martina braun
martina braun


I'm walking through the supermarket and notice a mother with her two boys and their interaction is not exactly of the relaxed variety. The boys are hyper and loud, dashing through the aisles with their shopping carts and annoying each other, while the mother is visibly annoyed, hissing ominous commands at the gang and trying to intimidate them into line so as not to attract any more attention. My attempt to avoid the gang so as not to be labeled a nosy pursuer fails miserably. I don't want to look, but it's almost impossible for me to ignore the scene and so we unintentionally wander through the corridors together.

At times like this, I find myself thinking how glad I am not to have children. Unfair, I know, because I hope this mother's life also consists of nicer moments than the one in the supermarket. But I can only imagine from her facial expression and her attitude how she is feeling right now and I certainly can't imagine that I would be more patient and balanced in this situation.

I have a feeling of unease and incomprehension because I can't understand why anyone would voluntarily do this to themselves. I don't know why so many women today still choose this path. Why is the "family with children" life model still seen as the standard in our society and why are women even expected to opt for this stress without discussion or at least willing to compromise?

And this is where I find myself thinking how one-sided and unfair my opinion is. It's a subjective all-round attack on all mothers and fathers, which I immediately forbid myself from doing, because that's not what you do. I have learned to regard the institution of the family, with all its beautiful and unattractive aspects, as sacrosanct and to be tolerant in all matters. But don't we childless people experience this kind of all-round attack at every opportunity?


What about tolerance for us, the childfree other side? Later that evening, I wondered whether we childfree women and couples are actually met with the same understanding. Do we get the acceptance or at least the understanding that is always demanded of families? While researching this article, I delve into various forums on the internet and - holla the woodland fairy - you don't want to spend a minute too long on it. In threads where someone dares to raise the subject of child freedom, the authors are given the full broadside. Acceptance and understanding are not to be found, but usually a veritable shitstorm that pours down on the authors. All the familiar prejudices from selfishness to cold-heartedness, loneliness in old age and no understanding of the meaning of life and any coloration thereof are put forward.

Thanks to the growing openness of more and more mothers, who not only portray the clichés of the ideal family world in the media, but also talk about the stressful moments of parenting and even moments of regret, one would actually hope that our society would take a more differentiated approach to this topic. At this point, more differentiated means not only more tolerance towards honest mothers, but also more acceptance towards women who have consciously or unconsciously decided against motherhood.

The societal hypocrisy of this is that despite being aware of all the difficulties, efforts and frustrations of being a mother, these are tacitly nodded off and downplayed as a given part of this deal and the women who have chosen not to follow this life model are fired at full force. For whatever reason!

Depending on the reason for this decision, the fire will still vary in intensity. If the reason for childlessness is a medical circumstance, you can usually expect to be met with regret, as the intention to start a family was there, but nature did not allow it.

The women among us who have actively dealt with the issue and, after compiling a detailed list of pros and cons, have decided to give their career a higher priority, receive much less understanding. In other words, they have "sacrificed" having children for their career, so to speak. And yes, the term sacrifice in this context is meant to express that we women are giving up something that is seen as the essence of our purpose in favor of something less valuable, even if it is not easy.

And then there are women like me and I am convinced that I am not the only one. I never had a deep desire to have children, but there was no fundamental rejection either. I never explicitly addressed the issue, I guess it just came about to lead a child-free life.

My life had a great momentum of its own and went by at such a pace that although the topic of children always made it onto the relationship agenda, it never gained significant prioritization. I don't want to give the impression that there weren't times when the topic occupied me more intensively than normal, but the bottom line is that it remained one topic among many in my life. To this day, I have not explicitly decided against having children, but simply never felt that having children is something that defines me and my person and is so important that I absolutely have to decide for or against it.

But this attitude is difficult to understand in our society. People are pigeonholed as "social troublemakers", from which it is almost impossible to escape. This is not just the subjective experience of individuals, there are also findings from social research.  


A study by the Gera Cooperative State University on the subject of deliberate childlessness has shown, among other things, that social prejudices against these women are still very widespread. There are still beliefs that childfree women only live in wild relationships or are simply not capable of having a relationship at all. However, the study showed that 80 percent of intentionally childless women are in happy relationships.

There is also an important social aspect:

The childless woman does not fit into the usual social structure and does not fulfill the prevailing expectations with regard to the role assigned to her. In doing so, she breaks a taboo and makes herself illegible for our patriarchal structures, which can be quite unsettling for the majority of our fellow human beings. The cliché of the selfish career woman also still persists vehemently, whereby it is fundamentally ignored that having a child only brings disadvantages for a woman's career. There is only an "either" with many cutbacks and lazy compromises or an "or" full of unfounded prejudices.


I dare to say that I enjoy my life without children. The financial freedom, the freedom to be responsible only for myself and to be able to organize my time freely. So far so good, if it weren't for my environment. And by environment, I don't just mean my immediate family, who regularly drop the question of children like a bomb into the buffet at joint festivities. No, I also mean random people from my circle of friends and acquaintances who suddenly and, above all, without being asked, started talking about me and my family planning.

Well, and at this point you can either decide to bring out all the guns and explain your position in detail and with emphasis or you can try to keep your answer brief and change the subject as quickly as possible. I regularly fell into both traps, defending myself verbosely or getting out of the affair with an evasive answer. But either way, I was always left with an inner hurt and the feeling of being less normal than others.

Not to mention the fact that in many situations you feel like an alien because, for example, you seem to be the only one in a group of girlfriends who doesn't feel the need to hold your friend's newborn baby endlessly.  You feel wrong, misunderstood, attacked and treated downwards. We are looking for a signal from outside that we are noticed and accepted. Social contact is a basic human need and the feeling of belonging arises when we perceive positive signals from a group. We need the impression of common goals, the feeling that something unites us. We are often denied this in such situations.

We are all afraid of not belonging to the community. That's what bothers us the most. There is nothing worse than being excluded, which meant certain death in the days of the Neanderthals. If you are alone, you have no chance against the sabre-toothed tiger. Today, the sabre-toothed tiger argument no longer works; today it means social ostracism, which we perceive to be just as bad as death.

The whole thing makes a child-free life even more difficult, as this is a decision against a global role allocation; a role that was created a long time ago and is only slowly being redefined.


The most important point first: the plan to change everyone else and fight for understanding with shield and sword doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried. But the following plan will help:

Step 1 - Recognize your status quo

Nothing makes you more insecure in your thoughts and words than not knowing where you stand. Find out what is important to you and what your wishes and goals are. This will make it easier for you to get your point across. Be honest with yourself and be curious about the outcome. You may also be surprised at what comes out of it and have to come to terms with it first. All good, because everything is allowed! You have the right to break taboos! And don't underestimate the fact that a realization can also mean that you haven't made a decision yet.

Step 2 - Find what appeals to you

Think about which aspects or statements relating to your child freedom particularly appeal to you. It's about finding out what and who has influenced you on this topic and which thought patterns are active in you. The aim is to get to know yourself better and find a good way of dealing with what moves you.

Step 3 - Prepare yourself

If you are convinced, you will also convince others. Your work from the previous steps is all the more important, because if you know where you stand, you can also position yourself confidently. It makes sense to have a few answers ready for the next discussion about your childlessness. This will prevent you from getting angry with the questioner and giving flippant answers. This usually only reinforces the impression of the bitchy emancipated woman who rejects the idea of children on principle.

Step 4 - Find like-minded people

Look for people who also live childfree. There are others with the same issues and views and you are not alone. Exchange ideas with people, benefit from their tactics and pass on yours too.

We create the feeling of exclusion ourselves through what we think and, as a result, feel. Explore your thoughts and feelings, then you can consciously choose new thoughts.

Let yourself be guided through the topic. It is not easy to reflect on such a controversial topic as child freedom without prejudice and, above all, to learn to think new thoughts and keep them in mind for the long term.

What are your experiences with your child freedom? Do you have any questions or comments? Then write me your story in the comments or by email at

I'm looking forward to seeing you!