Here is Beth’s story:
I have no children. I’m 67. There are a few things I want to pass along to families as they plan their family size. 1) Having children is great for many people but is not right for everyone. 2) The decision of not having children does not mean not valuing children, or that children cannot be part of your life. 3) A woman does not have to feel like a failure if she does not have children. 4) Having fewer or no children can be an unselfish decision. Respecting the fact that the world has limited resources and the fewer the people who are trying to get a share, the more there is for each one. When I was younger, I thought I might have children if the time felt right – if I felt ready and I had a partner who wanted children and would be a good father. I never really made up my mind that I definitely did or did not want to have them. As things turned out, when I was of child-bearing age, I was not very mature and do not think I would have been a good mother. I ended up marrying late – I was 42 and my husband did not want children. I figured that was okay because it was late in life for me to be thinking about becoming pregnant. Since the marriage didn’t end up working, it was much easier for us to go separate ways without children to fight over. I continue to believe that in my case it was better that I did not have children. I am grateful that I did not have parents who pressured me to have them. I am also grateful that I am not one of those women who feel incomplete without children. I am sure there are many rewards of having children – and many challenges. Likewise there are many rewards and challenges of not having them. What I am determined to do is to see the positive things about the life I have ended up having, and there are many.
I still care about children and about future generations. I believe the earth has finite resources that have to be shared by more and more people every day, so my not having children leaves more to go around for the children who are here. I do things with and for children of family members and friends, like helping to pay for college. Sometimes there is a child I form a special connection with and we spend more time together. I believe children benefit from adult attention and from a variety of adult role models, and sometimes the parents need a break. There are many paths to choose from, all with good things about them,and not one right answer for everyone. I remember the beaches of southern New Jersey where my grandmother lived, when she was alive and we used to visit her often. We walked down a gravel land between sanddunes and bayberry bushes to a wide open beach with shell treasures to find. We knew other people on the beach. Then they added 3 blocks of motels between what had been the most ocean side street and the ocean. Since then those have been torn down and condos built. The beach is crowded and the bayberry bushes and most of the dunes are gone, as well as the storm protection. You are lucky to find an intact shell. There are not as many birds or butterflies. I wish today’s children could see all that used to be