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Making the decision to not have children

Monday - 7/21/2014, 6:59am  ET

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In a recent interview, Cameron Diaz told Esquire Magazine she does not want to have kids. And more women are choosing the same path. (AP)

Women choose not to have kids

WTOP's Randi Martin reports

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WASHINGTON -- Not everyone wants to be a mom. Movie star Cameron Diaz doesn't, and she said so in her August Esquire Magazine interview.

Melanie Notkin knows plenty of women like Diaz. She is the founder of Savvy Auntie, a multimedia company designed for women who love kids but have none of their own.

"The truth is, more women are not having children by choice, like Cameron, or by circumstance," Notkin says.

"Some women are born knowing that they don't want to be a mother, and some come across that realization later in life."

Kensington, Maryland resident Stephanie Lukin always knew she didn't want to me a mom.

"There were more than enough people on earth already, and it wasn't a really responsible thing to have more than you should or any at all if you didn't really really want to have them," she says about her decision to not have kids.

The number of women who don't have children is growing. In 2012, 47 percent of women between 15 and 44 did not have kids, according to a U.S. Census Bureau study. In 1976 that number was 35 percent.

There are four strong reasons as to why women are not having babies, according to Cerentha Harris, editor-in-chief for parenting website mom.me.

Fertility issues play a role when women delay marriage and try to have children later in life.

"There is also a drop in societal pressure to become parents, better career opportunities for women and greater access and improvement to birth control options." she says.

"I think all those things have really impacted the decisions that women make."

Swati Bose, who along with her husband owns Flight Wine Bar in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood, says they had the child conversation early in their relationship. She considered adoption and he wanted no children.

"I did law school, he did business school and then we began working and the first five years of work was really hectic," she says.

After that, the conversation ended.

Notkin of Savvy Auntie, who wrote "Otherhood," a book on childless women, says today it's all about choice.

"Being in the right relationship is a choice. Waiting for love is a choice. Choosing to have a child on one's own is a choice and, of course, choosing to be child-free is a choice."

More and more women are making those choices.

Cerentha Harris refers back to the Diaz interview. "[Diaz] said, ‘You know, not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn't make it an easy decision.'"

Notkin says it is about happiness.

"For the women in the 'Otherhood,' feeling confident with their choices is the key to what they know is going to be and remain a happy life."

If this is your decision, why did you make it? Let us know in the comments section of this story, on Twitter or on the WTOP Facebook page. Until then, a local woman talks about her decision to not have kids.


The decision to not have kids
Stephanie Luken

In 1979, at the age of 27, I had my tubes tied. From the time I was in my early teens and my peers started talking about how many kids they wanted, I knew very clearly my answer was zero.

I have a clear memory of when it first occurred to me and why. I am one of only three children and was raised that large families are irresponsible.

When I was 14, I had a summer job as a mother's helper for a woman with six kids, one after the other. She would take half of them to the community pool while I watched the other ones.

One day, I had all but one because one of the older kids needed surgery, so my day went from 5 a.m. to late at night. My mom took pity on me existing on Spaghetti O's all day so she brought me a plate of grown up food for dinner.

I answered the door with one in my arms and two clinging to my shorts and said to my mom, "I don't think I ever want to do this."

And of course she said, "Oh, you'll meet a man and fall in love and change your mind."

I have been married three times, the most recent 23 years and counting, and all three were fine with my decision. Frankly, with number two and number three, it was a done deal so if they had wanted kids, I wouldn't have married them.

I guess it was a lifestyle choice, but that does not describe it well. It wasn't so I could have trips to Monte Carlo and a new Benz every year. I just thought, and still think, there are WAY too many people in the world as it is for anyone to have kids, just because it is expected and not because you really, really, really want them.

A lot of people were horrified and smugly sure that I would eventually be sorry. Nope. Best decision I ever made. No regrets. More time and money for dog rescue.

I don't get much reaction anymore. I think times are different now. I do remember the day I had my tubes tied. I had never had general anesthetic and I was a bit nervous about it. My then-husband was sitting in a chair next to my bed as I waited to be taken to the operating room and a young female intern came to do a last quick exam.

She kept questioning me over and over as to why I was having my tubes tied so young, and was anyone coercing me (hostile glances at my husband, who had his face buried in a newspaper). She said I was beginning to sound defensive about it and was concerned.

My wonderful husband lowered his paper and said, "Maybe it's because she is so very tired of explaining herself!" The hostile doctor scuttled away.

Lukin is a young and active 62, a D.C.-area native. She is currently a vet tech and is the proud parents of five rescued Yorkies. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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