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Category Archives: Childfree

Child-free women are tired of being told they’ll regret it – The Big Smoke Australia

Posted: March 23, 2020 at 11:44 am

As a woman without a child, Im constantly queried about when the time will be. You know what? Get your mind out of my uterus.

The other day, I was asked (again) whether I was planning to have children. The further I get into my thirties, the more I get asked this question tick-tock and all that. Except this time it was by the guy who came to fix my rowing machine.

We had made small talk for a sum total of a minute and a half when he felt the pressing need to work out how it was possible that I didnt have children by my age and that I really should get to it before it was too late. He didnt say that last bit, of course they never do but that was the implication.

I often wonder why people feel that it is perfectly okay to ask a total stranger about their personal life choices. Perhaps Id spent years trying to get pregnant and it was a trauma that I didnt particularly want to rehash while offering a glass of water to someone who was only in my house because Id paid him to fix something.

Or maybe, just maybe, I dont want children. And I dont care to justify that to anyone, least of all someone I dont know.

Despite the fact that childfree couples are set to become more common than families with kids in the next 10 years, there is still a strange stigma attached to this choice. The question about whether I want children is usually followed up with one about how my partner feels, as though Im doing him an enormous disservice.

I wonder whether, on his own, he is asked so frequently about his childlessness. He doesnt have the disadvantage of a biological clock, after all, counting minutes that usher him closer to that terrible point of no return.

Moving through your thirties, your friendship group starts to get divided up into those with children and those without. You start making friends who are either significantly older or younger, as your peers are no longer out taking dancing classes theyre at home looking after children. An old friend with a young baby once said she didnt approve of my lifestyle choices because I was still going to parties on a Saturday night.

A new friend without children asked me if I was planning to have kids within weeks of us getting to know each other, because she told me frankly that she didnt want to form an emotional attachment to somebody who was going to drop off the map. Ive had other child-free friends express a similar sentiment we all know the difficulties (though not impossibility) of maintaining a close friendship with a woman who has kids.

But even though our demographic is growing rapidly, being childfree is still not treated as a normal thing for women to do. A few years ago, the HuffPost ran an article with the headline: Cameron Diaz Says Shes Completely Happy With Her Choice To Be Childfree as though it was unthinkable that a woman might find joy in something other than parenting. (Would they ever run such a headline about Leonardo DiCaprio, I wonder?)

Recently, a scathing Vanity Fair article about the coastal town of Byron Bay in Australia alerted me to the existence of so-called mommy bloggers and influencers. Clearly Im not their target audience. They tout a return to simplicity, which in effect means dressing their children in linen and refusing to give them phones while they earn a large income from displaying their family lives or rather a perfect version of them all over Instagram.

Their social media feeds espouse a sort of glorification of fertility and parenting, filled with pregnancy photoshoots and staged pictures of their abundance of children (in linen), all similar in age, among magnificent beach backdrops. I am not judging the decision to have children, but the popularity of mumstagrammers seems inherently at odds with demographic trends in Australia, the average per woman is now less than two children.

I do wonder whether they get asked the same questions as me, but in reverse. Does anyone ask them why they decided to have children? Does anyone ask a woman with a child if she will regret her decision? Does anyone imply that her choices make her selfish? Emotionally unfulfilled? Immature?

Last week, while drinking wine on a balcony with my childfree friend on a Friday afternoon (because we can do that any time we want), she commented that there are no role models for women who do not have children. Show us how that can be a fulfilling choice! she practically shouted down to the street.

Show us how women can find rewards in something other than motherhood without it somehow making us less than. Show us how we can be valued as more than our reproductive capabilities. Lets talk about how we can be fulfilled in our work, our creative pursuits, our friendships, and yes even in our relationships with other peoples children that doesnt leave us wanting our own.

There are plenty of reasons why women decide not to have children. I dont have to give you mine.

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Things You Only Know If You’re Childless – And Not By Choice – Grazia

Posted: at 11:44 am

It starts in earnest after Valentines Day. At least, thats when I notice it. However hard I try, I cant ignore the whirlwind of Mothers Day. Every shop window and every chalkboard is promoting it. And in doing so, they offer up the starkest reminder (as if one were needed) that this celebration is for mums... and Im not one. And at 40, having been through five gruelling cycles of IVF and grieved over four miscarriages, its unlikelier with each passing month that I ever will be.

Those experiences serve to make Mothers Day even harder to bear, because if the stars had aligned differently, my husband and I would be chasing around after our three kids and preparing for the arrival of our fourth child.

I dont resent mothers, nor do I begrudge them for being the subject of all this indulgence. Its only one day after all, despite the weeks of build-up. But being childless through circumstance has left a bitter taste. Aside from feeling bereft, its made me painfully aware of my otherness.

The messages society heaps on to women both subliminally and explicitly are that unless youve borne a child, youre less than, incomplete. My journey has been extremely difficult and relentless. Anyone whos travelled the road of infertility and unsuccessful fertility treatment knows that it chips away at you, bit by bit.

It strips you of all confidence, self-worth and purpose, and breaks you utterly. It deprives you of hope and leaves a shell of a person you dont recognise. You do your best to package it all up and put it to one side, so you can get on with life. And Im content, and I know Im blessed in countless ways.

So, every March, I brace myself. I avoid the high street. I stay off social media. I delete unsolicited and unwanted marketing emails.

But when Mothers Day comes around each year, it brings with it a not-so-subtle reminder that Im disenfranchised as a woman. All the grief and anger Ive accumulated trying to have a baby is thrown up in the air and falls down around me, like a game of pick-up sticks.

So, every March, I brace myself. I avoid the high street. I stay off social media. I delete unsolicited and unwanted marketing emails. That task is made easier by the likes of Bloom & Wild, the retailer that gave subscribers the choice to opt out of Mothers Day emails last year, and others that have followed suit. It helps women like me realise were not the only ones who find this day hard. It signals that were getting better at acknowledging that childlessness isnt always a choice; that not everyone who doesnt have kids is childfree by design.

This Mothers Day, Ill surround myself with my husband, my dogs and my own mum, who Im lucky to have. And Ill revel in the fact that, instead of once a year, I can enjoy a lie-in whenever I like.

Things You Only Know If..

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Things You Only Know If You're Childless - And Not By Choice - Grazia

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10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

Posted: February 28, 2020 at 11:55 pm

More women than ever in the U.S. are making the choice to remain childfreeor not making the choice to have children, depending on how you want to look at it. Whatever their reasonswhether they be financial, related to health and lifestyle considerations, or quite simply never feeling the maternal instinctit is clear that many are still questioned about their decision and are often told that they will change their minds or regret it when they are older. There's no crystal ball that can let a woman look into the future and know if any of these (usually unsolicited) warnings will turn out to be true. But there is the clarity of hindsight. We talked to 10 women, now past childbearing age, about their decision not to have children to help inform and support younger women making a similar choice.

1. "Every time I hear about people's problems with their children, I think I dodged a bullet."

"I can't remember ever wanting kids, except maybe as a preschooler. My mother and stepmother both acted as if child rearing was tantamount to roasting in hell. (My stepmother also battered and psychologically mistreated me. I've heard that that often dissuades women from wanting children.) It helped that my now-husband was adamantly anti-kid. I might have allowed myself to be swayed otherwise. My mom is disappointed. People may say I'm selfish. They'd be right! I would so resent caring for children.

Every time I hear about people's problems with their children, I think, I dodged a bullet. I worry occasionally about finding myself alone in a big indifferent world, but I also know that children can be the ones who put you in a facility against your will, steal from you, or otherwise break your heart. No regrets so far. Interestingly, though, I often daydream about step or foster children. I guess I feel as if I have a lot of hard-won wisdom to share, if anyone wanted to hear it"Christie L., 52

2. "There's always a bit of a 'what if?'"

"I have a very clear memory of babysitting when I was about 12 and thinking, this isn't going to be my life. My first husband and I were married when we were 22 and I was very intent on having a career as a journalist and traveling a lot. We agreed to delay the decision about children until we were 30. We wound up getting divorced before that deadline so I don't know what would have happened had we stayed together. I was married twice more, and during my last marriage, my husband convinced me to at least try to get pregnant. I was 37 and very conflicted. I did actually get pregnant, but then had a miscarriage. He blamed me and the marriage never recovered.

Though I sometimes had fantasies of having a mini-me that I could take around the world with me, I didn't want it enough to make it happen. I actually do love children, and have been very close to my friends' kids and I have a niece my sister adopted from China with whom I'm very close (particularly since my sister, a single mother, died five years ago, so I'm the 'parental alternative' as I say).

Every time I go to a special eventbar mitzvah, wedding, etc.of my friends' kids I have a twinge that I'll never have that experience. On the other hand, I have friends whose children have been killed, committed suicide, have emotional problems, or just completely ignore them, and I realize that's a never-ending source of agony that I don't think I would have been prepared to deal with. Most of the time I am comfortable with how things have turned out....There's always a bit of a what if? but I think that's true of almost anything in life"Carol S., 67

3. "Seven decades of feminist activism have enabled us to challenge many long-accepted, limiting roles for women."

"I never had a strong urge to be a mother.Perhaps the reason is that I was the youngest of four children and had little experience with babies. A decision point came when I married a man who, because of his troubled family history, was opposed to fathering a child. I honored that decision, as we both agreed that the world did not need another mouth to feed. That marriage lasted only three years, which only confirmed the wisdom of my decision.

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10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

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5 Things ‘Childfree’ People Want You To Know | HuffPost Life

Posted: at 11:55 pm

Survey data rarely distinguishes between the involuntarily childless and the consciously childfree, but 2014 census figures reveal that 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 have never had children the highest rate ever tracked. By age 40 to 44, 19 percent of women remain childless, according to a 2014 Pew report.

Now, a new study looks into how people come to this decision. It reveals the decision is rarely a one-time conversation, as past research has suggested, but instead an ongoing discussion a person has internally and with a partner.

Amy Blackstone, a gender sociologist at the University of Maine who specializes in childfree research, hopes that her study helps question the assumption that little boys and girls will grow up to become parents. Breaking down this assumption would give them space as they grow up to decide whether or not parenting is the right choice for them.

Right now, girls in particular, but girls and boys both, are raised to imagine themselves as parents of children, she explained. But if we more critically thought about the question of whether or not to parent, then everyone would have the opportunity to make the choice thats right for them.

Of course, the childfree would benefit if we made it a choice rather than an assumption, Blackstone continued. But I think parents would benefit, too.

Blackstone conducted a small, qualitative study to explore how 31 people 21 women and 10 men, all but two of them straight made their decision to stay childfree. She conducted 60- to 90-minute interviews on their decision-making process, the response they got from others and their reflections on their choice.

Blackstones finding that the choice is not a snap judgement but rather a complex and ongoing conversation pushes back on criticism that childfree people are selfish or flippant about their decision not to parent. It also sheds light on how different genders approach the choice and provides some insight into how friends and family help shape a persons decision.

Read on for five observations from Blackstones study, in the words of participants, that get to the root of how people decide to be childfree. All the names from the study are pseudonyms.

1. Childfree people do not make their decisions lightly.

HuffPost/Canva

I think everybody could say that to get where we are [and maintain our childfree status] has been a constant decision-making process because every relationship you enter into, especially romantically, thats the expected thing. Youre constantly making a decision about remaining childfree. Janet

Its not a decision where youre like, Okay, todays the day that I dont want kids. ...Its a working decision. April

My partner and I have discussions about Do you think you want to [have children] or not. ... Time has gone by ... and we see the things that are important to us and how we want to live our life. And we see a child as a completely changing point. Sarah

I think Ive always been deciding that I dont really want kids. Annie

I think this was kind of a decision that weve made more than once. You know, at the different times of your life. Weve been together now eighteen years so, Id say once every five to six years the topic has come up and I think itll probably stop coming up now, given our ages. One of us will say, So, you want em now? and the other will say No, no, not really. Is anything going on that would make us want them? No. No. Robin

2. Theyve observed parenting up close and they dont like what they see.

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At first I grew up assuming that you have kids. You got married and it would happen. But I have older sisters and while growing up, I noticed that [my two much older sisters] put off having kids for a long time. So it became obvious to me that having kids was kind of a choice as opposed to inevitability. Then my two younger sisters got pregnant accidentally and I saw what that did to their lives, where they didnt have good jobs and [their partners] didnt have good jobs. They had to make [do] and even now ... twenty years later, theyre finally just actually starting to be able to live their life ... And so it just kind of gradually to me became like, Im not gonna have kids. Gradually for me it became, Yeah, I dont think I need kids. Steve

I think part of it is as my friends started to have kids, that made me go, Oh I dont think this is for me. Because even if I had wanted kids before that, once they started having kids and losing their freedom and their individuality, that really was a big point for me. It was like, that does not look like the fun, happy family stuff that you think about when youre young. I think that was a big part, when my friends started having kids, that was when I started thinking, Im checkin out of this. Janet

I was sort of observing families around me and wondering if I wanted to be a part of that dynamic in our world. ... A lot of people with children didnt look happy. ... The majority were definitely stressed out. There was something there that was not inviting me to participate in this lifestyle process. Kate

My brother was in a very bad marriage ...The marriage was going downhill and they tried saying Well lets have kids cause thats what we do or This will make things better, and so they had a kid. Two years after that they got a divorce. And my brother loves his daughter but he also says at the same time that, as bad as this is, that he wishes that he never had her. ... And once, talking to my sister, she said that when she comes home at night, she picks her daughter up from daycare and her daughter says I want to go back to daycare because I have more fun there. I guess I dont want to do it. Thats [what my sister goes through] a pretty crappy feeling. And [what my brother went through] reaffirmed it. Cory

3. For women, environmental and social responsibility often play a part...

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[Not having children] is responsible. Instead of this kind of blindly following the societal expectation, of this is what you are suppose to do, [not having children] means really taking a lot of factors into consideration. I think about all kinds of stuff. Like I camped over the weekend and I saw the trash factor that people with kids had left and let build up from so much over use of a campsite. I think about stuff like acceptable population levels. April

Im really just concerned about our world. ... Diving more deeply in the social issues, I really think that the world is against the child right now. At this time in our social structure right now its not going to be a good thing to have children. We cant bring them up healthfully. Kate

I was a very environmentally conscious child and my big thing at the time was population control, so that was kind of a forming quality of [my decision not to have children]. Kim

4. ...While mens decisions tended to be internally motivated.

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Not having kids is an obvious outcome of our choices. I want to be able to travel, I want to be able to do things that I would not be able to do if I had kids. ... Its just one of the many choices that you make in the balancing act of your life. ... And, you know, its a rational response to what it means to have a kid and what impact [being a parent] has on the rest of your life. Steve

5. They put a lot of thought into what it means to be a parent.

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People who have decided not to have kids arguably have been more thoughtful than those who decided to have kids. Its deliberate, its respectful, ethical, and its a real honest, good, fair, and, for many people, right decision. Bob

I would like it to be considered a decision just like any other. Barb

I wish more people thought about thinking about it. ... I mean I wish it were normal to decide whether or not you were going to have children. Tony

What to keep in mind about this small study

Nancy Molitor, a practicing clinical psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine, commended Blackstone for diving into the little-researched and little-understood subject of deciding to become childfree. She was also intrigued by the way gender appeared to affect a persons decision-making.

However, she noted that given the small, homogenous sample and the fact that participants werent selected at random, its next to impossible to draw any general conclusions about the larger childfree population in the U.S. or around the world. The gendered patterns Blackstone observed, for example, need to be validated and confirmed in a much larger population. Some of this is inherent in qualitative research, which lacks the randomized samples and control group that underpins quantitative research. But qualitative research still has its place in the sciences, especially for emerging topics, because of its ability to raise the profile of new ideas, ask questions and generate new hypotheses for future research.

This is a small, self-selected group, Molitor said. That doesnt mean its not interesting, but its hard to speculate whether this would have results that would stand up in a larger sample taken from folks in rural Mississippi or the Midwest.

Molitor called for long-term studies to see if and how childfree people in their 40s (the upper limit of the ages in Blackstones study) change their minds as they enter their 50s. Molitor also said that it would be interesting to continue research on the childfree community by examining regional and generational differences across a wider, randomized population.

A lot of [childfree] research goes back to the 90s, she explained. I can say from my own experience and research that studies that were done in the 90s and their decisions about childfree might be very different from a young woman who is a millennial who is making that decision now in 2016.

Since publishing her research in The Family Journal, Blackstone has interviewed 44 more people, expanding the diversity of her participant pool beyond the mostly white, straight and middle or upper class respondents in her original cohort. She hopes to continue debunking myths and assumptions about childfree people with future research, which will hopefully create a world where childfree people dont have to defend their choice to others or suffer socially for it. Blackstone herself is childfree, and manages a blog she founded with her husband called Were {not} having a baby!

People dont really know what to do with us, Blackstone said. Sometimes we get left out of, for example, events at friends houses if there are children involved, because people assume that we dont want to be involved. It can be a kind of lonely existence.

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5 Things 'Childfree' People Want You To Know | HuffPost Life

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This Is What No One Tells You About Being Child-Free In …

Posted: at 11:55 pm

Years ago, at a crowded happy hour after work, my friend pointed out a man with his kid on his shoulders. Why would you bring a baby to a bar? my friend marveled.

Yeah, I said. Why would you have a baby?

This got the laugh I wanted it to. My single friends were in their late twenties, and kids were what seemed like they were impossibly far in the future. I was in my early 30s but pretty recently divorced and beginning to think I didnt want children certainly not then, but also maybe not ever.

Still, the ticking of my biological clock eventually got loud enough to hear over the salsa music I danced to several times a week. Between the ages of 41 and 43, I sort of tried to get pregnant with my boyfriend, Inti. Beyond choosing a suitable father and plucking out my IUD, I didnt do much. No OB-GYN visits other than my annual exam. No thermometer, no ovulation-monitoring app. For a while I tracked my cycle informally, raised an eyebrow at Inti once a month, and stuck my legs in the air after sex. But a year went by, and my period was so regular I never even had to open the pregnancy test package.

Sounds sad, doesnt it? It is but only sort of. If it were deeply sad, if I were the kind of woman who felt truly incomplete without a child, I would have handled it differently.

My friends who wanted kids (and didnt come by them the usual way) did the things you do when that happens and you have money. These friends, married and single and mostly younger than I am, took hormones, had fibroids removed, did IVF. They interviewed potential egg and/or sperm donors, chose a donor. They looked into adoption, adopted. In the last few years, one way or another, they all had children.

And so, they tell me, could I. But Im not trying to anymore and I dont want to take the heroic measures they took, and I cant quite articulate why except to conclude I must not want kids enough.

I find no role model or path to help me navigate this. I didnt do everything I could to be a mother, but I still grieve motherhood. I dread the baby shower, anticipate the sorrow Ill feel on that first new-baby visit. Its hard because I did want kids, so Im envious, but its also hard because my friends departure into parenthood feels like betrayal. Yes, betrayal.

All those child-free years we had together feel forsaken. That freedom to hit the salsa club on a weeknight, those casual text invitations to same-day happy hours. All that time I was valuing that lifestyle, cherishing it and my friends in it, what was it to them, that they can so decisively change it? I know, I know; were in that stage of life. Now theyre moving on. No one promised me to stay child-free forever.

Fair enough. But somehow I thought all along we would keep comparing notes from the opposite sides of our different life choices.

When your friends move into parenthood and you dont, theres no map for the terrain you move into instead. They stop coming to your cocktail parties (Couldnt find a sitter, sorry). They invite you to their gatherings, which arent fun for you, overrun as they are by kids you might like and find adorable and entertaining in the short-term but whom you dont love, not the way you love your friends themselves. The gatherings contain no stretches of time long enough for meaningful conversation.

As parents, you understand this new reality. You roll your eyes, but you get it: This is life now. But when your kids take you away from me, I resent it. I just do. I know theyre brilliant and beautiful, but theyre children. I like you not these demanding small people.

Its socially acceptable for parents to complain about parenthood. They are allowed to lament their lost freedom. They are allowed to say how wrecked they are, how busy, how sleep-deprived. They can bemoan the chaotic state of their households and blame it on their kids. And then as if to assuage any guilt they are allowed to say they wouldnt trade it for anything, to say how happy and sparkly their messes are, how precious.

On the child-free side, its socially less acceptable to gloat about our European vacations, our restful evenings at home, our tidy living rooms with breakable items on low coffee tables. If we do enthuse about an activity we know our parent friends can no longer participate in, we are achingly aware of their side-eye, their evaluation of us as delusional for attempting to find meaning in these nonfamilial pursuits. Sure, they might outwardly envy our freedom what mom wouldnt love a break from her kids to spend a week on a beach? But how can such hedonism possibly measure up to the miracle that is motherhood? The precious, joy-producing person who is her son?

Its obviously no contest particularly because every parent once didnt have kids, and no childfree-by-(mostly)-choice person ever did thats the trump card every parent carries: He can compare it, he has tried both options, and we all know that no matter how bitterly a parent will complain, he would never, ever, EVER trade in his child for anything.

Except I still dont want kids badly enough to take heroic measures. I dont care how worth it you say it is and I dont care how cute and smart and squishy your baby is. From here, parenthood still looks mostly like a drag. Its hard to pretend that I dont find it alien and baffling. My life is vastly different and its different because I (mostly) want it that way. I actively enjoy not having kids. A lot. Im living the freewheeling, adventuresome life responsible parents must wait 18 years to return to.

And Im deeply engaged in the pursuit of my passions: chasing my freelance writer dream, building a writing-coaching business, spending all the time it takes to make my memoir meaningful. Passing uninterrupted evenings at home, reading on the sofa with the lighting just so, the tea steeping on the coaster, the boyfriend busy at the computer.

So whats a middle-aged, childless woman to do when her best friends become mothers and fathers? And whats a new parent to do about his childless friend? The one who still throws out last-minute happy hour invitations, the one who wants one-on-one time only, the one who doesnt offer to babysit?

Were all grownups: We can stay friends through major life changes, we can roll with lifes punches. Im getting used to my smaller role in my parent friends lives. Im spending more time with my childfree or part-time (divorced) parent friends.

Its been about three years since I basically gave up on motherhood, and although Inti and I are not actively preventing conception, I no longer slump when my period comes each month to remind me, yet again, of my not-pregnant status. At 46, I know my odds. Once in a while, maybe at a nephews first birthday party or after an evening of cuddling and giggling with my best friends baby, grief and hollowness clasp on and threaten to never let me go. Im so afraid one day Ill regret my choice.

I regret it now. I dont regret it. Its complicated.

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Deciding whether to have kids or not is hard, but there is a way forward – ABC News

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 11:15 am

I struggled with how to start this story, and maybe it's no surprise given I'm paralysed by the very thing it's about: whether or not to have a baby.

As friends welcome newborns, deal with infertility or proudly announce they want to live childfree, I wonder how do they know?

I'm baby-curious, if you like. But what once felt like the freedom of choice has at 34 become something I worry about every day.

It's been a relatively private torment until I started hearing from other women experiencing the same anxiety of indecision while writing about people who are childfree by choice.

"There are a lot of people who are undecided, but there is not a lot of permission to speak those words," says Ann Davidman, a marriage and family therapist from California who has been helping men and women make a call about parenthood since the '90s.

"People will say they feel tortured by not knowing and not knowing how to move forward when it appears everyone else seems to just know."

I am still in limbo despite lots of soul searching, Deep and Meaningfuls with my partner, quizzing mum friends, and reading plenty of books and articles.

But I did learn a thing or two from speaking to Ms Davidman and a perinatal psychologist about the ways you can move forward when you're unsure.

When I speak to Ms Davidman, I tell her this decision has been weighing on me for years.

"It breaks my heart when I hear about people spending so much time trying to sort this out," she says.

Ms Davidman co-authored a bookwithDenise L. Carlini,Motherhood Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step to Clarity,and describes herself as a "motherhood clarity mentor".

Skye will give birth to her first child in the coming days and is looking forward to meeting her "little one". Motherhood though? Not so much.

Typically, she works with clients for three months, a timeframe she says leaves most with enough clarity to make a decision.

"Sometimes I get a picture of their baby a year later. Sometimes I get a picture of their dog," she says.

According to Ms Davidman, the problem for me (and commonly others) could be I'm not working out what I want before I concentrate on what I'm going to do. It's why many of us feel unable to move forward.

"I am always making a distinction between what someone wants and what their decision is going to be. They are not always the same. Also often people are stuck because they think about the two together."

What about you? How have you made a choice about parenthood, or what are the things that help while you're dealing with indecision? Let's chat life@abc.net.au.

In her Australian perinatal psychology practice, clinical psychologist Bronwyn Leigh sees women and men unsure or nervous about parenthood.

They often have two questions.

We all want to be good mums and dads, but Dr Leigh says it can be more difficult for people who have issues with their own parents especially their mothers.

"That can tend to leave people in a more vulnerable position to feel they can't cope with being a parent themselves," she says.

There are a range of other fears and external influences that can cloud your choice around becoming a parent.

Dr Leigh says it's helpful to consider how a baby will change your life.

"The reality is there are lots of adjustments to make in having a baby, and it is important to make those otherwise one doesn't cope very well when baby arrives," she says.

"Think about how your lifestyle and relationships will change."

With that said, Ms Davidman warns against making lists of pros and cons.

"It's not a process of pros and cons, it's really looking at motherhood, looking at what you want for you," she says.

Clickable headlines for me include: "Why I regret becoming a mother." "Childfree life is the good life." "Becoming a mum is the best thing I ever did."

But Ms Davidman believes research is only beneficial if you do it the right way. And hearing about other people's parenting or childfree experiences might not be it.

"Asking people questions doesn't help you discover what is true for you.

"If you do interview people, ask them what their process was of making a decision you may learn something from that."

From feeling judged to public yelling matches, seven straight-shooting parents share the hardest part about parenting.

Dr Leigh says while I've been researching it intellectually, I should also be looking at it emotionally and psychologically too.

"By all means do all the research on Google, but one has to think psychologically about how would I go transitioning into parenthood and giving up certain aspects of my life?

"What might it be like to have a baby? What would be difficult about that? What would I like?

"Use reflective questions around trying to preview in part what it would be like."

She also recommends hanging out with parents and babies. It's one thing I've been doing right so far.

I asked both experts if there was something to be said for not making a call leaving things up to time and fate and all that jazz.

They said that was still making a decision of some kind, but maybe not the best one.

"If you want to let time or something outside of you decide for you, that is a choice," says Ms Davidman.

Dr Leigh says it would be a passive decision and it's often better to have made an active one.

"If you have made a concerted decision and pursued that, you can hold onto that in time when you feel wobbly."

Something that could come in handy no matter what you choose.

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My next step?

Ms Davidman says I should first accept it's OK to be unsure.

"When we are caught at any crossroads and we're not making headway, we need to take a step back accept it's OK to not to know," she says.

It's comforting to hear that neither choice is wrong or right.

Dr Leigh says while speaking to someone might not help you decide, it can help you feel supported whether that's a professional or someone you trust.

In my quest for answers over the years I came across an advice column on the topic, by Cheryl Strayed. It's something I've come back to it when I've felt lost. One line that stands out?

"There will likely be no clarity there will only be the choice you make and the sure knowledge that either one will contain some loss."

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Since the age of 5, I’ve known that I don’t want to be a mother – CBC.ca

Posted: November 30, 2019 at 10:42 am

At a very young age, I knew I didnt want to become a mother. An old family video shows five-year-old me declaring that I never wanted to have kids or get pregnant.

Before I even truly understood the ramifications of motherhood, I knew it wouldnt be the right choice for me. Yet decades later, Im still questioned by others about this deeply personal decision.

In my mid-20s, I felt intense societal pressure to become a mother. I was of child-bearing age, in a steady relationship and had a career. My friends were beginning to have babies, and people wanted to know when I was going to start my own family. The words, Im not having children almost always set off a volley of questions. It seemed as if my decision not to have children was somehow insulting to others.

Worse than the questions were the snide remarks or laughter. I was repeatedly told that I would change my mind or that I was making the wrong decision. Often, these comments came from the most unexpected people. My dental hygienist looked at me in shock and asked, Really? Never? Youre never having children?! A new colleague told me I was too young to know what I did or didnt want. A nail technician was so insistent that I have children that I finally stopped going to her shop. (Her reasoning? I was letting down the entire country by not making new Canadians.)

Having reached my late 20s without meeting another soul that didnt want children, I finally went in search of others like me online. I just wanted validation that I wasnt the only woman in the world who didnt want to become a mother. But I wasnt able to find any communities that spoke to me a young, educated, childfree woman.

So I created that space. I procured a loan through Futurpreneur Canada, and then created a website and online community, naming it Childfree is Not a Dirty Word to describe the way people had reacted to my choice. The community quickly became a haven for other childfree people around the world and is now more than 40,000 members strong.

As a Canadian, Im lucky to be able to share my story with people from around the world, especially people living in places that are far less accepting of a childfree or even childless-by-chance life. Here in Canada, I may get quizzical looks or questions about my choice, but ultimately, Im free to choose the life thats right for me. In other countries, people talk about losing their jobs, being left by their partners, getting shunned by their families and being cast out of their communities because they dont have children.

According to a report from Statistics Canada, based on results from the 2016 Canadian Census, proportionally fewer households are composed of a mom, dad and kids family, and more Canadians are living alone or as part of a couple without any children.

From 2011 to 2016, the number of couples living without children rose faster (+7.2%) than the number of couples with children (+2.3%), the report adds. As a result, the share of couples living with at least one child fell from 56.7% in 2001 to 51.1% in 2016. This is the lowest level on record.

Despite the increasing number of people deciding to forgo parenthood, our lives are still mysteriously absent from mainstream media. A few sitcoms, including The Big Bang Theory, have developed a strong, childfree female character only to have the character change her mind, reinforcing the stereotype that no woman can be truly happy without children. This subliminal messaging, while irritating for the childfree, can be heartbreaking for the childless, people who wanted children but were unable to become parents.

A deeper examination of the childfree choice will be presented to Canadians in To Kid or Not to Kid, a documentary presented by The Passionate Eye. The film follows Maxine Trump, a filmmaker, as she decides whether she wants to have children. To Kid or Not to Kid confronts the notions that living childfree is somehow wrong, strange or selfish, and delves into why this choice is often mischaracterized or considered too taboo to talk about at all.

Watch To Kid or Not to Kid on The Passionate Eye.

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10 top tips to take the stress out of Christmas shopping – Offaly Express

Posted: at 10:42 am

Edenderry's Ciara Dempsey from the My Camera, My Boys and Me blog to bring you all things family life, parenting, fashion and lifestyle. This week Ciara has 10 top tips to take the stress out of Christmas shopping. Hallelujah!

1. Shop during school times

Try to time the majority of your shopping when the children are in school and the shops arent so busy. Not only will you be childfree but so are the shops.

2. Online shopping

With four children I've discovered the joy that is online shopping. Not only do you avoid the chaos of the shops like the crowds, parking and the noise, you can do it all in the comfort of your own home without having to set foot off the couch.

3. Late night shopping

Coming up to Christmas shops extend their opening hours, so this means another good time to shop is in the late evening when all the children are in bed. So it's not only a great time to get those certain special gifts but also time out for you.

4. Start early

As crazy as it sounds if you can start in September then do it, pick up little and often. Before you know it most of your Christmas shopping will be done before December rolls around.

5. Savings club

My husband and I have a savings club in stores like our local food store and butchers. This takes away a lot of financial stress on the run-up to Christmas. We start saving as little as 5a week as early in the year as we can.

6. Make lists

Make lists of who you have to buy for and what you have in mind for them. If needed include sizes of clothes and shoes. This will take away unnecessary pondering while out shopping.

7. Buy in bulk

See a good deal on toys, chocolates or candles - get them. Buy plenty if your Christmas list is a long one. Selection boxes and candles are always ideal to hand out over the Christmas period.

8. Divide and conquer

If you and your partner manage to go shopping together, split up. That way you're getting double the amount of gifts in half the time.

9. Eat well and leave early

If you make sure you hit the shops very early in the day you will avoid the usual lunchtime hustle and bustle. Also if you ensure to eat properly before you leave you will avoid the usual task of wrestling for a table in the food courts when the hunger kicks in.

10. Remember its the thought that counts

It's simple but true, dont spend time agonising over the perfect gift. The thought and the effort are what mean so much more to the person in receipt of the gift.

Hope these tips help and remember happy shopping. For more from Ciara, head over to her Instagram account HERE.

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Im childfree, not childless heres why that difference matters – Stylist Magazine

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

This is why I advocate for the use of the descriptor childfree instead of childless for women like me. Childfree implies a choice that many women dont know they have. A freedom its right there in the name. More than that, its a rebellionagainst societal expectations and community norms.

Historically, society doesnt like women taking freedoms for themselves, especially when the survival of the entire species is apparently at stake, so its vital to express solidarity, be a role model, and promote preferred terminology like childfree. Its a way to own my status.

Claiming freedom from societal norms is never without cost. Having children is perceived as a duty, first to the individual family or genetic line, secondly to the immediate community (at a family funeral a few months ago, the religious leader informed us mourners that a womans job was to have babies) and lastly, to the species. Theres an implication of What if every woman thought like you? as though I personally am supposed to be responsible for the continuation of the entire human race.

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9 Childfree Women Explain What Life Is Like Without Kids …

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:20 pm

I was recently working in a caf when a dad strolled in with his toddler daughter. They set up shop at the table next to me and it immediately became 10 times harder to focus on my writing. Kid was cute. Like, unbearably soshe was around two years old with full cheeks, wide eyes, and a cap of caramel-colored hair that turned up at the ends. She excitedly announced every dog she saw outside, and she face planted into a croissant in a way that really spoke to me.

A few years ago, seeing such a blatant display of adorableness would have made me excited to be a mother . I always assumed I'd have children, and that little girl would have only reinforced that idea. But I've recently realized having children is a choice, not something that will inevitably happen to me without my say. While I'm still undecided, the following nine women have decided they're in the childfree camp . Although they're quite happy with their choices, they acknowledge that there are both upsides and downsides (just as there are if you decide to have kids). Here, they discuss how being childfree affects their lives, from dating to nosy strangers to reclaiming their sense of purpose.

"After my doctors told me it would be difficult to have kids due to a medical condition, I got used to the idea of it. The luxury of not having children has allowed me to always be on the go, and I can't imagine it any other way. But to be completely honest, sometimes I do wonder if it's the right choice. Then I see my friends who had kids young and couldn't do things like finish school, pursue their careers, or travel.Combined with my tainted view of relationships I see so many of my friends struggling to raise kids on their ownI'm satisfied with my decision." Katie S., 26

"I'm the classic 'I didn't like kids even when I was a kid' person. I spent several years looking for a doctor who would sterilize me, but no one would do it unless I was married and had two kids. Luckily, I'm married to a woman, so it's not an issue anymore. I've never doubted my decision.

People always expect me to love kids because I love doing things children enjoy like going to the petting zoo and doing silly craft projects. But you don't have to have a toddler to go to the science center, I promise you. And sometimes it seems like I don't check off the boxes to be a 'real' adult unless I've had a baby. Small talk at the bank will turn into a bank teller grilling me about my life choices and my sex life, which is frankly not a good sales technique.But now that I'm older, strangers are less aggressive about thrusting their viewpoints on me." Cori C., 31

"Eversince I knew it was a choice, I haven't wanted children.I've never had the desire on a biological level, and I wish the question 'Why DO you want them?' were just as valid in our society. What I do have is a deep desire to leave a legacy, but I find it very fulfilling to create that through my business and my creative projects.

In my 20s, I got a lot of 'Oh, you'll change your mind' from friends and even my ob/gyn . I'm finally at an age where people respect my decision, but there are some downsides. The worst part of it is feeling alienated from my best friends whose lives change when they have kids." Ciara P., 37

"When I was 13, I was helping out at a daycare that had kids from a few months to 10 years old. I experienced teething babies, installing car seats, first periods, and 'early onset teenager condition' (yes, I made that up). It showed me some of what parents go through on a regular basis, and I want no part of it.

If I tell people like my mother, a random nosy person who asks, or my ob/gyn that I'd rather remain childfree, I'm usually met with disbelief and then dismissed with, 'Wait until you get married. You'll change your mind.' The truth is that every once in a while, I do question whether it's the right decision. Then I just go curl up with a book and enjoy the childless silence." Jasmine W., 23

"When I was younger, my friends would talk about what they would name their babies. I'd come up with a list of names too, but I was really thinking about them for future pets. Don't get me wrongI have a tremendous amount of respect for people who decide to become parents. ButI don't want my worth as a woman to hinge on my choice to have or not have children.

Luckily, my support system including my husband, parents, and extended family have been respectful of my choice. I feel sad when other women get pushed into thinking that their decision not to have children isn't 'legitimate.' I want other women to know that it is OK to just be a woman, not a mother." Kristen M., 26

"There are so many things I want for myself that having children could inhibit: travel, luxury, freedom. Also, depression and alcoholism run strong in my family, and the world today is not so kind! My parents have always respected my decision not to have kids. My sister, on the other hand, feels strongly that I should have them. She often jokes that when I change my mind in my mid-40s, shell go to the fertility clinic with me or help me with adoption.Ive also met many ob/gyns who refuse to tie my tubes . Even my current one indicated that she would only consider it in two years when Im 38. "Jessica B., 36

"I knew I didn't want children when I was about 11 years old, although I briefly revisited the question in my late 20s when I had a partner who really ** wanted them. But my current partner tried to get a vasectomy when he was 15we're so on the same page.

My job deals with sex and sexuality, so I live a pretty alternative life. From what Ive seen of human nature, many people would not be kind to a child of mine. To fully do the work that I do, Ive chosen not to have a traditional family. Ive had people imply that Ive made the wrong life choices because it meant I wouldnt have kids. But its not a womans job to have children.

Also, I was born not that long after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After learning about that and Holocaust concentration camps, I was left with the overwhelming sense that we had created an increasingly dangerous world. When I browse Google News, I am actively grateful that I dont have to fear for my children." Carol Q., 58

"Around age 26, I realized having kids was a choice, not a requirement.I'm not maternal, and I can't imagine having them. Potential partners have met my decision with hostile reactions; I'm single because I haven't found anyone who wants to also remain childfree. I keep meeting men who become very offended that they can't change my mind. Loved ones have gotten used to it, but I still think my parents wish things were different. But I know what's right for me. I enjoy a full life and am not missing anything." Sophia M., 34

"When I was 10 years old,I turned to my mom and said I didn't want to have kids. She laughed and responded that I was a bit young to decide that and I might change my mind. But I've never had a biological clock go off at all, and I think my mom resigned herself to the fact that she won't be a grandmother. She used to think I'd change my mind when I met the 'right' person, but I told her the right person would be someone who didn't want or have kids.

I actually worked in childcare and as a preschool teacher for over 15 years, I've just never felt the need to have any kids of my own. I don't worry about my legacy or carrying on my name because I'm doing what I need to right now: making the most of each day and not worrying out what may happen after I'm gone." Rachel W., 46

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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