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January 22, 2011

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Bob Lowry

No matter how logical or well-reasoned the reasons given, or not given, someone who chooses to be childless is going to be considered somewhat abnormal in this society.

But, I sense that you are up to the challenge.

Retired Syd

@Bob. I think that's mostly true, although really, it's far more accepted than decades ago.

This morning I read this WSJ article:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704739504576067550205353230.html

Breaks my heart. These are people who feel they are being good parents according to the Bible. Just makes me sad that all you have to do is want kids to have them. I don't and I'm certain I would have made a far better parent.

Salis Grano

As someone with kids (and very pleased with that) I find perfectly okay that you don't want them. What business is it of mine? I wonder if this is a US/UK thing? I'm sure that most British people wouldn't care and certainly wouldn't say so, even if they did, although I suppose that women (mostly) in their 30s and 40s might feel a bit isolated at times.

Retired Syd

@Salis: Interesting--I hadn't thought of it as a cultural difference. Any UK readers out there without kids care to comment? I'm interested.

Bob Lowry

Thanks, Syd, for the link to the WSJ story. What is really upsetting is how much of this type of abuse is probably going on in the home country of these immigrants. Obviously, beating children for discipline is culturally OK there.

I believe child abuse is a huge problem around the world and it gets too little attention. Children have few legal rights in most societies.

Savvy Working Gal

When asked why I never had children I recently started saying “It never worked out for me” instead of “I never got around to it” which is what I used to say and is the truth. Now I receive comments like, “Why didn’t you think about adoption” or “It’s not too late you could still adopt.” I do like your response “we just never wanted them.”

I have a question though. Is it okay to reprimand other people’s children? Last weekend, my family took my mom out to eat to celebrate her birthday at a casual restaurant. My sister brought my five-year nephew (the only child in attendance). He wouldn’t sit still, talked loudly and obnoxiously, wouldn’t eat his food, and at one point laid on the table. My sister repeatedly told him to behave, but he ignored her. Finally not being able to stand it any longer, I took him off the table and give him a stern lecture telling him if he didn’t stay in his chair and be quiet I was taking him out to the car. You should have seen the look my sister gave me. It was more like how dare you than thank-you. Was I wrong? And would my lecture have been more acceptable if I had children? FYI - he did settle down a bit.

Retired Syd

@Savvy: I love the last part of your question, whether we have to be parents to be qualified to tell someone else's kid to behave. Parents weren't parents before they had kids, so I'm not sure you are really any less qualified.

Having said that, I would never in a gazillion years (maybe even a bazillion--which one is bigger?) reprimand someone else's kids. Not because I'm not qualified--I think I'm qualified to determine that laying (or is it lying) on a table during dinner is not acceptable behavior! But because:

1) I have an unhealthy desire to be liked by everyone (the kid and the parents included) and,

2) See Rule #2 above.

Retired Syd

P.S. You may want to try a technique that I employ when faced with such behavior. Keep telling yourself (inside your head, not out loud), "only x more minutes until I get to go home and have a time out."

Then when you get home pour yourself a shot of bourbon on the rocks.

Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom

LOL. I find the same thing when I tell people I've never been married and don't want to be. The reasons for that are very similar to yours for not having kids. If you think you're an anomaly for not having kids, you should try never being married!

FWIW, the Dexter book series is as good (not sure about better) as the TV series, which I have also enjoyed. He's actually teaching the kids how to be serial killers and not get caught in the book series. I'm not sure if that happened in the TV series. And Doakes lived in the books. I think I'm still on season 3 and will probably start watching TV again when the next round of sabbatical / semi-retirement comes around again in a couple of months.

deegee

As a 47-year-old single, childfree man who retired 2 years ago at age 45, I am glad I am in the demographic which is least prone to getting "bingoed," (the tired, overused insults the childed often throw our way) either for being childfree. I feel bad particularly for married women who seem to be the most prone to getting bingoed. I am glad my family always regarded these things as highly personal decisions (marriage and children) so whatever we did was fine with them as long as it made us happy.

I don't see anything wrong with boasting about how being childfree makes our lives so great. The childed never stop bragging about their kids and how much joy they bring them, so why can't we childfree boast about how our absence of kids does the same thing?

But one big difference between the childfree and the childed is that we childfree NEVER complain about how the absence of kids of their own has worsened our lives, unlike the childed who frequently complain about their kids. I have seen websites filled with posts from women who describe their lives as living hell with their kids.

Being in a misunderstood and often frowned-upon minority is nothing new to me. I am also an atheist, so not believing in god can also cause others to look down at me. However, like being chidlfree, my family did not care about this, either.

Just you don't think I am some "ebil child hater," I happen to do volunteer work with kids in several area schools.

Being –free is great: childfree, god-free, work-free (and debt-free).

CC

I don't have kids AND I'm not married. Operating in society was more difficult when I was younger and would get countless questions about my choices. Now that I'm in my 40's, the questions have stopped. The truth is, I never wanted marriage or kids and didn't see any reason to lie about it. I found when I was honest about it, people respected my honesty and then left me alone.

Retired Syd

@deegee, I think you get a get out of jail free card on the child-hater thing since you spend a lot of time volunteering at your local schools with kids. Thus dispelling the myth that people that don't want kids don't like kids.

@CC, hmmm, honesty, I think a little too radical of an idea for me :)

fred doe

wow! kids always get a big response on your blog ms syd. but not just you look at amy chua's new book tiger mother. as a man if some had the bad taste to press me, if i had kids i can come back with' "not that i know of". women can't. if someone has kids 9 times outa 10 they'er going to bring them up in conversation. and as a person gets older they'er either going to to be bragging about them(which is ok) or bitching about them. and as a mench you listen. savvy working gal i'm no dr spock but let's face it a 5 year old has the attention span of about 20 seconds. and if they weren't included in meaningful conversation it makes it worse. you or i would get up and head for the bar. he can't. (i don't mean this in a bad way to you.)

Imani

Hey Syd....

I had two children in my mid to late 30s because I wanted to. Thankfully, I never had any illusions that my sons would be here to take care of me in my elder years. It just ain't gonna happen. Did my best and sacrificed much to no avail. They come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I am lucky to get 3-4 email in between. Was it worth it? I guess so since I had no expectations. But really? Not so sure. I wish them a great life!

Happy New Year, Imani

Leslie

I have recently met several colleagues who, like us, do not have children. It seems more accepted in artistic circles. Few people ask me why I never had kids but when they do I just say that we married later in life. Not sure if that is a good response or not.

J

Some folks don't want to have kids. Some folks don't want to live paycheck to paycheck. We all have our crosses to bear. Who are we to judge the decisions of others if they aren't interfering with our well-being?

I admire the people who make well-thought-out decisions. Bless their heart for trying to do the right thing. Keep on keeping on.

...Seems to me the people who get great heartburn at those who don't marry, procreate, insert lifestyle choice here, would wring their hands no matter what differed from their choice(s)

I/we have a child, and it's a sh$tload of work. Would I trade him? Absolutely not. Do what's right for you and don't apologize to anyone.

Kathy Sterndahl

I had three kids and a 30 year 'career' as wife and mommy. I love my kids but rarely see or hear from them. If I had a chance to start over, I would definitely choose college and career. I retired the day my youngest moved out. I finally have a life of my own!

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