Childless by choice

A forum for Druid parents to discuss child-rearing issues and exchange ideas
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shirley mclaren
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby shirley mclaren » 24 Jun 2010, 14:12

Hi Claer

I am almost 60. I have never had children and chose not to have any. I like children and have spent the better part of my career dealing with them, of all ages. Also, I did much babysitting in my youth for friends and colleagues. However, I am always happy to (in the case of babysitting) to hand them back. There is nothing selfish in this; whilst I like them, I am simply not maternal. I have other friends who are likeminded. I believe to remain childless is on the "up" nowadays too. Why should those who choose to be child free be penalised for this? If what we read in the media is anything to go by, the world is getting highly overpopulated, with all that entails, both for now and in the future. I personally think we are being fairly responsible! These people who "ostracise" you in this manner should be ashamed of themselves and open their minds and eyes much wider. They certainly are not worth upsetting yourself over. You I am sure, do not condemn them for their maternal choices; likewise, they should not condemn you for yours.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby saffronveil » 05 Jul 2010, 20:49

Hi Claer. Side note: I did not read all of the posts but think the topic very interesting and something that comes up often in groups.

I think that for some people, choosing to have or not have children does have to do with their spirituality. For others, it has nothing to do with spirituality. It is not -inherently- part of Druid spirituality. However, having children is part of the natural way of things and some people take this very seriously, overly seriously, to the point of judging those who do not have children or wondering what could be "wrong" with them. For most parents, parenthood is a defining part of who they are. Becoming a parent changes your life and your self-definition drastically, as well as changing your place in the society, the family group, and oftentimes the spiritual group. It may be more accurate to say that the people in the gathering you attended were more caught up in their self-definitions as parents than in your definition as a non-parent. Because they had come to self-define so greatly with their role as parents, it was perhaps hard for them to remember their own roles as non-parents before they had children. It is likely a cultural expectation in your area, particularly in the pagan community, that women will have children. With a lot of focus on the threefold goddess, the role of the Mother, etc, I can see how that could be considered a normal part of a pagan community.

I have always thought it really odd that where I live mothers and parents are actually ostracized a bit and children are not expected to be included in rituals, celebrations, spirituality unless it is specifically a "kids" event. It is as though I have to have separate groups for me and my family. I understand that for certain things, certain types of rituals or practices, but many groups around here expect you to be childless or so separated from your children that you WILL leave them somewhere to do your pagan things. It is an expectation. Some groups will even exclude you and tell you to stop practicing as soon as they learn you are pregnant, as if your status as a pregnant woman makes you less human and less spiritual and less capable of doing magic or spiritual work. It is not as if you gain some much-sought-after status in the group and elevate yourself to the status of "Mother." So here the problem is kind of the opposite. People will look down on you for being a mother, especially if your children are young and you are hoping to continue doing pagan things with them or around their schedule (ie. meetings that start before 8:00 PM so you can get a babysitter).

It is sad that you were made to feel strange or less pagan. I don't think you are less pagan at all. In some traditional societies, the childless women were considered more able to explore certain spiritual paths that mothers simply couldn't easily explore until they reached menopause. Childless women could also take on various "men's" roles or spiritual positions that a mother could not. In a traditional society, a married woman was usually a mother unless she or her husband was infertile. Sometimes a woman who was thus marked as "other" was considered to have certain spiritual gifts that others did not have. I don't see why a woman who chooses to remain without children should be looked at as "inferior" to mothers.

Other aspects of the Mother in paganism have absolutely nothing to do with children. People can be mothers as nurturers, as creators, as artists, as sustainers, as farmers, as mentors, as guides, as teachers, etc. Being a mother, in the pagan sense, does not mean you have to have children born of your womb. Some groups will emphasize that, and might even ostracize women who are childless for whatever reason and may have classic problems tolerating homosexuals. This is not a pan-pagan or druid philosophy.

I think it is wrong to question a woman (or man) on their reasons for being childless. Who wants to explain themselves, as if it is something deviant that needs defending? If the person really wants children but has a medical reason for not having any, that is a likely to be a touchy subject that they do not want to repeatedly explain to every parent they want to befriend. If the person has chosen not to have children without having a medical reason, what does it matter? Asking someone if they have children or if they plan to have children is really not confrontory, mind you, and is different than badgering someone about the reasons for their choices. It might seem like questioning, if everyone you meet is asking you over and over again if you have children, but if they leave it at that, then it's perfectly OK in my book. If they all go on to ask why and act like you're an anomaly, as it sounds like the people at your gathering did, that is a bit odd.

It is quite normal to feel hurt by the pestering and judgments of others, especially when you are trying to befriend people and have a good time, only to leave stressed and overwhelmed in a bad way. It might be a good time to bump up your responses to such inquisitions. Being overly rude might not help you make many friends, but if people are going to push their noses into your business and be negative about it, you probably don't want to be looking to them as your good friends anyhow. Perhaps you can "jump the gun" and start conversations with obvious mothers with something about how you can't see yourself ever having children. I have a great friend who has no children and really doesn't foresee any in her near future, and she quite often brings up her ideas about parenting and such as a defense mechanism against people questioning her. If you bring it up first, you own the playing field. If people then want to challenge you, they are obviously confronting you, which is less likely to happen when you have already established your opinions as opposite to theirs. It's just rude to challenge people like that. Whereas, if someone comes to you and says, "do you have children?" they have the opening advantage and can continue the conversation with questions about why you don't and your own choices and all of that, feeling that they have the right to do so under the guise of "getting to know you" or "keeping the conversation going." I have often seen people come in and say, "I like other people's children but really can't fathom having my own!" and everyone just smiles and goes on to another conversation, rarely questioning the person for the reasons behind their statement.

Well, gotta go feed the kiddos. ^_^

Good luck with groups in the future. I hope things get easier in your dealings with pagans and parents and pagan parents.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby lavouivre » 11 Jan 2012, 20:58

I never planned anything either and I was taking pills. I was never against having children, but it wasn't the right time financially and for other plans I had, I had taken "protective" steps, and it still happened. I was first dumbstruck, then a bit resentful because of the plans I had to let go, a bit terrorized too and definitly feeling not ready, then just went along with it. That was during pregnancy time.

But then, the D-Day came, and I will never forget how eveything has shifted. I don't care if cows have calves (lol) I still think that against all odds, being a mother has brought me to the discovery of a new depth/layer/dimension of love. That love is torture, it can be a burden, but it is also a bliss, a mystery, an initiation, it is sacred in all its sense. And now I couldn't wish it were different.

I guess we think and theorize too much about it, when motherhood is really a hands on experience. I have helped people, I have "nursed" and taken care of old people or friends, I have taught some children, I have played shrink to help our stuck people etc. This kind of nursing has nothing to do with loving your child. Words fail.

And yet, I understand why some people don't want children. I have no time for myself, I can't travel when I want or stay late with friends on some evenings. Every small trip looks like a big trip. I don't have normal conversations with my husband. I don't know how I will face the future financially.
I think, our society views children as a goal in itself. Look at all these poor Hollywood stars trying to get pregnant even without a settled spouse. We gloss over the dark side of motherhood, and yet a dark side still exists, like in everything. Tiredness always present, occasional laziness never allowed.

True, I am learning a lot, about myself, about a new being in my charge, about love, about limits. But it is definitly rough learning and not all rosy.

So I say, "stick to your guns" and what you believe in. Don't let mothers or anyone tell you who you should be.

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katie bridgewater
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby katie bridgewater » 12 Jan 2012, 03:15

An interesting discussion, and lots of strong opinions on what having children is or isn't all about.
People read a lot into the reproductive process, but IMO having children is entirely a matter of luck.
I don't think it has anything to do with a 'calling', and you can justify having or not having children by any means you like - environment, population, biological urge, evolution, but at the end of the day I think you can sum it up as follows:
If you want to have them and you do, you are lucky,
If you want to have them and you can't you are unlucky.
If you don't want them and you get pregnant accidentally, you are unlucky,
and if you don't want them and don't have them then you're the most lucky, because there are no surprises (unlike the other 3 options) and it is the one choice you can consciously make and bring about easily.

In pagan circles, I hear a lot of tosh about how children 'come when you're ready / open / evolved enough, which certainly doesn't tally with the reality of most of the world's (over)population. Or about souls choosing parents to incarnate into etc which seems to belittle those who don't have children by making them either selfish (if they choose not to reproduce) or undesirable (if they find they are unable to reproduce). And I've heard lots of Pagans talk about how you never really understand life until you've given birth / experience parenthood, which seems to belittle the equally valid understanding of life of those who haven't reproduced for whatever reason (which I myself find patronising, but hey...). You might as well say you don't understand life until you've killed someone IMO! :wink:

I think if you don't want kids and you don't have them, then you are to be envied and emulated for cultivating your branch of the wisdom tree. I have nothing but admiration for my friends who have elected to remain childless (whatever their reasons and whether or not I agree with them, or think they'd make super parents) and stuck with it. It is a brave thing to decide to leave no direct descendants , with all the implications that brings. Hats off to you all!

Muddy Fox

Re: Childless by choice

Postby Muddy Fox » 12 Jan 2012, 07:10

I don't blame anyone for not wanting or having children. My younger sister has remained childless and although she has always been a loving and supportive Aunt to my children and her other nieces and nephews, she has always said "I would rather have rats in my kitchen".
Fair enough.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby NovaStar » 12 Jan 2012, 11:11

Very interesting discussion.

My partner grew up with deaf, abusive parents and lived in a series of care homes throughout his life and having seen first-hand the horror stories of children whose parents couldn't (or shouldn't) be 'caring' for them, knew that he would never wish to bring another child into the world. We have both said that should we ever want children, then we would far rather adopt or foster, than bring another child into the world.

However I'm 29 and have always known that I didn't want to have children - hell, I never even used to like playing with dolls!
Personally I don't feel comfortable with babies or children, and thus far have had no biological urges for my own. I just can't identify with the classical 'mother' role and I'm comfortable with that - I can say this with certainty as after a contraceptive failure earlier this year, we went through with an abortion after carefully considering and confirming that it was the right decision for both of us. Fortunately my mother has finally given up telling me that I'll 'want them one day', but that means my sister is now under pressure. :roll:

It's not a spiritual thing, but I always prefered to care and nurture animals and the world instead - so perhaps my 'mothering' insticts are otherwise employed looking after me, my partner, our cats, chickens and the world.

I'm still new to the pagan community so have had no real exposure to feeling excluded or otherwise in groups, but ultimately everone's opinions are their own - we see having children as a selfish act (many people have them because they will feel fulfilled by having them, not because they are doing it for the child's sake), but also see NOT having them as selfish (we enjoy our lives as they are and would rather devote our time and money to ourselves). The difference is that unlike many others, we openly admit this and have no problem in standing up for our opinion. There are few parents who despite thinking about it, would openly admit that in hindsight they wouldn't have had children - is this due to social perceptions?
~ Nova

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Muddy Fox » 12 Jan 2012, 11:49

I'm glad that I've had four children for a number of reasons, which I will not go on about here. Whether my children are glad that I am their mother is a different matter, only they know how they feel. God knows what is said when I am not around, mind you I have always encouraged honesty in our discussions and we all apologise to each other, me included, if we feel we have said or done hurtful things.
Being glad or having regrets is neither here nor there and bandying words such as selfish around is not really constructive. Of course, sometimes it is really hard and challenging and worrying, but you get through those times. We do not live in a perfect world and not all children are born into the steretypical family unit of working, well adjusted parents one of each sex. That is life. I hear much slating of single mothers doing a bad job raising wayward children on benefits, but there are also some mother's and father's who do the best they can with what they have at the time. Looking back you can see the mistakes, as we all do in every area of our lives, that is what makes us human. And possibly being brought into and raised in challenging circumstances can make some individuals more determined not to make the same mistakes as their parents did and to never subject their own children to the same treatment. And being brought up in impoverished conditions can make some young people more determined to do well in education and train for a worhtwhile career. Become a Doctor or a nurse or a social worker perhaps, someone who has empathy with those that suffer, or even a scientist and invent something that improves life for everyone.
Single parents are not a modern day phenomena, my grandfather was brought up alone by his widowed mother from a very early age 10, I think, and there was no benefit system in place then. I also know an 80 plus year old woman who was widowed at the age of 35 years and left with seven children, the youngest being only 3 months old at the time. She remained alone and brought them all up alone, and they are one of the most loving close families that I have met and the adult children are devoted to their mother. So what makes a perfect childhood? Or a perfect adult for that matter.
Social perceptions are not really that much of a bar to expressing how you feel. I know a couple of mothers who openly say that they wish they had not had children, and this is said in front of their older children. They then ususally go on to explain that being a parent is more difficult than they thought it would be and perhaps they should have thought it through more, ie with regards to the wider issues of the world that we are facing at the moment and the idea of is it fair to bring new life into such a world. Personally I think it is insensitive to be that honest in front of children, maybe hurtful, but it is honesty. The world has always been violent and chaotic, as far as I can tell, but it is also full of wonder, love and beauty. And for a while your life is restricted in some sense but also greatly enriched in other ways and then they all grow up and leave home and you can be selfish and alone again.
Last edited by Muddy Fox on 12 Jan 2012, 12:45, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Duellist » 12 Jan 2012, 12:43

My wife and I have one child, a daughter who we both love and worked hard (although it was fun) to create. We both wanted a child, but neither of us want more than one. We both grew up in larger than average families (I am the eldest of three, she the youngest of four) and didn't really see that as a bad thing really, but we still think our daughter will thrive better as an only child. We have many friends with no kids and no intention of having them, as well as friends with up to five children in one case (in their case, each brought two kids from previous relationships and then made a fifth together) and I am not sure I see any great issue with the childless ones.

Actually, to be fair, I suppose I do find the idea of large families just a tiny bit distasteful when we (as a nation) are trying to reduce our carbon footprint and when resources are getting a little tight as fossil-fuels run out and arable land around the world is getting less fertile. If I had to find an analogy for my position there, I suppose childless couples are like tee-totallers; it's their choice and I might not choose it for myself, but there are usually good reasons for it, so who am I to judge them? I suppose that makes having kids like drinking, which would suggest that I have more respect for those who don't overdo it and that's close enough to my opinion; I can just about handle one and I still wake up groggy in the morning, so I can't imagine having more.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Muddy Fox » 12 Jan 2012, 14:17

Never say never Duellist, contraception is not always 100 percent foolproof, the only guarantee in not geting pregnant is not to have sex at all. And then there are some women that have twins and multiple births naturally.
I prefer not to sit in judgement on any aspect of any other person 's lifestyle or life choices, be that the number of children they have or not, as the case may be,or habits/addictions.
Which is probably why I cannot bear to watch or listen to Jeremy Kyle as I find his moralising, condemning attitude to some of his guests quite distasteful. Slightly off topic, sorry. That's my lot.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Duellist » 12 Jan 2012, 14:39

Who's moralising? I was just answering the question honestly; I have a lot of respect for childless couples and their decision, but said that I am not sure about large families. Maybe 'distasteful' might be overstating my position, but it's only natural to question why someone wants half a dozen kids in the same way that I question the sanity of anyone (my mother for instance) who owns more than a dozen cats. I could try to psycho-analyse them, suggest that they are filling a void in their life or some such nonsense, but I don't feel the need to do so.

In the end, it is their decision and I have never really thought of them as bad people for wanting lots of children. I might (depending on the parents) inwardly think that some of them made a mistake sometimes, but it's not like I feel the need to tell them as much unless specifically invited to offer my opinion. On the other hand, it is hard not to feel affronted when someone openly states that they had more children in order to qualify for a bigger house or more benefits as many people sadly choose to do.
Sanity is overrated...

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Muddy Fox » 12 Jan 2012, 15:12

Duellist, I did not mean to imply that you were moralising and distasteful, but Jeremy Kyle, in the way in which he sometimes attacks his "guests" in verbal rants for decisions and mistakes that they have made in their lives. Why anybody chooses to go on there I have no idea.
Big families are sometimes the only thing that some people desire, over and above careers and material assets,and if they is what they want so be it. If people are using big families to gain houses and benefits, then maybe the question needs to be why?
Is it because they are socially or educationally inadequate, which hinders their ability to succeed in the cut and thrust workaday world? Or are they lazy and milking the system? Or if not. Do they resent being treated like a number, knowing that the only jobs that they will ever be considered fit for are low paid, peanut paying type of jobs that are boring/repetitive or physically demanding or demeaning? And when they are working in these types of jobs someone is making a big fat profit from their labour?
Maybe they see those others that can succeed, the fat cats and politicians with their business lunches and their business expenses, the company cars, holidays, second homes and perks and think to themselves I may a few perks myself.
You know like a roof over my head and a pittance to live on that is just enough to pay the bills and keep my family warm and fed.

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Claer » 06 Feb 2012, 12:26

Just stumbled back upon this - I made the original post almost two years ago. Many thanks for all the responses. It is still something that comes up on the odd occasion (usually around the time of Beltaine rituals!!!), but most of the time it is less of a bother to me. It was just on this occasion it really bugged me. I've not been back to that particular all-female group though.
:)
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Whitemane » 20 Feb 2012, 22:00

The choice isn't always simple, and not taken lightly.

We married a little on the late side at a point where our careers were unstable and we could not guarantee a stable income or household for children, and when we looked at our histories, we decided that there were certain idiosyncracies (loopy parents with equally loopy parenting practices) in our families that we did not want to risk exposing our own children to. While we were still ruminating on this, the matter was taken out of our hands when my wife had to have a hysterectomy within a few years of getting married.

So we are childless, and to some extent it was a choice. Were we being selfish? I don't know, but I don't think so. The decision wasn't made so that we would have better toys to play with, and I do object to that sort of reasoning, but as a matter of the health and well-being of my wife.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby ryanmercer » 20 Feb 2012, 22:53

I'm childles by curse, I'm the last male in my family (out of cousins and 2nd cousins even) and I can't find anyone my age (only 27 next month) that doesn't already have 2-5 kids from other guys that want kids. All the people my age I find around here that are single and don't have kids, are that way by choice and don't want a darn thing to do with kids. :(

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Aemilius » 23 Feb 2012, 04:26

Is this thread intended to be humorous?
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby katie bridgewater » 23 Feb 2012, 19:19

Is this thread intended to be humorous?
Why? Do you find it funny?

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Aemilius » 23 Feb 2012, 20:52

Darkly humorous.... yes, at least from my point of view.
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby katie bridgewater » 23 Feb 2012, 21:54

Darkly humorous.... yes, at least from my point of view.
And what is your point of view? Or will you just laugh about our discussion and not tell us why?...

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Re: Childless by choice

Postby Aemilius » 23 Feb 2012, 23:04

Katie "And what is your point of view? Or will you just laugh about our discussion and not tell us why?..."

Hah! Sorry about that Katie. I guess I'm just struck by the whole "Twilight Zone" aspect of it. The thread just conjures an image in my mind of a group of people sitting around a table casually discussing the relative merits of this or that opinion or belief, some lamenting the fact that they can't have children, some that do or don't want to have children for this or that reason, others glad they did or didn’t for other reasons, some experiencing or fretting over "peer group pressure".... and all set against a backdrop of a small mountain range made of dead children that have died of starvation (about 20,000,000 just since this thread was started). So yes, very darkly humorous from my point of view.... and more than a little disturbing....

Hoping both you and Corwen are well, and to the rest of you, strength.... Emile
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Re: Childless by choice

Postby skydove » 24 Feb 2012, 09:54

Sorry, is dark humour when you take 2 unrelated events with one being exceptionally tragic then put them together and think that it's funny?
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