February 28, 2006

What Do I Know Since I'm Not A Mom?

There was a woman who used to attend my church. She and her husband had six children. She'd brag they were like the Brady Bunch because she had three girls and three boys. Their kids were mischevious hooligans. I was co-leader of a youth group that met after church service, and I hated to see her kids coming. It was near impossible to keep order when they were in attendance. Her youngest was often placed in the nursery during Sunday service because the child was too antsy to keep still. One Sunday, it was my turn to man the nursery, and I babysat the kid. When service was over, her mother came to collect her. I don't remember the exact gist of the brief conversation, but I do know it was something about some issue she had with her kids. Before she walked away with her child, she abruptly said, "Oh, wait. You don't know. You don't have any kids."

I didn't like her tone or the attitude behind that statement. It was not the first time. The comment was not always verbalized. Sometimes it came in the form of rolled eyes, a slight sneer, raised eyebrows, or the "what kind of alien are you?" look. I seldom get that from men, but some childed women are quick to dismiss any possibility that women who don't have children know much of anything.

There is the erroneous idea that parenthood automatically grants wisdom to people. Society gives the impression that parenthood will make someone "grow up", but can we honestly say we know any pre-teens and teenagers who were magically endowed with knowledge to function as full-fledged adults when they became pregnant or got someone pregnant? Can we say that all of the adults we know who are parents are mature? Of course not.

February 25, 2006

Welcome to New Contributors

A great big WELCOME to three new Purple WomenTM team blog members posting as NikkiJ, Boxing Tomboy and Jennifer Lee Jones (who is posting as her fine self).

Please click through to their profiles to get familiar and enjoy the new voices in the mix. Boxing Tomboy (a.k.a. Hillari) out of Chicago is already a blogger (check out her other blogs) and as you can see JLJ has her own website. We have not heard from Wendy (our first contributor to sign up) and AthenaMarina in a while. Hoping at least they are reading and noting our progress.

It's not always easy to make time for a new hobby and blogging can be very time-consuming, because to be a good blogger you have to read, comment and post (technically challenging) -- not to mention catch your own typos and be your own editor.

Blog on!

Children For Gain?

I've had some African-American men act as if I had disrespected their manhood when I told them I had no interest in having children. Unfortunately, we still live in a society where racism and disparity based on race still exists. For some in the African-American community, especially those beset by poverty, having children is a sign that they do have control over something. It is a badge of honor, proof that they are worthwhile.

A couple of years ago, the topic of being African-American and childfree came up on an message board I used to frequent. Several women of color had stated that they were happy to be childfree and post their reasons why they choose the lifestyle. One man was extremely offended. He wrote, "I hate women who won't get with a man and have babies." It was then pointed out to him that some of the women who posted had written that they were in loving relationships, but this meant nothing to the angry man. Another man left several rants about how all African-American women should make having children a high priority in order not to allow other minorities to make gains over us. He also wrote that those of us who choose to be childfree were helping the white man fashion more plans to eradicate the race.

I read those responses and shook my head. What does my not wanting to be a parent have to do with race, economics and politics? It is a preference of mine based on what I am willing or not willing to tolerate in my life.

Has anyone else--regardless of your race, creed, color, religious beliefs--been told that you should have children to keep another race from being the dominate group? To gain economic power for your race? To gain or maintain political power? To raise them up in a religion that is allegedly more correct than other religions?

February 24, 2006

Project Update #2

To date 98 Purple WomenTM have taken the survey -- yippee!

Mom Assumes

My mom and I do not get along. We had our battles when I was a teen, and nothing was ever resolved. Currently, she's estranged from me for the second time, having cut off communications with both myself and my late sister four years ago.

The first time, she cut herself out of our lives for nearly 17 years. When she decided to open the lines of communication, albeit briefly, in 1992, it wasn't long before she started in on my younger sister and I about having children. My younger sister had two children, which she put up for adoption. I am in contact with her college-bound youngest daughter, a strong-willed girl who is exactly like her birth mother in many ways. I thought my mother was being insensitive when she kept saying things to my sister like, "Is there a way you can get those kids back? That's a shame you gave them away." There was no recognition that my sister did what was best, not only for her, but for the children, at all. No matter how many times my sister stated that she was not going to be pregnant again, Mom would continually ask, "Think you'll have some more kids?"

My younger sister had already been subjected to the insensitive comments of our older half-sister and our late grandmother when she first made the decision to put her children up for adoption. According to them, that was something that African-American women just didn't do, on a no-no list right next to abortion. Grandma grumbled, but our half-sister ranted. "Your kids are going to get older, find out what you did, and come back and kill you!" she snapped at my younger sister. I continue to be amazed--and proud--that my late sister managed to stand up under their gross lack of support.

On my mother's part, I knew that deep down inside my mother was aware that she had messed up with her kids (my oldest brother passed away when he was three months old; my youngest brother passed away when he was twenty-two). Angry because her life did not go the way she wanted, she took it out on us via emotional and verbal abuse. Mom was nowhere to be found when my sister was pregnant. She showed up after all had been said and done, expressing her desire to be a grandparent. "I expected to come back to Chicago and find you two with children," she said, with disappointment in her voice.

I told my mother that I was childfree, but that didn't put her off from hoping I would make her a grandma. She wouldn't say anything to me directly, however; she'd go behind my back and pester my younger sister. "You think Hillari will have a baby?" One day, we were at her apartment, and I was complaining about something a kid had done. Mom suddenly cut me off. "Okay, we all know you don't like kids," she said curtly. I was offended that she would automatically assume that about me just because I did not want to be a parent. I wanted to start an arguement, but I figured it was useless. As far as Mom is concerned, no else's opinion ever matters except hers.

February 23, 2006

Lights, Camera, Reaction?

The media in Toronto are starting to take notice of all the press releases we've been putting out about the No Kidding! chapter meetings and the 5th annual Childfree Festival that we are putting on this summer.

I was more than a little concerned when a TV producer from CBC's Venture show contacted our group and said she like to show up to one of our dinners with a camera crew to interview folks about "workplace conflict issues" such as parents vs. childfree co-workers might have. I sent her assistant an email expressing this concern and shared a story with them and told them they would not get me to repeat it on camera. Here's a link to their website: http://www.cbc.ca/venture/.

I can't help wondering if the producer has thought through how sensitive the issue of childfree vs. parent co-worker issues might be for someone on camera? If one of our members has a good story to tell and it's about a current or recent work situation, that could come back to affect them in the workplace. Their story is about conflict (media always goes for sensational) and there's a good chance No Kidding! will not event get a mentioned by name. There's hardly any PR value in it for us, but lots of risk and I am worried about our members' privacy.

I wish I could define the specific opportunity that this media attention represents. So often things are taken out of context in small sound bites. Last year, a producer from the Mom Show called and wanted someone from our group to be a guest. I never heard how that went...can anyone fill me in?

February 15, 2006

Hiatus & Childfree Book Review

Creator/Founder/Researcher/and future Author of Purple WomenTM -- Teri Tith -- is taking a one week break. Blog on!

See the comments for NikkiJ's book review on Childfree and Loving It!

February 11, 2006

Project Update: Survey

To date, 73 Purple WomenTM have taken the survey! Many thanks to all of you. I promise to honour your words.

Purple Women as Volunteers

Adults who are not raising children have more time to volunteer/work late/take vacations/pursue hobbies/have a social life. Fill in the blank how ever you like. Some of us learn about volunteering -- becoming a part of that magic thing called "community"-- at home. For others, like me, it may take a seeming lifetime to discover the joys of it.

Local newspapers often feature outstanding community volunteers. Ever noticed the reoccurring theme in the interviews that they give? All of these volunteers talk about the intangible, immeasurable reward they receive in return for giving of themselves. We are not talking money here.
Right now, I'm helping the local No Kidding! chapter host the 5th Annual Childfree Festival in Toronto, Canada June 15-18. We are expecting between 75 and 150 childfree adults to attend. I have had the privilege of meeting many fine Purple WomenTM through this international social club, even though only a handful of the more than 100 childfree individuals associated with the Toronto chapter actually turn up for the regular dinners and other activities. That's all you need to do to be a member -- participate. No Kidding! It's an all volunteer and like other volunteer-based organizations, what you put in is what you get out. There is no office, there is no staff; there is a postal box mailing address, a website and an online message board to keep us connected to each other.

If there isn't a chapter in your area, you can start one. Two volunteers in Vancouver, BC (who happen to be married to each other) serve as the strategic planners and spokespeople for all the chapters. Since the organization was founded by a man from British Columbia, the Vancouver chapter is considered "Chapter One". They can connect you to other chapter leaders for ideas and inspiration. If starting something new just isn't something you can take on this year, consider attending one of the No Kidding! events -- or better yet, volunteer your time to organize an outing. We will be looking for a few volunteers as the date of the Childfree Festival nears...details will be posted on the Toronto No Kidding! message board. Please check the links in the sidebar for more information.

February 09, 2006

Purple Woman: Further Defined

Treacherous or Adventurous?

There is an add running in Canada right now that shows a series of pictures with two opposing captions. Their point, I think, is that two people can look at the same data and come up with different conclusions.

When this blog was first established, I published a post called "What's a Purple Woman?" That's the burning question when people first hear the term. As the creator and founder of Purple WomenTM, I very much embrace the values of inclusion and diversity. The goal is to have many voices represented here, indeed our blog team has British, New Zealand, U.S. and Canadian voices as contributors -- and we are just getting started.

The unique quality Purple WomenTM have in common is that nobody calls us "Mom". For most of us that means that we do not have children in our family, nor plan to. I admire and want to learn from those who have always known childfree was the path for them, also called "early articulators". That is really how this whole project came to fruition. Very selfishly, I need thier wisdom, support and encouragement because my path is a different one. If I can help someone else along the way with what I create (website, blog, survey, articles, and eventually the book), even better.

Since launching the survey I have heard from a couple of women who are disappointed that step-parents are not included in the questionnaire. I welcome them to the Purple WomenTM circle, but dare not change the focus and design of my survey or risk corrupting the data. At the same time, I would gently ask...

"If your step-child knew that you considered yourself childfree, would it hurt their feelings?

The term Purple WomenTM is a creation of my imagination, and thus needs defining and refining, and I appreciate the feedback. Creating a dialogue is the most important aspect to this blog. On that note, I will place a few key links -- Defining Blogposts -- in the sidebar to help establish my intention. Stay tuned!

February 05, 2006

Purple Woman Online Survey

After toiling many months from original seedling of an idea -- now is the time for implemenation! The Purple WomenTM survey is finally ready.

All childfree women living in North America are invited to take this survey online between now and the end of August. It's fun, and lighthearted and should only take you about 30 minutes (unless you really have a lot to say!). This survey is your chance to tell the "childfree" side of things, shed some light, express yourself.

The results will first appear here on this blog, then be published in more detail in the book I plan to write, called Purple WomenTM. Your identity will remain anonymous within the context of the study. You can learn more about how the data will be handled to ensure your privacy on the Purple Women™ website. There is a link to the Privacy Statement at the bottom of every page.

The official Purple Women™ website introduces the project, my intentions and myself. Of course, you can skip all that and go directly to the survey!

On Being a Child-free Teacher part two

So, if I think kids are so great and I do find things I like a lot about teaching them, why don't I have any of my own you might be wondering? (or not!)

Basically, because that way at the end of the school day, the kids go home and I don't have to be responsible for them until the next school day. I find it hard being "responsible" for 28 plus little people all day! Oops so and so fell over! Quick! Get ice! Write it in the book! Don't forget to tell mum cos if it swells you'll really get in trouble!

Hmm, that person who wants to take home little Johnny, I don't recognise at all. I'd better call mum and make sure it's OK for that man to collect him. And so on and so on! I just love getting home and not having to think about such things!

And I love getting a good night's sleep without a baby crying or screaming and waking me up!

I work at least an extra hour a day than some of my colleagues with kids. Plus most of the less qualified and thus less paid staff have families, I worked it out it's about 90%! And the more qualified ones in better paid positions mostly do not! About 60 or 70%.

I also get to have a break from kids. I often say to people would you relish constantly taking work home with you? Would you think of that as fun? Would you say to customers, sure call me at home, any time? So why would I want to work with kids and also spend my evenings, weekends and holidays with them? I know people who do - many people - who do work with kids and have them, sometimes lots of them and they absolutely love it. But I am one of these people who needs a lot of "me" time, of down time. I go home to a child-free house and I absolutely love that! And I also know teachers who feel the same!

Plus I love little kids but - as I said before - I don't love teenagers! I just read recently about two different murders in two different countries committed by teenagers! So I get to be with kids at my favourite stage! And I don't have to have them for life! I don't think I'll actually be a teacher for much longer and it'd be nice to just work with adults in the future.

But for now it's nice in a way I have the best of both worlds! I get to have time with kids -- and the laugher and surprises there -- and I also get to have the extra time, money, energy and so on of my child-free life!

February 04, 2006

On being a child-free teacher part one:

I thought about being a teacher and being child free.
Well, hmmm. Oddly enough, I decided on both in my mid teens. Not on the same day!! I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to show kids all the wonderful things in our world, even just different textures, e.g. wool, things they can touch, and also field trips!!
However, for most of my career I have felt like I was pretty much stuck in one spot, so much for the field trips, they have been few and far between.
And, yes, if I had chosen to be a mother, perhaps I could have taken kids out and about...
But I still don't really regret either decision.
That doesn't mean I'll be a teacher all my working life, I'm considering a change in the future, if I do change my career, I'll keep ya posted!

What do I love about teaching kids?


Well, they amaze me how cute they are, how kind they are and how smart they are.

I work with little kids, three and four year olds but I have also worked with babies, toddlers and five year olds. I think that the little kids are not usually cruel to each other on purpose. Usually it's a case of you have the toy I want and that's why I hit you/don't want to be your friend or even, I want to be someone else's friend just because but it's NOT because you're a different ethnicity than me, because you're a different size than me etc. Believe me, people kids don't care about those things! Sometimes they notice that - for example - they are black, their friend is brown and the teacher is white. Do they care? No! They may say it as an observation but completely without any loaded intent. It's no different to them than the grass is green and the sky is blue. To kids both colours are equal!

When they are older, sometimes it changes. Ah, but where do they get that from? The racism? and other discrimination? Rhetorical question!

(Gender sometimes matters. Usually little kids play with kids the same sex/gender they are. But I have certainly seen exceptions!)

Kids can also be really cute (In My Humble Opinion) sometimes. So cute and yummy and delicious! Beautiful eyes, bone structure, skin, the cutest nose and so on!

But even if I don't think they are that cute at all, it is rare I can't find something I like about a child. (Yes, there have - unfortunately been exceptions there too but few and far between!)

Plus the intelligence!

They can surprise you at times with the things they know, the logical conclusions they reach, the things they remember! And the wonder when they do get to explore something new (to them!) you may have seen it a zillion times but it's new to them!

(P.S. did I mention how creative kids can be? Or how sincere?)

And ah school holidays! Love em!

February 01, 2006

What's in a Lexicon?

Lexicon: n. pl. lex·i·cons or lex·i·ca [ -k ] 1. A dictionary. 2. A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary: the lexicon of surrealist art. 3. Linguistics The morphemes of a language considered as a group. The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

What's in our lexicon for adults without children?

Childfree, child-free
Early articulator
Purple Woman
(T. Tith, Purple Women™, 2005)
Social progressive
(Mardy S. Ireland, PhD, “Reconceiving Women; Separating Motherhood from Female Identity”, 1993)
Transformational (M. Ireland)
Transitional (M. Ireland)


Mardy Ireland’s book was the very first one I read on the subject of being childfree. She points out that for women in particular, we are challenged by the fact that our language is very male-centric. She believes that our female experience is “not fully represented in our language” and that “only through writing can women claim their own destinies…”

The above list is not comprehensive. I’ve intentionally left out most of the negative, ill-informed labels that the childfree often come across in everyday social interactions. As it is, there are still quite a few loaded words on the list. Care to comment on any of them?

Re: commenting on this blog. You do not need to sign up for anything to comment on a blog post here. You can leave a comment signed “anonymous”, or even better, publish your comment under a unique blogger pseudonym!