There was a time when Betsy thought she was supposed to have kids, but never a time when she really wanted them. In her 20’s she made the decision to not have children of her own. She is comfortable with her decision. Others are not. When birth control started to cause blood pressure problems she decided to get her tubes tied.
Here is a bit of her story…
What do you think of children?
I always joke with my friends when they say, “You just must not like children.” I say, “I love children. They taste like chicken.” That always gets a good laugh. I actually like children. I really do. I just don’t want my own.
If someone waved their magic wand and you had children tomorrow, what would that take away from you?
I would lose the ability to do some of the things I want to do out in the community, to support other people, to give my time to certain things and causes, because I would be focused on the children. I also would not be able to pick up and travel and that is one of the things I love most in life.
What do you think is the primary reason people have children?
I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but of the people I know I think it is on accident.
I don’t know if I buy the accident story when people are having sex and not using birth control.
I don’t necessarily buy it either. Sometimes I think only one partner was in on the plan.
Have you experienced any difficulty socially as a result of your choice not to have children?
When people see something that is opposite of them they think it is ok to say something. You would never walk up to someone and say, “God your fat.” I find the same thing happens with not having children. People think you are selfish. I get that a lot. Anytime you have something new or you go on a vacation people say things like, “Of course you can. You don’t have kids.” It doesn’t matter that I have saved for six months, I am really good with money, I am a good planner, and I know what I want to do in my life. In their minds, it is because I don’t have kids that I am able to do things. Sometimes I feel those things get shortchanged.
How is it brought up that you are selfish?
People use that exact phrase. They tell me, “God you are selfish.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that. I get it a lot from older people, but I am surprised how often I get it from people in their 30’s and 40’s. Older people tell me I am denying my mother grandchildren or they say, “Are you living your life just for you? What are you planning on leaving in this world? Who do you think will take care of you when you are old?” I get the last one a lot.
Who do you think will take care of you when you are old?
I have the same option as everyone else. I am probably going to have to pay someone to take care of me. I think people who think their kids are going to stop their lives to take care of their parents when they have their own children, grandchildren and careers have pretty unrealistic expectations.
Have you ever felt discriminated against in a work situation because you did not have kids?
No, I feel I have had more career opportunities because I don’t have kids. As a childless woman that could work and could go on the business trips, I feel I was given favor because of that. All of the female senior managers at my last job were childless. I do not say that proudly. It is just the way it seemed to work.
What do you think is the fundamental difference between you and your family or friends who do have children?
I think I have a lot more self confidence than they do. I don’t think it is because I am better or smarter, because that is certainly not true. I think it is because all of my accomplishments are on my own and all of the accomplishments of people with children are through the children. I am absolutely not slamming them at all, but I think they spend so much time on their children that sometimes they forget about themselves.
How was it you decided to get a tubal ligation?
I started having blood pressure problems. I had taken birth control for twenty years. Taking birth control for that long can affect your blood pressure. I went off birth control and my blood pressure immediately went back to normal. When we couldn’t use birth control we decided this was the best way to go.
To some people this might seem a bit extreme. Was there any reason you decided to take it this far?
After over 10 plus years of knowing I didn’t want to have kids it just seemed like the best thing for me.
Does insurance pay for tubal ligations?
My insurance paid for it. I don’t know if this is typical.
Was it hard to find a doctor to perform this procedure?
I did not have any push back from my doctor or my insurance.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about people who do not have kids?[Laughing] That we are wild, have sex all the time and spend money like crazy. Granted we do have a lot of freedom in our lives, but it is not like we are having sex and decadent dinners every night.
Do you feel there is anything I did not ask you?
There are so many people that say their way is the way. You get that from people who have kids, from people who don’t, people who are religious, people who are not, Republicans, Democrats. I think the important thing to recognize is we are all on a path. We are not on the path. We should be respectful of other people’s decisions. We should understand why they are where they are and hopefully get the same respect back. I think it is the key to all of us getting along better and living happier lives. I certainly do not hate children. I love that other people are having kids and enjoying their families and obviously, [laughing] that there will be people to take care of me in my old age.
To learn more about Betsy and her thoughts on our chat go to: http://www.marriedwithluggage.com/2009/09/25/is-it-selfish-to-not-have-kids/