Complete Without Kids blog

To Be Or Not-To-Be A Mom??

The choice of whether or not to have children is probably the most important one of a woman’s life. Just think about it—if you marry the wrong person, you can get a divorce. If you go into the wrong career, you can retool and try something else. If you move into the wrong neighborhood, you can pack up and relocate. But a child is your responsibility for the next eighteen years, and on some levels for the rest of your life.

I never put much thought into whether or not I wanted to become a mother until I reached the tail end of my childbearing years. So when I suddenly found myself wondering if I’d regret passing up this life experience, it was dismaying to discover that there was very little guidance available to me. I ultimately had to come up with my own list of questions about becoming a mother, which helped me to reach a final decision. Here, I’d like to share some of them with you, and you can find more in my book, Complete Without Kids.

Am I aware of the huge responsibility of caring for a child from birth to eighteen (and possibly beyond)??
Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, but winging it as a parent doesn’t bode well for anyone’s future. A mom-to-be or not-to-be needs to have a plan/vision of what the future holds.

Am I ready for the time commitment of raising a child?
Healthy children need abundant love and affection; the estimate is that it takes almost eight hours a day to raise two children to the age of eighteen. Are you willing to sacrifice some of the activities that you’re currently doing in order to parent? Specifically, it will mean less time for career, hobbies, friends, sleep, your marriage, or your own self-care. It’s also no secret that children are expensive. A conservative estimate is that it costs $220,000 to raise a child to the age of eighteen. Are you financially prepared for this?

Do I truly enjoy being around children?
Some people might say that this is a silly question to ask oneself, because we all know that “once you have a child, you love him or her”. It makes sense that you’d fall in love with and enjoy spending time with a child of your own, but if the child were never born, is it possible that you would miss him or her?? Think honestly about this. I had to answer it for myself and admit that I’ve never really enjoyed being in the kind of places where children and families gather, and I don’t enjoy spending time in my friends’ homes being a part of their family activities. I honestly don’t enjoy playing with most children. I’m more of an adult person, and I recognized and accepted that. If I were to have a child, I might selfishly expect him or her to become a “little adult” in order to meet my own needs. Some parents do this and think it’s okay…I didn’t think so.

What are some ways to put myself in a parenting role to see how it feels?
This may sound like common sense, but so many of us make huge life decisions without doing the proper research. For example, I once met a young woman who spent four full years earning a teaching degree, only to discover when she went out to do her student teaching that she didn’t like being in the classroom. Likewise, many potential parents make the decision to have children because they have an idealized image of what it will be like. Many people have not had the opportunity to be around children and families, and they’ve not examined the costs, sacrifices that must be made, time commitments, or the potential that the child may have a disability. My advice for potential parents, and even those who believe that they don’t want to have children, is to take time to do real-life research by spending some time with a family and asking people who are parents and also some who are childfree about their experiences. This is, after all, perhaps the biggest decision a woman will make in her life, and once it’s made, it’s not one that can be easily reversed.

Am I willing to give up having it all in order to be a mother?
I’m not a believer in the idea that women can do it all—build a successful career, have a healthy marriage and friendships, be a great parent, and have time for oneself. In my clinical practice, I’ve met with hundreds of women who are exhausted and feeling like failures in most of the above areas, and I blame it on the message our culture gives women that we are super heroes. Fortunately, we seem to be moving into a phase in which women are exploring choices for their futures and making decisions about what they will focus on and what they will let go of. For many young women, this includes deciding to not have kids. They instead decide to devote energy to their careers, their marriages, or their communities. There is still so much societal pressure on women to become mothers, that it is difficult to not choose this path, but I’m witnessing women do so successfully, with full peace of mind.

Do I have the life stability that a child needs?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all adults made sure that their lives were stable and in order prior to getting pregnant? A child deserves to be brought into a home where there is adequate time, money, and emotional energy to fully care for them. It’s a fact that marital satisfaction rates plummet following the birth of the first child—that is for couples that didn’t plan to get pregnant. But when a child is planned, there’s no negative impact on the marital relationship. Recognizing what it will take in terms of time, money and emotional energy prior to getting pregnant, will increase the odds that a child will be born into a stable environment. If you’re in a relationship that’s rocky, consider seeking couple’s counseling before discussing starting a family. Many couples falsely believe that having a child will bring them closer to one another, but the opposite can be true, simply due to the stress caused when a new baby enters the home.

Do I have the support network needed to assist me in raising a child?
Once again, take a realistic assessment of how much time and energy it will take to raise your child. You will need to have the support of others to do a good job. These supports might include friends, family members, or hired help such as nannies and daycare providers. If your support network is weak at the moment, and you really want to become a mom, take steps to bolster it. You may need to make a geographical move in order to be closer to family support, make changes in your career path so that you can be at home more, or save up for a daycare setting that’s near to your office.

Do I have the personal qualities that make for healthy parenting?
I often hear women say that they don’t think they would be good mothers, because they were raised in a dysfunctional home. There are cases in which people parent in the same way that their parents did, but in other cases we learn what not to do. How you were raised is not an indication of how you would parent. Instead, you must ask yourself if you have certain qualities that make for good parenting, including patience, consistent ability to be firm when necessary, good listening, and the willingness to at times put your own desires behind what’s best for your child. Parenting requires personal sacrifice, and many mothers would assert that the joy they get from their child is well worth what they’ve had to give up.

Are Childfree Adults All from Dysfunctional Homes?

Are all childfree adults from dysfunctional homes? Read this post and give your thoughts on the subject.  I have spoken with so many childfree adults who were raised in very loving homes. On the other hand, how many lousy parents do you know who grew up in dysfunctional homes? Many childfree adults choose this lifestyle because of having more insight and the ability to carefully contemplate their life path, rather than “accidently” becoming pregnant and then feeling obliged to bring a child into the world.

http://livingcfer.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/adult-children-of-dysfunctional-family/#comment-24

Jennifer Aniston Likes being Childfree

Jennifer Aniston is making the rounds again promoting a new movie, and she was asked about rumors that she will be adopting a child. She denied the rumors, as well as those that she might be adopting a pet. Much of the world has trouble believing that Jennifer could possible feel complete without children. It’s a shame that we still live in a culture that is so heavily promoting of the notion that women must be mothers, that this is our primary role in life, and that if we miss this experience, it’s tragic. http://www.3am.co.uk/jennifer-aniston-denies-adoption-rumours-again/25986/

Can Childfree Women Play Mothers on Screen?

Just read an article at  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8279466/Actresses-without-children-cant-play-mothers.html describing how actress Anne Reid stated that childfree women cannot play mothers on screen. This is similar to saying that only real-life serial killers can play such a character. What is she thinking. It’s an insult, in my opinion, to all of us who do not have children. What’s your thought?  What about Helen Mirren and Jennifer Aniston?

Childfree Does Not Mean Cold and Unnurturing

I came across an article last week on the web discussing Jennifer Anniston’s magazine cover photo. In the picture, she was holding a teddy bear, and the author of the web comment suggested that she was using the bear as a baby subsitute. The implication was that she really wanted to have a baby of her own to hold. This is a great example of how much of society jumps to the conclusion that women who don’t have kids are unnurturing, cold, and lack the need for affection. If we seek out affection or behave in a nurturing way, it must mean that we wish we had a child. Why not take the position instead that women who don’t have kids have the same needs for affection and are just as nurturing as anyone else, but that we meet these needs in different ways.

Childfree Dating

Childfree adults are a minority, and this leads to unique dating issues. One woman I interviewed for my book complained that she had difficulty meeting men who were also childfree and wanted to remain that way. Most men she was meeting (in her mid 30’s) had children from prior marriages and these kids were top priority in every way. She told me about holidays spent alone and lack of money for fun times together.  The men also treated her as less able to make a commitment because she was not a mother and didn’t wish to become one. She also talked about meeting men who at first said they didn’t want kids, but as the relationship progressed began to speak of their desire to be a father. She felt like she’d been duped. I encouraged her to hang in there, and even to consider relocating to a more urban area where there would be more childfree men in the dating pool. This was well before the stats came out listing the top childfree cities: San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC have the fewest number of homes with children in the US. I think if I was still single, I’d strongly consider moving to a more childfree-friendly place.  How have celebrities such as Jennifer Anniston, Oprah Winfrey, and Rachel Ray handled the dating scene in times when they’ve been single?

Childfree at Family-Focused Holidays

Laura Scott has written an excellent article on how the childfree can feel more comfortable at gatherings where most folks are parents. I’ve made a concerted effort over the past couple of years to include at least a couple of other childfree adults in every single party. Case in point, tomorrow, for Christmas Eve, I’ll be there with six others, and four of us are not parents! This is a record for me so far? How do your ratios look?

Seattle Childfree Households

The census data out of Seattle show that only 20% of households there have children. I was surprised to read the negative spin given to this news. In my mind, this shows that Seattle is a progressive, well-educated city with lots of environmentally conscious adults. What’s your take?

Even the Childfree can have Kids in our Lives

Laura Scott’s recent article on how childfree adults play a critical role in the lives of many children does a great job of discussing this phenomenon. Indeed, many childfree adults enjoy being around kids, and they take on roles of teachers, aunts, etc. It’s a wonderful way to meet the natural urge that many men and women have to nurture. Of course, there are some who’d rather not be around children, and that’s okay too.

More and More Childfree Women

New statistics are out showing an increase in the number of women who don’t have kids by the age of 45; it’s double what it was in our mother’s generation. Many of us have been busy and never got around to it, while others intentionally chose to not become mothers. The important message to give to young men and women all over the world is that we’re doing just fine in our childfree status. Not only are we surviving, despite missing out on “the most fulfilling” role of ones life, but we are thriving. In fact, studies on happiness show that we have greater levels of life satisfaction than adults who are parents. Furthermore, our childfree marriages are more satisfactory than the couplings of parents. Interesting…..