Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Amy V., Age 39

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.?

I've never had any desire to have kids, even as a child - I played w/ stuffed animals, not dolls. I can't imagine how much my life would change (in a bad way) if I had kids!

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?

My current lifestyle (we travel and go out a lot), the state of the world (I'd hate to bring a child into this f*cked up place!), and I know I wouldn't be a good parent - I'm anxious, worry a lot, and get stressed out easily enough as it is! I love being childfree, but the bad thing is that many of my friends are having kids so they don't get to see me as often as before.

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?

Totally supportive/understanding, even my parents don't say anything (they probably wouldn't even if they disapproved). I think the common misconceptions are that childfree people are selfish and dislike children - not true!

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?

No regrets at all, no possibility of changing my mind. I do enjoy being w/ my friends' children, but realize that it's very hard work that I'm not willing to do!

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

Not really. My friend Norma is childfree and I admire her for many reasons, but it doesn't have to do w/ her not wanting children.

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?

The advantages are that we have freedom to do what we want, when we want. I can't think of any disadvantages, but I think that there are different types of satisfaction w/ each lifestyle. I'm sure it's great to be proud of your child's accomplishments, etc, but I know people who say that their marriage suffered as a result of having children because they never have time to be alone.

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

Not so much nowadays, but some people still assume that we plan on having kids someday even though I'm 39!! Sometimes the messages seem to say that you're not complete w/o experiencing motherhood.

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

I'm not really sure, since I'm not a mother - I'm sure it's a huge life-changing experience, but it's not for me. I think the messages downplay the difficulty of raising kids and the problems resulting in the marriage.

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).

No, my Mom says she loved being a stay-at-home Mom. My sister told me that her life totally changed and she may have not had kids if she knew how much work it was and the strain on the marriage. They used to go out a lot and travel. Not so much now!

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