Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Elisabeth F., Age 33

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 thought I would have kids, when I was younger. When I got to be 30, I saw how much I liked my life as it is. I realized that I don't really like kids and I couldn't see any reason to have them. I spent a few months on the fence but after meeting other CFs online, I felt validated in my choice. It also helps that my longtime partner is not interested in having kids.

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'm no good w/ kids, there are too many people on the planet, and we don't make enough money. I love being CF, mainly because of freedom and money. I cannot imagine the drudgery of having a child-centered routine; I think it would kill me. The only kind of bad thing about being CF is that it's sometimes hard to relate to parents, but that's not really a problem.

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 think it's a great idea, some even wish they'd done it. I'm fortunate in that the area where I live is very free-spirited and progressive, and people generally honor and appreciate each other's choices. In my office we have one person who sometimes leaves early because of her child; one because of her mother; and some for other reasons: dogs, volunteer work, school, etc. The environment is pretty fair-minded. Many of my co-workers have no kids as well as many of my friends. I do not experience the judgement and discrimination that I've heard other CF people describe.

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 think it's a brilliant decision and more people should make it. I would rather regret not having children than regret having them. I think it's possible I could regret the decision but I don't think it's at all likely. I would be much more likely to regret having them. If I change my mind later and decide I want to parent, I hope to have the courage and strength to become a foster parent.

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

Generally no, but my current boss has no kids and I very much admire the life she shares with her husband, cat, and friends.

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?

They always seem exhausted and overworked and they rarely have time for fun. They enjoy their kids but they don't get to enjoy anything else.

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

It's often assumed that people will have kids or that they should but I think that attitude is slowly losing its grip.

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

I think it's like any other standard expectation; it's accurate for some people and not for others. Some folks get married, have kids, according to script and some don't. Since the "don't" is getting more common, people are more accepting and the "messages" or stereotyped expectations have less power.

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've had parents tell me how hard it is, and while they don't regret it for themselves, they don't recommend it either.

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