Wednesday, February 13, 2008

D.W.W., Age 46

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 never craved children, just never really wanted them. It wasn't really a choice for me, so much as something I just wasn't ready for or interested in. Sometimes I think I'm a late bloomer and if my "fertile years" lasted longer, I might eventually be ready... but now I'm 46 and still not ready, so I'm pretty sure it never will happen. At several times in my life, especially my late 30's, I thought long and hard about whether I would regret not having children, but I could never get to the point where I felt it was the right choice for me.

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?

First I'm a workaholic who has been extremely focused on my career. Second, when I'm not working, I just want to relax, not take care of others. Third, I don't seem to have a biological clock - no urges at all. I may have considered it if my husband wanted children and was willing to do most of the work, but that never happened either. I'm happy this way - I can focus on my work, we take nice vacations, we relax and enjoy ourselves. I have no complaints.

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?

Most people have been very accepting. Some people are curious. I've definitely had better success in my career than I would have if I were responsible for children, because I have been able to work early/late and travel as needed - so I think society (at least the business world) has rewarded my decision in that sense. I've never felt discriminated against in any way. Some members of my family have expressed mild disappointment (particularly my mother-in-law), but they're okay with our decision.

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 feel fine about it. I'm 46 and I'm still not ready to be a mom, so I don't think I'm going to change now. I don't think I will ever have regrets. Some people say it's important to have children because they'll care for you later in life, but there's no guarantee about that.

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

I've known other couples who didn't have children, but I never really thought about it, particularly.

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 know my friends really love their children and get great joy from being mothers, but I also see that they are overworked and stressed out and overextended in a variety of ways, and that's not for me. I can't really compare our satisfaction level - I think it's a matter of different strokes for different folks. Everyone is different, and they should do what makes them happy. I should add that I grew up in a big family, and it was a lot of fun to have a house full of people all the time. I do miss that a little bit - but I don't want to be responsible for it, and I can't imagine how I would fit it into the life I've chosen.

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

I don't. Honestly I am pretty oblivious to things like that. I'm mostly attuned to the business world.

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

I don't have any opinion on this.

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).

No, I've never had that experience. I know people who are tired or stressed from their children, but I don't know of anyone who would give it up.

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