Wednesday, February 13, 2008

S.K., Age 35

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 wanted children when I was a teenager. As the years passed, I found my desire to have children waning. My partner's lack of desire for children has helped cement my desire to remain childfree. The only hard part has been the loss of friends who are now so focused on their children and their other friends who have children. We have very little in common now with people who we used to share a big part of our lives with.

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?

Three most important factors: Lack of desire; I always said I would do it if I ever really wanted it, and I never really did. A desire for freedom to travel and do my own things; and a realization that I have always preferred the company of adults.

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 supportive. I definitely think childfree people are seen as selfish and shallow.

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 am happy with my decision and have no regrets. I do wonder if I will feel pangs of regret after menopause. If I do, I plan to adopt an older, "unadoptable" child.

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

My older brother is also childfree. He lives a great life!

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 that although society rewards women with children, they generally seem more stressed-out, less in sync with their mate, and less happy than the childfree women I know.

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

That it is holy and selfless. That it is the most important thing in life. That one is not a "real" woman without children. That children are greater than any other creation. That having children is "god's will."

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

For me, they are inaccurate.

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).

Yes, usually just off the cuff remarks like, "oh, I remember when I could go off to Europe," or "you people with no kids get to eat at all the good restaurants." A family member expressed regret about giving up her successful career.

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