Celebrate Me – I’m Childless!

Time magazine’s new cover story “Having It All Without Having Children,” by Lauren Sandler breaks down an interesting trend.  More couples are foregoing parenthood than ever before in American history:

From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s. Even before the recession hit, in 2008, the proportion of women ages 40 to 44 who had never given birth had grown by 80 percent, from 10% to 18%, since 1976, when a new vanguard began to question the reproductive imperative… the rise [of childlessness] is both dramatic and, in the scope of our history, quite sudden.

The article purports to examine how judged and scorned these childless couples are in a society that often “equates womanhood with motherhood.”  Instead of entering into what one childless-by-choice woman described as “the glamorous martyrdom of motherhood,” they are simply making another choice… a choice that just so happens to allow them to have more free time and take more exotic vacations than the rest of us.

This is where Time begins to get it wrong, because it fails to note that this so-called martyrdom goes both ways.  Read my take on the Time piece here.

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

  • Jakeithus

    I’m truly interested in seeing where the childless trend will lead our society as more and more of these individuals leave their 30′s-40′s and enter their 60′s-70′s. It’s one thing to celebrate being child free in the prime of your life, when everything is great, but having larger and larger segments of society age and eventually die alone is going to cause some problems I believe.

    • DaisyFlower

      Having children does not mean you will die with family around you. A lot of people in nursing homes don’t get visits from their adult children

      • Jakeithus

        I agree Daisy, I never meant what I said to be a universal. Simply having children is no guarantee that there will be a strong and valuable relationship with those children. In the same way, not having children doesn’t mean that people are doomed to spend their final years without family or friends around to support them.

        I simply see it as creating some interesting and potentially harmful consequences at a societal level. More and more people will be left without family support as they age. What seems like a good thing in the mind of many individuals right now, might not be seen the same way in 40-50 years, only by then it will be too late to change.

  • http://doatney.blogger.com/ David Oatney

    Nicole and I will celebrate ten years of marriage on Friday. We’ve never been blessed with children, and while I respect God’s plan (being fully aware of my own limitations), I know that the reality of having no children has not been easy on her, or always on me.

    There are sometimes reasons beyond our control why we can’t have kids. I trust in God and I believe that his plan for our lives should prevail, but his plan for matrimony in the ordinary circumstance is for the conception and rearing of children-that is the very purpose of the institution. Instead it has become about “my” personal happiness, “my” feelings, “my” desires. That is not the divine plan, and the whole society is going to pay for that over the long term.

  • DaisyFlower

    I read the entire post of yours at the “Rare” site. I am not quite Child Free nor Childless; I was open to the idea of having a kid if I ever married, but no spouse ever came into my life. I was also a Christian for many years. It is true that women who are not mothers are treated poorly, like they are freaks, or they are overlooked and ostracized. Churches are really bad about excluding anyone who has never married or never had children. Many preachers today keep insisting that a woman’s only or highest calling in life is to be a wife and mother, which is painful and insulting to hear if you are a woman who wanted marriage or a kid but never got either. And for women who did not want either marriage or children, they should not be treated disrespectfully either. It is not true that those of us without children expect or want “constant validation” for our childless/CF status, we only want to stop being insulted or treated like second class citizens, or as though we are selfish or strange for not being mothers, just as this very editorial is doing – seriously, married people with kids get catered to and celebrated in our culture, especially in churches, but the author of this has the audacity to make herself (or moms in general) out to be the victims? Not buying it because it is not true.

    • David French