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Married, without children: Finding fulfillment with no kids
Rocky Mountain News ^ | 1/3/05 | Mark Wolf

Posted on 01/03/2005 8:31:56 AM PST by qam1

Nita and Ken Eaton hit the stores last month, as they do every Christmas, to find just the right gifts for the youngsters on their shopping list.

The carefully chosen presents weren't for their youngsters but for their nieces and nephews.

The Eatons are part of a small but growing segment of American couples who have chosen not to have children.

"We spend a lot of time thinking about what we're going to get our nieces and nephews for Christmas. We want to get them something meaningful," said Nita Eaton, 38.

The Eatons, married for five years, never had the desire to become parents.

"People used to always say: 'Your clock is ticking. You'll change your mind. It's different when they're your own,' " Nita said. "When I worked in a law firm, we were all in the age group to have kids, and I'd go to baby shower after baby shower, and I'd have to say honestly that it never hit me."

Many childless couples say they find themselves drifting away from friends once children are added to the mix.

"We started feeling sort of socially isolated," said Andrea Wenker, 33, of Colorado Springs. "Our friends started having babies and their lives changed. It revolves around the kids, and for good reason. The kind of things you used to do with your friends aren't an option anytime.

"They're talking about childbirth and diapers. It's important to their lives, but you start feeling, 'I'm still here, I'm still a person.' You start to feel kind of invisible."

She and Peter, her husband of 13 years, are childless by choice, and she is the coordinator of Denver Metro NO KIDDING!, one of 101 chapters of an international social group of more than 10,000 couples and singles without children. The Colorado group has about 200 members, 10 to 20 of whom typically attend the monthly get-togethers.

Jerry Steinberg, of Vancouver, British Columbia, calls himself the founding non-father of NO KIDDING! He started the group in 1983, he said via e-mail, because he was losing friends as they started to have children.

"They were no longer available for phone conversations, getting together for coffee or lunch, going to see movies, or much else," he said.

"Most people who have children seem to understand why I felt the need for a social club for child-free people, since people usually like to socialize with others who share at least some of their interests and have a similar lifestyle. After all, most, if not all, of (parents') friends were made through their kids' activities - the soccer moms get together, the softball dads meet, the school parents become friends, etc."

The number of childless-by-choice couples can't easily be determined, but anecdotal evidence indicates that their ranks are growing.

The Census Bureau doesn't ask whether couples are childless by choice, but the bureau projects that the percentage of families with children under 18 will decline from 47.7 percent in 1995 to 41.3 percent by 2010.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 6.6 percent of American women said they were voluntarily childless in 1995, the last time researchers asked the question. The number was up from 4.9 percent in 1982 and 6.2 percent in 1988.

The State of Our Unions, a 2003 report by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, reported Census Bureau projections that families with children will make up only 28 percent of U.S. households by 2010, the lowest number in at least a century.

"The underlying reason that there are fewer children is basically that women have other things to do," said David Popenoe, sociology professor at Rutgers and co-director of the National Marriage Project.

"Child-rearing in modern times is expensive and can be onerous, especially after you've been living as a single person or a couple without children for a while."

The decision to choose children, however, ultimately is very rewarding, he said.

"Over the long term, it's people who have children who are the happiest," said Popenoe.

Childless couples are used to hearing that their choice is either selfish or motivated by a dislike of children.

"I think it's being honest about what your priorities are and how you use them," said Wenker. "It doesn't mean everything's about you all the time. People don't decide to be parents because they're being philanthropic; it's because they want kids."

Nita Eaton works with children as a school psychologist.

"I like kids a lot and work with them in school," she said. "I see kids out there who don't have parents. That really played into my decision. If I decided to have kids, I'd go adopt one."

Population issues drive some decisions about whether to bear children.

"Whether or not I want to have kids is not the only consideration," said Wenker. "I believe there's a problem with population, serious issues with the environment, and I believe I have to be part of the solution."

Would-be parents should carefully consider their choice, said Ken Eaton, 42.

"It's a big decision that needs to be well-thought-out. There are a lot of unwanted kids out there. People didn't take the time to think about whether they would take the time to raise them."

Couples without children say they have more time to spend with their spouses and for volunteering.

The Eatons have three greyhounds and are board members of Rocky Mountain Greyhound Adoption, which they doubt they could do if they had children.

"They take a lot of time, energy and motivation. One has various autoimmune issues, one had a leg amputated, the other had a viral infection and has pretty bad arthritis," said Ken Eaton.

Having siblings who have children, say childless couples, tends to turn down the heat on family expectations to produce grandchildren.

Nita Eaton has three brothers with children, and all three of Ken's siblings have children.

"If I were an only child, I think, the pressure would be pretty great," Nita said. "I've always been pretty outspoken. My mom's pretty much backed off."

In a culture where parenthood is the norm, those who choose to bypass the baby boom often have their decisions questioned.

"Nobody's deliberately nasty," said Wenker. "From men, I get an odd reaction. The reaction (Peter) gets is, they get this look in their eyes that he's lucky. They like to get me to admit it's possible I'll change my mind. What I have to say to that is 'It doesn't seem likely' and 'It's just not an option.'

"I like my life. My husband and I have a very close relationship. We value the time between the two of us and can't imagine that interrupted. I've never regretted it."

Nita Eaton said she felt like an outsider when they moved into a neighborhood filled with young children.

"The woman who sold us our house said the neighbors had been asking how many kids we have," she said.

There is no cultural celebratory template for women who decide not to have children.

"I've thrown baby showers for girlfriends, and it's kind of this rite of passage," said Wenker. "We're going to buy you presents to get you started and treat you like Queen for a Day. It doesn't occur to anybody to celebrate a child-free woman in that way."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: abortion; breedyoumustbreed; childfree; childlessbychoice; childlessmarriage; culturewar; darwinaward; darwinnominee; deathofthewest; genx; ifeellonely; ifeelunloved; isthatallthereis; lookatme; myownprivatearmy; noscreamingkids; rccdoesntruntheusa; selfishadults; selfishnessatroot; swingers; whatsthepoint
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1 posted on 01/03/2005 8:31:58 AM PST by qam1
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effect Gen-Reagan/Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

2 posted on 01/03/2005 8:34:03 AM PST by qam1 (Anyone who was born in New Jersey should not be allowed to drive at night or on hills.)
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To: qam1
There is no cultural celebratory template for women who decide not to have children.

*rolling eyes* Now these people think they should be celebrated for doing NOTHING? No wonder they didn't have kids. They're too damned self-centered!

3 posted on 01/03/2005 8:36:37 AM PST by Prime Choice (The DNC! Where boys and girls look the same! That's a little strange isn't it?)
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To: qam1
There is no cultural celebratory template for women who decide not to have children.

Well, there's no party for those who decide not to buy a house, either.

4 posted on 01/03/2005 8:37:12 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: qam1

It doesn't occur to anybody to celebrate a child-free woman in that way."


SELFISH!


5 posted on 01/03/2005 8:38:30 AM PST by Ellesu
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To: qam1

bump


6 posted on 01/03/2005 8:39:14 AM PST by satchmodog9 (Murder and weather are our only news)
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To: Prime Choice

Some people should not have children. My parents definitely shouldn't have, although I am glad to be alive.


7 posted on 01/03/2005 8:39:36 AM PST by econ_grad
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To: qam1

Every time I read about couples like this I remember the little old ladies in the nursing homes I have visited who never had any children and have to rely on that lone nephew who lives 1,500 miles away for a family connection.


8 posted on 01/03/2005 8:39:44 AM PST by Slyfox
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To: qam1

Well, if you have priorities in life that would seriously conflict with having children, I would have to say that it's probably best to not have them. However, I think they are missing out on a pretty awesome experience. It's not nearly as disruptive as they think it is...unless you are a complete party animal. :)


9 posted on 01/03/2005 8:39:44 AM PST by exnavychick (Just my two cents, as usual.)
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To: qam1

I'd rather see people make this decision then have children and let a nanny raise them. I know a couple who are business professional first and parents somewhere way down the list. They have a nanny that feeds, changes, bathes entertains, puts to bed and loves their 11-month old daughter, eben when they are there. They want a $1.5 million dollar house, so they keep working and have a nanny. Nice perspective.


10 posted on 01/03/2005 8:40:11 AM PST by X-Servative
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To: qam1

I am thankful these folks don't have children and not just because they vote liberal. Self centered parents are not good for society.


11 posted on 01/03/2005 8:40:26 AM PST by Raycpa (Alias, VRWC_minion,)
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To: qam1

My best friend had a baby. Now she bought a house with her husband. We're not the friends we used to be at all.


12 posted on 01/03/2005 8:40:33 AM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: Ellesu; qam1

Well, true. But there are lots of peep I know that had children as a very self-centered decision in their lives about them....and not about the children, unfortunately.


13 posted on 01/03/2005 8:40:57 AM PST by sam_paine (X .................................)
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To: Prime Choice

I wouldn't want to join a group specifically for people who choose not to have children. I've met women like that and they're big diesel feminists. No thanks.


14 posted on 01/03/2005 8:41:26 AM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: qam1

To those who are calling childless couple selfish, stop and think---isn't it more selfish to have children that you don't want? I think that's even more common and the children suffer. They can tell always when they're not wanted. It's called neglect.


15 posted on 01/03/2005 8:42:05 AM PST by Minuteman23
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To: exnavychick

So do they want to be able to invest some of their Social Security into an account that pays a rate of return or do they want my daughter to pay for them?


16 posted on 01/03/2005 8:42:14 AM PST by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: qam1

May they find contentment and fulfillment.


17 posted on 01/03/2005 8:42:36 AM PST by GSlob
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To: qam1
I can understand why some people choose to not have children. What I cannot understand is why they would choose to miss out on the most joyous part of their lives, when the grandchildren come along and make up for all the sacrifices earlier in life. I have never experienced so much joy in my life as I have with my granddaughter, and the no doubt the next one, due to arrive this week.

I love the phrase "If I had known grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first!"

18 posted on 01/03/2005 8:42:44 AM PST by TommyDale
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To: qam1
"We started feeling sort of socially isolated," said Andrea Wenker, 33, of Colorado Springs. "Our friends started having babies ... "They're talking about childbirth and diapers. It's important to their lives, but you start feeling, 'I'm still here, I'm still a person.' "

"Whether or not I want to have kids is not the only consideration," said Wenker. "I believe there's a problem with population, serious issues with the environment, and I believe I have to be part of the solution."

Honey, you're a whiny liberal tweedle, and I'm delighted you've decided not to reproduce. Please consider not voting, either!

19 posted on 01/03/2005 8:42:46 AM PST by Tax-chick (To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.)
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To: qam1
"I believe there's a problem with population, serious issues with the environment, and I believe I have to be part of the solution."

What we have here is a liberal who won't be making more liberals. Sounds like a win-win situation.

20 posted on 01/03/2005 8:43:05 AM PST by NeoCaveman (I care, just not very much.)
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To: qam1

Amen to this article. Since my sister had children, in the eyes of the new grandparents my brother and I are pretty much dispensable with.

Further, they have no idea why my brother and I don't think the grandchildren are THE coolest things ever to hit the earth.


21 posted on 01/03/2005 8:43:18 AM PST by Xenalyte (Your mother sells hot dogs.)
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To: Prime Choice
Let us hope the ME generation does not reproduce itself ...

Islam reproduces with high birth rates and conversion (forced or voluntary).

22 posted on 01/03/2005 8:43:28 AM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: qam1

As an unmarried (and consequently childless) woman, I can relate to this article. Being unmarried adds a whole other layer to the issue for me, but I must say that I get annoyed by reactions from both liberals and conservatives to my life circumstances. From liberals, I often get a knowing look of "oh, good for you to refuse to be oppressed by a man," when in fact I am a strong supporter of marriage (one man and one woman, of course) and would love to marry, have children, and be a stay-at-home mom. From conservatives, I sometimes get looks of pity or even disdain--the "you poor thing, your life means less" look. I don't want to be assumed to be a feminazi just because I'm currently single and without kids and therefore largely focused on my career, and I also don't want to be told that my value is basically on hold unless and until I have a "family of my own."


23 posted on 01/03/2005 8:43:32 AM PST by susiek
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To: Ellesu

Me, me, me, me!! Look at ME! Pay attention to ME!! Celebrate me!!

Sickening. My wife and I don't have kids and the reasons for that are personal. These people however, are children themselves.


24 posted on 01/03/2005 8:44:09 AM PST by L98Fiero
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To: Slyfox

What is worse is having children with the expectation that they are going to come visit you, and do not.

After working in a nursing home for a period of time, I would suggest that is in some ways more painful.

Also, there are a wide variety of reasons that married couples do not have children, and not all of them have to do with finances or responsibility issues.

Don't you agree that there are some people who you wish had thought a bit harder about whether they were suited to raising children or not?


25 posted on 01/03/2005 8:44:16 AM PST by rlmorel
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To: massgopguy

LOL...based on the kinds of things they said in the interview, you know they want your daughter (and my sons) to subsidize their retirement!

That being said, if someone is really selfish enough to think having kids is going to "ruin their life" well, then I am glad they aren't parents.


26 posted on 01/03/2005 8:44:37 AM PST by exnavychick (Just my two cents, as usual.)
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To: econ_grad
Some people should not have children. My parents definitely shouldn't have, although I am glad to be alive.

That's very funny. Why shouldn't they have had children?
27 posted on 01/03/2005 8:44:46 AM PST by BikerNYC
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To: TommyDale

I'm 36 and unmarried. That strikes me as a great reason not to have children.


28 posted on 01/03/2005 8:45:07 AM PST by Xenalyte (Your mother sells hot dogs.)
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To: qam1
There's a term called DINKS. Double income, no kids.

I'd guess the demographic of this group is largely democrat voting.

29 posted on 01/03/2005 8:45:48 AM PST by tallhappy (Juntos Podemos!)
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To: cyborg

You'll have to kidnap her husband and keep him in a donjon, then replace him with his evil twin, then...I'm sorry, I just ripped off Dynasty. My bad.


30 posted on 01/03/2005 8:46:05 AM PST by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: Prime Choice
"Whether or not I want to have kids is not the only consideration," said Wenker. "I believe there's a problem with population, serious issues with the environment, and I believe I have to be part of the solution."

..."I've thrown baby showers for girlfriends, and it's kind of this rite of passage," said Wenker. "We're going to buy you presents to get you started and treat you like Queen for a Day. It doesn't occur to anybody to celebrate a child-free woman in that way."

This Wenker sounds like a real wanker.

31 posted on 01/03/2005 8:46:51 AM PST by new cruelty
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To: Minuteman23
To those who are calling childless couple selfish, stop and think---isn't it more selfish to have children that you don't want?

These are the first people to remind you of what a tremendous sacrifice they have made.

32 posted on 01/03/2005 8:46:59 AM PST by countess
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To: qam1
The Eatons are part of a small but growing segment of American couples who have chosen not to have children.

If they're Catholic, their marriage is non-sacramental. It's even arguable whether this is a valid natural marriage.

33 posted on 01/03/2005 8:47:23 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: exnavychick
That being said, if someone is really selfish enough to think having kids is going to "ruin their life" well, then I am glad they aren't parents.

It is a natural expression of fear from ignorance.

I find it interesting to see the same people years later after they worked through their fears and found their lives enriched by giving life and love to their children.

34 posted on 01/03/2005 8:48:14 AM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: dubyaismypresident

"Then stop burdening the Earth with your existence" Anthem - Ayn Rand


35 posted on 01/03/2005 8:48:18 AM PST by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: massgopguy

LOL


36 posted on 01/03/2005 8:48:22 AM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: econ_grad
My parents definitely shouldn't have, although I am glad to be alive.

I'm glad you're alive. Most importantly, God is.

37 posted on 01/03/2005 8:49:08 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: af_vet_1981

That's true. I spoke a bit hastily, there.


38 posted on 01/03/2005 8:49:38 AM PST by exnavychick (Just my two cents, as usual.)
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To: cyborg

"I've met women like that and they're big diesel feminists. No thanks."

The two couples I know best who have made this decision always vote conservative, although more for fiscal reasons. Neither woman fits the "feminist" stereotype, although I guess it's safe to say they do believe in equal pay for equal work.


39 posted on 01/03/2005 8:49:45 AM PST by Gone GF
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To: Raycpa; qam1; Ellesu
Self centered parents are not good for society.

That is complete and total crap. Some people just don't get the urge to procreate. Also, some people don't get married until late in life and the biological ticker goes into "expire."

People who have kids when they can't afford them and ask me to pay the tab, people who have kids on purpose to bring them up in one or zero parent housholds, people who have kids when they are too old (such as Tony Randall) -- these are selfish (sometimes to the point of downright evil) people.

And there is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that child-free couples vote liberal.

40 posted on 01/03/2005 8:49:56 AM PST by freedumb2003 (My DU name is Bunny Planet and I don't care who knows it! Everyone reveal yours!)
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To: Slyfox

Are you suggesting that the primary reason to have children is that you will have someone to take care of you when you grow old?

Speaking of selfish motivations.


41 posted on 01/03/2005 8:50:00 AM PST by Durus
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To: susiek
Hang in there. I didn't get married until my 40's. Some of my friends have babies, some kids are entering college, some don't have kids.

We all still get along. tHE BOTTOM LINE OF THIS STORY IS MORE SIMPLE AND CAN BE GENERALIZED....PEOPLE GENERLLY SPEND MORE TIME WITH PEOPLE SIMILAR TO THEMSELVES, FOR MANY REASONS. iT DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN'T HAVE FRIENDS WHO MIGHT BE LITTLE DIFERENT, HECK i HAVE MILLUIONARE FRIENDS AND FRIENDS SHO HAVE NO MONEY.

42 posted on 01/03/2005 8:50:02 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: Durus
Are you suggesting that the primary reason to have children is that you will have someone to take care of you when you grow old? Speaking of selfish motivations.

yEP, i READ INTO THAT AS WELL.

43 posted on 01/03/2005 8:50:34 AM PST by 1Old Pro
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To: Gone GF

Last time I hung out with career types was in college. Plus I live in New York so maybe it's different.


44 posted on 01/03/2005 8:51:13 AM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: cyborg

Mrs. Slim and I have no kids.


45 posted on 01/03/2005 8:51:26 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Mrs. Slim bought all new faucets for the house.)
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To: Minuteman23
I never get that either. Whenever there is an article like this there are tons of posts calling people who don't want kids selfish. Isn't it more selfish to have kids just for the sake of having kids?

My extremely liberal sister in-law (a teacher) and brother are trying to have a baby. My cousin asked her if she was going to keep working after she has a baby and my sister in-laws response was, "Of course! I can't lose my tenure!" THAT is selfish!
46 posted on 01/03/2005 8:52:06 AM PST by retrokitten
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To: Prime Choice
No wonder they didn't have kids. They're too damned self-centered!

Do you think everyone should have children, regardless of their ability to raise them?

Knowing ahead of time that you are unsuitable as a parent is not being selfish. It's being enlightened.

47 posted on 01/03/2005 8:52:19 AM PST by A Ruckus of Dogs
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To: Minuteman23
isn't it more selfish to have children that you don't want?

Many parents don't want children. Yet I've never met anyone who wanted to give his child back.

God is smarter than we are.

48 posted on 01/03/2005 8:53:05 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Awwww you should have.


49 posted on 01/03/2005 8:53:11 AM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: qam1
"It doesn't occur to anybody to celebrate a child-free woman in that way."

Because the celebration is about the baby, not about your "choices".

50 posted on 01/03/2005 8:53:21 AM PST by P.O.E. (Happy New Year)
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