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

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.

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10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

The Very Sad Childfree Life : Strange Notions

TimeMagazine's recent cover story "The Childfree Life" has generated a good deal of controversy and commentary. The photo that graces the cover of the edition pretty much sums up the argument: a young, fit couple lounge languidly on a beach and gaze up at the camera with blissful smilesand no child anywhere in sight.

What the editors want us to accept is that this scenario is not just increasingly a fact in our country, but that it is morally acceptable as well, a lifestyle choice that some people legitimately make. Whereas in one phase of the feminist movement, "having it all" meant that a woman should be able to both pursue a career and raise a family, now it apparently means a relationship and a career without the crushing encumbrance of annoying, expensive, and demanding children.

There is no question that childlessness is on the rise in theUnited States. Our birthrate is the lowest in recorded history, surpassing even the crash in reproduction that followed the economic crash of the 1930's. We have not yet reached the drastic levels found in Europe (inItaly, for example, one in four women never give birth), but childlessness has risen in our country across all ethnic and racial groups, even those that have traditionally put a particular premium on large families.

What is behind this phenomenon? The article's author spoke to a variety of women who had decided not to have children and found a number of different reasons for their decision. Some said that they simply never experienced the desire for children; others said that their careers were so satisfying to them that they couldn't imagine taking on the responsibility of raising children; still others argued that in an era when bringing up a child costs upward of $250,000, they simply couldn't afford to have even one baby; and the comedian Margaret Cho admitted, bluntly enough, "Babies scare me more than anything." A researcher at the London School of Economics weighed in to say that there is a tight correlation between intelligence and childlessness: the smarter you are, it appears, the less likely you are to have children!

In accord with the tenor of our time, those who have opted out of the children game paint themselves, of course, as victims. They are persecuted, they say, by a culture that remains relentlessly baby-obsessed and, in the words of one of the interviewees, "oppressively family-centric." Patricia O'Laughlin, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, specializes in helping women cope with the crushing expectations of a society that expects them to reproduce. As an act of resistance, many childless couples have banded together for mutual support. One such group in Nashville comes together for activities such as "zip-lining, canoeing, and a monthly dinner the foodie couple in the group organizes." One of their members, Andrea Reynolds, was quoted as saying, "We can do anything we want, so why wouldn't we?"

What particularly struck me in this article was that none of the people interviewed ever moved outside of the ambit of his or her private desire. Some people, it seems, are into children, and others aren't, just as some people like baseball and others prefer football. No childless couple would insist that every couple remain childless, and they would expect the same tolerance to be accorded to them from the other side. But never, in these discussions, was reference made to values that present themselves in their sheer objectivity to the subject, values that make a demand on freedom. Rather, the individual will was consistently construed as sovereign and self-disposing.

And this represents a sea change in cultural orientation. Up until very recent times, the decision whether or not to have children would never have been simply "up to the individual." Rather, the individual choice would have been situated in the context of a whole series of values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood, society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God. We can see this so clearly in the initiation rituals of primal peoples and in the formation of young people in practically every culture on the planet until the modern period. Having children was about carrying on the family name and tradition; it was about contributing to the strength and integrity of one's society; it was about perpetuating the great adventure of the human race; it was a participation in the dynamisms of nature itself. And finally, it was about cooperating with God's desire that life flourish: "And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it" (Gen. 9:7).

None of this is meant to be crushing to the will, but liberating. When these great values present themselves to our freedom, we are drawn out beyond ourselves and integrated into great realities that expand us and make us more alive.

It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our lives are not about us. Traditionally, having children was one of the primary means by which this shift in consciousness took place. That increasingly this liberation is forestalled and that people are finding themselves locked in the cold space of what they sovereignly choose, I find rather sad.Originally posted at Real Clear Religion. Used with author's permission.(Image credit: TIME Magazine)

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The Very Sad Childfree Life : Strange Notions

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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How this working mum is coping without her village during the coronavirus pandemic – ABC News

Six months after her son Benedict was born, Skye was looking forward to getting back to work.

Needless to say, the pandemic has thrown the project manager's best-laid plans into a spin but true to form, Skye and husband Jonathan have found a unique way to manage life.

We've been following Skye's journey into motherhood since she wrote to us about her parenting fears.

Last time we spoke, the 37-year-old Sydneysider was finding her feet after "baby blues", and going into work with her husband at the family business, Benny in tow, for a sense of normalcy.

A key part of what helped make motherhood work for Skye was her "village". As for so many new mums, social distancing has taken that away.

We spoke to Skye about working and caring for Benny (now eight months old) full time, and how the pandemic has changed their life.

She's one of many people ABC Life heard from during our series on being childfree by choice. And now she's a new mum, we're checking back in.

When Skye returned to work full time earlier in the year, child care for Benny was shared between her sister-in-law, parents and a nanny.

"It was working out really well.

"I did feel a bit weird [going back to work] because it felt like starting out again."

One of Skye's fears when we spoke to her before she gave birth was falling behind in the industry.

But she's really enjoying being back.

"It's something that's for me."

She also worried about the "crushing expectations" from society for mothers to be superheros.

Losing her village with social distancing has really put that to the test.

"That was a bit rough. The sister-in-law has to stay away and I can't be with my mum and dad.

"I remember being on the phone to my mum the night before and I was about to break out in tears."

The first day of working from home with Benny, Skye says she "cracked it".

"I was doing everything the caregiving, the cleaning, the laundry. It amplified those gender-specific tasks I had been trying to avoid [when becoming a mum]."

Her and Jonathan switched up the arrangement to instead share the family business office (which is currently empty), each having half a day there, while the other cares for Benny at home, doing as much work as they can.

"It's more about time management. I do some work while Benny is asleep at night," Skye says.

Skye is enjoying Benny more than ever as he becomes more interactive.

"Looking after him is actually quite fun, he's doing more wonderful things."

And while she describes her time with him sometimes like "looking after a drunk friend", it's the bonding time she loves the most.

"When I have him in my arms, it's a feeling of 'it's not about me, it's about him'. And that is a nice feeling."

She's also really loved seeing how much happiness Benny has brought other loved ones.

"Watching Mum and Dad be grandparents is amazing, and watching Jon's sister be an aunty, that's incredible.

"I would have missed that if he wasn't around."

The coronavirus crisis and climate change have left Skye feeling anxious about Benny's future.

"I'm definitely very sad about what sort of world I'm leaving to him," she says.

"There have been moments I've felt angry or depressed."

On the upside, she's loving their time together.

"Being able to adjust working flexibility and getting this time to reconnect that is a positive.

"I'm actually enjoying the time I'm getting with the little fella, which I wouldn't have gotten without the pandemic."

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How this working mum is coping without her village during the coronavirus pandemic - ABC News

I used to judge childfree women | Life and style | The …

At a friends house with a group of other mothers recently, the conversation turned to someone we all knew well: married, in her early 40s. But rather than mention her career, recent house move or the fact that shed just returned from a backpacking trip around Asia, we all exchanged looks and brought up the subject of children or lack of them.

I was as guilty as the rest of my friends: speculating on her situation, wondering if she couldnt have children or didnt want to. And if she didnt want to why not? Was she career obsessed? Did she not like them? Was she a secret drinker? Cheeks were sucked in and protective, adoring glances bestowed on the toddlers playing at our feet.

But our friend, Ive since discovered, has simply chosen not to have children. She is happy for her family to be just her husband and herself. She has never felt the urge to be a mother.

Stand-up poet and writer Kate Fox feels the same; her comedy show Good Breeding, about a child-free life, played at last years Edinburgh Festival and has been adapted for Radio 4, to be broadcast next spring. Not having children is as ingrained as my sexuality and I cant remember a time when I didnt feel it. Apparently, aged three, I announced to bemused relatives that I didnt want to have children. My mum even joked about not being maternal and said her mum wasnt either. I come from a long line of unmaternal women but my mother and grandmother had more pressure on them to procreate, she says.

To Kate, its more complex than not feeling maternal and she has experienced what she sees as every possible reason for not wanting children. Its not that I dont like kids I do but I cant imagine nurturing one all the time. I also dont think Id be able to do what I do in terms of my career and social life if I had children. Then theres the environment, but if Id really wanted children, I dont think that would have stopped me.

At 39, Kate constantly questions her decision, in case she changes her mind. I dont think I will, but I suppose Im open to persuasion. Doing my show Good Breeding was an interesting experiment in a way: I was surprised how many parents came along and how open they were about their choices. I suppose Id imagined that people who have children have always wanted them. Its not that clear cut.

So has it been an easy decision? No. It has been a long road to accept myself and believe that I am just as feminine or even emotional without being a mother.

I think my doubts have been absorbed from both my family and an attitude thats ingrained in our culture.

So why do mothers like me and my friends and many other people find it difficult to understand the choice that women such as Kate have made? The child-free have come out of the tributaries of society in the last 10 to 15 years, but the childfree choice is still not totally accepted as an equally valid choice as the choice to have children, explains Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix (LiveTrue Books 2012), which examines pronatalism, the set of social and cultural beliefs that influence how we think about parenthood.

The reason boils down to pronatalist social and cultural messaging that has exalted the role of parenthood for generations. When we question pronatalist beliefs and see them for what they are beliefs we will also see that choosing not to reproduce is just as normal as the choice to reproduce.

Tap #childfree into Twitter and you could be forgiven for thinking that some sort of revolution is about to take place. Social media, as well as blogs and forums such as the site Were (not) having a baby (http://werenothavingababy.com/), the forum Childfree Living (http://childfreelivinguk.yuku.com) and Tumblrs child-free section (http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/childfree) are buzzing with discussions about what its like to live without children in a family-centric society. But Laura prefers to avoid the word movement.

While the childfree would like to see this choice accepted, I dont see a collectively organised group out there pushing for this. However, like discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual preference, there is a need for working policies to reflect equal treatment for all employees, no matter who they are or the lifestyle they choose.

Laura also believes that the media often reinforces stereotypes at the same time as giving childfree families coverage. Articles with images of a beautiful couple on a beach suggest that the childfree have all kinds of free time and disposable cash to go off on exotic holidays. This is a myth the childfree come from all walks of life.

Although the internet has allowed like-minded childfree families to connect, Laura says that sending the message that childfree is some kind of new trend is wrong. For the last decade, longer in fact, the number of women without children aged 40-44 has hovered at about one in five. And census researchers have been saying for years now that the majority of that 20% have no children by choice.

Miranda Reading, 35, a PhD student, has been married to Tony, 60, for nine years. They have decided not to have children. Neither of us has ever had the slightest desire to procreate and I think our relationship is all the better for it. As for carrying on a bloodline were happy to be in an evolutionary cul-de-sac, she says.

Miranda has, however, occasionally turned to the blogs and groups that Laura talks about. Its good to know Im not alone, a freak or abnormal in some way. I think things revolve around children a lot more than they used to. Why are museums and galleries so dedicated to childrens activities that you cant look at a painting in silence or have a proper adult-level information display? Why are childfree singles and couples discriminated against in pricing structures? And why do politicians assume women are only interested in policies that involve children? Im more interested in the economy.

I think back to the assumptions we made about our friend that afternoon, and ask Cass , 28, a childfree television administrator who recently married Andy, 27, about being on the receiving end. The main preconceptions are that we dislike children, that we are no good with children, or that we have a medical reason which means we cant have children. All of those are, of course, false I have friends who have children and I love them all dearly, and as far as I am aware I am perfectly capable of reproducing. I just choose not to, which seems to be something that society cant get its collective head around so it has to come up with excuses why I must be feeling that way.

Cass and Miranda have been refused sterilisation by the NHS because they dont have children already. Cass finds that as shes in her 20s, people expect her to change her mind. They assume that once I hit 30, or when my friends start having babies, thatll be it. I find it quite offensive. As is the idea that its not fair on all those poor women who want children and are unable to conceive.

Cass says that shes often asked what her husband thinks about it. As though my decision about my own body is anything to do with him. As it happens, he is fully supportive when we got together nine years ago he was already aware of my feelings on the matter as wed been friends before, but when the relationship got serious we had another discussion to ensure we were on the same page.

Is Andy ever quizzed about his feelings? Once people discover you dont want children, they often treat you differently. The reaction can be quite condescending, as if Im naive and making the wrong choice, he says.

I dont feel that there was a specific point when I sat down and told myself I didnt want to have children, Id just never really thought much about it when I was growing up.

Listening to childfree people talk is thought-provoking and I hope it has ensured I will never jump to the same conclusions about a woman or man who isnt a parent in future.

As a mother, its easy for me to list the things that have been hard about my chosen path the trials of motherhood seem well documented.

I asked Laura Carroll, who is 54, what has been the most difficult aspect of not having had children. When my friends started having babies, it was hard finding ways to stay in as much contact with them. But that soon passed. My friends didnt assume that because I didnt have kids I didnt know anything about children and couldnt be party to a conversation about them.

Also, they didnt lose interest in what I was up to. With many childfree women and men, when it comes to how having kids can affect friendships, its easy to get hurt and feel defensive on both sides. For those with the kids and those without, the key is to not take it personally to stay in touch with your love for your friends and your curiosity about their lives.

Miranda agrees that its important not to create a distinction between herself and friends who are parents. We all need to pull together not find reasons to divide us. Being childfree is a deliberate, often difficult choice, so dont make it harder by seeing it as a lesser one.

I admire my female friends with children I admire their dedication and hard work. Id like them to start admiring me in return. I work just as hard and am just as dedicated to my own way of life. We are all women. We should be celebrating difference, not creating barriers.

This article was amended on 11 October 2018 to remove some personal information.

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I used to judge childfree women | Life and style | The ...

Childfree: Im not having children because I want to save the planet – Stylist Magazine

I dont think we should drive ourselves to extinction by not having kids. But we could have a more integrated relationship with the earth and its other species, where we value them in their own right, rather than for resources. Its more about the belief pattern relating to our place on the earth that needs to change, rather than our actual place on the earth.

I certainly dont want my own children but if I ever decide that I do want kids in my life, I will adopt, because thats a person that is already on this earth. Its an interesting one from a demographic point of view because Im a Western white woman living in a fairly affluent area, and I have access to far more globally impacting things - such as a car - than a woman in Sudan, for example.

So if I adopted a child from a country like that, I would be taking a child who might not pollute the planet and bringing them into a situation where they could. But if I were to adopt a child in the UK, that child would probably go on to have an impact on the world anyway, and I would hope that, through my influence, they would reduce their burden on the planet as much as they could.

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Childfree: Im not having children because I want to save the planet - Stylist Magazine

Childfree – reddit

Hi. I'm really pissed and hurt right now. I just wanted to vent. Sorry it's a long one and I'm on mobile.

My (24F) best friend (22F) is 8 months pregnant. She and her bf (25M) wanted the baby. She's unemployed with no skills (college dropout because of pregnancy), he works part-time. Other than that they WERE great people before the pregnancy.

From the beginning she has demanded to be treated like a princess. She had no morning sickness or other bad stuff some pregnant women have, yet she refused to work or do any chores. She has been smoking her entire pregnancy and eating nothing but junk food with the occasional apple. She was also swallowing antacids for heartburn daily. Remember the post about the gender reveal party where she demanded people come even if sick, at work or saving the country? Yeah that's her.

So I tried to be a supportive friend throughout the pregnancy. Helped her financially and emotionally. Took her places. Went there to help with chores. The day before she was hospitalised I went there to help set up the entire nursery, assemble furniture, do and fold baby laundry, packing, everything.

She has asked me multiple times to buy her smokes and mcdonalds and that was the only thing I flat out refused every single time. When she would complain about stupid shit I would just say "no comment".

She is now 8 months pregnant, the baby is too small and is not getting enough oxygen, and she is in the hospital, one of the best in the state. Oh, she also complains that the nurses won't let her out for a smoke (even though she now knows her baby is not getting oxygen). She complains about the food (good, healthy, cooked food). Of course because of the coronavirus situation no visits are allowed. What does she do? She calls her bf and demands that he brings the nurses junk food for her. After the nurse didn't let them see each other, she calls the nurse a stupid cow.

The nurse. That is taking care of her every single day. That doesn't want to risk infection and yet she did just by taking the food. Is a stupid cow.

I lost my shit. I told her that she should be ashamed. I told her that it's her own damn fault she is in that hospital where other people have to make sure this baby makes it. I told her she should be grateful. I told her not to get on the nurses' bad side because they will refuse to help her after birth. HOW FUCKING STUPID, ENTITLED, SELFISH AND NARCISSISTIC CAN YOU BE.

ANYWAY. She called me stupid, compared me to her insane abusive sister, and that I always act like I know everything. She hasn't spoken to me in three days. I said "no" once, and she forgot about all the times I said "yes". I feel used, hurt, angry. She has gone bat shit insane since she's pregnant. I still can't believe how severe of a change that was.

We have been best friends since childhood. And now I don't even know her.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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[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.

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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.

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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

Good sleep hygiene is the new wellness goal. Try telling that to an eight-month-old baby – The Guardian

The most common signifiers of adulthood used to be getting a mortgage and gearing up for the midlife crisis. But who these days has the money for the former, or the time for the latter? Nowadays, the surest signs that youve reached maturity are an obsession with property magazines and a fascination with the quality of your sleep. Going by this criteria, I am more middle-aged than the most middle-aged sitcom dad ever (Darrin from Bewitched, who, Google informs me, was played by an actor five years younger than me when the show started. I am totally and definitely fine about this.)

I am fascinated with sleep but nowhere near as fascinated as everyone else, it seems. I can hardly walk down the street without someone telling me about their latest sleep app, or reading an article about good sleep hygiene, or hearing how sleep deprivation is the health equivalent of chaining 40 Benson & Hedges a day, and of course how tired so very, very tired everyone is, because they didnt get their requisite eight hours last night.

How I laugh at this. I throw my head back and laugh the kind of full-throated cackle an evil genius makes right before he presses the red button that blows up the world. I have barely slept more than five hours a night since my daughter was born eight months ago, and there is something genuinely hilarious about this era of sleep obsession when you have a baby who refuses to let you sleep. Its like living in a busted shack when everyone around you is banging on about the problems with their new basement extension. (I told you I was into property magazines.) The truth about why you keep waking up at 3am a doomy headline in this paper read recently. Is it because theres a screaming baby in the cot next to your bed?

God, Im so tired, I used to say when I was young and merrily childfree. Talking about how tired I was back then seemed to be a way of proving how deeply sensitive I was (too fragile to sleep) while simultaneously giving the impression that I led an extremely exciting social life (too fabulous to sleep). But I did genuinely think I was tired, and this is what I want to say to my twentysomething self and any other young person who is about to say how tired they are: youre not.

If you have the energy to ascertain your tiredness and then talk about it, youre not actually tired. Youre just thinking too much about yourself, which is what the entire wellness industry is based on, and which ultimately becomes detrimental because focusing too much on sleep will only exacerbate your sleeplessness. If anyone is worrying that they only got seven and a half hours sleep last night, allow me to reassure you: I have done interviews on three hours sleep, written articles on four hours, and Im typing this after being woken three times in the night (as Amy Poehler says in her memoir, Yes Please, everything written by men and women with children under six should come with a sleep-deprived sticker on it). And Im fine. OK, I can feel my brain cells self-cannibalising and have possibly given myself premature dementia: it took me two days last week to think of the word gondola. But I am still fine. Well, alive, anyway. I am definitely 100% alive.

So no, I dont want to hear about how tired you are. But if youre all having such trouble sleeping, how about if you take over the night shift with my baby? Ill definitely sleep, and you and the baby can rave all night together. David Baddiel has said that the only thing that cured his insomnia was having kids, because they exhausted it out of him. Think of the money you could save on sleep apps, kids!

Awake at 4am, I fantasise about a time when my kids are teenagers and sleeping until midday, which means Ill sleep until midday, too. Or perhaps not: older parents warn me that, while child-induced sleeplessness cures insomnia, it also breaks you, leaving you doomed for ever after to wake at 6am. So maybe weve got this parenting thing all wrong: just as twentysomething bodies are supposed to cope best with pregnancy and childbirth, perhaps fifty- and sixtysomething biorhythms work best with a babys sleeping patterns. Older friends and relatives could rise at 6am and take the baby out for a nice walk around the park, while we broken thirty- and fortysomethings could be left to get on with other things. Like sleeping. Strangely, none have yet accepted my suggestion, but theyre probably just mulling it over.

Last weekend I went away for a friends 40th, alone. We had dinner on the first night, and it was lovely, but I was impatient to get back to my hotel room where I knew the fun would really begin. Reader, I slept solidly for 11 hours. When I woke naturally, as opposed to being woken I nearly wept with happiness. The second night was a party and, giddy with freedom and an unaccustomed feeling of being well rested, I danced until the sky was light. The next day, I went home, and my husband, who had been looking after all three kids all weekend, asked how I was. I looked him right in the eyes and said, God, Im so tired.

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Good sleep hygiene is the new wellness goal. Try telling that to an eight-month-old baby - The Guardian

I’m Childfree, and I Think It’s Time to Stop Asking Women If They’re Having Kids – GoodHousekeeping.com

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The questions seemed to start as soon as my husband and I made our way back down the aisle. Some well-meaning friends and family use the baking analogy: When will there be a little bun in the oven? Others assume my husband and I can't possibly be happy as a duo: When will you start your family? Still more get borderline graphic: Aren't you going to pop one out? And the most brazen of all just go right for it: When are you having kids?

As a childfree woman in my 30s, it's not like I'm one of a kind. According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of adults without children has climbed 19 points since 1967 to 71.3%. In 2015, 61.5% of 25- to 35-year-olds don't have kids living under their roof. Chances are, you know someone who's taken the first two steps in the popular rhyme, "first comes love, then comes marriage." I'm here to implore you not to finish the verse. Because you never know why the subject of your curiosity hasn't converted the office to a nursery, and their reasons for being childfree may be deeply personal.

Lots of people haven't filled the house with the pitter patter of tiny feet, but not for lack of trying. According to the latest data by the National Center for Health Statistics, the fertility rate in the U.S. has fallen to 62 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44. In addition, up to half of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the March of Dimes.

Asking a woman who's struggled to conceive or suffered a pregnancy loss can dredge up intensely painful emotions. Diane Cot, LCSW, provides treatment support for those with infertility, as well as parents on a prenatal and postnatal journey. She emphasizes that infertility has as deep an emotional impact as dealing with a cancer diagnosis, and can take much longer. Many women undergo fertility treatment for five, 10, or even 15 years and fielding questions from well-meaning loved ones just adds another challenge to an already-overwhelming process.

And depending on the person's communication style, you may not even know they're struggling. "People often self-isolate around it because they feel shame or they feel like their bodies are not doing what they should be doing," Cot says. "And so there's this sort of downward spiral emotionally, especially in a protracted situation."

Even women who have already started a family may have trouble conceiving or carrying to term again. Asking parents when they're going to give little Tommy or Susie a baby brother or sister can hurt just as much.

Of course, many women just don't want to add more people to their household. When I was a kid, I was mystified by the other girls' fascination with mothering their baby dolls. My dolls weren't my children. They were my sidekicks on imagined adventures, and I had much more fun pretending to boss them around than pretend nurturing. I think I always knew I was more destined for middle management than motherhood.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some have two moms and a kid. Others have two dads and six of them. Yet others have neither moms nor dads. That's still a household, according to the U.S. Census. If my family counts in the eyes of the law, it should count in yours, too.

If your loved one has disclosed their fertility struggles, or you suspect they may be having trouble conceiving, let them open the doors of communication first. Too many questions, or the wrong ones, can do more harm than good. "The best thing you can do is educate yourself," Cot explains. She especially recommends organizations like The National Infertility Association and The American Society for Reproductive Medicine as resources.

Some women also may be undecided about family planning or uncomfortable talking about it, period. Having kids isn't just a highly personal decision, it's one that impacts a persons' career, finances, housing, and pretty much every other area of their lives. You wouldn't ask to see your friend's tax returns or why they haven't bought a bigger house, right? Same concept.

Some of you are probably throwing your hands up right now and scoffing, "Well then, what can I say?" In this case, remember the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Even your kindest reassurances that a pregnancy will happen if it's meant to, that adoption is an option, that the woman should just relax/eat flax seeds at the right time of the month/go on vacation/start howling at the moon every time Mercury's in retrograde won't convey the goodwill you intend them to. If your loved one does add to their family's headcount, they'll let you know. Until then, keep even your best-intentioned questions to yourself.

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I'm Childfree, and I Think It's Time to Stop Asking Women If They're Having Kids - GoodHousekeeping.com

Are single childfree women the last of the hopeless romantics? – TheArticle

It was the actor Timothy Dalton who ruined me for other men.

I was eight or nine years old, lying on the sofa, battling a fever and watching the afternoon matinee when it happened. The film was Wuthering Heights. Dalton was Heathcliff. And the die was cast.

Love was no longer heart-shaped sweets and posters of David Soul; it was a dirty-faced gypsy boy consumed by a girl called Catherine. Heathcliffs love was bitter, greedy and eternal, and I had no sympathy for Catherine when she died. She betrayed Heathcliff and she betrayed love. She settled for less and she got what she deserved. I would never have married Edgar Linton. Id have waited for Heathcliff.

Ive spent a lifetime waiting for him.

Four decades on, and while recognising that Heathcliff is possibly not the greatest ambassador for love, I cant shake the all or nothing ideal he represents. This probably explains why, at the age of 49, Im alone and childless and possibly destined to remain that way, certainly as far as children are concerned.

By rights, I should be beside myself. And yet, Im not. I consider myself a true romantic and if the latest research is to be believed, Im all the happier for it.

According to the experts, unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population.

In his book, Happy Ever, Professor Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics, looked at evidence offered by the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.

While men largely benefited from marriage, the same couldnt be said of women, with middle-aged married women being at a higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts.

And yet, in spite of this evidence, there remains a common belief that unmarried, childless women are somehow less complete or in denial.

Although I cant say I have ever felt in any way stigmatised by my status as a single, childless woman, I have come across people who have found it difficult to understand, or even accept.

A couple of years ago I was pursued via messenger by a former schoolfriend who seemed to think we would be good together by virtue of us both liking to write. I tried to let him down gently, only to receive the plaintive cry Why are you scared of love? What to say? Single women in their forties are not scared of love; au contraire they are scared of nutjobs they once went to school with.

In truth, I have been in love on several occasions one of them deeply yet it has never been quite enough. Some might say, Im a childish idealist rather than a true romantic and I should wake up and join the real world. Maybe theyre right. But let me assure you, I am no stranger to reality. Over the years, I have seen it carved into mutilated bodies left to rot on the Afghan plains. I have seen it reflected in the tears of grown men struggling with memories of childhood abuse. I have seen it in the extended bellies of starving children.

I know reality. And thats why I wont barter with it in my personal life. There can be no compromise. Its the real deal or no deal.

Kate OConnor is an international journalist in her forties now living in London. Though she used to joke that her ideal man was a hunk with a hedge fund and a horse farm, coming over the horizon in a helicopter, she is actually very happy with her life the way it is.

I have a very full and rich life. I have men in my life. I have freedom. And I honestly say to myself, out loud, Thank God, I dont have children. Ive never wanted children although in the two serious relationships in my life I came close to making the compromise, but it just wasnt me. Ive never thought I had to conform to what society thinks I should be doing.

Kates longest relationship lasted ten years though she admits it should have been culled by six, but vanity, hubris and pity kept me going. She also believes that too many people stay in dead-end relationships because they dont know any better.

Its the frog-in-a-pan-of-cold-water theory, she explains. You put a flame under the pan and as the water heats up the frog doesnt realise its going to boil to death. If the frog did know, it would have jumped out of the pan and saved itself. Its the same if youre in a long-term relationship; it can deteriorate so slowly that you dont realise the point at which it deteriorates beyond repair. People stick around because this has become their normal.

Usually my relationships end because I make a commitment, I put everything into it, I focus on it, and then Im disappointed. When that disappointment hits me, there is no resurrection. Theres no saying this was the great love of my life. Its just over. If it really was the great love of my life, I wouldnt be single. For me, the great love of my life is the next one.

According to the most recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics, some 18 per cent of British women aged 45 are childless putting them close to the top of the world leader board in terms of childless women over forty. The expert opinion appears to be that women are increasingly delaying motherhood in order to pursue careers. While that might be partly correct, life is usually more complicated than that. For some, delaying motherhood wasnt a conscious decision, it was a repercussion of failing in our primary goal that of finding true love.

Sandra Khadhouri, 48, is a political communications adviser living in London. She has held down high-powered jobs with the UN, the EU and Nato, but has yet to attain the same success in her personal life.

People dont put the same effort into romantic relations as they do in other areas of their life so if theyre happy to be led by their career theyre happy to walk away from relationships. Personally, Id like to feel that within the relationships that I really thought there was something there, I did make the effort. I did try to make it work, but for whatever reasons those guys at those particular times couldnt commit to me in the way I wanted them to commit. Now, a couple of them have come back into my life, but its too late. I dont love them anymore.

I recently found a guide Id written when I was 12 years old about how to prepare for parties. I had to rinse my hair with rain water, put on body glitter and do my make-up. All the points were itemised and it made me feel quite sad because I used to care so much about getting it right and I can still remember those butterflies at the thought of meeting a guy I liked. I miss that in a way. I guess Im a romantic at heart, but my passion for other causes got in the way.

It is this very romantic notion of love that underlines many of the stories of women who have never truly settled. For some its an unattainable image of perfection; for others its a surprise still waiting to happen; for others its a moment that has been and gone and left them unable to move on.

Hels Laycock was 25 when her boyfriend Paul McGee was fatally stabbed after a night out in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire in 2009.

Paul, a Scots Guard who was awarded the Queens Commendation for Bravery after risking his life to save a fellow soldier in Iraq, was caught up in an altercation between two men and the taxi driver who was taking him and Hels home following a charity event.

Hels, a nurse, said: All this time, I think Ive been looking too hard to replace him. Ive had relationships since he died, but Ive probably compared them all to Paul. Now, Im conscious of getting older and all our friends have got married and had kids. Im the only one who hasnt. Paul and I might not have stayed together in the end, but the not knowing is what kills me, and when his captain revealed Paul had made plans for the two of us it made his loss even worse because I knew then he had been serious about us and all Ive ever wanted is to be loved.

While Hels admits she has gone from one bad relationship to another in pursuit of love, she has always managed to extricate herself before fully committing, knowing deep down that she hadnt found the one to replace the man who could have been the one.

Sandra and Kate have also had their fair share of happy-ever-after near misses and though they are both at ease with being single, they are still dating. For Sandra, she believes its a question of timing when it comes to finding Mr Right rather than Mr Right Now.

I do assume I will meet someone in the end, when the time is right, says Sandra. I feel that will happen when my life is more settled, and Ive achieved a few other life goals. I know I must make an effort to meet guys or else it wont happen. Still, Im hoping that just by being more open, I will meet someone naturally.

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Are single childfree women the last of the hopeless romantics? - TheArticle

If I have no hope for the planet, why am I so determined to have this baby? – The Guardian

Sitting, nauseous with morning sickness, on a park bench in the bright heat of an unusually hot spring day my partner and I watch children march past us, striking from school:

Whats the point of an education if we have no future, their signs say.

My heart relocates itself, sinking down somewhere around my ankles. They have 10 more years of habitable planet than the baby I am carrying.

In early summer of the same year, after a miscarriage, I find myself pregnant again in the week that megafires tear through the state. There are 70-metre flames producing their own weather systems, driving them further on across the countryside, through the bushland that relies on fire to stimulate new life, on to forests that have never before burnt.

The sky over our Canberra home is tinged orange, the air is thick and sticks in the back of your throat in such a way that no coughing seems to dislodge the sensation. The whole country is suffocating. We havent seen the sky in a month.

Outside, the particle count is only 200 PM2.5 today. Yesterday it was 700, more than double the highest warning of hazardous. Two months ago wed never looked at fine particle readings. We didnt know the difference between a 10-micrometre particle that can be filtered out by your respiratory system, and one smaller than 2.5 micrometres, that will find its way right into your bloodstream.

I wonder if my child will ever have the innocence I had two months ago, of not having to think about whether the air will kill you.

Locked in my house, waiting for a high-grade pollution mask to arrive by post, I press my nose up against the glass doors, looking at where my front fence should be. So this is what its like to have a baby at the end of the world.

**

Theres always a leap of faith in choosing to have a child. Will they be healthy? Can you provide for them? Will you be a good parent? Will you even know how to be a parent? We have to suspend our own disbelief in ourselves. We Can Do This. I Can Do This.

There are times in history where that leap has been more existential.

I can only imagine that women anxiously questioned What world will be left for my child? during the cold war. During epidemics. During genocide. And I presume they continued because, despite the terror, they still had hope. Hope that the atrocities of humanity, the threat of disease, would quiet. Hope that their child would be one of the lucky ones.

How different is this existential leap to the one women must take now? To quiet their minds as the world burns? In some ways the threat is both more abstract and more overwhelming.

War is an immediate threat to life. But war can stop as abruptly as it starts.

Climate collapse is less immediate there is, at least presently and for most of us, no imminent loss of life. But, unlike war, it cannot be stopped. Perhaps it can be slowed. Maybe a little of the damage already done could be mitigated. But as my climate researcher friend explained to me this year: Theres an analogy we use to explain climate change to students. We say: its like traffic. Youre not in traffic, you are traffic.

**

I lost two babies in 2019. With each loss, I both grieved and felt something lift from my chest. What is that lifting? I searched. Why is there the smallest touch of relief each time this happens? I dug.

Guilt was the answer. It was guilt sitting on my chest while I was pregnant, that sits there now while I write pregnant again.

Guilt for creating another human that has to live on this planet. Guilt for my unborn child that they will not live the kind of comfortable life that I have. That the things that we know we can pass on to protect our children from suffering, that previous generations have sought to pass on, will do little. Education, wisdom, wealth are useless when there is no air.

When I expressed this guilt, or rather its dispersion, after I lost babies friends would say, Dont feel climate guilt. We need a smart, informed generation if were going to get out of this. Or, Its kids like yours, like mine, that are going to change things. In these comments I see the hope they are reaching for, the way they quiet their mind when they worry what world will be left for my child? as countless women before them have.

I envy them that hope. Maybe, it will become the straw I too cling to when I finally do bring a child into this world. I nod as they talk perhaps more to themselves than to me and stop words leaving my lips: Thinking your child will be part of the solution, not the problem, is hubris. We are the collapse. Our children are the collapse.

**

Why, you might ask, if I think my child could be part of the solution is merely self-soothing hubris, do I keep getting pregnant? Why if I have no hope like my friends am I so determined that Ive now become pregnant for the third time in a year?

There are two answers to this. One is that I hope the hope will come.

The other is that in choosing between the sadness of living a childfree existence because I do not believe the Earth can survive us, and the sadness of having a child whose future may be limited I choose the latter. When I weigh them up, hold each in my mind and my hands and see which is heavier, I decide time and again that the latter is a sadness I can more easily carry.

I think of my child, of the relationship I will have with them and the world we will live in, like the time my mother was terminally ill.

When my mother had cancer there was 12 months between her diagnosis and her death. I knew she would die. But knowing that didnt mean I didnt spend time with her. Didnt laugh with her. Find joy and beauty in our relationship. Enjoy the experiences we could have, while we had time. And so it is, we must reach for the pieces of beauty the world still offers us. The clear blue sky when we have it. A child watching a bee feeding in the garden. The sounds of a flock of native birds passing overhead. We, my child-to-be and I, will visit the world on its deathbed.

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If I have no hope for the planet, why am I so determined to have this baby? - The Guardian

My Label and Me: I have 10 children, but motherhood doesn’t define me – Metro.co.uk

On my 17th birthday I realised Id not had a period for two, maybe three months.

Having just won a coveted place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, I was facing the possibility of an entirely different future from the one I had planned. I needed to decide whether to start this study or to continue the pregnancy, against my parents wishes. Their resistance galvanised my decision.

I gave birth to my son later that year and set out on a path many said would ruin my life.

The moment I decided to become a young mother I knew that this label would follow me around, and while I love being a mother, I didnt want my whole identity to be defined by having children.

There were times maintaining a separate identity became a struggle. By the time I was 22, I was the mother of four sons. The mother label enveloped me.

I gestated, breastfed, knitted, baked, breastfed while pregnant, went to mother and baby groups, moved country, birthed, decorated homes, breastfed, created a group for isolated mothers, breastfed and planned university study.

But I was determined. With a small brood of noisy boys in tow, I built a shortlist of universities to approach and came away armed with interview dates to study social policy.

Id been told by career advisors to apply to lower league institutions because I was a mother, and this would be my primary role in life.

The assumption that Id tinker around the edges of my truest purpose being a mother was pervasive.

It felt like being a mother overrode being a person in my own right. Its like theres a motherhood contract with strict terms: Mothers must serve others needs, agendas and interests before their own.

I resisted all this advice including the suggestion that I defer my degree for a decade to get the children to their teens and applied to top league institutions. I wasnt about to derail my own ambitions because that is what others expected of me.

And I am so glad I did, because I graduated with a good degree and went on to postgraduate degrees and academia. Yet the stigma surrounding working mothers didnt stop there; I remember in a PhD scholarship interview being asked whether I intended to have children and how this would affect my ability to be a senior academic.

Except I was a mother of five already.

I am not prepared to be defined as a mother first and foremost, but its something that is embedded deeply in our culture.

We can see it in workplaces, the pay gap, the impact career breaks have on womens career prospects, the cost of childcare, advertising, and the ways our friends and families treat us.

Talking about myself, my potential and my desires outside of my family does not reduce my love for my children.

This might seem like a ridiculous thing to clarify, but mothers get used to prefacing any conversation we have about our hopes, dreams and plans with: Of course I love my children

Mothers feel the need to say this because were often vilified for the choices we make for ourselves beyond our children. Then we spend time defending ourselves by confirming the love we have for those children.

Ive gone from being a career academic when I was a mother of six, to building a consultancy firm that advises boards and C suite teams on strategic decision making having four more children along the way, including triplets who are now aged six.

People always assume Im childfree because of my drive and ambition, but its really their assumptions about what a mother is supposed to be that prevent them from seeing what we are really capable of.

Being a working mother of 10 is a balancing act between selflessness and making the most of my potential.

How do we stop having stupid conversations about women having it all? By not defining women solely in relation to motherhood.

This will allow women to be central participants throughout our whole lives rather than only before we become mothers.

Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity positively or negatively and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

MORE: My Label and Me: You may think Im loud but that wont shut me up

MORE: My Label and Me: I became homeless at 24

MORE: My Label and Me: I was born without a voice but now Im speaking out for others

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My Label and Me: I have 10 children, but motherhood doesn't define me - Metro.co.uk

Im childfree, not childless heres why that difference matters – Stylist Magazine

This is why I advocate for the use of the descriptor childfree instead of childless for women like me. Childfree implies a choice that many women dont know they have. A freedom its right there in the name. More than that, its a rebellionagainst societal expectations and community norms.

Historically, society doesnt like women taking freedoms for themselves, especially when the survival of the entire species is apparently at stake, so its vital to express solidarity, be a role model, and promote preferred terminology like childfree. Its a way to own my status.

Claiming freedom from societal norms is never without cost. Having children is perceived as a duty, first to the individual family or genetic line, secondly to the immediate community (at a family funeral a few months ago, the religious leader informed us mourners that a womans job was to have babies) and lastly, to the species. Theres an implication of What if every woman thought like you? as though I personally am supposed to be responsible for the continuation of the entire human race.

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Im childfree, not childless heres why that difference matters - Stylist Magazine

How babies change the dynamics of friendships – ABC News

In the early days of motherhood, I found it incredibly isolating.

It never occurred to me that my childfree friends might feel isolated too.

But then I read an ABC Life story about childfree women, which explained how women without kids often feel excluded from society and forgotten by their parent friends.

The "forgotten" accusation left me wounded. Motherhood can be all-encompassing and it was a blow to feel like I might be letting my friends down.

So I reached out to my childfree colleague Kellie Scott.

We are both in our 30s and have seen how babies change the dynamics of friendships (from different sides of the fence).

We've written letters to our friends about our thoughts.

Since having my daughter almost two years ago, it's been hectic with some soaring highs, new mother worries and tears, and endless nights of broken sleep.

And a lot of time spent alone with the baby.

Before bub arrived I had no idea what this "mother" thing was about.

The load certainly isn't what I expected. It's so much more physically and emotionally demanding sometimes planning beyond today is too much.

But here's a news flash from a new mother: I want to talk to you. I need to get out of the house. But I don't know how I can make that happen as regularly as I once did.

From managing endless loads of washing to seeing their friends less, six mums and dads share what changed in their lives after becoming parents.

There's no doubt my world has changed it's a lot smaller and yours has continued on.

I've pondered the idea that you might feel excluded by me again and again. Maybe it stems from my fear of oversharing or boring you with baby photos and stories.

I didn't mean my lack of sharing about my child's bowel movements and broken English to make you feel excluded.

I remember what it was like when a friend, high on hormones, told me that she never knew the type of love and how deep it could be until she held her newborn. I wanted to vomit on the spot.

I don't want to be that person.

I do, however, need some sort of sign that you're interested. Maybe even being OK with mess, children's music in the background and bath time.

I'd love to have a gin and tonic down at the funky bar on the corner once a week (I'd even settle for once every few months).

But even when all the planets (and shift work rosters) align, my partner is home to care for the tot and dinner is almost on the table, there's a little sense of guilt that I'm leaving at the most crucial and full-on time of the day the dinner, bath, bed routine.

I was lucky not to have to cope with postnatal depression, but a few years back it was clear something else, more insidious had happened to me. Postnatal depletion, Rebecca Huntley writes.

So please, come to me. Realise the demands of a little person are hard to work around, but that I do want to see you.

Join us for a meal because the free one-toddler show is always evolving it's maturing. Pitching food is over and saying cheers and clinking milk cups is in.

After all, in our 20s a little drama at dinner or on a night out was entertaining.

If that's not your thing, maybe doing the dishes and bringing in the clothes from the line when I'm tied up.

I'd love the company of more strong women and I need everyone I can get to be part of my village to help raise an independent girl to become a good-natured, compassionate, friendly human being.

Despite our best attempts to break down some of the barriers facing women, I know my little girl will have to grapple with the same issues we have.

You are a person I have chosen as a friend. You of all people have the kind of traits I would like to instil in her.

How can you stay close as friends when kids come along? Add your thoughts (and frustrations) in the comments.

We've been through a lot we debated children, good and bad boyfriends, and career options over dinner many times. We can do this again, please don't be put off by the interruptions.

I miss you, I need you and I want to be there for you too.

I don't know if I'll ever have a child, but in my mid-30s, I'm one of the last in our friendship group to still be wondering.

My sister-in-law recently told me the best support she had with her newborns was someone just coming around to take washing off the line, or cook dinner funnily enough, the same things Sarah talks about above.

It got me thinking about what kind of friend I've been to mums in my circle.

Maybe you're too kind to say anything, but let's face it, when I visit, I just sit around chatting while sipping my wine, sometimes as chaos ensues around me.

Yes, I come to you, but no, I'm not very useful once there.

I don't really understand how hard it is to simply do washing or cook dinner, because I haven't experienced parenthood for myself.

And you rarely complain. (Maybe that's saved for mums' group, where like-minded parents can sympathise.)

I also feel incapable of helping with a small person.

Women who choose not to have children are often labelled selfish, shallow and immature. But an increasing number are not having kids because of the ridiculous standards around motherhood.

I visited one friend and her two babies not long ago. She got really sick and my partner and I had to step up.

We were so proud we'd survived a few hours alone with the kids, until I realised we hadn't checked if they needed a nappy change.

Then I had to make a bottle and needed the neighbour to come and explain how.

If you haven't been around babies much, something as simple as changing and feeding them can be scary.

You really don't want to f*ck it up.

As for being left out, I've been one of the lucky ones.

We still see each other enough that we haven't become strangers.

Yes, there's some baby chat, but it's not all PG. We still talk about how weird bodies are, how scary Trump is, and that hilarious time we did X, Y and Z.

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At this stage, the kids are still little. Perhaps if I never have children, the divide will become harder to bridge. But if that's the case I hope you are as mindful of that as I will be.

I don't want to be left behind, least of all by you.

Support, judgement, concerns about the environment and mental health, a love of pets, and thoughts about loneliness readers had a lot to say about the childfree life.

What I would say to the wonderful mothers in my life is three things.

One, please don't feel bad about asking for help. I don't get what it's like and maybe never will. I'm sorry I haven't stepped up before, but I'm very open to being bossed around. Ask me to cook your dinner, and I'll do it in a heartbeat.

Two, understand I don't always feel confident around your child. I'm constantly worried I'm going to drop them (it's happened).

Three, know that your little people are important to me. And I'll never get sick of hearing about them as long as you never get sick of hearing me talk about my dog.

Oh, and there is one more thing please find a good babysitter, because just sometimes, I want you all to myself.

Link:

How babies change the dynamics of friendships - ABC News

Why you should be worried about teacher salaries in Michigan – Detroit Free Press

Elementary school classroom(Photo: dolgachov, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Here's the last decade in Michigan education:

Schools are getting worse. Teachers are getting paid less. We've barely increased state education spending. We're not paying what we owe for teacher pensions and retiree health care, and aroads funding plan proposed by Lansing Republicans could make all of it worse.

It's a lot.

If you have kids in school, it's pretty clear why you should care about all of this stuff. But even if you're childfree, or your kids are grown, ifyou care about schools, education, kids, the state's ability to attract and keep businesses, all of that should be troubling.

Basically, it's better for all of us if our schools don't stink. And we can fix it but only if we're honest about what's going wrong.

Michigan teacher pay is ranked 13th highest in the nation, on average, with a trendline over the last 10 years that's at least stable.

But adjust those salaries for inflation, as the nonpartisan policy shop Citizens Research Council did in a report published last week, and the trend is very different. From 2008 to 2018, if you measure teacher payagainst the increasing costs of goods and services, teachers are actually getting paid 10% less.

The state collects taxes from across the state and distributes it to districts according to the number of students enrolled in each. That's how the state tries to equalize funding across districts.

And again, on paper, those numbers don't look so bad. During the recession, state government cut per-pupil funding, but it's been inching up since 2014.

When you adjust for inflation, the Citizens Research Council found, the state spentbarely more on schools in 2018 than it did in 2008, about 3%.

And most of that increase is paying for teacher pensions and retiree health care.

The state's teacher pension system has what's called "unfunded liabilities." In other words, it is paying out more in retirement and retiree health care benefits than it has in assets. A pension system accrues unfunded liabilities when its investments don't earn as much as expected, or when the government that supports it isn't making big enoughpayments or both.

More: Michigan schools stink because we stopped paying for them | Editorial

When that happens, the school districts that pay into the system are supposed to pay more. Districts have been doing that since former Gov. Rick Snyder reformed the teacher pension system in 2012. But making bigger pension payments means fewer of the dollars Lansing sends to local districts are making it into classrooms.

This is a problem that is not complicated to forecast: Not enough students are enrolling in teacher training programs, and baby boomer-aged teachers are approaching retirement. Shortages in critical areas, like math or special needs, have become commonplace.

Lower-income districtsgenerally feel the brunt of shortages first.

But it's only going to get worse.

At the same time, teachers have become a punching bag for some lawmakers, who point to teacher salaries, teacher pensions and teacher performance as the root of all the state's education problems, from unbalanced budgets to slipping test scores.

More: Kaffer: How Michigan is failing our teachers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's proposed budget included a 45-cent gas tax hike, a levy that would generate sufficient funds to fix our roads, and free upmore dollars for education.

Lansing Republicans successfully fought Whitmer's proposed tax increase to a standstill, without offering any viable alternative.

But one plan proposed by GOP lawmakers would, in essence, borrow against the state's teacher pension fund: Those lawmakers say the state should borrow $10 billion, invest it, and use the proceeds from that investment to pay for part of teacher pensions and to fix the state's roads.

It's a terrible plan, for a lot of reasons expecting a stable rate of return over the lifetime of $10 billion in debt is wishful thinking, and there's likely a recession coming.

But the Citizens Research Council report highlights another problem with the GOP plan: If the investment income Republicans would rely on to pay for teacher pensions and retiree benefits dried up, school districts would be on the hook for even bigger payments, meaning even fewer dollars would be spent in the classroom.

If lawmakers would recognize a few facts:

We have to start now, to stop the worsening teacher shortage. In an essay for Forbes, contributor Peter Greene argues against using the term "teacher shortage." It implies, Greene writes, inevitability, when the reality is, students aren't training to become teachers because we have made teaching a less attractive profession. Make teaching attractive, and voila the teacher shortage will disappear.

Without more high quality teachers, our schools won't improve.

Good schools cost money. There are stacks of reports that say we're not paying enough, even in some of our most successful districts., and definitely not in those where student performance lags.

Teachers who want to be paid fairly or at least for their salaries to keep pace with inflation aren't greedy.

Mixing teacher pensions and roads is a terrible idea.

If we can't agree that it is important to improve our schools, we should probably hang it up.

Nancy Kaffer is a Free Press columnist. Contact: nkaffer@freepress.com.

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Why you should be worried about teacher salaries in Michigan - Detroit Free Press

Why breast cancer was called ‘Nun’s disease" – Florida Today

Breast cancer has been called Nun's disease because of the high number of nuns affected dating back to the 1700s.(Photo: fstop123 / Getty Images)

Have you heard the termNun's Disease?

My guess is you may not have as the phrase has become somewhat outdated over time.

The inception of the term became popular hundreds of years ago due to the high number of nuns being diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to diagnoses in the non-nun population of women.

As early as 1700, Dr. Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian physician, considered to be the founder of "occupational medicine"recognized there was one female profession whose members were far more likely to die from breast cancer than any other female community, and that was the nun occupation.

Dr. Emran Imami is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is an invited Fellow of the prestigious American College of Surgeons.(Photo: PROVIDED PHOTO)

So why is this?

The answer is that lifelong nuns, comparable to all women who have not been reproductive, are at an increased risk of breast cancer, along with ovarian and uterine cancers, compared with women who have given birth.

Evidence supporting the Nun's Disease theory points to the protective side-effects of having children and breastfeeding in decreasing the chances of breast cancer.

As an example, the link connecting breast cancer and reproduction was long suspected, but not proven until a British study evaluated data from more than 150,000 women in 30 countries.

The outcome of the research continued to point to hormone related fluctuations in estrogen levels during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, decreasing breast cancer diagnoses in women who had reproduced.

In addition, a 1920s British physician, Dr. Janet Lane-Claypon, did epidemiological research that demonstrated the number of children a woman had, length of lactation, and age of first pregnancy also affected the accumulative risk of a breast cancer diagnosis.

According to WebMD, a woman has a 7% decreased risk of breast cancer per birth, and her chances drop another 4% for every year of breastfeeding.

In line with WebMD, sources from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation state, women who give birth for the first time after age 30 are up to two times as likely to develop breast cancer as women who have their first child before the age of 20.

In addition, women who have children over the age of 35 have a slightly higher risk for breast cancer than women who dont have children at all.

Its also estimated that 5 percent of breast cancers could be prevented every year if women were to breastfeed their children for an extra six months.

If you have chosen to remain child free, the most realistic approach to reducing breast cancer is to focus on early detectionand be aware of any genetic risk factors that could contribute such as a family history; its also important to focus on reducing dietary risks such as not smoking, drinking excessively, maintaining a healthy dietand exercising regularly.

Of course, the best trajectory is to do monthly self-breast exams and take preventative clinical measures.

Self-breast exams will help detect changes that might be indicative of growths such as cancer tumors.

It's important to note that self-examinations are solely not enough, as breast screenings and mammograms are evidenced based and a must for early detection.

The American College of Radiology has reported that mammography has reduced breast cancer mortality in the United States by almost 40% since 1990.

More: Health pro: Imami carries on family tradition

More: Radiation options for breast cancer patients

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Duringthe past several years there have been several updates, changes, and confusion regarding guidelines and safety precautions for breast screenings, so here is what you need to know.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) offers four recommends for women:

1.In average-risk women aged 40 to 49 years, clinicians should discuss whether to screen for breast cancer with mammography before age 50 years. Discussion should include the potential benefits and harms and a woman's preferences. The potential harms outweigh the benefits in most women aged 40 to 49 years.

2. In average-risk women aged 50 to 74 years, clinicians should offer screening for breast cancer with biennial mammography.

3. In average-risk women aged 75 years or older or in women with a life expectancy of 10 years or less, clinicians should discontinue screening for breast cancer.

4.In average-risk women of all ages, clinicians should not use clinical breast examination to screen for breast cancer.

Simply, the goal of mammography is the early detection of breast cancer, typically, through detection of characteristic masses or microcalcifications.

Annual mammograms can help detect breast cancer in the earliest stages, when it is most treatable, while also detecting changes that a woman would not notice on her own, until months later.

The US Census Bureau Population Survey stated in 2014, 47.6 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 had not had children, an increase of 46.5 percent from 2012.

These statistics represent the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau began tracking the data back in 1976, and sure to be influencing the increased breast cancer diagnoses in our country.

According to BreastCancer.org, one in eight women (about 12-percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

This year, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed, along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

For women who have chosen to be childfree, or considered to be of high-risk for breast cancer, they should seek a breast surgeon to quantify those risks; while discussing the potential diagnostic role of a breast MRI and/or medications to reduce risk.

Childfree or not, high risk or not, its important to focus on preventative breast health, to keep any potential breast cancer risks at a minimum.

Emran Imami, MD, MBA, FACS, is the Medical Director of TEPAS Breast Center. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeon, a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, and a member of American Association of Cosmetic Surgery. For more information go to http://www.TepasBreastCenter.com, or call on TEPAS Breast Center at 321-312-4178.

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Why breast cancer was called 'Nun's disease" - Florida Today

Living Childfree – RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Navigating the emotional journey towards being happy in a life without children involves a process of grieving. When individuals who have struggled with infertility face a life without children, its usually by default. Its a loss of their dream. They often feel depressed, and their anguish is often, rarely understood. Outsiders incorrectly assume that people without children have chosen not to have them.

Many people, especially women, connect their value in life with the activity of parenting. Society esteems and rewards those who raise children, often ignoring those who pursue other paths to form a worthwhile life. But it is precisely this step in the direction of another path that one must take when moving toward resolution.

When you move in the direction of living without children, you may want to consider where you will direct the energies that you would have used to parent your child. Make an agreement with your spouse to identify and prioritize what each of you will agree to do to continue to nurture these maternal/paternal instincts. Give each other the space to grow and pursue these feelings.

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Living Childfree - RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Voluntary childlessness – Wikipedia

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 systems other than traditional familial ones has made childlessness an option for people in developed countries, 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 ones 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 (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2011).

Supporters of living childfree (e.g. Corinne Maier, French author of "No Kids: 40 Reasons For Not Having Children") cite various reasons[3] for their view:

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, 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.[11]

Being a childfree American adult was considered unusual in the 1950s.[12][13] However, the proportion of childless adults in the population has increased significantly since then. The proportion of childlessness among women aged 40-44 was 10% in 1976, reached a high of 20% in 2005, then declined to 15% in 2014.[14] In Europe, childlessness among women aged 40-44 is most common in Austria, Spain and the United Kingdom (in 2010-2011).[15] Childlessness is least common across Eastern European countries,[15] although one child families are very common there.

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 childfreeness rose across all racial and ethnic groups to about 1 in 5 versus 1 in 10 in the 1970s.[16] The CDC released statistics in the first quarter of 2016 confirming that the U.S. fertility rate had fallen to its lowest point since record keeping started in 1909: 59.8 births per 1,000 women, half its high of 122.9 in 1957.[17] Even taking the falling fertility rate into account, the U.S. Census Bureau still projected that the U.S. population would increase from 319 million (2014) to 400 million by 2051.[17]

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.

In 2010, updated information on childlessness, based on a 2008 US Census Population Survey, was analyzed by Pew Research.[18]

While younger women are more likely to be childless, older women are more likely to state that they intend to remain childless in the future.

Being unmarried is one of the strongest predictors of childlessness. 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.

Most studies on this subject find that higher income predicted childlessness. However, some women report that lack of financial resources was a reason why they decided to remain childless. 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] The 2004 Census Bureau data showed nearly half of women with annual incomes over $100,000 are childless.

Among women aged 3544, the chance of being childless was far greater for never-married women (82.5%) than for ever-married (12.9%). When the same group is analyzed by education level, increasing education correlates with increasing childlessness: not-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%).[20][21]

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.[22] 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.

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

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.[23] 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.[24]

On the other hand, in "The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order"[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]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.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30]

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.[27]

Abrahamic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Hinduism place a high value on children and their central place in marriage. In numerous works, including an Apostolic letter written in 1988,[31] 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. Some religious interpretations hold that any couple who marries with the intention of not producing children is not married within the church.

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.[32] 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.

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.[33]

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).[34]

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.[35] As philosopher David Benatar[36] 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 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.[37]

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.[38] It was revived in the 1990s when Leslie Lafayette formed a later childfree group, the Childfree Network.[39]

The National Organization for Non-Parents (N.O.N.) was begun in Palo Alto, CA 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, MD; then Baltimore, MD; 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. The childfree movement has not had significant political impact.[citation needed]

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Voluntary childlessness - Wikipedia