Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Clio H., Age 30

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 had any desire to have children. Even when I was very young, when my friends would play games of being mothers, I was always bored and wanted to play something else. I don't remember ever making a conscious choice - the thought of having children has always been simply foreign to me. Much as people always know their sexual preference, or their favorite color, I have always know that I did not want to be a mother.

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?

I very much enjoy being childfree, and can't think of any negatives. I don't have 3 factors, because my entire life I have never felt the desire to be a parent.

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 family has always been supportive, and I married a man who is as staunchly childfree as I am. People were more likely to say "you'll change your mind" when I was 22; now that I'm 30 they tend to believe me. I think many people think that being childfree is selfish, which I don't understand at all, as our income and free time allow us to do many things for our communities that people with children don't have the time or resources to do. I don't think that the childfree suffer any more unfairness than anyone else - the world is occasionally unfair, and sometimes it works out in my favor, sometimes it doesn't. I have some friends who object to higher tax rates - I don't object to paying taxes for schools or many other things that directly benefit people with children, much like I don't object to paying for roads I don't directly drive on - some things benefit the common good even if I don't personally benefit.

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 have always felt that my decision was for the best, although I occasionally think "maybe having kids wouldn't be so bad," but I can't forsee actually having them. I think there's a big difference between "I want a child" and "Maybe it won't be horrible," and unless I could honestly say "I want to be a mother more than anything in the world," I would never have one. There are many regrets in life, and I would much rather occasionally (very occasionally - like once every year or less) regret NOT having kids than ever have one and regret that.

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

I have not.

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 I am much more satisfied with my life than my friends with children. They have far fewer opportunities than I do - I know many who have stayed in bad jobs or bad marriages "for the sake of the children." They also have less free time, and generally don't have the same positive relationships with their significant others that I do with my husband.

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

The dominant message is the assumption that everyone will, and should, have children.

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

I think the world would be better if fewer people had children, so I believe that message to be inaccurate.

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 have not had any such conversations.

1 comment:

Marie B said...

Very well written!