Sunday, August 13, 2017

Why People Feel Compelled to Challenge Your "No Kids" Status

Anna Goldfarb, writing for the New York Times, shares her experience of people asking "intrusive" questions about her childfree status after she married her boyfriend of many years. Most of us who are childfree have experienced this when we partner up and reach the age where most couples choose to have a family (usually the 30's in the United States) and it always made me wonder, "Why do they care so much if I choose to opt out?" Who am I hurting by making this very personal choice?"

Anna believes that when we make this alternative choice, it challenges a very primal belief system, and people become upset. I agree. It's a clash of values and beliefs. You think having a kid is an important milestone, critical to your maturity and happiness, and I beg to differ....

Here Anna's thoughts from the NYT article titled: "What to Say When People Ask Why You Aren't Having Children." 

For some, staying childless contradicts their worldview

When people push back about it, they seem to be more upset at having their sense of order questioned. Sometimes that can lead to interactions that feel hostile. 
Many people assume that having children after marriage is the natural progression of life. They may even see my reluctance to have kids as a personal affront, as if I’m criticizing their choices. 
Not only is it exasperating to justify myself to people who have no stake in the process, but people have rarely been enthusiastic about my decision unless they’ve decided to be child-free too.

As far as how we might respond to these intrusive inquiries. Anna responds with some restraint, particularly with people she doesn't know well:
When strangers ask about my plans for a child-free life, it can come off as if they’re really asking what kind of person I am. 
It takes effort to keep my cool. After a few deep breaths, I run through my usual answers in a measured tone: Yes, I love children, but I don’t feel an urgent need to have my own. No, it’s not because I’m a selfish jerk. Then politely assert that my husband and I are making decisions based on what’s right for us as a couple. I don’t elaborate more than that if I don’t want to.
Personally, I usually make light of it and say "Most of my friends couldn't imagine a life without kids, and I couldn't imagine a life with them!" and then laugh.

How do you respond?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Need a Kid to Leave a Lasting Legacy? Not if You are Dolly Parton!


People assume that if you are not a parent you are not a contributing member of society. Yet, I regularly see news reports of childfree people making a profound difference in their communities. A recent example is the generous help singer/songwriter/entrepreneur Dolly Parton offered families who had lost their homes in the devastating wildfires in her home state of Tennessee.

When I interviewed couples for my book Two is Enough: A Couples Guide to Living Childless by Choice, I noted a similar desire to help people and all living things. Scratch the stigmatized veneer of a childfree person and you will find a volunteer, philanthropist, pet rescuer, mentor, coach, activist, or advocate.

Childfree people may not be nurturing their biological children but they are finding ways to make a difference in their worlds using the time, energy, and resources they are grateful to have; they are finding ways to share these resources with others.

Think back on your own life and recall all those who have helped you--teachers, coaches, youth ministers, mentors, neighbors and relatives. I suspect there is a childless or childfree person among them. Just like parents, we want to leave a legacy, but our legacy justs looks a little different.

What legacy are you creating?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Why 1 in 5 German Moms Regret Parenthood

Many German women feel they have to choose between career and raising children and when they choose children, one in five feel regret. A recent study exposes just why Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe and cites many factors, the most noteworthy being, "Lack of satisfaction from parenting."

This challenges the whole notion, "Oh, it different when they are your kids!!" No, it's not. It's harder because society, especially German society, assumes that every woman wants to stay home full time to raise their babies and provides little or no day care or support for women raising infants and toddlers who may want to work part-time or full time after giving birth. This the hard choice: Kids or Career?

Apparently 1 in 5 German men also regret parenthood and the reasons for the regret are often shared by both partners. The study authors are going back to the male respondents to drill down further on the males' regret but my guess is that they cite the change in the relationship dynamics. As we say in the south, "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"