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{Family} La Vie Childfree!

2012 March 15

This FOF decided she didn’t want kids. Now she’s telling the next generation, it’s ok to be childfree.


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What do you think when you meet a married woman in her 50s or 60s who never had children? Are you curious about why? Do you question her marriage? Her upbringing? Her psychological stability? Her fertility?

FOF Laura Carroll, 51, is a successful writer and communications consultant. She’s been happily married to her husband since she was 28 years old, and they chose not to have children. In fact, Carroll says, she’s known she didn’t want kids from the time she was quite young. She’s also warm, engaging, close with her parents, psychologically stable, fertile (or at least, she was), and get this . . . she loves the kids in her life.

She’s also a pioneer. With marriage and childbirth rates on the decline in this country, it seems that an increasing number women are choosing to live childless–whether married or single. To whit, Laura is the author of Families of Two, a book on happily married couples who chose not to have kids, and she’s about to come out with her second book related to the “childfree choice.” She’s even started a popular blog called La Vie Childfree where readers can learn about and discuss the decision whether or not to have children.

Here, she talks to us about her decision. Read on, and then tell us, What do you think of the decision to “be childfree?”

When did you decide you didn’t want to have kids?
The signs were there early. I was never really interested in playing ‘mom’ or dolls. In Junior High, I was taking all these occupational inventories . . about things you could grow up to be.  I was much more interested in thinking about career than looking into the future about when I would be a mom.

A lot of women may have felt this way, but still chose a more conventional route and had kids because of outside pressures. Why do you think you didn’t?
I had a godmother who influenced me when I was young. She was in her 20s, single and didn’t have children. It was an early model that you could grow up and didn’t have to be a mom. Also, I had great parents. They didn’t push parenthood as an expectation. They raised us to create our lives any way we wanted.

How did it effect your dating life? What’s it like to date when you don’t have a biological clock ticking in your brain?
I wasn’t marriage-minded. I dated because it was fun. When I met my husband, I was in my 20s, and he was 10 years older than me. He was neutral about having kids, and that was attractive to me. He had dated a string of women before me, and I think he felt they were looking for a father for their child over and above everything else, which wasn’t attractive to him. I took that expectation or pressure completely out of the equation, and he liked that.

How do you think the decision to get married is different if you don’t want to have kids?
For my husband and myself–and I see this with childless couples of all ages–marriage is more about a committment to each other than about procreation. You’re together as partners in life, for personal growth, and, for us anyway, adventure.

Did you ever contemplate having children?
I didn’t. He thought for a little while that I might change my mind.  And we went through a few years of me saying, “No honey, I’m not going to change my mind, I promise.”  We waited a little while to close the door with any permanent medical procedures! He wanted to be sure that if I ever changed my mind, he was in a position to have them. He was someone who was probably on the fence. He could have had them if his wife really wanted to, but since I didn’t want them he had no problem with that.

What has not having kids enabled you to do?
It’s allowed me to dedicate myself to my career in a very free way.  When you don’t have kids, you could end up in your 70s with 5 careers, because you have more freedom to evolve and grow your work life in the directions that you feel are best–without constraints.  It’s also allowed me to have a strong marriage and for my husband and I to support each other in our passions and careers. My husband’s career has evolved from working in human resources to working in the highest levels of the Sierra Club and focusing on the environment–something he doesn’t think he would have been able to do if he were a father.

Do you think going childless makes marriage harder, or easier?
I think not having children gives you the ability to tend to the issues in your marriage in a way that couples with children don’t always have. Some of my friends have told me that in way they envy my husband and I, because when there are issues, we don’t have the distraction called “kids” that keep you from dealing with them. So many couples get divorced once they become empty nesters. Often they had issues all along but just didn’t make the time to deal with them. Once the kids aren’t there, they realize their marriage has problems, and some survive and some don’t. I’m not judging that at all–I just realize that it’s challenging to keep your marriage really strong and raise kids.

Has there been any time when this decision has been difficult?
Probably when my friends were young and started having babies. Initially, it was hard finding ways to stay in as much contact with them. But it soon passed, my friends are great–they never assumed that because I didn’t have kids, that I did know anything about it and couldn’t be party to a conversation about it. They also did not lose interest in what I was up to. It’s easy to get hurt and feel defensive on both sides. Don’t take it personally–keep your eye on you love for your friend and your curiosity about her life.

Do you have any regrets?
No. As I get older, I see the great relationships developing between some of my friends and their older children. But I also understand what a huge commitment they made and what it’s taken to get to that place. I know I never would have been willing to do it.

I’ve seen that’s there’s a better role for me to be play. I am much more valuable being a really wonderful godmother and mentor to young women. Through my blog, I help support women young women and their choices. Being a mother is not the only maternal role you can play.

I hope that with the next generation, we make it more of the norm to think hard about why you want a child. What experience are you looking for? Is being a parent the only way to have that experience?

You might also like:
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10 Habits We Dislike Most About The Men We Love…
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My First Time After Fifty

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  • marsala says:

    I never wanted children either, and I knew this at an early age. Best decision for me and my lifestyle. I am 60 now and I have nieces and nephews that I love dearly, and they are enough for me. People have always said ” I’m sorry ” when I say I dont have children assuming that I have a health problem or something preventing pregnancy. I use to address this issue then and there but now I just smile and move on. I am glad that my father always taught me to be an individual and to make choices for myself, take the road less traveled, I love him dearly for the lessons he taught. I dont think of myself as unnaturally not maternal, I think of myself as a person who made the right decision For Me!

  • Carole says:

    I purchased the proepr party vintage headband from picture perfect baby boutique on 5/24 however, at check out there was no section for me to let her know that i was sent from this giveaway, so I emailed her letting her know that i will need verification from this contest

  • Auntie says:

    I am 50, got married later in life (33) and always thought I would have kids. I never had a BURNING DESIRE to have kids, like some women, but I figured I’d be a Mom someday. Our marriage started out with me being diagnosed with colon cancer and a year of chemo. After all of that, I became pregnant twice and miscarried. Although it was painful and difficult, my husband and I were okay without kids. I think it HAS made our marriage stronger. We can focus on each other and we’re very close… best friends! Soul mates! Being a parent is a HARD job… and I’m proud of my friends who ARE parents. They have chosen a difficult job… but one that is filled with many blessings, I’m sure! The hardest thing for me has been the way people look at you when they ask, “How many kids do yo have?” and you say, “I don’t have any kids.” They look at me like I am from outer space!! I used to feel uncomfortable with “the” look and silence from them and I would try to explain my story. Now I let the silence and “the” look just sit there. I don’t have to explain it. I think people need to be more aware because… they just don’t know someone’s story. Whatever it might be.

  • Mick says:

    I am 58, married, and childless. And that’s a bad thing because? I have a friend in her mid-forties and she is married and childless as well. It’s a choice – not everyone has a need to procreate and contrary to popular expectations, you can still lead a very satisfying life without children.

    I distinctly remember asking my mother if she had it to do all over again, if she would have 2 children and she told me ‘no.’ Not because she didn’t love us dearly and she was great Mom, but because she could have followed more of her dreams.

    I enjoy my neice and nephew much more now that they are young adults. Children are great: as long as they are someone esle’s and I can go home to my peaceful, drama free lifestyle.

    • Laura says:

      Mick,
      Bravo to your mom for telling you the truth. I wish it was not taboo to say things like this-it could help a lot of women in their decision making process to become moms or not~

  • Angela says:

    Also loved your article. I can remember growing up, worrying that I wasn’t “baby crazy” like the other young girls I saw at church. I recognized early I didn’t have that drive that society thinks is normal. My Mother assured me I’d feel differently when I had my own. She also threatened dire consequences if I chose not to have kids and thus wouldn’t have anyone to take care of me in my old age. As it turned out, fate pretty much made the decision for me through a combination of a failed marriage and health problems. At my sickest, I remember thinking, “Thank God I don’t have children to worry about on top of this!” I was able to concentrate on returning to health and leading a generally healthier lifestyle. Now, I’ve met and married a wonderful man who also had no real desire to have children. He’s a musician; I’m an artist. Being childless allows us to pursue our passions, to afford a more comfortable lifestyle and to travel.

    • Icha says:

      hey brad you such a lucky dude congrats!but Bryan i think you have made a type-o on the sencod answer. idk if you see your mistake but i put something else for the sencod question that clearly says what you were asking for.

  • Laura says:

    Hi, Laura here–Glad to hear that commenters can resonate–I was betting on it! We childfree just don’t match the stereotypes ~ I’m on a mission to help the childfree choice be seen as just as legitimate and “normal” as the choice to become a mother, and thank FOF for wanting to discuss it~!

  • badgerfanz says:

    This was me at age 21 in 1972 when I got married I convinced a Doctor to sterilize me so I was birth control free………..have NEVER regretted it for once. I have traveled, have a great home, vacation home and career.

    Great article!

    I would rather have something I want than to have something I do not need!

    • mkmason says:

      I too had to convince a doctor to allow sterization. They all seem to think that women HAVE TO have kids, and will otherwise regret it later. Sorry, doctors, I would not have made a model mother, and readily admit it. I have no pride in my DNA and there is really nothing special about me worthwhile passing down to the next generation. It wasn’t selfishness. I was happy to kill off my family tree.

  • DebraS says:

    VERY well-said!!! I think there are more of US out there than we realize!!! I have been called selfish, unfullfilled, and a liar for not wanting children. One “friend” went so far as to say, “EVERY woman wants children, Debra is lying”. Thank you Laura for putting all of our thoughts into words!!!!

  • Shans says:

    Hooray! Finally, someone who thinks like me. I love kids. I adore my 4 nieces and 1 nephew but I never wanted one for myself. I never wanted to make the sacrifices or have the responsibility of raising a child. I give those women who do a lot of credit but it is not for me. I have never married either. Neither was ever a big priority for me. I’m glad this subject is being talked about.

  • Sandy says:

    My husband and I are actors — if we had kids, we’d have to give up our careers, which we’ve worked for all of our lives. It’s a tremendous undertaking, physically, emotionally, and financially, to have childen — and they deserve it. They didn’t ask to be born. I decided that, if I had any questions about it at all, then that meant I shouldn’t have them. And I know I just can’t bear the heartbreak that comes with children, watching all the pain they have to go through in order to grow up. But I’m an incredible aunt, and a fantastic godmother! ; )

  • Ellen says:

    Well said!
    I should print this and hand it to the people who pity me because I have never had kids…and never wanted to.

  • mainecoon4me@yahoo.com says:

    i have 2 wonderful daughters and 5 grandchildern. however i did not raise my daughters, their father and his wife did. i had a job that required a lot of travel and their father was in a better position to take care of the girls. yes, it was difficult not getting to be with them and i missied alot of thing as they grew, but i still believe i did the best for them. they and thier childern are in texas and i am in north carolina so i don’t get to see the grandchildern much eathier i try to get to tx as much as i can. my daughters say i am not just thier mother but i am a friend too. i quite cherish that. it is a decision each of us must make, it is exteremly personel and requires much thought and prayer.

  • Felicia says:

    Women are always being told they need something to complete themselves, such as a husband and children. I think it is up to the individual, there are many other ways to ‘complete’ yourself.
    We are now fortunate to be able to make these choices. I think the questions come from insecure people who do what they think is the ‘social norm’.
    The current political climate, where there is an attempt to degrade women and take away our rights, has made me appreciate even more, the sacrifices strong women have made, to secure the freedoms we have today.

  • Marcia says:

    I’m a childless 59. It’s good, no regrets. People always told me growing up how much like my father I was. That to me was a horrible insult because he was an abusive drunk. I swore I would never pass that DNA down to anyone. Never had the urge to have kids, so have not missed them. My husband has daughters and they have kids, all nothing but trouble, not one to be proud of.

  • Inky says:

    I could have written this! My experiences have been much the same as Laura’s. It was a burden when I was younger and people asked when will you have children. I knew by the time I was ten that I didn’t want children of my own and of all the choices I have made in my life, it is the one I know was right. Now I am the influence for my 15-year-old niece, as she has expressed a possible choice to not have kids herself and I support her wholeheartedly. Thanks for this article!