Undecided about having kids? Reading this might help – ABC News

Kids have always been in the plan for some people, but for the rest of us, it's a challenge to choose between parenting and living a childfree life.

There are of course pros and cons to both but according to the experts thinking about it that way isn't actually helpful.

One piece of advice I got while researching baby indecision was to consider what having a child might be like, as well as what being childfree would bring.

We've put together a range of content about baby curiosity, childfree living and parenting to help you along.

We also wanted to acknowledge that not everyone gets to choose, with infertility affecting about one in six Aussie couples.

The toughest thing about being in limbo, especially for women, is that we don't have a lot of time to figure it out.

Separating desire from decision might sound a bit vague, but actually, you need to work out what you want before you decide what you're going to do. They don't always match up, says Ann Davidman, a marriage and family therapist who has been helping men and women make a call about parenthood since the '90s.

And while you can "research" your way to some certainty, it's got to be the right kind. Rather than ask your parent friends what it's like to have kids, instead ask how they came to make a decision.

Skye was still unsure about becoming a mum even when pregnant with her son, who is about to turn one. We've been following her journey and you can read about her first few months as a mum.

Despite loads of soul-searching I still don't know if I want to have kids and there are men and women struggling with the same thing. But there is a way forward.

There are many reasons people choose not to have kids, including environmental concerns, mental health, desire for freedom, career, a love of pets and pressures to be the perfect parent.

"It's actually a very unselfish decision what sort of world are we bringing children into? Within 20 to 30 years climate change will have made its irreversible mark and life as we know it won't exist," wrote ABC Life reader Aizzy Babette.

I spoke to two young people who opted for sterilisation to make sure they could never have children by accident.

"I feel so relieved and happy and unburdened by the fact I've had it done," said 32-year-old Phil* from Melbourne.

The research shows most people don't regret their decision or "change their mind". Instead, women we heard from spoke about life without kids of their own being "one big adventure" and "a gift".

But it's not a call that comes without judgement from others. Women choosing to not have kids is a trend psychotherapist Zoe Krupka says is often wrongly labelled selfish, shallow and immature.

Men cop it, too the expectation to "leave behind a legacy" came up a lot in the experiences men shared with us. As well as being told "you aren't a real man" until you have a child.

To get to the heart of parenting, colleague Patrick Wright and I went deep with a handful of mums and dads.

We spoke to them about what changes, what's scary, the tough bits and of course what they love most about this whole parenting gig.

"I just like my kids so much. There is something about having people in your life that you would defend to the end of the Earth. I also really like hanging out with them. They entertain me like nobody else," said Christy Newman from Sydney.

Mums and dads at different stages of their parenting career share the best bits of having kids.

I personally loved hearing how great kids were for a laugh. Alesha Kilpatrick told us about the insatiable curiosity of her children and their strange questions.

"For me, the best bit is my children's random questions and sense of humour. 'Mum, what do ladybugs eat?'"

But there is also that weight of responsibility many parents grapple with.

"Initially, we gave our kids over to child care, and we felt a real sense of loss when that happened. You really do worry and look back and think if you're doing the right thing. Even when they're staying with the grandparents, you feel this sense of dread that you're not going to be there to look after them," said Mark Valencia.

And it's probably natural to experience a bit of an identity crisis.

Writer and mum-of-two Carla Gee says she often feels misunderstood, because her life doesn't fall neatly into the categories of "full-time worker" or "stay-at-home mum".

My colleague Sarah Scopelianos also wrote about how babies can change the dynamic of friendships when one of you has a baby and the other doesn't.

Whatever you decide, think of this quote from a Cheryl Strayed advice column.

"There will likely be no clarity there will only be the choice you make and the sure knowledge that either one will contain some loss."

* Name changed for privacy

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Undecided about having kids? Reading this might help - ABC News

Friday’s papers: Childless by choice, taxes and foreign aid impact – YLE News

Voluntary childless people say they often face societal stigma.Image: Titta Puurunen / Yle

Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said she wants to slash daycare fees to make working more attractive for parents of young children. Following up on the childbearing theme, Helsingin Sanomat's most-read article on Friday morning features a reader survey of people who are childfree by choice.

Respondents' reasons for voluntary childlessness included concerns about the climate and difficulties combining a family and career.

Venla Berg, a researcher at the Family Federation, cited a 2017 study that found that highly educated women were particularly concerned with bearing the load of work and family--something men did not express much concern about.

"Men said they would support the big change in a new mothers life by staying home for a few months while women were envisioning a three-year break in their careers," Berg explained.

The Finnish Tax Administration is urging income earners to update their withholding tax information, according to business paper Kauppalehti.

The tax office said as many as one-in-four workers were exceeding their annual pay estimates, which can lead to the withhold percentage suddenly shooting up at the end of the year. Tax officials said they were planning to send text messages to some 6,000 individuals whose earnings were greatly exceeding reported income thresholds.

An internal review by the Foreign Ministry found much room for improvement in several African development aid projects, reports newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat which had requested access to the sealed report.

The review centred on projects in the countries of Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia and found that the ministry did not adequately monitor and follow-up with aid recipients. Some foreign aid programmes not only lacked clear goals, but also concrete steps for achieving targets, according to the report.

Many university students in Finland are returning to online classes this autumn, but hotel chain Scandic is nonetheless launching a student accommodation package, reports business magazine Talouselm in a story that is piquing interest among its readership.

The chain is offering student accommodation packages--starting with 30 nights--at some of its hotels in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Kuopio, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Jyvskyl, Vaasa and Lappeenranta, according to the magazine.

Hotels have been struggling to maintain occupancy. At the beginning of the typical tourism season in May, Finnish air passenger traffic plummeted by 98 percent, year-on-year.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that right before the coronavirus crisis hit, Finland's hospitality sector was making large-scale investments in new hotels, leading to a concern that supply may soon surpass demand.

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Friday's papers: Childless by choice, taxes and foreign aid impact - YLE News

Relationships of the Future – My New Orleans

The Knot releases study on the trends of Gen Z and young MillennialsGetty

Today, Aug. 31, The Knot released its recent study, Future of Relationships and Weddings. The goal of this study was to look at the younger generations entering the relationship and marriage stage of their lives specifically, Gen Z and younger millennials, ages 18-29.

Kelly here: as a member of the younger millennials category at age 29, I was extremely interested in what this report was going to say. I dont necessarily fit into all of the millennial stereotypes and really thought I wasnt going to agree with what the rest of my generation and Gen Z had to say.

The study, in our opinion, shed some interesting and expected insights into how the young adult generations are viewing relationships and marriage.

As we usher in a new generation of to-be-engaged couples and then, to-be-weds were expecting that Gen Z and younger millennials will continue to shatter social norms and make their own traditions when it comes to their future weddings and marriages, said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot.

The studys press release highlighted four main areas of focus. First, was the expectations of relationships and marriage contrast trends set by todays newlyweds. What they found was that the beliefs in marriage and relationships held by Gen Z and millennials differ from the trends being set currently by todays newlyweds. Currently, 22 percent of married couples meet their significant other through online dating and apps, but Gen Z and millennials believe they are more likely to find the one through friends, school and social situations and only 12 percent believing theyll meet their partner on dating apps. Additionally, the study reported, Gen Z and millennials consider having shared family values to be the most important quality in a future spouse with the majority looking to their parents (48 percent) and grandparents (43 percent) as a positive example of marriage over friends (36 percent), influencers (16 percent) and celebrities (15 percent). Approximately 40 percent believe that seeking parents permission to wed will become a less popular, antiquated tradition in the future. Despite these differences, one area where Gen Z and millennials align with newlyweds today is their anticipation of living together (53 percent) and purchasing a home (30 percent) before marriage.

Though more are leaning towards looking to their parents and grandparents for inspiration, the report stated that about 20 percent of Gen Z and millennials also look to TV and movie couples for positive relationship inspiration, stating Pam and Jim from NBCs The Office, Monica and Chandler from NBCs Friends, Allie and Noah from the movie The Notebook, and cartoon couple Lind and Bob Belcher from Foxs Bobs Burgers as sort of role models. (Kelly here: Pam and Jim forever!) For LGBTQ+ couples, about the same amount say they look to TV couples for positive relationships as they look to their parents and grandparents. In the same respect, 22 percent Black and 23 percent Hispanic Gen Z and millennials say celebrities or social media influences are their source of positive relationship inspiration outside of their parents and grandparents mentioning Beyonce and Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and YouTube influencers Dearra and Ken as the most popular examples.

With a wider look into LGBTQ+ and Black and Hispanic Gen Z and millennial couples, The Knot noted that now is a time for change as these couples continue to face criticism. According to the study, one-third of Gen Z and millennial Hispanic (32 percent) and Black (30 percent) couples say they have faced criticism of their relationship due to their race. More findings included, nearly four in 10 Black couples have had their relationship criticized due to age, while 36 percent of LGBTQ+ couples have had their relationships questioned due to sexual orientation. For LGBTQ+ couples, less than half (38 percent) say their parents are very or extremely supportive of their sexuality and among other family members, only 25 percent are supportive. However, the majority (70 percent) of Gen Z and millennial LGBTQ+ couples say that friends are very or extremely supportive.

The final piece of the study revealed the increase in popularity of mixed-gender weddings parties and nontraditional wedding attire. The study showed that about 80 percent of Gen Z and millennials do put some thought into their wedding day (17 percent knowing precisely what theyre looking for) and that marriage is valued as equally important as traveling to these generations. Forty-nine percent of Gen Z and millennial expect an increase in mixed-gender wedding parties and 42 percent expect that Gen Z and millennial women will continue the rising trend of nontraditional wedding day attire stating the choice of a jumpsuit or skirt would be in place of a wedding gown. The report continued, Additionally, 31 percent of Gen Z and millennials expect that taking a partners last name will decrease in popularity. While photography tops the list of wedding services that most Gen Z and millennials admit theyre likely to splurge on, the majority of women (36 percent) are more willing to splurge on wedding attire for their special day, while men would prefer to spend the extra money on music (31 percent).

Melanie here: As a Gen Xer, much of this sounds familiar. Much to the dismay of our Boomer parents, many in our generation lived together, eschewed traditional weddings and wedding attire and many of us are in mixed gender and mixed race relationships (though the mixed gender marriage part didnt come for us until it was made legal, so commitment ceremonies were the alternative). The differences are found more in the areas of meeting on dating apps (some of us have, of course, but generally younger Gen Xers or those on second marriages) and looking to parents (most of ours divorced) or celebrities and movie or TV characters as inspiration (not real enough). Personally, I didnt look to my grandparents marriages, because they were so traditional and I knew my marriage would look a lot different, since Im a childfree by choice, career-centered writer. My husband and I have made it up as we go and here we are, 22 years later! I cant speak for all Gen Xers, nor would I want to, but I think most of us have a you do you philosophy. So, to all of the millennials and Gen Zers not that you asked for my opinion or advice, so if you dont want it, skip down to Kellys thoughts do whatever. (You knew Id work that word into it, right?) If it works for you, doesnt hurt anyone and makes you happy, you are doing something right. You cant mess things up any worse than we Gen Xers (or our parents good lord how did we even survive?!).

Kelly here again: as a millennial with a more traditional opinion of what dating, relationships and marriage should look like (yes, I look to my grandparents for that one), I enjoy my fellow young millennials and the Gen Z generations want to move away from dating apps and online dating and put more into a relationship. Though Gen Z and millennials are given a bad rap sometimes, I believe our drive to find a deeper connection while not compromising on our independence and want to travel and connect with the world could create a generation of marriages that mirror the romanticized vision of our grandparents and great grandparents spanning decades and producing a deeper love and understanding.

Are you part of the Gen Z or young millennial generations? Let us know what you think about the findings from The Knots study.

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Relationships of the Future - My New Orleans

One Legacy of the Pandemic May Be Less Judgment of the Child-Free – The Atlantic

Read: This isnt sustainable for working parents

While the parents in my life have been openly acknowledging the challenges of parenting during the pandemic, my child-free friends have for the first time been sharing that they are relieved they dont have children. Many of us have been quietly admitting to one another that a decision weve often been told wed regret or should be ashamed of doesnt seem like the worst decision in the world. These types of conversations have garnered renewed interest in recent weeks, and not just among my friends. An essay series in The Guardian, called Childfree, explores that decision, with reasoning that runs the gamut: not enough money, focusing on your own life, the climate crisis, being fine with being alone. The series wasnt pinned to life amid a pandemic, but it seems especially apt in this moment. The gap between parents and the child-free has also been evident on Twitter. In response to a harmless tweet from a parent about how non-parents have no idea how hard its been to parent during the pandemic, thousands of people chimed in with some version of: Yes, we dothats why we dont have kids.

That particular exchange has all the supercharged, often annoying characteristics of internet debate, but it highlights a long-standing tension. This is hardly the first moment that the idea of marriage and a baby as the primary path for women has come under scrutiny. Early feminists openly discussed the pressures of motherhood. Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique started with the problem that has no name, which was the unhappiness of married women stuck at home with children. She wrote, There is no other way for a woman to dream of creation or of the future. There is no way she can even dream about herself, except as her childrens mother, her husbands wife.

That has obviously changed. Nine years ago, Kate Bolicks Atlantic essay, which became her memoir about single life, Spinster, made waves. In it, she detailed all the ways that women were upending what society expected of them. She wrote, A childless single woman of a certain age is no longer automatically perceived as a barren spinster.

Friedan and Bolick were both generally speaking to the experiences of middle-class white women. For less privileged women and women of color, of course, becoming a parent has not always been framed as an empowering choice (single Black mothers, for example, are routinely demonized, not heralded, for exercising their choice). Still, I started thinking about these texts again as I reflected on what my friends with children were going through and how, despite our recognition of the oppressiveness of these expectations, they appeared unchanged.

The pandemic has only intensified the pressures that already existed for middle-class parents. Child-care costs were high, but they at least gave you some freedom to work; now families are raising children without the usual support. As schools and day-care centers reopen, they must address new safety concerns. For heterosexual parents, the bulk of the child care falls on the mother. The global health crisis has worsened this sexist division of labor, and the long-term effects could damage womens careers and, despite the best intentions, become a new norm.

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One Legacy of the Pandemic May Be Less Judgment of the Child-Free - The Atlantic

How at 34 I’m working out if I really want to be a mother one day – iNews

Since my early twenties, the question of motherhood and whether its for me is one I havent fully considered. Like most of the big decisions in my life, Ive avoided tackling it by shoving it to the bottom of my to-do list.

Ive just turned 34, which, according to some fertility experts, means I supposedly have only one year until my biological clock starts plummeting into an oblivion of dwindling eggs and eventually menopause.

My school education didnt really prepare girls for one of the biggest, life-defining decisions theyll make as a woman. Instead, we were taught how to avoid becoming pregnant, which I have to admit is a refreshing change from the days when women were taught our sole purpose was to be a housewife.

My knight in shining armour has come in the form of endless Tinder and Hinge dates

However, were still continually being sold the millennial dream of women being able to have it all a successful career, marriage and kids but the reality has left me feeling disillusioned. My knight in shining armour has come in the form of endless Tinder and Hinge dates, who are mostly not ready for commitment, or say they are, but then leave me on read or just vanish. Then the price of London living is hefty especially when youre doing it on your own, and dont have the high-flying salary to match.

Culturally, I feel like a British-Ghanaian spinster, as back in Ghana a woman is really expected to be married with kids by the age of 25 a complete juxtaposition from my life here. Despite all of my glittering achievements, my dear sweet grandmothers favourite topic to discuss with me on the phone is when are you going to have a baby? This is what she views as the real fulfillment of womanhood especially as she has had 12 children.

All this and more has left me riddled with anxiety about how I can even contemplate becoming a mother in this climate, and it seems Im not the only one who feels this way. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show women under 30 are having babies at a record low and the only age group in which births are increasing is the over-40s.

For those without children like myself, these findings give some assurance that Im not the only one still trying to decide on parenthood. But within my own personal circle, gradually more friends are hopping off the young, free and single bus and switching to married with kids and a mortgage.

Seeing some of my die-hard party compadres transform into doting mothers has been a joy to watch, and has left me playing the role of the cool auntie travelling all over the globe. However, my life has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic. I can no longer jet from country to country or distract myself with endless schmoozing at Londons finest soires. Ive been homebound and will remain so for a while, which leaves me with the time to dwell on the things Ive been putting off, like my personal stance on becoming a mother. Having this opportunity to explore this has led me to looking into options that could potentially buy me more time, or just less mental stress.

Im elated women like myself have more avenues available to us such as adoption, freezing our eggs or heading to the sperm bank. But while these modern choices are game changers, they dont really appeal to me. Freezing eggs seems like a costly process financially, physically and emotionally which, at the end of it, doesnt guarantee a baby. Call me a heartless cynic, but I would rather invest that money into getting on the property ladder.

The short-term benefits of a sperm donor seems like the perfect match for me, but I do worry about never having the answer to whos my daddy? So its a no from me, but I will forever admire the women who have the strength and courage to do it alone.

My quest down the online rabbit hole of parental indecision led me to self-described motherhood clarity mentor Ann Davidman. Ann is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has a private psychotherapy practice in Oakland, California.

Parenthood hesitancy has been her area of expertise since 1991, when she and fellow therapist Denise L. Carlini created a group for the undecided population, like myself, who are seeking help deciding whether to have a child or not. The pair co-wrote a book, Motherhood Is It for Me? Your Step-By-Step Guide to Clarity in 2016.

Fast forward to 2020, Ann counsels both women and men worldwide, in a three-month online Motherhood/Fatherhood clarity group course, costing 800 or for a cheaper price tag, you can follow the guidance and assignments in the book. She has a growing UK clientele, who reach out to her to take part in the online clarity courses or to be counselled individually in one-to-one sessions.

Ann says she has found herself busier than ever in lockdown as the hectic lives of 30 and 40-somethings have been turned down a notch.

This one-of-a-kind program, which I am now participating in, has started my journey to deciphering my own private, uncensored feelings away from the judgement of other peoples opinions. Each week, I am set a writing assignment that aims to help me dissect and evaluate external circumstances that cloud my decision-making when it comes to parenthood.

I am addressing my fear that a child free life is going to be paved with regrets at a later stage

In week one I was set the task of drawing my family map and tracing generational patterns and attitudes to relationships and children. My findings were then discussed on a live call so we could explore any common traits or unsettling feelings. Alongside written assignments are recorded guided visualisations, which come packaged as a healing aid to help you relax and process your subconscious thoughts in a variety of role play scenarios. In one scenario, you visualise that you have decided to become a mother and journal your uncensored initial feelings that come with this decision.

In an alternative scenario, I am addressing my fear that a child free life is going to be paved with regrets at a later stage especially when Im older and my career is no longer the light of my life.

Of her method, Ann explains: Everything is to stir up the unconscious recordings that you carry, and its designed to record the information because often people are reacting to something outside of them, reacting to societys pressure, or living in a pro-natal society, where you are taught you should want children or what someone else wants for you.

Most people who are ambivalent or undecided, they dont even mention it to people because theres so much backlash. Ambivalence in general is uncomfortable for people, so, if you say youre not sure what you want to do about children, people have a hard time with that so that makes you go further underground and [feel] more alone.

She adds: You may desire to be a parent but live a child free life. Each part of that is a personal decision. The important thing is you know why youre making that decision which is really between you and you, its not an explanation you owe to anyone but yourself.

So far in the motherhood clarity mentoring process, Ive dealt with the uncomfortable truth that my thinking behind wanting to become a mum has solely been to keep up appearances as if a baby is a trendy accessory. Ive started shedding those beliefs and moved more towards questioning myself on whether I want the lifelong responsibility of an offspring, and if I am capable of providing them with love, guidance, wisdom, protection and financial security for as long as Im alive?

Im slowly learning that if the answer is no it doesnt make me a horrible person or any less of a woman.

During lockdown Ive spent time researching the pros and cons of motherhood by speaking to friends who have shared their wisdom, joys and honest regrets about becoming a mother. Ive googled and watched almost every Ted Talk on the subject and read numerous articles on the women deciding to go against the grain by remaining childfree and happy.

I have considered my lifestyle as a travel writer and being able to go anywhere in the world at the drop of the hat and how this may look different if I were to become a mother. But from speaking to travel mums who are successfully combining both of these worlds, Ive realised nothing is impossible, and actually family travel could turn out to be just as adventurous as solo travel.

I would say millennials feel more entitled to question and decide for themselves whats going to work, so they are reaching out more and feel less shame about not knowing, says Ann.

Speaking to Ann has made me understand its not a woman vs man battle when it comes to parenthood, as some men are also going through the same complexities of trying to understand what being a father may mean for them. Sometimes men reach out to me because theyre single and theyve been dating and their relationships keep ending over this topic so they want to get clear on it, so they know who to date, she says. They want to do right by themselves and their partner.

Motherhood clarity mentoring is enlightening and is making me feel more comfortable with the thought of becoming a mum one day but only for the right reasons, and Im giving myself the time to work out what these reasons are.

I now know that parenthood hesitancy is not something to be frightened of, as motherhood isnt so black and white. I am also learning to make peace with the fact that if I never have my own children naturally, I have the nurturing and loving spirit most women have. I am already a mother to children like my four Godchildren, who arent my own, but whom I love with the maternal yearnings within me. At any moment I can adopt the role of being a mum because, as the African proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child.

For more information on Ann Davidman and her services visit her website.

Stephanie Takyi is a travel and showbusiness journalist based in London

Continued here:

How at 34 I'm working out if I really want to be a mother one day - iNews

‘There’s a real taboo’: Emma Gannon’s debut novel Olive explores the decision to be childfree – Belfast Telegraph

Ask any female novelist about the most annoying question they get asked in interviews, and many will admit that they're often asked about how much of the character is written from real life. It's a question that author Emma Gannon is having to field a lot right now.

It definitely does annoy me a little bit," she laughs. "Other female authors have prepared me in advance about how I'll get asked this, although it's up to me how much I want to reveal."

As it stands, Gannon has much in common with the protagonist of her lively and readable debut novel, Olive. In it, the British podcaster/journalist mulls over a pertinent question: what does a life without children look like for a modern woman in her thirties?

Naturally, Gannon's own stance on wanting children has emerged. As a journalist, Gannon has already written about how much she enjoys her child-free existence.

"I felt conflicted about it," she tells me, referring to her decision to disclose her own stance on wanting kids.

"Part of me wants to do the eye-roll, and there are people who think I've pretty much written a memoir. But on the other hand, I feel I'd be doing a disservice to the reader if I didn't talk about it. We do write about what we know, and I'm not going to pretend that this is something that has nothing to do with me."

Gannon's titular protagonist finds herself at a crossroads, trying to figure out many things. Flying high in her career as a journalist, a freshly single Olive is more than aware that her 'child-free by choice' status marks her out as a bit of an outlier.

As her friends gravitate towards marriage and motherhood (and all the struggles and challenges therein), Olive is forced to check back in with herself and re-evaluate her stance on not wanting children.

Gannon handles this with elan, putting on the page the various complexities, challenges and uncertainties of the child-free existence.

"There is a sense of being a little exposed, but when you write fiction you're in a bit of an invisibility cloak, and you can wander around saying all these interesting things through the mouths of your character," Gannon smiles. "Sometimes, they do come from my deepest, darkest thoughts - works of fiction are weirdly truthful."

Though Olive is the undisputed heroine of the book, her college pals Cecily, Bea and Isla are also forging their own territory as parents; something that afforded Gannon the chance to "play with ideas of what motherhood can be".

"I suppose that sort of symbolises how I feel," she says. "I'm 31. I don't think I want children. I don't want to set it in stone as it's too soon to make any kind of definitive statement about it, but it's been fun writing the alternative."

Engaged to be married next year, Gannon hears the 'you'll be next' refrain from well-meaning types more often than she'd like. "When I'm with my nephews, I get a lot of that," she smiles. "The other one I get is, 'you'll change your mind eventually'. My favourite though is, 'who will look after you when you're older?' The one I find quite offensive is, 'maybe you've not met the right person yet'. I've met the right person - that's not the issue. We're not yet at the point where someone will say that they don't want children and people will just go, 'oh right, that's cool'.

Unlike Gannon, Olive, at 33, is absolute in her decision that she wants to remain child-free. It's not easy to find characters like Olive in today's swathe of fiction, which is exactly why Gannon decided to write the book.

"I do think it's something we need to talk about more, about what 'child-free' means for a new generation," Gannon notes.

One motif that still somehow endures is that of a 'cold war' between child-free women and mothers, and it's an idea that Gannon wanted to tease out in Olive.

"It's a weird one, isn't it? I did hear someone say that once in a workplace, they sort of hinted that the child-free should be doing more of the work. I suppose I wanted to bust the myth that child-free people always have so much time. The truth is, there's a lot going on for a lot of us. And just because you don't have children, you can still nurture and love and give back.

"I think this is a book about how we are all more similar than we think, there is no real divide there - no binary," Gannon continues.

"Womanhood comes in many forms, and the 'us and them' is just problematic. Some people would love to have children, and can't. How lovely would it be if we could all just work together and just live and let live, in a beautiful harmony?

"Ultimately, at the heart of the book, I wanted to write about friends - people who have been in the same boat, gone through school and university together, and feel they have the same benchmarks to hit. Suddenly, in your thirties, you can feel distant from them, and threatened by their new life: 'will they stop seeing you if you have a child?' I think these are very typical fears that come to mind for women.

"It speaks to the insecurities women feel - are we making the right choice? You can often tell when you're being horrible to someone or a bit mean, it's often to do with fear, and being scared of someone making judgements on you. You start to worry about things like, 'is my friend ahead in her career?' There's a real taboo around those kinds of judgments among friends.

"So many people have said, 'Olive feels so true to me, as I've had these sort of fallouts with friends'," Gannon adds. "People say they don't get invited to mum things anymore if they don't have their own child. I'm glad the novel is painting that reality. Luckily, I don't have those struggles with my own friends - we respect each other's priorities and whenever I, say, have a book launch or something, my friends are there, showing up."

Teasing apart taboos and having tricky conversations has long been part of Gannon's professional lifeblood. And her innate curiosity has made her podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, one of the most popular business podcasts in the UK.

"I think I always knew I wanted a job where I could get to be nosy and ask a lot of questions," Gannon says. "I love having the sort of conversations that make me uncomfortable. Curiosity often leads the way - I like that it helps you learn more."

With over six million downloads, Ctrl Alt Delete has seen Gannon interview everyone from Sharon Horgan and US actor Ellen Page to director Greta Gerwig and Gillian Anderson about their work lives. It was also the first podcast recorded inside Buckingham Palace.

"I genuinely love every single person I've interviewed but I often think back to the interview with (philosopher) Alain de Botton, because he just comes at things from a very different angle."

Her non-fiction debut, Ctrl Alt Delete, was released in 2016, and was swiftly followed by The Multi-Hyphen Method, "a new business book for the digital age".

In it, Gannon extols the virtues of a 'portfolio career', and exploring our own entrepreneurial spirit to create many strings for our own bows. Talking to people who run blogs or run online stores in their spare time, Gannon's book suggests working less and creating more and defining your own version of success.

"I don't necessarily agree that everyone should have a side hustle - it's another plate to spin for some people, but if you have a passion project, or an idea, and have whatever it takes to get started, ask yourself, will it improve your mental health? Will it help you meet new people? Are you happier being creative? "It's not even about making more money - it's about something that brings you joy."

Although released two years ago, The Multi-Hyphen Method has even more relevance in the current climate, where people in lockdown have been re-evaluating their work lives.

"It's a strange one, isn't it?" Gannon agrees.

"Two years ago I was talking about flexible working and new ways of working, and basically how a full-time job isn't a safety net anymore, and no one really wanted to hear it. No one really believed that flexible working could be the future. There was still a sense that people must still go to their desks and work from nine to five.

"It's been interesting, it's like we've been thrown into this social experiment (during the pandemic)," she adds. "Two years ago I had CEOs tell me they'd never allow employees to work from home, but now they're all working from home."

In The Multi-Hyphen Method, Gannon also writes of the benefits of self-promotion. "It's really hard for some people - either it comes naturally to them, or the thought paralyses them with fear," asserts Gannon.

"I tend to tell people that we're now living in a culture where self-promotion is pretty much part of the job. So much recruitment is done online, and there's a lot of competitiveness with the internet, and if you're not showing up for yourself on social media, it does have a knock-on effect. There's a way to self-promote that doesn't feel icky or boasty. Just use the way you'll tell your best friend what you're doing. It really is an extension of the job, and it will help you get more work."

With success in both the fiction and non-fiction realm, Gannon is now working, true to form, on a number of different side projects in addition to her podcast and day job.

"Maybe there's another novel (in my future), but I have another non-fiction book about self-sabotage out in September, too," she reveals. "I wrote Olive in secret, almost like an experiment. I don't necessarily want to leave non-fiction behind. I love that world far too much."

Olive by Emma Gannon, published by HarperCollins, 14.99

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'There's a real taboo': Emma Gannon's debut novel Olive explores the decision to be childfree - Belfast Telegraph

Trends: To have or not to have a baby childless author Emma Gannon is blazing a trail for choice – Metro Newspaper UK

AT THE age of 51, Jennifer Aniston is a wealthy movie star beloved by fans across the globe with an enviable jet-set lifestyle and a career she relishes. Why then, has she been portrayed for years as someone to be pitied because she hasnt cradled her own baby in her arms?

In a candid moment six years ago, Aniston told Allure magazine, I dont like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women that youve failed yourself as a female because you havent procreated.

Despite her status and celebrity, Aniston is far from alone. Her treatment reflects societys view that having a child is the right and valid thing to do and that, by implication, choosing not to is wrong.

So, kudos to Emma Gannon, best known for the Ctrl, Alt, Delete podcast and business book The Multi-Hyphen Method, for creating a titular character in her first novel, Olive, who doesnt want to be a mother by choice.

In 2018, the Office for National Statistics revealed 19 per cent of women whod reached 45 did not have children; a proportion thats doubled in a generation, so the books themes will no doubt resonate with many women whove been maligned because theyre not mothers.

Kim Cattrall [Samantha in Sex And The City] inspired me. I read an article where she said you must say childfree, not childless. Cattralls another woman who takes up a lot of space in the world but because shes not married or has children, people turn their nose up at her and I just think that needs to change, says Gannon, 31, whos known for a long time she doesnt see herself having children and was keen to find other women who felt the same.

I really dont have that formula in my head that having a child will make me feel complete. I feel complete and I just want women out there who feel the same to know that is valid. Its very different to someone who might be in pain because they havent had the child they always wanted. This is a choice. Maybe we just need to reframe what this strange definition of having it all actually means because I personally think I have it all, says Gannon, who studied English and film at Southampton University before moving to London and getting a job in a big shiny PR agency.

Its something she regards as invaluable given shes created her own brand out of a blog she started at 20 and was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018.

Its never really appealed to me to follow the crowd. I didnt follow the one, two, three-step guide to a successful job, I made my own career, so Im OK with staying away from what people think is the norm. Im lucky I dont have any judgement from my parents or friends. Maybe there are women who find it harder to break away and feel judged, and for some people, saying, I dont want children is a bigger thing.

But when Gannon turned to social media to find those who felt the same way she discovered she was far from alone.

I tweeted I was looking for women who were childfree by choice and got about 200 replies in minutes and then my emails blew up and I realised my feelings were very much those of others. There was no sense of shame or victimisation. It wasnt poor us, it was more, were here and unapologetic about our life choices and can someone shine a light on us? I knew this was going to be my first novel.

The book is about four lifelong friends in their early 30s, Olive, Bea, Isla and Cec, who are facing the inevitable issue of motherhood, but in markedly different ways.

Olive thinks her friends are being selfish because all they talk about is their children. They think Olive is being selfish because shes quite rightly obsessed with her own feelings and break-up and then youve got Isla going through IVF and is incredibly self-absorbed, which she has every right to be because shes going through a traumatic time. They all have struggles, all make mistakes, and are all insensitive at times, says Gannon, who adds she isnt Olive, but writing this novel is the closest Ive got to expressing myself in the truest way.

And its through Olives experiences Gannon reflects the reality for many childfree women.

As part of her research, she asked the women about the most irksome remarks theyre subjected to.

It was the same across the board Whos going to look after you when youre old? Arent you scared youre going to be lonely? Wont you regret it? Dont you want to leave behind a legacy? It was scaremongering, says Gannon. Then theres the belief that childfree women are out partying every night without a care in the world.

Im getting married next year, and we stay home a lot. I love nesting. And Im not this person who has all this endless amount of time. I have other commitments. Thats something I really wanted to show in the book, that just because someone is childfree, theyre not gallivanting around town.

Gannon hopes her book will prompt honest conversation, and show theres nothing wrong with taking your time to make up your mind about what you want in your life.

A lot of women fall into having children because their mother and grandmother did and there are a lot of women out there who think, Hmm, I dont know whether I wouldve done this differently, and thats OK as well, she says.

I think were too quick to judge people for their decisions, even our friends sometimes. Were all just figuring out our own way, whatever path we choose.

Researchers predict the worlds population will peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.

If the fertility rate falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall.

The average number of children a woman gives birth to is falling, due to more women being in education and work, and more access to contraception. Researchers at the University of Washingtons Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved between 1950 and 2017.

The University of Washingtons study predicts that by 2100, the rate will fall below 1.7. With 23 nations including Spain, Portugal, South Korea and Japan expected to see populations halve by 2100.

I realised that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources and I knew I wasnt ready to take that step into motherhood Kim Cattrall

If I had kids, theyd hate me. Theyd end up on a show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it wouldve probably been them Oprah Winfrey

You have to really want to have kids and neither of us did Portia de Rossi

As a comic, always working and on the road, I have had to decide between motherhood and living my fullest life and I chose the latter Sarah Silverman

Motherhood has never been an ambition. I dont think like that Rene Zellweger

Having children was not my destiny, I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did and I didnt care what people thought Helen Mirren

Olive by Emma Gannon (HarperCollins) is out now

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Trends: To have or not to have a baby childless author Emma Gannon is blazing a trail for choice - Metro Newspaper UK

Childfree – reddit

It's what my mother told me when I was obtaining an abortion at 19 which she believed could make me sterile. It was also in a letter my mother sent me when I was 31 and about to have my tubes tied, knowing motherhood was not for me. I kept that letter for 29 years. I am now 60 and I can say with certainty that I do not regret it.

Upon finding that letter again I called my mother to remind her of what she wrote. Since she wrote it, she has watched me live my life vibrantly without children, and came to understand that while her happiness came from motherhood, that was not the path I was destined to take. She hasn't always approved of my life choices, she doesn't understand why I reject monogamy, why I date women as well as men, why I became an activist, or why I still date at 60 for example. But she knows I am happy. She found it funny that she made that prediction, and we laughed about how wrong she was.

My life is wonderful. I have been so many places, loved so many people, had so many experiences, and I would not have done half the things I did if I had settled down with a nice man and had two-to-three children in a nice house in the suburbs. For you younger folks who've heard "you'll regret it when you're older" enough times to make you doubt yourself, remember that this old lady has been hearing "you'll regret it" since 1979, and still doesn't regret it in 2020.

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Voluntary childlessness – Wikipedia

This article is about the choice not to have children. For the inability to have children despite one's desire to have them, see Childlessness Involuntary.

Lifelong voluntary choice to not have children

Voluntary childlessness, also described by some as being childfree, is the voluntary choice to not have children.

In most societies and for most of human history, choosing not to have children was both difficult and undesirable. The availability of reliable contraception along with support provided in old age by one's government rather than one's family has made childlessness an option for people in some, though they may be looked down upon in certain communities.

The usage of the term "childfree" to describe people who choose not to have children was coined in the English language late in the 20th century.[1] The meaning of the term "childfree" extends to encompass the children of others (in addition to one's own children) and this distinguishes it further from the more usual term "childless", which is traditionally used to express the idea of having no children, whether by choice or by circumstance.[2] The term 'child free' has been cited in Australian literature to refer to parents who are without children at the current time. This may be due to them living elsewhere on a permanent basis or a short-term solution such as childcare.[3]

Supporters of living childfree (e.g. Corinne Maier, French author of "No Kids: 40 Reasons For Not Having Children") cite various reasons[4] for their view:[5][6][7][8][9]

According to economist David Foot of the University of Toronto, the level of a woman's education is the most important factor in determining whether she will reproduce: the higher her level of education, the less likely she is to bear children (or if she does, the fewer children she is likely to have). Overall, researchers have observed childless couples to be more educated,[citation needed] and it is perhaps because of this that they are more likely to be employed in professional and management occupations, more likely for both spouses to earn relatively high incomes, and to live in urban areas. They are also less likely to be religious, subscribe to traditional gender roles, or subscribe to conventional roles.[21]

Worldwide, higher educated women are statistically more often choosing voluntary childlessness.[7] Waren and Pals (2013) found that voluntary childlessness in the United States was more common among higher educated women but not higher educated men.[9] In Europe, childlessness among women aged 4044 is most common in Austria, Spain and the United Kingdom (in 2010-2011).[22] Among surveyed countries, childlessness was least common across Eastern European countries,[22] although one child families are very common there.[citation needed]

Research into both voluntary and involuntary childlessness and parenthood has long focused on women's experiences, and men's perspectives are often overlooked.[9]

In March 2020, Quest reported that research had shown that, in Belgium, 11% of women and 16% of men between the ages of 25 and 35 did not want children.[7]

According to research by Statistics Netherlands from 2004, 6 in 10 childless women are voluntarily childless.[10] It showed a correlation between higher levels of education of women and the choice to be childfree, and the fact that women had been receiving better education in the preceding decades was a factor why an increasing number of women chose childfreedom.[10] The two most important reasons for choosing not to have children were that it would infringe on their freedom and that raising children takes too much time and energy; many women who gave the second reason also gave the first.[10] A 2016 report from Statistics Netherlands confirmed those numbers: 20% of Dutch women was childless, of whom 60% voluntarily, so that 12% of all Dutch women could be considered childfree.[5]

In March 2017, Trouw reported that new a Statistics Netherlands report showed that 22% of higher educated 45-year-old men were childless and 33% of lower educated 45-year-old men were childless. Childlessness amongst the latter was increasing, even though most of them were involuntarily childless. The number of voluntarily childless people amongst higher educated men had been increasing since the 1960s, whilst voluntary childlessness amongst lower educated men (who tended to have been raised more traditionally) did not become a rising trend until the 2010s.[23]

In March 2020, Quest reported that research from Trouw and Statistics Netherlands had shown that 10% of 30-year-old Dutch women questioned had not gotten children out of her own choice, and did not expect to get any children anymore either; furthermore, 8.5% of 45-year-old women questioned and 5.5% of 60-year-old women questioned stated that they had consciously remained childless.[7]

According to a 2019 study amongst 191 Swedish men aged 20 to 50, 39 were not fathers and did not want to have children in the future either (20.4%). Desire to have (more) children was not related to level of education, country of birth, sexual orientation or relationship status.[9]

Some Swedish men 'passively' choose not to have children as they feel their life is already good as it is, adding children is not necessary, and they do not have to counter the same amount of social pressure to have children as childfree women do.[9]

Being a childfree, American adult was considered unusual in the 1950s.[24][25] However, the proportion of childfree adults in the population has increased significantly since then. A 2006 study by Abma and Martinez found that American women aged 35 to 44 who were voluntarily childless constituted 5% of all U.S. women in 1982, 8% in 1988, 9% in 1995 and 7% in 2002. These women had the highest income, prior work experience and the lowest religiosity compared to other women.[26] The National Center of Health Statistics confirms that the percentage of American women of childbearing age who define themselves as childfree (or voluntarily childless) rose sharply in the 1990sfrom 2.4 percent in 1982 to 4.3 percent in 1990 to 6.6 percent in 1995.[citation needed]

From 2007 to 2011 the fertility rate in the U.S. declined 9%, the Pew Research Center reporting in 2010 that the birth rate was the lowest in U.S. history and that childlessness rose across all racial and ethnic groups to about 1 in 5 versus 1 in 10 in the 1970s; it did not say which percentage of childless Americans were so voluntarily, but Time claimed that, despite persisting discrimination against especially women who chose to remain childless, acceptance of being childfree was gradually increasing.[27]

Among women aged 3544, the chance of being childless was far greater for never-married (82.5%) than for married women (12.9%). When the same group is analyzed by education level, increasing education correlates with increasing childlessness: non-H.S. graduate (13.5%), H.S. graduate (14.3%), Some College no degree (24.7%), Associate Degree (11.4%), Bachelor's degree (18.2%) and Graduate or Professional degree (27.6%).[28][29]

While younger women are more likely to be childfree, older women are more likely to state that they intend to remain childfree in the future.[citation needed] It has also been suggested through research that married individuals who were concerned about the stability of their marriages were more likely to remain childless.[citation needed] However, some women report that lack of financial resources was a reason why they decided to remain childless.[citation needed] Childless women in the developed world often express the view that women ultimately have to make a choice between motherhood and having a career.[citation needed]

Most societies place a high value on parenthood in adult life, so that people who remain childfree are sometimes stereotyped as being "individualistic" people who avoid social responsibility and are less prepared to commit themselves to helping others.[31] However, certain groups believe that being childfree is beneficial. With the advent of environmentalism and concerns for stewardship, those choosing to not have children are also sometimes recognized as helping reduce our impact, such as members of the voluntary human extinction movement. Some childfree are sometimes lauded on moral grounds, such as members of philosophical or religious groups, like the Shakers.[citation needed]

There are three broad areas of criticism regarding childfreeness, based upon socio-political, feminist or religious reasons.[citation needed] There are also considerations relating to personal philosophy and social roles.[citation needed]

Feminist author Daphne DeMarneffe links larger feminist issues to both the devaluation of motherhood in contemporary society, as well as the delegitimization of "maternal desire" and pleasure in motherhood.[32] In third-wave handbook Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, authors Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards explore the concept of third-wave feminists reclaiming "girlie" culture, along with reasons why women of Baby Boomer and Generation X ages may reject motherhood because, at a young and impressionable age, they witnessed their own mothers being devalued by society and family.[33]

On the other hand, in "The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order"[34] and in Utne Reader magazine, third-wave feminist writer Tiffany Lee Brown described the joys and freedoms of childfree living, freedoms such as travel previously associated with males in Western culture. In "Motherhood Lite," she celebrates being an aunt, co-parent, or family friend over the idea of being a mother.[35]

Some believe that overpopulation is a serious problem and some question the fairness of what they feel amount to subsidies for having children, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (US), free K12 education paid for by all taxpayers, family medical leave, and other such programs.[36]Others, however, do not believe overpopulation to be a problem in itself; regarding such problems as overcrowding, global warming, and straining food supplies to be problems of public policy and/or technology.[37]

Some have argued that this sort of conscientiousness is self-eliminating (assuming it is heritable), so by avoiding reproduction for ethical reasons the childfree will only aid deterioration of concern for the environment and future generations.[38]

Some regard governmental or employer-based incentives offered only to parentssuch as a per-child income tax credit, preferential absence planning, employment legislation, or special facilitiesas intrinsically discriminatory, arguing for their removal, reduction, or the formation of a corresponding system of matching incentives for other categories of social relationships. Childfree advocates argue that other forms of caregiving have historically not been considered equalthat "only babies count"and that this is an outdated idea that is in need of revision. Caring for sick, disabled, or elderly dependents entails significant financial and emotional costs but is not currently subsidized in the same manner. This commitment has traditionally and increasingly fallen largely on women, contributing to the feminization of poverty in the U.S.[39]

The focus on personal acceptance is mirrored in much of the literature surrounding choosing not to reproduce. Many early books were grounded in feminist theory and largely sought to dispel the idea that womanhood and motherhood were necessarily the same thing, arguing, for example, that childfree people face not only social discrimination but political discrimination as well.[36]

Abrahamic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Hinduism place a high value on children and their central place in marriage.[citation needed] In numerous works, including an Apostolic letter written in 1988,[40] Pope John Paul II has set forth the Roman Catholic emphasis on the role of children in family life. However, the Catholic Church also stresses the value of chastity in the non-married state of life and so approves of nominally childfree ways of life for the single.[citation needed]

There are, however, some debates within religious groups about whether a childfree lifestyle is acceptable. Another view, for example, is that the biblical text Gen. 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply", is really not a command but a blessing formula and that while there are many factors to consider as far as people's motives for remaining childless, there are many valid reasons, including dedicating one's time to demanding but good causes, why Christians may choose to remain childless for a short time or a lifetime.[41] Matthew 19:12 describes Jesus as listing three types of eunuchs including one type who chooses it intentionally, noting that whoever is willing to become one, should.[citation needed]

Brian Tomasik cites ethical reasons for people to remain childfree. Also, they will have more time to focus on themselves, which will allow for greater creativity and the exploration of personal ambitions. In this way, they may benefit themselves and society more than if they had a child.[42]

Some opponents of the childfree choice consider such a choice to be selfish. The rationale of this position is the assertion that raising children is a very important activity and so not engaging in this activity must therefore mean living one's life in service to one's self. The value judgment behind this idea is that individuals should endeavor to make some kind of meaningful contribution to the world, but also that the best way to make such a contribution is to have children. For some people, one or both of these assumptions may be true, but others prefer to direct their time, energy, and talents elsewhere, in many cases toward improving the world that today's children occupy (and that future generations will inherit).[43]

Proponents of childfreedom posit that choosing not to have children is no more or less selfish than choosing to have children. Choosing to have children may be the more selfish choice, especially when poor parenting risks creating many long term problems for both the children themselves and society at large.[44] As philosopher David Benatar[45] explains, at the heart of the decision to bring a child into the world often lies the parents' own desires (to enjoy child-rearing or perpetuate one's legacy/genes), rather than the potential person's interests. At the very least, Benatar believes this illustrates why a childfree person may be just as altruistic as any parent.[citation needed]

There is also the question as to whether having children really is such a positive contribution to the world in an age when there are many concerns about overpopulation, pollution and depletion of non-renewable resources. Some critics counter that such analyses of having children may understate its potential benefits to society (e.g. a greater labor force, which may provide greater opportunity to solve social problems) and overstate the costs. That is, there is often a need for a non-zero birth rate.[46]

People, especially women, who express the fact that they have voluntarily chosen to remain childless, are frequently subjected to several different forms of discrimination.[20] The decision not to have children has been variously attributed to insanity or derided as 'unnatural', and frequently childfree people are subjected to unsolicited questioning by friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers who attempt to force them to justify and change their decision.[20][6][9] Some consciouslessly childless women have been told that their purpose in life was to get children based on the fact that they were born with a womb (created by God).[20] Some British childfree women have compared their experiences of coming out as childfree to coming out as gay in the mid-20th century.[20] Some Canadian women preferred not to express their decision to remain childless for fear of encountering social pressure to change their decision.[20] Some women are told to first have a child before being able to properly decide that they don't want one.[20] Some parents try to pressure their children into producing grandchildren and threaten to or actually disown them if they don't.[20][8] Some childfree women are told they would make good mothers, or just 'haven't met the right man yet', are assumed to be infertile rather than having made a conscious decision not to make use of their fertility (whether applicable or not).[20] Some childfree people are accused of hating all children instead of just not wanting any themselves and still being able to help people who do have children with things like babysitting.[20][8]

It has also been claimed that there is a taboo on discussing the negative aspects of pregnancy, and a taboo on parents to express regret that they chose to have children, which makes it harder for childfree people to defend their decision not to have them.[8]

Social attitudes about voluntarily childlessness have been slowly changing from condemnation and pathologisation in the 1970s towards more acceptance by the 2010s.[9]

Childfree individuals do not necessarily share a unified political or economic philosophy, and most prominent childfree organizations tend to be social in nature. Childfree social groups first emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, most notable among them the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood and No Kidding! in North America where numerous books have been written about childfree people and where a range of social positions related to childfree interests have developed along with political and social activism in support of these interests. The term "childfree" was used in a July 3, 1972 Time article on the creation of the National Organization for Non-Parents.[47] It was revived in the 1990s when Leslie Lafayette formed a later childfree group, the Childfree Network.[48]

The National Organization for Non-Parents (N.O.N.) was established in Palo Alto, California by Ellen Peck and Shirley Radl in 1972. N.O.N. was formed to advance the notion that men and women could choose not to have childrento be childfree. Changing its name to the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood, it continued into the early 1980s both as a support group for those making the decision to be childfree and an advocacy group fighting pronatalism (attitudes/advertising/etc. promoting or glorifying parenthood). According to its bylaws, the purpose of the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood was to educate the public on non-parenthood as a valid lifestyle option, support those who choose not to have children, promote awareness of the overpopulation problem, and assist other groups that advanced the goals of the organization. N.O.N.'s offices were located in Reisterstown, Maryland; then Baltimore; and ultimately in Washington, D.C. N.O.N. designated August 1 as Non-Parents' Day. Just as people with children come from all shades of the political spectrum and temper their beliefs accordingly, so do the childfree. For example, while some childfree people think of government welfare to parents as "lifestyle subsidies," others accept the need to assist such individuals but think that their lifestyle should be equally compensated. Still others accept the need to help out such individuals and also do not ask for subsidies of their own.[citation needed]

There are suggestions of an emergence of political cohesion, for example an Australian Childfree Party (ACFP) proposed in Australia as a childfree political party, promoting the childfree lifestyle as opposed to the family lifestyle.[citation needed] Increasing politicization and media interest has led to the emergence of a second wave of childfree organizations that are openly political in their raisons d'tre, with a number of attempts to mobilize political pressure groups in the U.S. The first organization to emerge was British, known as Kidding Aside.

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Choosing to Be Childfree Doesn’t Mean You Dislike Kids | Time

Recently I was having coffee with a friend whose kids had just graduated from high school. She talked about how excited she was for them, one of whom is entering a program to pursue acting and the other who is launching a career in music. I shared in my friends excitement, noting how impressed Ive been by their performances in our community. Wed been talking about them for no longer than five minutes when she gasped, Oh my god! You just wrote a whole book about not liking kids, and here I am talking about mine.

As a childfree person who also studies the experiences of non-parents, I hear versions of this comment a lot. In this case, it was polite and well-meaning. In others, its less so. But however its presented, its a reflection of a common misconception about people who choose not have kids: that because we dont have them, we must not like them.

In researching my book Childfree by Choice, I interviewed 70 people who made the same decision, asking them both about their reasons for forgoing parenthood and the other relationships in their lives. Most of them told me they have at least some connection with children. Some even said that their relationships with children are special precisely because they dont have children of their own.

Like more than a quarter of the people I interviewed, Susan, a 53-year-old camp director, intentionally sought out a career path that would require her to interact with and be involved in childrens lives. Her mission was to become an advocate for kids, focused on securing a better future for other peoples children without having the potential distraction of being pulled away from that goal by having her own. There are so many children who are already in this world who need our love and attention, she said. This is more important than bringing our own children into it. I heard similar sentiments from teachers, therapists, social workers, pediatricians and police officers.

Of course you dont have to dedicate your career to children to have a meaningful effect on their lives. As the only childfree couple among their friends, Jack and Kim enjoy being able to provide occasional relief to the parents in their peer group. We all have this sort of joke that our house is called Summer Camp, Jack said. As the couple without kids, sometimes we have more of an ability to play with their kids than other couples the kids can see us as a bigger, older friend.

Other childfree people provide financial support for the children in their lives. Annette, a professor, has helped friends with expenses for their kids. As she said, I care for them emotionally, of course, but also financially. Anything I can do to help them and their parents, Im glad to do it. One 2012 study found that PANKS (Professional Aunts No Kids) spent an average of $387 on the children in their lives in the past year. Another, conducted in Finland, found that women without children invest more in their siblings kids than women with children of their own invest.

These roles matter. Research on the impact of non-parental adult mentors shows that having caring adults who are not their parents involved in their lives improves youths self-esteem. Adults benefit, too. The childfree people I interviewed said that their relationships with kids provide fulfillment and a sense that they are contributing to a greater good. One study found that while aunts and uncles offer their nieces and nephews advice in dealing with family members as well as other support, it works the other way too. Participants also reported that they formed a friendship with these family members based on shared interests.

Its true that some childfree people do prefer the company of adults over children, and certainly we should be glad that adults who arent fans of kids arent having kids. And no one should have to justify their choice to not be a parent by professing their love and adoration of children. Some people want to be parents, some are driven by something else their marriage, their career, travel, animal rescue, environmental activism. Often, though, the way they spend their time and the role they play in their communities and beyond helps make the world a better place for the kids growing up in it.

We hear proclamations all the time that it takes a village to raise a child, and childfree people too are an important part of that village.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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Choosing to Be Childfree Doesn't Mean You Dislike Kids | Time

This Is What No One Tells You About Being Child-Free In …

Years ago, at a crowded happy hour after work, my friend pointed out a man with his kid on his shoulders. Why would you bring a baby to a bar? my friend marveled.

Yeah, I said. Why would you have a baby?

This got the laugh I wanted it to. My single friends were in their late twenties, and kids were what seemed like they were impossibly far in the future. I was in my early 30s but pretty recently divorced and beginning to think I didnt want children certainly not then, but also maybe not ever.

Still, the ticking of my biological clock eventually got loud enough to hear over the salsa music I danced to several times a week. Between the ages of 41 and 43, I sort of tried to get pregnant with my boyfriend, Inti. Beyond choosing a suitable father and plucking out my IUD, I didnt do much. No OB-GYN visits other than my annual exam. No thermometer, no ovulation-monitoring app. For a while I tracked my cycle informally, raised an eyebrow at Inti once a month, and stuck my legs in the air after sex. But a year went by, and my period was so regular I never even had to open the pregnancy test package.

Sounds sad, doesnt it? It is but only sort of. If it were deeply sad, if I were the kind of woman who felt truly incomplete without a child, I would have handled it differently.

My friends who wanted kids (and didnt come by them the usual way) did the things you do when that happens and you have money. These friends, married and single and mostly younger than I am, took hormones, had fibroids removed, did IVF. They interviewed potential egg and/or sperm donors, chose a donor. They looked into adoption, adopted. In the last few years, one way or another, they all had children.

And so, they tell me, could I. But Im not trying to anymore and I dont want to take the heroic measures they took, and I cant quite articulate why except to conclude I must not want kids enough.

I find no role model or path to help me navigate this. I didnt do everything I could to be a mother, but I still grieve motherhood. I dread the baby shower, anticipate the sorrow Ill feel on that first new-baby visit. Its hard because I did want kids, so Im envious, but its also hard because my friends departure into parenthood feels like betrayal. Yes, betrayal.

All those child-free years we had together feel forsaken. That freedom to hit the salsa club on a weeknight, those casual text invitations to same-day happy hours. All that time I was valuing that lifestyle, cherishing it and my friends in it, what was it to them, that they can so decisively change it? I know, I know; were in that stage of life. Now theyre moving on. No one promised me to stay child-free forever.

Fair enough. But somehow I thought all along we would keep comparing notes from the opposite sides of our different life choices.

When your friends move into parenthood and you dont, theres no map for the terrain you move into instead. They stop coming to your cocktail parties (Couldnt find a sitter, sorry). They invite you to their gatherings, which arent fun for you, overrun as they are by kids you might like and find adorable and entertaining in the short-term but whom you dont love, not the way you love your friends themselves. The gatherings contain no stretches of time long enough for meaningful conversation.

As parents, you understand this new reality. You roll your eyes, but you get it: This is life now. But when your kids take you away from me, I resent it. I just do. I know theyre brilliant and beautiful, but theyre children. I like you not these demanding small people.

Its socially acceptable for parents to complain about parenthood. They are allowed to lament their lost freedom. They are allowed to say how wrecked they are, how busy, how sleep-deprived. They can bemoan the chaotic state of their households and blame it on their kids. And then as if to assuage any guilt they are allowed to say they wouldnt trade it for anything, to say how happy and sparkly their messes are, how precious.

On the child-free side, its socially less acceptable to gloat about our European vacations, our restful evenings at home, our tidy living rooms with breakable items on low coffee tables. If we do enthuse about an activity we know our parent friends can no longer participate in, we are achingly aware of their side-eye, their evaluation of us as delusional for attempting to find meaning in these nonfamilial pursuits. Sure, they might outwardly envy our freedom what mom wouldnt love a break from her kids to spend a week on a beach? But how can such hedonism possibly measure up to the miracle that is motherhood? The precious, joy-producing person who is her son?

Its obviously no contest particularly because every parent once didnt have kids, and no childfree-by-(mostly)-choice person ever did thats the trump card every parent carries: He can compare it, he has tried both options, and we all know that no matter how bitterly a parent will complain, he would never, ever, EVER trade in his child for anything.

Except I still dont want kids badly enough to take heroic measures. I dont care how worth it you say it is and I dont care how cute and smart and squishy your baby is. From here, parenthood still looks mostly like a drag. Its hard to pretend that I dont find it alien and baffling. My life is vastly different and its different because I (mostly) want it that way. I actively enjoy not having kids. A lot. Im living the freewheeling, adventuresome life responsible parents must wait 18 years to return to.

And Im deeply engaged in the pursuit of my passions: chasing my freelance writer dream, building a writing-coaching business, spending all the time it takes to make my memoir meaningful. Passing uninterrupted evenings at home, reading on the sofa with the lighting just so, the tea steeping on the coaster, the boyfriend busy at the computer.

So whats a middle-aged, childless woman to do when her best friends become mothers and fathers? And whats a new parent to do about his childless friend? The one who still throws out last-minute happy hour invitations, the one who wants one-on-one time only, the one who doesnt offer to babysit?

Were all grownups: We can stay friends through major life changes, we can roll with lifes punches. Im getting used to my smaller role in my parent friends lives. Im spending more time with my childfree or part-time (divorced) parent friends.

Its been about three years since I basically gave up on motherhood, and although Inti and I are not actively preventing conception, I no longer slump when my period comes each month to remind me, yet again, of my not-pregnant status. At 46, I know my odds. Once in a while, maybe at a nephews first birthday party or after an evening of cuddling and giggling with my best friends baby, grief and hollowness clasp on and threaten to never let me go. Im so afraid one day Ill regret my choice.

I regret it now. I dont regret it. Its complicated.

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Originally posted here:

This Is What No One Tells You About Being Child-Free In ...

Why arent millennials having kids? 8 insights into the …

Parenthood was once thought to be inevitable a destiny for healthy fertile adults.

No more. Many people are opting out, a life choice that still provokes debate.

The number of babies born in the U.S. last year fell to the lowest level in 32 years, with younger women especially having fewer kids. Americans are now having fewer children than it takes to replace the population, a trend mirrored in other countries.

It doesnt surprise Amy Blackstone, a sociology professor at the University of Maine and author of the new book, Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence.

She and her husband Lance decided not to have children years ago after simply not feeling the pull towards parenthood. They check in with each other every year to make sure theyre still both on board about opting out. Famous women who've also made the choice include Ina Garten, Cameron Diaz and Helen Mirren.

For her book, Blackstone interviewed 70 child-free men and women and surveyed more than 700 about their experiences. She found women still feel the brunt of the stigma.

Men sort of get a pat on the back and theres more joking about, Arent you lucky that you dodged this bullet? Blackstone, 47, told TODAY.

Whereas for women, its the, Oh, you poor thing, I cant believe youre missing out on the most meaningful experience that a woman can have. You must be so sad and lonely.

Here are eight more of her findings:

Blackstone: The cost of living and having a baby we know thats a particularly difficult issue for millennials who are facing all kinds of college debt. Certainly, having a child has an impact on the environment and I know thats a reason that millennials have shared for their choice.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

Other top reasons include the desire for autonomy, spontaneity, freedom and the ability to travel.

Blackstone: This quote from a 44-year-old married woman resonated for me: I worry that if I had a child Id become a terrible partner because Id be so focused on being a good parent.

This doesnt mean child-free people necessarily have perfect relationships or better relationships than parents. But in my own case, I do recognize that I would be giving something up in terms of my ability to feel close with my partner and nurture that relationship.

Blackstone: In 2015, Pope Francis said, The choice to not have children is selfish.

If were going to put that label on the child-free, then its a label that needs to be shared across any group of people whove made a choice about the life that they know is right for them.

But isnt that what were all doing? Even parents, if you ask them why they had children, would tell you that they wanted kids because thats the life that they envisioned for themselves.

Alternatively, we can choose to abandon the selfish label and decide its OK for people to make a life choice that is best for them, whether that be parenthood or non-parenthood. Maybe neither choice is selfish.

Theres an impression that child-free people dont give back, or arent giving to their communities or making a difference in the world. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. We know from research that the child-free are involved in their communities theyre about as likely as parents to volunteer.

Blackstone: A quarter of the child-free people I interviewed actually chose careers that require them to be involved and make a difference in childrens lives. Many of them are teachers, social workers, pediatricians. There are all kinds of ways the child-free are engaged in kids lives and made a choice to do that.

Some child-free people dont like children and in that case, the last thing we want to do is push them into becoming parents.

Blackstone: I have not talked with anyone who feels regret about their choice.

I have had family members who I know have been worried for me, but we should accept when people tell us they dont want to have children. Parenthood is a role that is best fulfilled when its one thats chosen. It takes a lot to be a good parent so if somebody doesnt feel that pull, thats perfectly OK.

Blackstone: When people say we are missing out on something, thats absolutely true. But I would also turn it around and say its possible that parents are missing out on some aspects of the lives that child-free people enjoy. We cant do it all its impossible to have every life experience.

So yes, we will miss some experiences, but I dont think that because that is true, that it necessarily follows were unhappy. Im very happy with my decision. My husband and I have a life that we love.

Blackstone: These are questions that we all should be thinking about as we age, whether we have children or not.

In terms of the child-free, many have been creating a nest egg to help them be able to provide for themselves in their old age. And were seeing more and more examples of The Golden Girls-style living where older adults are sharing households with each other.

Its a mistake to assume having children means one will have a person to care for them in their old age. Not every adult child cares for their aging parents, research shows.

Blackstone: I would love it if we came to understand that the child-free have families. I count my husband and me as a family.

Child-free families fulfill the same functions that families with children do. We create households as a safe space that provides an emotional connection and an opportunity to recharge. We engage in social reproduction, which involves anything that people do to help rear the next generation. For the child-free, that means being mentors and friends to children.

A. Pawlowski is a TODAY contributing editor focusing on health news and features. Previously, she was a writer, producer and editor at CNN.

See the original post here:

Why arent millennials having kids? 8 insights into the ...

10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

More women than ever in the U.S. are making the choice to remain childfreeor not making the choice to have children, depending on how you want to look at it. Whatever their reasonswhether they be financial, related to health and lifestyle considerations, or quite simply never feeling the maternal instinctit is clear that many are still questioned about their decision and are often told that they will change their minds or regret it when they are older. There's no crystal ball that can let a woman look into the future and know if any of these (usually unsolicited) warnings will turn out to be true. But there is the clarity of hindsight. We talked to 10 women, now past childbearing age, about their decision not to have children to help inform and support younger women making a similar choice.

1. "Every time I hear about people's problems with their children, I think I dodged a bullet."

"I can't remember ever wanting kids, except maybe as a preschooler. My mother and stepmother both acted as if child rearing was tantamount to roasting in hell. (My stepmother also battered and psychologically mistreated me. I've heard that that often dissuades women from wanting children.) It helped that my now-husband was adamantly anti-kid. I might have allowed myself to be swayed otherwise. My mom is disappointed. People may say I'm selfish. They'd be right! I would so resent caring for children.

Every time I hear about people's problems with their children, I think, I dodged a bullet. I worry occasionally about finding myself alone in a big indifferent world, but I also know that children can be the ones who put you in a facility against your will, steal from you, or otherwise break your heart. No regrets so far. Interestingly, though, I often daydream about step or foster children. I guess I feel as if I have a lot of hard-won wisdom to share, if anyone wanted to hear it"Christie L., 52

2. "There's always a bit of a 'what if?'"

"I have a very clear memory of babysitting when I was about 12 and thinking, this isn't going to be my life. My first husband and I were married when we were 22 and I was very intent on having a career as a journalist and traveling a lot. We agreed to delay the decision about children until we were 30. We wound up getting divorced before that deadline so I don't know what would have happened had we stayed together. I was married twice more, and during my last marriage, my husband convinced me to at least try to get pregnant. I was 37 and very conflicted. I did actually get pregnant, but then had a miscarriage. He blamed me and the marriage never recovered.

Though I sometimes had fantasies of having a mini-me that I could take around the world with me, I didn't want it enough to make it happen. I actually do love children, and have been very close to my friends' kids and I have a niece my sister adopted from China with whom I'm very close (particularly since my sister, a single mother, died five years ago, so I'm the 'parental alternative' as I say).

Every time I go to a special eventbar mitzvah, wedding, etc.of my friends' kids I have a twinge that I'll never have that experience. On the other hand, I have friends whose children have been killed, committed suicide, have emotional problems, or just completely ignore them, and I realize that's a never-ending source of agony that I don't think I would have been prepared to deal with. Most of the time I am comfortable with how things have turned out....There's always a bit of a what if? but I think that's true of almost anything in life"Carol S., 67

3. "Seven decades of feminist activism have enabled us to challenge many long-accepted, limiting roles for women."

"I never had a strong urge to be a mother.Perhaps the reason is that I was the youngest of four children and had little experience with babies. A decision point came when I married a man who, because of his troubled family history, was opposed to fathering a child. I honored that decision, as we both agreed that the world did not need another mouth to feed. That marriage lasted only three years, which only confirmed the wisdom of my decision.

Read more:

10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

‘I’m a woman in her 40s with no children, and people don’t quite know what to do with me.’ – Mamamia

Well... it might have been, except Ive found that lots of people dont quite know what to do with women of my age who dont come with human cargo.

Its not all their fault, I suppose. When people ask if you have any children, a no never explains the whole story. Instead, its the beginning of a whole new one.

Is it a no because you tried and failed, is it a no because you didnt meet the right man and your eggs withered and died, is it a no because you hate children (and have cultivated an evil cackle to match), or is it a no because you just didnt fancy it?

Or is it actuallynone of the above?

Now you could say that the subject of children is a sensitive and potentially charged issue for many women, and therefore not really anyone elses business.

And although youd be absolutelyright, that isnt a very practical thing to say, because people doask if you have kids all the time. The problem is that after youve reached a certain age, most of those people tend toexpect an automatic yes.

Instead you throw the no curveball, and the nice person youre talking to will look quickly down at the floor, out of the window or into their drink, not quiteknowing what to say next. Because youre a nice person (most of the time, anyway), you will try to make them feel better by hastily justifying your barren state.

This will usually lead on to something along the lines of: I dolike children honest! Ive got loads of nieces/nephews/godchildren! (delete as applicable). Just in case perish the thought anyone got the impression that there might be something a bitwrong with you. Something a bitunnatural.

The words that have evolved to describe female barren-ness dont exactly help matters. Childless and childfree are supposed to determine whether you actuallywanted to have a child and failed, or you made a choice not to have any.

Job done.

Really?

Be honest: what sort of person do you immediately picture when you hear the words childless and childfree?

The first is probably a lonely woman crying in a bobbly cardigan; the second a hedonist who drinks too much wine and spends lots of money on shoes. Both of them probably have at least one cat. One of them is cursed by her inability to have children; the other hates them instead, so both are probably best avoided in polite company.

Continued here:

'I'm a woman in her 40s with no children, and people don't quite know what to do with me.' - Mamamia

The Motherhood Rejection: ‘We Didnt Need A Baby To Make Us Feel Complete’ – elle.com

My inbox was going insane. Every second, a new ping! Every refresh, another 10 emails. It was December 2018, and I was doing some research for a project about women who had decided to not have children.

I wrote a tweet asking people to get in touch: 'For a thing! I am looking to speak to a range of women who have zero desire to have kids (by choice!) who might talk to me, please reply or slide into ones DMs thank you.'

Within an hour I had 180 public replies, 200 private DMs, then non-stop emails for weeks afterwards.

'Im 48 now and neither of us has had a change of heart,' said one.

'Ive long let go of the distraction of giving a fig about what society thinks, and it is freeing,' said another. 'There are obvious positives, such as having more independence and money, but these arent really reasons why I wouldnt want [children]. I just simply am not interested.'

I gulped their messages down, savouring every last word. Sometimes I read them late at night for comfort. Their stories were not the ones the world tells us about childfree women: that they are sad, bitter, in denial, consumed with career or lacking a natural instinct. These women were joyful, open-hearted and deeply unapologetic about their choice to skip motherhood.

As their messages stacked up, I felt something akin to a high. For years, I had struggled to articulate why I felt so differently about being a mother compared to other thirtysomething women I knew.

I realised it was because there had never been a language that moved beyond the claptrap and clich to explain why women had decided to opt out of parenthood. (The stereotypes being that we were selfish, narcissistic, hedonistic, even.) As I replied to each message, it felt like a cloud had been lifted. That, finally, the decision to say no to being a mother could at last be celebrated.

Motherhood was never a dot on the horizon that came into focus the older I got

I never really gave much thought to babies when I was growing up. They were there, on my periphery, but never front of mind. When I looked at them, my heart didnt skip a beat. I just saw what looked like a lot of hard work and a lot of crying. I was more smitten with the idea of independence: living with friends, having a job, carving my own path but nothing beyond that. Motherhood was never a dot on the horizon that came into focus the older I got. It was just never there to begin with.

Which was fine, until I hit my late twenties and suddenly, just like that, motherhood was everywhere. It infiltrated my social circles conversations who was feeling broody, who wasnt. It was in the books I read, the podcasts I listened to.

Franziska & Tom WernerGetty Images

It was there, lingering, in conversations with new acquaintances and on the tip of the tongues of well-meaning relatives. Everyone my age, it seemed, knew with absolute certainty that they wanted to be mothers, in the same way that I knew with the same resoluteness that I did not.

At times, it can be difficult living with this knowledge, because it feels like you are constantly on the defence. It can make people feel uncomfortable, hearing this sort of thing. Being 'childless' is different to 'childfree', you see. The 'less' implies you have no choice; the 'free' implies bloody mindedness.

We didnt need a baby to make us feel complete

Ill give you an example: recently I picked up my 18-month-old nephew at a family gathering. I slung him on my hip and gave him a big wet kiss on his edible cheek. I love feeling the weight of his warm body in my arms. I love being an auntie. Suddenly, there was a gentle elbow in my side as a friend of the family said, 'Getting in some practice for when you have your own, eh?'

She meant no harm. I was holding a baby. She was being nice. But my throat tightened, my body stiffened. It was the directness of the assumption that did it. I love the children in my life deeply, but I know I do not want one of my own. So I decided to tell her, casually, so as to not make a big deal out of it. Suddenly she looked very sad for me.

'Oh' she simply said.

Because saying you are childfree feels more like an admission than a fact. For years, I have had to take a deep breath before I tell people, mentally preparing myself for their reaction. (Will they look confused? Alarmed? Will they pat me on the arm and assure me Ill change my mind when I get older?) It can throw people, in the same way that a single woman attending a wedding once did.

I came of age in the early nineties, a whole decade after the phrase,'having it all' was coined. That meant I watched as an entire generation ahead of me battled it out to have everything: the family, the career, the fulfilling sex life, the bountiful friendship circles And, from where I was standing, it looked exhausting.

I wasnt sure I could, or indeed wanted to have it all. But the one thing I knew I could live without was the one thing society believed I couldnt: motherhood.

A lot happened during my twenties to get me to this place of certainty. I left university. I moved to London. I left my job in PR. I created a blog. I started my own business. I wrote three books. I launched an award-winning podcast. I got to know and like who I was becoming, and the life I was carving out for myself.

I wasnt sure I could, or indeed wanted to have it all

I also met my partner Paul. Paul is amazing with kids; he has a face that can pull a million different expressions. Children love him. And he loves them. Which means that throughout our entire relationship he has always been met with: 'Oh, youll make a great dad some day!' But we are content just as we are. They say when you meet the right man, youll change your mind. But I didnt. I just knew I wanted to nest with Paul. No one else. We didnt need a baby to make us feel complete.

We were complete as we were.

Paul and I never had the 'children' conversation, by the way. Not because we were skirting around it, it just never came up. Until one evening when we were at home, cooking pasta, and he turned to me and said: 'What do you think youd be like if you couldnt sleep, read, travel or do your work in peace?'

I hesitated.

'I think Id be miserable,' I replied, pouring us some red wine.

'I really think you would be. Those are your favourite things,' he replied, laughing while continuing to stir the sauce.

'But Im 80 per cent sure I dont want them' I trailed off, because I knew what he was really asking me.

He paused. Im... 75 per cent sure.

'Im pretty sure, though,' I added.

'Same. But I guess we cant say for sure,' he said, switching on the TV.

And that was it. Our 'children' talk.

Paul feels it, too; the sense that we have to 'defend' our decision. It is hard when culture insinuates that childfree couples are self-centred or hedonistic, while couples with children are homemakers. Paul and I are homemakers, just in a different way.

Heres the unpalatable truth: I cant see a world in which having a child slots into my life.

Nolwen CifuentesGetty Images

I dont want to take time off work. I dont necessarily want a new or different identity to the one I already have. I like my life as I have built it. Its taken years to say this without feeling guilty. But I now realise that guilt belongs to society, not me. Being truly selfish is bringing a child into the world when you have no desire to make real space for it.

Saying you are childfree feels more like an admission than a fact

Of course, knowing you feel a certain way doesnt mean you are completely at peace with it. When I first said out loud that I didnt want children, it felt like some huge revelation, even if just to myself. Going against societys deeply entrenched grain isnt easy when human instinct is to follow the crowd. Thats why we need a new conversation and a new crowd. This isnt an exercise in picking sides the child-bearing on one, the childfree on the other its about us all having the option to choose the path that best suits us. And it means shining a light on the path that is least spoken about: the childfree one.

Thats why we need more examples in media, culture and real life showing what it is to live a wonderful childfree existence. The more examples we have, the more it becomes understood. (It is, in fact, why I have based my first novel, Olive, on a young, childfree woman.)

But I do believe that my generation and Gen Z, the one following mine, will finally settle this narrative: that we shouldnt be 'expected' to want children by default. The movement is about being childfree, not childless.

As the actor Kim Cattrall says: 'Its the "less" that is offensive it sounds like youre "less" because you havent had a child.'

For those who are childfree by choice, theres nothing missing from your life. Youre still surrounded by all the relationships and plans and things you love. You can have your own 'family' without having children. You can live your own version of 'having it all'. And it will be full of life and love.

Olive by Emma Gannon is out July 23. This article appears in the July 2020 edition of ELLE UK.

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The Motherhood Rejection: 'We Didnt Need A Baby To Make Us Feel Complete' - elle.com

5 Things ‘Childfree’ People Want You To Know | HuffPost Life

Survey data rarely distinguishes between the involuntarily childless and the consciously childfree, but 2014 census figures reveal that 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 have never had children the highest rate ever tracked. By age 40 to 44, 19 percent of women remain childless, according to a 2014 Pew report.

Now, a new study looks into how people come to this decision. It reveals the decision is rarely a one-time conversation, as past research has suggested, but instead an ongoing discussion a person has internally and with a partner.

Amy Blackstone, a gender sociologist at the University of Maine who specializes in childfree research, hopes that her study helps question the assumption that little boys and girls will grow up to become parents. Breaking down this assumption would give them space as they grow up to decide whether or not parenting is the right choice for them.

Right now, girls in particular, but girls and boys both, are raised to imagine themselves as parents of children, she explained. But if we more critically thought about the question of whether or not to parent, then everyone would have the opportunity to make the choice thats right for them.

Of course, the childfree would benefit if we made it a choice rather than an assumption, Blackstone continued. But I think parents would benefit, too.

Blackstone conducted a small, qualitative study to explore how 31 people 21 women and 10 men, all but two of them straight made their decision to stay childfree. She conducted 60- to 90-minute interviews on their decision-making process, the response they got from others and their reflections on their choice.

Blackstones finding that the choice is not a snap judgement but rather a complex and ongoing conversation pushes back on criticism that childfree people are selfish or flippant about their decision not to parent. It also sheds light on how different genders approach the choice and provides some insight into how friends and family help shape a persons decision.

Read on for five observations from Blackstones study, in the words of participants, that get to the root of how people decide to be childfree. All the names from the study are pseudonyms.

1. Childfree people do not make their decisions lightly.

HuffPost/Canva

I think everybody could say that to get where we are [and maintain our childfree status] has been a constant decision-making process because every relationship you enter into, especially romantically, thats the expected thing. Youre constantly making a decision about remaining childfree. Janet

Its not a decision where youre like, Okay, todays the day that I dont want kids. ...Its a working decision. April

My partner and I have discussions about Do you think you want to [have children] or not. ... Time has gone by ... and we see the things that are important to us and how we want to live our life. And we see a child as a completely changing point. Sarah

I think Ive always been deciding that I dont really want kids. Annie

I think this was kind of a decision that weve made more than once. You know, at the different times of your life. Weve been together now eighteen years so, Id say once every five to six years the topic has come up and I think itll probably stop coming up now, given our ages. One of us will say, So, you want em now? and the other will say No, no, not really. Is anything going on that would make us want them? No. No. Robin

2. Theyve observed parenting up close and they dont like what they see.

HuffPost/Canva

At first I grew up assuming that you have kids. You got married and it would happen. But I have older sisters and while growing up, I noticed that [my two much older sisters] put off having kids for a long time. So it became obvious to me that having kids was kind of a choice as opposed to inevitability. Then my two younger sisters got pregnant accidentally and I saw what that did to their lives, where they didnt have good jobs and [their partners] didnt have good jobs. They had to make [do] and even now ... twenty years later, theyre finally just actually starting to be able to live their life ... And so it just kind of gradually to me became like, Im not gonna have kids. Gradually for me it became, Yeah, I dont think I need kids. Steve

I think part of it is as my friends started to have kids, that made me go, Oh I dont think this is for me. Because even if I had wanted kids before that, once they started having kids and losing their freedom and their individuality, that really was a big point for me. It was like, that does not look like the fun, happy family stuff that you think about when youre young. I think that was a big part, when my friends started having kids, that was when I started thinking, Im checkin out of this. Janet

I was sort of observing families around me and wondering if I wanted to be a part of that dynamic in our world. ... A lot of people with children didnt look happy. ... The majority were definitely stressed out. There was something there that was not inviting me to participate in this lifestyle process. Kate

My brother was in a very bad marriage ...The marriage was going downhill and they tried saying Well lets have kids cause thats what we do or This will make things better, and so they had a kid. Two years after that they got a divorce. And my brother loves his daughter but he also says at the same time that, as bad as this is, that he wishes that he never had her. ... And once, talking to my sister, she said that when she comes home at night, she picks her daughter up from daycare and her daughter says I want to go back to daycare because I have more fun there. I guess I dont want to do it. Thats [what my sister goes through] a pretty crappy feeling. And [what my brother went through] reaffirmed it. Cory

3. For women, environmental and social responsibility often play a part...

HuffPost/Canva

[Not having children] is responsible. Instead of this kind of blindly following the societal expectation, of this is what you are suppose to do, [not having children] means really taking a lot of factors into consideration. I think about all kinds of stuff. Like I camped over the weekend and I saw the trash factor that people with kids had left and let build up from so much over use of a campsite. I think about stuff like acceptable population levels. April

Im really just concerned about our world. ... Diving more deeply in the social issues, I really think that the world is against the child right now. At this time in our social structure right now its not going to be a good thing to have children. We cant bring them up healthfully. Kate

I was a very environmentally conscious child and my big thing at the time was population control, so that was kind of a forming quality of [my decision not to have children]. Kim

4. ...While mens decisions tended to be internally motivated.

HuffPost/Canva

Not having kids is an obvious outcome of our choices. I want to be able to travel, I want to be able to do things that I would not be able to do if I had kids. ... Its just one of the many choices that you make in the balancing act of your life. ... And, you know, its a rational response to what it means to have a kid and what impact [being a parent] has on the rest of your life. Steve

5. They put a lot of thought into what it means to be a parent.

HuffPost/Canva

People who have decided not to have kids arguably have been more thoughtful than those who decided to have kids. Its deliberate, its respectful, ethical, and its a real honest, good, fair, and, for many people, right decision. Bob

I would like it to be considered a decision just like any other. Barb

I wish more people thought about thinking about it. ... I mean I wish it were normal to decide whether or not you were going to have children. Tony

What to keep in mind about this small study

Nancy Molitor, a practicing clinical psychologist and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine, commended Blackstone for diving into the little-researched and little-understood subject of deciding to become childfree. She was also intrigued by the way gender appeared to affect a persons decision-making.

However, she noted that given the small, homogenous sample and the fact that participants werent selected at random, its next to impossible to draw any general conclusions about the larger childfree population in the U.S. or around the world. The gendered patterns Blackstone observed, for example, need to be validated and confirmed in a much larger population. Some of this is inherent in qualitative research, which lacks the randomized samples and control group that underpins quantitative research. But qualitative research still has its place in the sciences, especially for emerging topics, because of its ability to raise the profile of new ideas, ask questions and generate new hypotheses for future research.

This is a small, self-selected group, Molitor said. That doesnt mean its not interesting, but its hard to speculate whether this would have results that would stand up in a larger sample taken from folks in rural Mississippi or the Midwest.

Molitor called for long-term studies to see if and how childfree people in their 40s (the upper limit of the ages in Blackstones study) change their minds as they enter their 50s. Molitor also said that it would be interesting to continue research on the childfree community by examining regional and generational differences across a wider, randomized population.

A lot of [childfree] research goes back to the 90s, she explained. I can say from my own experience and research that studies that were done in the 90s and their decisions about childfree might be very different from a young woman who is a millennial who is making that decision now in 2016.

Since publishing her research in The Family Journal, Blackstone has interviewed 44 more people, expanding the diversity of her participant pool beyond the mostly white, straight and middle or upper class respondents in her original cohort. She hopes to continue debunking myths and assumptions about childfree people with future research, which will hopefully create a world where childfree people dont have to defend their choice to others or suffer socially for it. Blackstone herself is childfree, and manages a blog she founded with her husband called Were {not} having a baby!

People dont really know what to do with us, Blackstone said. Sometimes we get left out of, for example, events at friends houses if there are children involved, because people assume that we dont want to be involved. It can be a kind of lonely existence.

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5 Things 'Childfree' People Want You To Know | HuffPost Life

More women like me are choosing to be childfree. Is this the age of opting out? – The Guardian

Imagine a world in which, one day, you learned youd eventually be expected to give birth to, then raise, an ostrich. It would be a long-lived ostrich, one residing with you inside your home for at least 18 years.

This large, growing bird would require a great deal of care daily, exhausting, heroic care, for which you wouldnt be paid, nor, in general, well supported. In fact, youd probably have to take time off from work; if youre a woman, your ability to earn a post-ostrich livelihood would most likely be curtailed, perhaps severely. Plus, there would be the expense of ostrich daycare, ostrich violin lessons; in the future, god help you, ostrich college. Did you catch the part where youre physically birthing the ostrich? It would tear open your body as it emerged from either between your legs or a gash sliced across your stomach, this larger-than-usual, speckled ostrich egg.

Then, imagine that, despite the pervasive societal expectations, you realized one day that you could opt out of having an ostrich. You never wanted the bird in the first place. Imagine how much more natural it might feel if you could just not.

Im starting with illustrative ostriches because Ive learned, over the years, that people tend not to believe me if I indicate that I dont feel, and have never felt, the urge to have children. Indicate, because I rarely say it outright. If directly asked, I respond, Oh, I dont know, not yet, as if theres a question about it as though I havent been certain, all my life, that Im at least as disinclined to parent a child as I would an ostrich. I equivocate with the hope of heading off the arguing, the unsolicited assurances about what my body wants and how I should live my life: Youll change your mind, Im often told. Hey, you never know.

Except I havent; I do. Thus, ostriches.

But how can this be so difficult to believe? My position should be, by now, plausible: the American fertility rate is at a historic 35-year low. The so-called replacement rate the national birthrate believed to be optimal for population renewal and stability is 2.1 babies per couple; today people with wombs are expected to have 1.71 children in their lifetimes. And that 1.71 estimate came before the pandemic; in this changed world, in which it seems all the parents of young children I know are having by far the hardest time of their parenting lives, it seems likely that fertility rates will keep falling.

Until recently, though, the US experienced more robust fertility rates than did other developed countries. We can thank immigrants for this: since 1970, any growth in annual births in the US is attributed to immigrant parents. Gretchen Livingston, from Pew Research Center, notes that if immigrant moms had not been in the States, [the] overall number of births would have actually declined in that time.

Since the 2008 recession, however, the total fertility rate has fallen by close to 20%. This dwindling rate has demographers worried: an aging population with a disproportionately small base of working adults is one more susceptible to the vicissitudes of the economy or a new coronavirus.

Looking around at the state of this country, as well as the world, it doesnt seem particularly surprising that the birthrate would be declining. Parenting in the US is especially costly and difficult, for one. And then theres the climate crisis: in a 2018 New York Times poll, a third of Americans of childbearing age cited climate change as a factor in their decision to have fewer children.

Based on my experiences, Id say one-third sounds, if anything, low. Im in my thirties; a significant majority of my friends still dont have children, and many say the climate is a serious consideration. Since the pandemic started, friends whod been unsure if they wanted children have begun saying theyre leaning more decisively toward not. If I look at a still younger set of people, the college students and graduate students Ive frequently encountered while teaching and publicly speaking, Id say the one-third figure sounds lower still, and how could it not be? In the absence of massive systemic change, it seems possible that ecological collapse will happen within college students lifetimes, and they know it.

Prospective parents also see the deficit in other, essential kinds of support, community, fellowship, help. In the Atlantic, Alia Wong argues that Americas low fertility rate is a sign that the country isnt providing the support Americans feel they need in order to have children. Even without a life-upending pandemic, trying to have a baby without consistent, legally enforced societal and medical support is indeed very hard. Or, as Anna Louie Sussman posits in the New York Times: It seems clear that what we have come to think of as late capitalism that is, not just the economic system, but all its attendant inequalities, indignities, opportunities and absurdities has become hostile to reproduction.

Could this falling birthrate eventually affect how childfree people are viewed in the US? (Childfree, Ill emphasize, not childless a lot of people without offspring prefer to reserve the term childless for those who are unable to have children.)

With plenitude, comes acceptance, even normalcy, until the childfree seem unremarkable something like that?

It might be unlikely. Throughout history, people without children women, especially have often been persecuted, mistreated, pitied, and killed for their perceived lack. In ancient Rome, a woman who hadnt borne children could legally be divorced, and her infertility was grounds for letting a priest hit her with a piece of goat skin. (The blows were thought to help women bear children.) In Tang Dynasty China, not having a child was once again grounds for divorce. In the Middle Ages, infertility was believed to be caused by witches or Satan; worse yet, an infertile woman could be accused of being, herself, a witch. In Puritan America, it wasnt just having no children that was suspect. Giving birth to too many children could be perilous, too, and grounds, yet again, for being condemned for a witch.

Also in the US, enslaved women were expected to have babies, and were routinely raped, their potential future children considered a slaveholders property. Some of the only times women without offspring have garnered respect might be when they have formally devoted their lives to a god, and to celibacy: nuns, vestal virgins.

Which brings us to a word I havent yet used, but which often is levied against childfree women like me: selfish. Despite everything, its still common to view parenting as a moral imperative, to such an extent that voluntarily childfree people can be viewed with such outsize emotions as anger and disgust. Pope Francis, a lifelong celibate, has said: The choice not to have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: it is enriched, not impoverished. Such judgments might be even more available now, at a time when so much, especially including parenting, has become more difficult for so many people.

I used to find this charge bewildering. How can it be selfish not to want? Why does it bother anyone if I refrain? The world is burning, and its been argued that the single best way an individual in a developed country can reduce her carbon footprint is by having fewer children. (Of course, what can really reduce our carbon footprints is ending our planet-strangling reliance on fossil fuels.) Whats more, a hundred children from a less economically developed nation could easily have a smaller carbon footprint than one American child. To be very selfless, I could move to a less rich land and help raise an entire orphanage.

And the upset about the replacement birthrate part of me is tempted to ask why it matters. Why is it prima facie an obvious good in and of itself that our species collectively keep overpopulating the earth? We abound, you and I. No other animals despoil this planet the way we do. But okay, if one wished to argue on behalf of the improved national social stability provided by having a younger population well, in that case, lets further open our borders. Lets fling them open. As Adam Minter says in Bloomberg: Until some country shows otherwise, immigration remains the most effective means of reversing a baby bust.

Voil, an elegant, satisfying, available solution for birthrate concerns.

Back to the question of selfishness: I used to wonder, as Ive mentioned, what could be selfish about wanting to live my own life, one in which Im electing not to take care of this hypothetical, doesnt-even-exist American child or ostriches. And then, I realized. Thats it, right there, I think. Im a woman; as one, Im expected to look after others. To nurture. To mother: a child, most often. Plus anyone else who could use my time, really. Thats the most uncontroversial kind of woman to be: one devoted to caretaking.

Here is where, if I wanted to, I might include a detailed paragraph about the caretaking I already do. I could line up examples of how unselfish I can be, how passionately I care about family and friends, and how I give to my larger communities. I could talk about being an aunt; I could explain how Ive tried to help sustain friends with children, all to say: Look, Im not the monster you might think I am. But I dont want to prove any claims to unselfishness here nor that of other childfree adults. Its irrelevant, and I shouldnt have to. It would be as if I abruptly started telling you how much I love Valeria Luisellis writing. What does Valeria Luisellis writing have to do with wanting or not wanting children, you might wonder, to which Id say yes, exactly, do you see?

Instead, I think of how, for as long as I can remember, Ive softened my refusal to be a parent. The times Ive said, Not yet, the parties at which Ive smiled when a stranger informs me Ill change my mind, as if hes more familiar with my body than I am. The talk of ostriches. It occurs to me that this is yet another way I force myself to take up less space: I badly dont want my private refusal to sound like an affront to anyone elses desires.

But one grows tired of extending courtesies that are too often not reciprocated, and maybe, for once, Ill say it plain: I dont want children, I never have, and it doesnt feel like any kind of lack. To me, it just feels like being alive.

Additional reporting by Adrienne Matei

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More women like me are choosing to be childfree. Is this the age of opting out? - The Guardian

First Thing: could the pandemic turn red states into swing states? – The Guardian

Good morning. The mayors of Houston and Austin have warned that hospitals in the two Texas cities are in danger of being overwhelmed by coronavirus patients in the coming weeks, even as Donald Trump continues to play down the exponential increase in Covid-19 cases across multiple US states.

Two months ago, Americas most severe outbreaks were in Democratic-led regions such as New York. But the countrys coronavirus map is very different now, and badly-hit states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia which all voted for Trump in 2016 look set to be 2020 election battlegrounds amid the pandemic, as Joan E Greve reports.

Speaking at the White House over the weekend, Trump said his administrations Covid-19 strategy was moving along well and claimed, without evidence, that 99% of cases of the disease which has now killed almost 130,000 Americans were totally harmless. But, as Adrienne Matei writes, even mild cases of Covid-19 can lead to long-term health problems:

Emerging medical research as well as anecdotal evidence from recovery support groups suggest that many survivors of mild Covid-19 are not so lucky. They experience lasting side-effects, and doctors are still trying to understand the ramifications.

Trump spent the 4 July weekend stoking Americas cultural divisions, dismissing the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and playing golf at one of his own private properties. But as he ramps up the belligerent rhetoric for his re-election campaign, there are fresh rumblings of dissent from within the Republican party.

Several anti-Trump groups have sprung up within the wider GOP. Some are openly supporting Joe Biden, reports Daniel Strauss, and almost all are better organised than the so-called Never Trump movement of 2016. Meanwhile, the presidents former national security adviser John Bolton has called into question Trumps claim never to have been briefed on the Russian bounties controversy, telling CBS that was just not the way the system works.

The coronavirus pandemic has struck the oldest generation most severely, but the impact of the economic fallout will likely be felt most deeply by young people particularly the so-called generation Z: those born between 1997 and 2012. Lauren Aratani spoke to several young Americans about entering the economy just as it goes into freefall.

Tom Hanks on surviving coronavirus

Back in March, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, became, he tells Hadley Freeman, the celebrity canaries in the coalmine of all things Covid-19. But now hes recovered and promoting his new film, albeit via Zoom. Im not one who wakes up in the morning wondering if Im going to see the end of the day or not.

Choosing to be childfree

RO Kwon never felt the urge to have children. With the world on the brink of environmental collapse, she writes, many women have joined her in choosing to be childfree. Two childfree Guardian editors introduce a new series on opting out of parenting, while Kristin Brownell says she refuses to pass on her addiction gene.

Why we need sharks

They get a bad rap from Hollywood, but the monstrous villains of the ocean are in fact a majestic, diverse bunch who help to bring balance to the underwater ecosystem. Helen Scales explains why sharks matter to humanity.

Trump nominated William Perry Pendley, a conservative activist with close links to anti-government forces, to oversee Americas public lands. His elevation, argues Cas Mudde, is a reminder that the true far-right threat to US democracy does not come from neo-Nazis.

It is this coalition of disaffected, illiberal and self-interested forces that holds Trump and the Republican leadership together and which is slowly but steadily dismantling the federal government from within.

The Dodge Charger from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, named after General Lee and emblazoned with the Confederate flag, will not be removed from display at the Volo Auto Museum near Chicago amid the national debate over Confederate monuments. The museums director said its collection also includes Nazi artefacts: If were going to get complaints about the General Lee being here, weve got much worse items over in our military building.

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First Thing: could the pandemic turn red states into swing states? - The Guardian

Childfree – reddit.com

Im a single woman in my mid-thirties. Im extremely career driven, and have always dreamed of buying property near the office where I work. I ended up buying a beautiful, albeit slight fixer upper, bungalow house built in 1930. I cant wait to get started fixing up the place.

Last week I went to close on the house and bingoed to hell and back by staff who were not my direct buyers agent. Everyone who came in the room to have me sign documents asked where my husband was to have him co-sign. I had to explain about five times that I was single. They responded with mostly condescending Oh, so good for you!

Then I met the sellers. An older couple, probably in their early 70s. They were very nice at first, then also asked where my husband was. I explained that Im single, so they immediately retorted Well the house is certainly big enough for a single mom and her kids! I explained that I dont have kids and everything got awkward and silent before they chimed in saying Well you never know!!!! I then explained that I was infertile (tends to have better guilt than tubes tied) and they just looked at me worriedly. No Im sorry, nothing. We discussed the exchange of the keys and I slipped out ASAP.

I wasnt a fan of the situation.

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Childfree - reddit.com

Childfree and Childless The Difference – The Good Men Project

Someone will often ask me to explain the difference between a person who is childfree and a person who is childless. Im happy to direct people to my book for further information. It is one of the most common questions I get from people in person, and online readers. Without quoting my book directly, I will summarize it here as best as possible.

A person who is childless feels the lack of having a child in their lives. They might have tried to conceive children without success, not knowing if it is because of a medical reason. Others may be childless because they cannot conceive children and have been told so by their doctors.

A person who is childfree is not childless by choice. Less means lacking in something. The choice not to have children is represented as a free choice. So, someone is not lacking in having children.

For further information, there are great numbers of online resources available. My personal favourite which I would encourage everyone to check out, isNon Parents, where I have contributed some content.

This post was previously published on Dann Alexander and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Childfree and Childless The Difference - The Good Men Project