Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Childfree, Childless, or Children Everywhere

I graduated high school in 1967.

I feel like I'm part of the first generation that didn't automatically assume that becoming a parent was the be-all, end-all purpose of our lives. Whether it was the feminist movement that suggested there was more out there for women than being mothers, the advent of free love that brought with it STDs which impacted our ability to give birth, or hedonistic boomer lifestyles that made children a burden as much as a blessing, it was suddenly OK not to want or have children. In fact, in some circles, it was environmentally correct to not add to the population bomb.

I'm sixty. My sister is 59. Neither of us has given birth. However, I did become a parent to five wonderful daughters through adoption.

At some point I discovered that when I initially said I didn't want children, what I really meant was that I didn't want babies and I had no particular desire to give birth. As far as passing my genes along, there are already enough chubby white women in the pool. But over time, I realized I really did want to parent. So I found a way.

Still, let there be no equivocation about the financial consequences of my decision. Even with Medicaid and monthly Adoption Assistance (all five of my adoptions were through the state foster care system), KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE! And it doesn't end with childhood. All five of my children are now adults. Adults who continue to cost their mother money!

There's an interesting discussion going on over at Voluntary Simplicity on this subject. The comments include a great deal of ambivalence as well as accusations of selfishness (though, interestingly, both lifestyles with and without children, are described as selfish).

Having children has greatly impacted my finances. Yet I don't regret my decision to parent.

Then, again, neither does my sister regret her decision to remain childfree.


Dawn said...

I'm in my 30s and child free by choice. I really enjoyed this post. I liked what you said about wanting to be a parent, but not wanting to give birth. That makes a lot of sense to me. I am about to be an Aunt shortly though, and looking forward to it.

Living Almost Large said...

Anyone who thinks kids aren't expensive and time consuming is nuts.

I'm a house, according to my mom and dad, when all is said and done. Easily $250k for each kid. My dad with 4 kids would have an easy extra $1 million in the bank if not more with compound interest. :P

I like kids a lot. But I certainly would never wish them on people who didn't want them! My best friend being one. And I think she even is excited for me, but isn't into kids.

DogAteMyFinances said...

I think it's pretty hard to argue that adopting kids who need a family is selfish.

My whole life I have wondered why you would birth children, when there are so many needy children.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Grace, I admire your ability to give so much of yourself to kids who would have otherwise had nothing. You are my hero.

Did it MY way said...

Money or children? I'll take my kids any day. Yes they were expensive, time consuming,and can still be.

People that adapt are true saints...no child should be with out a parent.

God Bless

See Ya

Grace. said...

So, Tony!

I think your typo says it all, about finances, children, and life, itself.

Thanks, Grace (adjusting that halo which keeps slipping off the cute red horns that hold it up)

Carol said...

Thanks very much for that link....very appropriate timing for what's been on my mind!!!!

Kemkem said...

I chose to be child free. I think it's terrific when people choose to have kids and can afford them, l admire most the ones that adopt because the children are here through no fault of their own. What pisses me off mostly are people that try to make me feel bad about not having kids and my being selfish etc..etc. I had a friend once go on and on about how kids are the most wonderful things , etc. and how there is nothing better than having a little "mini-me" so to speak to give to the world. I asked her exactly what sort of real contribution she had made to society that she felt the world deserved her spawn? I could understand if she was an Einstein and the world might have maybe benefitted from her offspring, most do it for selfish reasons l think or some sort of conditioning and l like to think of it as a "misery loves company" sort of deal. I don't force my opinions on others and l see no need for them to belittle me either. To each his own. I am perfectly happy to be an aunt to 22 nieces and nephews!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 daughters and I never once sat down and thought about how much they cost me. Their financial picture never even entered an equation.

It's unconscionable to me to put a price tag on a human being.

My only regret is that I didn't have more children. They're spectacular!

Anonymous said...

This was a pretty interesting topic and timely for me as I was listening to the children screaming in their yard located behind mine while I was trying to take a nap. Their parents have let them highjack the neighborhood with their noise. They also feel entitled to enter my yard at any time to retrieve the remnants of their existence when they throw these objects over my fence. I have a dog. I would not subject my neighbors to his misbehavior or do I feel justified in subjecting them to my own lifestyle. I enjoy children at times and respect the parents that bring them up to be responsible, considerate, and educated. The adult population that are able to do this and be good role models seems so limited. I do not, however, understand why I am discriminated against in making a very conscious choice not to populate the world. This society and economy seem to reward people to go forth and propagate. I think that is the reason there seems to be so many unwanted children and kids that may eventually be abused. I think those of us that have not produced should be financially compensated instead. The whole system seems to be backwards. I do not drain the resources that bigger families do, but seem to have to pay on par taxes. I applaud those who adopt altruistically as I do those who rescue their pets. I, myself, am thinking about becoming a "Big Sister". I have, also, been labeled selfish, as another writer has shared, in choosing not to have offspring. Again, I think it may be the other way around. Enjoy all these kids, but please don't push the idea about how wonderful they are on me. Sometimes I think they are a supreme indulgence. I question whether something is wrong with me because I don't seem to have this natural need to nurture little people that I am expected to in most cultures. But then again.... my parents should have never had children.

Anonymous said...

Yay, you. I am now 41, don't have children, and do not want any.... Ten years ago I wasn't sure, but I can definitely say now that if the need to be a parent arises, I will happily take a child that needs a home.