Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adriana B., Age 21

Is the idea of having children something that you are open to, or were open to at some point in the past? Is the fact that you don’t have children the result of a deliberate decision or just the way your life happened to work out? If it was a deliberate decision, can you tell me something about how you made this choice, the circumstances, your reasons, whether it was easy, hard, etc.?

Much deliberation went into choice; I married at 18, and DH and I thought having kids was the next logical step. We realized it wasn't--and our eyes were opened to things like grad school, traveling, and being the Cool Aunt and Uncle. There are enough children in the world; if I ever get maternal, I can adopt. We both have autistic brothers, and we don't want to risk having an autistic child.

What are the three most important factors that influenced your decision to be childfree? Do you enjoy being childfree? If so, why? If not, why not? Are there any bad things about being childfree? If so, what are they?

Three factors: desire to travel, desire to help others, risk of having autistic child. I do enjoy being childfree--all my high school friends are knocked up or at home caring for their kids, while DH and I party and frequently go out of town on whims. Bad things about being childfree...I can't really think of any, except that it sucks that breeders think they're almighty, omniescent beings, and that I know nothing about anything because I have no children, in spite of the fact that I graduated college early, was my class student marshall, and scored a job that pays over $50 k my first year out. Other than that, being childfree is pretty much the best decision we ever made!

Please describe the kinds of reactions you have received from others in response to your not having children. How supportive and accepting have your friends and family been? How accepting do you feel society as whole is of the voluntarily childless ("childfree") lifestyle? Do you feel childfree individuals suffer from unfairness, prejudice or discrimination in society? Do you feel there are common misconceptions about childfree individuals or the childfree lifestyle?

Because I am so young, I have received the obvious "you'll change your mind" response. however, when people realize that my husband is 28, that we are both well educated, and that we have given our choice a lot of thought, they quit talking. I honestly have had very few people fight me on it, and, when they do, someone around me--often other parents--are quick to back my decision. A lot of my friends with kids have responded with "Thank God" when I tell them, because they know how awful children can be. I absolutely think we are discriminated against--we didn't get as much financial aid as students, for example, because we were smart enough to not pop out a couple of brats. There's no "thank you for doing your part to save the environment" parking, but there's "expectant mother parking." I think a common misconception is that our time is not as valuable. I chose to not have children so that I could spend more time with my husband and friends, not so I that I could pick up people's slack at work.

In retrospect, how do you feel about your decision to be childfree? Do you still feel the same way as always on this issue? To date have you had any regrets? Do you think you may have regrets later in life? Is there any possibility you may change your mind about having children at some point?

I feel like I spent a lot of time on my decision. I read literature from both points of view, and I spoke to people that have been influential in my life. If anything, I feel more strongly about this now than I did a couple of years ago. I do not regret anything, and I doubt that I will later on. If I do, it might be something small, but I can easily recognize that not having children has afforded me the opportunity to do the things that others may regret not doing. I doubt that I'll ever change my mind about having children. To me, it is disgustingly selfish. If anything, I would adopt later on if I felt that it was the best way that I could contribute to society, but I doubt I would ever come to that conclusion.

Have you had any childfree role models during your life? Please explain.

No. I have honestly never met another real-life person (besides people on the internet) that didn't want children. This may be due to the fact that I've lived in very conservative Texas towns my whole life.

When you compare your life to the lives of women you know who have children (family, friends, co-workers), how would you evaluate the advantages, disadvantages, and overall life satisfaction associated with each kind of lifestyle?

I'll admit that some people luck out and have really good kids; kids that I wouldn't mind adopting if something happened to the parent. I guess they have a pretty satisfactory life. Overall, I think it's just too freaking risky a chance to take--you could luck out and be pretty happy, or you could be miserable--although I guess parents get the advantage of being catered to in a lot of places.

Do you perceive that there are any dominant messages expressed in our culture about having children? If so, what are they?

Yes; the Hollywood "bump watches," the tax advantages parents enjoy, the fact that girls are trained to be mommies from the time they can play with toys, the portrayed love a mother and child share.

Do you feel these messages are for the most part accurate, inaccurate, misleading or something else? Please explain.

Misleading as hell; some girls aren't meant to be mothers, some people's children hate them.

Have any parents ever spoken to you about the "downside" of having children or told you if they had to go back and do it all over again, they wouldn't have kids? Have any parents expressed that they are jealous of you for being childfree? If so, please describe the conversation(s).

I've had the standard complaints about no sleep, no time for anything, etc., but I have never had a parent tell me the wouldn't have kids. I frequently have friends express jealousy because we get to travel so much, though.

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