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Why More Women Are Childless by Choice

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Over at DOUBLEX, Amanda Marcotte wrote a post called, "The Real Reason More Women Are Childless."

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She says that the number of American women who are childless has nearly doubled since 1976, rising from 10 percent of the population to 18 percent.

Are legal abortions to blame for declining birthrates? No way, says Marcotte.

The reasons women are childless by choice, according to Marcotte, are:

  • We're finally admitting that motherhood isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  • Lack of maternal/paternal instinct.
  • We love our life or our relationship as it is.
  • We do not want to take on the responsibility.
  • Childlessness is good ... for some children. ("Not everyone will be a good parent," one woman said. "More people should be child-free.")

What do you think of women who are childless by choice?

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14 comments so far | Post a comment now
Karol July 12, 2010, 1:17 PM

Her logic doesn’t make a lot of sense. I believe:

1. Abortions are, by definition, lessening how many children are born.

2. We are in danger of having a population slowdown like Europe, which may bring many problems like Europe is facing (not enough children to pay for the elderly benefits).

3. That remaining childless is a reasonable choice that a woman can make for herself.

Marcotte is under the impression that these three things contradict each other when they really don’t. The first one is a fact, the second one is a prediction and the third is an opinion.

Ann July 12, 2010, 1:38 PM

What I find unfortunate about this is that a lot of the women who choose not to have kids, probably should in that they would make great parents/role models, but all to often the ones who do have kids really have no business being a parent in the first place.

Patti July 12, 2010, 2:04 PM

You will never know what it means to be a mother until you become one. It is the biggest joy in life. It is easy to say you do not want to have a child and have a thousand excuses for your decision. Once you become a mom, those excuses all go to hell because you will realize that being a mother to a child, challenges and all (and life is full of them regardless) is what gives your life meaning. Think about it very seriously before that one day comes when you are very old and all alone and are consumed by your regrets.

anonymous July 12, 2010, 4:21 PM

It’s great if women are childless by choice, but I think there are a lot of women who are childless by procrastination. And I wish people who didn’t want children didn’t have to spend so much time running around saying motherhood isn’t great.

Pamala July 12, 2010, 5:08 PM

I agree it’s childless by procrastination I think that’s the problem. Women have been drilled into about how they should do what they want and gain it all, just like a man, and put off being tied down to kids until they achieve their lifes goals. Sadly that often leads to women waiting too long.

XXXX July 12, 2010, 6:10 PM


Michele Renee July 12, 2010, 7:44 PM

I think it’s wonderful. If you know you won’t make a good mother or enjoy kids you can contribute a lot more to society if you aren’t burdened down with obligations you don’t want.

Leah July 13, 2010, 5:30 AM

I hardly think procrastintion is the problem. These women just don’t want children and it’s a fine and valid choice. I’m so tired of moms who say “WOW nothing in my life mattered until I had kids and women who don’t have them are missing out.” Well, that is SUPER sad if that statement is true and your life is only defined by a biological occurence that any woman can do - it doesn’t require skill or thought or anything. And I’m embarassed by woman who think having a life goal or wantig to achieve something before having children is womehow wrong. Procreation does not automatically equal satisifaction. I feel bad for the children produced by those types of moms since those mothers have zero goals, ambitions, hopes except those they pin on their children and are now living through.

As for the Karol’s comment - so off base. Abortions aren’t lessening a woman’s choice to be a mother. 61% of terminations are performed on women who already have at least 1 child.

I am a proud mom, but it was a very planned and conscious choice, just as those who choose NOT to have children. I made sure I went to college, had a life, became settled in a career and had a solid marriage before I even thought of having my children. That’s not procrastination - that’s being prepared to provide for a child and to have a fulfilling life. If anything I think too many women are having kids. I think many of the moms I know should not have had children since they don’t even know why they have kids - they just did it because it’s the thing to do.

AmandaR July 13, 2010, 6:11 AM

Lynn - Thank you for your post. You said everything I wanted to, but much more eloquently.

JamieRN July 13, 2010, 6:14 AM

Leah - 100% dead on correct!!

maisey July 13, 2010, 8:41 AM

Let’s be honest, “childless by choice” is a backlash to the 1950s era of nuclear families. Being a mother(let alone, GOD FORBID, a stay at home mother) is not seen as challenging or valid work. Women got tired of not being seen as valuable to the economy/world & got jobs!

While I do not feel this way(having children & being a SAHM myself), I can see where they got tired of doing the daily mom grind, but being told their work & effort wasn’t of substance.

Amy July 13, 2010, 10:15 AM

Disagree Maisey - Childless by choice are simply woman who don’t want children - it has nothing to do with not being appreciated for the “work” they do as a mother. If that were the case no one would have children.

I don’t see why other woman cannot understand some woman simpy don’t want kids. I’m a mom, but I can totally understand it’s not for everyone. I think Leah’s post was dead on.

Kristin July 21, 2010, 1:25 PM

I just wanted to add one more view to to the comments above. I chose not to have children because I didn’t want to bring a child into an unstable situation. Instead I chose to build my life so if I was to have a child I could take of him/her. I believe I would be a good Mom and pray I don’t have regrets that I don’t have a child of my own. Bottom line is there are no guarantees and if anyone feels pressured or put down for choosing to be childless I find it sad.

Under the best circumstances raising a child is difficult. The sad part is too many women are having children that are not good role models or are looking for the child to fill a void. Having ovaries doesn’t mean you should reproduce. If nothing else I hope I can make a difference in the lives of those children that are already here and need a good role model in their life. You don’t have to give birth to make a difference in the life of a child…

Alisa December 14, 2010, 10:29 AM

I am 41 years old and childless. I never made the decision to be childless. My husband suffers with depression issues and he didn’t want to pass the depression on to a child as it’s very strong in his family. He also felt he would be a bad parent because, when he’s depressed, he shuts down. I always felt I would be a single parent if we did have children. I am sad about it a lot of the time but I get even sadder when I hear comments about how being childless somehow makes me “less”. Having a child was not important enough to me to break up my marriage over it. My husband often talks about being foster parents. I guess my point is this: You never really know why a woman has remained childless. I’ve had comments made to me that are very hurtful. Realize that all things have a purpose and even a childless woman can have a full life and a positive impact on the world.

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