Until there is a word that communicates the choice to not have children as effectively as does “childfree,” I’m afraid we’re stuck with it. I agree that it has offensive connotations, but maybe it stuck for a reason.
I think the reason is that women have for a very long time felt pressured to have children. They still feel pressured to have children. In less urban areas, and in societies, cultures, or families heavily dominated by religion or conservative/traditional values, women (mostly) are still socialized to believe motherhood is a foregone conclusion.
It’s a privilege to not feel that pressure. (I assume.) And although many more people now than before do seem to recognize that parenthood is an option rather than a requirement, still many don’t actually know that. And if they do know, they may not necessarily feel like they’re in a position to make that choice. (What will the church think? What will their parents think? Etc.) When you’re feeling pressured to take a direction that is the single direction you desperately don’t want to go, “childfree” is absolutely an appropriate word.
The last thing I wanted in my life — the only thing I knew without a doubt I didn’t want — was children. It depressed me to see a future in which I was a parent. That life was, to me, every bit as bad as nuts are to some, as sugar is to others, as chronic pain or a lifelong disease is to me. I am, without question, childfree. — Kristen Tsetsi, author of The Age of the Child, 1/3 founding non-mother of the Childfree Girls vlog