Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Colleen G., Age 36

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.?

Until several years ago I always thought (or just didn't think about it enough) that I'd have children. Recently, as my SO and I have been together longer and longer, and talk of eventually having kids started happening more and more frequently, we both realized that there was a strong possibility that we didn't want to have kids. We have gone back and forth over the years (luckily we both tend to be on the same page at the same time!), but we have come to the conclusion that having children is just not what we want to do. I work with very young children every day, and I LOVE my job and I love children. We love our nieces and nephews. But whenever we are with them, and when I am at work, we are always extremely happy that we get to go back to our life with no kids after the vacation or holiday (and in my case each day after the kids go home). The actual decision of "let's NOT have kids" has been a hard one to make, because we just don't want to regret it later. However, that doesn't seem like a reason to have them, and we have chosen not to.

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 three most important factors that influened my decision to be childfree: 1. I don't want my relationship with my SO to change. He is everything to me, and I know that he would probably take second place to any children we might have. I just value our relationship the way it is too much to add something to it that would change it so drastically. 2. I value my "me" time, and I know that even though I would give that up for a child, I think I would be terribly resentful. That sound selfish to many people. I think it would be selfish of me to have a child knowing that I would resent him or her, and probably even regret having him or her. 3. I don't know if I have the patience for children. I enjoy being childfree. I love spending time the way I want to. I love the fact that I get to spend quality time with children every day, and that I get to go home and relax.

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 is disappointed by supportive of my decision, although I'm sure they still think I'll change my mind some day. Friends are supportive, but they see my skills with young children and think I would make a wonderful mother. I think society as a whole is not very supportive of this lifestyle choice--it is usually just a given that you'll get married and have kids. Well, I've done neither of those, and many people just don't seem to understand WHY! I have more questions about why I'm not married yet (we've been together for 15 years and engaged for 1 1/2 years) than I do about the kid issue. However, I'm sure once we finally get married, there will be tons of questions about when we're having kids. I tend not to bring up the subject now, and since I'm not married people don't automatically ask about children.

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'm thrilled so far with my decision. Even when I see adorable babies, I want to hold them, but I don't want to have one of my own. I know what goes along with the cuteness! I have been around so many sleep-deprived parents, so many newly-divorced parents, and so many stressed out parents, that I really don't have regrets. I do wonder if later in life I'll regret this decision. I love spending time with my family, and it is weird to think that no one will love me like I love my mom... I don't think I'll ever change my mind about having kids, but I guess one never knows.

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


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?

For me the advantages of not having children are time, sleep, money, and most of all my extremely satisfying life with my SO. I see women with children as having no time for themselves, much more stress, less of good relationship with thier husbands.

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

I think our culture expects people to have children, and that those who don't are selfish.

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

I do think I'm somewhat selfish to not have children, since I'm choosing not to because I want to have what I consider a better life than I would have if I had children. However, I think that's just society working it's ways on me ;) I think there are many, many women who have children without thinking about it--they just do it. They aren't prepared to be parents,and some will never be fit parents.

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).

Sure, parents have told me how exhausted they are, how stressed they are, etc. One parent told me during the first few months of her child's life that she wished she hadn't done it. However, for the most part these conversations don't come up, as people assume I'll have children after I get married, so they don't want to scare me off!

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