Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Christine H., Age 26

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 am not open to the idea of having children. It is a deliberate decision mostly determined by a busy career. My husband doesn't want children either, and we both enjoy the lifestyle we live without children.

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?

Time, money, responsibility. I enjoy being childfree since I don't consider myself a kid or baby person. The only thing bad about being childfree is the fear of being old and alone and not having anyone to continue on the family and pass family heirlooms/property/money to when I pass away.

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?

Most people are okay with our decision;. However, parents and in-laws are not happy about it. I think society as a whole is ok with the childfree lifestyle. But I do find that family and friends might resent us because we live a certain lifestyle they can't since they've had kids. Most of our friends think we live lavish and selfish lifestyles.

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 am happy being childfree, but I do feel the need to seriously consider thinking about kids as I get older. Again, the regrets later in life cause me some distress on the subject and may change my mind. But I feel like I would be having kids for the wrong reasons - because I feel I should, not because I want them.

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

Yes, my godmother. She never married or had children. She did end up having to care for her elderly parents and help raise nieces and nephews. If it weren't for the major undertaking of caring for her parents, I think she would have married and had children of her own. Her life seems very fulfilled with her nieces and nephews, but then again she is a very family oriented and "kid friendly" person.

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 women that I know have surrendered their lives to their kids. They don't have the freedom to do what they want, but that's part of the responsibility of having kids. I think those that were successful in their careers before having kids are less satisfied than those who knew all along they wanted to be moms. I find that friends who go on to have children have less in common with me as the years pass and are resentful of the lifestyle they used to have.

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

I don't think it's expected this day and age for women to settle down and have kids. I think there is a dominant message that women should equals with men and that women are more focused on careers rather than starting families.

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


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).

My parents have not, but there are several other family members and friends who have expressed their regrets. Many are disappointed in what their child had become as a young adult and have said they didn't live up to their expectations. They regret all the stress, money wasted, and disappointments. They all have advised us to remain childfree.

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