Single White Female, No Kids

Finding a partner that is childfree is a daunting challenge for every childless by choice person.

by Laura S. Scott

I can’t quite recall whether it was the first date or the second. In any case, it was over twenty years ago when I informed my husband-to-be that I didn’t want to have children. I half-expected that my disclosure would mean that this would be the last date. I imagined him mentally scratching me off the list of prospects.

I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did. I had walked away from two previous relationships because it became clear that the guys wanted kids. I wasn’t going to be the one to deny them. They had visions of backyard birthday parties, teaching their son to golf, or coaching Little League. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even imagine being a mom. Clearly, we needed to move on.

When I began the journey of discovery I call “The Childless by Choice Project,” I knew very little, beyond my own experience, about the decision-making process behind the choice to remain childfree. I knew that the researchers and sociologists before me had attempted to sort the childfree into categories that reflected how they came to be childfree by choice. 

“Early articulators” were those that have expressed their desire to remain childless early in life, generally without the influence of a significant other—some too young to know what “childfree” meant. “Postponers” were those who delayed childbearing and eventually decided to remain childfree. “Acquiescers” were those who made the decision to be childfree primarily because their partner wanted to be childfree. “Undecided” were those who hadn’t yet decided whether or not to have kids.

Normally, I avoid pigeon-holing people into categories, but for the purposes of my research, it was important. I wanted to study the decision-making process. I wanted to understand the rationales, motives, ideals, and processes behind the choice to remain childless. I suspected that the processes and the most compelling motives for the early articulators would be different than the postponers motives and processes. I was correct, to an extent.

I found that all categories of decision-makers, from the early articulators to the undecided, shared some motives. However, the decision-making is very different. How we end up in a childfree partnership has a lot to do with who and where we are in the decision-making spectrum.

“So I told him, I wasn’t interested in having children. He actually left me for a month or two…I think he went on a soul search.” Jessica recalled this temporary separation happened when she told her then-boyfriend Lou that she was childless by choice. Lou’s process was to do some independent research: a casual polling of his military colleagues. After hearing their stories, and thinking hard about his own assumptions, he came to the conclusion that he, too, would remain childfree. That was in 1982. Lou and Jessica have been together ever since.

Scott and Lisa were self-identified postponers. “We talked about [having kids]…and it was kind of like no, let’s wait,” Scott remembers. “And as time went on and the more we checked in with each other…we kind of both said at the same time, do we even want to have children?” The answer for both was “no.”

“I don’t really like children. I don’t find them endearing, or cute, or any of that,” admits Kevin. “The more I got out in the world the more I realized that was not what I wanted…” After he moved out of his parents’ house to take a job in another city, he started dating Misty. When she told him she didn’t want children “I was surprised, but not in a bad way. We matched up pretty well.” 

As part of the Childless by Choice Project, I surveyed over 170 self-identified childfree/childless by choice individuals in North America. The majority of my participants were currently in partnerships, married or common-law. Of those couples surveyed, close to a third of them were made up of two early articulators who had managed to find each other. No small trick considering that this segment is a small percentage of the general population.  The second-largest childfree couple combination in my survey was a female early articulator partnered with a male postponer, followed closely by partnerships between male and female postponers.

Two other couplings were significant enough in number to merit attention were male acquiescers partnered with female early articulators, and female postponers partnered with male early articulators.

When people ask me “How do childfree people find each other?” I often answer, “Gosh, how much time do you have?” The sad part is that sometimes they don’t find each other until the first marriage ends in a disagreement over children. It is my hope that my work on the Childless by Choice Project will encourage more young people to have a serious, thoughtful “kid conversation” with their beloved early in the relationship, well before marriage or co-habitation. 

They may be surprised at what they hear.

Copyright Laura S. Scott. Published 1 April 2007 in .

 

Check out this great blog for the unburdened and unscripted, child-free minority:

http://unscriptedlife.net/

 

 

 

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