Transcript: Life Without Children | Jun 25, 2015

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his forties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, purple shirt, and blue tie. Behind him, a wall screen reads “The Agenda, with Steve Paikin.”

Steve says IN THE YEAR 2006, FOR
THE FIRST TIME EVER, THERE WERE
MORE COUPLES WITHOUT CHILDREN IN
CANADA THAN WITH.
THIS IS A GAP THAT FURTHER
WIDENED IN THE NEXT CENSUS IN
2011.
WITH A GROWING NUMBER OF
CANADIANS CREATING A LIFE
WITHOUT CHILDREN, WE'VE INVITED
A GROUP TO TELL US WHAT THAT
LIFE LOOKS LIKE.
JOINING US NOW:
MOLLY PEACOCK, AUTHOR OF
“PARADISE PIECE BY PIECE,” ONE
OF THE FIRST MEMOIRS TO ADDRESS
THIS SHIFT;

An image of the book appears on screen. A picture of an old house entry hall illustrates the cover.

Steve continues BRUCE GILLESPIE, PROFESSOR AT
WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY AND
EDITOR OF “NOBODY'S FATHER: LIFE
WITHOUT KIDS,” AN ANTHOLOGY OF
ESSAYS WRITTEN BY MEN WHO HAVE
FOREGONE FATHERHOOD;

A picture of the book appears on screen. The image of a man in a suit leaning on an exposed brick wall illustrates the cover.

Steve continues AND LIANE KOTLER, JOURNALIST
HERE AT TVO, WITH FIRSTHAND
KNOWLEDGE OF INFERTILITY AND ITS
EFFECTS.
ON LIFE.
AND WE WELCOME EVERYBODY, NOT
JUST AROUND OUR TABLE, BUT I
REALLY WANT TO -- I ALWAYS START
BY THANKING EVERYBODY.
YOU GUYS ARE VERY BRAVE TO COME
ON AND SHARE SOME VERY HEARTFELT
STORIES ABOUT REAL LIFE WITHOUT
KIDS.
SO KUDOS TO YOU FOR DOING SO.

A caption reads “Life without children. Journey to childlessness.”

Steve continues LET'S GET INTO THIS.
MOLLY, WE WANT TO GO AROUND THE
TABLE HERE AND FIND OUT HOW YOUR
LIFE CAME TO NOT INCLUDE
CHILDREN.

The caption changes to “Molly Peacock. Poet. Author of Paradise, piece by piece.”

Molly is in her sixties with straight gray hair in a bob cut with bangs. She’s wearing a black top, an aqua jacket, a turquoise necklace and a pair of glasses.

She says WELL, I MADE
THE CHOICE NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN
AT A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT TIMES
IN MY LIFE.
I DON'T THINK IT'S A CHOICE
PEOPLE MAKE ONCE.
AND I REVISITED IT TIME AFTER
TIME.
SO I'LL TELL YOU ABOUT A VERY
YOUNG CHOICE AND THEN HOW I
RESPOND NOW THAT I'M 68.

Steve says SURE.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU MADE
THE YOUNG CHOICE?

Molly says THREE.

Steve says YOU KNEW AT THREE?

Molly says I DID.
I'LL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED.
WE'RE IN THE KITCHEN.
MY MOTHER'S HARRIED.
MY GRANDMOTHER IS THERE, MY
SISTER AND MY FATHER, AND MY
GRANDMOTHER SAYS TO ME, “DON'T
EVER HAVE CHILDREN.”
AND MY FATHER CASE, “DON'T EVER
HAVE CHILDREN.”
AND I REMEMBER THIS BECAUSE IT
GAVE ME THE IDEA THAT I HAD A
CHOICE.

Steve says HMM.
BUT YOU KNOW THEY ALWAYS SAY
THAT.
PARENTS ALWAYS SAY THAT WHEN
THEY'RE FURIOUS WITH YOU.

Molly says WATCH OUT!
YOUR KID COULD TAKE YOU
LITERALLY.
SO THERE'S A LITTLE SEED,
BECAUSE CHILDREN THINK ABOUT
WHAT THEIR LIVES ARE GOING TO BE
AND HOW THEY'RE GOING TO GROW
UP.
I FORTUNATELY HAVE A VERY HAPPY
LIFE NOW, BUT THE BAD PART OF MY
LIFE CAME FIRST.
MY DAD WAS A SEVERE ALCOHOLIC
AND A VIOLENT MAN AND I HAD A
LOT OF FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY.
SO I DID A LOT OF THE
MOTHER-TYPE TASKS.
AND I'M SURE THAT THAT --
PSYCHOLOGISTS CALL IT BEING
OVERPARENTALLIZED.
I'M SURE THAT THAT -- THOSE
EARLY PARENTING TASKS AFFECTED
ME.

Steve says PRESUMABLY, IN YOUR
20s AND 30s, A TIME WHEN
MOST PEOPLE HAVE KIDS, YOU HAD
TO REVISIT THIS DECISION.

Molly says YES.
AT THAT POINT, THAT'S THE POINT
THAT I WAS KIND OF GROWING AN
IDENTITY BECAUSE MOSTLY MY
CHILDHOOD WAS TASKS AND THEN
FINALLY I BEGAN TO DISCOVER WHO
I WAS AND FIND MYSELF AS AN
ARTIST.
SO ALL OF THOSE -- THOSE
DECISIONS ABOUT BECOMING AN
ARTIST AND CLAIMING YOURSELF AS
AN ARTIST AND ALSO THAT CHOICE
COMES IN BECAUSE AT THAT POINT
I'M PROBABLY IN THE FIRST
GENERATION OF WOMEN WHO HAD THE
BIRTH CONTROL CHOICE.
SO ALL OF THAT WAS FACTORING IN
WITH A FEELING THAT I HAD A
CALLING TO BE A POET, A WRITER
AND THEN LATER ON IN LIFE A
BIOGRAPHER.

Steve says BUT NEVER A MOTHER.

Molly says I DIDN'T
FEEL I HAD THE CALLING TO BE A
MOTHER.

Steve says INTERESTING.
BRUCE, LET US ASK WHY THERE ARE
NO KIDS IN YOUR LIFE.

The caption changes to “Bruce Gillespie. Wilfrid Laurier University.”

Bruce is in his late forties with short receding gray hair. He’s wearing a black suit, gingham shirt, blue tie and a pair of glasses.

Bruce says IF YOU
LOOK AT THE RESEARCH OF PEOPLE
WITH LIFE WITHOUT KIDS, THEY
CATEGORIZE THEM IN TWO DIFFERENT
WAYS.
I'M AN EARLY ARTICULATOR.
AS I GREW OLDER AND REALIZED I
WAS GAY, THAT MADE SENSE, THAT
MOST GAY MEN DIDN'T HAVE
CHILDREN SO I THOUGHT IT ALL FIT
TOGETHER.
CLEARLY LOTS OF CHANGE IN THE
WORLD SINCE THEN.
THERE ARE LOTS OF GAY AND
LESBIAN PARENTS OUT THERE RIGHT
NOW.
THE DECISION FOR ME HASN'T
CHANGED.
IT'S NOT ANYTHING I EVER FELT I
WANTED TO DO.
WHEN I THINK THERE'S NO REASON
TO BECOME AN AMBIVALENT PARENT.
SO IT'S NEVER APPEALED TO ME.
I REMEMBER GROWING UP THINKING
ABOUT THE DADS AND FATHERS THAT
I KNEW IN MY OWN FAMILY AND WITH
MY FRIENDS' FAMILIES, AND THEY
ALL SEEMED LIKE BIT PLAYERS IN
THEIR CHILDREN'S LIVES.
THEY SAT IN THE BASEMENT AND NO
ONE TALKED TO THEM AND THERE WAS
NO APPEAL TO FATHERHOOD TO ME AS
WELL.

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP
YOUR FOLKS SPLIT UP WHEN YOU WERE FAIRLY YOUNG.
YOUR DAD WASN'T AROUND
IT PROBABLY PLAYED SOME ROLE.

Bruce says THERE WASN'T A FATHER THERE
EVERY DAY.
STILL I HAD LOTS OF FRIENDS WHO
HAD FATHERS AND I SAW THEM IN
THEIR LIVES AND REALIZED THEY
WERE THERE.
I HAD A STEPFATHER AND I STILL
DO.
IT WASN'T A ROLE I EVER ASPIRED
TO OR HAD ANY -- AS MOLLY WAS
SAYING, HAD ANY CALLING FOR.

Steve says GOTCHA.
LIANE, NO KIDS IN YOUR LIFE.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to “Liane Kotler. Journalist.”

Liane is in her forties with long straight brown hair. She’s wearing a purple top, a blue jacket, a delicate necklace and a pair of glasses.

She says I NEVER
THOUGHT I WOULD NOT HAVE
CHILDREN.
I GREW UP THINKING IT'S A GIVEN:
I'M GOING TO HAVE KIDS.
IN FACT, I REMEMBER AS A CHILD
MEETING A MARRIED COUPLE THAT
DIDN'T HAVE CHILDREN AND I
THOUGHT THEY WERE FREAKS.
I THOUGHT THAT IS SO WEIRD, THAT
ADULTS CAN ACTUALLY NOT HAVE
CHILDREN?
IT WAS BIZARRE.
AND I CALL MYSELF AND MY HUSBAND
AS WELL, WE CALL OURSELVES EMPTY
NESTERS AND WE'RE CHILD-FREE.
FOR A LONG TIME WE WERE
CHILDLESS.
WE WENT THROUGH ALMOST A DECADE
OF TRYING TO HAVE A CHILD.
DIDN'T HAPPEN.
THAT SAID, YOU CAN GET TO THE
OTHER SIDE OF WANTING TO HAVE
CHILDREN.
YOU DON'T HAVE CHILDREN.
AND BE PERFECTLY HAPPY.

Steve says HOW ABOUT THE REST
OF YOUR FAMILY?
ARE THEY -- HOW DO THEY DEAL
WITH THE FACT THAT YOU AT THIS
STAGE OF YOUR LIVES ARE NOW
OBVIOUSLY NOT GOING TO HAVE
KIDS?

Liane says I THINK
THEY'RE GREAT.
I COME FROM A JEWISH FAMILY AND
I THINK THERE'S A CULTURAL
NOTION THAT -- I GREW UP WITH
THIS CONCEPT, CHILDREN ARE THE
BE ALL AND END ALL.
YOU CANNOT HAVE A COMPLETE LIFE
WITHOUT CHILDREN.
THAT'S NOT REALLY TRUE NOW THAT
I'M ON THE OTHER SIDE.
BUT MY FAMILY IS GREAT.
I HAVE TWO OLDER BROTHERS.
THEY HAVE CHILDREN.
I HAVE FIVE NIECES AND NEPHEWS.
AND THEY'RE VERY INCLUSIVE.
VERY INCLUSIVE.
AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, I TRY TO
BE AS INVOLVED IN MY NIECES AND
NEPHEWS' LIVES AS THEY WANT.

Steve says I'M GOING TO PUSH
YOU A LITTLE FURTHER ON THIS,
MOSTLY BECAUSE YOU AND I HAVE
KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A LONG TIME
AND I KNOW YOUR MOTHER.
I ADORE YOUR MOTHER.

Liane says SHE IS A
MOTHER.
SHE IS AN UBER MOTHER.

Steve says THIS IS WHAT I
WANTED TO GET -- I PRESUME IT
TOOK A LONG TIME BEFORE YOUR MOM
GOT AS COMFORTABLE WITH THE
NOTION THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO
GIVE HER GRANDCHILDREN AS YOU
ARE?

Liane says I THINK
BECAUSE, THANKFULLY, MY BROTHERS
GAVE HER FIVE GRANDCHILDREN,
THAT THE PRESSURE WAS OFF.
THAT SAID, I AM THE ONLY
DAUGHTER, AND THERE WILL ALWAYS
BE A BIT OF A DISCONNECT.
WE DO CONNECT ON MANY LEVELS.
I'M VERY CLOSE WITH MY MOM.
BUT SHE IS THE TYPE OF WOMAN WHO
MOTHERHOOD IS EVERYTHING FOR
HER.

Steve says AND SHE WOULD NO
DOUBT WANT YOU TO HAVE
EXPERIENCED THAT.

Liane says YES, BUT I
NEVER FELT ANY PRESSURE FROM
HER.
IN FACT, THE REVERSE.
BECAUSE I THINK GROWING UP MY
MOTHER WAS VERY LOVING, KIND.
SHE STILL IS.

Steve says SHE TOTALLY IS.

Liane says I THINK SHE
WITHHELD A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF
INFORMATION ON HOW DIFFICULT IT
IS TO BE A MOM.

Steve reads some statistics form Statistics Canada, May 10, 2011.

He says LET'S PUT SOME STATS
OUT THERE AND THEN WE'LL
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
CANADA'S CURRENT FERTILITY RATE
IS -- BOY, IS IT LOW, 1.61
CHILDREN PER WOMAN.
CONTINUING A DECLINE.
AND IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO,
IT'S EVEN LOWER.
CANADA NEEDS 2.1 CHILDREN PER
WOMAN FOR POPULATION
REPLACEMENT.
THAT'S THE STATISTIC.
THAT OF COURSE DOESN'T TAKE INTO
ACCOUNT IMMIGRATION.
AS WELL THE GAP SIGNIFICANTLY
WIDENS BETWEEN HOUSEHOLD COUPLES
WITH OR WITHOUT CHILDREN, 29.5 PERCENT
VERSUS 26.5 PERCENT RESPECTIVELY.
SO AS THE POPULATION AGES, THERE
ARE FEWER REPLACEMENTS, AGAIN,
IF YOU DON'T TAKE IMMIGRATION
INTO ACCOUNT.

Molly says IT'S ALL OUR
FAULT.
[Laughter]

The caption changes to “Life without children. Canada’s child-free trend.”

Steve says WELL, YOU SAY THAT
FACETIOUSLY.
I WONDER IF THERE IS A PART OF
YOU THAT EVER HAD TO DEAL WITH
THE ISSUE OF, WE'RE KIND OF NOT
HOLDING UP OUR END OF THE
BARGAIN HERE.
DO YOU EVER DEAL WITH THAT,
MOLLY?

Molly says I DON'T
UNDERSTAND WHY -- WHY IS THAT MY
END OF THE BARGAIN?
THERE'S A HUGE WHOLE SOCIETY AND
LOTS OF CHOICES.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A 21ST
CENTURY SOCIETY IS TO HAVE THESE
CHOICES.
THAT 20 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IS
CHOOSING NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN,
AND HOW THEN DOES A SOCIETY
RESPOND TO THAT?
AND YOU MUST TAKE IMMIGRATION
INTO ACCOUNT.
I MEAN --

Steve says LET ME TAKE IT OFF
THE TABLE FOR A SECOND.
FOR ARGUMENT'S SAKE I'M GOING TO
TAKE IT OFF THE TABLE FOR A
SECOND.
IF WE ALL DECIDED WE WEREN'T
GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN ANYMORE,
LIKE, CANADA'S DONE FOR, RIGHT?
THAT'S THE ARGUMENT YOU HEAR.

Molly says LET'S SAY
THIS:I THINK THAT THESE CHOICES
ARE PERSONAL AND THEY'RE FOR
PERSONAL HAPPINESS.
I THINK THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT
MAKING CHOICES FOR DUTY.
I THINK THAT THE WHOLE IDEA OF
MAKING A CHOICE FOR DUTY IS VERY
MUCH OF A PSYCHOLOGY OF THE
PAST.
I DON'T THINK THAT PEOPLE MAKE
CHOICES -- YOUR CHOICE WAS NOT
FOR DUTY, IT'S FOR FULFILMENT
AND IT'S FOR HAPPINESS.

Steve says I HEAR YOU.

Molly says AS THESE
THINGS GO ON, THE SOCIETY HAS TO
RESPOND TO IT.
SO I GUESS I'M NOT GOING TO -- I
DON'T THINK THAT I HAVE TO BEAR
A BURDEN NOT BEARING A CHILD.

Steve says I HEAR YOU.
BUT, BRUCE, SOCIETY, THROUGH ITS
GOVERNMENT, HAS MADE A DECISION
THROUGH BABY BONUSES, WHICH
THEY'VE DONE FOR MORE THAN HALF
A CENTURY, IN THE PROVINCE OF
Québec WHERE THEY PAY A LOT OF
MONEY TO HAVE KIDS.
WE'VE DECIDED, IT'S THE RIGHT
THING TO DO, IT'S A DESIRABLE
THING.
DO YOU EVER FEEL I'M NOT HOLDING
UP MY END OF THIS BARGAIN?

Bruce says I DON'T
PERSONALLY FEEL THAT WAY.
I THINK THERE IS A SENSE OF THAT
AMONG A LOT OF PEOPLE.
IT'S PARTLY WHY WHEN PEOPLE TALK
TO FAMILIES, COUPLES, THAT DON'T
HAVE CHILDREN, THEY FEEL THERE'S
SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT IT.
I THINK PARTLY BECAUSE IT SEEMS,
AS YOU'RE SUGGESTING, THERE'S
SOMETHING DEEPLY ANTISOCIAL
ABOUT IT.
IF YOU'RE NOT HAVING CHILDREN,
WHICH APPARENTLY IS A BIOLOGICAL
IMPERATIVE TO HELP SOCIETY AND
THE SPECIES, THAT'S
FUNDAMENTALLY A VERY ODD
POSITION TO BE IN.
I THINK IT'S WHY PEOPLE FEEL
SOME DISCOMFORT ABOUT IT.
AT THE SAME TIME, LIKE MOLLY
SAID, I DON'T THINK THAT'S MY
PART OF THE BARGAIN.
I THINK LOTS OF PEOPLE, PERHAPS
NOT ENOUGH, ECONOMICALLY, ARE
HAVING CHILDREN.
I'VE NEVER FELT BADLY ABOUT IT.
THERE'S A SMALL PROPORTION OF
PEOPLE WHO SAY I'M NOT HAVING
CHILDREN FOR ENVIRONMENTAL
IMPACT REASONS.
I THINK THAT'S A SMALL GROUP.
I THINK MOST DECIDE FOR PERSONAL
REASONS.

Steve says AS YOU POINTED OUT,
YOU WANTED TO HAVE KIDS AND IT
DIDN'T HAPPEN FOR YOU.
YOU TELL ME, I DON'T WANT TO
INVADE YOUR PRIVACY TOO MUCH
HERE, BUT DID YOU TRY TO HAVE
KIDS --

Liane says YES.

Steve says DID YOU GO THROUGH
FERTILITY TREATMENTS?

Liane says SIX YEARS AND
MANY MISCARRIAGES AND IT JUST
DIDN'T HAPPEN.

Steve says AS WE EXTEND THE
METAPHOR HERE, YOU DID TRY TO
KEEP UP THE SIDE HERE, IF YOU
LIKE?

Liane says YES.
AND I HAVE TO SAY, WHEN I MEET
PEOPLE OR ACQUAINTANCES SAY,
“OH, YOU'RE MARRIED.
DO YOU HAVE KIDS?”
I ALWAYS FIND MYSELF SLIPPING
IN, “YES, BUT I TRIED.”

Steve says YOU THINK IT'S
IMPORTANT TO TELL THEM THAT?

Liane says BECAUSE I
FEEL AS THOUGH I'M BEING JUDGED.
AND IF I DON'T SAY, “YES, BUT I
TRIED,” I WILL BE JUDGED FOR
BEING SELFISH, SELF INDULGENT
ALL THE THINGS
YOU MENTIONED, THAT IT SEEMS
ANOMALOUS TO LIFE.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW HOW OLD
WERE YOU WHEN YOU STARTED ALL
THAT, BUT IS THERE --

Liane says ABOUT 38.

Steve says YOU WERE 38.

Liane says WE STARTED
TRYING AT ABOUT -- I WAS ABOUT
35, AND THEN WOUND UP IN
FERTILITY TREATMENT A COUPLE OF
YEARS LATER.

Steve says AGAIN, ASKED WITHOUT
JUDGMENT: IS THERE A LESSON HERE
IN, YOU'VE GOT TO START EARLIER?

Liane says WOMEN NEED TO
KNOW THEIR FERTILITY IS
SKYDIVING DOWN AT AGE 27, AND BY
AROUND AGE 42, IT'S FLAT ON THE
GROUND, IT'S DONE.
WE NEED TO GET THAT MESSAGE OUT.

Steve says SO IF YOU WANT TO
HAVE KIDS, GET TO IT?

Liane says YES.

Steve says DON'T WAIT.

Liane says NO.
AND FREEZING YOUR EGGS IS REALLY
NOT THE SOLUTION, I DON'T THINK.

Steve says REALLY?

Liane says BECAUSE IT'S
RISKY.
IT'S NOT A GIVEN OR A GUARANTEE
THAT THEY WON'T HAVE EXPIRED IN
THE FREEZER.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THIS NOTION OF JUDGMENT THAT YOU
JUST PUT ON THE TABLE AND,
MOLLY, I WANT TO FIND OUT
WHETHER, ONCE YOU MADE IT
ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO YOUR FRIENDS
AND FAMILY THAT MOTHERHOOD WAS
NOT IN THE PICTURE FOR YOU, WHAT
WAS THE FEEDBACK?

The caption changes to “Life without children. Why the stigma?”

Molly says ACTUALLY, I
THINK IN MANY WAYS I'VE LIVED A
LIFE THAT WAS MY MOTHER'S DREAM
LIFE.

Steve says ISN'T THAT
INTERESTING?

Molly says SO I THINK
THAT SHE WANTED TO HAVE CREATIVE
FREEDOM AND THAT SHE WANTED TO
HAVE A DIFFERENT KIND OF LIFE
THAN SHE HAD, AND SO --

Steve says EVEN A CHILDLESS
LIFE?

Liane says CHILD-FREE.

Molly says EVEN A
CHILD-FREE LIFE.
I NEVER GOT NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
FROM MY MOTHER AND I WOULD ASK
HER ABOUT IT, AND SHE WOULD SAY,
“YOU GO AHEAD AND LEAD THE LIFE
THAT YOU NEED TO LIVE.”
AND ALSO I'M THE FIRST PERSON IN
MY FAMILY TO GO TO COLLEGE.
I COME FROM A WORKING CLASS
BACKGROUND.
I WANTED TO BE A WRITER.
IT WAS SO UNUSUAL IN MY FAMILY,
FOR SOMEBODY TO WANT TO DO
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
SO I WAS AN ANOMALY AND NOBODY
QUITE UNDERSTOOD ME BUT AT THE
SAME TIME I WAS GOING FOR A
DREAM.

Steve says HANG ON FOR A SEC,
MOLLY.
IT'S ONE THING TO SAY IN, YOU
KNOW -- IT'S GOT TO HURT WHEN
YOUR MOTHER SAYS TO YOU, I KIND
OF WISH I NEVER HAD KIDS.

Molly says IT DOES, AND
I THINK I TOOK IT IN.
AND PART OF THAT IS PART OF MY
OWN DEVELOPMENT AS A PERSON.
I HAD TO FIND A WAY TO GROW
AROUND THAT.
SO THERE WAS THAT NEGATION IN
THE BEGINNING.
AND ON TOP OF IT, I HAD ALL OF
THE MOTHER DUTIES.
SO THAT'S REALLY PSYCHOLOGICALLY
COMPLICATED.
YOU HAVE TO FIND YOUR -- IT
TAKES YEARS TO FIND YOUR WAY
THROUGH THAT, AND THAT WAS
ABSOLUTELY THERE.

Steve says DID YOU EVER FOR
GIVE HER TO -- FORGIVE HER FOR
SAYING THAT TO YOU?

Molly says YES.

Steve says KIND OF PERSONAL,
BUT I WISH I NEVER HAD KIDS.
THAT'S PROBABLY HOW SHE MEANT
IT.
MOLLY, DON'T TAKE THIS
PERSONALLY, BUT I WISH I HAD
NEVER HAD KIDS.
I'M JEALOUS OF YOUR LIFE.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Molly says I DO, I DO.
IT'S THAT SAME KIND OF -- IT'S
WHAT LIANE IS TALKING ABOUT,
IT'S LIKE THE FLIP SIDE OF WHAT
WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT WHERE
YOU DO -- I HAD A VERY CLOSE
RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER.
WE DID LOTS OF THINGS TOGETHER
AND GOSSIPED TOGETHER, BUT
THERE WERE THESE -- YOU GET TO A
LITTLE MOMENT THERE AND THE
DISCONNECT EXISTS.

Steve says YEAH.
BRUCE, DO YOU THINK PEOPLE FIND
IT DIFFICULT TO LET GO OF THIS
IMAGE OF THE QUOTE, UNQUOTE,
NUCLEAR FAMILY BEING NORMAL?

Bruce says I THINK
SO.
AS YOU SAID BEFORE, EVERYWHERE
WE LOOK, THE NUCLEAR FAMILY IS
STILL PERCEIVED AS THE BEST, THE
NORMAL, WHAT WE SHOULD BE AIMING
FOR.
WHETHER THAT'S SORT OF JUST
TALKING TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW, YOUR
OWN FAMILIES, OR THROUGH FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS.

Steve says IRONICALLY, IT
REALLY ISN'T ANYMORE, IS IT?

Bruce says
STATISTICALLY, IT'S FAR FROM IT.
THERE ARE FEWER FAMILIES,
THERE'S LOTS OF DIVORCE,
CO-PARENTING.
FAMILIES CAN BE SO MUCH MORE
DIFFERENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY
THAN THEY WERE A GENERATION AGO.
THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS WE CAN
MAKE FAMILIES, SOMETIMES IT'S
TWO MEN, SOMETIMES TWO WOMEN,
SOMETIMES THERE'S KIDS,
SOMETIMES THERE'S NOT.
WE NEED TO BE MORE OPEN AND HAVE
DISCUSSIONS.

Steve says I AM TOTALLY
INTRIGUED HOW YOU WENT FROM
BEING SOMEBODY WHO, FOR, LET'S
SAY, 41, 42, 43 YEARS OF YOUR
LIFE, ASSUMED THAT CHILDREN
WOULD BE A PART OF THAT PICTURE.

Liane says MM-HMM.

Steve says AND THEN SOMEHOW
MADE YOUR PEACE WITH THE NOTION
THAT ACTUALLY IT'S NOT GOING TO
BE THAT WAY AT ALL.
HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

Liane says I GOT FED UP
OF CRYING.
I JUST HAD ONE DAY WHEN I WOKE
UP AND I JUST THOUGHT, ENOUGH IS
ENOUGH.
LET'S JUST LIVE OUR LIVES.
I'M IN A LOVELY MARRIAGE WITH A
LOVELY MAN.
LET'S JUST GET ON WITH IT.
BECAUSE FOR YEARS OUR LIVES WERE
FOCUSED AROUND GETTING PREGNANT,
AND THEN I HAD A COUPLE OF
PREGNANCIES, THEY WERE THE
HAPPIEST TIME OF MY LIFE.
BUT THEY DIDN'T COME TO
FRUITION, OBVIOUSLY.
YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE PEACE WITH
IT.
IF YOU WANT TO LIVE A HAPPY
LIFE, YOU HAVE TO GET ON WITH
IT.
AND I DID FEEL THIS LACK -- I
DID FEEL CHILDLESS, AND OVER THE
COURSE OF THE YEARS OF DOING
FERTILITY TREATMENTS, I WORKED
ON MY GARDEN, I CULTIVATED NEW
FRIENDSHIPS, I TOOK ART CLASSES,
TRAVELLED, AND I STARTED TO
REALIZE, THIS IS PRETTY GOOD.
THIS IS GREAT.
WE HAVE TWO DOGS, I HAVE NIECES
AND NEPHEWS, I HAVE A LOVELY
FAMILY.

Steve says YOU'VE GOT A GREAT
JOB.
YOU HAVE A FULL LIFE.
YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF GOOD THINGS
HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE.

Liane says RECENTLY I
WAS A VISITING LECTURER AT
QUEEN'S.
THAT IS A JOB I WOULD NOT HAVE
BEEN ABLE TO DO IF I HAD HAD
CHILDREN.
SO THE CONSOLATION PRIZE OF NOT
HAVING CHILDREN IS NOT HAVING
CHILDREN.
WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT
THEM.
NOW MANY OF MY FRIENDS, THEIR
CHILDREN ARE IN THEIR TEENAGE
YEARS, AND I KIND OF THING, WOW,
I THINK I DODGED A BULLET.

Steve says WELL, THEIR LIVES
ARE CERTAINLY MORE HARRIED THAN
YOURS, AREN'T THEY?

Liane says THEY ARE.
I WON'T SAY THEY'RE MORE
FULFILLED.

Steve says IS THIS SOMETHING --
I MEAN, YOU SAY YOU GOT TIRED OF
WAKING UP CRYING EVERY DAY.

Liane says MM-HMM.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW IF THIS
IS THE RIGHT WAY TO SAY IT BUT
I'LL JUST SAY IT.
ARE YOU KIND OF OVER -- ARE YOU
OVER IT?

Liane says IT'S
INTERESTING, BECAUSE IN THIS DAY
AND AGE, WITH REPRODUCTIVE
TECHNOLOGY, MY HUSBAND AND I
WILL JOKE ABOUT IT.
EGG DONOR SURROGATE?
HMM?
MAYBE.
IT'S UNLIKELY.
SO WE KIND OF STILL HAVE THIS
DREAM.
IT'S NOT REALITY.
SO WE KIND OF HAVE THESE
FANTASTIC CHILDREN, LIKE SCIENCE
FICTION CHILDREN, WHICH IS
ACTUALLY NOT SCIENCE FICTION
WITH REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY.
SO I --
SO I THINK SO MUCH OF OUR
RELATIONSHIP WAS SPENT TRYING TO
HAVE CHILDREN THAT WE NEVER
REALLY 100 PERCENT GIVE UP ON
THE NOTION.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE
CHILDREN, BUT THE IDEA --

Steve says HAS TO SAY THERE.

Liane says I MEAN, THERE
ARE WOMEN THAT HAVE BEEN
IMPREGNATED IN THEIR 60s AND
HAVE HAD LIVE BIRTHS.

Steve says YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
BE ONE OF THEM?

Liane says IT'S HIGHLY
UNLIKELY.

Steve says ISN'T THAT FUNNY.
YOU STILL WON'T SAY NO.
YOU SAY IT'S HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

Liane says YES.

Steve says BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO
HANG ONTO THAT DREAM OF
PARENTHOOD?

Liane says I'M NOT
PATHETICALLY HANGING ON TO THIS
DREAM, AND QUITE FRANKLY, AT MY
AGE, I DON'T WANT TO BE AN OLD
PARENT.
AND AS I MENTIONED, WE'RE EMPTY
NESTERS.
DO WE REALLY WANT TO EMBARK ON
THAT NOW?
BUT YOU'RE RIGHT.
WE WILL NOT FLAT-OUT SAY NEVER.
NEVER SAY NEVER.

Steve says ADOPTION WAS NEVER
AN ISSUE FOR YOU GUYS?

Liane says I LOVE THAT
QUESTION AND I HATE THAT
QUESTION.

Steve says BECAUSE…

Liane says WHY DIDN'T
YOU ADOPT.

Steve says WHY DIDN'T I?

Liane says YOU DIDN'T
NEED TO.
IT WAS A RHETORICAL QUESTION.
YOU DIDN'T NEED TO.
WITH REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY, WE
DON'T NEED TO.
AND ALSO I WOULDN'T WANT TO HAVE
ADOPTION AS THE SECOND CHOICE.
UNLESS YOU'RE ANGELINA JOLIE,
MOST PEOPLE WANT BIOLOGICAL
CHILDREN.
AND THE REASON WHY I DISLIKE
THAT QUESTION IS, WHY SHOULD IT
BE THE BURDEN UPON THOSE WHO ARE
INFERTILE OR WHO CAN'T HAVE
BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN, THAT THEY
MUST ADOPT, IT'S THEIR DUTY TO
ADOPT?
WE EXPLORED THAT OPTION.
WE WENT DOWN THAT ROUTE WHEN THE
FERTILITY TREATMENTS SEEMED TO
HAVE COME TO AN END, BUT THEY
HAVEN'T REALLY, THEY DON'T EVER
REALLY.
AND IT WAS LOOKING LIKE IT WOULD
TAKE ABOUT 5 YEARS BEFORE A
CHILD WOULD COME INTO OUR LIVES
AND WE WERE LOOKING AT OUR LATE
40s, AND AT THAT POINT I WAS
SO EXHAUSTED BY THE
DISAPPOINTMENT OF PREGNANCIES
AND NO PREGNANCY THAT I COULD
NOT STOMACH ONE MORE
DISAPPOINTMENT, AND AS I SAID, I
WANTED TO JUST GET ON WITH IT.
AND I'M GLAD THAT WE DID.

Steve says THERE MAY BE A
SENSE, BRUCE, THAT THIS IS A
BIGGER ISSUE FOR WOMEN THAN FOR
MEN, THAT SOMEHOW WOMEN HAVE
THIS IMPERATIVE TO GIVE BIRTH,
WHERE MEN DON'T HAVE THIS
IMPERATIVE TO BE FATHERS.
IS THAT TRUE?

Bruce says CERTAINLY
I THINK THERE'S A LOT MORE
SOCIAL PRESSURE ON WOMEN THAT
THEY SHOULD BE GETTING MARRIED,
THEY SHOULD BE HAVING CHILDREN.
THIS OLD-FASHIONED KIND OF DUTY,
WHICH I DON'T THINK IS TRUE BUT
I THIS THAT PERCEPTION IS STILL
OUT THERE.
WHEN WE SET OUT TO DO OUR WORK,
WE REALLY WONDERED WHAT KIND --
DO MEN ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT
THIS?
ARE THERE ENOUGH DIFFERENT WAYS
TO PUT IN A BOOK?
WHO KNOWS.
THE BOOK THAT CAME BEFORE
NOBODY'S FATHER WAS NOBODY'S
MOTHER.
IT WAS A REALLY UPLIFTING BOOK.
THE WOMEN IN THE BOOK HAD
RECLAIMED THIS IDEA JUST BECAUSE
THEY'RE NOT MOTHERS DOESN'T MEAN
THEIR LIVES ARE NOT FULFILLING,
THEY'RE WORTH LESS, ANYTHING
LIKE THAT.
THE MEN'S BOOK WAS MORE
MELANCHOLY.
WHAT WE REALIZED IS THERE ARE A
LOT OF OTHER DISAPPOINTMENTS
WRAPPED UP IN MEN WANTING KIDS
THAN WOMEN.
IT'S USUALLY THAT A RELATIONSHIP
HADN'T WORKED OUT IN SOME WAY
THAT THEY EXPECTED TO AND
THEREFORE THEY COULD NOT HAVE
KIDS.
I'M NOT SURE IT'S DIFFERENT
TODAY, BUT IT'S MUCH HARDER FOR
A SINGLE MAN TO ADOPT THAN A
SINGLE WOMAN WOULD BE.
THE LACK OF CHILDREN IN THOSE
CASES FOR MEN WHO WANTED TO HAVE
KIDS AND COULD NOT, IT WAS
REALLY WRAPPED UP IN A WHOLE
BUNCH OF DISAPPOINTMENTS.
I THINK THE SOCIAL PRESSURES ARE
DIFFERENT, WOMEN, THE SOCIAL
IDEA IS WHEN THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO
HAVE CHILDREN, IT'S A BIOLOGICAL
IMPERATIVE.
FOR MEN THE CONCERN SEEMS TO BE
COMING FROM FAMILY, YOU'RE NOT
CARRYING ON THE FAMILY NAME, THE
GENES, COLLECTIVE FAMILY WISDOM.

Steve says NAME.

Bruce says YOUR FAMILY NAME, EXACTLY.
YOU ARE THE END OF THE LINE.
THAT WAS DIFFERENT TOO.

Steve says DO YOU BELIEVE,
MOLLY, THERE'S THIS THING CALLED
MATERNAL INSTINCT, OR IS THIS
MORE OF AN OUTSIDE SOCIAL
PRESSURE ON YOU?

The caption changes to “Life without children. Maternal instincts.”

Molly says WELL, IT'S
INTERESTING.
WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE
MYTH OF MATERNAL INSTINCT, MY
FIRST REACTION WAS, WELL, OF
COURSE THERE ARE MATERNAL
INSTINCTS.
THEN I THOUGHT, WELL, WAIT A
MINUTE.
IS THIS MERELY A SOCIAL
CONSTRUCT?
IS THE MYTH OF MATERNAL INSTINCT
KIND OF LIKE THE MYTH OF THE
VAGINAL ORGASM?
IS IT SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING
TO FIND OUR WAY THROUGH TO GET
OVER IN THE SAME WAY THAT WOMEN
ALWAYS HAVE TO TEACH SOCIETY
ABOUT THEIR BODIES?
MAYBE THE IDEA OF -- AND WE
SHOULD SAY WHAT THAT IS, THAT IN
THE BOOK, IN MEGAN DOM'S RECENT
ANTHOLOGY, LAURA KIPNESS SAYS --

Steve says I HAVE THE QUOTE
RIGHT HERE.
SHELDON, LET'S BRING THIS UP.
HERE IS WHAT LAURA SAYS ...

Steve reads a quote by Laura Kipnis from Selfish, Shallow and self-absorbed,” 2015.

He says I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE MATERNAL INSTINCT BECAUSE IT’S AND INVENTED CONCEPT. IT AROSE, AT LEAST IN WESTERN CULTURE, CIRCA THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, WHEN A NEW SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOUR WAS NEGOTIATED- THE ONE WHERE MEN GO TO WORK AND WOMEN STAY HOME RAISING KIDS. SUDDENLY, THE NEW PARTY LINE WAS THAT SUCH ARRANGEMENTS WERE HANDED DOWN BY NATURE. WHEN KIDS’ ACTUAL ECONOMIC VALUE DECLINED, BECAUSE HAVING MANY WAS NO LONGER NECESSARY TO THE HOUSEHOLD LABOUR FORCE, THEY BECAME THE PRICELESS LITTLE TREASURES WE KNOW THEM AS TODAY. IN OTHER WORDS, ONCE CHILDREN STARTED COSTING MORE TO RAISE THAN THEY CONTRIBUTED, THERE HAD TO BE SOME JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING THEM. SO WHAT WE’RE CALLING BIOLOGICAL INSTINCT IS ACTUALLY A CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT – A HISTORICAL ARTIFACT, NOT A FACT OF NATURE.

Steve says DO YOU AGREE?

Molly says I'M VERY
INTRIGUED BY THIS IDEA.
I'M VERY TEMPTED.
IT WAS A NEW IDEA AS I READ IT
AND I THOUGHT, WOW, HAVE I
BOUGHT INTO -- HAVE I BOUGHT
INTO A CULTURAL CONSTRUCT?
I'VE BOUGHT INTO A LOT OF
DIFFERENT CULTURAL CONSTRUCTS
OVER TIME.
SO WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE
THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AS A MYTH?
WELL, I THINK THAT A NUMBER OF
PEOPLE WOULD FEEL RELEASED AND
PEOPLE'S CHOICES WOULD BE MORE
HIGHLIGHTED.
AND SO I THINK THAT'S A GOOD
THING.

Steve says LIANE, IF YOU HAVE A MATERNAL
INSTINCT, WHICH I ASSUME YOU DO,
CAUSE YOU WANTED TO HAVE KIDS
FOR FORTY PLUS YEARS, WHAT
HAPPENS TO THAT INSTINCT WHEN
YOU'RE CHILD FREE?

Liane says I'M A VERY DOTING WIFE
I MAKE BREAKFAST IN BED FOR MY
HUSBAND MOST MORNINGS, I TRY TO
BE AS INVOLVED IN MY NIECES AND
NEPHEWS LIVES AS POSSIBLE, I
HAVE A VERY FERTILE GARDEN, IT'S
VERY LOVELY AND IT'S TAKEN ABOUT
A DECADE FOR IT TO COME INTO
BEING SO LOVELY. SO I LIKE TO
THINK I CONTRIBUTE TO THE WORLD
IN WHICH I LIVE IN MYRIAD WAYS,
THAT IS NOT THE WAY I THOUGHT IT
WOULD BE, WITH MY OWN CHILDREN,
BUT I TRY TO EDUCATE PEOPLE
IN ONTARIO EN-MASS BY WORKING
HERE AT TVO, AND I TRY TO MAKE
THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE IN
SMALL AND DIFFERENT WAYS THAN
HAVING HAD CHILDREN.

Steve says BRUCE, DO YOU EVER
WONDER WHETHER YOU ARE MISSING
OUT ON THE RICHNESS, INTERPRET
THAT HOWEVER YOU WANT, OF LIFE
BY NOT HAVING KIDS?

Bruce says I DON'T,
ACTUALLY, AND IT'S FUNNY,
BECAUSE WHEN THE BOOK CAME OUT,
A FRIEND OF MINE SAID, I THINK
YOU'RE MISSING OUT ON A SINGULAR
HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
AND I SAID MAYBE I AM, MAYBE I'M
NOT.
I'M NOT GOING TO GO TO THE MOON
EITHER BUT I THINK MY LIFE WILL
BE FINE WITHOUT THAT.
IS IT SOMETHING THAT LEAVES ME
LESS FULFILLED OR LESS OF A
PERSON?
I DON'T THINK SO.
I NEVER HAVE THOSE QUESTIONS.
I'M COMPLETELY HAPPY WITH MY
LIFE, I'M HAPPY WITH MY CHOICES,
AND I THINK MY LARGER FAMILY IS
HAPPY WITH THOSE CHOICES AS
WELL.
THEY'VE BEEN GRACIOUS ENOUGH TO
SAY, YOU'RE MAKING YOUR OWN
DECISIONS.
THAT'S REALLY GREAT.
I THINK IT'S INTERESTING TOO
WHEN I WAS SORT OF AT THE AGE
WHEN PEOPLE NORMALLY THINK ABOUT
KIDS BECAUSE I WAS GAY THERE WAS
LIKE -- AND THIS IS MANY YEARS
AGO -- THERE WAS REALLY NO
THOUGHT THAT YOU WOULD GET
MARRIED, LET ALONE HAVE KIDS.
WHEREAS NOW THOSE PRESSURES ARE
THERE AND I HEAR FROM YOUNG
QUEER PEOPLE SAYING I'M ACTUALLY
FACING FAMILY PRESSURE TO MAKE
THIS OFFICIAL AND HAVE KIDS.
FOR PEOPLE IN MY GENERATION,
OLDER, IT WAS NEVER A
CONSIDERATION.

Steve says LET ME REITERATE
WHAT I SAID OFF THE TOP.
IT'S REALLY GOOD AND COURAGEOUS
FOR ALL OF YOU TO COME IN AND
SHARE YOUR PERSONAL STORIES AND
I THINK WE'RE ALL THE BETTER FOR
IT.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO MOLLY
PEACOCK, AUTHOR OF “PARADISE
PIECE BY PIECE,”
BRUCE GILLESPIE THE EDITOR OF
NOBODY'S FATHER, LIFE WITHOUT
KIDS, LIANE KOTLER, JOURNALIST
HERE AT TVO.
GREAT TO HAVE YOU ALL ON TVO
TONIGHT.

All say THANK YOU.

The caption changes to “Life without children. theagenda.tvo.org.”

Watch: Life Without Children