I missed the show, but I went to Dr. Phil's website to see if there was a clip from the show.
There is a brief clip, and also a short written summary in which Dr. Phil asks the couple if they have considered whether they might come to regret their decision once it's too late. The couple answers that yes, they have considered that, but do not feel that having kids is the right choice for them, and it's more important to do what is right for them, then to cave in to society's expectations.
Dr. Phil was supportive of them, telling them that if they have doubts about having kids, they shouldn't do it, no matter how much others are pressuring them, but he also suggested that they re-visit the subject once a year to make sure their decision still stands.
I'll give Dr. Phil a grade of B on his approach to this couple.
On the one hand, he was supportive of their stance and encouraged them to stand by their decision and not cave in to pressure from outsiders. Had he stopped there, I would have graded him an A, but alas, he also went on to question whether they might regret their decision later, and suggested they continue to re-visit the subject every year to make sure their decision still stands.
What I would like to know is this: how often are people who are planning to have kids questioned how much thought they have put into their decision? How often are they encouraged to think about whether they will regret their decision to have kids? How often are those who have decided to have kids encouraged to think carefully about their decision over a period of time, and make sure they aren't making a mistake? Considering that having children negatively impacts all of the major facets of a person's life - their happiness and well-being, their marital satisfaction, their financial stability, and on and on, doesn't it seem reasonable that someone contemplating having children think long and hard about potential regrets?
It always comes back to the same assumptions about the childfree:
- that we are confused, misguided, ill-informed souls who do not know our own minds.
- that most likely we will come to regret our decision.
- that being childfree is pathological and those who choose the lifestyle suspect.
Dr. Phil did mention briefly that some parents have regrets (that was a shocker!), giving the impression that parental regrets are rare but they do occasionally happen. The truth is, I have never met a childfree-by-choice person who regretted their decision not to have kids, yet I have met several parents who have told me straight out that if they could do it all over again, they wouldn't have kids. From my experience I have also observed that childfree folks put much more careful thought into their decision to not have kids, than parents put into their decision to have kids. In fact, most people who have kids don't even consider it a decision at all. It's just a mindless bodily function like breathing or going to the bathroom.
And yet it is we - the childfree folks - who are suspect.
It blows the mind.