Thursday, October 16, 2008

it takes a whole village to (not) raise a child

My family is a pretty understanding lot. Or at least they remain hands off over matters they mightn’t fully comprehend. The childfree issue has been a choice, or serious of circumstances, my grandchildren-free parents have never hassled me about.

I didn’t know how lucky I was.
Update: it has been pointed out to me that if persons anonymously portrayed in this post read my blog, then it could pain. That was never my intention. All I wanted to do was tell my story about pressure to have children. Unfortunately this may be misinterpreted by others so I have removed the bulk of the post.

Sorry if it no longer makes sense. I rather liked the way it was written. Instead of removing entirely I am keeping fragments here to remind myself to be mindful.

After all, it really does take a whole family to not have a child. Even when you think it is a purely personal decision.


But instead of bonding in our grief, I felt I was being accused of deliberately wrecking someone's happiness. But really, I felt like a failure. That I had let down another family, other than my own, as well as the wider community.

Who knows the NB may yet have children. His sperm's probably still up for it and he doesn’t believe in monogamy.

While I can focus on the benefits of an unencumbered life, I have little desire to raise other people’s children. So if that is the choice he makes, good luck to him but I don’t intend to be a traveller on that journey.

When a woman has no children, or in the case of commenter Docwitch, only has one – a whole community feel they have a right to question the “choice”.

I don’t like feeling judged. But in a family with multiple children, I think it is unfair that one outsider should be expected to shoulder the burden of the failure to create a further generation.

That said, both the NB and I are sitting on the last branches of our respective family trees. His sister is also in her 40's and single. Mine is 50 and unpartnered. My brother died at 33, on the verge of commitment and children. Both our families have a right to grieve about the lack of future generations.

But as a whole.

Not a punishment.


Ken said...

I really enjoyed your post.

My wife and I are 40ish and childfree. My brother is married without kids as well. Our family tree will end.

This hurts our mom. I think she would pay us money to give her a grand-kid! But it will not be.

You are not hurting anyone; you are following your own path with your own voice. Each voice is a unique blessing.

Thanks again.

Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks Ken.

It's good to be reminded that blokes can be pressured too on this one.

Thanks for your support.

Kidfree Kaye said...

Great post. My S.O. and I are childfree, and getting less hassle about it now that we're 47 and 52. But it also helps that my sister and brother both had kids -- taking the pressure off of me.

I agree that you may be hurting your parents because they can't be grand-parents, but you'd be hurting a lot more people (yourself, your NB, your child) as well as society, if you had a child you didn't really want. Plus, when your parents get old and need assistance, you will have a lot more time, money and energy to care for them than you would if you had your own brood.

Ken is right, you are following your own path. Mind you, 20.4% of Americans are going to remain childless, so you're in a pretty large group these days (even though it doesn't always feel like it!)

I am writing a book called "Kidfree & Lovin' It,” and have an online survey that over 2,600 CFs around the world have taken. I would love you and your NB to take it too!

Just click on this link to take you there, and you can remain anonymous if you like:

Thanks, and enjoy!