Have you had the conversation about kids?

“We could have been parents: the conversation that changed our lives” is the title of an article in the UK’s Guardian that almost could have been written about my husband and me. The writer, Ruth Wishart, says she didn’t bring up the subject of having children until she and her husband Rod had been married for two years. She just assumed they would have kids. When she started talking about when to have them, she found out he didn’t want to have children at all. Happy with her life and career at the time, she let it go. Eventually she had her tubes tied. Then the unexpected happened: When she was in her 50s, her husband died suddenly, leaving her feeling very much alone.

I’ll let you read the article for the details, but so much of this story is familiar. As you can read in my Childless by Marriage book, Fred did tell me before the wedding that he didn’t want to have any more children, that the three he had from his first marriage were enough for him. He told me how he felt, but I really didn’t talk about how I felt; I assumed he would change his mind. We didn’t have the conversation we should have had. Instead, I let it go, too. And like Ruth’s husband, mine died. So here I am with my dog.

I’m not looking for sympathy at this point. My life is pretty good. What I’m saying is the same thing I have been saying here for years: For God’s sake, talk about it. Even if it causes a fight or sours the relationship, don’t hold it in. If you want children, say so. If you don’t want children, say so. If you’re not sure or might be willing to compromise, say so. Talk it out. Don’t let it fester, and don’t let yourself get caught in a situation that breaks your heart. Please.

Thank you to Beth at the Children or Not blog for letting us know about this article.

I welcome your comments.

Book Review: Baby or Not?

I just finished reading this short e-book which I think you would be interested in.

Baby or Not: Making the Biggest Decision of Your Life by Beth Follini, 2013. This 76-page Kindle e-book by the woman who writes the Baby or Not blog needs a little editing, but the content is helpful for anyone trying to decide whether or not to have a baby. Its chapters include: the effects of having children on career and finances, situations where one’s partner doesn’t want children, co-parenting and foster parenting, the decision to be childfree, and having a child as a single parent. Follini, who lives in the UK, is a life coach who specializes in helping people make the baby-or-not decision. This book offers solid information on the options and a step-by-step process for figuring out what you want to do.

 Follini includes a whole chapter on what to do if you want a child but your partner doesn’t. Often it isn’t that the partner has made a clear decision against children but that he keeps putting it off or won’t talk about it. It may also be that the relationship has other problems. Or perhaps the one who wants children has not been clear about what she wants and needs. Follini asks questions to help people sort this out. Is he firm in his decision not to have children? Will you stay with him anyway or will you leave in the hope of finding someone else who is willing to be a parent? The answers may be difficult to face, but in the end, it might be better to know than not so you can make a decision and move on. 

I have long maintained that couples need to talk about this issue in depth, not in quick asides and assumptions. I didn’t do that. Too insecure to stand up for myself, I let the men in my life make the decision by default. Don’t do what I did. Figure it out before you run out of eggs. 

New e-book helps people decide: Baby or Not?

For a lot of readers here, it all comes down to having a baby or not having a baby. That’s the topic at Beth Follini’s Children or Not blog, which I have been following off and on for a couple years. She is a life coach who specializes in helping people struggling to decide whether they will become parents. Now she has published an e-book called Baby or Not: Making the Biggest Decision of Your Life. I just ordered it at Amazon, and I’ll let you know what I think. Meanwhile you might want to click on over to the blog and read it for yourself.

On one of Beth’s posts, she talks about another writer who is seeking interviewees for her own book project. I’m seeing more and more books about childlessness. When I started writing on the subject, there wasn’t much to read. Obviously people are talking much more about it now. They’re writing books and articles and forming groups. This is a wonderful development. I think people without children will be much more accepted in years to come than they have been in the past.

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My dog Annie turned five years old on Saturday. My sweet baby is an adult. I didn’t bake her a cake, but I did sing “Happy Birthday” to her and spoil her with treats all day. Yes, she’s a dog, but when I think about how much time and energy I spend taking care of her, entertaining her, and making sure she’s cared for when I’m away from home, it feels a little like motherhood. Among the many childless women I’ve talked to, most seem to have close relationships with their dogs or cats. I have a long chapter on that in my Childless by Marriage book. Is it an alternative form of parenting? What do you think?