Sunday, May 24, 2009

Is Divorce Different for the Childless?

Despite the fact that studies, including the Childless by Choice Project study, show that childfree couples are motivated to remain without children because of marital satisfaction, the risk of divorce is still present. In fact, childfree couples are just as likely to divorce as are couples with children. Divorce is never easy—with kids or without them—but an article titled Modern Marriage Risks Amplified by Children recently published in Unscripted suggests that the divorce may be much less problematic if the couple has remained childless.

The article’s author, J. Bushnell pointed out that: “nonparent couples don’t have to stick out a bad or abusive relationship for fear of supporting a household or raising children alone. Unlike parents, childfree couples don’t have to worry about how a divorce will impact children; instead, they can split their assets 50/50, move on, and even move away, without concerns about taking a child away from its school district or nonresidential parent.”

Bushnell also pointed out that the risks of divorce are much higher for women than for men if they have children. “As 80% of children live with their mother following a divorce, perhaps women should seriously consider before starting a family whether they are equipped to parent alone one day if their marriage fails. Because single motherhood is clearly a very strong possibility.”

Imagine a drive-through wedding chapel in Las Vegas and the Elvis impersonator/ordained minister who is about to marry you asks “You have a fifty-fifty chance of ending up as single mother, are you still going to say ‘I do’ and have kids with this guy?”

Flickr photo by madmolecule (cc)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Childfree In India

Recently I was interviewed by a reporter who was researching an article about the childfree for The Sunday Indian, a national magazine out of New Delhi.

The resulting article, written by Anu Gulmohar, was published on Mother’s Day, and cited the Childless by Choice Project study and another study of eighteen and older childless persons in India. Turns out urban childless Indians feel pretty much the same way as North Americans in their perceptions of parenthood. The majority (73 percent) of Indians surveyed felt “that having children will curtail their freedom” and 87 percent felt children were “a full-time job.”

Like many North Americans, these childless Indians felt pressured to procreate and they felt that the “the biggest motivator for having kids is not their desire to experience parenthood (12%), or the sheer love for children (10%), but the pressure applied by their society and families!!”

Another assumption that appears to have gone global is the perception of selfishness. A childfree man who was quoted in this article had this to say:

“Tell me one thing that is selfless about wanting to have children,” retorts P Srivastava. “Is there any altruistic sentiment behind it? I feel none. Everything that causes one to procreate is selfish in nature. You want to create your own flesh and blood, you want someone to look after you, you want happiness for your family, you want happiness for yourself. Is not all this selfish?”

Having heard a version of this from my interviews with the childless by choice, I could empathize with this man. Some people do equate parenthood with happiness and they want that for themselves. However, the Indian survey respondents were willing to wait for parenthood, they were choosing to postpone parenthood far beyond the age their parents likely had the first child. The average age at which these young adults saw themselves having children was thirty.
Flickr photo by premasagar (cc)

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Many childless by choice adults embrace their pets as part of the family. Whether you call them fido or fluffy, these pets can seem like child substitutes, adding a lot of love.

It's true your pet will never grow up and take care of you when you get old. In fact, you can count on the fact that you will outlive them, barring great misfortune on your part. Their lives are so brief, and they give so much, even if you don't always have time for them.

I recently lost my beloved cat Vladimir. He was with me for 19 years, spanning half my life, thus far. The better half I might add. I was careful who I told about my grief. I learned from a grief therapist that a new loss can open up all the old ones, and my mourning of this cat's passing ran pretty deep. It actually made me wonder if he didn't really fill the "missing child" niche for me. It made me doubt my choice, for a moment.

Cats and children really do not compare. Cats are way easier. I don't think it is a good idea to have children so they can take care of you when you get older, but I have to admit the possibility that they might is rather appealing. One of the nicest things a friend said to me was, "you are a such a positive, warm person Teri, you will always have people around who will help you."

That's a nice sentiment too. I am hanging on to that thought.

Now we're thinking about getting a dog. Hey, it's a big step for a CF couple.