Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mothers Speak Out about Regret

The Guardian recently published this article titled Love and Regret about mothers who wished they had never had children. The comments that follow this article reflect gratitude that we can finally talk honestly about the hardships of motherhood without trying to paper over the pain and draw a happy face.

If women can talk about post-partum depression or abortion regret without stigma, why can't women talk about regret around motherhood? These women do love their children but they don't love the role of mother. Motherhood comes wrapped up in glittery paper and a bow but often the gift of a child comes with thwarted dreams, gendered roles, health and wellness challenges, and unanticipated burdens and outcomes of all kinds.

 Orna Donath, a sociologist from Israel who was decidedly childfree interviewed 23 mothers who regret having children and published her findings in which she noted that while motherhood “may be a font of personal fulfillment, pleasure, love, pride, contentment and joy”, it “may simultaneously be a realm of distress, helplessness, frustration, hostility and disappointment, as well as an arena of oppression and subordination”. The women she interviewed had expressed “the wish to undo motherhood” and Donath, being a childfree social scientist, did not judge them for it but instead described their stories as the “unexplored maternal experience”.

Kudos to Donath and her study participants for their bravery and honesty!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

An Australian Politician Advocates for the Childless/Childfree

This is my speech on childlessness; it's gone 'viral', as they say. I delivered it in the period leading up to passage of the government's 'No Jab No Pay' legislation. In it, I point out just how much taxpayers' money parents of children receive, money they ought not expect. I go on to thank the childless, who pay more tax, receive less welfare, and worse, get no thanks for their generosity.
Posted by David Leyonhjelm - Liberal Democrats Senator NSW on Sunday, November 22, 2015
David Leyonhjelm, a Liberal Democrats Senator from New South Wales, Australia took the opportunity to speak in support of the "No Jab, No pay" (legislation that would deny government family support payments to those parents who refuse to immunize their children) to say a hearty thank you to the childfree/childless persons in Australia who generously support families through their taxes and get "No thanks for their generosity.

When it was first released this video went viral, and I trust this video will open a dialog around appropriate uses of taxpayer dollars, and shed light on the many ways that the childless and childfree contribute to the common good.

What would you say if you had the lectern for a few minutes and could speak to the law and policy makers in your country?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Making a Case for Flex Time for All

It annoys me that many companies offer flex time for mommies but when a childless person asks for it they resist. The assumption being that if you don't have kids you are out partying or in your basement hosting swinger parties. Let me share with you what the childfree people I interviewed for Two is Enough were doing when they are not at work covering for all the parents that can't work a 12 hour day.

1) Elder care. It's no surprise the childless siblings bear the bulk of the elder care responsibilities in the U.S.A. The exception is when parents invite Mom to move in so she can babysit and do the laundry.

2) Volunteering. The majority of the folks I interviewed had volunteered for at least one non-profit, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, animal shelters, equine therapy programs, youth advocacy, volunteer coaching and mentoring, and other charities they were passionate about.

3) Second jobs. Contrary to popular belief some childfree folks need to work a second job to pay school debt or just plain pay the rent. Others are entrepreneurs with start ups or artists or writers and their creative or entrepreneurial pursuits can't pay all the bills.

4) Childcare. Yes, some childfree persons actually help care for other people's kids. I interviewed folks that were temporary guardians for kids whose parents couldn't handle them or care for them. Some took nieces and nephews on vacations and college search trips because the parents couldn't afford to travel or take off work.

5) Recuperating from illness or injury, or caring for pets. Many childfree people complain that when parents ask for time off for a school recital or a snow day they are quickly granted the time off but when a childfree person asks for time off to go to physical therapy or a vet appointment they are denied. This is wrong!

Jenny Noyes, a writer from Australia, make a strong case for equal opportunity for Flex Time in her article titled "The childfree deserve workplace flexibility too" with the astute observation that "having it all" means different things to different people.

I know from my interviews with childfree folks that they have many interests, pursuits, obligations,and responsibilities outside of work and a flexible schedule would be a welcome benefit for every working person. Flex time is a benefit that everyone appreciates and it should be offered to all. Ideally, everyone should be expected to work the number of hours they are paid for, on a schedule that allows for a life outside of work. What you do outside of your work is your own business, unless the cops or social services are knocking on your door.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Has Birth Control Made Us Richer and Happier?

After reading Amanda Marcotte's recent article in Rolling Stone titled 5 Ways Birth Control has Changed America, I had a little gratitude moment that I was born 2 years before the birth control pill was available in America.

Had I been born even 25 years earlier things might have been very different for me. I likely would have been married at 18 or nineteen with 2 or 3 kids by my 25th birthday. I never would have gone to college, or started my own business, or travelled the world. I would likely be divorced, a single mom struggling financially. My kids would be struggling too, trying to put themselves through college, or burdened by a mountain of school debt as they try to make their way in the world.

I probably would be have found a way to be happy. I might have remarried, negotiating the step mother role in a blended family. I would be have taken pride in my children's accomplishments and my role in shaping their lives. I would like to think I would have been able find meaningful work outside the home, but the odds would have been stacked against me.

Fast forward to today and I see women in their twenties and thirties graduating college as single women, postponing marriage and child birth into their thirties, and pursuing careers that are both emotionally and financially rewarding. Most of them don't realize that it not for the pill and other reliable methods of birth control, their experience of young adulthood would be very different.

And America would be very different too. Here's how America has changed as a result of access contraception use, according to Marcotte:

"A 2012 University of Michigan study that examined women's gains over a period of decades determined that a whopping one-third of women's wage gains from the Sixties through the Nineties were attributable to greater access to contraception. Moreover, they found that the earlier women started taking the pill – at age 18 instead of 21, for instance – the more money the made over a lifetime.

Conversely, research on the effects of unintended childbirth shows that it is deeply detrimental to your pocketbook. Unintended child-bearing is linked to lower participation in the job market and higher dependency on government services. That so many Republicans would rather see more women on welfare than condone non-procreative sex tells you a lot about where their priorities lie.

There's been a mind-boggling decline in the teen birth rate. Most people think the teen pregnancy rate has been going up lately – there's this idea out there that kids today, with their hip-hop music and their "revealing" clothes, are somehow less "moral" than ever and therefore must be experiencing more unintended pregnancies. But in fact the teen pregnancy rate has been declining steadily since the late Fifties, and is now at an all-time low. But teens aren't having less sex than they did in the Elvis Presley era. The main reason for the decline is better contraception use, plain and simple.

Women's educational attainment has surged. These days, greater percentages of both men and women have college degrees than they did in the past – but women's rate of growth has trumped men's dramatically. In 1970, only 8 percent of women and 14 percent of men were college graduates. Now, more than 35 percent of women ages 24 to 35 have a college degree, while fewer than 30 percent of men do.

This shift can be attributed to a lot of factors – more schools accepting women, more women seeking professional careers – but birth control has played a huge role. It should be obvious that avoiding unwanted pregnancies helps women complete college, but in case you're a skeptic, there's plenty of research showing that in states where more unmarried women have access to contraception, more of them finish college."

Are we richer and happier because of our access to birth control? Richer, for sure. Happier? Well that depends if you achieved what you wanted to achieve. But, really it depends on how you navigate your circumstances because, with kids or without kids, happiness is a choice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Caribbean Cruise with your Childfree friends! Group Deal extended until April 30!

We've been talking about it. Now it's finally happening! 

A Caribbean Cruise with your Childfree friends! Join us on Dec 5-12, 2015 for a cruise with Laura Scott and other Childfree authors on the stunning Italian cruise ship MSC Divina sailing from Miami, Florida! Register with your $100 deposit before April 30/15 to get this 7 day Caribbean cruise starting at only $349.00 per person, featuring exclusively childfree excursions and a day on Stirrup Cay, a private island. for more information Mention, "LAURA SCOTT sent me for info on this great deal!". It's just 100.00 per person deposit to hold your cabin on this cruise! ALL deposits are FULLY REFUNDABLE 80 days from cruising. Looking forward to sailing with you! Laura

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How the Childfree Plan for End of Life

What are you going to do when you get old? As much as I hate this question, I love how creative the childfree have been in their response to this. Not by words but by actions. Recently the New York Times featured an article about childfree women and men who had taken the appropriate steps to plan for end of life so that they could embrace their golden years without worry and stress. Here's one man's story:

Bill Strubbe, 58, a travel writer and painter living in San Francisco’s East Bay, plans to leave the country. In the fall, Mr. Strubbe, who has no children and is single, is relocating to a kibbutz outside Haifa, Israel, that he has been visiting since he was 20.
“I’ll be living among a community of people I have known all my adult life and has systems in place for care of the elderly,” he said. “Unlike the U.S.A., Israel has excellent health care for all its citizens, and that will take a big load off of my mind, knowing that I won’t be left flapping in the breeze if something happens to me.”
Of course, one issue facing the childless is what to do with their estates. Some establish foundations in their name or leave money to charity, said David W. Nethery, senior vice president for wealth management at Merrill Lynch in Dallas. Others bequeath money to siblings, nieces and nephews, or friends, as did Ms. Lewton.
In Mr. Strubbe’s ideal world, he won’t have any cash left. “Hopefully I will have used it all up,” he said. Should there be any, he said he would most likely leave it to “nieces and nephews and/or some of the children of close friends on the kibbutz.”
Among the stipulations, he said, he is ordering recipients not to use their inheritance “to pay bills, taxes, rent or other such mundane things, but to earmark it for taking a trip you could never afford, enrolling in an art class that was not in the budget, or do something meaningful, wild and fun.”

I love this! Mr. Stubbe isn't the only who is considering communal living at the end of life and it makes sense. As a coach, I am constantly reminding my clients the importance of staying connected and building tribes, especially as we age. It's so important to our quality of life. I am thrilled to know there are role models for a happy, fulfilled, and worry free life into our seventies, eighties and beyond.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Challenge of Finding a Truly Childfree Africa

I recently received an email from a 35 year old African woman from Nairobi, Kenya who wanted to share her story. I will call her “Kris” as she asked to remain anonymous. She is a good example how an “early articulator” feels and copes as she navigates in a pronatalist culture. Here’s her story:
I have always known I'd be childfree. I told my folks this when I was about 7 years old, and they have only just started 'believing' me about 2 years ago. My gynecologists still insist I might change my mind, so no there is no sterilization in sight. In my country there is little respect for women's reproductive choice (a woman 'knowing her mind'), even among the most educated in the medical fraternity.
I am motivated to remain childfree by an innate knowing which has become firmer as I grow older and trust my instincts more. I have an absolute respect for motherhood, which I believe shouldn't be entered into with the slightest doubt, and I believe that nurturing and creating can be fulfilled in so, so many ways. I am inspired by childless/childfree women and men who have consciously and creatively left their mark on the world, and on hearts. Personally, I learn from and gravitate more to nature and animals than humans.
My 10 year partnership was on its last legs and imploded last year and my childfree stance was used as a convenient scapegoat to explain the problems. My partner had 'hidden' this decision from his parents and when I told them about it, they were shocked and totally against it. This discussion was the first agenda in my current relationship, and it's understandably a major decision for my partner. I've engaged many enlightened men, but even the most eccentric are revolted by the idea. Proof of manhood is intrinsically tied to procreation. Procreation is so completely engrained in the social, religious, cultural and even economic life, it's barely discussed--it's assumed. I couldn't, in good conscience, deny fatherhood to a man (though I'm quite certain not many of them think deeply about the responsibility of good parenting). I've never met an African CF man.
From personal experience, marriage for me would come with the inherent challenge of being stigmatized by my in-laws and the obligation to accept that my husband can have children by any other means (e.g. second family/polygamy). It'd take a very strong man not to cave to the sustained social pressure. I'm coming to the conclusion that marriage and civil partnership could very well be elusive, which is sad. I revel in being slightly eccentric but I've only just started coming to terms with the implications of my decision. This could be a lonely road, but it's a reality I've accepted.
I trust Kris will eventually find a man who is like-minded but it is interesting that in many communities men feel as culturally compelled to procreate as women do. When parenthood is the assumption, there is little room for the idea of personal choice in the matter of procreation. Over time, I believe this will change. I would love to hear your stories about the challenge of finding a like-minded partner. Please comment below...