Friday, June 20, 2008

Finding Purpose Without Children

Some people feel that children give their life more purpose, more meaning. Hats off to them. Truth is, though, we don't need children to do this for us.

I've never really felt that my life lacked meaning. I have a demanding career, wonderful husband, large group of friends, and lots of hobbies and interests to keep me busy. If one is content with enjoying life, one really needn't look for purpose or meaning in it. However, as everyone knows, adding volunteer work to your life is also a great option if you want to do something meaningful with your time.

Recently I've been seriously considering volunteering for the Samaritans of New York, a suicide prevention hotline. Although my husband and I are in a majorly busy phase of life right now (we're moving, and don't have a lot of extra time), I would really like to make time to begin doing this sometime in the next few months, perhaps in the beginning of 2009.

The job is demanding. The Samaritans make clear that their organization is a professional crisis counseling hotline, and that volunteers need to make a serious commitment: 60+ hours of training, followed by a 6-month commitment to 3 5-hour shifts per month plus one weekday (Sun-Thurs) overnight shift per month. I work a normal Monday-Friday day job with pretty long hours as it is, so that's a lot for me. But I really want to do it because it seems like it would be very rewarding, and I think I would be good at it.

To me, making the time for something like this in my life would have way more meaning than making the time to raise some kid. Raising kids, in my mind, is not giving back to the community. This is. And need I even say that I wouldn't have time to do this if I had a baby to take care of?

Just some musings. If you've ever done something similar, I'd love to hear from you, as well as hear about any other volunteer work you do.

4 comments: said...

I can't find your email, so I will ask here, would you like to be on each other's blog rolls? I write . I already added you to my blog roll.

Childfree in NYC said...

Added you :) Thanks!

Star said...

I volunteer for a crisis line, have been there for over a year now. I definately recommend you give it a shot. The one I'm at doesn't require as many hours as yours, so I do find it easy to fit into my schedule. We do have parents (of older children) who volunteer as well. It is probably the main thing in my life that makes me feel like I'm doing something important, something that has meaning. Because it doesn't matter how crappy my day is going. At the end of the day, if I can help someone who needs it, then I suddenly don't feel crappy at all anymore. Volunteering is great! If you go ahead with it, I'd love to see an update! :)

Ken Wagner said...

The Samaritans sounds like a great experience.
My wife and I are also childfree, and we find all our time consumed by work, family, friends, and our two dogs.
I recently began a new site to help support the childfree community. It is call Childfree Marriage and, if you are interested, can be found at
Thanks for sharing,