When a married couple is child-free by choice, it seems there's a lot of explaining to do about why they're not having children. Even in big Hollywood movies like Sex and the City 2. (Are you on Team Big or Team Aidan?)
Several reviews of Sex and the City 2 brought up the issue of Carrie and Big deciding not to have kids.
Film critic Kim Voynar puts it this way: "Wonderful though being a mother is on many levels, it also complicates your life in many ways, and that's the truth, just as it's also true that our culture tells us that a woman 'of a certain age' without a child is somehow incomplete and must be unhappy, even if she won't admit it. And SATC 2 does try to address this issue somewhat, by having everyone Carrie and Big encounter question their decision to remain a wealthy, childless couple (one pair at the wedding actually physically moves away from Carrie and Big when they say they don't want kids, as if the desire to remain childless is a disease that might be catching)."
It's not "catching," as in communicable, but the decision not to have kids is a movement that seems to be catching on and growing vocal on the Internet. It's called child-free by choice. The reasons why some couples choose not to have kids "are varied and complex," an ABC News piece on the topic points out. "Some have environmental, religious, medical or professional reasons. For others, it's a matter of happenstance - they didn't meet the right partner or the time just never seemed right."
REDBOOK profiled one such married couple. Rebecca Stephens, a pharmaceutical sales representative, and Jim Stephens, a psychotherapist, have been married for 12 years and always knew they didn't want children. "When someone asks if I have kids, I often feel almost apologetic when I say no, like I have to provide a 'good enough' reason or they'll take pity on me and assume I can't have children," said Rebecca. "But I just don't have the gene for wanting a child, and I don't think having a child would improve our relationship. I usually tell people that we've chosen to go the dog-and-cat route and leave it at that."
Rebecca went on to list what she likes about being a family of two. "Being the only people in this relationship, we are each other's first priority, emotionally and otherwise. We are more communicative and can lavish attention on each other - something we might not be able to do if we were always focused on baths and homework. We also like that we get to live a bit more whimsically without children. We can take bigger career risks - I had my own business for a while and Jim started his own practice two years ago. We travel a lot, and we go out even more than we did when we were single." What if your worry is that you won't be "good enough" at motherhood?
We also got a significant online response from child-free couples on our "How Many Kids Should You Have?" piece. Reader kirby78 commented: "I have been with my husband for 11 years. We are not child-hating adults who complain at the sight of a baby, nor are we career-driven yuppies. We are not self-absorbed, selfish, or immature. We are a normal, well-adjusted, happy couple who has decided to never have children. The reasons are varied and far too in-depth for a short comment here, but it would be nice to also address 'Families of two' who, whether by choice or circumstance, have decided that two adults *are* a family." Another reader, heather-ann, cited medical issues: "I was diagnosed with uterine cancer at the age of 29,and subsequently don't have any 'baby making bits' left. Dealing with the pain of being infertile and with adoption processes that were both insensitive and invasive, my husband and I have grappled over the years with the idea of our family being 'just us.' To yet again be presented with the idea that without children we are incomplete as a family seems somewhat unenlightened."
Back to Sex - is it a big deal that Carrie has never carried a child? Does it make the Prestons a selfish couple because, as Voynar puts it, they "have plenty of money with which to raise a child (or two, or three) but they are staunchly devoted to remaining a childless couple, keeping all their time and money and spendy couches and designer clothes to themselves?" What if you want (more) kids and he doesn't?
Voynar gives her verdict: "In a way, sure...but isn't it better, if people know that they don't have the kind of energy and selflessness that being a parent requires, for them to be honest about this and not bring into the world a child whose presence would ultimately be resented just for the sake of fulfilling some societal mandate to reproduce?" Either way, here's how to make sure you have (and keep) a happy marriage.
What do you think of the decision not to have children? Is it selfish? Or are couples who choose to be kid-free just self-aware enough to know that, for whatever reason, they're not parent material? Are you child-free by choice?
More from REDBOOK:
Why the Right Bra Instantly Takes Off 5 Pounds
Diet Myths That Make You Fat
Mini-Makeovers That Boost Your Look and Mood
10 Ugly Truths About Men Revealed
- Get More on Love, Family & Fashion - Subscribe to REDBOOK & Save up to 84%!
Connect with REDBOOK:
- Become Our Fan on Facebook
- Sign Up for REDBOOK's Free Weekly Newsletter
- Follow Us on Twitter
- Enter to Win FREE Daily Prizes
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.