May 30, 2007


Do Purple WomenTM and their male (or female) counterparts have higher relationship success rate? It has been pondered. We do not have the added pressures of raising the next generation after all. I wonder what a study would reveal if one could be put together. Alas, we, the childfree, are too small a subset to examine, but I have been reflecting lately on marriages.

Last fall, my husband and I re-entered life our former life in Norther California and have been busy reconnecting with our intimate friends since. Perhaps being out of the coutry has shielded us from the reality, but many relationships around us are failing. We all know the divorce rate is uncomfortably high in the U.S. Love brings us together, somethimes it produces a baby, sometimes not...but what keeps us together?

I honestly do not know. I read an article recently in which the CEO of a professtional matchmaker firm was talking about why people should use an expensive service like hers instead of relying on a web-based site like One woman wrote a seven page essay on her ideal mate. The CEO was encouraging of this. It made me think about how little effort I put into my social life and still I got lucky and found my Tom. Did our two souls just know each other from a previous life? Somehow we found each other in the primordial soup of this life.

A friend of ours whose wife just left him after only one year said to me:

"You need to be a happy on your own first, You cannot depend on or expect your mate to be responsible for how you feel. You have to live in the moment."

He was determined not to let this crush him emotionally. I think he was trying to say that it important to take responsiblity for your own happiness. If you are not happy, you have to look for yourself first. It does require a certain self-reliance and introspection. This sounds a lot like a Buddhist tennet of accepting responsibility for your outcomes, in a universally kharmic sense. Not unlike the aboriginal boomarang, what you put out there just may come back to you. Not unlike the Christian's belief that "God helps those who help themselves".

I believe a successfull relationship has more to do with this attitude and acceptance of yourself and your mate than the decision to have or not to have children.

What do you think?

Flickr photo by switchpack (cc)

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May 28, 2007

Got Baby?

I was flipping through Self Magazine and came across a "Got Milk?" ad. I’ve seen plenty of these ads featuring celebrities with milk mustaches in magazines and on bus shelters, but this one gave me pause.

It features actress Mariska Hargitay, cradling her son, August. The tag line beside her milky grin reads: "All figured out." The following text starts with: "Motherhood brings fulfillment, and a new focus on getting back in shape." It ends with "Case closed."

I’m sure the last line was meant to reference Hargitay’s current role as a detective on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but I can’t help but read this and think: here’s another example of what Ellen Peck called corporate "baby sell." Sell babies + sell motherhood = sell milk.

I used to be peeved when advertisers used scantily clad women to sell everything from vodka to cars, now I find my self being similarly annoyed by the glorification and exploitation of babies.

I can imagine the call from Mariska Hartigay’s agent:
Hey, Mariska! Great news! You’re the new milk girl! But there’s a hitch: they want your baby stripped down to his diaper, or no deal.

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May 23, 2007

Big News & Help Wanted

I have decided not to write the book, Purple WomenTM. After investigating the costs and the prospects, I have determined that publishing a book is not a luxury I can afford. Online publishing is more cost-effective, and if done correctly, has the potential to reach a larger audience. I am satisfied with this blog as my contribution to the childfree realm and I will endeavor to keep it going and make it the best I can. Toward that end, I ask for your help on...

How to improve this blog?
What topics most appeal to you? What new topics would you like to see? How did you discover us? How can we reach out to help more childfree women discover us? What do you like most about this blog? The least? Feedback on any or all of these questions would be most appreciated.

I am still rebuilding our already, crowded sidebar after making the cross over to Blogger's new version. I stare at this blog so much, sometimes I cannot see what's obviously missing. Today, I added back the GeoVisitors link that allows you to click through and see what part of the world our readers are checking in from. I like to try and guess who I know in that country. I don't know many people in Iran, but my Uncle does live in Tahiti. If you like this tool, just click on the link I've provided and put it on your site.

I’d like to see our Contributor ranks fill-out again. In particular, we have not heard from the 50+ group of women who have traveled the childfree path. Their voices have been missing. It would also be great to have a Canadian, a Brit, an Auzzie, moreover, English-speaking Purple WomenTM regardless of ethnicity or nationality represented here. Your perspectives and experiences would be most welcome. We have had one parent, and a couple of men write for us in the past. Thanks again to all our contributors. You know who you are!

A good way to test the waters is to become a Guest Contributor. Guests Posts should be 500-words or less. It can be one-time only or more than once. Regular Contributors commit to being a regular voice in this space, and actively participate in the leading the dialogue by making comments, regardless of who is posting. I'll post the Contributor Guidelines later this week. No. It doesn't pay, but then, this blog is not monetized.

Lisa, one of the founders at BlogHer, has assured me they now have a program for non-mom ads that are simply geared towards women. Planning to give it a try. We may not all be moms, but we are still shoppers. I have been wary of placing any robot-generated ads in the sidebar, like Google AdSense, as I fear they will pick up on the word "child" and we'd get diaper ads -- ahhhhrrrrrg!

Stay tuned for these changes and more improvements to come. If you have an idea, please post a comment here or send me an email. My thanks in advance, and I hope to hear from you.

Teri Tith
Blog Owner/Author
Purple Women & Friends

Flickr photo
by Ian Broyles (cc)

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Workplace Stategy from a Pro

Wanted to share an article titled Avoiding Conflicts Between Parents and Non-Parents in Yahoo! HotJobs. It is written by Tory Johnson, CEO of Women For Hire and the workplace contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Thanks to the Purple Woman who sent this to me along with this comment:

…wanted to say thanks for doing this blog. It really helps to know that there are others out there just like me!
This kind of feedback keeps me blogging. Thanks for sharing this with us D.H.

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May 17, 2007

When Did You First Have "The Kid Conversation?"

When I began interviewing the childfree by choice this was one of the questions I would ask couples. Some would say this conversation happened very early in the relationship. Others would say that they assumed they would be parents until a point, years after their marriage, when they began to challenge that assumption and talk seriously about whether or not they would have children.

the Episcopal Church in North America, acknowledges "child-free monogamy" and encourages couples to have the "kid conversation"
I also heard stories from parents who told me that their children’s marriages were at risk because one spouse wanted children and the other didn’t. In these cases, I wondered: If we encouraged young couples to have the kid conversation before marriage, could we lower divorce rates?

Back when we were counseled before our marriage (by my uncle, a protestant minister), children in marriage were presumed by most faith communities. That was in the late eighties. But today, when close to 20 percent of women in the United States may never have children, can we continue to make this assumption? I don’t think so.

Which is why I went looking for guidelines for counseling couples before marriage. Many of the guidelines I found assumed parenthood, encouraging couples to discuss how they might choose to raise children and handle their faith education and how they might manage disagreements and manage money.

I was only able to find a few guidelines that encouraged couples to discuss to what degree children were important to their lives. One set of guidelines, excerpted from Nolan and Kirkpatrick, Living Issues in Ethics and used by the Episcopal Church in North America, acknowledges "child-free monogamy" and encourages couples to have the "kid conversation" but, as I would find, guidelines that do so remain scarce in our faith communities.

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May 14, 2007

Teri's Top Ten Reasons

Why Childfree Adults are so Controversial:

  1. We have given it a lot of thought, and we made a conscious decision not to have God’s gift to the world.
  2. When someone meets us and asks, “Do you have kids?” and we answer, “no,” we don’t want to talk about their kid anyway.
  3. Some of us think we think we are actually helping the earth by not having children.
  4. Some of us own an SUV even though we don’t have multiple sport kids.
  5. We expect the same compensation package at work and the same work hours, even though we don’t have kids to raise.
  6. Future tax payers “don’t grow on trees”.
  7. We think Sponge Bob is a friend who wants to borrow money.
  8. Everyone thought we’d be a good parent, and we didn’t do it, against everyone else’s better judgment.
  9. We have been deemed good breeding stock and we didn’t give it up for flag and country.
  10. We continue to have sex, even though we have no intention of procreating.
Purple WomenTM and friends, do you have other "reasons" to share ?

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May 10, 2007

Step-Parenting: Tastes Great - Less Filling

Guest Post
by Jules
Canadian Telecom Consultant
Blogs: North of the 49th, Floobergeist

Childfreedom wasn't thrust upon me, and yet, I didn't take up the mantle myself all-at-once. It was a gradual process.
As priorities changed, perceptions changed, and careers changed. As I grew up and became more self aware, I began to realize the pieces of my life that were critical; and those that weren't were slowly shuffled to the back of the closet. Having my own children: Not Critical. Participating in a child's life: Important.

At the same time that I realized that I was a child-freebie, I fell in love with a man who had 2 daughters from a previous marriage. I squinted, I wrinkled my forehead in concentration, and I pictured myself in their lives. And it looked good. I could maintain the lifestyle I had built and the freedom I cherished, and add on a new dimension. I didn't need or want to go through the "baby-mother-delivery-give-up-everything, risk your marriage and your personal livelihood to procreate" process, and yet the idea of having a permanent relationship with children wasn't unappealing.

Fast forward 4 years: Every other weekends and every Wednesday night. I get a good, healthy dose of kiddos for 125 hours a month, in bite size pieces. I'm not really a step-mom, although the girls identify with that term more than I do. They're at a stage where everyone needs a label.
I'm just Jules. I'm the one who doesn't need to keep things equal, and the one who's allowed to have favourites.
Who doesn't crumble at the sight of small tears, who tells you to suck it up and get over it. I don't have to be the one who gets up at 3 am, unless I want to. I'm the one who's objective, and plays the devil's advocate. I'm the one who stresses independence and encourages creativity.

Playdates FREAK ME OUT. I involve myself in activities as *I* choose, or not. My goal is to influence, open doors, create opportunities for the girls to experience things they wouldn't normally experience with their parents. I'm their portal into the unexplored. I play on *my* terms, and sometimes not-at-all.
People ask me all the time: "when are you going to have your *own* children?"

My answer: "I'm quite pleased with the children I've got right now, thanks."
Their dad is just that: their DAD.

(cc)Flickr photo by Lorrie McClanahan
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May 09, 2007

My Plans for Mother’s Day

My mom lives in another country. My husband has an invitation to attend the Players Championship PGA tournament in Florida. So I will be alone and I will have a free day to myself on Sunday, May 13.

Mother’s Day.

What does a temporarily single childfree woman do on Mother’s Day?

Answer: Whatever she likes.

A free day with no looming deadlines, no dinners to cook, no appointments, no commitments. What’s not to love about that?

Here are some possibilities:

Golf. Those desirable tee times will be easier to get. The Dads will be tied up treating Mom to lunch.

A date with Dr. McDreamy. A marathon of recorded Grey’s Anatomy episodes I’ve been too busy to watch.

Pulp fiction. A welcomed change from the usual nonfiction books and articles that make up my research.

Retail Therapy. The stores will be quiet and I can wind my cart leisurely through TJ Maxx looking for bargains. Or check out the new books at Barnes and Noble.

A long bath and pampering time. Time to dig out that pumice stone out and get my feet ready for sandals.

What will you be doing?

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May 03, 2007

In Reply to Baby Bonuses

We have LauraS to thank for her recent post about governmental experimentation with baby bonuses. She shared a riveting 3,000-word white page authored by Ross Guest examining all aspects of this pronatalist policy. His article appeared in the think tank publication Policy, which has been covering big issues and creating a public policy dialogue for Australia and New Zealand since 1984.

Mr. Guest's article is well-researched, but his endnotes alone would take you a half an hour to read -- not a blog reader’s usual attention span, so I decided to post my reaction to it on the front page in order to shed more light on this important topic.

Most noteworthy:

  • One measure of determining appropriate growth rate is to compare it to income per capita, i.e.: What can the people afford on their real incomes?
  • Population growth is a factor of immigration and fertility. How does a country chose a correct demographic path? This also raises some ethical issues. If it’s not about sheer numbers, then what is this policy about?
  • According to the movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the ultimate world population number is 42 -- ha ha! What is that,…one person per country?
  • Everyone knows that the bigger market always gets catered too. It means bigger profits, but did you know:

“A larger market can also stimulate innovation by making it more profitable. A higher population also implies a greater probability of knowledge breakthroughs which have positive snowballing effects on productivity (a process of so-called endogenous growth).”

  • Japan, Russia and Italy…and who knew, Singapore are all experiencing population declines. New Zealand and England are on the list too.
  • Canada has a Baby Bonus program!!!
  • Australia and the U.S. are not in population decline, neither is the world at large. The U.S. population is maintaining replacement rates. Australia's population is projected to grow.
  • U.S. tax benefits have may have attributed to the Baby Boom generation phenom. It's hard to prove.
  • Singapore’s baby bonus comes with strings attached, to be sure some of it goes to benefit the child.
  • The unanswerable question: What is ideal population,, more Catholics? Muslims? We know what the Pope would say.
  • Who pays? All of us. Remember we little people, childfree or not, fund the government.

Here’s the author’s summary:

"In summary, is the Baby Bonus a good pronatalist policy? The negatives are that it wastes expenditure by paying parents who would have had children anyway, and a more debatable negative is that it allows parents to spend the money on whatever they want which may include plasma TVs and so on that may not benefit the child. The positives are that it is simple and transparent, and it allows maximum parental choice with regard to expenditure. My view is that Singapore got it about right with its initial model, in two ways: by paying only for the second and third child, and by having two components—a lump sum cash payment and a co-contribution toward education expenses. Not paying for the first child partly alleviates the ‘waste’ problem, and the economic case for encouraging large families by paying a Baby Bonus for fourth and subsequent children is weak due not least to concerns about the average investment by parents in education per child when there are large numbers of children."
Draw your own conclusions Purple WomenTM.

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Don't Drink and Blog

Don't Drink and Blog

May 02, 2007

Tragedy Compounded

I live 40 minutes from Virgina Tech.
The day of the tragedy, my friend Claudia in New Jersey, called me and asked if I would call hospitals closest to the university campus because her friends were not able to reach their daughter, a student at Virginia Tech.

I was helping my mentee do a college paper at the time. I asked her to use her cell phone and call the Montgomery County hospital, the one hospital the distraught parents could not reach, due to the volume of the calls. We connected with the hospital and asked if this student had been admitted. They told us they could not tell us, it was a privacy issue. Until they had notified next of kin, they could not say who they they treated, only that they had admitted a number of Virginia Tech students. I called Claudia and told her I couldn’t get any information. She said the parents were on their way to Tech.

The next morning my friend Claudia called me and told me that this student had been killed. I responded, "oh, shit!" My heart tumbled and I had no words. I could not imagine what these parents were going through. I have no point of reference, other than friends and family who have passed suddenly. The shock is numbing, I know. But I don’t know what it means to lose a child.

Tonight, I watched Oprah. One of the people she featured on the show was women who had lost all four of her kids to the estranged husband who came into the house while she was on a early morning walk and shot all their sleeping children and himself. She admitted to Oprah she had planned to commit suicide. She could not imagine life without her children. This earlier appearance on the Oprah show had helped her to change her mind and carve out a new path, which led to second marriage and the birth of twins.

It was clear that this woman had a very difficult time imagining a life worth living without her children. Eventually she found a man who fell in love with her and accepted her tragic past and fractured healing. It was not enough to find this person; she also wanted another child. She got two—lovely twins—while the pictures of the children she had lost remain plastered over her refridgerator.

Her husband and the twins were featured on today's episode, proof that there is life after a tragedy as senseless and devasting as this. From my childless-by-choice perspective, I am left with these thoughts:

Was the new family critical to her healing?

Was her identity so tied up with being a mom that she could not see a happy life otherwise?
I am saddened by the fact that this woman could not imagine a path to happiness that did not include biological children. She clearly had much success as a mom. She had raised four wonderful kids. She was a good mom and perhaps she wanted to continue to do something she was happy doing. I get that.

What I don’t get is why some women feel motherhood is the only path to fulfillment. Perhaps they don’t have childfree friends. Someone who can say that it is possible to be happy without children. There are other ways to utilize the skills that served you as a mother. Mentoring, managing, foster care, childcare, volunteer activities focused on children. Or not. Dian Fossey found her fulfillment living and dying in the jungle advocating for her gorilla families.

This woman admitted that, in the aftermath of her childrens’ murder, she could not pass a soccer field without crying, so I can appreciate why she didn’t think of these of these alternatives in the short term. But they exist for her, and others like her, who have lost children and long for the experience of caring for a child.

The childless and childfree who want the experience of children in their lives know this.

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Fare Thee Well

K on canvas Boggle Letter U d O DSC01573.JPG
The voices of 16 Purple WomenTM and a few Purple Men have been featured on this blog since it's inception on September 2, 2005, including eight regular contributors and dozen or so Guest Contributors.

This blog has connected you to two very unique Purple WomenTM, Debi Martin, who blogs as Twiga92, and Robin. They have taken their leave from us as Regular Contributors, but you can keep in touch with them on their personal blogs (invitation only in the case of Ms. Robin) and dialogue with them here as I am sure they will be keeping in touch, possibly sending in a burning Guest Post from the front lines from time to time.

Three cheers for Twiga (means: giraffe in Swahili) who joined us in March 2006. She has been a contributor with us for an entire year, publishing 23 posts from a childfree Christian perspective. Debi grew up overseas as a missionary kid, born in Asia and graduating from high school in Kenya. She is married, has two cats, and loves books, scrapbooking and the occasional geo-cache adventure, all of which she continues to blog about prolifically on her four other blogs. One of her best posts for Purple Women & Friends, if best can be measured by the number of heart-felt comments, was her post titled: Being Christian and Childfree on May 25, 2006. Thank you Miss Twiga for the contributions you made this past year in our childfree space.

Also, thanks and best wishes to Robin (a.k.a. hismuse on MyBlogLog), our youngest contributor and a blushing bride about to become a Purple step-parent. Robin made a big impact in just six months with our team, contributing fourteen posts and generating quite a few comments in that short period. She truly came with her own blog posse as she was already an avid blogger contributing on more than one team blog when she joined us. Her post with the most comments was Fence Sitting published on August 25, 2006. A mother of two furkids, and a non-practicing Jew, you can keep up with Robin on her personal blog: The Road Less Unraveled, powered by WordPress. Thank you Robin, and congratulations on your engagement!

You can find the volume of posts contributed by these two ladies by clicking on their name under the Label section in the sidebar. If you're new to this blog, they'll still be fresh as a daisy.

Well done ladies! Keep on blogging!

On that note, if you are interested in contributing a Guest Post, or considering a longer term assignment with us, please send Teri an email. We have a few openings.

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