uh, uh, uh, you know, family members and, um, has put them in a position where they’re now really trying to encourage families to have more kids.
[00:35:54] So it, it, I think that’s an extreme because, you know, That’s an extreme way of looking at things, the Chinese situation, because that was, uh, an imposed law. That was a rule that was put in place. It was like, you know, either do this or get fined. Um, but, but it’s, so it’s just, but it’s interesting to me though, that we’re still looking at this as something that we want to judge negatively and you’re right.
[00:36:21] Coming back full circle to what you were saying is we don’t think about these things enough. I think critical thinking is just always, we always come back to critical thinking as being that skill that is just in dire need. Um, because we’re so emotional, right? Human beings, we’re so emotional and it, and we let those emotions govern how we make decisions, which is why pretend perhaps the world is in such a terrible, you know, in many ways in such a terrible.
[00:36:51] But if we were to just be able to practice those critical thinking skills and work on those critical thinking skills, I think we might come to much different conclusions.
[00:36:59] Veronica: I agree. 100%. I think critical thinking is key. And I also think that a big factor is empathy. And that’s something that is lacking, um, throughout not just with this topic, obviously it’s with so many things because I can understand how a parent who has a child and is so head-over-heels with their child, with their children, can not.
[00:37:28] Fathom the idea of not having them in their lions. So when you, when they are talking to someone else who’s choosing to opt out of that experience, it just, it can’t connect, right? Because they’re in it, their heart, their soul, their mind is in it. So I don’t necessarily think that it’s always coming from a bad place.
[00:37:53] I think that in their minds are like, how could you possibly miss out on what I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing, but it’s hard for them to understand when someone else. Perhaps never wanted that, or perhaps has trauma to heal on their own that they don’t want to be in that situation or a slew of other reasons.
[00:38:22] So I think empathy could really help with the issue of divisiveness between child-free and parenting. And I think that we’re also, I mean, we’ve had some negative comments from parents that even though we were so clear in our messaging and our social media and our YouTube channel, whenever we speak that we’re not anti parents, we don’t hate kids.
[00:38:50] We’re not trying to convince people to, to make the decision not to have them. That’s absolutely not what we’re about. Even though we say that over and over. Constantly and all our messaging will still get parents upset because they feel that we’re against them, that we’re trying to get people to not have kids.
[00:39:17] And I actually just had a message from, from, from, um, one of our followers. She sent me a DM that one of her friends they’ve been friends for 20 years. And this person, um, who sent me the message, was sharing some of our social media posts and her story. And her friend of 20 years, we reached out to her and said, she feels very attacked and she no longer wants to be friends with her.
[00:39:50] And, and it’s so interesting, that attack word is so interesting. And that really has to just deal, has to do with divisiveness, right? Because we’re taught, pick a side and stick to that side and defend that side no matter what. And if somebody’s not on your side, it must mean that they’re against you. And I just find that whole dynamic so interesting because even if you’re clear, if you repeat yourself, people are, parents are going, some parents are going to feel attacked and that’s really something I’ve been thinking about a lot and really diving into.
[00:40:29] I just find it really fascinating.
[00:40:32] Clément: Well, I mean, if you, if you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs. One of the sayings, uh, there’s always going to be someone who. Upset with the way that you live there because they identify so greatly with their way of life or their views or ideologies. And that is essentially the problem.
[00:40:55] Isn’t it? Behind, um, political divide. It’s um, it’s well, if you don’t believe what I believe, then you’re against me or you’re taking something from me. Um, yeah, that that’s, that’s actually really, it’s something that I’ve experienced too, and I’ve learned, I’m learning somehow to deal with it. You said that you’ve, you’re fascinated by the whole thing.
[00:41:17] So it means that you’re probably very open-minded to an empathy and empathetic towards people like that and try to understand how to deal with it. I try to understand how to deal with it too. You know, we haven’t actually had a ton of negative messages, not like, you know, cause you’re taking a very solid stance on a controversial subject, whereas controversial subjects, but not make it our identity.
[00:41:43] Um, but it is, it’s something that if we’re going to evolve and I think this is a really important thing to take into consideration. If the human race is going to evolve, the irony is in this particular niche of this issue, the irony is that it’s not going to be whether or not we want to have kids or not.
[00:42:08] That’s not the issue of whether we’re going to actually be able to advance as a human because I truly believe more people want to have kids. Then people who don’t want to have kids. I think we are biologically geared towards. Just wanting to replicate that’s obvious. However, so therefore I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue if we give people the option openly to just choose.
[00:42:32] I don’t think we’re ever going to have an issue with not being able to advance as a civilization. However, I think there is a real risk in us being able to do that if we’re not able to empathize and see people’s perspectives and not feel threatened and attacked, I think triggered and attacked are two maybe aspects of the same problem that we’re currently experiencing, which is, I mean, how would I, how would I even summarize this?
[00:43:03] It’s it seems to be a, it seems to be a lack of responsibility to take a step inward and confront the things that. Make us the most scared, the things that fear that we fear the most, those are usually the things that drive these defensive behaviors and these victimization kind of the leaks that, oh, it’s up to someone else to make me feel better.
[00:43:36] It’s up to someone else to craft this world in which I live, um, otherwise, what am I going to do about it? So I don’t know what you think about all of that, but I, I just thought it was interesting how the irony is that in this particular subject, the issue isn’t was giving people the option to choose whether they want to have kids or not.
[00:43:54] The issue. It really is. Um, I think more to do with our ability to get along with each other, essentially.
[00:44:01] Veronica: Absolutely. And, and there’s so many examples of experiences that people have, where, where are. They’re put in a position where the other people, the other person is refusing to have empathy, to understand their choice, to open themselves up for something different.
[00:44:20] Um, another example recently we had someone reach out to us because, um, they decided to be child-free by choice. Her parents will not accept it. She’s married, will not accept at all. And she recently was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her parents told her that God is punishing her for choosing not to have children.
[00:44:53] And that was really powerful to me because, and those messages really mean a lot to me because it just motivates us to keep talking and to keep educating and to keep advocating and to keep having these conversations. Because at no point, obviously, should anybody be feeling, feeling less than because of this choice and sometimes, and, and we get messages from people as well saying nobody cares about this.
[00:45:22] Everyone, everyone can do what they want to do. There’s no way that people can actually be saying these things. Um, and it’s because they don’t experience themselves. But when we get these types of messages of people, having these real life painful moments based on a decision that they’ve made. Opt out of children, it really shines a light on how prevalent it is and how important it is to understand this lifestyle.
[00:45:54] And, and it also comes back to what we were talking about earlier, the sense of community, because one of the things that she said was that she feels so heard and seen and understood by the people, by our account and the people that comment on it. And it’s, it’s, it’s unfortunate what people are experiencing right now, but hopefully, um, things will change as times goes on.
[00:46:29] Clément: So sad to hear that your own family would say something
[00:46:33] Veronica: like that. It’s heartbreaking. I spent a couple of weeks. I couldn’t, we were gonna, we were going to do a quick video on it, which we ended up posting on, on social media because I couldn’t even talk about it because I cried every time I talked about it.
[00:46:49] So it took me a couple of weeks to just be able to like ground myself enough to tell the story, um, on social media and what we did was what Rick and I did was we were like, what can we do? You know, there’s very little we can do. So we just did a video and we told her story and we said, you know, if you want to comment below, if you want to show any support, if you want to, you know, drop a heart, whatever you want to do.
[00:47:15] And the community came forward, flooded forward with support for her. And she was, you know, she thought this a match, which I haven’t actually shared. I just got it yesterday, um, of how during her chemotherapy treatments, she’s reading all these messages from our community and it’s just making her feel so much better because unfortunately she’s not getting the support that she needs from her family.
[00:47:46] Clément: It’s a shocking to me, you know, the, I’m not going to say this is the reason obviously, but the way that I understand health, there is a real good chance that that was actually manifestation of just that stress of just the constant onslaught of, you know, I mean, the way the body works in very interesting ways.
[00:48:08] And a lot of our health has to do with our environment and in our thoughts and what we’re feeding ourselves, you know, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. So I wouldn’t be surprised and it’s so sad and unfortunate, but I, you know, good, good luck to her. I wish her the best. I hope that she can put herself in a situation and an environment and at least have people around her that are going to be supportive because it’s, it’s so essential.
[00:48:32] Um, we hear about this sometimes, you know, from maybe spirit spiritual or personal development, Teachers who say, you know, you got to manufacturer and environment where the people around you are not leading you to feel worse. They’re actually picking you up and pulling you up and making you feel like you’re more of a person, more capable, more able, and you’ve got something of value to offer.
[00:49:02] And I think family is one of those things that is a very difficult ingredient in that because you can’t easily get rid of your family and not nor do you necessarily want to, but there’s situations where you definitely should set boundaries. Right. And this is maybe a good example of that because that doesn’t sound healthy at all.
[00:49:21] Veronica: Absolutely. I agree with you. And this also goes back to the idea of community. We do get messages from parents saying, this is, you know, this account is Dom, who cares what you just want to talk about? The fact that you can go to brunch, you know, that you can do this, that you can do that. And it’s really, I I’ve thought about this so much.
[00:49:45] It’s so interesting to me how, how some parents will see this as wasteful or as dumb or as a problem. But if you really think about it, there are millions, millions of parenting websites, mommy blogs shows, um, you know, social media accounts that are for parents to support one another during different stages of their parenting journey.
[00:50:20] And my answer back to them is. Why is that okay. And us talking about our lifestyle, not okay or dumb or way, or a waste of time or a waste of a social media account. So that really, and a lot of times I don’t get an answer back when I, when I, because it’s, it’s, it’s just baffling to me. And another thing that I tell people is that there is a difference.
[00:50:53] We talk about celebration of child-free life. That’s part of our core mission. And sometimes child-free living is seen as quote unquote bragging, right? Because I have the time to sleep in. I have the time to go to brunch. I have the time to get a massage, to focus on myself, to read a book and lay on the couch and do all these things.
[00:51:20] And. I’m confused as to why that’s bragging, because that’s actually a reality of our lives and that we’re just celebrating, just like parents celebrate. How many times have we seen a baby bump? You know, from the time the woman becomes pregnant to nine months, we’ve seen every week. Right? We will get an update.
[00:51:47] How many times do we see w for kids first walk first meal, first apple first, this first, that that’s why is that not bragging? You know, why is that seen as celebration? And that’s something I’ve thought about extensively as well, because we should all be celebrating our choices and not putting a label on someone else’s celebration.
[00:52:14] So I encourage our audience all the time, too. Not feel that you’re bragging, you’re actually just celebrating something that you took quite a bit perhaps to, to
[00:52:27] Clément: choose. Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned that. I think it reminds me of the comments that I made in a group on WhatsApp with friends that I met in university and they’re all married.
[00:52:42] Now. Most of them have kids. I think there’s like one couple that doesn’t have kids in that group apart from me. And I’m making these comments about me going to this country and I’m meeting these people, I’m dating and I’m having fun. And honestly, just genuine. Didn’t think about it before I
[00:53:01] Veronica: published.
[00:53:02] You’re sharing your reality. Right?
[00:53:05] Clément: Exactly. So, but then I, I got some pretty unsavory comments and remarks and it dawned on me, uh, Oh, they’re being passive aggressive because they’re married and they have kids and we don’t do this stuff anymore. And these are guys, right. So me talking about going on a date with this woman here and a date with a woman here.
[00:53:27] Yeah. It’s probably going to feel, I would say, um, it’s probably going to bring out emotions that maybe are no longer welcome. And, uh, and yeah, I can, I can, I understand it. I get it. It’s difficult. It’s so difficult to be open-minded enough to be right and supportive of that when you’re going through.
[00:53:51] Maybe a shit storm with a young child and you were waking up every night and you’re having problems in your relationship because there’s not, there’s no passion anymore. Or, you know what I mean? These are real problems and they require work and patience and you get frustrated and angry. So I just wanted to share that.
[00:54:10] Cause it’s, it’s funny, you mentioned it there. It’s very difficult to get to that point where you’re like, yeah, you go for it. You know, enjoy.
[00:54:18] Veronica: Right. Exactly. Absolutely. Just because the lifestyles are so different, you know, I actually talk quite a bit about Rick and I work on our relationship a lot. And when we have our problem, we really have to dissect it and dig in and do it.
[00:54:36] And if we can’t figure it out, we bring in our couples therapists, like we have this time to, to talk about, okay, something’s wrong here. And we can’t either, we can’t figure it out or we need to do something different or something needs to shift. And that team. Quite a bit of time and effort and energy.
[00:54:58] And that’s something that we feel very grateful for that because of our lifestyle, we have that time and that energy to put into our relationship and absolutely 100% not to say that parents do. But speaking from my personal experience with some of my friends, When they’re telling me that there’s a struggle or there’s something, they can’t figure out what their partner and they just absolutely don’t have the time to handle it or to deal with it because there’s so many components of their children’s life that they’re trying to manage simultaneously.
[00:55:38] And I could 100% understand how you can, you know, you can’t just like go off on a couples retreat to try to like, find your issue and solve it and all that. But it’s, it’s not that one is better than the other. It’s just that it’s different. So I always say we, as child-free people should not only be grateful that we have this time and that we have this freedom, but definitely not feel shame for it because when somebody, when a parent tells you, you know, I’ve had throughout my life, people tell me, oh, Oh, what are you going to do?
[00:56:14] Happy hour brunch. Like, what are you? Is it a massage? You know, what are you getting this weekend? And I’m like, actually, yeah, we’re going to the spot. Like it’s it’s uh, but you do get a little bit of, you know, these little comments and, and, you know, I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m like, it’s it’s okay. And that’s what we told our audience is share your reality.
[00:56:33] It’s it’s just different. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.
[00:56:39] Clément: Listen, if you’re the kind of person who’s going to make, Snyder’s remarks like that, then it means you are not at peace with your life. It means that you haven’t accepted your circumstances. Right? I mean, how, how could it not mean that right?
[00:56:55] You’re effectively. Bitter. So when you’re bitter, it means you’re not in alignment with the choices you’ve made in life. And so perhaps it comes full circle to what you were saying about, there’s a lot of stories out there that just don’t get shared of how people perhaps regret having had kids and living the, or getting married to the person they got married to.
[00:57:16] That’s another taboo subject, right? I, I wish I had, you know, done that. I wish I’d had more relationships and met more people and, uh, being more sexual, whatever it is you, I think there’s a huge responsibility on the individual too. I think there’s a huge, I think there’s a responsibility in individual needs.
[00:57:40] For the actions that they make in their lives. And the moment we don’t take responsibility for it is the moment we start to get jealous, bitter resentful, all of those terrible human emotions that are very corrosive, not just to your own life, but to the people around you. I mean, you know, those are what leads to bad decisions.
[00:58:02] Veronica: absolutely. And as a child-free woman, I can absolutely see the joy that parents experience, you know, when you see those beautiful, sweet, loving moments. That I see with my friends and their kids. And I know I’m not going to get those moments. So it really goes both ways, right? Like it’s, there’s, there’s pluses and minuses or there’s, there’s different experiences.
[00:58:28] You’re going to get with one lifestyle and not the other. So it’s important to acknowledge that there’s a difference. Again, one’s not better than the other, but there’s going to be some experiences that I will miss as a choppery woman. And there’s going to be experiences that a mom will miss as a parent than I’m having.
[00:58:47] So really it’s just a matter of what’s best for each one of us, because both are so different.
[00:58:54] Clément: Yeah. I mean, personally, I think it’s a blessing to have a child to be able to have the kid. A lot of out there can’t have children, a lot of men can’t, you know, Burnham isn’t, isn’t gonna work. So, uh, you know, we forget that easily.
[00:59:10] I think I’ve made the mistake sometimes of. Of of not being sensitive to people who are childless and not really thinking first before I say something, and then you realize that they can’t have kids and you’re like, oh my God. You know, that was to say, um, so yeah, I, I, it’s a blessing. So if you’re bitter about it, basically what I’m saying is, uh, maybe take, uh, a good thing about your situation and look at it from a different perspective,
[00:59:43] Veronica: you know?
[00:59:43] Right. And there’s many people that will. Argue that it’s absolutely not a blessing for them.
[00:59:54] And so, you know, it just depends. That’s why we’re all so different because some people will look at, you know, a person who has five, six kids look at their morning, compare it to two there, you know, one, you know, to their day and look at both and just be so thankful that their day doesn’t look like that.
[01:00:15] So it depends where you are, where the blessing is. Depends up to the person.
[01:00:22] Clément: Well, I mean, I think we’ve done a good job of kind of hashing this out and I’ve learned a lot, actually. I haven’t really opened my mind to another way of looking at passing our genes on. Um, have you ever read the book, the selfish gene by Richard Dawkins?
[01:00:38] Well, it’s an interesting book. I don’t think you need to read it, but it’s one of those, it’s, it’s an evolutionary biologist. Who’s kind of explaining the reasons why humans make certain choices and decisions, and it’s largely based on passing our genes on
[01:00:53] Veronica: legacy. Yeah.
[01:00:56] Clément: And it helps us understand the motivational forces behind a lot of cold.
[01:01:03] So I, I recommend that book to people. Um, if they want to try to understand a little bit more about, uh, you know, this, this whole challenge of just getting around, like why it’s such a, uh, an, uh, kind of like an obligatory thing for a lot of people.
[01:01:19] Veronica: Yeah. And it’s also interesting. It it’s different for, for example, Rick, hasn’t received a lot of the comments and the pressure and the judgment that I received as a woman.
[01:01:28] And that’s generally tends to be the case, but what men do here quite a bit, and what he has heard throughout his life is don’t his legacy. Don’t you want to leave your name behind your DNA, your, you know, someone who looks like you, someone who, and it’s, and it’s really interesting how, how that’s viewed and how that’s questioned.
[01:01:53] And he’s been very open and honest about the fact that it doesn’t. Even cross his mind never did. And he doesn’t feel less than in any way because he’s not leaving a little him behind because legacy is really interesting, right. Because there’s quite a few child-free people who have. Passed on and left a really significant legacy.
[01:02:20] If you think about, I mean, you know, or even people that are alive today, like if you think about Oprah, let’s say she doesn’t have a child and her legacy is huge. The what, how she’s changed the world, how, what she’s done with her school,
[01:02:36] Clément: what her reason is. I don’t
[01:02:37] Veronica: know. Yeah. I don’t, I, for her, I think it was, you know, I don’t want to say, because I can’t remember off the top of my mind and I don’t want to give wrong information to your audience, but she has always come to me as an example of leaving a legacy behind.
[01:02:55] That’s not necessarily your biological child.
[01:03:00] Clément: Uh, she wants to leave an empire she wants to, and she’s always struck me as that kind of role model that you look to when you’re trying to figure out. How can I be successful? That’s over a
[01:03:11] Veronica: hundred, a hundred percent. And she’s also a great example of someone with her school in Africa who doesn’t have her own kids, but has been so impactful in the life of children, which is what I said before.
[01:03:25] A lot of our audience, um, has have, are doing exactly just that. So leaving behind a legacy to me doesn’t necessarily mean leaving behind a mini me. It means leaving behind. Um, it could, it could actually be a variety of things, but I think that opening up to what exactly legacy is, is something also that people don’t think about because there’s quite a bit of opportunity there.
[01:03:56] Clément: I think the worry really is that you’re not going to live vicariously through your, your office. Your gene will disappear. When you think about that logically it’s, uh, it, it, it doesn’t make a difference, uh, because you’re not going to be alive anyway.
[01:04:26] I mean, logically speaking, there’s so many humans on the planet that you could actually make the argument that having your kid is selfish, because you could just adopt, you could have two kids that you adopt and you would alleviate, um, the orphan problem by two. So, so, you know, having a school, teaching kids, not having children of your own, doing whatever you can to alleviate this issue of.
[01:04:54] Uh, parentless children around the world and suffering is quite a noble cause that could be a poster child for the whole, I don’t want to have kids movement because essentially, you know, you’re, you, you’re working on a problem that can’t be solved by having more kids.
[01:05:14] Veronica: Yeah, absolutely. And I also think it’s interesting when people talk about, um, you know, this topic of legacy is that the assumption is that your child is going to be this really wonderful functioning, um, emotionally intelligent member of society.
[01:05:33] And. I don’t think that anyone’s going to be surprised to learn that that’s not necessarily the case every time. So, although that’s the hope that if you are doing a good job as a parent, obviously that’s the hope that you’re going to get, but there are no guarantees, um, that that is exactly what’s going to happen.
[01:05:55] So whatever your idea of this unborn child that you have in your mind may not, not necessarily match what the reality is going to be. So it’s just, you know, it’s a lot to think about. It’s quite interesting.
[01:06:11] Clément: It’s a huge topic and I feel really. Um, I feel really unprepared and uneducated to cover more. Um, but I’ve, I’ve covered a lot of the stuff that I feel, um, I could bring to the table.
[01:06:27] And I think for anyone who’s listening, hopefully they’ve gotten a good sense of the arguments from both sides. Like again, I still stand why having your own kids set really important and it’s just a natural thing for a human being to want. But I now have a new found yeah. Right. For some, uh, but I have a newfound respect and empathy for people who don’t and I can, uh, thank you for that.
[01:06:54] So, uh, I appreciate it. How, how do people. Joining this community. How do people get in touch with you?
[01:07:01] Veronica: Yeah, absolutely. So our YouTube channel, it’s a child-free connection, youtube.com/a child-free connection. We’re also very active on Instagram at the chop reconnection. Um, but what we’re telling people now, because Rick and I are in such development process right now is to go to our website, the child-free connections.com and sign up for our child-free connection now alerts because that’s where we’re going to be emailing people and letting them know what we’re working on.
[01:07:28] What’s coming in the future. And, you know, especially with, you know, Instagram and Facebook going down this week, like that’s, it’s really crucial that, um, that people sign up so we can keep them in the loop of all the. Interesting and exciting projects that we have coming up in the future. Yeah.
[01:07:45] Clément: Did you, you also experienced that then, so that was a huge eye opener from when, when everything went down, I immediately felt, firstly, the first response that I had was withdrawal symptoms.
[01:07:55] So I figured that I was an addict. Right. And then the second thing that I realized was, holy shit, I’m relying on these platforms way too much. So I hear you 100% on that. Yeah. Thanks so much for coming on. And you know, maybe we can catch up again in the future as your, um,
[01:08:14] Veronica: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
[01:08:16] Thank you for your openness, um, to the topic and thank you for letting me speak on it. It’s really important to me that that people start seeing both sides.
[01:08:29] Clément: Hey, thanks for tuning in. Make sure you subscribe today and you won’t miss. The next episode. We cover topics like recovering from infidelity, online, dating, managing chronic anxiety, and so much more we’re on all the popular platforms.
[01:08:44] So take your pick and we’ll see.