Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Danee D., Age 37

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 wanted children, but for a long time never knew there was another option in life besides marraige and children (with a career as well). I was open to having a child when I found myself pregnant at 20, but miscarried. I don't know if there was a moment when I 'decided' that this was not for me, but I know that anytime I have a concern that I may be pregnant, there is nothing coming from the core of my being that is longing and wanting to have a child.I think having a child should be something a parent wants with their whole heart more than anything else in life. I don't want that.

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 don't want a child. That's pretty much The Factor. There's no feeling of "I don't want a child
because..." I am old that there may be bad things about being childfree (like being alone in your old age) but I don't see it.

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?

Friends have been spportive - those who know me know this is not something I have ever
wanted. I feel badly that as an only child I am the only option my mother has for having a grandchild, which is something she wants. But she certainly believes as I do that having a child for the sole reason of her having a grandchild is a terrible reason to have a child. I think society is not very accepting there is a sense of entitlement form parents simply because they are parents. The main perception of the childfree lifestyle is that this is selfish and immature. I don't know about specific discrimination/prejudice, but the entitlement of parents that I spoke of is the closest I can think of for a specific. I think there is a mix of resentment and incomprehension toward childfree people/lifestyle. There's certainly a thought of "she can't really be choosing this" and "that's too bad. if only she knew how great it was/is."

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?

No regrets - decision is right for me. Don't think I'll regret later.

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

My maternal aunt and great-aunt never married and never had kids. It's never referenced as an example of childfree lifetsyle, but I guess it is one.

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 they have made the right decision for them as I have for me. The advantages of childfree is having more free time and disposable income, and having life choice that do not have to focus on kids' need/priorities. The advantages of having children is I guess having children. I guess you'd have to ask them.

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

Oh yes. That every woman wants to have children. That those who don't are most likely bitter career women and selfish. That a woman is not complete (and really not a woman) unless she's had a child. THat having children is the only thing that matters in the long run and that this is the legacy one leaves behind.

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

Inaccurate, misleading, just plain wrong and even dangerous. I think we as human beings have an inate need to create. The most popular way to do this is to procreate, but there are many other options that we as a society do not value or even mention. The perception that a woman is not really a woman and that her worth is derved form having children does a great disservice to young women who are struggling to find and build self-esteem. This can go even further for poor women who may find that the only time they qualify for subsidized programs and servcies is when they're pregnant or have children. The idea of being alone in old age is solved by having a child makes me laugh, since nursing homes are a multi-billion dollar industry.

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).

Many parents have been honest about the difficulties (no sleep, constant worry, childcare, tiem to spend with child, etc.). None have ever said they wouldn't do it again. One said, "when you get to your 30s you're going to have an overwhelming urge to have a child. Don't do it." and she certainly made it clear that she hated parenting. I don't know if there's jealousy, but there's certainly comments about 'your life is so exciting' and people want to hear about what i have going on and 'live viacariously through me' But I've never really heard any "I wish I was doing that instead of what I'm doing."

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