Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lynn D., Age 45

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 think the only time I was open to having children was when I played with dolls as a child. I'm not sure that not having children was a conscious decision but instead just something I always knew I wasn't going to do. Both my husband and I came from very controlling families. He supported my decision. I think on some level we were both acknowledging that we didn't want to repeat the pain we experienced in childhood.

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 guess the factors that influenced me are all family oriented. My mother and her behaviors, and the self-esteem that was never fostered in me. I can't say I "enjoy" being childfree because I really don't think about it often anymore. I just know it was right for me and I feel good and peaceful about that decision.

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?

I worked for 15 yrs at a hospital and was given almost every holiday to work because I didn't have children. It wasn't voluntary--it was assigned duty. The times I was told by co-workers that it was my responsibility to cover their hours because they had children and I didn't....well, much to numerous to count. I think this type of job related behaviour is probably very common. As far as unfairness, I think it's unfair to expect, as my community does, that everyone, parent or child-free, pay for school supplies, library books and class trips.

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 made the right choice. I am a cancer survivor however, I know at any time it could return. I wouldn't want to put a child through that family emotional turmoil. No, I won't change my mind.

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

Oh, no. My family is from Appalachia and in the extended family EVERYONE has children.

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 the obvious disadvantage is I will never experience the mother/child bond. When it works, I doubt a human can experience a deeper love. That same love can cause a lot of pain. The advantage is that I won't experience that either. I have a friend who was blessed with a child late in life and raised him to be a fine young man. She's happy with her choices. I'm happy with mine.

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

When a state gives a $600 tax rebate ONLY to people with children excluding the child-free, disabled, and retired....can you give a much more dominant message???? This happened in my state 4 yrs ago. What was originally touted as a statewide taxpayer rebate became a parents only rebate with multiple children families getting the higher payouts.

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

Considering the state of the environment, the decline in farming, the poor economy and the inflated costs of everything, why are we still giving incentives for having children? Haven't we evolved past that in government and society? My husband's friend as two children and has mortgaged his home 4 times trying to give them everything. He has high blood pressure and works three jobs but it's never enough. His family, his church--his environment have him completely indoctrinated that this is what a "good" man does. He gets married and has children---even if he can't afford them. If we altered our perception of normal and took the stress off that everyone has to own a house, a car and have 2.5 children; perhaps we'd all be happier. If everyone wasn't trying to live the American dream, maybe we wouldn't have to watch all these unexplainable behaviors on the news.

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).

The only person to speak to me on the "downside" of having children was my mother. She said her choices were limited in the 1950's and birth control methods weren't what they are today. Getting married was the only way she could get out of the community she came from. On the one hand, she expresses disappointment that she didn't get to live her life as a career girl, and on the other hand tells me I was a wonderful surprise.

No comments: