Way back when I was young, DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) were a cultural anomaly. In fact, parenthood was synonymous with adulthood. And the issues around being ‘childless’ were discussed in hushed tones. Here it is 52 years after the advent of birth control and ‘childfree’ is the new buzzword. Women who are opting out of motherhood are speaking up loud and clear.
According to recent surveys, over 40% of college-educated Generation X women (born between 1965 and 1980) are childfree.
These women were part of the first generation that didn’t feel so much pressure to have children. Their moms, inspired by the feminist movement, wanted them to aim high. For many, maternal desire and the pleasure of motherhood weren’t a given. Rather, a major emphasis was on staying in school longer, finding a career that mattered and breaking the glass ceiling.
This issue is complicated, just like everything else.
Some women want to be in control of their own lives and don’t feel maternal or cut out for kids. They have no desire to get pregnant and give birth. And they have neither a relationship to their biological clock nor feel like they’re missing out.
The reasons they decide to live a life without children are as different and personal as the women who make the choices. Some have career obligations or feel they can provide a greater contribution through their work. Others have competing familial responsibilities or haven’t found love, commitment, support or the right relationship.
Whether it’s the decline of values, terrorism, war, carbon footprint, overpopulation or scarcity of resources, some women don’t want to bring children into a world with so many problems. They find other ways to feel child-full by spending time with the children of siblings and friends or by volunteering.
Part of being an adult is making lifestyle choices. The truth is no one is doing it wrong. Whether you’re mother above all or happily kid-free, neither is righteous or selfish. Women can be fulfilled with or without children. Let’s drop the stereotypes and stop questioning what it all means.