Recently I was looking at books on Amazon about deciding not to have children. My husband and I made this decision about five years ago and it’s been a good one for us. But I like to see what’s out there in the universe of books written about not having children, and I can tell you there isn’t much.
I picked up a book called Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice. This is a preview, not a review, as I only read the introduction but already it gave me a lot to think about. Two is Enough is by Laura Scott, a researcher who founded the Childless by Choice Project. She spent about five years surveying and interviewing people who are childless by choice, to be able to put some data on the question of why some people choose not to have children. She is also childless by choice, and felt it was important that someone with that perspective conduct this research. Scott also has a blog on this project here.
You might wonder, if you haven’t thought about it much, why anyone would write a book about not doing something. But for those of us who have chosen not to have children, it’s a pretty interesting subject.
The book’s full title appears to be a bit misleading based on the reviews and the introduction. This is a book about Scott’s research on how childless couples describe their motivations for remaining childless. It also sounds like an affirmation of all the positive things about being childfree. And it’s a reminder to the rest of the world that we “childfree” are sane, normal people even if we’ve made a choice most people don’t understand.
So sounds like more of a guide to choosing not to have children, rather than a “Guide to Living Childless” — but I really would like someone to write that book. For me, the question isn’t “do I regret not having children” or worse, “do others regret having children”. We all have to make a decision one way or the other. I can’t say what my life would be like without children, and my friends and family can’t say what their lives would be without children.
But we all have to co-exist, not camp out on either side of the wall, which is what it feels like sometimes.
As I enter my forties, I’m comfortable with the decision we’ve made, but often less comfortable navigating the consequences of the decision. I have the same priorities as most people: to be a good person; to be a good sister, aunt, and daughter; to make the most of my life; to be a good friend. But being childfree, or childless (whichever term you prefer), affects all of those things.
I guess I really want a book that has recommendations like: how to answer people’s questions about children without sounding defensive or making others feel uncomfortable; how to be a good aunt without imposing on other family’s holidays; how to ensure I have a fulfilling life even if I don’t have a child playing soccer or making art projects or singing in recitals; how to not feel self-conscious about having more money, time, or ability to travel than those with children; how to maintain a long and meaningful relationship with my husband without having children to talk about; and how to address the family conflicts that arise from not producing grandchildren. Most importantly, how to deeply enjoy my life without children, but still stay close to my friends and family that have children.
I don’t think that book exists. But certainly there must be people out there with thoughts on the topic.
Of course I’ve made a lot of assumptions about Two is Enough just by reading the introduction. And it might be very useful for someone who has to make this decision. So consider this Part I and I’ll get back to you when I’ve finished the book.