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Childfree Author Laura Carroll’s Interview with Fab Over 50

When did you decide you didn’t want to have kids?
The signs were there early. I was never really interested in playing ‘mom’ or dolls. In Junior High, I was taking all these occupational inventories about things you could grow up to be. I was much more interested in thinking about career than looking into the future about when I would be a mom. A lot of women may have felt this way, but still chose a more conventional route and had kids because of outside pressures.

Why do you think you didn’t?
I had a godmother who influenced me when I was young. She was in her 20s, single and didn’t have children. It was an early model that you could grow up and didn’t have to be a mom. Also, I had great parents. They didn’t push parenthood as an expectation. They raised us to create our lives any way we wanted.

How did it affect your dating life? What’s it like to date when you don’t have a biological clock ticking in your brain?
I wasn’t marriage-minded. I dated because it was fun. When I met my husband, I was in my 20s, and he was 10 years older than me. He was neutral about having kids, and that was attractive to me. He had dated a string of women before me, and I think he felt they were looking for a father for their child over and above everything else, which wasn’t attractive to him. I took that expectation or pressure completely out of the equation, and he liked that.

How do you think the decision to get married is different if you don’t want to have kids?
For my husband and myself–and I see this with childfree couples of all ages–marriage is more about a commitment to each other than about procreation. You’re together as partners in life, for personal growth, and, for us anyway, adventure.

Did you ever contemplate having children?
I didn’t. He thought for a little while that I might change my mind. And we went through a few years of me saying, “No honey, I’m not going to change my mind, I promise.” We waited a little while to close the door with any permanent medical procedures! He wanted to be sure that if I ever changed my mind, he was in a position to have them. He was someone who was probably on the fence. He could have had them if his wife really wanted to, but since I didn’t want them he had no problem with that.

What has not having kids enabled you to do?
It’s allowed me to dedicate myself to my career in a very free way. When you don’t have kids, you could end up in your 70s with 5 careers, because you have more freedom to evolve and grow your work life in the directions that you feel are best–without constraints. It’s also allowed me to have a strong marriage and for my husband and I to support each other in our passions and careers. My husband’s career has evolved from working in human resources to high levels of environmental work-something he doesn’t think he would have been able to do if he had become a father.

Do you think going childless makes marriage harder, or easier?
I think not having children gives you the ability to tend to the issues in your marriage in a way that couples with children don’t always have. Some of my friends have told me that in a way they envy my husband and I, because when there are issues, we don’t have the distraction called “kids” that keep you from dealing with them. So many couples get divorced once they become empty nesters. Often they had issues all along but just didn’t make the time to deal with them. Once the kids aren’t there, they realize their marriage has problems, and some survive and some don’t. I’m not judging that at all–I just realize that it’s challenging to keep your marriage really strong and raise kids.

Has there been any time when this decision has been difficult?
Probably when my friends were young and started having babies. Initially, it was hard finding ways to stay in as much contact with them. But it soon passed, my friends are great–they never assumed that because I didn’t have kids, that I didn’t know anything about it and couldn’t be party to a conversation about it. They also did not lose interest in what I was up to. It’s easy to get hurt and feel defensive on both sides. Don’t take it personally–keep your eye on your love for your friend and your curiosity about her life.

Do you have any regrets?
No. As I get older, I see the great relationships developing between some of my friends and their older children. But I also understand what a huge commitment they made and what it’s taken to get to that place. I know I never would have been willing to do it. I’ve seen that there’s a better role for me to play. I am much more valuable being a really wonderful godmother and mentor to young women. Through my blog, I help support young women and their choices. Being a mother is not the only maternal role you can play.

Comments

  1. Hi Laura,
    Thanks for allowing me to publish your story on nonparents.com. I read the article with great interest and one point that my husband and I can identify with is that not having children has given us the opportunity to focus on our relationship and as a result, our marriage is stronger. This is the main reason why we made the decision to stop trying for a child after 9 years; we feared the strain of the whole process could be detrimental to our marriage. Had we had children, I am not sure that our relationship would be as good as it is now. Thankfully, we are where we are now and we woudn’t have it any other way

  2. LauraCarroll says

    Thank you, Nina! In June will celebrate 26 years of happy childfree marriage! ~Laura

    • How wonderful! Robert and I have been married for 13 years and going strong. A great marriage/relationship is a blessing and we both know that we are blessed to have found each other.

  3. LauraCarroll says

    I also meant to mention that the blog I refer to at the end of the Q&A is LaVie Childfree, which now lives here at my larger site: http://lauracarroll.com/lauras-childfree-writings/. There I continue to write on childfree topics, with a particular emphasis on the latest on childfree-related books and research, and staying up on all aspects of la vie childfree! ~L

  4. LauraCarroll says

    Nice! It is over 10 years old now, but sure was provocative and well received when it came out! Landed me on major talk shows, and So much media – definitely sparked the conversation that has grown so much since! The book still represents what so many couples say…..L

    • Credit to you for creating awareness among the wider public. I am sure that things were even more challenging then than they are today. What I found appealing about the Baby Matrix for example is that it is an educational tool for anyone wanting to know more about childlessness and to a certain extent the meaning of life itself. This is why I am also looking forward to reading ‘families of two’. Like in all aspects of life, Knowledge is key and the more one reads about childlessness the more one evolves as a well adjusted and happier human being.

      • The meaning of life is what you make of it. It is up to you to make something of it whatever your situation. Any book that helps change people’s perspective on childlessness can only be welcomed.

  5. Reading Families of two was quite revealing in that I was not expecting the fact that in many of the relationships the women were the ones who initially did not want children. I had anticipated that it would be the men, based on my personal experiences. I loved that all the couples seemed to be living meaningful lives and were very committed to their relationships.

  6. LauraCarroll says

    Yes, in my 100+ interviews for Families of Two it was the women that made it clear first that they did not want parenthood to be part of their marital experience. I was still actually surprised at how many men adamantly felt this way, although surprisingly many couples went into the marriage not having the kid thing clearly sorted out – today I might hypothesize that this would not be the case as much…! ~l

  7. Love,love,love this interview.Thank-you for sharing.I could relate to alot of this.
    I’ll be coming back to read this time and time again.

    • Very inspiring interview indeed. I am glad you enjoyed reading it. The comment you left on my latest post on facebook is very inspiring too. I hope you won’t mind me quoting you in one of my future articles.

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