DEAR HARRIETTE: I totally disagree with your response to "Cold Feet" (whose former fiancee refused to accept any child-care responsibility for his three children).
As a divorced woman who has only one child because I practiced birth control since I was 16 years old, I certainly will NOT bear responsibility for the kids who have a living mother and father. I exercised judgment and discretion over the last 30 years, and I cannot burden my life with the responsibilities of those who chose not to do the same.
To say that my type of woman is not right for this kind of relationship is certainly true, but it does not make me a bad person or less worthy than a woman who is willing to step in.
We all are given the opportunity each day to make decisions that impact the present and the future. Just because I plan for my future every day does not make me (us) BAD WOMEN. It made me smart and willing to surround myself only with people who have done some planning of their own. -- Responsible, Washington, D.C.
DEAR RESPONSIBLE: I was not suggesting that you or women like you are bad. I was simply saying that if a woman (or man) chooses to marry someone who has or shares custody of children, it is implicit that he or she is signing up to participate in the parenting and care of those children. Indeed, I would hope that the stepparent would grow to love and nurture the children.
I don't think it's healthy for a couple to marry and for the stepparent to shrug off all child-rearing responsibility -- regardless of whether the other parent is living or dead.
Ultimately, it is best for care of the children to be shared by all adults -- parents and stepparents -- discussing and sharing values and parenting strategies. As you know, children are precious. They deserve the village that they should get through a stepparent relationship.
As far as your personal choices, you have been smart and clear about how you have lived your life, including the use of birth control. That is fantastic. Clearly, you have no intention of accepting responsibility for someone else's children. That's perfectly fine -- provided you do not partner with someone who has children. And you're right: Your position doesn't make you or anyone like you a bad person. It means you are responsible for your choices.