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Category Archives: Childfree

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

Posted: July 9, 2020 at 3:44 pm

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

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

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

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

Except I havent; I do. Thus, ostriches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional reporting by Adrienne Matei

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

Posted: at 3:44 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Hanks on surviving coronavirus

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

Choosing to be childfree

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

Why we need sharks

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

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

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

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

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‘The Big Bang Theory’: Why Was Bernadette Really Reluctant to Have Children? – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Posted: at 3:44 pm

The Big Bang Theorywas among one of the most successful television series of all time. For 12 seasons,fans became invested in the lives of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, RajKoothrappali, and Howard Wolowitz, as well as the ladies who eventually joined theirgroup. There is one major plothole that fans cant let go of, thoughBernadetteRostenkowskis explanation for why she dislikes children changed during theseries.

When Bernadetteand Howard first discuss having children, she mentions that she doesnt likechildren. The news is surprising to both fans and Howard alike. She goes on toexplain her reasoning for wanting to be childfree. The story makes a lot ofsense and left fans with more information about Bernadettes upbringing thanthey ever had before.

RELATED: TheBig Bang Theory: Was Raj and Howards Relationship Perfect or Weird?

ScreenRant notes that Howards love interest originally suggested that her hatredfor children stemmed from a childhood spent caring for other kids. She toldHoward that during her formative years, her mother ran an illegal daycare outof the familys basement to make ends meet. According to the story, Bernadettewas tasked with helping to keep the operation organized.

Later in the series, Bernadettementions that she isnt open to the idea of children simply because she wasforced to watch her younger brothers and sisters while her mother worked. Whileit is known that Bernadette has five brothers and sisters, they are never seen,and only one brother is named. Bernadettes younger brother, Joey Rostenkowskiis mentioned in Season 5, Episode 12, but is never mentioned again.

So, from what Bernadette says, her mother worked outside ofthe home and left all of the siblings under the care of Bernadette. If Bernadettewas really the oldest of all of her siblings, fans theorize, at least one ofthem would have still been living at home when she met Howard. That, however,did not seem to be the case.

Fans were quick to notice the inconsistency in Bernadettesstory. It seems implausible that her mother worked full-time and ran an illegaldaycare in the familys basement. The full-time job her mother had is nevermentioned, although fans are aware that Bernadettes father was a retiredpolice officer. Simply put, the inconsistencies in Bernadettes story is likejust that, an inconsistency. Unfortunately for fans of televisions how conspiracytheories, there is likely not a more elaborate reason behind Bernadettes twodifferent stories.

RELATED: BigBang Theory Fans Were Quick to Point out this Plot Hole in Young Sheldon

Several popular shows have had significant inconsistenciesin their storylines. Television shows ranging from Friends to GilmoreGirls have had serious plotholes in their storylines. For example, Friendsfans have noticed that RachelGreen and Monica Gellers apartment number makes absolutely no sense. GilmoreGirls fans point out that Lane Kims ability to buy tons of music withoutany money is a serious plot hole. Bernadettes lack of interest in children andthe reason for it isnt even the only plothole in The Big Bang Theory.

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'The Big Bang Theory': Why Was Bernadette Really Reluctant to Have Children? - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

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Coronavirus Is Killing the Working Mother – Rolling Stone

Posted: at 3:44 pm

In Deb Perelmans recent New York Times op-ed, In the COVID-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Cant Have Both, she details the impossibility of parenting small children during the COVID-19 epidemic, writing, We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.

Perelmans piece went viral, causing you cant have both to trend on Twitter and receiving a prized retweet from the totem of working parenthood, Hillary Clinton. But as a working parent and as a journalist, I couldnt help but feel that while it articulated much of what I had been seething about throughout the crisis, it also buried the lede. Yes, fathers and mothers are having a difficult time right now; yes, our culture instructing parents to perform at full capacity in their jobs while simultaneously playing Nanny McPhee to their children is a ridiculously extravagant ask.

But it isnt really thateveryonein the COVID-19 economy cant have a kid and a job at the same time. Its that mothers, specifically, cannot. It is mothers, not fathers, who have historically shouldered the vast majority of the childcare burden, and continue to do so during the pandemic, according to one oneNew York Timessurvey; it is women, not men, for whom the Secretary General of the United Nations warned, across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated. And as Perelmans piece notes, it is mothers, not fathers, who have historically bowed out of the workforce when their domestic responsibilities increase, thus making it more difficult for them to ever return. It is women, not men, who will take pay cuts and buyouts, who will go from full-time to part-time to no-time, who have spent years accumulating degrees and tasteful outfits and dog-eared paperbacks of Girl Boss, ascending this pile of corporate feminist ephemera to get a boost up the ladder, only to fall rung by greased-up rung. It is women who will learn firsthand what their jaded first-wave feminist forebears have warned them for years: that not only is having it all a sham, but that even attempting to have a little bit of both will invariably result in quietly flaming out.

In many respects, this is an unprecedented historical moment, says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families. Although mothers have been expected to juggle domestic labor with work for much of history, they were reliant on their communities for instance, grandparents or neighbors to assume some of the childcare when they were too busy. There was this integrated community of work, education, instruction, and exchange that was very hard work, but it wasnt this isolated work, she says. While weepy, coronavirus-themed Facebook commercials may try to convince us that social media and virtual interaction can supplant the loss of this network, they dont have the actual physical coordination and the interdependence that parents really need, she says. In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era where parents, particularly women, are expected to achieve a perfect balance between work and childcare, and for basically the first time in human history, theyre expected to do it on their own.

Unsurprisingly, many experts have predicted that this doesnt bode super well for women. A report from the United Nations has warned that the precarious economic situation could roll back many of the advances feminism has made over the past few decades, with layoffs hitting women disproportionately or forcing women with small children to bow out of the workforce. We could have an entire generation of women who are hurt [economically], Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times.

Its worth noting, as Perelman does, that compared to many low-income women and women in service industries, middle-class working mothers who have the luxury of working from home are in a position of extraordinary privilege. While there is little hard data on the subject, low-income mothers will also be hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic: If youre making less money in a relationship and men make more, whats happening is women are staying at home to cover for childcare and these are often low-income women, says Ellen Kossek, a professor of management atPurdue University Krannert School of Management and author of a forthcoming study on the subject. It is proof of how broken the system is that even the best-case scenario (as Perelman and myself embody as happily employed middle-class remote workers), feels so daunting as to be unmanageable.

Truth be told, these prognostications are not anything new. Virtually any working mother has a horror story about feeling pushed out of the workplace pre-COVID-19, even those who come from a relative position of privilege, becausethe demands of the American workplace are totally antithetical to the demands of the home. You are forced to take a 30% pay cut as you watch your male partner get raise after raise and promotion after promotion, spending the remainder of your career trying in vain to catch up. You are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first year of their life, which no one tells you is almost impossible to do if youre chained to a desk for eight hours a day. And you are forced to apologetically duck out at 5:15, trying to avoid the gaze of your superiors, gazing wistfully at your childfree cohorts as they go off to sip Moscow mules and network at happy hours.

Under the best circumstances, being a working parent feels like being an unwanted guest at the worlds most tedious party, and what COVID-19 has done is essentially kick working mothers out of the room altogether. In this sense, it has succeeded where previous efforts to limit womens ascendancy in the workplace the absence of paid leave, rampant pregnancy discrimination, and loopholes that ensure some employers dont have to institute lactation rooms, just to name a few have failed: in a scenario so perfect its almost as if some misogynistic sorcerer conjured it in a dungeon, a global pandemic may well be the impetus for booting working mothers from the workplace altogether.

This is already kind of starting to happen. Over the past few months, policy makers have engineered what they no doubt view as ingenious ways to return children back to school, all of which have been met with widespread ire from parents on social media. Fairfax County in Virginia will be spearheading a part-time policy where students can choose between four days of remote learning or two days of on-campus learning, while Gov. Cuomo has suggested that the 2020-2021 school year could be entirely remote. Employers have also done their part in instituting policies that are wildly ignorant of, if not downright hostile to, the lived realities of working parents, with Florida State University instituting a policy for remote employees banning them from caring for children while working. [FSU IS] acting like they gave us this privilege towatch our children while we worked when thats literally what I had to do, one professor complained. (FSUwalked back on this policy following backlash on social media, sending an email to staff saying, We want to be clear our policy does allow employees to work from home while caring for children.)

That the needs of parents were not taken into account during the development of these policies is apparent; that the needs of working mothers in particular were not considered, doubly so. In the absence of these discussions, the onus has been on parents themselves, not employers or policy-makers or the media. Theres a stigma right now that you cant say Im not available because Im helping my kid with my homework from 2-3, and you have to empower people to do that especially during the pandemic, says Kossek. Though she says managers should lead these conversations, the reality is that they so frequently fall on employees that its clear women arent just expected to seamlessly perform childcare and household and work duties simultaneously, theyre also expected to start the conversation about why such expectations are unfair.

Therein lies the crux of the issue: although much valuable discussion has been devoted to how COVID-19 has exposed the disparities in class, gender, and income, the parenting issue intersects with all three of those things, yet receives relatively little attention. Why isnt anyone talking about this? Why are we not hearing a primal scream so deafening that no plodding policy can be implemented without addressing the people buried by it?, Perelman writes in her essay. While there are likely plenty of reasons the relative unclickiness of the importance of paid parental leave among them the truth is that parenting issues are so often considered as tantamount with womens issues that theyve been rendered marginalized in the discourse, almost to the degree that theyre ignored altogether.

There are some who are optimistic about the long-term changes that COVID-19 may bring in terms of gender dynamics and parenting. In the long run we know that when men learn to actually get hands-on experience with the kind of work they were able to ignore for so long, they do do better, says Coontz, citing studies that show how men who take paternity leave end up assuming more of the burden of household labor. Now that men have been forced to pick up some of the childcare burden, becoming more intimately acquainted with its accompanying gifts and travails, I think there may be some possibilities for forward progress after this, she says.

But such progress is dependent on how we, as a society, respond to this crisis, by which she means implementing family-friendly policies such as paid leave, decreasing the wage gap, and providing universal health care. Sometimes there comes a crack in time, Koontz says, quoting a line from a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet. This is a real crack in time that exposes where the roads have been blocked, where theyve been overgrown, where new things need to be built. Theyre terribly painful, these cracks in time, but they can lead to change. But that assumes that everyone, from policymakers to media figures, sees these roadblocks as roadblocks to begin with, and until more people let loose with that primal scream calling for massive change, then these cracks in time will likely be left ignored.

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Childfree and Childless The Difference – The Good Men Project

Posted: May 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm

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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A word for mums who never wanted kids – The Standard

Posted: at 3:25 pm

Women who didn't plan on becoming mothers but are mothers all the same are beginning to speak up (Photo: Shutterstock)

Whether or not a woman should have or choose not to have kids will always be a sensitive topic. Some women know that they wanted kids from a very young age, but for others, its not the case. Theres a part of society that doesnt believe there are women who really dont want kids and with that comes a lot of heavy judgement.

ALSO READ: Five tips on talking to your kids about their fears

Within that community of women who have no desire to have kids, are those who actually end up having children. Life happens, things change and you find yourself breastfeeding at 1 a.m. while youre half asleep. Now you have to awkwardly accept the congratulations for your baby and a part of you wants to curl up into a ball and cry.

Heres some advice if you find yourself with kids when you never planned to have any.

i. Youre not alone

Society likes to isolate women who dont want to have kids. Youll face the pressure if you attempt to air your views and surprisingly, some family members will even resent you for it. And now that you have kids, theyll automatically assume that you changed your mind just like they said you would. Only a few will understand how you feel about the whole motherhood thing and eventually you might even meet some women who are going through what youre experiencing.

Recently, women who didnt desire to have kids have started being more vocal about how they feel, which is revolutionary. They might still feel comfortable sharing their stories anonymously but, at least you know youre not alone.

ii. Youre not a horrible mom

Its hard to admit that you didnt want to have kids in the first place. It doesnt mean that you hate your kids and it doesnt make you a horrible person. It just means youre being honest. Dont feel horrible about yourself if you dont enjoy carrying your baby or spending every single moment with them. Its going to be tough for a while but the fact still remains that motherhood isnt necessarily for everyone. Hold on to your truth regardless of how people feel.

ALSO READ: Online app making homeschooling smooth

iii. You shouldnt be forced to have more children

Things might just get worse if youre pressured into having more kids. Its one thing to amicably decide to have more kids with your partner but it shouldnt be a matter of forcing issues. Youre the one wholl bear the burden of carrying the baby through the nine months then go through the pain of labour and delivery. Perhaps youll even be the one to change the diapers throughout and handle everything else in the household so I believe you have the right to decide whether you can handle more kids or not.

iv. Never resent your children for it

Its not your childs fault. They didnt sign up to be born. Although you have a right to feel the way you do, you should never take out your anger on them. Every child deserves to be loved by their parents regardless of whether they were planned or not. Parenting will force you to do things you never wanted to but thats just how life is. You have to appreciate them for who they are and focus on the joy they bring.

v. Things might change

Some mums actually come round after some time.There are still those moments where you miss your childfree days but for the most part, they learn to embrace their new lives. Seeing your baby smile as they sleep peacefully or noticing they have the same dimple as you can actually turn things around. Itll be a gradual process of making lemonade out of the lemons that life gives you.

ALSO READ: #FridayFashionInspo: Sizzling mum of five, Keke Cameron is keeping it hot and trendy

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Child-free women are tired of being told they’ll regret it – The Big Smoke Australia

Posted: March 23, 2020 at 11:44 am

As a woman without a child, Im constantly queried about when the time will be. You know what? Get your mind out of my uterus.

The other day, I was asked (again) whether I was planning to have children. The further I get into my thirties, the more I get asked this question tick-tock and all that. Except this time it was by the guy who came to fix my rowing machine.

We had made small talk for a sum total of a minute and a half when he felt the pressing need to work out how it was possible that I didnt have children by my age and that I really should get to it before it was too late. He didnt say that last bit, of course they never do but that was the implication.

I often wonder why people feel that it is perfectly okay to ask a total stranger about their personal life choices. Perhaps Id spent years trying to get pregnant and it was a trauma that I didnt particularly want to rehash while offering a glass of water to someone who was only in my house because Id paid him to fix something.

Or maybe, just maybe, I dont want children. And I dont care to justify that to anyone, least of all someone I dont know.

Despite the fact that childfree couples are set to become more common than families with kids in the next 10 years, there is still a strange stigma attached to this choice. The question about whether I want children is usually followed up with one about how my partner feels, as though Im doing him an enormous disservice.

I wonder whether, on his own, he is asked so frequently about his childlessness. He doesnt have the disadvantage of a biological clock, after all, counting minutes that usher him closer to that terrible point of no return.

Moving through your thirties, your friendship group starts to get divided up into those with children and those without. You start making friends who are either significantly older or younger, as your peers are no longer out taking dancing classes theyre at home looking after children. An old friend with a young baby once said she didnt approve of my lifestyle choices because I was still going to parties on a Saturday night.

A new friend without children asked me if I was planning to have kids within weeks of us getting to know each other, because she told me frankly that she didnt want to form an emotional attachment to somebody who was going to drop off the map. Ive had other child-free friends express a similar sentiment we all know the difficulties (though not impossibility) of maintaining a close friendship with a woman who has kids.

But even though our demographic is growing rapidly, being childfree is still not treated as a normal thing for women to do. A few years ago, the HuffPost ran an article with the headline: Cameron Diaz Says Shes Completely Happy With Her Choice To Be Childfree as though it was unthinkable that a woman might find joy in something other than parenting. (Would they ever run such a headline about Leonardo DiCaprio, I wonder?)

Recently, a scathing Vanity Fair article about the coastal town of Byron Bay in Australia alerted me to the existence of so-called mommy bloggers and influencers. Clearly Im not their target audience. They tout a return to simplicity, which in effect means dressing their children in linen and refusing to give them phones while they earn a large income from displaying their family lives or rather a perfect version of them all over Instagram.

Their social media feeds espouse a sort of glorification of fertility and parenting, filled with pregnancy photoshoots and staged pictures of their abundance of children (in linen), all similar in age, among magnificent beach backdrops. I am not judging the decision to have children, but the popularity of mumstagrammers seems inherently at odds with demographic trends in Australia, the average per woman is now less than two children.

I do wonder whether they get asked the same questions as me, but in reverse. Does anyone ask them why they decided to have children? Does anyone ask a woman with a child if she will regret her decision? Does anyone imply that her choices make her selfish? Emotionally unfulfilled? Immature?

Last week, while drinking wine on a balcony with my childfree friend on a Friday afternoon (because we can do that any time we want), she commented that there are no role models for women who do not have children. Show us how that can be a fulfilling choice! she practically shouted down to the street.

Show us how women can find rewards in something other than motherhood without it somehow making us less than. Show us how we can be valued as more than our reproductive capabilities. Lets talk about how we can be fulfilled in our work, our creative pursuits, our friendships, and yes even in our relationships with other peoples children that doesnt leave us wanting our own.

There are plenty of reasons why women decide not to have children. I dont have to give you mine.

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Child-free women are tired of being told they'll regret it - The Big Smoke Australia

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Things You Only Know If You’re Childless – And Not By Choice – Grazia

Posted: at 11:44 am

It starts in earnest after Valentines Day. At least, thats when I notice it. However hard I try, I cant ignore the whirlwind of Mothers Day. Every shop window and every chalkboard is promoting it. And in doing so, they offer up the starkest reminder (as if one were needed) that this celebration is for mums... and Im not one. And at 40, having been through five gruelling cycles of IVF and grieved over four miscarriages, its unlikelier with each passing month that I ever will be.

Those experiences serve to make Mothers Day even harder to bear, because if the stars had aligned differently, my husband and I would be chasing around after our three kids and preparing for the arrival of our fourth child.

I dont resent mothers, nor do I begrudge them for being the subject of all this indulgence. Its only one day after all, despite the weeks of build-up. But being childless through circumstance has left a bitter taste. Aside from feeling bereft, its made me painfully aware of my otherness.

The messages society heaps on to women both subliminally and explicitly are that unless youve borne a child, youre less than, incomplete. My journey has been extremely difficult and relentless. Anyone whos travelled the road of infertility and unsuccessful fertility treatment knows that it chips away at you, bit by bit.

It strips you of all confidence, self-worth and purpose, and breaks you utterly. It deprives you of hope and leaves a shell of a person you dont recognise. You do your best to package it all up and put it to one side, so you can get on with life. And Im content, and I know Im blessed in countless ways.

So, every March, I brace myself. I avoid the high street. I stay off social media. I delete unsolicited and unwanted marketing emails.

But when Mothers Day comes around each year, it brings with it a not-so-subtle reminder that Im disenfranchised as a woman. All the grief and anger Ive accumulated trying to have a baby is thrown up in the air and falls down around me, like a game of pick-up sticks.

So, every March, I brace myself. I avoid the high street. I stay off social media. I delete unsolicited and unwanted marketing emails. That task is made easier by the likes of Bloom & Wild, the retailer that gave subscribers the choice to opt out of Mothers Day emails last year, and others that have followed suit. It helps women like me realise were not the only ones who find this day hard. It signals that were getting better at acknowledging that childlessness isnt always a choice; that not everyone who doesnt have kids is childfree by design.

This Mothers Day, Ill surround myself with my husband, my dogs and my own mum, who Im lucky to have. And Ill revel in the fact that, instead of once a year, I can enjoy a lie-in whenever I like.

Things You Only Know If..

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Things You Only Know If You're Childless - And Not By Choice - Grazia

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10 Women Look Back On Living Childfree By Choice | SELF

Posted: February 28, 2020 at 11:55 pm

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

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

Posted: at 11:55 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Childfree people do not make their decisions lightly.

HuffPost/Canva

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

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

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

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

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

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

HuffPost/Canva

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

HuffPost/Canva

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

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

HuffPost/Canva

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

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

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

What to keep in mind about this small study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally posted here:

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

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