Why I’m Done With r/childfree

I was a part of the Reddit’s childfree subreddit for four years. The subreddit has a (well-deserved) bad reputation. Of course, every group has its share of awful people. The problem is the awful ones are the loudest. It reached the point the subreddit was the focus of an article on Daily Dot.

For the most part, I tried to ignore the more toxic posts because overall, I did enjoy the subreddit, but I finally found the one that made me say “I quit”. For the sake of not bringing it more traffic, I will not share the link, but I did screenshot it.

You could say this is just one person, and that’s true. But much of the subreddit was hugely in agreement, and anyone who objected was downvoted to the point their comment was hidden or deleted. The subreddit hates “breeder pleasers” – childfree people who do not hate children, or like them – almost as much as they hate the existence of parents and children. The idea is a childfree person who likes kids or doesn’t hate them is justifying their lack of desire to be a parent. Or, you know, simply likes kids and is okay with saying that.

Aside from the obvious, the biggest problem with the sub is many of them proclaim they hate to be judged, but do the exact same thing about parents and children, and will defend it with the excuse of needing to vent. Putting aside the utter absurdity of being irritated at someone’s mere existence (especially when they are not bothering you), this person is proud they sound like a borderline sociopath (“I’m selfish. I’m unsympathetic. I am that monster”), and the majority of the subreddit agrees this is okay.

Hilariously (not the good funny), this person insisted they shouldn’t be judged based on this one post, and hating parents and children isn’t the center of their being. A child’s mere existence is bothersome to you, but hatred doesn’t rule your life. Right…

It’s not so much the post as the nearly united agreement in the comments that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even if I continue to consider myself childfree (yes, I’m debating that), I have no desire to be part of any community that’s ultimately a hive mind. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be angry at the world because someone under age eighteen dares to exist in your space. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be a narcissist, let alone proud of it. And no, I absolutely don’t think hating parents and kids is prerequisite for considering yourself childfree. If my account wasn’t four years old, I’d delete it and make a new one just to have any and all posts from r/childfree out of my history. I genuinely want nothing to do with the subreddit anymore.

I have no children, nor do I intend to have any, but this person, and every person in the comments who thinks it’s a “brave” post for its honesty, is someone I hope I never cross paths with.

One of the several agreeing comments: I just can’t fathom enjoying being around the disgusting things.”

The reason this ticked me off a bit is children are not things. Perhaps if they stepped outside their circlejerk, the idea children could be pleasant company to some people wouldn’t be so unfathomable.

Another: “The Victorians had the right idea. Children should be seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to.”

I’ve ranted about that phrase twice before, so it should be obvious why this particular one bugs me. No, children are people who deserve respect and kindness as much as any adult, and if this is what the adults have to say, I’d much rather hear the kids talk if I have to listen to anyone. At least, they’re cute.

While there are extremists who believe not having kids is a sin or evil or any number of negative adjectives, r/childfree’s reputation isn’t because it’s a spot for people who don’t have kids. It earned that reputation by turning from a support community for those who dealt with real pressure (from family, friends, or conservative communities they lived in) into an echo chamber for confirmations their irritation that a child is alive on the planet is okay and normal. And apparently, they’re proud of it, so even they can’t argue any longer the sub’s reputation is undeserved. They want it like that.

Reddit as a whole isn’t known for being a friendly place, but that’s par for the course for social media in general. The childfree subreddit, however, is undoubtedly one of the worse areas. At the time I’m writing this, it has 663,625 followers, so one person leaving has zero impact, but I don’t want to have an impact.

Reading some replies to deleted comments I missed, it seems some of them felt the need to insist none of them want to hurt children and none of them would. I really want to believe that, but some years ago, there was a case of a father who murdered his young child and police discovered that subreddit in his browsing history. Someone who’s bitter and vindictive toward parents for no other reason than them being parents, and hates children “with literally every molecule in [my] body” (but supposedly, this hatred isn’t the center of their life), sounds very much like someone who, at the very least, would relish in hearing about child’s death, if not out to be the one who causes a child harm.

There is a subreddit called “true childfree“, which is not as active, but not toxic either (and unsurprisingly, it’s not liked by r/childfree). In the Daily Dot article, one of the mods stated you can filter out the hateful posts (which is true), but that doesn’t really change that the subreddit is a toxic pool. It merely hides the poison.

The upside is, assuming most of the subreddit’s followers are American, that’s about 0.2% of the population. Chances are I never will cross paths with these folks. Good.

A Different Perspective

For the most part, I like going to work. Maybe not the actual “work” part of it (who does?) because it is tedious, but I like being around my co-workers and getting out of the house every once in a while. They’ve been slowly increasing my hours, and I think they did it well. They started me off with 10 hours a week. Then, they gradually increased it until it was 19 hours for a while. Now, I’ve been working over 20 hours per week as of late. Granted, in one case, that was due to being called in because another person called out and I accepted, but besides that, the hours have been scheduled for me.

However, there’s one particular thing at my job I really appreciate.

I’ve talked about my family plenty of times on this blog. Sometimes, it’s been positive, but most of the time, it hasn’t. Most of my family members are very judgmental people who make me feel like I live in an eternal high school. They criticize the tiniest things, and I don’t mean only myself. It goes without saying I’ve struggled with my self-esteem most, if not all, of my life. I don’t believe I had any esteem until my late teen years, and while that was partially due to over a decade of school bullying, my family was worse than any bully ever was.

At my job, it’s the total opposite. Not only is there no judgment, but much of the time, I’m discouraged from being hard on myself. I’m told to relax and go slowly. I feel guilty and incompetent when I make mistakes, but instead of being yelled at or criticized, I’m simply told it happens and to be a little more careful. If I need help, I get it without hesitation. I had a customer get angry with me because I didn’t know the answer to a question. One of my co-workers told me not to be bothered by it.

It’s not only the other cashiers who do this. The supervisors are the same. One supervisor outright told me to my face, “You’re human. You’ll make mistakes.” He then proceeded to tell me about much worse mistakes previous cashiers have made, that, in my opinion, sounded like there was no way they could’ve been mistakes. This same supervisor had previously told me about customers attempting to return items that belonged to other stores not of the company’s.

I love the lax attitude and it really does help me feel good about how I perform at my job. At the same time, it feels so strange. I’m so used to being criticized for something as small as the color of my headband, it feels odd to not be told off for mistakes I do make. The person at my job who kicks myself most for screwing up is me. Staying calm about it is easier said than done.

I do try to learn from my mistakes and figure out something that’ll prevent it next time. Most of my mistakes, ironically, are a result of me working too fast because I feel self-conscious and like the customer feels impatient when I work slowly. To be fully honest, I’m surprised I’m even capable of holding down this job. Being a cashier is by no means the most difficult job on Earth, but as someone who’d never held a job before, it was nerve-wracking to me. Of course, now, it’s another part of my weekly routine. I feel like I’m going to miss it when the seasonal period is over. Or, more specifically, I’ll miss my co-workers.