As you’ll read below, Marcia put herself ‘out there’ nearly 4 decades ago and paid a price for it. While she may think not much has changed since 1974 we have to respectfully disagree – at least slightly. Because of people like Marcia, people like Amy and me have a much easier time being childfree than we would have otherwise. Marcia…please give yourself some credit for the changes you’ve been a part of!
So read and enjoy, send some love to Marcia for making it just a little more acceptable to live childfree, and (most importantly) pick up her book!
From 1974 to 2013
In 1974, I “came out” telling the world I never wanted to have or raise children. It was the year I felt empowered by “The Baby Trap” by Ellen Peck. That book told me I wasn’t a freak of nature. It changed being “less” to being free of children. It was the year I was interviewed on 60 Minutes and lost my job because of that exposure. It was the first time I heard the word, “pronatalism” and started to understand what it meant.
I never knew how much people felt threatened by those of us who simply never wanted to have or raise children. What business was it of others? Why was it so awful? Who would I hurt by this personal choice except possibly my mom and in-laws who wanted a grandchild.
I spent the next thirty-nine years happily living the childfree lifestyle. Pronatalism had scared me into staying vocal only when I felt safe. Fears lingered due to the awful reaction of that 60 Minute exposure… death threats really terrify! My eyes started to open and kept getting wider every year. I saw pronatalism everywhere: songs, art, advertising, movies, magazine covers of famous people showing off their beautiful babies. I kept hoping things would change. I kept seeing that not much was changing.
When I took a writing course and shared my secret goal of writing my memoir, I didn’t get warm, fuzzy responses of acceptance. As I read my work, it brought out the same old things I had heard so many years before in my writing class:“Isn’t that a selfish choice?” “Weren’t you really immature?” “Did you have a terrible childhood?” “I hope you don’t regret that choice when you’re alone and too old to change your mind!”
My teacher, Justine Tal-Goldberg from writebynight.net, and her fiancé David Duhr, had differing opinions. They encouraged me to write my book saying it was important, even now, when there is supposed to be acceptance about personal choices. (I later learned they are also childfree by choice!)
When I finally had the courage to write my memoir “Confessions of a Childfree Woman” I faced publisher after publisher, agent after agent with comments like, “Great writing! Riveting story. Sorry… but nobody will read this. It’s acceptable not to want kids today.”
I wish I could tell you there’s acceptance. From the responses I get everyday on my blog and Facebook site as well as the numerous support sites now growing like weeds on the Internet, acceptance is not here. (Maybe the word “weed” isn’t good because unlike a weed you want to pick and cast away, these sites give support and insights into the childfree lifestyle.) Families and friends still reject childfree people. Some tell me their parents have taken them off their wills, as they are not going to have grandchildren to carry on the family’s DNA! (I can’t make that up.)
I recently had an NPR local radio interview about my memoir. At the end, when the microphone was turned off, the woman interviewing me said she wouldn’t say where I lived, as she feared what people could do. Her husband is a policeman. She told me there were many crazy people out there who may hate me for saying I never wanted kids.
The one positive thing I’ve noticed is more and more people request childfree restaurants, areas on planes, and resorts. Although businesses are starting to listen they are met with disdain from parents who say they are child-haters! Also, more men are starting to share their important feelings when it used to be only women.
So, it’s up to us. We must keep on keeping on. We must speak our choice with pride and dignity. In my opinion, never get into any push/pull confrontations. Never insist we are “right” by attacking other choices because that’s exactly what we don’t want for choosing our childfree lifestyle. You may say, “You’re happy with your choice? Terrific! I’m happy with mine”. I urge you to walk away if you’re verbally attacked. We’re proud and happy to be childfree-by-choice. If enough of us calmly and happily share why this lifestyle gives us so much pleasure, there may come a time when all these books and childfree cites aren’t necessary. Right now, they are. In my opinion, nothing much has changed since 1974.