Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012, at 3:00 PM
Slate recently asked readers who are child-free and happy to let us know all about it—and did you ever! We’re posting some of our favorite responses on the blog this week.
Name: Monica Trombley
Location: Queens, New York
One of the main reasons I'm child-free is the fact that I'm an attorney who's seen and heard many stories about kids being treated horribly by their parents. I personally grew up in a household with an alcoholic father and a mother who put his presence in the household over the well being of me and my sister. When I was 7 years old, I was telling my mother she should get a divorce because my father was that bad. He would get drunk all the time, destroy our house, yell, scream, embarrass us in front of people. He got so many DWIs he ended up in jail for a time and was even on house arrest, complete with a monitoring device that would make noise at random when you were on the phone. My household situation was a well-guarded secret, something I didn't share with people for fear they'd not talk to me or would make fun of me for it. To this day, I resent my mother for putting my father ahead of us and continuing to live in denial about how bad it really was.
I'm not sure exactly when I became child-free. I never even pictured myself getting married and having kids out of wedlock was taboo in my family, especially with my mother. I always wanted to have a career and knew I was destined to do more than be a mommy like everyone else around me. In fact, I did not want to get married since I viewed marriage as giving up my identity and who I was as a person. I saw so many couples who did things they hated just for their spouse; I felt that if a guy really loved me, he'd never ask me to give up my career or to leave a place I loved. Perhaps I didn't want to have kids since I felt it would make me more like my mother, whose life I didn't want to emulate at all. I vowed not to be poor since that was presented to me as a major reason for my parents' unhappy marriage and why my childhood was the way it was. I view children in much the same way; so many people give up their dreams and their lives for their kids and put so much pressure on them to do what the parents never got to.
I got a tubal at 26 years old and had to fight to get one despite a) living in NYC, b) being married to a man as adamantly child-free as me, c) working in not one but two fields that are well-known for being unfriendly to kids (law and entertainment). The paternalistic treatment of doctors telling me they were going to "talk [me] out of it" still ticks me off (this happened in 2007) but what really took the cake was one doctor who outright lied to us about his willingness to respect my reproductive rights and our right to make decisions for our own family. He ended up changing his mind about doing the surgery and I found a specialist in Manhattan to do it after deciding I was going to lie about the circumstances for getting one.
Why should an adult woman be forced to lie to her doctor about why she wants to be sterilized? Why can't she just sign paperwork not to sue and be done with this issue? Why should lawsuits against surgeons for women who "change their mind" even be allowed? As a lawyer, I proposed to sign paperwork to prevent that issue every single time I asked about getting a tubal and still had doctors trying to talk me out of it. I never saw any of these doctors offering to pay for these hypothetical kids or gaining the weight and taking the damage to a woman's body that happens because of pregnancy. Maybe they should personally be found liable when some deadbeat mother has a kid and abuses it or lets her boyfriend do it. Then, they might think twice about this baby pushing they're doing.
In sum, I think kids deserve mature adults who love them and are willing to take on the responsibility and self-sacrifice to be a proper parent. No one should be forced into it. The only people proposing that everyone have kids have either not been watching the news in the past 30 years or are completely and hopelessly naive to the real world.
Previously in this series: