No baby on board

September 03, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Ah, the pitter-patter of little feet. A bundle of joy.

The birth of a child, being a parent, raising a family is a dream for many.

But not for everyone.

No Kidding! - online at - an organization that boasts 10,000 members in 102 chapters in six countries, is a social club for "childfree and childless couples and singles."

Jerry Steinberg, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, started No Kidding! 20 years ago. He saw his pool of friends drying up as they started having children and making new friends through their kids. They didn't have time to talk to him or do things with him. He tried to find an organization for people without children. He couldn't, so he started one himself.


Steinberg, 59, cited several reasons people don't want to have children. There are environmental reasons. Some believe that the last thing the planet needs is more consuming polluters. Others make the choice for financial reasons. And some people don't like children, he said.

Mike Daley is not among them. Single and 27, Daley coordinates the Harrisburg, Pa., chapter of No Kidding! He doesn't want to have children because he doesn't want to lose the freedom and spontaneity he has as a childless person.

Steinberg likes children and said he's good friends with kids in the neighborhood, but he does not want to be a parent. He had a vasectomy to ensure his childlessness.

But he said there's a stigma attached to deciding not to have children. Reactions range from pity to suggestions to just relax, as if it's assumed that the couple wants children and hasn't been able to have them.

"Nothing is more divisive than the issue of children," Steinberg said.

Tracy Moller of Williamsport agreed that there's a stigma.

When people learn of her decision not to have children, they react, giving a look as if you're betraying what you're supposed to be doing, she said.

Tracy and Sean Moller have been together for 19 years and married for 14. She's devoted to her business - she designs homes and additions - and they enjoy traveling.

They knew pretty much since day one that they didn't want to have children.

"I didn't see the need to bring more children into the world," Sean Moller said, but he acknowledged that it's something that's generally expected.

Sean Moller is the last male of his line but didn't experience family pressure to have children to carry on his name. There was initial disappointment, but, since his sister has four children, everyone was OK with his choice. Tracy Moller's family was fine with the couple's decision.

"People who want to have children should," said Mitch Greenberg, who coordinates the No Kidding! chapter in Baltimore. The group has been good for helping him and his wife meet people and make friends. There's a certain element of support, he said, but the group is primarily social.

Greenberg acknowledged the stigma attached to not having children and said that his wife probably has felt more pressure than he has.

Margie Wight of Hagers-town made her decision not to have children a long time ago.

"I don't believe in having children because it's expected," Wight said.

"There are people who are mother material," she said. She doesn't consider herself one of them.

To bring children into the world is to want the best for them, Wight said. That takes an incredible amount of sacrifice and giving.

"I didn't think there was enough of me," she said.

Wight gave in a different way. She decided to become a teacher in the early 1970s. She taught elementary school for 30 years - 25 of them in kindergarten.

"This is what I'm good at," she said.

She made a conscious choice to not have children. She was married to a husband who joined her in that choice.

While she was in her early 20s, Wight sought surgery to support her decision. She was unable to have a tubal ligation done in Washington County. She had to go to Cumberland, Md., for the procedure, but, before the doctor would agree, he wanted to meet Wight's spouse.

Remarried after divorce, Wight, 59, has stepchildren and now is a stepgrandmother.

She likes children and always felt protective of her students.

"They were my kids," she said.

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