You’re free to live your life as you please, so long as you’re not harming anyone. I stand by that statement because I believe that autonomy, the freedom of choice, and the ability to decide for ourselves what’s truly best for us are what separates civilization from chaos. The grown-up thing to do is to respect each other’s rational choices, even if we might do things differently ourselves. So, for instance (and full disclosure): I come from a large family and I want to have a large family of my own, however, I know that having children isn’t the right choice for everyone. I’m fine with that. Some others? Not so much.
There are far more people choosing not to have kids in this day and age than you’d think. One of the main places online where they discuss topics related to their childfree lifestyle is the r/childfree subreddit, a huge community of over 1.4 million members. We’ve collected some of the best jokes and memes shared on the subreddit that might amuse you, Pandas. You’ll find them if you scroll down.
Keep in mind that there are a wide variety of issues that r/childfree touches upon in its day-to-day posts. They’ve collected the most important aspects about living childfree into a massive FAQ, curated for over a decade, which you can find right here. It’s a lengthy but in-depth read. Meanwhile, you’ll find Bored Panda’s previous article about the ‘Childfree’ community on Reddit right over here.
I reached out to the r/childfree moderator team and one of its members, redditor u/Raveynfyre, was kind enough to answer my questions about running the community that existed even earlier than Reddit was formed. As it turns out, moderating r/childfree is a far tougher job than you might imagine. The subreddit is beset by trolls daily and the moderators have to remove quite a few comments from public view due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed there. Read on for Bored Panda's interview with u/Raveynfyre.
Bored Panda was interested in finding out how the moderators manage such a large community. The membership count alone is staggering. According to u/Raveynfyre, Reddit provides some very fine tools to moderators to help them get their job done. Without them, they said, the mods would have a nightmarish time keeping up with the comments that need to be removed. The members of the community help identify these problematic comments, too.
"Comments get identified for removal by user reports, so I have to give our community a shout-out as well. For many reasons they are why we're here," u/Raveynfyre told Bored Panda. "I'd say that daily we get upwards of 20-30 reports which tell us to go review a comment because it might be against the rules. Our community is great at reporting trolls and disrespectful parents to us with the 'Report' function in Reddit."
The mod stressed the fact that the r/childfree mods don't actually delete anyone's comments or content: they hide them from public view. This way, anyone on the subreddit's mod team, as well as any of the administrators working for Reddit can review the content and make a final verdict about whether it stays or goes.
"If I had to give a percentage, I'd say half of them remain removed," the mod said, adding that comments can also get removed by the report system if there's a sizeable volume of reports on them. In short, the system is very efficient at weeding out hate and vitriol.
Moderator u/Raveynfyre was very blunt about the fact that their team has to deal with trolls on a literal daily basis. "We deal with trolls daily. Just yesterday, I had a terrible one who, within the space of an hour, managed to post 44 trolling comments from various threads. Three of his comments had been reported by the community, so I went to his profile and took a deeper look. I'm glad I did because the problem was worse than the automated system was indicating to us," they opened up about one such instance.
The rules the subreddit has in place aren't just for show. They've been honed and polished to reflect the reality of the situation. "We have Rule 4 in place specifically for things like petty BS arguments that often devolve into name-calling and threats of bodily harm. We also have a rule about 'joking' or otherwise making light of harming a child. We don't discriminate in regards to this rule. We often ban active members of the subreddit, due to them not reading or caring about the community rules until it's too late," the mod explained that nobody gets special treatment if they misbehave.
"Rule 5 is an instant ban offense, no exceptions. We take this rule very, very seriously. This rule helps set us apart from other subreddits and demonstrates through our actions, that we do not want children to be hurt. Anyone who posts here is subject to that rule. We refuse to let this community be ruined by the lowest common denominators."
The moderator, u/Raveynfyre, highlighted the fact that the 'Childfree' community is older than many think. "This community has been around for a very long time, even before Reddit existed. We weren't heard of or focused on previously, but we were around," they said that Reddit has given them a platform for talking about their lifestyle.
I was also interested to learn a bit more about the subreddit's massive FAQ. According to the mod, it's best viewed via desktop because the official Reddit app loads up an old version of the sidebar. "The information in the FAQ has been gathered and curated for well over a decade now," they said. "We add information to it when it's pertinent, and we actively maintain both a domestic and international CF Friendly Doctor lists, all of which have performed at least 1 sterilization on a member of this community."
However, despite the mass of information, not everyone takes the time to read through it and some run into difficulties even finding it. "New members have a difficult time finding our resources due to the redesign Reddit undertook awhile back, as well as the official app linking to old material that has been updated. It's a rare thing for our readers to even read the rules of the sub, much less the various resources."
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The r/childfree community draws a line between two definitions that you might see crop up in the online group quite often: childfree and childless. According to them, childfree people don’t have kids because they don’t want them.
Meanwhile, childless people haven’t gotten around to having kids yet or cannot have them due to various circumstances in their lives, such as financial pressures or infertility. In short, being childfree is very much a measured choice. The reasons, of course, differ from person to person. They might be financial, ecological, emotional, anything in-between, or something different and very personal entirely.
The subreddit’s FAQ also deals with pertinent questions like the reasons for backlash against those living childfree, the drive to have children, considering one’s life purpose and possible future regrets (whatever they might be), figuring out whether someone wants to be a parent, and many others. In short, the subreddit provides easy access to a whole bunch of research and opinions that might interest someone who is considering not to have kids in the future or is simply unsure of what they truly want and why.
What’s more, the subreddit’s community members have put together a list of the terminology often used by childfree redditors. You’ll find the full list of terms right here.
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According to the mods of r/childfree, every single submission on the subreddit has to be related to the childfree lifestyle. That means that low-effort, low-quality posts that have no connection to the core questions and topics of the community are likely to get removed by the moderators themselves.
The community is open to everyone for discussion, as long as they behave in a civil manner. What’s more, there’s absolutely no room for jokes about harming kids.
The idea of people living childfree can result in a lot of hate from those who don’t agree with this lifestyle. Those choosing not to have children can be criticized for their choices or warned that they might regret this later in life. Childfree dramas can touch upon a wide variety of events and can even impact weddings.
For instance, a while back, I spoke to Anna and Sarah from The Wedding Society about the etiquette for bringing children to weddings. They explained that it’s important to follow the wishes of the happy couple. So, if the couple asks its guests to leave their kids at home, the polite thing to do would be to adhere to their wishes.
“For guests, the standard (and best) etiquette these days is definitely to respect the wishes of the marrying couple when it comes to children at weddings, whether it be that kids of a certain age are welcome, only specific children of a few family and friends, or no kids at all,” the wedding experts told Bored Panda.
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“Please don’t take the inclusion or exclusion of your little ones personally (especially if the couple don’t have kids of their own to fully understand your situation) and remember—as nice as it is to bring your babies along to the celebration, it’s also an awesome opportunity for a fun night off if you’re asked to leave them with a sitter!” the experts said.
“For marrying couples, the etiquette can be trickier. Newborns really need to be with their parents so please don’t ask for any babies under a few months to be left at home. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for parents of older children to take the night off and leave them with a sitter, but the fairest way to do this is to make a blanket rule for everyone rather than picking and choosing which kids can come and who can’t.”
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Previously, my colleague Liucija spoke to Amy Blackstone, author of ‘Childfree by Choice’ and a professor of sociology at the University of Maine. Amy told Bored Panda that more people are aware that living childfree is a viable option than ever before.
“That is largely thanks to the willingness of childfree people to speak out about their choice and of course to the decades-long work of reproductive justice advocates. Whether more people than in the past will ultimately remain childfree for their lifetimes remains to be seen,” the professor explained.
“Certainly more millennials are currently childfree than were previous generations at their age, but there hasn't been a dramatic increase in lifetime childlessness,” Amy noted. She added that, in time, it’ll become clear if today’s millennials are opting out of parenthood altogether or simply delaying starting a family.
“We know from all kinds of social science research that having kids is not required for living a complete, happy, and fulfilling life,” the professor told Bored Panda. “We now know that parenthood is simply one of many paths available to us,” she said that it’s due to more childfree people speaking out about their lifestyle.