Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Claire T., Age 32

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 have never in my life wanted children. Even when I was a child, I didn't like children younger than myself. I remember being five or six years old, and my friend's mommy had a hysterectomy. When I found out what a hysterectomy was, I said that I wanted one too, because I didn't want to have babies.

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?

1. I absolutely detest children. 2. I am not willing to sacrifice the comforts of my life, my independence, my free time, my income, etc, in order to look after something that will depend on me for 20+ years. 3. I don't have any biological urge to reproduce at all. I LOVE being childfree. I can't stress that enough. I am free to live my life on my own terms without having to put a child's needs first. The only "bad" thing about being childfree is that people call me selfish. For something to be "selfish" it has to benefit me at the expense of someone else. If I don't have a child, sure, of course I benefit. But who am I hurting? Nobody. If you weren't willing to take on the responsibilities of owning a dog, you wouldn't get a dog. And nobody would call you selfish for that. You'd be RESPONSIBLE.

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?

People condescend to me all the time. Obviously I'm going to change my mind. I'm less of a woman. I must be a hateful miserable person. I get sick of the assumptions. People somehow think they have a right to judge my personal choices. I definitely think childfree women are discriminated against. Society is set up to revolve around children and parents. I am unable to have a quiet evening out, or even go to most places during the day without being subjected to a child's screaming fits. Apparently I am supposed to tolerate this. I'm not sure about any misconceptions... I know a lot of childfree women want to make it clear that they don't HATE children, but that isn't the case with me. I do actually hate children. And I do actually mean that. And yes, I know hate is a strong word!

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 could not make any other decision and still be true to myself. I have no regrets and expect to have none. If I were to change my mind, it would mean that I have been bodysnatched. Seriously.

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

Unfortunately, no. I wish I had. I might have better answers for people who ask prying questions about my uterus.

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?

There are no disadvantages to being childfree. My time and my money are my own. I don't have to plan my life around the needs of anyone else. I enjoy the company and conversation of other adults. I get plenty of sleep. I have many fulfilling hobbies and goals that I am completely free to pursue. I guess I won't have kids to visit or take care of me when I'm old, but there's no guarantee that they would do that anyway. And at any rate, I can always pay someone else's kid to do it!

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

The main thing that I notice is that a lot of advertising seems to be needlessly oriented towards moms. Like, one time I saw an ad for Suave shampoo. And the message was something along the lines of "perfect for busy moms" and I thought, "for christ's sake, this is a shampoo." I can understand marketing diapers or baby food to "busy moms" but when they advertise SHAMPOO as being "perfect for busy moms" I find it off-putting. The end result is that I draw the conclusion that this shampoo is NOT perfect for ME, and I choose another product. It would be nice if advertisers didn't make the assumption that all or most women are moms, because so many everyday products seem to be marketed only to moms.

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

I think they're condescending and off-putting. I feel marginalized. Am I invisible to the rest of society because I don't have children? What on earth is so threatening about one woman choosing NOT to reproduce?

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).

The only experience I've had with this is with a friend who is currently pregnant. She decided to have a baby with her husband on a whim, without giving it a lot of thought. And now that she's getting close to her due date, she's starting to realize that she has to give up her entire liftestyle. She has to give up pretty much all of the things that make her who she is - her career, her hobbies... everything in her life is going to revolve around Baby. She resents this. And I think she resents ME because I don't have to give up anything.

No comments: