Child-Free Scrapbookers

This entry is part 40 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.

Doing parenthood is something that child-free scrapbookers do, too. Child-free scrapbookers report that they include the personal context in their scrapbooks so that years from now when their children or grandchildren read the album they will learn more about their parents or grandparents. Here scrapbooks are created with the thoughts of future children and future grandchildren in mind. These scrapbookers anticipate parenthood and scrapbook with this in mind.

Not all child-free respondents in my research, however, intend on ever having children. These scrapbookers are more likely to deemphasize the role scrapbooks might play for future generations. They may also emphasize their role as caretaker of a pet more than a parent or a child-free scrapbooker who intends to be a parent one day might do in a scrapbook.

Child-free respondents say that the pervasiveness of the image of mothers creating scrapbooks pushes scrapbookers without children to the margins. One child-free respondent, who does not intend on ever having children, states:

For me, I am a person without children and a lot of people who scrapbook seem to think why in the world would someone without children scrapbook which lessens to me in my mind the value of my life and my experience. You’re saying that my life isn’t worth scrapbooking which is absurd. Because we have family and friends…if I’m gone somebody might actually want to remember me. If I’m here forever I might want to remember my nieces and my nephews, my grandparents whoever…so many people think that why would I scrapbook myself? I mean I can’t imagine thinking like that and thinking my mom and dad are not worth me scrapbooking.

Clearly, scrapbooking is about more than just doing motherhood or there would not be a place for child-free scrapbookers.

Moreover, most child-free scrapbookers still make scrapbooks about their family to varying degrees. Scrapbookers without children of their own (both men and women) make scrapbooks about nieces and nephews (scrapbookers who were mothers also make pages about their nieces and nephews). Several of these respondents make baby scrapbooks for their brother or sister’s child and the birth of the child was sometimes the trigger to becoming a scrapbooker.

The point is that child-free scrapbookers exist. Some scrapbook with the anticipation of eventual parenthood in mind while others have no intention of ever becoming a parent. The scrapbook industry promotes the image of mothers scrapbooking and this message is heard by child-free scrapbookers, who feel pushed to the margins of the hobby.

Are you child-free or did you start scrapbooking before becoming a parent? How does your parental status shape your scrapbooking? Comment below or join the conversation on facebook.

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  • Nat

    I started scrapbooking when I was a teenager and still have no kids so I suppose I’m part of that group.  I do intend on having kids someday but I often wonder if I will be able to stick with the hobby because I find I don’t have enough time for it as it is.  I agree with the quote from the respondent – it does seem sometimes like non-mom scrapbookers are pushed to the margins.  However, I’ve pretty much marched to the tune of my own drummer with scrapbooking so it doesn’t bother me that much.

  • Thanks for commenting! I’ve hardly scrapbooked in the last month but was really productive a couple of months before that. I met moms in my study that scrapbooked a lot more before they had kids, too and others that picked it up after they had kids. I think it just depends on what else you have going on and how important it is compared to other activities.

  • Beckster014

    I also started scrapbooking when I was a teenager and have no desire to have children ever. I enjoy scrapping about things my hubby and I do and about my friends. I plan on continuing to scrap no matter what people say…

  • Good for you! I started scrapbooking as a teenager, too (well variations of scrapbooking). When I started scrapbooking in the conventional way, I wasn’t sure if I would have a kid or not and most of my scrapbooking friends did not have kids either. Thanks for commenting. 

  • I think that, for the sake of political correctness, we should first establish a difference between “child-less” and “child-free”.

    A “child-less” person is someone who does not have children yet, but is willing to. Usually this person does not have children because of circumstances (age, health, civil status, many others), and some child-less people are not able to have children at all (even thru adoption or other non-biological methods), but the desire is there. A “child-free” person is someone that, regardless of the circumstances, made the choice of not having children, and is not interested in parenthood.

    I do want to bring this to attention because there is a chance that this may mark a difference between their scrapbooking styles.

    I am a child-free woman. I do not intend to be the parent of a child, by any method, in my lifetime. So I am clear that I’m not creating scrapbooks as a heirloom for the next generation. Scrapbooking is something I do for myself. It’s personal in what I scrapbook and the way I do it. 

    I am curious to know if there is a different perspective on scrapbooking from child-less people… 

  • Thanks for commenting. (I already said most of this on facebook, but will add it here, too). In general, in sociology we say child-free instead of child-less to be politically correct. Unless we specifically ask people’s intentions on having children, we don’t know where they fit. They may not know where they fit either. Perhaps, sociology needs to figure out a better descriptive term or do a better job specifying between child-less and child-free.  Both terms have different connotations. I did some more research to see if there has been a shift in term usage. In my five-minutes of research I did see that some are using childless and voluntary childless. Maybe those are better terms. What do you think?

    Regardless, you are right that this difference would probably create differences in scrapbooking styles. I think my sample of people who were never intending on having children was quite small. 19 of 38 currently had children. Only a couple said they most likely would not have any children and at least one of them was a very doting aunt. I think this would be a great issue to explore in future research. 

    When I started scrapbooking, I was definitely child-free. I was not trying to have a baby. I had no plan as to when I might have a baby. I wasn’t even sure if I would have any children. I started scrapbooking without the thought of future generations. I think there are a lot of people (more than the industry imagines) who started scrapbooking without thinking about creating a family heirloom to pass down to future generations. 

  • Mandy

    I started scrapbooking in college, well before I had a child or even knew I wanted to have a child. I scrapbooked because I enjoyed the hobby and didn’t look much deeper than that. Having my son has made me think and rethink how I scrapbook because I am doing a lot of it for him for when he is older, a way for him to know me and his family. I journal a lot more because of things he won’t remember (heck, I probably won’t remember), and have went back to some of my older scrapbooks and added in some journaling, which was pretty much absent in my early scrapbook days.

  • Thanks for sharing how your scrapbooking has changed pre-kid and with kid.

  • Jayne

    Hi, just found this through your article on Scrapbook Update.
    I started scrapping through doing memory boxes for my family and an album for my parents about my brother when we reached the 10yr mark since his passing. So, I suppose for me, it is most definately a heritage thing since that is technically how I got into it. 
    If we ever have children, it will be wonderful to join in with what you see so many people blogging about but to be honest, just being able to tell a story that can be shared with other generations within and outside my family is good.  Luckily, most of the things that I see are aimed at everyone rather than just child based stories, but seeing those with a family is good when it comes to scrapping stories about my sisters children as I may miss things that I may not otherwise think of. 
    I probably am not affected as much by the ambush as, living in Ireland, scrapping is still a fairly quiet, unknown hobby and I have yet to see the big push here to be honest (or I am just not looking lol)

  • Marisa Lerin

    Thanks so much for posting these thoughts. I’ve been scrapping for what feels like my whole life, and because I started so young I’ve always felt “out of the loop” because I had/have no children. It’s great to see a dialogue started about this.

  • Thank you Stephanie for writing this article as this struck a chord with me.  I have been seriously considering giving up scrapbooking because of the fact that I am child-less by circumstance and child-free by choice. I certainly have been questioned about why as a woman without children would I scrapbook and at times have experienced the feeling of being alienated. There is definitely an untapped market in the industry for those who fall within this demographic.  There are companies and blogs that do exist and easily cater to the child-free and child-less such as Scrapbooking From The Inside Out, Melody Ross’s Brave Girls the All About Me Challenge Blog and Scrapbook Your Heart retreat in Alberta Canada, but there is always room for more.

  • Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience. You’ve left me with a lot to think about. 🙂

  • Keshet Starr

    I’m new to your blog, and I am really enjoying this discussion. I began scrapbooking in high school and became involved in the industry while going through several years of infertility. Now that I welcomed a baby, I’m thinking a lot about how my scrapbooking and industry role is changing. Great food for thought here. 

  • Thanks! 

  • Thanks for commenting. Oh, I hope you don’t give up scrapbooking. I think the web has really helped with this issue, but at the same time, the mantra of “moms scrapbooking” is constantly repeated. I would love to see that change. Lots of people scrapbook for lots of different reasons.

  • Thanks for sharing. My scrapbooking has definitely evolved since I had a baby. At the same time, after she was born, I was still more focused on finishing a scrapbook about a trip we took before we had a baby rather than on making her a baby album. 🙂 That make a good post some day….how my own scrapbooking has evolved. 

  • Tammy

    Stephanie, I just came across your blog, and the other comments and found them all  enlightening.  I am child-less and also just turned 50 earlier this month, so my age, and the reality of not being able to have children is really staring me in the face lately.  I have only been scrapping a couple of years, and even then on and off.  I do enjoy it, and I find it relaxing, but I too have always wondered why do it, since I have no one to leave them too.  I have wonderful parents, brothers, friends, and a huge extended family, and those are the things I can celebrate and enjoy through scrapbooking, so really, that is all the reason I need.  Thank you for giving me some inspiration.

  • Thanks for commenting. Glad I could inspire you. I started scrapbooking before any thought of a child. Now I have one child and 20-30 completed 12×12 albums. She’s 4. Imagine how many there will be 20 years from now. I can’t imagine her wanting a roomful of scrapbooks when she is older. I don’t know what will happen to them all and I can’t worry about that. Scrapbooking is for me .