Childfree Reflections

With Marcia Drut-Davis
March 28th, 2011 by Marcia Davis

To parent or not to parent, that is the question.

Choosing to become a parent naturally, though in-vitro , step parenting, adoption, surrogacy or foster care, is an awesome responsibility. It’s also a choice marred through society’s pronatal expectations.  No matter how many people say, “It’s now acceptable not to have children!”, there’s still an underlying feeling of suspicion towards the childfree. They are secretly thought of as immature, hedonistic or selfish.

Why did you choose to have or not have children? Or, have you faced the agony of infertility?

My memoir, “Confession of a Childless Woman” traces a lifestyle of living without raising children of my own. Unlike other books, this memoir shares the pushing and pulling throughout my life questioning whether I made the right choice. People may argue that was my maternal instinct. I disagree, firmly believing it was the effects of pronatalism.

The first few chapter shares how and why I chose not to parent. There are other chapters about my life-changing experience being on “60 Minutes”, pronatalism, the men in my life, menopause and step-parenting.

There are several topics: sharing feelings about the choice to parent, parenting education, the sensitive challenge of infertility , grandparenting, pronatalism , the Dugger family, Father’s & Mother’s Day, Parenting topics in the News, taxation and whether or not there’s any parental instinct. Feel free to answer any or all of these topics. See the other topics under, “Recent Posts” and click on them.

I will answer any questions you have and welcome all your responses whether positive or negative. As soon as my book is published, I will post that exciting news.

Comments

101 Responses to “To parent or not to parent, that is the question.”
  1. It’s truly amazing that pronatalistic prejudice has so greatly and completely infiltrated our society thru our media. News celebrates multiple births (more like litters), peanut butter is sold only to “choosy Moms”, car commercials are sure to show families including children, even suppositories that are taken by adults somehow make the children happier. If you don’t have children, you don’t exist. I think this sucks! What does anyone else think?

  2. Maida Feingold says

    Just wanted to direct you to an interesting blog in the NY Times, and an entry from a few days ago on the topic of Aging Without Children. http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/aging-without-children/

  3. marciawp says

    Thanks Maida. I read that piece and found it interesting how people worry about getting older and not having children to care for them. That’s a myth. Visit any nursing home and you’ll see how many children are visiting their parents. Not just because they don’t care! Some live too far away! Some are too busy in their careers or their own children’s lives. Saving, investing and planning for your own financial future should be a priority. I also treasure my friendships with my women friends and daughter,son/friends and show people how much knowing and connecting to them is valued. I think about my husband who has two grown daughters who’ve discarded him. There are no guarantees.

  4. I chose to have children and I am glad I did, but I thoroughly believe it is a choice that is an individual matter and involves no one but the individual and their partner. I have three children and only one chose to become a parent.
    My life does not hang on someone elses choices. We should each live our lives for ourselves to the best of our abilitly and we will go a long way in creating a world of peace for all.

  5. marcia reass says

    I think it’s wonderful that you have expressed who you are, your feelings and what has worked in life, specifically for you! The very best to you on the completion of your new book!
    Marcia

  6. Thanks for standing up for the childless, Marcia! I have so many people have children without considering all the implications, only to find themselves in over their heads. I am a proud aunt and see the joys children can bring, however I’ve seen how the children can suffer when parents are not prepared. Children deserve parents who are ready to nurture them. And we owe it to ourselves not to enter into parenthood lightly.

    • marciawp says

      Leslie, thanks for this comment. Do you or anyone reading this blog….think people are sufficiently prepared to parent?

      • ccadorno says

        I do not believe any person is sufficiently prepared to be a parent. I think the only ways a person can prepare is to be financially ready for a child and to be ready to love and support any person selflessly.

        You hear parents giving other persons or other parents advice about how they raised their child(ren) and they act as if that is the only way. However, I believe parenting involves adapting. There is a saying every person is different; every baby is different and the growing process for every child is different. There are many factors to consider, but a person can only prepare themselves by being ready to conquer every challenge that may come with being a parent and parenting.

        • marciawp says

          I agree. There’s another way to prepare and that’s to honestly ask yourself if you want the career of parenting. In this society, and indeed others worldwide…. it’s a hard thing to ponder because parenting is bathed in so many unrealistic myths.

        • It’s like you’re on a misison to save me time and money!

        • LadyGator says

          What is wrong with a country that requires you to study, pass and exam, get a license before your can drive a car… A country that you have to get a license for your pet, put some serious effort into adopting a shelter animal and adopting a child — but you can freely get pregnant have a child with out any preparation or requirements to keep it? hmmm… If you don’t want it after you get it you can put it up for adoption or sale or just drop it off at a police station… and this is after the pre-natal care and hospitalization was already picked up by medicaid. hmmmm

          • marciawp says

            This is the first comment on my blog I’ve seen in a long time that I LOVE! Let’s add another question: “What’s wrong with a country where you HAVE to be licensed to teach, become a doctor or attorney drive a bus yet never asked to pass anything about becoming a prospective parent?” Thanks so much for this. I am still trying to get ONE agent or publisher interested in my memoir. I keep seeing rejections with: “No big deal today! Anyone can still not have kids and it’s perfectly OK!” Until the childfree lifestyle is given as much acceptance to parenting, more and more will want the societal acceptance of having or raising children.

        • marciawp says

          I apologize to anyone reading this. I didn’t know how to delete back then!

  7. I have two children from a previous marriage. Parenting doesn’t always follow the “Grand Plan”. They grew up to be educated, professional women. We had a special relationship until I divorced their mother. Since then, the relationship has stopped and they are no longer a part of my life. I have not been invited to any wedding. I have grandchildren that I don’t know and, that don’t know me.
    There are no guarantees that your children will value what you do (or sacrifice) for them or, stay in your life. When you choose to have children, don’t assume it all works out “happily ever after.” Many people choose to have children believing their children will always be there for them, just as they were there for them. Yet, when you go to assisted living facilities, many parents spend their last years alone. Sometimes, reality bites!

  8. marciawp says

    In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than being discarded after doing the best you could do as a parent. Concentrate on the good you know you did for them. Remember those freeze-framed moments when they gave you happiness or you embraced and enjoyed your role as their loving, committed father. They are independant women, on their own, with decent careers and education. You can’t rationalize with angry people unwilling to honor the love you gave or who refuse to go for help to eliminate that anger.

    • ccadorno says

      I do not believe the choice of having children should be based on the expectation that in return your children are to take care of you because you’re their parent. I believe having children, being a parent and parenting should be a selfless act.

      My husband and I were recently married. We’ve been together for almost 10 years. We hope to have children soon, but we want to have children as a symbol of our love to each other as well as we want to give our love to another human being who we can encourage and support as well as educate them the best we can from what we’ve learned through our years in all of our different roles: as a child, as a brother, as a sister, as a student, etc.

      Parents can only hope that if they give their child(ren) the right teachings and all of their love and support that the child(ren) will return the love when parents need it most, but if they do not, it does not represent a failure in the parenting or that the child(ren) are terrible person(s). I believe parents can only do their best in raising their child(ren) and a lot of what happens in the future is out of their control.

      • marciawp says

        Thanks for this post. I agree that no expectations should be the rule if you choose to parent. Actually, the “no expectations” helps in all of life, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, too many people are bathed in the myth that children will love them forever.
        There’s one thing you wrote which I want to comment on: having a child as an expression of your love for each other. A child doesn’t do that. That’s part of the myth. How you continue to treat each other day after day is a better way of expressing that beautiful goal. In my opinion, the only reason for having a child is because you love the career’s requirement, feel you are parent material and have the money.

  9. marciawp says

    QUESTION: Are there any other parents out there who feel they’ve been discarded?

  10. evelina says

    I have two kids and love being a mom. Sometimes its hard. I have my days where I just want to scream and run because they drive me crazy! But, then when they tell me they love me it just melts my heart. Being a mom is not for everyone. I know people that dont want to have kids like my cousin. Her parents are very uspet with her. They feel that there is something wrong with her who would not want to have kids!! I tell the parents get off her back! Leave her alone! This is her choice. I feel like motherhood is not for everyone just like marrage is not for everyone. I give a lot of credit to people that speak up for themself and what they believe is a good life for them. Just because I like something doesn’t mean someone else has to like that also.

  11. I know a woman that I have been very close to for the last 4 years. Her husband just died. Her kids put her in to a nursing home and they dont really visit her. Ii go there to see her 2x a week with my kids.It breaks my heart that she had 4 kids and she took care of them when they were sick. She loved them, provided for them; now those kids cant take care of one mother! I think its very sad she is not my family member.I love her. She’s been good to my kids and me. I cant even imagine if i didnt go there to see her. Ii just dont know how her kids sleep at night.

  12. Linda U. says

    I have three children and five step-children from two other marriages. What a joy it’s been to have them in my life…yes….there were sacrifices and sometimes I wanted to run away, especially when five of them lived with me. But I am a very lucky woman: each of these wonderful beings have become my adult friends, and I am so lucky to be part of their lives. For me, the choice was simple at the time I made it…but every person has the right to make their own choices. I am also glad that my children made the decision to have children…selfishly, I have 13 grandchildren to spoil and to love. More importantly, I have the opportunity to see what great parenting skills my kids have, and to witness the strong relationships they have developed with their own children. Having children was the right decision for me…but it’s not right for everyone.

    • marciawp says

      Those of us who choose not to parent are truly happy for you and those who feel made the right choice. It’s all about choices… and the consequences. Do you or anyone out there feel you are prepared for those consequences whether it’s to parent or not to parent? If your children had not had children…. by choice, how would you have felt?
      Is anyone out there who has grandchildren and are DISAPPOINTED in them? Please tell us about that.

  13. Realistically, not every couple is designed nor qualified to be nurturing and competent parents. But how will the members of the qualifying committee be chosen??? Until then, anything goes. Hopefully each person will decide if this lifetime engagement is right for a lifelong journey.

    • marciawp says

      Of course, there must be freedoms to choose about whether parenting is a career you want. However, in my opinion, it’s one of the most important careers of a lifetime. Do you, or anyone, feel people are getting educated to question whether or not this career is for them? Do you think the schools are doing their job? I will open another discussion about this on the POSTS.

  14. Gloria Jacobovitz says

    Very interesting topic and very timely; there is an increasing number of women that cant get pregnant . Although I have kids and I cant imagine my life without them I can understand women that decide to go childless; it is a personal choice and this country is all about personal choices.

    • marciawp says

      Infertility is an agonizing challenge. I’ve heard from so many men and women struggling with it’s emotional and physical toll. I’ve often spoken to infertile support groups who at first, see me as a threat. However, after I’ve spoken, see a new way to fight. They switch from the sentence of being childless to being “childfree”. This takes them away from being a victim to being more in control of how they live their lives.
      I’m thrilled you are happy with your choice to parent.

  15. david kaplan says

    Please excuse the length of this piece, but the complexity of these ideas precludes brevity. Succinctness is the best I can hope for.
    The issue of pro-natalism manifests in each culture in a particularly idiosyncratic way. Regardless, there is the universal drive to maintain the community and those people, who conform, satiate this cultural imperative, while those that choose not to comply with this dictum are looked upon as not supportive of the general welfare. These are not conscious perspectives but reside within the social unconsciousness of people as living beings. When viewed this way, there is no surprise that pressure to have children exists, or that people who do not to have children, whether by choice or circumstance, experience marginalization, . This simply is the way it is. This is not to justify the social judgment but rather to accept the reality of it.
    While historically, all cultures have promoted procreation to ensure continuity, the fundamental biological imperative, the peculiar way found in American society, reflects multiplicities that are our own. The materialistic exploitation of this fundamental social imperative is so characteristically American, that this too, should not come as a surprise. Every social value has at some point in our history been used to make money. The commercialism of America is intrinsic, it’s like Mom’s apple pie, as so clearly described by de Tocqueville in 1830. Nothing much has changed since then except its contemporary pervasiveness throughout all levels of our society through the “media”. But it is nothing more than a re-iteration of the underlying social ethos.
    What is important now, as reflected in Marcia’s advocacy, which is a departure from traditional perspectives, is that the appreciation of a new degree of social freedom available to us. We can now choose not to have children without having to be isolated from our partners. We can live full lives of our own choosing, in the actualization (don’t really like this term, but it fits) of our individuality, in full existential, sexual and emotion connection, without the anxiety of potential child bearing. The technology of contraception, in a variety of forms, enables new opportunities of being within the social community.
    As with any new freedom, it should not be unexpected that it will meet with approbation from the community at large. But the struggle to articulate the new perspective is essential to the growth of this community as it enlarges the total possibilities for not only the members of the dominant social environment, but the potential for all, to aspire to greater prosperity (not just material but more importantly, personal). It brings into consciousness responsibility for one’s actions.
    The sense of distress for those making this choice is real, considering the considerable social pressures to have children. For this reason, the articulation of this perspective by Marcia is especially poignant at this time. There are too many children who have to address the issues of inappropriate intentions of their parents, whether of men demonstrating sexual prowess, women seeking love or looking to create objects of love, or succumbing to social pressure, or as in my case, an attempt to keep a failing marriage intact, (lucky me, it worked out fine and I’m glad to be here). Many poor intentions, much suffering, some successes.
    Several people have responded in this forum in the context of their experiences as parents and its value, or as non-parents and the consequences, hopefully, of that choice. I have my own experiences as a parent, and grandfather which have been beyond expectation, but they really don’t bear on what I consider the core issue of Marcia’s advocacy of freedom of choice in child bearing and parenting. Being a parent is an opportunity not an obligation. There are an infinity of opportunities in our lives. It is most important that we choose wisely as the consequences, especially when they create new beings who have to live with them, have profound effect for all of us.

    • marciawp says

      A very profound and welcomed post, David.Thanks for taking the time. Can you please go to the question I posed about PARENTING EDUCATION.
      I would love to see you comment. Can we “choose wisely” when we are victims of pronatalism or are forced to face myths surrounding those who don’t want to have children?
      Here’s what I’ve heard… and still do:”But, aren’t you just selfish? Who will take care of you when you’re old? What if everyone feels the same way?

  16. david kaplan says

    You asked for it, here it is.
    Before addressing the question of preparedness for parenting, it seems necessary to distinguish between parenting, bearing and having children. These are not synonymous terms, but rather reflect quite different sets of actions and intents.
    Leaving the first for last; child bearing may be considered as the actions up to, and including, the birthing of a child. It sets the ground for all subsequent events. What we want to consider most important in this discussion is the intent leading this momentous action. Whatever the motivation producing this intent, we should recognize that for most people, this is simply the way of having children and parenting them in a family, whether from emotional injunction or social conformity. However, it must be recognized that for others the intent is different. For some men it is a way of demonstrating virility; for some women it enables their womanhood, a rite of passage; some do it to exploit a welfare system; and some do it out of ignorance.
    Let me be personal for a moment to elucidate one scenario in my experience. When I remarried, I already had two children and having had a vasectomy, had no wish to have any more children. However, my wife, who had earlier in her life decided not to have children, via two abortions, decided that now she wanted to have a child. Eventually, at age 40, through the technique of artificial insemination, she did have a baby. While the actual pregnancy and birth (a bit complicated but with a satisfactory outcome) were successful, the subsequent times were extremely stressful. She did tell me later, that she had had no idea of “having” a child and all the demands it made upon her life, rather it was the experience of bearing a child that motivated her. I bring this up to illustrate the ambiguity of intention without a consciousness of consequences.
    This brings us to “having” children. For most people I suspect the intent of having children is to create a “connected” family, but let it recognized that for some, having children is the manifestation of wanting to be “normal”, being seen as within the community. The ambiance of family and responsibility of parenting are simply the reward and obligation of conforming. Participation can be quite perfunctory, fulfilling a role in society. This is a situation I have observed in my years of going, on a recurring basis, into peoples homes . It satisfies a social need of “parents”. Remarkably, it is often successful in producing successful children, mostly due to the resilience of the children, reflecting their ability to survive and prosper, regardless of the actual environment. A tribute to the tenacity of life.
    Now, parenting. This is another scale of being. Staying in the fractal of being, parenting leaps to another state of complexity with retention of pattern, but with new unique, elaborations, not simple reflections of past experience, but creation of new realities. The opportunity for growth of self through transcendence of self as sole subject through the experience of subject to subject. Parent to child as shared presence. (These are terms I’m employing in a paradigm of “narcissism“, perhaps necessarily to be more fully explicated, to be understood).
    My biological children are now 42 years old and 40 years old. Over many years I have struggled to maintain relationship to them. It has been successful. The intent was always clear, through the early years, divorce, remarriage, adulthood. I love these children and they some how sensed it. Even when the situations were conflicted I showed up, sometimes supportive and sometimes critical. They always experienced acceptance. They appreciated that it took some moves of mine to adjust and they adjusted too. This is the lesson I have to give. My son is not going to have children but he knows how to love his lady, giving her space, support and accepting of her love. My daughter, who has taken me into her home, in my own space, is more conventional, with a wonderful man as a partner-husband, son-in-law, two children (my grandchildren, lovely people), two cats, a puppy, gold fish and six chickens. We’ve had our confrontations and survived and prospered. I feel I have been a good parent because my children are good people. This is a great validation of me, my place in being.
    Now this takes us to another place, being a parent to a child that is not only not my biological child but one resisted into being. When my second wife decided to have a child, regardless of the intent, I resisted vigorously. Applying the arguments, “I have had children. I don’t want to do it again”. “Yeah, well, you had your chance and now I want mine”, “I’m too old (almost fifty) and so are you (forty); who wants old people as parents with impaired energy”, “I’ll deal with it”. No range for compromise. Well, it happened, Graham was born and I had already made the decision that no child, given the opportunity, should not have a father present. I was a child who never experienced a father (good thing for me, as my father was better not known to my child). Still, the idea that a child should have such an empty compartment in their being was repellent to me. Fortunately, by fathering my first children I was given me the opportunity to realize the father to me. A great teaching and blessing to wholeness. Graham is now twenty two years old, a splendid person, bright, appreciative and loving. The recent thing he did was to have me listed on his Face Book page as his father. How proud can a person be to be acknowledged in this way.
    So now we can address the question of parent preparedness. Nothing prepares us for being a parent. Knowing how to change diapers, hold a child, set boundaries, or entertain, can deal with the existential events of parenthood. Only by doing it can it be learned. Schools can’t teach it. It is not a career. It is not an endeavor. It is not a skill. It is an art. It is process, learned as we go along. It is a peculiar fabric of life, not for everyone, but for some, it gives a sensuality to life, a fullness of being. This cannot be transmitted, it must be experienced. I am a person who easily projects fearful experiences to be avoided, but some of life’s challenges require one to leap off of cliffs. Parenting is one of the cliff s in my life. I’m flying.

  17. catherine says

    Hi Marcia…congratulations on your adventure. I’m signing in as 52 year old woman without children. I dont often reflect on not having children. I guess I embrace life and it just didnt happen. I blame infertility and meeting a life guy only at 38 years. I had some sense that I wanted a family including children but when it didnt happen I just didnt look back much.
    Lately, I am connecting the dots of my life more, reflecting and I thinking a child would have been nice but I cope by just switching gears and embracing life without them. (sublimation they call this) I think my brother called me around age 38 and put the question to me, are you going to have kids but besides that I didnt feel a lot of pressure to conform. At a high school reunion a few years ago I found it interesting a lot of us women didnt have kids yet work in the health field. Perhaps nursing has given me a sense of caring and what its like to “parent” or take care of others like you as a teacher. I sometimes think it would be good to connect more with children as I get older. I heard about a group in Nova Scotia that has “elders” spending time with 2 year olds for a sense of enjoyment. So I think not having children is something I might do if I had the choice again but then again I’ve really had a great life and no regrets at the moment. Its really all about being engaged /connected to people of all ages and staying that way as we grow old gracefully, with or without children. Dont you think?
    Thanks for getting me to stop and reflect on this part of my life. much luv & hugs

  18. catherine says

    Also I enjoyed the other blogs …David Kaplan’s blog was excellent, I got a lot from it..the rewards of parenting, the ambiance of family life..I think I always was terrified of birthing and also didnt see the need to conform much to society and without the right man but still a lifesyle that included travel let time slip by. Thanks Marcia will check it again.

  19. Lori Bronson says

    HI MARCIA,
    I am also a product of the 50’s and 60’s and choose not to have children. For years people asked me if I could not have children or if it was totally my decision. I would always answer that it was my decision. I was married at that time and my husband also did not want to have any children. I have never regretted not having any although having been a teacher I think I would have been a good mother. My dedication for years has been animal rescue so I guess that is what fulfilled my maternal instincts.

    • marciawp says

      Thanks Lori. So happy to know your choice was right for you. I question the whole topic of “Maternal instincts”.
      If it’s so instinctive, why is there so much child abuse?

  20. This is a wonderful website. Wish I had all the resources stated when I was making the decision to remain childfree. My husband and I chose not to have children and have not regretted the decision. We have been able to travel extensively and not have the stress that comes along with raising children. We enjoy spending time with our nieces and nephews and our friend’s children but always are glad to return to our childfree home. Parenthood is not meant for everyone and a person’s choice should always be respected. It seems that choosing a child free life style has become more accepted in recent years. When we were making the decision it was still looked upon as an unusual and sometimes selfish decision. I remember a friend saying that it was not normal not to want to have children. The sting of that comment remains with me to this day.

    • marciawp says

      Thanks for this beautiful and heartfelt post. I, too, wish we had more support when I chose not to have children. I’ve learned that “stings” are possible only if we allow them to hurt us. Let that hurt go or you remain a victim of that comment.That comment you heard about you not being “normal” reflects the ignorance of people. When I lost my career because I was interviewed on “60 Minutes”, that “sting’ took another turn. Nobody should have to suffer that way because of misperceptions and ignorance. Being an “other’ in society is always challenging, isn’t it? Look at the topic of Maternal Instincts. I would love to read your reactions to that.Again, thanks for this post.

  21. I think that this blog is full of nonsense. It sounds more like everyone in here defending not having kids really does regret it. Or at least are always wondering “what if”? Why else would a bunch of old people have meetings that support their decision? Childbirth is a choice but this blog is full of people that are either regretful or bitter about their own kids. There wouldn’t be this blog if you were all happy about your decision.

    • marciawp says

      Thanks for your comment Alex. You’re right! The need for this blog would never exist if everyone felt they were respected for a personal choice. Maybe there wouldn’t be this blog if people could accept the choice that not having children is as good and viable a lifestyle as having them? Did you know about many surveys asking parents, “If you had it to do all over again, would you have kids?” (The most famous was by Ann Landers in the 70’s where 70% responded with NO!) The July 2010 issue of New York Magazine featured, “I love my children. I hate my life!” I am happy for anyone who has children and enjoys that role. That’s the point! Kids need parents who are prepared and ready to parent. Too many times, we hear of tragic stories. There are too many children suffering because people choose parenting thinking it was their ticket to acceptance. Have you ever considered there are many unhappy parents who wonder, ” What if I never had them?” The sad fact, is…..it’s too late.(By the way, there are many posts from parents on this blog too.)

  22. I am very happy to be a mom, my biological daughter is a joy, the good and the bad. What I wouldn’t choose for my life, if I could get a “do over” are step children. It’s hard enough to love and like your own sometimes but to deal with kids that aren’t your own, Dear Lord is all I will say.
    Best of luck with your book Marcia!

    • marciawp says

      I’m happy you have enjoyed raising your own child. (Even, as you say, during those “bad times”.) Being a step parent is an awesome challenge. We try to be accepted and be their friend. We never want to be that step-monster. Yet, we are there to offer guidance as well. Without any preparation, who can blame us for feeling bewildered in this role? Also, it takes two to have any relationship. When the stepchildren aren’t willing to meet you half way, frustration is bound to be there.If the stepchildren are hearing bad things about you, how do we face that? If the original Mom or dad is deceased, the anger that we’re trying to take their deceased parent’s roles hurts too deeply. I totally understand how you feel, Rose.

      • marciawp says

        Your statement is very important. I have found people who say “Why bother about this topic? It’s “old”. On the contrary, it’s not old. Yes. It’s a more accepted choice. However, the reactions of too many people is to feel this choice is hedonistic, unloving, and as you say….selfish. It’s no more selfish than having children to fit into the norm. Or, having children to feel accepted. Or, having children to use as trophies of success. In the corporate or political world, the family man is still regarding with more admiration than the single or childfree man. The women claiming to have it “all” (meaning family and career) is a woman to aspire to. Thanks for your post, Sarah.

    • Very valid, pithy, suiccnct, and on point. WD.

    • This piece was cogent, well-wriettn, and pithy.

  23. sara shahar says

    Marcia,
    Thank you for championing this subject. I think in our age and time, it’s an important option for woman who want to make educated choices in their life. Not to have children is an important option that is still suffering bad PR, and prejudice. Even though more and more choose not to procreate, many are still facing the concept they are “selfish”.
    Sara

  24. I think children are a big responsibility. So many teenagers these days are having children and they aren’t ready to have them. Whereas there are adults that can take care of them but can’t have any of their own. I’m 16, and i’ve encountered at least 4 pregnant teenagers that go/went to my school. Child birth is all about being ready to bring another life into this world, and many people aren’t ready. I, myself, haven’t decided on weather or not i want a child. If i do end up having one, it will probably only be one. It’s a very varied topic, and interesting too.

  25. marciawp says

    I am honored to have a 16 year old on my blog. How did you find this website? It would be interesting to know that answer.
    Teenagers KNOW that a sperm and an egg can make a baby. Yet, both the boy and the girl don’t take precautions together not to get pregnant! In my opinion, It’s the responsibility of two people having sex.
    Childbirth is only the act of bearing a child. It’s a mere second in a lifetime of raising a child. At this stage of your life, I would concentrate on your education. and remember, that “baby” is only a small part of a human’s life. Unlike yourself, many teens see that baby like the dolls they played with when they were little girls. Nobody wants to give birth to a teenager, right? When the time is right, this should be discussed between you and who will be your life partner. Actually, in this day and age, many women are choosing not to partner and raise a child alone. Again, at 16, enjoy your life and plan the future that best suites your needs. Thanks for this post.

  26. Jennifer says

    I really don’t know how I feel about not having children. At 40 years old, I am looking back and regretting many stupid things I did as a young adult and the choices I made regarding having a family, husband, home etc. etc. I am not sure if I can rectify anything I have done or if I really want to. I see my friends having children in their late 30’s and early 40’s and say, maybe I could, but, then I hear children screaming outside, playing on a holiday when I would like peace and quiet and think…”KILL IT”…. (probably not the best thought to have if contemplating family….just sayin!!!) I am happy for all my friends who have embraced parenthood … and when I say parenthood and friends, I mean, men and women friends. Parenting takes two..despite what the books and media have told most. I think in order to have a well rounded child, it takes two parents. I see so many people have children and it kills their relationships, most of my friends are divorced, separated OR…Hate their spouse and resent them. I don’t think this is the kind of life I would like. I have enough trouble on my own in a relationship without the help of a waling child.
    I know the adage of having a child so it can take care of you when you are old..but, I think as a child of two aging parents, it is a horrible thing to do to a child.. ask a child to care for me and clean up after me….completely SELFISH and miserable and if this is the reason you are having children, you better hang onto your bootstraps, because, said Slave, er, child, is going to rebel like hell and move about 1500 miles away from you and get conveniently busy when it comes time to schlep home and do your dirty work for you… I see more and more a lot of my friends who are dealing with aging parents or sick parents are becoming completely resentful and lashing out and writing horrible things on our wonderful social networks about how terrible their life is, and how they wish they were not around to take care of their parents and want to place them in a home.. and not in a funny, haha, sort of way, more like in a serious (if I had the money) sort of way…I myself do not think this, nor would I choose this, but then again, I don’t know what could happen in a few years down the road…
    Having children is an important decision one must make.. it is not a matter to be taken lightly and in a haphazard manner.
    I have read some of the comments here for and against, I don’t know whether I am for or against. Time will tell, I suppose.

  27. It’s absurd that women and men assume they should have children. I chose not to have children. I am not and never have been sorry. It’s a personal decision. Why society pressures couples, particularly women, to breed is beyond me. Children are great, but not for me. I’ll never regret being child free. Many people I’ve spoken with (both men and women) have confessed they never really wanted kids, but succumbed to the pressure. I’ve always tried to live my life using my beliefs, not someone elses….more people should try it.

  28. Steven E. Danish says

    It warms my heart to hear you are taking on this controversial subject, shining a well needed light on it, in the form of a book. In doing so, you will leave your mark on this world and earn a very special reward for your effort… immortality. You will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who read your thoughts.

    If you want to give a lifetime gift to a friend…. Give An Interesting Book! I am sure yours will be interesting….

    The very best on the BIRTH of your “first” book.

  29. Santeria says

    Thank-you for your blog. Even in 2011, being childfree is not considered a valid choice. I had a former friend ask this past year if my choosing not to have those babies was due to troubled childhood. Never mind that she was pregnant with her formerly-married lover’s baby and had dramedy going on with her own family! I get so tired of people wanting to think it is solely about my growing-up years.

    I never wanted to be a mother since I could remember and before I realised my family was chaotic. Growing up in the 70’s, I saw how many women were discarded from marriage and how it was hard to collect child support back then. The divorced mothers struggled to eke out survival while the fathers were worshiped by my girlhood friends. I saw how the divorced mums also felt they had to accept so little from boyfriends as men with something going for them did not want a woman with extra mouths to feed.

    I was never a maternal person and felt motherhood was a leghold trap. Even at a young age, babies and dolls did not interest me. It is not always about childhood, either. I know too many women from my youth who chose to be a mother so they could rewrite history by claiming how they would not do their kids the way they had been done by their parents. Sadly, history did repeat itself.

    I am another one who never regretted saying “NO” to children. I got my tubes tied as a younger woman and am thankful every single day how I defied society. I have a decent life now. Had I followed what society and religion wanted, I would be forced to a McJob to feed children and have health coverage for them. The childfree choice should be offered as a viable option to women and men.

    • marciawp says

      It warms my heart to read posts like yours. I’ve been told this is not a topic worth discussing as choice is now wide open. I beg to differ. Although more and more people are making this choice, if they go public, the reactions may not be so supportive. I don’t think they can be fired as I was for announcing my choice on “60 Minutes”. That’s good.
      Please share this site with others and have more people tell their stories. I’m also hoping more parents tell the truth about the disappointments they have faced with the reality doesn’t match the promise of parenting.
      By the way, in the 70’s many women could not get their tubes tide if their doctors thought they were too young! You were lucky to find a doctor who valued your own needs.
      Marcia Drut-Davis

  30. I cannot agree to using or doing anything that would inhibit a Woman from having a child, but I agree that having a child if the Mother does not want it is a bigger sin. An unwanted child is an unwanted piece of trash and if often hurt or will suffer the life on being unloved and constantly interfering with the good times of its mother. This is usually the result of the mother that was not properly cared for by her mother or father. God Bless those women who do not have children and grant that those that do want a child will have it.

    • marciawp says

      Thanks for taking the time to post your response. Religious people have difficulty with the idea of choice. Indeed, many wedding ceremonies ask the couple to accept children lovingly into their hearts. Right? You don’t agree with people who who have children who are not wanted.Yet, if people can’t use protection, how can choice be viable? In my opinion, I don’t support people having children because they feel they should, or want to be accepted by their family, or want to save a marriage, or want to have someone to love them forever.

  31. Michael says

    I have often thought of having a child, but I have also thought about the negative stigma of being a gay parent in today’s society. Not to say that being a gay parent is a problem, there are so many problems in our culture without adding this to the list. Really who can define what normal or healthy is. Every house is vastly different from one to another. I mean surely I have a great job and the resources to take care of a child, but for some reason to adopt I would have to wait three times as long as a heterosexual woman. I mean correct me if I am wrong but does anyone want to be considered what society today considers “normal”?

    • marciawp says

      Thanks for this honest post, Michael. It’s a harsh reality that gay people would have to wait three times as long to adopt. I don’t think breasts potentially being able to produce milk and a vagina makes for a better “mother”. It would very interesting to know whether or not the same pronatal influences have the same effects on gay people. Are they a better couple if they decide to adopt or have a child born from a surrogacy birth? Are they looked upon with more acceptance if they are seen as a family of more than two?
      Ask some of your gay friends. I’m sure that would be an interesting read for anyone reading this blog.
      As for whether or not living a normal lifestyle is what people want….you yourself said that very word “normal” so subjective! What’s normal any more? Yet, it is normal, in my opinion, to want and have children by the majority of society’s all over the world .I wonder if I was on “60 Minutes” again is people would still threaten me?

    • marciawp says

      Any human not in the “normal” group faces challenges. So sad, isn’t it? Society has a definition for normal that doesn’t meet reality many times.It’s up to us to be open, honest and embrace our own lives with passion, self respect and acceptance. To not do that is remaining a victim of society’s ignorant branding.

  32. marciawp says

    Can you please tell me more details in this question? I get so many wonderful responses and just don’t know what you are asking. Please refresh me as to what this is about. Thanks.

  33. Keith Dunbar, NYC says

    I as a 45 y.o. male strongly feel that it should be a woman’s right to parenting. Whether it be maternal, adoption, invitro or step parenting it is her choice, the given right to her by the Universe.

  34. ElaineByTheBeach says

    I wish I knew someone like you when I was growing up.

    I knew from childhood that I didn’t want to be a parent. People in my family and even total strangers told me throughout my life that I was cold, defective, that I would be old and alone, that no man would ever want to be with someone who didn’t want children. A high school teacher, after conducting a class session in human development in which we were to write an essay describing how we felt about children and babies, called my mother at home to tell her I was “disturbed” since I had written “I don’t really care for babies. They’re kind of gross and noisy. If someone else wants to have them, that’s fine. It’s just not for me. I don’t even babysit.”

    In women-centric offices, even though I was civil to parents, I heard whispers of “Oh, she’s the one who hates kids!” when it wasn’t even warranted. My favorite aunt told me that I “will never know true love.” This didn’t take place in the 50’s…this took place from my childhood in the 70’s all the way up to the 90s and I will sometimes catch a little grief these days, even though I’m beyond an age where child-bearing is considered safe and/or sane. Who knew?

    Fortunately, I found my voice in my 30’s and raised hell in the media on behalf of the Childfree Network. I met Elinor Burkett (The Baby Boom author) in 2000 while taping a talk show pilot. I agitated on behalf of equal access to time-off benefits in the workplace, both in the public sphere and even at my own workplace. In person and online, I met many childfree sisters and continue to do so today.

    I want to thank you for all of your work in paving the way for us. What you had to deal with in the wake of the 1974 broadcast made my heart hurt when I read about it. Thank you for the work you did then, and the work you are doing now on behalf of childfree people. I hope I can move through life with the grace and dignity that you have. I look forward to your memoir!

    • marciawp says

      You know me now and I’m here for you, delighted to be connected on our life-path. I’ve spent 36 years years waiting to have the courage to write a book from the depths of my heart. All those people who wrongly categorized me, tarred and feathered me , warning of dire regrets are answered in my memoir, “Confessions of a Childless Woman”. Have there been regrets or self doubt? Of course! But when you read the memoir, you’ll see why! I believe you’ll enjoy the honest revelations. Thanks for these marvelous posts. Keep them coming!

  35. Marie Bernardy says

    Hi Marcia – I’m so glad to have come across your blog. I’ve been talking with a PhD candidate from Yale who’s doing research on NON/NAOP and it’s renewed my interest in all things childfree. My husband and I were active national NON/NAOP members. In fact, I was the last president of the organization when we closed the doors in 1982. At that time, due to funding cuts (Reagan administration), we felt we’d gotten the word out and hoped that other organizations would work to carry on the message about choosing to have children. ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, CA is still producing the “Am I Parent Material?” brochure developed in the late 70s.

    I have a transcript of the “60 Minutes” program from 1974–so very sorry about how it affected your life. We were very active in St. Louis and the Bay Area and were often misquoted, and misrepresented, but never with such dire consequences.

    We’ve just celebrated our 37th anniversary, and the 35th anniversaries of sterilizations–and not once have we regretted our decision.

    Looking forward to your book.

    • marciawp says

      WOW!!! So wonderful to hear from you. Our stories still need to be heard, don’t they? I believe most people thought I would be a saddened woman as I approached my 70th year on this planet.
      NOT!
      I also have a copy of that 60 Minute fiasco and would LOVE to have them revisit me. What did I know then?
      My memoir is in the hands of an interested literary agency. Been there before so I just keep sending out the query letters.It’s been a long haul and worth it.
      I was saddened to hear of Ellen Pecks untimely death from cancer in her early 50’s. She was the pioneer spirit who reached out to me at a time when the word “childfree” was unknown!
      Thanks for posting and I look forward to hearing from you again.(Maybe next to me when we are interviewd on “60 Minutes”!)
      Write to them and suggest they do that. 60m@cbsnews.com

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  45. LadyGator says

    I did not want kids – don’t want to even hold other peoples ‘new babies’.
    This doesn’t make me a bad person, but when a new mother says to me ‘don’t you want to hold the baby? at a social event or comes to visit. It is a tricky thing to tell this happy new mom, ‘no thank you’. Then, they want to teach you how to do it safely, … “no you don’t understand, I REALLY do not want to hold your baby or anyone’s baby. Please don’t take offense.
    I don’t think babies are cute either.
    I also hate people thinking how sad it is that I gave up having children for my career as a professional. Why? I graduated with a BS degree and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, and was a board certified administrator when I retired. It was what I wanted to do. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with me because I didn’t want to be a mommie. Mothering is a full time job – 24/7. You can leave the office at the office, you can’t leave the children and I didn’t want to make that sacrifice for anyone. I lost two wonderful men over it.
    So glad to see a blog which is greatly needed. I’ve never been so moved before as I have with the opportunity of this blog!

    • marciawp says

      I deeply appreciate this post. I’m working on getting my memoir published! Thanks for this vote of confidence. People still have no idea what pronatalism feels like. Even with choice being more acceptable, it’s still a social stigma not to want children.

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  49. I am 65 years old and made the decision NOT to have children when I was 25. I was married but my husband and I made the decision together. Good thing; we divorced, I remarried a man who had one child and didn’t want more. WE divorced (he found a younger trade-in) and I vowed never to marry again. Never say never. I married for the third time, a man who had a daughter whom I’ve helped raise. Now she is a mother and I can enjoy HER daughter. I’ve never regretted my decision, I’ve had a lovely career, freedom to pursue adult interests, travel, take graduate courses and enjoy my relationship with my husband. Call me selfish, but I knew as a young adult that I was not prepared or mature enough to be a parent. My parents never bugged me about wanting to have grandchildren and left me to make my own decisions. For that I will be forever grateful.

  50. Anne Stenkjær says

    Hi from Denmark!
    I am a woman born in 1984 and I just got sterilized:-) actually I smile like a monkey on dope every time I get to show my scars of, but unfortunately it cannot be shown to every body. only five have seen them. So far.
    But I am glad I got it done, just not that happy about peoples reactions towards sterilization. My sister has three kids and is undergoing that same surgery I have had in a couple of days, and even though she has kids and runs a daycare, people still seem chocked when she tells about the operation. (She is 37 btw)

    But any who…. Is there a good chance for me to view your apperance on 60 minutes?
    I would really like to see it and get my boney hands on your book now we are at it;-)
    Keep speaking up!
    They can’t ignore us if we just talk louder;-)

    Sincerly Anne Stenkjær

    • marciawp says

      Anne! How wonderful to hear from you. Denmark? One of my favorite people on this planet, who I call my “daughter-friend” is from Finland.
      It’s refreshing to find a real person sharing real feelings with me.(There are so many spam artists who try and sell things via these blogs. )
      When I just read your response, I smiled. I reached another person!
      You’re choice to be sterilized made me remember many of my women friends in the 70’s who couldn’t get it done! Men had a better chance. Not women! At least that has changed.
      The childfree lifestyle is rich and rewarding. There may be times of “regret” but that’s to be expected with so much emphasis on feeling the loss of never being a mother.
      In my book, I talk about that in two chapters: Childfree vs. Childless and Menopause.
      The book is currently being read by an agency showing interest. It’s the 5th time I’ve had an agency interested. I keep hearing, “it’s no big deal any more not to want kids”. People have no clue how this choice is still viewed with distain. As soon as I know it’s published, I will let you know.
      I have one copy of the “60 Minutes” show. They make it difficult to share it threatening me with a hefty fine unless I pay them $300.00.
      The last comment from Mike Wallace was, “Pardon our perversion for airing this on Mother’s Day”.
      You made my day by writing to me. Thanks so much.
      Marcia

  51. Sorry for the intrusion, I am just testing to see if the site is working properly.
    Thanks.

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