Posts Tagged ‘childless by choice’

When you’re childless, it’s often hard not to feel like the only one. Growing up, I did not know a single woman who did not have children! And the few childless men I knew were those who’d “screwed up” in life, never managing to get steady jobs let alone the wives and children that would make them “normal.”

Luckily, my horizons have broadened as an adult. I know several child-free men and women, and countless wonderful stepparents who do not have biological children. The notion that childless people are somehow weird, cold, or deficient has been permanently stamped from my psyche.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to avoid feelings of difference and isolation when friend after friend starts a family, when every other woman at the mall sports a bump beneath her flowing tunic. (And now even the fashion industry has all of us wearing maternity clothes! What gives?) I don’t really consider myself childless, and yet I’ve never been pregnant nor raised an infant or toddler. I’m much more likely to squeal over dogs than babies. In short, I’m different from most adult women I meet, and it usually feels like I’m padding around in my own tiny puddle while everyone else is diving into the ocean.

But it turns out that my pool is much more crowded than I thought. According to a 2005 study of US women, 28% of those ages 30-34, and 19% of those ages 40-44, were childless in 2004. Given fertility limitations, most of that 19% probably remains childless for the duration. And that’s not such a bad number as far as company is concerned!

Given that the vast majority of U.S. adults—96%—gets married at least once, a significant portion of those remaining childless are probably child-free by choice. I view this as a positive—a further broadening of minds and options. As more and more people demonstrate that not having children can be a viable, positive choice for the marriage and the individual, the stigma against childlessness will (hopefully) continue to erode. And that’s a good thing for the childless, the child-free, and those of us who are somewhere in between!

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