September 30, 2006

Career or Child?

Many people seem to make the assumption that when a woman chooses not to have a child, she is making the choice in order to concentrate on her career. I've seen this even in books that I've read about making the childfree choice. Perhaps for many women this is the case. But once again, assumptions are not always correct and can cause misunderstandings.

For me, the choice not to have children had nothing to do with a career. I actually made the choice before I even had a career! I would love to have the freedom to only work part-time or not at all. Financially that is not possible for us right now. So people may look at my life and assume I've chosen a career rather than children. Especially in the Christian circles that I frequent. However, their assumption is wrong.

That is one thing that I hope to help educate others. We should never assume the reasons behind other people's choices in life. Rather we should respect their choices and not put labels on them.


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16 comments:

Robin said...

I am childfree and I have no career. I have a job but not a career. I think people have this need to make everything black or white when most of the time things are very grey.

alphagirl said...

Same here. I knew I didn't want kids long before I even knew what "career" meant.
I have a job that I love, but I wouldn't call it a career by any stretch.
I get really frustrated with folks who assume that since I dont' have kids, I should either be out saving the world, working at a demanding, glamorous career, traveling, etc. etc. None of that appealed to me, (except for travel...I just can't afford it) and it never will.
Anything that demands huge amounts of time, financial, emotional and physical resources just isn't for me; be it kids, career, or both. Life is too short to give endlessly and to be exhausted by doing so.

Elise said...

I have what I would call a career: teaching. But I work in private secondary education at a very small, arts-friendly school. While I have good bennies, lots of time off, wonderful colleagues, and absolutely love the work, the pay *really* blows --- even within the teaching field. Some of my public school colleagues who've been in the business for a long time and have topped out on their pay scales make nearly twice what I do.

If I had kids of my own, I don't think I could be doing this work. The colleagues I have at school who are parents seem to live almost like monks in order to pay for just the basics.

I don't know how they do it, but they seem compelled to do so, so I can only say 'best of luck" to them! I get tired just thinking about it!

LauraS said...

According to my research, "My career is incompatible with parenthood" is not one of the most compelling motivations to remain childfree. Far from it. Most of the childfree I've surveyed are not choosing between career and children, they are choosing between the life they have and and the "unappealing" or "unimaginable" prospect of parenthood.

alpahgirl said...

LauraS; So true. Career didn't even factor into it for me. I based by decision mostly on how parenting would be so incompatible with my temperment and personality. Kids need to be raised by people who are cut out for the job, just like any other role needs to be performed by those who are best at it.

Tiara Lynn said...

My career is a major motivation for why I don't want children. I love working, I love my job, I love what I do. That said, when I was younger I never looked to the future and saw myself as a mother. I saw myself married, sure, but I saw us traveling, enjoying our careers, enjoying our time together.

While my career is a big factor, the bottom line is that I don't want to be a mother. I want to be a creative director, a design firm owner, a retiree at 55 traveling the world with my husband. And those things aren't so much incompatible with motherhood as different than motherhood.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Technorati so much of this resonated with my own thoughts and feelings!
Dr_band, I too am a teacher and yes I consider it a career all right. To be honest I didn't even WANT a career when I got my latest job, I'd moved to another country and just wanted a JOB! But I have to do extra training and they even expect you to take on an extra area within the school without pay! Love the holidays though, I DO travel and my pay is quite good but my job can be too high pressure for my liking. "Ofstead might be coming this year so we need to do xyz and (everything)" I've heard that every year since I started. I'd love something more low key & yes part time would be GREAT!
I'd love to change my career/job but only to something with less hours! Yes, I'd re-train at it first. I have one in mind but also in my eyes (hope I'm right!) it would be less taxing and less hours.
At one stage we could take on an extra area for a big more pay like £20 exta a week or something small like that and I didn't bother too! AND I joined two babysitting agencies - it's the only work I'm allowed to do on my current visa restrictions (Work Permit) and I've done like ONE job and not done any since! I just found it too much trying to work with children and then on a weekend night by round them again.
I thought I could hack it for the extra money (which is peanuts) but I can't.
In the future I actually look forward to a career/job WITHOUT children in it!!! I DO like children, don't want my own, love their innocence, love their smiles & lots about them, don't want my own EVER but sometimes I find them SO DRAINING AND LOUD! At least this year I have a quiet class THANK GOD!!!!
I love life & having fun. I love travel and there's loads of things I want to learn cos I think they'd be fun but as for having kids OR working even more than the 40 - 43+ hours a week I work most weeks?
FORGET IT!!!
I love to play, play, PLAY!
Athena Marina.

Jay said...

Boy did I ever stumble into the right place - this is pretty much the first time that I hear such opinions. Usually I am met with "WEll, you'll change your mind later."

Um, no I won't (you can guess at some other expressions I usually like to add to this).

alpahgirl said...

Here's what gets me: Whenever someone says they want to have kids, they are never questioned..never told "Oh, well, now, you'll change your mind...you'll see." and assorted other ignorant statements.

Double standard...ugh.

gtr said...

Interesting perspective. I have noticed lately that everyone at my work assumes I will work there full-time UNLESS I might find myself in need of maternity leave, at which time it will be socially acceptable for me to pursue part-time options, or even quit.

Why do "modern" women today have to get pregnant in order to bow out of full-time "good" jobs gracefully? How about if I want to work part time and "make the home" for my husband and self? Hmmm. It is difficult financially to just do that, and without the "good reason" of a kid, it's hard to justify the sacrifice, somehow.

Anonymous said...

I agree! I hear sometimes about families having the option of working part time. This is great I think and beneficial for the family BUT sometimes those who DON'T have families would like to have the option of flexible work hours too!
AthenaMarina

AWE said...

So, I would consider myself a friend of Purple Women in many ways. You see, I have two children. As I reveal my status to those I work with, they are surprised to find out that I have kids; I wonder what kind of vibe I put out there that makes folks assume that I don't. Many of the people I work with, don't have children and many have known forever that they didn't want to have them (as a mother, I am grateful to have these folks in my life to remind me of the world beyond children). I don't ever assume anyones status and I'm open to whatever their answer is to the question. The question I've been wrestling with in my blog is "how do I know that I am done bearing any more children." There's another question that's come up in conjunction and that is, "why did I have them in the first place?" I've become interested in exploring with my childfree pals how did they know that they didn't want kids.

Teri said...

Robin - Doncha mean Purple?!

AlphaGirl - Recently, my mother asked me about my "career". I replied, "What career?" I've had so many (albeit interesting jobs) I no longer feel like I have a career. I feel that all the skills I have garnered over the years make me highly employable and I enjoy new challenges and learning new things...like blogging!

Dr. Band - Yes, school teacher is a classic career for women. You represent an interesting social enigma. I had no idea being a teacher was so hard on the pocket book. I have two sister-in-laws who teach school-age kids.

Athena Marina - Welcome back!

Jay, GTR, AWE, - Welcome and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I love my career and my children. Some people can love both.

Teri said...

Dear Anonymous,
I invite you to tell us more...I am truly curious, some feminists refute the idea that women can have it all and really have a balanced life.

Are you a real life Super Woman, or just the woman next door?

What career are you pursuing? Has your family held you back at all? Time off for fill-in-blank?

I ask in all sincerity.

Anonymous said...

Teri,
I am no Super Woman by any means. I am just doing my best to be happy in my career as a VP of a Non Profit and as the Mother of 3. Actually, we all have a blast. I consider all of my girls mini feminists in the making. I was raised by a feminist who imparted to me the importance of supporting other women, no matter what. I want to pass this on to my "all girl" crew at home. My family has never held me back, only made me the person that I am today.