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Opinion Northwest

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February 7, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Readers debate the choice to stay childless (or childfree)

Some decided not to have kids. Some thought they did not want to have kids, but did and loved it. And some have kids but understand why others are opting out.

I’ve been overwhelmed by reader reaction to my column, “Why I’m not having kids.” The emails I’ve received have been thought-provoking, honest, heartbreaking and uplifting.

On Monday morning, I spoke with Steve Scher on KUOW’s “Weekday” about the column. If you missed it, you can listen to the recording at KUOW.org.

Danny Westneat, a columnist on the news side, made the chase for why you should have kids in a Wednesday column.

I wanted to share some of our readers’ thoughtful emails. I’ll feature other emails in the next few days. Come back to the Opinion Northwest blog to check them out. Here are some edited excerpts from readers who agreed to share their names.

From Kathy Rauzi in Woodinville:

I admire your making the decision to not do it as opposed to just avoiding it until you can no longer physically have the option. Good for you. …

When I was in your place, I was definitely not interested in having kids and for all the reasons that you listed. Then my husband and I started talking about it and I realized he really wanted kids and I had never told him before we got married that I didn’t. So I decided to have children because of no other reason than the fact that I could not bring myself to deny them to my husband after so many years of marriage and the assumption that we would. It was that simple.

I am now 57 years old. My children are 25 and 22. I can say without a moment of hesitation that they are the greatest thing to ever happen to us. I have loved every moment of being a mom and my kids tell me almost every day that I am a great mom.

I write this to you only to say — its too bad couples can’t try it out parenting. I almost made the wrong decision based on my careful thinking about whether I should have children and that thought came to mind immediately after I read your piece.

From John J. Shaffer of Stanwood:

You have nailed it that we will not have children to deal with our aging issues. We are not close enough to nieces and nephews to entrust them with “end of life” decisions. So who will have the power of attorney for us when the end comes? A difficult question, yet to be resolved, though we do have some one (a friend) in place in case of an accident.

You speak of having a lot more money to shower on real-life nieces, nephews, mentees and philanthropic causes. That is true in our case, as far as philanthropic causes is concerned.   Thus far we have endowed two significant scholarships, not for our own flesh and blood, but for students at a university. The one focused on the Congo gives a full ride to a student. The one in the United States only ‘helps a little’ for a student in the school we selected. The difference is in the obvious difference in cost.

Our decision enabled us to have some experiences ‘in the world’ that we would not have considered if children had been in the picture. We worked in one exotic place for seven years where I would not have taken children and we have had some travel opportunities that would not have been possible if children were in the picture. Children or travel? Many of our friends testify that they preferred the children, but others were able to do both. To each his or her own.

From Jenny Rhodes of Seattle:

I am the mother of two, and wouldn’t change it for the world, but I deeply respect your well thought out life plans. Too many people do not do that exercise before deciding to have children. So, thank you for doing your part for our planet and your family and for sharing your very personal life decision publicly.

0 Comments | Topics: children, family, women

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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