Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Theresa K., Age 33

Theresa K., 33, Female

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 am absolutely not open to having children. There has never been a point in my life that I have wanted kids. I didn't even like to play with dolls as a child. I babysat one time and decided then and there: Never again. It was a very easy decision. I do not like anything associated with children. I don't find babies cute. I never have. I've been this way as long as I can remember.

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 love being childfree. My money and my time are MINE. I can go where I want when I want. My choice of car, food, pets, etc isn't dictatated by children. I don't have to childproof my home. I don't have to share my life with anyone other than my husband. Our focus is on each other, not a child. As for the factors, that one is hard. Like I said, I have never even had the urge to even think about having children, ever. Babysitting my cousin's children when I was a teenager pretty much told me I would not like to have my own. The bad parts of being childfree is that anyone who sees a woman in their 30's automatically thinks they are trying to conceive, or are infertile. No, I just don't want them. And you become very aware of the child centric nature of our culture.

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 family has been great. My mom and my inlaws have never once asked about grandkids. They call our dogs the grandbabies. Most of my friends seem to think I will 'change my mind'. Most people assume I am infertile or trying to get pregnant, and that my childfree status is only temporary. I get all the 'bingos': who will take care of you when you're older? it's different when it's your own. women are meant to breed. etc. And I definitely feel there is discrimination against us. People CHOOSE to get pregnant, yet I have no choice to NOT pay school taxes. The more kids you pop out, the more tax breaks you get. There is stork parking, paid time off, having to pick up the slack from your co-workers who leave early every day or show up late everyday due to some child related emergency. I don't get 12 weeks off when I get a new puppy to acclimate him to the household.

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?

No regrets. No way I will ever change my mind. As I get older, I am more and more confident in my decision. I see people all around me giving up their dreams when they have kids. I see marriages falling apart after chldren are born. Strong marriages that the individuals will flat out say to you: having a child changed everything. I don't want that. I don't want our only vacation options to be Disney. My husband has had a vascetomy and I am on birth control pills. I have discussed hysterectomy option with my gynocologist. I don't want them. I never have, I never will.

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

Honestly, I can't think of any. Everyone in my family has bred. Most of the celebrities out there are breeding like rabbits. I frequent childfree message boards on the internet to find others like me to relate to.

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?

Most of the childed people I know are of two varieties: They either live their entire lives for their children, or they are so haggard and worn out and downtrodden that they look like the walking dead. The first type is the soccor mom: has the moo-van, overschedules their kids activities, helicopter parents them to death. The other type are just tired of being the one in demand at all hours, and they give up on most things. I think the soccor mom thinks they are happy, but in reality, neither is. They have all given up themselves. There is no Person X. They are now Person Y's Mom. Their identity is gone. What defines them has changed. I find that very sad.

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

The message all around us is BREED. Babies are fun and cute and they will all cure cancer. You're not a real woman until you have a child. It's your DUTY to society to replicate yourself and to 'carry on the family name.'

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

They are complete claptrap. I see it as women still being oppressed. It's one of the last ways the patriarchy can keep women subjugated. And the reality of babies is what can drive some women to kill their offspring. Look how many are doing just that! The reality is dirty, grubby, expensive, tiring, screaming....they don't show that in all it's grittiness. "Cute" baby faces covered in puke and screaming do not adorn billboards.

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).

Lots of times. It always starts with "I love my kids, But...." and goes on with how they would not have had them if they had to do it over again. Look at sites like so many of those women would not do things the same way again.

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