Childless by choice

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Claer
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Childless by choice

Postby Claer » 29 May 2010, 21:27

OK - not entirely sure this is a topic for a Druid Parenting section of the board, but wasn't sure where else to put it.
Just wondered if any one else out there is childless by choice, and if this has anything to do with your spirituality or not? Anyone think it is un-pagan?
What has sparked me asking is that I've just returned from a local pagan group gathering which is all female, and have come away feeling drained and fairly upset. I was the only one attending who was either not pregnant or had no children. I was made to feel entirely defined by this status, and was quizzed a fair bit about my reproductive status. I didn't make a big thing, just simply said I didn't have any children, and no I didn't have any plans for any, when asked. This is not the first all female group I've come across where these views are expressed, and after a few hours of being made to feel less of a woman and less of a pagan - I just wondered...am I that much of an oddity?
Part of me does know that I should worry what others think, but, another part is really quite hurt and upset.
Interested to hear others views.

PS ...my choice to be childless is not because I hate children.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Bracken » 30 May 2010, 00:20

I firmly believe that only people who desperately want children should be allowed to have them. :D I wonder sometimes if it is jealousy that would prompt one person to criticise another for their childless status. Being a parent can be really bloody hard work, and I imagine that if a person has even the slightest regret about their decision to have children, then it must be even harder. Don't let them bother you, Claer.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby treegod » 30 May 2010, 06:27

I think it's not just Pagans, it a general peer pressure thing, having children brings with it respect and some sort of status in all societies (being a parent you have certain authority over a certain experience!). Just by being an involved Uncle I feel it's easier to talk about certain subjects because I have a little experience to back me up.

Now I want to have children, and so does my girlfriend. We've been living together for 3 1/2 years now and no children. So, I'm in a long-term relationship with no children, and that apparently looks strange to some people (one person in particular in my family). So every so often I get asked "When are you going to have kids?" and I say "I don't know, just not now" or "In the next couple of years probably." Well now they're in the same situation so I can start asking the same question everytime they ask me, and perhaps perfect my patronising tut. :wink:

But look on the bright side, peer pressure gets everywhere, so I'm sure there are "non-parent groups" that make parents feel unwelcome. Oh and of course the subtlties within parenting groups, you know where the "conventional" parents patronise the "unconventional" parents for being a bit strange. Read between the lines of some comments and you'll see "don't you think your kid's a little too uncontrolled" and even "don't you think your kid's a little too controlled", depending on which peer-presure group you find yourelf within. :roll:

Don't take it too personally, you've made your choices, and so have they. But if it does get a little difficult just invoke some invisible "moral majority" to back up your decision :wink:

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Argenta » 30 May 2010, 08:29

Basically, I would agree with treegod, it's all about which group you get into. Every group will have some sort of pressure on the people it sees as different, although these differences are barely anything when compared to the similarities they share.

It's an interesting question as I've had an opposite experience from yours, Claer. In the religious group I was previously associated with, having children was thought of a sign of being spiritually unfulfilled, and people who did not have them held higher institutional positions. Childless women were thought of as having the "mothering" impulse turned towards God, which was considered much better than having children of your own. Perhaps as a reaction to this idea (which felt sooo wrong) I began pitying women (and men) who did not have children, and I too over-stressed the importance of parenthood.

Several years later, I see both of these extremes as human but essentially wrong. Having or not having children -- just like making or not making any other choice in life -- has nothing to do with one's spirituality. It is mindfulness, being contemplative about our lives instead of living them thoughtlessly, that brings in the spiritual dimension.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Lily » 30 May 2010, 18:01

You're not alone. I've thought long and hard about it and have not yet come to the conclusion that the world needs another human inhabitant with my genes in it.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Frog » 01 Jun 2010, 13:33

OK - not entirely sure this is a topic for a Druid Parenting section of the board, but wasn't sure where else to put it.
Just wondered if any one else out there is childless by choice, and if this has anything to do with your spirituality or not? Anyone think it is un-pagan?
What has sparked me asking is that I've just returned from a local pagan group gathering which is all female, and have come away feeling drained and fairly upset. I was the only one attending who was either not pregnant or had no children. I was made to feel entirely defined by this status, and was quizzed a fair bit about my reproductive status. I didn't make a big thing, just simply said I didn't have any children, and no I didn't have any plans for any, when asked. This is not the first all female group I've come across where these views are expressed, and after a few hours of being made to feel less of a woman and less of a pagan - I just wondered...am I that much of an oddity?
Part of me does know that I should worry what others think, but, another part is really quite hurt and upset.
Interested to hear others views.

PS ...my choice to be childless is not because I hate children.
Hello Claer
You are certainly not alone... we have no intention of having children either.

I too have had comments made about what I "should do". But utlimately our decision was based on a number of realistic facts about our health and mental wellbeing... and how that would translate to supporting a child. Consequently, this decision to remain childless is a partnership decision between us both.

The frustration that I have with such an approach is that the people making the comments may not know what has happened in the past - either from a health concern, or from a genetic makeup (i.e. unable to have children), or from some other reason. And it does frustrate me there are those who do seem to want to badger people to find out why. It's not their business (luckily, my wife has become very open about her health and has overwhelmed people who have asked in the past... we don't get asked very often now!)

Ultimately, it's your choice to decide what you want to do. And that's abaout as pagan as it needs to be.

Frog.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Aylyn » 01 Jun 2010, 16:38

I have no children, and that is by choice. I was never into the whole "Such a sweet baby" thing that other women seem to have, and it was clear to me from a very young age that I was not inclined to raise a family. My first long-term partnership broke up over this, as my then boyfriend wanted to have kids. With my second long-term partnership, I made it clear from the outset that having kids was not going to be discussed, and my ex-husband was indifferent to the topic. Had I wanted, we would have had kids, but so we weren't.

Since my stance on not having children has been open and firm all those years, I have never been on the receiving end of questions such as "When are you going to have kids?" or felt any pressure. When it happened that people told me a woman could only feel fulfillment by having kids, I respond that any cow has calves, and that means there are more ways to have fulfillment than just the plain physical. Even though I guess I would have been a good mom, I have never ever rued the decision.

So no, you are not alone, and spiritual fulfillment can be found in a lot of ways. As long as you are happy with your life, it is fine.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Explorer » 01 Jun 2010, 19:44

I don't have children, by choice. For selfish reasons and because I don't like children. Not for spiritual or idealistic reasons.

But I also think that we need 5.000.000.000 people less because we are screwing up the ecology. Everybody knows that by now, so everybody who adds more people to the population is adding to the problem and increasing the suffering when the inevitable downfall comes. Not only that, their children will have children also, and their children too. It is a snowball effect.

And then, in a few decades, when run out of oil, out of top soil, out of space, out of drinking water, out of forests, out of 'resources', then those 10 billion offspring will be at each other's throats, may the fittest survive. Most of them will die from war and famine, especially the folks in the city, they don't stand a chance when the supermarkets close. Thanks to the ancestors... which is us, and those who came before us. We honour them at appropriate times, but they were mostly selfish rotten bastards also, like we are, leaving this mess for us and those who come after us.

Our ancestors had a choice, and we have the same choice. Stop procreating to get back to a sustainable level. Or let Mother Nature handle it the hard way. I made my choice, no children, and in the meanwhile it also has become a spiritual and idealistic choice. So, dear Claer, if they tell you you're a bad pagan, then just ask them about their responsibilities in these matters.

ps: one of the ironies of life is that my wife has 3 children from her previous marriage.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby skh » 01 Jun 2010, 21:56

What Explorer said, basically (but without the three-childrened partner ;) ).

In addition, having children in this country and age would have meant for me to become dependent on their father, and / or risk working myself to death trying to care for everyone but myself. I love programming. I love university. I love reading and making music and going to workshop weekends and visiting friends and sleeping in. I love that whatever happens, I can feed myself because I'm flexible and somewhat intelligent and don't need that much money. I love that I can afford to work less and have more time for all the other things in my life. Selfish, eh? ;)

I guess I also miss something very special, but that's the thing with choices. They are always for something and against something.

I sometimes feel that the pagan male-female scheme to view the world, even if the goal is to balance them, misses a lot of in-betweens and has the potential to perpetuate stereotypes of a traditional, even patriarchal society with rather strict gender roles under the cloak of some sort of natural order. I only see the potential, I have not experienced actual people asking me to be or not be something because I'm a woman, and that is good.

In fact, I've never felt as accepted(*) as a woman as with fellow pagans. Unexpected, amazing, healing, part of the whole coming-home thing. But still my body may represent the mother archetype, the fertile middle one of the three ladies, and I don't want to be fertile, nurturing, I don't want to reproduce. And I can well imagine that in other groups there's more than theoretical peer pressure in this regard.

But luckily we're free to choose our own gods, and aspects of life we want to pursue.

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(*) Edited to add: it's not just acceptance, it is respect. I don't know where it comes from, either from two generations of male pagans being told that the Goddess is at least as good as the God, or from gender / sex being really irrelevant in personal interaction. But hey, it felt good. (I'm dragging this a bit off-topic. Sorry.)
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Bracken » 02 Jun 2010, 05:30

I sometimes feel that the pagan male-female scheme to view the world, even if the goal is to balance them, misses a lot of in-betweens and has the potential to perpetuate stereotypes of a traditional, even patriarchal society with rather strict gender roles under the cloak of some sort of natural order.
I can't tell you how much I agree with this.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Aylyn » 02 Jun 2010, 10:05

In fact, I've never felt as accepted(*) as a woman as with fellow pagans. Unexpected, amazing, healing, part of the whole coming-home thing. But still my body may represent the mother archetype, the fertile middle one of the three ladies, and I don't want to be fertile, nurturing, I don't want to reproduce.
I have though tlong and hard about this nurturing and healing thing, and have, for myself, come to the conclusion that there are many ways to have a go at it. You can have children and raise them, that is one part. Another part would be to coach and support people around me, and looking back, I have done that in a variety of ways. I have had apprentices that I challenged and taught, which are now successful people in their own rights. Some of them have come back aand told me that it was not always pleasant to be taught by me, but I was one of the best teachers. I have been a team leader, and have trained people for better jobs, or given them the opportunity to go to other jobs when they were interested. One of my former coworkers actually explained to her daughter that I am her teacher :grin:

That is my way of being nurturing, and it is fertile in a less physical, more mental way. It is the way I do best, so why force myself into other ways? We are not all the same, why expect us to do the same?
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Golden Eagle » 02 Jun 2010, 12:56

Interesting topic.

I'm 23 and have been with my boyfriend for 5 years, living together for a year. We do both aspire to the whole marriage/kids thing eventually but it's not the right time yet.

When I saw my (extensive) family at Christmas quite a lot of relatives were doing the whole 'wink wink, nudge nudge' thing and trying to extract any information from me about whether we were planning on making things "official". Most of them are Christian and/or quite traditionally-thinking, so there's an expectation there. I'm the eldest of all the grandkids too, which makes it worse.

In our main group of friends, we know a few people who are married, but most are in similar situations to us; long-term relationships but not married or with kids - so there's no pressure at all.

I've never felt judged by any pagan friends, on the basis of my personal life. Perhaps this is because we're a very mixed bunch with all sorts of paths. They're all very open-minded. I imagine it might be different if I was in a coven or a group of one particular path.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Paul Mitchell » 03 Jun 2010, 13:17

My wife and I have one child, and he's great. However we still get a lot of comments about how selfish it is to only have one child, how we really should have at least two.

So I guess this isn't really pressure about not having kids, it seems to be pressure about not doing what everyone else thinks is right.

We don't eat meat, and our son doesn't eat meat. Lots of people tell us how selfish and wrong this decision is. It's the same thing. If they weren't hassling you about not having kids they would only be hassling you about something else to do with kids. :shrug:
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Davin Raincloud » 04 Jun 2010, 04:30

was made to feel entirely defined by this status, and was quizzed a fair bit about my reproductive status. I didn't make a big thing, just simply said I didn't have any children, and no I didn't have any plans for any, when asked. This is not the first all female group I've come across where these views are expressed, and after a few hours of being made to feel less of a woman and less of a pagan - I just wondered...am I that much of an oddity
They sound like Horrid, wretched human beings. Be proud that you are not like that.

It's not a pagan thing, it's a parent thing. A lot of people are self righteous douchebags about choosing to be a parent. (Please note I'm not saying all parents.)They get all kinds of government funding, special government allowances, special car parks, special status in society... and still they bitch and complain about the burdon they chose in life.

Yes us childfree folks are made to feel like second class citizens, whilst Parents are elevated to Hero status, for one night of sex.

Well in Australia anyways.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Argenta » 04 Jun 2010, 05:46

Geez, some of the comments here are getting almost as bad as those Claer had to put up with! I know I'm just a newbie around here, but all this "holier than thou" c**p on the basis of having or not having children is really not putting you people in a nice light. Grow up! Most of those who do not have children don't have them out of selfish reasons, and not some high ideals, just as most of those who do have children have them out of their own selfish reasons. We're human -- we're selfish, whatever the choice.

On a more polite note, it would not be too bad to look at the historical point of the matter... The 'holy cow' of parenthood is a very recent invention. In many (most?) cultures children were not taken care of so exclusively by their parents as they are today, so there was no point in elevating their role. However, in the modern world, children are generally stuck with just one or two primary caretakers, and this is a lot of work -- I'd even say too much occasionally. So no wonder we get all puffed up about that (and not of the one night we conceived them in). I tend to think it's only a matter of time before another hype comes along, is adopted by Hollywood celebs, and made the measuring rod of goodness -- so fussing about it either way is just immature, imo.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby cursuswalker » 04 Jun 2010, 08:32

I come at this from another perspective.

I am infertile and DID want children. But we were unable to. A few years on we have gotten used to this and have moved on as a childless couple. I could kid myself that we didn't really want a family, but that would be a lie.

But NOW, having had so much time to think about parenthood, I'm not so sure I would try again. Is that just self-justification?
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Claer » 04 Jun 2010, 10:35

Many thanks for the replies. I am feeling a bit better about all this now, and just got a bit low after being made to feel 2nd class for not getting my genes into the next generation. The experience has made me have a good look again at the the choices and reasons made on this - and my partner and I have come to the same conclusions as before. The main reason for our choice is not what I would consider selfish at all, although some of our other more minor reasons might be to others. I've re-realised (?!) that the most important thing is that the two of us agree and are happy with the decision and feel it is right for us.
I just wish, and seems others here do to, that some people would be able to have a bit more empathy and realise that a good decision/choice for them is not always the best for others. Assumptions of immaturity, selfishness and hatred of kids can be hurtful. It is best not to critise someone for their choice when you don't know the full reasons behind it - but that goes for all things...
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby treegod » 04 Jun 2010, 10:48

Geez, some of the comments here are getting almost as bad as those Claer had to put up with! I know I'm just a newbie around here, but all this "holier than thou" c**p on the basis of having or not having children is really not putting you people in a nice light.
I really don't feel that this is what people have been saying. People are making statements about their own personal positions but have not, as far as I am concerned, used that to belittle anyone elses position.
The 'holy cow' of parenthood is a very recent invention. In many (most?) cultures children were not taken care of so exclusively by their parents as they are today, so there was no point in elevating their role.
In third world countries the more children you have the better. Mainly practicle, because there's a high death rate, also often the only people than can look after the elderly are their own kids, if they have them. I suspect this is also reinforced by cultural standards that have old roots.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Bracken » 04 Jun 2010, 11:24

Geez, some of the comments here are getting almost as bad as those Claer had to put up with! I know I'm just a newbie around here, but all this "holier than thou" c**p on the basis of having or not having children is really not putting you people in a nice light.
I really don't feel that this is what people have been saying. People are making statements about their own personal positions but have not, as far as I am concerned, used that to belittle anyone elses position.
Well actually Treegod, if you look at this
so everybody who adds more people to the population is adding to the problem and increasing the suffering when the inevitable downfall comes. Not only that, their children will have children also, and their children too. It is a snowball effect.

And then, in a few decades, when run out of oil, out of top soil, out of space, out of drinking water, out of forests, out of 'resources', then those 10 billion offspring will be at each other's throats, may the fittest survive. Most of them will die from war and famine, especially the folks in the city, they don't stand a chance when the supermarkets close. Thanks to the ancestors... which is us, and those who came before us. We honour them at appropriate times, but they were mostly selfish rotten bastards also, like we are, leaving this mess for us and those who come after us.
and this
any cow has calves
I think you might see how Argenta reached the conclusion that she did.

Now, I know that both Explorer and Aylyn are posters with strong opinions on many subjects, and that is without a doubt something that I appreciate about them both. They are never afraid to speak their minds, which makes for very interesting posts. In fact, I lol'd (as they say on facebook) when I saw Aylyn call us mothers cows, in a sort of backhanded way. :-)

But I think that this is an opinion which misses something vital, and here it is. Although I really 'tried' for my second child, I became pregnant with my first child without trying at all. :grin: I was just in a mad, passionate relationship with an amazing man and one thing very naturally led to another and there I was, pregnant. No plans. No forethought of the effect this would have on my own life or finances. No thought of the population of the planet. Just wham-bam, pregnant.

And when I gave birth to my son, I had never, ever, ever felt love like it.

And to this day, the only other time I have had that most human and awe inspiring of experiences is when I gave birth to his sister.

I swear, I'm not passing any sort of judgement here on any of the other posters, childless or otherwise and for whatever reason. What I am saying is having babies is something we do. Every day I feel joy that this miracle happened to me. And honeastly, it was sort of an accident. :D

So, if that makes me a cow, then moo!
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby treegod » 04 Jun 2010, 11:58

And then, in a few decades, when run out of oil, out of top soil, out of space, out of drinking water, out of forests, out of 'resources', then those 10 billion offspring will be at each other's throats, may the fittest survive. Most of them will die from war and famine, especially the folks in the city, they don't stand a chance when the supermarkets close.
This is definately something that makes me question becoming a parent. How can I create a human in an inhuman world? So far I don't fear that it will be that bad... just yet. There's a little window of hope, a chance that, though things will be tough, they don't have to catastrophic.

I did read not so long ago that it's not always population that is the problem, it's the amount consumed by the population. I think it was in The Long Emergency, I'll try to look it up. Richer countries have lower populations but consume and pollute more per person. Poorer countries have more people but consume less per person. Overall richer countries, with less people and less reproduction, consume more and put more pressure on the environment. For instance taking regular flights in planes across the world defeats not reproducing for environmental reasons.

Population isn't always the problem but that doesn't mean the planet isn't overpopulated, it most certainly is! There needs to be less people. But at the same time more people need to be consuming and polluting less (mostly the richer ones).

Just looking up a list of reasons of why people reproduce. Good to do a bit of self-examination :thinking:

I still haven't decided not to reproduce, not feeling doubtful. But at least if I have children it will be thoroughly thought about and not something I did because of pressure or something unconscious unthinking desire or apathy. And most certainly it'll come from my own personal choice and not something imposed on me from peer pressure.


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