March 10, 2006

Married Childfree Christian

Many of those who choose not to have children get asked the question why. There is not always a simple answer. There can be multiple reasons for choosing not to have children. Health issues are one reason and a reason that many consider valid. Others get married later in life and feel that having children is too risky for their age. For me the decision had mostly to do with lack of desire. Some choose not to because of financial reasons, others because of concern for the environment and over-population. Whatever the reason behind the decision, it is a personal decision and one that most childfree couples take seriously.

When my husband and I made the decision not to have children (a decision we discussed during our engagement), I didn't realize how that would impact my life. I had never heard the term "childfree" at that point. I knew that I had never really had a desire to have children, something that was talked about when I was a teenager. My mom even mentioned that I had never been very "motherly". As I began to fall in love with boys during my high school years, I realized that I would probably have children for the sake of the man I loved. Having reached that conclusion, I spent the remainder of my high school and college years assuming that I would have children. Imagine my surprise and delight when my fiance and I got into a discussion about children and I learned that he didn't really care whether or not he had children. We both determined to wait before taking any "drastic measures" (ie sterilization) to see if we changed our minds, but both felt confident that we would not have children.

In early marriage, I heard the "you'll change your mind" comment when stating we didn't plan on having children. This comment would infuriate me for it assumed that the other person knew my mind better than I did. As time went on, it became clear that choosing not to have children was a decision that few people make, especially in Christian circles. I began to realize that the decision not to have children was a major lifestyle choice, one that would impact the rest of my life. Choosing the childfree lifestyle put me in a minority, especially among other Christians. It also seems to be a controversial topic, ranging from it being considered a sin to being perceived as selfish.

15 comments:

Teri said...

Twiga -- Welcome to the Purple Women team blog. I am thrilled that you are adding your voice to the mix. I've met an Air Force brat, but never a missionary kid! I read your profile and can tell you are a woman of the world - blogging from Michigan, of course. Your strong faith will add a new perspective to our online musings.

Thank you for sharing the early part of your journey to being childfree. Sounds like your mother was supportive. I am curious about how your husband experiences being a childfree Christian, assuming he is one too (?).

I was discussing the topic with my husband last night at dinner (a nice quiet dinner for two!) and he shared an early experience that really colored his ideas about being childfree, and what a gift it is to our planet. His parents took the family, five brothers and sisters, to the World's Fair in Seattle in 1974. He recalled that the theme for the whole event was overpopulation -- at least that's the way he remembered it. Every time another child was born, a huge gong was sounded. That ringing bell has stayed with him a long time.

For health reasons, I had to have a partial-hysterectomy in my mid-20s. Things have been nice and neat since then. I have also learned that women who request them for other reasons, may have trouble finding a doctor to perform this elective surgery. Again, we have a double-standard. I have read that men don't have the same hurdle to cross.

twiga92 said...

I think it's not really that big a deal for my husband, who is also a Christian. We personally have not dealt with much flack, and my family is supportive of our decision. I think maybe it's more expected for women to have children and thus seems more strange when a woman doesn't want them. As a man, I don't think society puts much pressure on him to have kids. It's also easier on him to maintain friendships with other men even after they have kids. For me, I find that once my friends have kids they are usually much more distracted and it's hard to carry on a conversation without being interrupted. I think I'll use that topic for a post actually. :-)

Teri said...

Can't wait to read it Twiga!

Boxing Tomboy said...

I'm also a Christian, and have also heard that deliberately not having children is a sin. I think it is poor stewardship to have children without thinking about it and planning for them.

twiga92 said...

I agree, boxing tomboy! I think God gave us wisdom and discernment to use in making decisions.

Teri said...

I am intentionally not religious. I don't like the idea of having my life proscribed, and I don't think any one doctrine has all the answers. I continue to be "spiritually curious", but so far have not found one that is comforable enough to embrace with my whole heart. I have read books on Buddhism, attended private Christian and Catholic school, even tried attending a Unitarian church to see how it felt.

None of them felt right for me. I trust my own sensibility more than any dogma, or truth as intrepreted by another human being. Historically, I think all the religions of the world have made big mistakes, or at least have what I would call serious structural flaws. This is certainly not my expertise, but it is my very conscious choice to remain non-religious. I think the topic would take a lifetime of devotion to master, possibly more than one liftime.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are Childfree Christians. It is wonderful to see there are others out there like us! Many childfree people seem to be agnostic, aetheist, or Pagan. We do not fit into any of these groups.

We are both surgically sterilized and have been heckled by other Christians who like to insist we are going to hell. I look at it this way: If God wanted me to have children, I would have. But I didn't. He would not have allowed me to find a doctor to tie my tubes. If He wanted me to be a mother, He would have given me the desire. But I have no desire to reproduce and neither does my husband. Very telling.

Anonymous said...

I am a christian woman who is engaged. Myself and my fiance are not keen on having children and I have experienced disbelief, the rather insulting 'you'll change your mind' comments and some judgemental comments also. I consider it's mine, my fiance and God's business and no one elses and I say so to anyone who tries to intrude (nicely of course!) Neither myself nor my fiance have any desire for children and it's hard to find christians who feel this way so I feel it's also very telling that the one man i've fallen in love with feels the same as me about this important issue. I feel that christians who've made this choice need to choose their church and their friends carefully. surround yourself with supportive, loving and non judgemental friends, and find a church that also has those values. I wasn't always a christian so I've been in relationships before and still didnt want children. I love this age of choice that we live in and I support other women, particularly christian women for whom there is a greater stigma attached, to stand up for your beliefs and don't feel you have to justify yourself to any person. It's between you, your husband and god and no one else.
Great site by the way!

Catherine said...

I applaud all of you who have stood up for your decision/choice/whatever to not have children. My husband and I are both Christians who have chosen not to have children. I love God but many times I have contemplated leaving the church due to heckling and harrassment from other members ranging from "Oh you'll change your mind" to being outright told there's something wrong with me to people just ceasing all contact with me and avoiding me at services. Again - I applaud all of you for standing firm in your childfree-ness in the face of adversity.

Daisy said...

My husband and I decided not to have children and are both Christians. I am only 28 and we don't want to be sterilized as we would like to keep the option open!

This is a change in what I thought was God's plan for me. I have wanted to be a mum for the past 10 years but have only recently realized that I actually have a choice. I struggle at the moment as a couple of my friends are pregnant which I knew would affect me! I am happy with the decision, it's just that it's not what I thought would happen! I do believe that God has a different plan for me and my husband, I'm just not sure what it is and am a bit reluctant to ask!

Thanks for this site, it has been really helpful reading about people's stories and helping me to process this decision.

Anita Dalkin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SillyCilla said...

Wow this wonderful to hear all these childfree couples. Christian couples that feel that it's not God plan for them to have children. I come for a large Christian family. You can not believe the opposition I have meet. I was once asked in JR. High so how many children do you want by my youth paster. When I said none. Oh my what ways did it send. Now that I have been married for 7 years. The question is asked of me. So when your not going to have children. And I say none. Why not? Your selfish. Who is going to take care of you when your old? Doesn't your husband want one? But your so wonderful with kids. I like to say well that is why! Because I don't have any at home. I can get a break. It allows me to be do more for others. I am pediatric nurse that she so many sad parent-less or lack of parenting children. In my position. I can give more than 100% at work. I volunteers on my days off at the hospital play w/children. I even buy little things here & there for some of my patients. Ice cream for a child who was having their birthday in the hospital.... is priceless! I see this a opportunity to not be selfish with what God has bless me with. A big heart, patient to handle the most difficult children or adults, and the finical resource to help others. I am the one they come to at work when they have a uncontrollable child! I am a MOM 12 hours 3 nights a weeks. When parents can not be.

just me said...

It really is inspiring to read these posts. I don't feel so bad about my decisions.

Something that I think would happen if we did give in and have kids, especially with people having football team size families: one wouldn't be enough. Then we would be pressured to have many more. The best part of my experience is this: I have no parents, mine died. My husbands parents? Well, they said flat out they are done raising kids.

So would those people who are pushing us to have kids be the ones there to help us with them if we did? Probably not, I have ten bucks that says they would tell us they are too busy/tired/frustrated with their own. Remember the phrase "misery loves company"......

Teri Tith said...

Dear "Just Me",
Thanks for reading and leaving a thoughtful comment. I never met you or your parents, but I cannot agree that it is a good thing that you no longer have your parents. I am sorry to know that. Cherish the ones you are still with you, your partner's parents, and adopt a lovely old person to dote on. It can be a very rewarding relationship.

I am really encouraged that you found this blog and this post from 2006, in April 2009. I took great care to tag all the posts with labels so that this site could be searched by subject. It took a lot of time, so your post is particularly rewarding.

Take Care and Be Yourself!

just me said...

Hi Teri!

Thank you for your encouragement! I'm so sorry if I misrepresented myself about losing my parents. Please let me clarify:

Most people who raise children (especially in the part of the country where I'm from) rely heavily on their parents for help (and other immediate family members). I was just pointing out the fact that I don't have parents to help me with that responsibility and my husbands parents told me that they would not help with that responsibility.

I guess what I was trying to say is that there is a great deal of factors that are in place most of the time for people who are raising kids. For my husband and myself, literally none of those factors are in place (yes we have reviewed them).

A lot of people (especially Christians) make assumptions about how families are laid out, and that is just not the way it always is. We have circumstances we can't help, we deal with the lives God has given us.

Thank you for your blog. I don't feel like a voice alone in the dark, doubting my existence because of my choices. You and you're blog are very appreciated!