Why Childless By Choice Is The Perfect Example Of Toxic Mom Culture

The war on motherhood is running rampant on social media and is perpetuated by both single women and even mothers themselves, thanks to these two viral trends: toxic mom culture and childless by choice.

By Sabrina Kosmas4 min read
Estrada Anton/Shutterstock

If you’re a Gen Z or millenial woman on social media, chances are you’re familiar with these trends, and you’ve probably been inundated with “comedic” TikToks and reels about how much better your life will be if you reject the notion of motherhood and the meaningful life that comes with it to pursue your own personal desires instead. 

In Case You’re Unfamiliar With Toxic Mom Culture

Toxic mom culture is a term that was originally coined by conservative influencer Allie Beth Stuckey, and based on the examples I’ve seen, I would describe it as a trend in which mothers take to the internet to publicly shame and embarrass their kids or disparage motherhood as a whole for a few cheap likes and laughs. 

It’s important to clarify that there is a major difference between perpetuating toxic mom culture and having a good sense of humor about parenting. I think you absolutely need to have a good sense of humor to be a good parent so you don’t take things too seriously all of the time, especially since the whole experience is wild to begin with. However, you can have a sense of humor and make jokes about parenting and motherhood without shaming or disparaging your children and your role as a parent in the process.

The first video I ever saw perpetuating this trend was on a very popular Instagram account called BetchesMoms with a half million followers, in which a mom serves her happy and excited toddler chicken nuggets that spell out “U PISS ME OFF.” This same video has millions of views on TikTok and even more engagement there. What’s almost as concerning as the video itself is the thousands of likes and hundreds of comments in which other moms are cheering on this video and even calling it “therapeutic.” Imagine how this little girl will feel years from now when she goes online to see what her mother really thought about her at a time when she was so young and didn’t know better. After all, no one is capable of proactively regulating her emotions when just a young child. 

Another toxic mom culture video trend circulating on TikTok and Instagram uses a song that goes “I’m Mr. White Christmas” to depict a perfect first child who makes you want to have more kids, followed by “I’m high on crack,” panning to a more rambunctious second child who makes you want to not have any more kids. These videos have hundreds of thousands of likes and positive comments on them on Instagram and even more on TikTok. It doesn’t take a clinical psychologist to recognize the impact negative parental actions like this can have on a young child’s self-esteem. 

Another popular trend is moms showing how much wine they have to drink in order to deal with their kids who make their lives difficult and miserable. And perhaps the worst is moms using their social media to dissuade other women from having kids because of the challenges and sacrifices motherhood brings.

I took to my own Instagram account to react to one terrible video in which a mother of three, while holding her youngest baby, tells women watching not to have kids because of how much hard work they are despite the love and meaning her children have brought into her life. This one blew me away because it revealed the ugly truth of modern feminism, which is that in order to be pro-women, you must be anti-mother.

If a woman who has a successful career, like as a doctor or lawyer, or a woman who accomplished something challenging, like winning the Olympics or climbing Mount Everest, were to tell other women not to pursue these meaningful accomplishments because they’re hard, she’d get eaten alive by the media, social and otherwise. Yet, why don’t feminists hold this same standard when it comes to motherhood? Instead, there's a social contagion in which mothers who sacrifice their careers and personal desires to raise good people are considered enslaved to their families and, therefore, less fulfilled than women who aren’t subject to caring for anyone but themselves. This has spurred another gross trend called “childless by choice.” 

Childless by Choice Is Perpetuated by Women Who Aren’t Even Moms

Comedian Chelsea Handler went viral recently for a skit she did in which she gloats about how amazing her life is because of her decision not to have children. She goes on about how much she gets to sleep, masturbate, and do whatever she wants instead of having kids. This is just one of many videos that expresses the sentiment that if you forego having children, your life will be more enjoyable. Because instead of being at the beck and call of your children, you’ll be able to do whatever you want and spend your money on yourself. 

The ugly truth of modern feminism is that in order to be pro-women, you must be anti-mother.

Another example is this video in which a girl asks her followers their top reasons for not wanting kids and then proceeds to show off her extensive list of over 100 reasons she’s choosing not to have children. Ironically, if you actually dissect the list, there are only about 15 (primarily shallow) reasons that she just copied and pasted multiple times to make it look like she had an extensive list. If you also take an even closer look at the list, almost all items pertain to getting more sleep. If getting more sleep is this important to this woman, then she probably shouldn’t get a job, shouldn’t exercise, and shouldn’t spend time with family and friends, because all of those things get in the way of getting more sleep. But of course, it would be a silly notion to attack all of those things that improve your life, yet so many women do not hold motherhood to the same standard. 

It's worth noting that not every woman, in her heart of hearts, wants children. And that's okay. Just because you're a woman doesn't mean that you're definitely going to have and want children. There are plenty of women who, for countless reasons, have made the choice to be childless, and that doesn't make them any less of a woman.

The issue with this new childless by choice trend speaks to the broader issue of how easily we can be influenced by social media — for good and bad — and how modern feminism is quickly and efficiently telling women that they shouldn't want children; that life is better without them. And that is what makes it part of toxic mom culture

Closing Thoughts

You may wonder why these overtly negative trends are even worth bringing any attention to, but unfortunately, these influential trends are impacting young women’s decisions on whether to procreate. When I started posting and sharing an alternative perspective to toxic mom culture, I was shocked to have so many young women reach out to share that they have been so impacted by this widespread negativity about motherhood that they have strongly reconsidered whether or not they should themselves have children. It may seem silly to make a decision based on social media’s influence, but I understand that when you’re only exposed to the challenging aspects of something, it’s hard to know the positive and meaningful aspects of something that requires work and sacrifice. I empathize with these women, but I also feel compelled to analyze this trend and provide an opposing perspective, because the challenges motherhood brings are bolstered by the immense joy, love, and meaning that comes along with it. 

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