Indie Author Weekly

165: Writing childfree women

September 19, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 166
Indie Author Weekly
165: Writing childfree women
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss...

  • Why I write childfree women in my Polyamorous Passions novel and Small Town Stilettos (quick examples of my characters).
  • My personal reasons for being childfree.
  • What it means to be "selfish" (wanting to have children vs not wanting to have children).
  • The societal pressures to have children (a masquerade to control women's bodies).
  • A trope I cannot STAND in fiction related to childfree women.
  • My reaction when I found out that physically I shouldn't/can't have children (years after deciding I didn't want kids).

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where I take you on the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. Today's topic is all about why I love writing childfree heroines, and the issue I have with the way that many childfree women are portrayed in fiction. I'm your host Sagan Morrow, and I'm an eighth time polyamorous romcom. Author. Plus, I've also written several business books for solopreneurs. Let's dive into this episode on writing childfree women. In the novels that I've published, there are four main characters who are all women, Emma, Helen, Scarlett, and Margaret. Of these four, Emma is a little bit unsure of whether she wants kids. Helen knows that she definitely wants children. And both Scarlett and Margaret know that they definitely do not want children. To be perfectly honest, the only reason why I've written the character of Helen the way that she is with wanting to be parent is because I wanted as many readers as possible to see themselves in the novels that I write. For example, one of my main goals with my polyamorous passionate series is to help readers see how alternative relationship styles can work for a wide variety of people with different lifestyles and personal goals, etc. Helen is the main character in books four to six in the polyamorous pattern series, and I wanted to be able to show someone who wants to be a parent has also been able to have an open relationship. And by the way, you can read more about these novels and grab your copies at Sagan morrow.com/books. The link is in the show notes, or just visit your favorite online bookstore and search polyamorous passions now I myself am very happily child free. In less than a week I am turning 35 years old, and I have known my entire adult life that I do not want kids. My spouse Mr. Science is eight years older than me and he too has known his entire adult life that he does not want children. The reason why I am sharing our ages in this episode is because one of the common things that you often see people talking about is this whole concept of you will change your mind when you get older. Well, the media would also suggest that at this point, I would you know as a woman biologically I would be reaching you know the either the prime time to have kids or at the end of the time to want to be having children, you know, depending on which sources you're kind of looking at. So, by this point, if I was going to change my to change my mind in quotation marks, I think it would have happened and has a sidebar as well. This whole concept of people changing their minds, you know, you'll change your mind when you get older or it's different for you when you have your own kids. That's so That's so ridiculous to me. And it's so arrogant to assume that you know someone's mind better than they know their own mind. Just because you want children doesn't mean that I want children just because maybe you changed your mind doesn't mean that I would change my mind. And maybe you didn't actually change your mind. You just didn't really think about it. Previously, you didn't legitimately take the time to make this decision. I think that a lot of people probably know deep down if they're really really doing that work, really questioning things really getting into it. You can probably determine whether you want kids or not. Now, my spouse and I are both very lucky because we come from incredibly supportive families who are simply very much have that mentality of, Hey, it's your life. If you don't want kids, that's your choice. Do whatever you want to do we support you. That's completely been their attitudes. This whole time, which has been so so lovely, so encouraging and supportive. It's been really awesome. And you know, my heart goes out to some of the people who I know who might be unsure about whether they want kids or they know that they don't want kids but they receive a lot of pressure from their families about it. That's really tough. That's really, really tough. In our society, it is the norm it is the standard to have children. When you say that you want kids it is to be expected. When you say that you do not want kids, people start asking why you don't want them. And even in this episode, the fact that I felt the need to have that disclaimer of I'm 35 years old, I have known this my entire life. I'm clearly not changing my mind. The fact that I feel the need to have that sort of disclaimer is really indicative of this. And I will add another disclaimer as well. But when I was younger, I think I was I think I was about 19 I lived in Spain for a summer and I was a live in au pair so I was taking care of a couple of little kids. And it was an opportunity. The reason why I did it is because it was the easiest, fastest way that I could live in Spain. That is what I wanted. And so I became an au pair and I thought this is great. You know, I'd been babysitting before it was fine. And I still knew at that point that I didn't want kids, but it just really cemented it and when you are living with a family and taking care of kids 24/7 It really cements in whether you want children for yourself or not. And I found that I often had to talk about that in my 20s. If people did ask why I didn't want children. I often had to use that as a disclaimer and say well I've had this experience I have seen firsthand what it's like raising kids. And oftentimes what might happen is that people would say it's different when it's your own children. That is such a standard thing to say. And regardless of whether it's different when it's your own children compared to taking care of someone else's kids. You can still just not want them. That's okay. Now quite a few years back, I was hanging out with some friends and we were talking about this particular subject of wanting kids versus not wanting kids and the reasons why. And because you know these are these are all good friends of mine So I felt comfortable asking them why they want children because oftentimes again, we do not ask people about that we do not question their decision to have children. We just assume that they want children. And if you do not want kids, then it's something to you know, quote unquote, be questioned. So I asked my friends I asked to this group of people. Why do you want kids what about kids is so appealing to you and your lifestyle? And some of them simply didn't really have an answer. Others said that they wanted it for the legacy aspect. Some of them said that they wanted to do a better job of parenting than their own parents had done. And I was surprised at how few of them said that they wanted kids because they love children. Actually, I'm not sure that any of them said that. I don't think any of them said I just adore kids and I'm really excited to have some of my own like kids like me up and it's so fun being around children. None of them seem to have that sort of mentality which I'm I find kind of surprising. What's interesting to me about all of this is that people who choose not to have children are often viewed as selfish. And if that's the case, then I think we really need to ask what is selfish? What defines selfishness. What makes a person selfish or not? My own personal reasons for not wanting kids are vast and numerous. So a few of the reasons are I simply I simply do not want them. I simply don't want them. I don't really like the idea of needing to be responsible for another living creature. I really enjoy my free time and just living my life however i Please I'm not particularly interested in children. I just I don't I don't really care. I have many different interests that I want to explore in my life and it would be very challenging to be able to prioritize all of those things the way that I want to do with caring for and raising kids. It seems exhausting and expensive and a lot of work. I am just not a maternal type of person. The things that happen in pregnancy to a person's body are wild, and so many other reasons. And yes, you could absolutely say that many of those are selfish reasons. But if that's true then I would genuinely love to know how my reasons are any more selfish than the reasons that some other people have for wanting to have kids. Let's think about this for a minute. Having kids for the sake of legacy or because you want them to be your purpose in life or because you want to do a better job than your parents at raising a human being or because you want someone to look after you and your old age. If those are your reasons, that's not focused on you know your kid. So aren't those kinds of selfish reasons for having children. This is not to say that there's anything right or wrong about different reasons for wanting to have kids or not wanting to have kids. I'm just saying that if we are going to call childfree people, quote unquote, selfish, then we have got to question why that is any more selfish than people who do want to have kids. And you know, we could go off on a whole other tangent here about climate change and population and all of those types of things and simply, you know, raising children, the fact that you don't need training or a license to have kids, right, you don't need to know how to effectively communicate and the emotional resiliency involved in those types of things. It is a huge, huge undertaking and a massive responsibility to bring a human being into this world. That is a very, very serious responsibility to raise a human being to teach them how to be a decent human being. There's so much involved with that and we are very cavalier as a society about doing that. It's It's mind boggling to me that we do not take that seriously. Anyone can have children without any type of training, any type of communication skills, any type of, you know, like the types of things that are involved with raising a human being such a big responsibility. And we don't, we don't look at that in our society. It's much more about, Oh, you want to have kids that's great, rather than really looking at okay, are you you know, emotionally and all of these other things capable? Have you? Are you really thinking about what it takes to raise a human being? We don't really think about those things in our society. Now this whole topic of you know, selfishness around wanting children or not wanting children and, and, you know, responsibility and bring them into the world. We did do an episode all about the topic of writing selfish women, not related to having children but just selfishness in general. We did a topic on that here on the indie author, weekly podcast, you can tune into Episode 158. If you are interested in exploring more about our definitions of selfishness.
It's really because our society is so focused on the idea that everyone wants kids or everyone should have kids or the normal thing to do is to have kids. It's for these types of things that I personally feel compelled to to write novels where the main characters have zero interest in children. I want readers to be able to see and to know all of their options. And I can tell you, I have a friend who once told me point blank that if they were doing it all over again, they would not have children. And of course, this friend of mine loves their kids, but they have them because that's what you do. They never thought about whether they actually wanted them. And as you know, I write about polyamorous relationships in my novels. It's really the exact same thing where we often find ourselves in monogamous relationships, simply because it's what you do, rather than exploring. Do I want this? And if I want this, for what purpose? Do I want this? What are my reasons for wanting this? Because that can also help to uncover do I actually want this or do I think that I want this have I been told my entire life that I want this? So that is my assumption at this point. Now your answer, of course might be yes. I do. You want this for my own reasons, rather than just because society has instilled in me that I should want this. And that's great. That's wonderful. If you want this if you want a monogamous relationship, that's awesome. If you want children wonderful, but we can save ourselves so much time and energy and heartbreak by really asking these kinds of tough, challenging questions. So that we don't just do things because it's what you do. If it ends up being something that you never actually wanted in your life. There's something kind of tragic about that. I want you to be able to think about these things and make the right choices for you. And in these instances, the right choices for you going back to the selfishness conversation, that's going to also be the right choice for your future children or your future non children. For me, it would be irresponsible to bring children into the world because I would not be able to give them what they would need. I don't want them. It would be very selfish. Of me if I was doing it for purposes of, you know, let's say legacy or something like that. If I didn't really care about the kid itself. That's very selfish. That's very irresponsible. So in that case, knowing that I do not want to have kids. I am I am doing a service I am doing a favor to those those children that I am not having, because it would be extremely unfair to bring those into the world. When it comes to fiction, when it comes to child free women in fiction, I want to mention that there is a trope that I cannot stand I hate this trope. And it is this trope where there is a woman character who doesn't want kids. She's been saying this whole time, you know, in a TV show or a book or a movie that she doesn't want children. And then she finds out that for whatever reason. She can't have biological children, right? It's often a medical type of thing. And then she feels at a loss. She feels like Oh, but now my choice has been taken away and like oh, maybe I did want kids right? Like, I always liked the idea that I could still change my mind. I cannot stand this trope. So this is you know, a good example of this is Robin from How I Met Your Mother. This happens in one of the episodes there and then just you know, can we not? Can we not do that? I think I was in my late 20s. When I found out that I have a tilted pelvis. One of my legs is three quarters of an inch shorter than the other and this was diagnosed in me when I was I think was about 12 years old, something around there. And so at the time, I was you know, when they figured out that I had a leg that's considerably shorter than the other. They decided that I needed to bear lifts in my shoes like buildups in my shoes. And so I did that for a while as you know, as young, you know, T young D printing and I guess it's called a preteen teenager. And then you know there was a number of years in my late teens early 20s When I just stopped doing it because I want to wear cute shoes instead. And that really threw my body off because I didn't want to lift in my shoes for many many years. And so um yeah, again, I'm pretty sure was in my late 20s I went to see a physiotherapist because you know was giving back issues and neck issues and all the things and when they were looking at at me, they realized you know that I had a tilted pelvis and I remember that, you know, when the doctor or whatever the practitioner is called, was looking at me over you know, he actually asked me he was like, Are you planning on having children? And I was kind of like, that's a weird question. I was like, No, I'm not. And he was like, Okay, that's a really good thing, because it would be very dangerous for you to have them because of the way that my body is kind of warped. It would be dangerous for me to have kids. And here's the thing, as soon as he said that, I was like, Oh, well, that's convenient. You know, like, I was kind of like, huh, maybe my complete disinterest in being a parent is a biological survival mechanism. You know, like that would make sense. There were literally zero feelings of loss when I found out that I physically should not have kids or potentially cannot have kids. There has never been any sense of loss. I even went home afterward. And I was like, should I be upset about this? You know, like, fictional stories have indicated that other people like me who are child free if they find things like this out, they're upset, so should I be upset about it? So I did like some soul searching about it. But no, there was no no sense of loss, just like none absolutely none. And there never has been ever since. And this was like, over five years ago. I don't care that I technically don't, you know, have a choice about having children, because I already made up my mind about it. Many years ago, I already made my choice many years ago that I would not have children. So it's a non issue. And I believe that my response that I had my reaction of just kind of shrugging and saying, okay, that doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything. I believe that that is a much more typical response than the fictional trope would have us belief. I think that the only reason why that trope is there in fiction is because again, it is so normalized that women should have children or should want to have children, that the people that are creating these, you know, TV shows, movies, books, etc. Feel the need they feel compelled to include that in there. They want women, though there's this control over women wanting to have control over women's bodies. They want to trick us in real life to thinking that we should feel at a loss if we find out that we can't have kids even though we already made our choice to not want to not have children previously. So as you can probably tell from the tone of my voice. I care so deeply about this. I'm very passionate about this topic, and I really want to portray this type of thing in my novels to have childfree characters who genuinely have zero mindset drama, you know, or wistfulness or loss at the idea of not having children. They're just cool with it. They do not care. They do not want kids. And that's it. They're not wrestling with it. We always need more representation of these types of things across the board and fiction is a wonderful opportunity to help people see themselves or get a glimpse at what can be possible for them to help change how we think about what is expected of us, especially as women existing in this world. So there you have it. That is my take on writing childfree women. If you have additional questions about this or any other topics that you would like me to address here on the author weekly, I would love to hear about it. Please submit your topic ideas at Sagan morrow.com/question. And if you would like to check out my novels and read polyamorous romantic comedies be trained happily childfree women, then I recommend you visit Sagan morrow.com/books to grab your copies today. The polyamorous passion series is available on all major eBook stores. And again, the link is in the show notes. That my friend is a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode app Sagan morrow.com/podcast. And let's continue this conversation because of course these episodes are always a monologue and I would really love to have this conversation with you to turn this into a dialogue. So please do share your thoughts about this topic on Twitter or Instagram and tag me my handle is at Sagan lives. Let's chat about this a little bit further. I'm really curious if this resonates with you. What are your thoughts on this? Let's talk about it. Please take two minutes to read and review in the author weekly on Apple podcasts. And thank you so much for tuning in. I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly