June 27, 2007

Just Be Yourself

by Shelley
Regular Contributor to PW&F
Personal Blog: End of the Tunnel

You’ve heard it a million times – whether you’re getting ready for a first date, preparing for a job interview, or meeting the future in-laws, someone always offers the sage advice to “just be yourself.”

This is probably the world’s most widely used adage, and it sounds so simple on the surface. But when people give this advice, do they really understand what they’re saying?

Because if you’re truly being yourself, you are guaranteed to irritate, offend, or otherwise alienate someone along the way. What is pleasing to one person will grate on the next person’s nerves. Everyone will not always agree with you. And worst of all, you will eventually commit the cardinal sin of going against the flow.

As a childfree Christian, I feel the ramifications of being myself most strongly in traditional church environments. It seems that church folk encourage you to be yourself…“unless.”

For example, “Be yourself, unless you don’t like the way we do things around here.” We’re “family” oriented, so if you’re uncomfortable participating in programs orchestrated around parents and children, you’d best keep your mouth shut and do it anyway. And for heaven’s sake, stick with the prescribed “Christian” lifestyle. A woman who’s uninterested in motherhood is misguided and sad – a child is the only thing that will make you truly happy, and if you choose not to have one, you surely aren’t following the will of God.

When it comes right down to it, what people really want is for you to be like them. Because if you are finding fulfillment by doing things differently, that just might mean that they are the ones who could have made better choices. And where Christians are concerned, I think sometimes instead of deepening our relationship with God to find confidence that we have chosen the right path, we instead find that comfort in the fact that everyone else is doing the same things as us.

Romans 14:22 says, “Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.”

My husband and I believe children are not in God’s will for our lives, and we strive to ensure our thoughts and actions mirror that belief. I rejoice in being myself, because even if others don’t understand, I know God approves!

Flickr photo by
geopollock (cc)
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June 26, 2007

Childfree Advocate

Guest Contributor, M, has given me permission to share a recent comment she made in response to an archived post by LauraS titled Am I A Childfree Advocate?:

"I think advocacy is absolutely needed, however none of us are obligated to be advocates simply by virtue of choosing to be childfree. We do not have to speak for or defend the group just because we are a(n unofficial) member.

And I agree that many or most of us are not pushing for a childfree society; only speaking up for the legitimacy of our personal choice to not have children and defending that choice as one that is equally valid as the choice to be a parent.

Some think childfree means wanting no one to have kids, or hating kids, or hating parents, etc. etc. etc. when all it really means is voluntarily choosing to not have children of our own.

I think most of us just want our choice to be respected and not routinely criticized, questioned, or judged (of course, we can't control others' thoughts or speech, about any matter, nor expect others to think as we'd like them to). And, we want to be treated fairly in society (this I think we can and should expect to change or better control), which is partly where the advocacy part comes in.

I, for one, think it's really important to speak up and work toward employee-friendly policies at work and elsewhere, or family-friendly policies that are truly friendly toward all families, including those without children."

Her thoughts ring clear as a bell with me, though I do not know a lot about the specific issue of workplace "policy" equality. Please let us know if you'd like to hear more from her on this topic!

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In the Company of Grandmothers

This past weekend I attended two gatherings: One a monthly meeting of nonfiction writers and the other a BBQ dinner hosted by neighbors. These were great opportunities to catch up with people I like and admire.

Most of the women were grandmothers, or grandmothers-to-be, and on both occasions the main subject was children and grandchildren.

Normally, I would feel excluded in these conversations. However, this was different. All of these women knew me, knew I was happily childless by choice and was working on a book and documentary on this subject. All of them appeared to respect my choice and understood that I also respected their paths as parents and grandparents.

Other than mutual respect, what did we have in common?

The common theme of these conversations was "setting boundaries." Grandmothers and grandmothers-to-be talked about how to communicate to their children that they would not be full-time babysitters for grandchildren. They were finally empty nesters and they valued the free time and the lifestyle they had come to enjoy, and were reluctant to get sucked in to that full-time guardianship role again.

I could identify with that. I set boundaries early, when I chose to babysit at thirteen to earn some money. I told my clients I would not babysit infants and toddlers who were not toilet-trained. I would not day-sit or do overnights. Eight hours in the company of children was my limit.

We also talked about this new generation of parents: how paranoid and nervous they were. I told them how my cousin is considering implanting a chip inside his infant son’s body so he could find the child if he went missing. A grandmother lamented that she could not watch TV in the presence of her grandchild because her daughter didn’t allow TV for her children.

Another grandmother said her daughter had told her that she did not want her child exposed to unsterilized surfaces, plastic toys, and sugar or sugar substitutes. This woman’s husband was peeved over the fact that he could not take his grandchild for an ice cream. These women worried that their grandchildren were being over-protected, isolated from the real world in which they would eventually navigate on their own and from the bacteria that might save them one day.

I found myself nodding in agreement and sharing a laugh over many of these stories. Modern parenting is a huge challenge for both the parents and the grandparents. The stress, the worry, and the inevitable guilt when things don’t go perfectly are the acknowledged pitfalls of caring for a small child. That’s one reason why I never wanted to take on the full-time guardianship of an infant.

Apparently, some grandparents feel the same way.

Flickr photo by
by garethjmsaunders (cc)
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June 25, 2007

Ground Rules

  1. No Flaming, and please keep to the topic of alternative, childfree life experiences and reflections. Let’s have some fun!
  2. Avoid jargon, acronyms and “insider” terms so that others will be able to follow the conversation.
  3. It’s okay to disagree. This is a place for discussion and all viewpoints are valuable, however if your comments are off-color or off-subject, our finger will be hovering over the delete button.
  4. We reserve the right to close a conversation once it has run its course.
  5. Easy on the CAPITALS.
  6. Tip: Spell check before posting your comment, and consider using a pseudonym instead of just be "Anonymous".
There, now you can leave us presents...(your comment is a gift)!

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House Keeping

When I created Purple WomenTM back in September 2005, I gave careful thought to the kind of dialogue I wanted to create. I realized our childfree topical focus could potentially be controversial, even confrontational on the Internet, even more than in person because, in the blogosphere there is anonymity. All the same, I did not want to shy away from civil disagreement.

Upon launch, I had some very explicit Ground Rules at the top of the sidebar. Then I figured out, that people simply didn't know how to leave a comment. I had to change this and although I was nervous taking down the guidelines, the change has increased our participation. So with risk there is reward. The Ground Rules have been neatly summed up:

"Keep it clean, not mean"
Our title includes "& Friends" now, though I suspect that we have mostly childfree women reading and participating. Everyone is welcome. In fact, I think it gets more interesting when our childed friends, or a complete stranger weighs in on our topic. Always refreshing to get a new perspective.

Today, I will republish the Ground Rules, just to keep us all on the same page. Probably not necessary, as Purple WomenTM are really quite civil!

Flickr photo by
by lisa que (cc)
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June 21, 2007

Something Missing?

I don't know why all our post titles this week have question marks. Perhaps it's a way of saying, "we don't have all the answers". That withstanding, I do have a bright idea (blogable thought if not completely original) based on a comment recently added to an older post titled Pets as Kids?

Furthuring the dialogue about the "child-substitute" label that has been applied to pets owned by childfree adults, Anita writes:

"A friend of mine saw a picture of me looking down at my dog who was laying upside down and said, 'Girl, you need to start having babies.'"
Purple WomenTM know pets and kids are completely different packages of obligation and responsibility. I think that applying the label "child-substitute" makes childed others more comfortable around us to think we are fulfilling a natural urge, but it's none too flattering in implying that something that is lacking.

Is it really so hard for people to imagine happiness in leading a life based on a conscious choice to live differently, say, without children? Sounds a lot like some of the issues gay and lesbian couples face. Hey, at least childfree adults can marry!

[Photo: Buttercup, pictured above is Teri's favorite pet chicken.]

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June 20, 2007

World Childfree Day?

Last year, I discovered this holiday. This year, I plum forgot about it. I knew it was coming, but somehow Hallmark didn't have the merchandising out there to tickle my memory. To make matters worse, when I Googled the term, I couldn't find the group that originated it. Their site seems to have disappeared. I think it was Australian, but I could be wrong.

I did find the event held by the Houston, Texas No Kidding chapter. They may be the only ones keeping this fledgling tradition alive!

Can anyone out there shed some light? What has happened to World Childfree Day? Has a pro-natal Internet terrorist
virtually destroyed it? It was supposed to be the first Sunday in June.

Did any Purple WomenTM out there celebrate it? I joined two other lady friends for a weekend of golf and golf lessons. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate our holiday. Mark your calendar for next year!

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June 19, 2007

Too Many Childfree Books?

I’ve spent the last week emailing and writing literary agents pitching my book on childfree couples. In most cases, agents send a form letter, declining. However, a recent rejection email I received from a literary agent in New York read:

"There seems to be a lot of books on this topic for the market."
I thought…What? She had not yet requested my proposal, which identified less than 10 comparative books which had been published in the last 10 years. In fact, when I did a search on amazon.com, I found over 20,000 serious nonfiction books targeted to parents and less than twenty such titles targeting childfree/childless by choice couples. Perhaps she didn’t know how many of us are out here.

Editors at American Demographic magazine dubbed the childless by choice the "Missed Market" along with Gays, Lesbians, Bi and Transgendered. When I did a search on GLBT books, I found over 300 recently published books targeting this market, including at least three on gay tantric sex, which I thought was pretty esoteric subject.

Are we overexposed as a demographic? Are there too many books out there for the childfree in partnerships? You tell me.

My favorite book on the childfree is Why Don't You Have Kids?: Living a Full Life Without Parenthood by Leslie Layfayette. Unfortunately, it’s out of print, but you can still get used copies through the above link at Amazon.com. The reason I’m writing my book is that I could not find another, more current book, that read like this 80s classic.

Perhaps my book’s not sexy enough. Maybe I should write a childfree tantric sex book.

Yes, perfect!

I’ll call it Tantric: Uninterrupted.

Flickr photo by escruiba (cc).

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Contributor Guidelines

Purple Women™ Team Blog
Contributor Guidelines
Mission Statement
The purpose of the Purple Women™ team blog is to…
• Create a community of online friends
• Manifest a socially significant dialogue about being childfree, and…
• Unite Purple Women™
• Dispell myths about who and what we are in society, our institutions and families.

The Team
Purple Women™ blog team members, Regular Contributors, are childfree women -- all! Our ideal team is diverse in opinion, age and background, and fluent in English. Team members have responsibility for introducing topics by publishing original blog posts, and participating in discussions (commenting on other’s posts).

Some turn-over is expected. Blogging is not for everyone, and sometimes you don’t have as much time as you think, but hopefully being a contributor will become a habit and a hobby you enjoy. Becoming a Guest Contributor is also an option.

How Often? Posts vs. Comments
Regular Contributors are encouraged to post – on a weekly basis, once or twice a month at a minimum. At the very least, please keep up by reading and commenting on other’s posts. The goal of this blog is to have fresh content on a weekly basis, a minimum of 2-3 posts per week. More is okay too. Fresh content keeps our reader’s attention.

You may want to subscribe to the blog using the Feedblitz form in the sidebar. That way you will be notified of new posts by email when they appear on the site. Only the first paragraph will appear in the email, and only once a week on Fridays.

Dialogue is the goal, and comments brings value to readers and enlighten us all to different perspectives. Participating in the online discussions via commenting is just as important as original posts (and they take less time to create!).

Before you put up your first post, make sure you know where we’ve been, from an editorial standpoint. You can view the previous posts by searching by Topics, found in the sidebar. If you want to do a “Book Review,” just make sure it hasn’t already been covered by another contributor!

Here are some ideas for posts:

• Famous PW
• PW in the news
• Answer to: “Do you have kids?”
• Role Models
• Choice vs. Circumstance regarding childfree status
• Childfree stereotypes in the media
• Book Reviews
• Telling your parents/friends/co-workers you are childfree
• How you came to be childfree
• Why you are childfree
• What your unique childfree holiday traditions are…
• Religion and the childfree
• Culture and being childfree

The above topics may have been covered, but not from your unique perspective!

Teri Tith is the creator and founder of Purple Women™ and serves as its administrator. Only the administrator can change the settings on the site, i.e.: determine who can post, what kind of comments are allowed (anonymously or not), and how the page looks, etc. Teri manages the tags and the sidebar items, but feel free to make suggestions at any time.

The administrator has access to all blog posts, so if there are typos…they will magically disappear. The administrator will not change your words or your content without discussing it with you first. The administrator cannot alter comments, but can delete them entirely if they are off-color or offensive.

Next Step:
Send Teri an
email if you are interested in becoming a contributor to the Purple Women™ team blog, and send her your topic idea.

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June 14, 2007

Book Review: Women without Children; Nurturing Lives

By Twiga92 Former PW&F Contributor
Blogs: Caught Between Worlds, Twiga's Book Reviews, "Something About Me" Reading Challenge

"What is the meaning of childlessness in women's lives, and how do they construct lives challenging the expectation that all women are, or should be, mothers?"

For those who haven't read any childfree literature, then this book may be somewhat informative. It felt repetitive to me partly because I'd read it all before, but also because the author selected interview subjects who say the same things over and over, just from different perspectives.

Women without Children: Nurturing Lives by Yvonne Vissing gets a 3.5/5 star rating for me. Though the book had good information, it seemed rather bland and repetitious to me. She interviewed a number of women, some of whom were childless by choice, others not by choice.

There was a chapter on infertility, miscarriage and infant death. This would probably be a good book to promote discussion on the whole topic of women without children and on how being a mother is not what defines a woman.

"For women, childlessness has fundamental implications for their identity. Motherhood to them is a club that you cannot belong to unless you have a kid."
Chapter titles include:
  1. Childlessness in America
  2. The Pushes and Pulls of Childlessness
  3. Impact of Body, Mind, and Family Interactions
  4. Consequences of Partnerships
  5. Lifestyle Choices
  6. Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Death
  7. Choosing to End Family Dysfunction
  8. Processing Childlessness
  9. Child Haves and Have-Nots
  10. Nurturing Others
  11. Childless Women Growing Older
  12. Reflections on a Childless Life
Overall, I came away a negative feeling from this book. It focused on the down side of being childfree, portraying women who were infertile and thus regretful, and women who were concerned about getting older and what they should do with the things they leave behind.

The nurturing chapter gives one the impression that women who don't have children can still be nurturers in other ways. This is true. But just because I'm a woman doesn't mean that I'm also a nurturer. The two don't necessarily go hand in hand.

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June 12, 2007

Follow Up: Initiative 957

Apparently, I am not the only one to be confused on the whole idea behind Washington State's Initiative 957. Our co-contributing editor, Laura Scott, did the homework for us. She asked me to publish the following to clear the air. Thanks Laura dear!

Why We Should Support Proposition 957
by Laura S. Scott

I've fielded a number of outraged emails from my childfree and childless friends about the proposed Washington State Initiative 957.

Here's the scoop: unlike previous "Defense of Marriage" initiatives, the people behind the Initiative 957 are not social conservatives trying to ban same-sex marriage or childless/childfree marriages.

They are "concerned citizens" who are trying to challenge the assumptions behind an earlier Washington Supreme Court ruling that asserted that procreation in marriage serves the state's interests.

Randy Stapilus of Ridenbaugh Press does a great job of spelling it all out in his recent article: At Their Word. He summarizes that proposition 957

“would limit marriage only to male-female couples who are capable of having children with one another," specifically barring marriage - in case anyone missed the point - "when the parties are unable to have children together for any reason.

After getting married, the couples would have three years to produce (and not by adoption) at least one child, after which they would file with the county a "certificate of marital procreation."

Of course it is, but so was the Washington Supreme Court Anderson v. King County ruling that said "limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation" and is "essential to survival of the human race."

Childless marriages a threat to the human race? C'mon. Childless marriages and smaller families are what averted the so-called "Population Explosion" predicted back in the 60's, when governments around the world were adopting policies and passing laws that would reduce the number of new births, and avert anticipated economic and environmental disasters.

Those efforts led to the one-child policy in China; perhaps well intentioned, but poorly and cruelly implemented, leading to unforeseen and unwelcome consequences such as the dramatic increase in abortions of female fetuses. Now a young Chinese man is less likely to be a father, because he has difficulty finding a wife!

Perhaps there's a lesson here for legislators who attempt to intervene in matters of love, fertility and marriage.

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June 10, 2007

Write a Letter

Today's Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle featured this story on the front page of the Style section: Group Weighs in on Advertising Impact.

"You don't have to be a radically minded person to change the way that women and girls feel about themselves. You don't even have to consider yourself a feminist. You just have to know what bothers you and what doesn't and do something about it."
-- Jennifer Berger, Executive Director, About Face

Purple WomenTM and their non-purple friends who are raising daughters will appreciate what this organization is trying to do. Have you ever been standing in line at the grocery store and tried not to look at all the demeaning women's magazines that are offered there? They focus on an ideal image of beauty that we cannot all possibly meet. Well, this organization aims to do something about it. We are consumers all, and we make choices every day that support the hidden messages that are embedded in these headlines, articles, and ads. We decide to shop at that store, to buy that magazine, etc.

Puleeeeeease, don't buy these magazines! Make a donation to About Face (www.about-face.org) instead, and write a letter to the publisher, or better yet to the manager of the store. About Face is going into schools to educate future consumers, all in the name of building self-esteem for young women. Bravo!

Ladies, it's time we re-write that nursery rhyme,

First comes love, then come marriage...

...and then comes whatever the hell you want. (Pardon my French.) And, if you don't believe that, then somewhere along the way, the system has failed you -- your family unit, your schools, your community, publishers of women's magazines, and TV magnates -- society at large perhaps.

The official website associated with this blog (www.PurpleWomen.org) will evolve in this advocacy direction, and we can take a lesson or two from the advocacy pages on the About Face website. There are lots of examples of letters that have been sent and a few responses from the producers of the offensive advertisments. I have always believed in the power of a well-directed letter. As we continue to examine how childfree women are portrayed in the media, we can blog about it here, and we can also write letters.

They say one well-written letter is worth 100 people behind it who feel the same way. Every politician knows this. So, where do we begin? In the U.S. we are coming up on an election year. Let's keep an eye out for our first collaborative effort. Purple WomenTM, let's weigh in -- remember, you don't have to be a radical feminist to do it!

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June 07, 2007

Heads Up

The June issue of Unscripted: A Childfree Life, our lifestyle-specific ezine is online, and there is a good article on the topic of aging childfree adults by Kim Kenney, the Married No Kids Editor over at Bella Online. Here is a choice quote by Kenney:

"As we face this crisis with our friends, it reminds me how important it is for us to establish relationships with all kinds of people. A network of friends can be there for you for a variety of reasons."
Yo, check it Purple WomenTM!

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June 06, 2007

Please Read This

The Purple Woman known as BritGirl really nails it with this quote on her blog this week:

Childfree people do not have to justify their choice not to reproduce, so please don’t ask us “why we don’t have kids.”
Read the entire post here.

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June 05, 2007


What's in a number? Well, I've just submitted an application to add this blog to the directory called Blogs By Women. This is the number of women-owned blogs we hope to be associated with, plus potentially their readers and whomever they are connected to. That is the beauty of the blogosphere. (I just love that word, don't you?) I am sure there are a few Purple WomenTM among them!

As previously experienced with other directories, it is difficult to determine which category we come under. Which heading would you have selected for our topic of focus on childfree women?

  • Family & Parenting
  • Feminists & Feminism
  • Gender & GBLT
  • Sex & Sexuality
  • Society & Culture
The answer will be revealed in a comment here!

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June 04, 2007

Childfree in the Military

Nothing more pleasing to me than to hear from new Purple WomenTM on front page posts. If you like what you see here, tell a childfree girlfriend!

My duties as blog owner/author have always include monitoring and responding to comments. That used to be exclusively on the main page, but n
ow that our site is more searchable, I am finding that new visitors are exploring more, and a comment can appear anywhere in our voluminous postings. This is kinda fun for me. Occasionally, I will elevate a comment, or a portion of one, to the front page.

This week, I fielded a new comment on
The Question. It represents the first time we have heard from a childfree, married member of a military family, specifically the Royal Air Force.

I am 31 years old, married for 9 years in August this year. You wouldn't believe the number of people that have asked me WHY we got married if we weren't planning to have any kids, much less straight away after the wedding.

I always say that we got married because it meant the RAF would have to provide us with a house (which is true) as my husband is a technician, and has been since 1994. The reaction to that sort of materialistic response is just outstanding, as people think that I really mean it!
She has probably not heard of the ridiculous Initiative 957 in Washington State, which would force couples who want to marry to prove that they are able to have kids together before they can get a marriage certificate. Really just a knee-jerk reaction to deny gays the right to marry, the intentionally childfree heteros are just lumped in I guess. Not stellar legislation.

Did they ever get enough signatures to bring it to the ballot? I will report back later this week.

Flickr photo by MatthewBradley (cc) FYI, the copyright holder insists these are all women in the photo.

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June 03, 2007

Growing Old

I found this appeal posted on able2Know.com:

It appears that I am going to end up single, childless, and alone. This didn't bother me when I was younger, but as I get older, it does. What do people do when they find themselves single, older, and with no family? Any ideas? What kind of supports are out there? Thank you!
Click the above link to see the very good comments and suggestions that were posted in response, including my post suggesting a visit to Purple Women & Friends

What suggestion do you have for people who aren’t exactly relishing growing old without family or kids?

Flickr photo by Remyyy (cc)

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