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‘Child-free’ woman applauded for sharing videos showing ‘what a life without children can look like’

‘I knew in my heart and in my gut that I didn’t want to be a parent’

Amber Raiken
New York
Friday 03 March 2023 16:36 GMT
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Related: Women discuss their outlooks on motherhood, decision not to have children

A woman who’s chosen to be child-free has created videos about what her life without children is like, sparking a conversation among her viewers.

On TikTok, Jackie Dives frequently shares videos of her everyday activities, as an artist, photo journalist, and solo traveller. In most of her clips, she also specifies that she is child-free, as she plans not to start a family throughout her life.

In a clip posted last month, she shared some of the hate she’s received on her videos, as she said that people tell her that it doesn’t make “a difference” if she mentions that she’s child-free or not. She went on to respond to this criticism and expressed that she wants women to “see what a life without children can look like”.

The 39-year-old then specified how being child free ultimately impacted one of her relationships.

“My partner decided that he wanted to have children,” she said. “We’d been together for five years, and he actually left our relationship. So I had to decide [and] be very, very sure that I was willing to let my partner go in exchange for living a child-free life. I really loved my partner a lot.”

Dives also recalled that a lot of her peers told her that she’d be “crazy to let him go and not just have a baby with him”, before detailing why the breakup was so difficult.

“I knew in my heart and in my gut that I didn’t want to be a parent,” she continued. “But after we separated, it was really hard for me to visualise what my life would look like. I could see what my life would look like if he and I had stayed together. I would be with him and we’d have a house, and a baby, and a family, and great in-laws, and a white picket fence, the whole thing.”

The artist said that because there weren’t examples of women who don’t have children “in media or pop culture”, she didn’t know what her life could become.

“I had no idea what my life would look like if I didn’t go down the path that everyone expected me to go down,” she said. “It felt really lonely and strange, and I had to go seek out other women who had also made that choice.”

She explained that she then had to “seek out other women” who made the choice not to have children. After this experience, she said that she was encouraged to specify in her videos that she’s child-free.

“This is why I always say, ‘this is what the life of a child-free artist could look like,’” Dives concluded. “I want women who don’t want to have kids to have an example of what your life can look like.”

As of 2 March, Dives’ clip has more than 2.7m views, with people in the comments agreeing with her and acknowledging that they’re child-free as well.

“Omg I have found my side of TikTok,” one wrote. “42, no kids, single and have felt moments of not fitting in …I love it here.”

“Thank you for doing this,” another added. “I was dreading having kids until the internet was like ‘you don’t have to have any.’ Blew my mind.”

A third wrote: “As I get into my 30s for real my friendships with single friends and child-free coupled friends are so important to me.”

Other people agreed that they don’t usually see women who are child-free in movies or TV shows.

“Childfree tiktok was literally the first place I saw this type of thing. I then realised that I wasn’t crazy or alone in not wanting kids,” one wrote.

“I also think that in the media it’s also hard to find childfree women that aren’t depicted negatively,” another added.

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Dives further emphasised that people should “stop asking women” if and when they’ll be having children.

“Women need to be encouraged to do whatever the hell they want with their lives,” she said. “Like any stigma, the more we normalise it, the better it will get. People need to stop gaslighting women about what they want from their own lives.”

The Independent has contacted Dives for comment.

Over the years, many celebrities have discussed the concept of being child-free. Last month, Chelsea Handler did a segment on The Daily Show titled: “Day in the life of a childless woman.” Throughout the clip, she poked fun at what could do because she’s not a mother, such as “remember that [she] has no kids to take to school” and take a trip to Paris.

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