81 Years Later, No Parental FOMO: Interview with Marcia Drut-Davis 

In 1974, Marcia Drut-Davis was on top of the world. As President of the Long Island chapter of the National Alliance for Optional Parenting, she witnessed the movement grow from a grassroots effort into an international phenomenon. The first convention of the National Organization for Nonparents was about to take place. Marcia was riding high on a wave of confidence.

Little did she know that her life was about to take a dramatic turn. That fateful night, as the convention kicked off, the well-known TV show 60 Minutes came calling. The producer was intrigued by the gathering and filming for a future show. More specifically, she and her crew wanted to follow Marcia home and film their son as she told her in-laws that they had no intention of having children.

In the midst of her newfound fame and the chaos that followed, Marcia agreed to the 60 Minutes interview. It seemed like a great opportunity to spread the word about the childfree choice and let the world know that it was a valid and respectable decision.

However, the consequences of that decision were severe and unexpected. After the episode aired, Marcia received death threats, and her long-time teaching position was terminated, her then-husband had no repercussions. The backlash was relentless, but Marcia stood her ground, determined to share her truth and pave the way for a childfree life without regrets.

Recently, we caught up with Marcia and learned more about her inspiring journey as a childfree advocate and her commitment to a world where the childfree choice is not only accepted but celebrated. Marcia’s interview responses have been paraphrased for enhanced readability.

Why Are People Threatened by the Choice to Be Childfree?

It’s a perplexing question, but it’s one I’ve pondered over the years. In the beginning, I wasn’t always the calm advocate you see today. I used to be quite snarky and defensive, especially when I was younger. The reason for this defensiveness stemmed from the constant name-calling and social shunning I faced as a childfree individual. It wasn’t just words; I experienced real consequences, such as losing my job and even receiving death threats. These reactions fueled my anger.

What’s interesting is that this anger isn’t unique to me. Many young people who are coming out and saying, “I don’t want to have children” are met with strong, sometimes hostile reactions. This anger permeates the childfree community and paints us as angry and horribly selfish people who aim to belittle those who choose to have children. But let me be clear, this stereotype is far from the truth.

Yes, there may be a small percentage of individuals on both sides of this debate who resort to name-calling and hostility. Just as in any group, there are extremists. But what’s vital to understand is not everyone falls into this category. The childfree choice, like any other life decision, is personal. Everyone deserves respect for their choices.

I firmly believe that the root of this anger lies in the profound societal pressure to conform to certain norms. When individuals make choices that deviate from these norms, it can stir discomfort and even resentment in others. Until we recognize that everyone has the right to their own choices, just as we have the right to ours, we won’t bridge the gap.

It’s not an easy journey. But I’ve come to understand, like choosing between a dog and a cat, it’s a matter of personal preference. Let’s focus on respect and understanding instead of name-calling and hostility. It’s the only way we can truly move forward together.

What Is Lacking in Parenting Education?

Parenting education often falls short in preparing individuals for the complex realities of raising children. When we examine health classes for young people, we find that they rarely delve into the true essence of parenting. It’s not about the basics of reproduction like the sperm, egg, penis, and vagina – it’s about understanding what it truly means to be a parent. Do young people learn if they possess the qualities to be “parent material,” grasp the demands and responsibilities, and comprehend the financial implications? The unfortunate truth is they don’t. This gap in education is something I’ve witnessed firsthand during my time as a middle school teacher.

When I was teaching, students were given a little egg, symbolizing their “egg child,” and were entrusted with its care. They had to ensure the egg’s well-being, even if they wanted to go out and have fun. If they planned to attend a party, they needed to arrange for someone to egg sit. But, as you can imagine, eggs are quite fragile. When an egg was accidentally dropped or mishandled, it was considered “egg abuse.” This exercise, though well-intentioned, often spiraled into absurdity.

I remember a particular student named Navjot from Pakistan, who decided to store his egg child in his locker during Easter. When we returned, the locker had to be fumigated due to the putrid smell of the rotten egg.

Navjot’s response to the situation was telling. He claimed, “Mrs. Davis, this is silly. I don’t take care of the egg. The woman takes care. She’s the one who’s responsible, not me.” So, yes, there is a critical need for good parenting education that goes beyond simple simulations and introduces young people to the complex realities and responsibilities of parenthood.

Advice for Young People Contemplating a Childfree Lifestyle

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling with the decision to have children:

  1. Explore your own desires and motivations. Ask yourself why you want or don’t want to become a parent. This self-questioning is vital, as it helps you determine whether parenthood aligns with your values and aspirations. 
  1. Be honest with yourself and ask:
    • Are you ready to put in the extensive work and dedication that come with the “career” of parenting, considering it’s one of the most important jobs you may ever have?
    • Do you possess the stamina, financial resources, and ability to adapt your life to ensure a child’s well-nourished and happy upbringing?
    • Have you explored whether you want to be a parent based on cultural influences versus personal yearnings? What is driving your choice?
    • Are you aware that once a child is born, there’s no turning back, and the responsibilities are lifelong?
    • Can you find fulfillment in having children in your life without the full-time commitment, understanding that it’s not the same as being a parent but still provides meaningful experiences?
  1. Avoid being influenced by portrayals of parenthood in movies, TV shows, or advertisements that often showcase the most adorable and idealized aspects of having children. Instead, seek out real-life experiences and observations. Take a stroll through a place like Walmart, keeping your eyes and ears open to the realities of parenting.
  1. Try babysitting – and not just for a short two-hour stint. If you’re fortunate enough to have nieces or nephews in your life, watch them for one week in your own home. This immersive experience can provide a glimpse into the daily routines and responsibilities of parenthood. It’s important to embrace everyday life, as it’s in those moments you’ll find both challenges and lovely experiences.  
  1. Notice other people’s relationships. Personally, I have witnessed many friends in their later years who are heartbroken due to the painful estrangements they’ve experienced with their grown adult children. The cycle of hope and disappointment can be relentless. It’s a sobering reality. I encourage young people to consider these complexities as they make their choices about parenthood.

What Has Become Evident at 81 Years of Age?

I have to say, I’ve now gained a profound insight into how people of my age group are treated and interact with their families. 

When I was younger, the nuclear family lived around the corner or next door – grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins. My cousin lived on the second floor and we lived on the 4th floor of the same apartment in the same building. We were together all the time. Now the nuclear family lives in different states, maybe even different continents. It’s much easier to go back and forth but soon they realize it’s not the same. 

I’m astonished to see so many people my age waiting for their children and grandchildren to provide care in their later years. People often ask me, “Who will take care of you when you’re dying?” To which I respond, “Likely the same person who’s taking care of you, someone who has chosen the path of caregiving as their career.” 

The myth that having children and grandchildren guarantees a support system is prevalent, but it’s a misconception that can be deeply unfair to those younger generations. It raises questions of selfishness, a label we childfree individuals are familiar with. 

However, it’s crucial to challenge this belief and recognize that everyone has the right to make choices that align with their life goals and values. We must remember, ultimately, we all face our own journeys toward the end of life, and our paths are not determined solely by whether we have offspring or not.

My best advice is to make friends with younger people. Go to meetups and join organizations with people in a wide range of ages. I met a lifelong friend through a meetup group, highlighting the potential for deep and lasting connections outside of traditional family structures.

What is Your Favorite Thing About Being Childfree?

Ah, that’s a wonderful question! My favorite aspect of being childfree is my freedom. I relish the ability to do what I want when I want, all while staying within my budget. It’s worth noting that not every childfree person is wealthy, contrary to a common misconception that we’re all carelessly throwing money around. In reality, many of us have our financial struggles, but that doesn’t diminish the joys of our childfree lives.

For me, it’s about having the autonomy to make choices that align with my desires. I can sleep in when I feel like it, dive into a captivating book, take leisurely walks, or nurture my beloved garden. Spontaneous outings to the movies with friends? Absolutely! All of these experiences are within reach because I don’t have the responsibility of raising a child or caring for grandchildren.

The core of it all is the importance of self-nurturing – understanding your likes and dislikes, setting your boundaries, and, most importantly, finding the joy in nurturing yourself and others. 

Regardless of your age, having a goal and a passion in life are essential. For me, giving is at the heart of it all, but with a balanced approach that prevents me from feeling overwhelmed. It’s a beautiful feeling to provide for your own needs and wants, whether that means tending to a flourishing garden or simply taking a peaceful stroll on the beach. This, too, is a form of self-nurturing and self-care. It adds an incredible richness to my childfree life.

What’s Next for Marcia?

When I first embarked on this path, it felt like I was in the land of the dinosaurs, with hardly anyone worldwide sharing my stance. But now, the childfree community has grown and spread worldwide. That’s something truly remarkable.

Despite this growth, some things remain the same – the same concerns, the same misunderstandings, and the same social shunning. It’s disheartening to see people being excluded from wills or estranged from their families simply because they’ve chosen a childfree life. At 81, having walked this childfree path for five decades, one might expect significant change, but the core issues persist.

However, what gives me hope is the emergence of passionate individuals who are actively advocating for the childfree choice. They’re creating incredibly valuable resources and sparking essential conversations. I find myself engaging in these discussions and addressing the misconceptions and misinformation that often circulate.

Today, I am trying to find peace in the aging process. I know a number of people my age on anti-anxiety medications, which underscores the challenges of growing older. As reality sets in and time keeps moving, we can’t help but feel the changes in our lives. It’s hard to watch friends diminish or pass away. I currently have a friend in hospice care who is working towards acceptance of her mortality. Regrettably, her two sons are not at her side. Yet her friends are!

Given the illuminating nature of this phase of life, I’m also contemplating the future. Travel is definitely on the horizon. At 81, there’s a considerable amount of reevaluation. I’m questioning where I want to go, what new goals I want to set, whether I should pursue additional courses, or if I should undertake another book-writing venture.

Most of all, I’m relishing the simple joy of being alive, remaining aware of the world around me, and savoring each moment to the fullest. If there’s something I desire, like tickets to the ballet, the symphony, or shows, I don’t hesitate to indulge myself. This isn’t due to vast wealth but rather a conscious choice to embrace the opportunities that come my way and make the most of life. Having a dedicated financial advisor has been such a blessing!

I’ve always aspired to reach a point where I could say, “No regrets.” I started this journey at the age of 34, envisioning that someday when I’m older, I’ll be able to confidently declare that I made the right choice, that I didn’t change my mind, and that I have absolutely no regrets. I can proudly say that I’ve finally reached that stage in life. It’s a blessing to age while knowing I’ve stayed true to my beliefs.

As I face the sands of time, I am hoping there are torchbearers who will carry on. Maybe one of your readers will take up the torch. 

About Marcia Drut-Davis

Marcia is an award-winning pioneer of the childfree lifestyle, proudly followed by thousands on social media, seen in two documentaries, “To Kid or Not to Kid” and “My So-Called Selfish Life”, keynote speaker at The NOTMOM SUMMIT, interviewed on NPR Radio, author of her memoir, “Confessions of a Childfree Woman” and “What? You Don’t Want Children?” To learn more about Marcia, visit her website, Facebook group, or Instagram account


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