For years, Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum wanted to write about her choice to not have children. No editors would take her pitches, she says, even as attitudes toward sexuality and marriage became more progressive in the mainstream.
In her book Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed, Daum collects essays from men and women who've had their maturity questioned simply because they're not parents. She talked to "Think" host Krys Boyd in April, and we revisit the talk today as part of our "Best of 'Think'" series.
Daum's essayists include a gay man in his 50s and a lesbian whose relationship ended because she chose not to have kids. Of all the reasons given for their decisions, "none of them have to do with shoes or sleeping late, as it turns out," Daum said.
A few questions Daum has encountered over her years of not-a-motherhood sound antiquated, but they're still common for her and the scribes in her anthology.
Question 1: Why don't you like kids?
Women seem much more concerned than childless men about whether people think they hate kids, Daum says. She's felt that first-hand.
"It did not feel like the best way for me to contribute to society, to be the best kind of villager in the village that it takes to raise a child," she says. "That is a cliche, but I think it's true."
Question 2: Won't you regret this?
This question was asked by the first caller of Daum's hour on Think. It's an age-old intervention method used by well-meaning friends who might not realize they need their choice to have kids affirmed.
Daum, who married at 39, says she did have a moment where she was more open to the idea of having children. But making a decision to become a mom based on the possibility of future regret was not something she could do, despite urgings all around her.
"As a journalist, for years, I would pitch this to magazine editors. I would want to write about it, in my 30s. I remember talking to one editor in particular. And she said, 'I'm not going to let you write about this, I'm not going to assign this, because you're going to change your mind.' "
Question 3: What was wrong with your childhood?
A chaotic or traumatic upbringing does not a childless person make, Daum says.
"It's just as, if not more, common to say, 'Hey, I want to do better than my parents, I want to correct this,' than it is to say, 'I'm going to step away from this altogether.'"
Think features in-depth interviews with compelling guests, covering a wide variety of topics -- from history, politics and current events to science, travel and adventure. Think airs on KERA 90.1 FM noon-2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with repeats at 9-11 p.m. Listen to Think interviews here.