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The Trials and Travails of Being a Child-Free Woman

I made the inherent choice not to have children at the age of 12. My maternal clock never was installed therefore I never had one to tell me to have children. I never found the idea of marrying and raising children to be a thrilling one. I always wanted to get married and have a wonderful husband. I also wanted to have a career, travel, write and do the things I love. I felt it most important to get my education and did so after graduating from high school. I earned a BA in History and have a full time career.

Even before I graduated from high school I was asked what I wanted to do after graduation. I told people I was going to go to college and only marry someone if I met the right person. Children never entered into my plans. I found the right person in high school who was my best friend. We were married nine years before he passed away. I married before my last year of college. I dated occasionally before my first husband and I decided to get engaged and marry. One gentleman I dated discussed having a joint bank account, getting married and having children after dating for two weeks. I told him I was not interested in that. He was younger than me and I like older men anyway. After marrying my first husband, Rob, we discussed the ‘child’ issue and he didn’t want to have children either. We loved the freedom of going to dinner without hiring a babysitter or renting a R rated movie and not worrying if the ‘kid’ would see it. The idea of nine months of pregnancy, changing diapers, listening to a screaming baby and being asked for the newest toy or video game seemed overwhelming and boring to me. The idea of watching cartoons and kid TV really turned me off. After the passing of my first husband I remarried. Before getting engaged to Vern Southern, my husband of 11 years, we discussed the ‘child’ question. Neither of us wanted children. We agreed and I am so happy. I could never marry someone who wanted children. It is an issue that must be discussed before marriage so the marriage works and both partners are happy and are compatible with each other. I believe too many couples have children because society and their families tell them or harass them into doing so because it is the ‘proper’ and ‘only thing’ for couples to do. It is not and each person, before marrying, needs to make this a conscious choice and decision. Being able to go to movies or to dinner without hiring a baby sitter is the best thing about this decision. I have found the only way to go out with other couples is if they are also child-free or have grown children. My husband and I do not want to go to functions with others who have children. The evening out turns out to be all about the child or children and not discussing other subjects that are frankly more interesting. It is not easy finding people with no children. I can count on one hand our friends without children. These are the other pluses of not having children.

  1. Watching R rated movies at home or in the theater. Not having to watch kid TV is priceless.
  2. Not having to child proof your home.
  3. Being able to leave your books and photo albums on the bookshelf so a baby won’t eat them or color all over them.
  4. Having your peace and quiet without screaming children.
  5. Not having to make extra meals or wash a bunch of extra clothes because of children.
  6. Not having to hear ‘that is yucky’ about a new food at home or in a restaurant that a kid doesn’t like or doesn’t have the palate for yet.
  7. Being able to enjoy ‘adult beverages’ and not having to lock them up because of children or especially teenagers.
  8. Being able to eat at an adult restaurant not McDonalds or Chuck E Cheese’s.
  9. Your pet is able to have peace and quiet and not be teased or ridden like a horse by the child. (I did this to my pet cat when I was five years old.)
  10. Not having toys scattered all over your house and the yard.

Females get harassed more for deciding to be child-free. These are the things I have been asked and told throughout the years. My replies are in bold. I wish I could have said these things to the various offenders.

  1. Do you have children?
  2. Why not?
  3. Your husband better ‘get busy’ so you can have children. Mind your own business. One colleague even asked me many years ago if I use birth control and what kind. I told her to mind her business. Some things are personal. This conversation took place over lunch with other colleagues.
  4. You are selfish for deciding not to procreate.
  5. It is a sin against God not to have children. Genesis says to be ‘fruitful and multiply’ when the earth had very few people on it. Adam and Eve were the first couple. This concept doesn’t apply now since the world is overpopulated now.
  6. You need someone to take care of you when you get old and that’s what children are for.
  7. You are not mature for not deciding to have children. People really mature when they have and raise children. It is more mature to make an individual decision that is not popular with most people and stand by that decision.
  8. You must be infertile if you don’t have children. I made the choice and have no medical or biological problems that would prevent me from conceiving or carrying a child. I simply don’t want to.
  9. You treat your cats like children and they are only animals. That is selfish. My cats are smarter and better behaved than your children.
  10. Your mother told you not to have children since you were an only child. I made the decision on my own and my Mother made the decision to have only one child as did my husband’s Mother. We are both only children.

Child-free people have made a responsible decision to not have unwanted children and further overpopulate this world. I think it is more selfish to have a child when you are pressured into doing so and either neglecting, abusing or not giving the child everything he/ she needs to be a productive adult citizen. Parenting is a full time job. I see so many brats because parents don’t discipline their children and think they are friends with their kids. That is why our meals at restaurants get spoiled and I have to hear screaming children in the check out line at the local grocery or department store. I was raised with manners and respect. I would have had my TV watching privileges or my bike taken away as a child if I had screamed in a store when I was old enough to know better. My parents did not discipline by spanking. I liked watching TV and riding my bike so I behaved. I am a responsible adult citizen with an education, a career, a great marriage and well established hobbies and successes in my adult life. My husband and I thought by creating this website that we can get the child-free message online and into society. We are people just like you but we don’t have children. We love other people’s children if they are well behaved and are in the appropriate places. I want people who want children to have that choice. Please let us have our choice and not ridicule and insult us for our child-free choice.

Cynthia Southern