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Old 01-14-08, 07:21 PM   #1
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Child-free Living

Nope, not you empty nesters... This is directed to us 50+ers who never had kids.

How has it affected your life? Have you done anything in life to get your "kid fix"?

For me, I think that being child free has kept me more like I was as a youth since there was nothing really telling me that I was getting older.

My ex and I did not have kids because of medical conditions that occured a year after our marriage. And we did not feel that adopting children was what we wanted to do.

For "kid fixes" my ex and I would borrow friends kids for the day, take them to Marshall Scotty's for the day, get them sugared up and drop them back at their parents. One year, I played Santa to my niece and nephew because everyone else in the family had decided not to exchange gifts and it was my first good year after school. Other things were helping with the local Soap Box Derby as technical directory, and teaching after school classes at the Boys and Girls Club.

Bicycle-wise, well the niece got her first bike that year, and other years I have contributed bicycles to others Christmas drives.

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Old 01-14-08, 08:49 PM   #2
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My wife and I have been together since our college days in the late '70's. As we approached 40, we suddenly realized we were getting old and now wanted kids! For a variety of reasons, we found that it just wasn't going to happen using the available hardware, so opted to adopt two. It's been a great ride! I'm not going to say that some days aren't without severe challenges and stress, but if it wasn't for the kids, I probably wouldn't be biking or rollerblading today! While I thought I would always be a kid, I came to realize how stogy and set in my ways I was becoming. I think the children have allowed me to 'reconnect' with my own youth, get outside more, and get back into reasonable shape.

Edit: I should also note that we have had several high school exchange students (2 full year, 1 part year, one as an 'arrival family'). That has been very rewarding as well. Last year we all went to Japan for the wedding of our eldest exchange daughter, and I have visited two of them while on business trips previously.

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Old 01-14-08, 08:52 PM   #3
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There is no inherent virtue in being inclined towards or skilled at raising kids. Right for some people, wrong for others: heaven knows I see the difference in my classroom every year.

My two are mostly out of the house but we stay close....for which I'm very glad. I would count my own life as incredibly less if I hadn't had children and been an active parent for 20 years...being a single parent made it even more so. Hiking Yosemite, curled up on the couch watching tame monster movies, trips to AcuteCare, etc. etc. are woven into my life as a kind of foundational tapestry.

Teaching keeps me with kids, young people, novice humans. The schools where I've taught are like streaming life in which I'm the salmon....well, most of the time. Children, my own or someone else's, are like distilled life in which I can give a helping hand-- not always possible with adult lives.

For me, children up into their late teens are a wellspring of life and energy-- sometimes good & sometimes difficult. Rather than being reminded by them I'm old, they keep me reminded I'm alive.

But we're all different and find that sense of delight and affection in our own places. The main thing is that we find it.

Sounds like a rant-- but a positive one!

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Old 01-14-08, 09:10 PM   #4
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I didn't get married til I was 44 (or was it 45?), and my wife was the same age, which made the decision pretty simple. We have, however, served as hosts to numerous international students and interns who have passed through our university town, and have found this to be very rewarding. If kids had been part of our lives, I think it would have been great. On the other hand, I don't regret the way things have worked out.
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Old 01-14-08, 09:20 PM   #5
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If I hadn't had kids, who morphed into teenagers, how would I spend my money?
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Old 01-14-08, 09:28 PM   #6
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When I was 14, I had already been babysitting for 4 years, and went down to volunteer to help an after school YMCA youth group that came to the local grade school. In a couple weeks, the college student who ran it left suddenly, and I just kind of kept it going while they could get someone new. The group grew within a month from 5 to 45, and I had to run it 2 days a week. Then when I got my license I ran around to different schools every day. It was only when I left that I found out that legally I should have been 18! They had never brought back a college student...

Then I was a camp director, then I got a job working with inner city behavior problem kids and kids in crisis. Did that for 10 years while I got my social work degree (and after... it didn't take me 10 years to get through school!). Ended up being Lead staff in charge of the whole residential program on the weekends. I knew a couple hundred kids by name at any given time. Planned to have a large family, but ended up avoiding the actual wedding*... I backed out twice. Never fell in love again, but I found out that I basically felt fulfilled by the thousands of kids I worked with over 15 years. The kids in the residential treatment program really felt like they were my own kids... enough to know that I never wanted to be a single mom. I wanted BACK-UP!

So, yeah, I wish it would have been different, but those kids had an impact on my life that I still feel. They still recognize me on the street! Some have been killed, some have turned it totally around. Some are in prison, some of them have totally mainstreamed. It was a great career, until I left to make money.

Edit: PS: If you ever want to do something rewarding, try giving a kid back their childhood. I once spent an entire summer taking a bunch of 8-12 year olds on snipe hunts! Each kid had an essential tool. like salt or a flashlight or a paper bag. Complete strangers would catch on to what we were doing and tell us of snipe sightings. They never grew tired of it, convinced that they could find one.
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Old 01-15-08, 12:26 AM   #7
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Never had them, never wanted them. I made all my spending money in HS baby-sitting and the wife was the eldest of eleven kids. We were burned out before we started. Every few years we would baby sit when we were younger. Now we have 3 cats.
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Old 01-15-08, 04:31 AM   #8
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No kids, never married, no regrets.

My sister had two kids before she was 20 (not many options in a rural area in 1970 when one ends up pregnant), and her sons now have 3 boys of their own, ranging from 6-10. I see them a couple times a year, and that's enough to give me a kid fix.

As a young adult, I tutored kids in reading and math, and was a Big Sister to one girl, but I found that I'd rather spend my time volunteering with dogs. I've not much patience for children these days, especially when I hear from coworkers what's going on in the lives of their kids.

Geez, I sound curmudgeonly...
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Old 01-15-08, 10:06 AM   #9
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I think it is all a matter of personal preference, and what is right for one couple may not be right for another. The toughest situation is probably a couple in which one spouse really wants kids and the other definitely does not, although I know at least two highly reluctant fathers who grew to relish the role once the dreaded kids came along.

My wife and I are geriatric parents -- she was 34 and I was 33 when son #1 was born, and we were both 38 when son #2 came along. We had 11 very good years as a child-free married couple, we have raised two fine sons, and we look forward to empty-nesting with frequent visitation, plus future grandchildren. We feel totally blessed and fortunate with the way everything has worked out so far.
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Old 01-15-08, 11:07 AM   #10
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Anyone who criticizes another for either having children or not having children cannot possibly understand the situation of the person on the other side. That is nobody's business but your own. I had two children with a very poor choice on my part of a mother to have them with. And of course, I might not be perfect either. One of those children has brought me heartache and trouble all my life. The other one has been a lot less trouble (though she brought me her share) and a lot of joy and happiness. She's also given me two grandchildren to love. I married Lovey and her two boys when they were very young. I consider them my sons. She was pickier about who she had children with, and one of those boys is now a great light in my life, the other is really OK too.

I can tell you this. If I knew then what I know now, that first wife would have been left alone and I would have led a vastly different life as a result. Who knows how things would have turned out if? Maybe better and happier back then, maybe not. Maybe children, maybe not. So I am back to wondering why on earth would anyone feel the urge to give anyone else a hard time about a decision like that.
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Old 01-15-08, 11:46 AM   #11
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This thread should have been called "Child-free Cycling" to insure that it didn't get moved to Foo.

As a first time grand-pa for three days (дедущка for you smarty pants), I might look at the whole issue a bit differently, but our differences are what we all have in common.
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Old 01-15-08, 11:50 AM   #12
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I'm the oldest of three boys. Starting from the age of five I was put "in charge" of my brothers. This, of course, is complete silliness, but my parents didn't think so. As a result, I learned that children were squalling, noisy, disobedient things whose only use was to get you punished for everything that they did.

I was terrified at puberty and decided to get a vasectomy as soon as possible. Then I realized I was gay and it wouldn't be a problem after all. It wasn't so much that I was gay as it was the failure to deliver grandchildren that caused the final split between my parents and I. We remain hardly more than nodding acquaintances.

My ex wanted kids, but this was back in the day when single men, gay men or gay couples weren't allowed to adopt. It wouldn't have worked for me anyway since I was still too scarred by dealing with my brothers. He doted on his niece instead and when the opportunity arose, left me for an insta-family with a gay dad.

I have a niece and a nephew by one brother. Until they were in their late teens, I couldn't really relate to them. My youngest brother has two daughters, but he's feuding with the rest of the family, so I haven't seen any of them in years.

I have friends who can't have children because she's a transplant patient. They became foster parents and adopted a crack baby that had been placed with them at birth. Interestingly, I've always related well him and we are closer than most natural uncles and nephews. I was the one who finally was able to teach him to ride a bike, probably because I'd had similar issues transitioning from training wheels. I expect we'll remain close for a long time to come.

As for the rest, not having to support a family has meant I could be flexible in employment and have completely quit work twice to start my own businesses. My current business requires only a couple of hours a day of attention. I also work part-time at the public library for the government and union benefits. My schedule at the library consists of the leftover shifts parents find difficult, and I'm the first one called for when a sub is needed. Meanwhile, I have plenty of time for bikes.
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Old 01-15-08, 11:59 AM   #13
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This thread should have been called "Child-free Cycling" to insure that it didn't get moved to Foo.
I will have to trust in the moderator's discretion. In many ways this thread cannot belong in any other forum. It would take being 50+ to have enough perspective on your life to answer the question properly.

For me there have been effects, though I cannot really judge them. Had I kids, I might not have kept bicycling all my life. Car-free and car-light living is much more difficult with kids. And you don't have the time for weekend wandering about on bicycle. That was what I was most interested in, not whether it happened, but how it affected you.

Most of my friends as a young adult were child free. Not that we realized it at the time, but then as we got to our 40s, we realized that we had not reproduced. Friends with kids seemed so different.

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Old 01-15-08, 02:57 PM   #14
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I love the expression "Empty Nesters", just wish we were. My wife and I have three children all in their twenties but they keep coming back! My wife pointed out that there is at least one of them "in crisis" at any one time. We now have a three year old grandson who I look after three days a week while daughter number one works so my cycling time is very limited. However, young Oliver is great to be with and I enjoy every minute with him; playing, reading and going out. As someone once said about grandchildren, "I wish I had had them first!
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Old 01-15-08, 03:39 PM   #15
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Nothing to add to this thread, as I am an empty nester, Except to say Welcome Paul- Even if you do live at the wrong end of the country.
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Old 01-15-08, 05:14 PM   #16
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How lovely life would be...
if kids were really free.

Just thinking
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Old 01-15-08, 05:16 PM   #17
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My wife and I have three children all in their twenties but they keep coming back! ... As someone once said about grandchildren, "I wish I had had them first!
That is why I call them the boomerang generation. One of mine keeps coming back, but the other daughter has a stable relationship. Unfortunately she has no intention of having children, and the boomerang daughter shows no sign of settling down. Grandchildren are the main reason for having children, and I would feel cheated if I don't get any. Guess I can borrow children as Arkansas has done, but I still have some hope.
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Old 01-15-08, 06:04 PM   #18
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One of the really right moves I've made in life is to have seriously dated only women who have about half the parenting instinct and desire that I've got. And my level is incredibly poor, as I realized around the age of 18 that I had absolutely no desire to put with children for anything longer than twenty minutes.

Second really right move was to only date women who were cat lovers. To quote the bumper sticker on an old girlfriend's car, "If I need to hear the pitter-pat of feet around the house, I'll put booties on the cats."

Right now, it's the four of us: myself, Patti, Dixie and Linus - the latter two just joined the family in November after the death of their predecessor.

I like toys, freedom and cats. That usually makes children a problem.
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Old 01-15-08, 06:10 PM   #19
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When we got married in 1980 my wife told me she couldn't have children and that was fine with me. Two years later we had a daughter, but I didn't really warm to the idea until she was in my arms in the hospital nursery. Raising her and watching her grow was a blessing and I thank the Lord for His gift every day. Having said that I think my life would have been fine without having a kid because (other than my Daughter) I still don't do well around children. They just don't fascinate or entertain me like a lot of people and I have very little tolerance for their whining and, well, acting like kids. But then I don't have much tolerance for adults that act that way either.
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Old 01-15-08, 06:28 PM   #20
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I have one group of friends that includes many (50's) couples who never had kids. They either went through all the adult level toys, of have traveled just about everywhere. Both are finding their scene coming up a little empty now. Bored with toys or travel.

One of the most adventurous travel couples I know did it all with two kids. Took them on a year and a half long, and a one year sailing vacation. Serious adventuring. What's the right pick? I really don't know. bk
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Old 01-16-08, 03:35 AM   #21
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I can relate to both sides of this discussion. Our oldest, who's actually
our third child, was born 10yrs after we got married. The twins followed
four years later. So we've spent close to a third of our life together
childless. While we were able to keep ourselves quite busy and well
entertained, we both feel the twenty or so years with the kids were
better years for us. Children have involved a lot of tears and heartache
for us, both in Hospitalisations and Funerals, and my bride has had a very
tough time being a mother and battling M.S. .....but we would both do
it all again if there were to be a do-over. Somehow, the kids have more than
replaced the fancy-free lifestyle we once enjoyed.

We all need to follow our own paths, as different as they may be. I guess.
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Old 01-16-08, 03:58 PM   #22
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Nothing to add to this thread, as I am an empty nester, Except to say Welcome Paul- Even if you do live at the wrong end of the country.
Thanks for the welcome. I have been contributing to the folding bikes page for a year or so now. What do you mean the "wrong end of the country"? Heading south from here, the world ends at Lancaster!
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Old 01-16-08, 04:04 PM   #23
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I love the expression "Empty Nesters", just wish we were. My wife and I have three children all in their twenties but they keep coming back! My wife pointed out that there is at least one of them "in crisis" at any one time. We now have a three year old grandson who I look after three days a week while daughter number one works so my cycling time is very limited. However, young Oliver is great to be with and I enjoy every minute with him; playing, reading and going out. As someone once said about grandchildren, "I wish I had had them first!
I've always heard "Grandchildren are God's gift for not strangling your teenagers"
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Old 01-16-08, 05:38 PM   #24
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I have one group of friends that includes many (50's) couples who never had kids. They either went through all the adult level toys, of have traveled just about everywhere. Both are finding their scene coming up a little empty now.
I hope there isn't the implication that having kids is what keeps life full. As a childless person I haven't found that to be the case.
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Old 01-16-08, 05:53 PM   #25
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I hope there isn't the implication that having kids is what keeps life full. As a childless person I haven't found that to be the case.
Yes, especially once the kids are gone and have their acts together. I'm finding most people with grown kids are living pretty much the same lifestyle I am, now.
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