Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Anna F., Age 35

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 known since I was 12 that I didn't want kids. One day I just had the realization that it wasn't for me.I've re-examined that decision periodically throughout my life, but I've never changed my mind.

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?

The most important factor is, of course, that I just don't want them. If I wanted them, I don't think any other factors would make a difference. But I'd also have to include the fact that I've always needed a lot of alone time. I'm also very committed to my creativity - I act and I write-and having children wouldn't allow me to do this. Although, as I said, if I wanted them I think I'd have them anyway and squeeze my art in around the edges. I like being childfree, but I wish I did want them, if that makes any sense. I wish I were a different kind of person. I worry about growing old alone and I feel tremendous guilt over the disappointment I am to my family.

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?

My mother still thinks I'm going to change my mind, and this hurts because I know I won't. My family on the whole is still hoping I'll change my mind. This is hard, and I wish I didn't have to hurt them so much with my choice. Most of my friends are childfree too. That's just the way it worked out. One of my good friends is a mother, though, and she's very supportive but I know she's disappointed that we won't be sharing this experience. I don't feel that chilfree people are discriminated against so much as I feel that they are invisible. Just once I'd love to pick up a celebrity magazine and see a glowing movie star holding her cat-or nothing at all-and a headline 'Childfree and loving it!"

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?

Honestly, I don't even consider it a decision as much as I do a condition. I feel such tremendous revulsion and horror and panic at the thought of having a child that I really don't think I could ever seriously consider it. I probably will have regrets, but I don't see my childfree state as anything I'm able to change.

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

I know a wonderful childfree woman in her fifties, who is beautiful and talented and has a full life and a warm circle of friends and she has been my idol ever since I met her in my twenties. Before that, I'd never had a childfree role model, and knowing her made all the difference.

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 think for the most part they are living the lives they want and I'm living the life I want. I don't think either of us would switch.

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

Oh, so many. Mainly that you will never know fulfillment until you become a parent.

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

I think they are misleading and hurtful and discount all other types of fulfillment and growth in life.

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).

Never, actually. But I don't meet many parents.

No comments: