Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dena J., Age 28

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.?

No, I've never been open to the possibility of having children. I knew at the tender age of 15 that I did not want children and have not wavered from that decision. I love children (especially babies), and I do have a maternal instinct towards my niece and nephews, but I've just never had the desire to be a full-time 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?

(1) I did not want to go through the physical demands of carrying a fetus for nine months and deal with the body changes afterwards; (2) I did not want to raise a child in today's society. It's too violent and scary; (3) I'm a career woman and did not want to have to put a child before my career. I do enjoy being childfree. I still have my freedom, more money (ha, ha), only responsible for myself, and less stress than many mothers I know. The only bad thing I can think of about being childfree is not having a child there for you in your old age.

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 friends and family have been very supportive of my decision to not have children. They know the reason(s) why and respect the fact that I know what I want and stick to it. I feel society is becoming more and more accepting of the childree lifestyle, especially with the rising cost of living and the way kids are brought up these days. I do not feel that childfree individuals suffer from unfairness, prejudice or discrimination. As for common misconceptions about childfree individuals or the lifstyle, I honestly think that's an individual thing. I don't feel there are widely held beliefs.

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 no regrets whatsoever about my decision to be childfree. The only regret I might have later in life is not having a child in my life as I get up in years. But, I always have my niece and nephews to keep me company. ;o) I seriously doubt I'll change my mind about having children at any point in my life.

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

Yes. I have an older cousin that I've always been close to who decided to be childfree. She was always a career woman and although she loves kids, she does not regret her decision to be childfree.

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 don't think either one has a higher advantage or satisfaction over the other. It's a personal, lifestyle decision that each woman makes based on her own wants, needs and desires and (most) feels fulfilled because of the decisions she has made based on them.

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

Nowadays I think it is stressed more that people should not have children unless they can take care of them. Women used to be encouraged to have a lot of children, but smaller families are becoming the norm.

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

I feel the messages are just a collection of opinions that should be taken with a grain of salt and applied to each individual separately. I can't say they're accurate, inaccurate or misleading because it's individual.

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 know many parents who get frustrated often, but never list the downsides or state they'd never do it all over again if given the choice. As far as some expressing jealousy over my childfree lifstyle, they do state that they wish they had the freedom I do at times, but not that they'd want to give up their children to have it.

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