Saturday, December 31, 2011

Are Childless Woman Untrustworthy as Workmates?

A 2009 article titled “Why bosses are right to distrust women who don't want children... by a VERY outspoken mother (and ex-boss)” that appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail and was recently posted on the Childless by Choice Project facebook group page is generating a lot of chatter amongst the childfree and childless members of this group (BTW, this is a closed group but you are welcome to join us, just click here).

You really have to read the entire article to understand why but here’s just one of the many statements made by Carol Sarler, the writer of this piece, that got us all a-flutter:
In my experiences both as a colleague and an employer, I have found that mothers almost always bring something extra to the job, to the benefit of all.
It's not the mothers, for a start, who are going to turn up late and hungover after a night on the razz; they'll have been up, dressed and alert for hours, having cooked a family breakfast and delivered their children to school. On time.
It's not the mothers, usually, who run the office bitch-fest.
They're not there to compete for the attentions of the male executives; they're there to get out of the house; they're there because they genuinely enjoy some adult company; and they're there because they have mouths to feed other than their own and shoes to buy for someone else's feet.
She parrots the stereotype noted in the study she cites that childless woman lack an “essential humanity” and goes on to say “we actually need our children; they complete us as women, they are our light and our love and our legacy.”

This last statement alone speaks volumes. First there is the word “need” which is a red flag for me as a life coach. Then “they complete us as women, they are our light and our love and our legacy” which indicates a core belief that women must have children to feel complete or whole which is unfounded and, in my personal experience, untrue.

So to support her belief that childless women are weird and cold and undesirable as workmates, she points to a study that shows that these tired old stereotypes and assumptions are shared by others like her. This is just sad. It’s like saying “Yes, me and my buddies down at the factory believe that people who own cats can’t be trusted, have bad work habits, and are just plain weird. The fact that so many people believe this must make it true!”

What also raise alarm bells for me is what is not said here--her omission of childless men. Are they untrustworthy too?

Flickr Photo by Massdistraction

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sitcom Childfree Women at Odds with Reality

Jessica Grose, writing for Slate wrote an excellent article titled Child-free on TV about the childfree characters on some of our favorite situation comedy shows. Grose points out that these characters tend to exhibit masculine traits and send the message that women who don’t want kids are somewhat flawed or dysfunctional:
This message was driven home this week by the way two prime-time shows—How I Met Your Mother and Whitney—dealt with female characters who say they don’t want children. While this may be an uncommon choice on an American sitcom, it’s of course not an uncommon choice in America; the share of American women who don’t have kids has doubled since 1976. But neither of these characters—Robin (Cobie Smulders) on HIMYM and the titular Whitney (Whitney Cummings, also the show’s creator)—was allowed to fully embrace her desire not to have kids. Though Robin’s conflicted feelings about baby-rearing were treated in a much more enlightened way, it’s telling that on both shows, the characters who don’t want babies are women who like shooting guns and talking dirty, but who are grossed out by feelings. These shows are implicitly saying: Of course only a woman who’s not really feminine wouldn’t want to be a mom.
This article merits a full read as it highlights so much of what is wrong about the portrayal of childfree characters in our most popular media. If these characters bore an actual resemblance to the childfree women and men I know I might not be concerned but the reality gap between the sitcom childfree and the childfree that I see and know is so wide and troubling that it can’t be ignored or condoned.

Photograph by Chris Haston/NBC.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

“I’ve never felt clucky”- a Childfree Perspective from Down Under

I laughed when I read this article by Shelly Horton in the Sydney Morning Herald. Outside of the term “Clucky” —which I’ve never heard used before and I assume must be short hand for “mother hen” in Australia— so much of what Horton related about her childfree experience in Australia is what I heard in my interviews for the Childless by Choice Project in North America.

It seems whether you are in Seattle or Sydney, you will have people who imagine all kinds of things about your decision to remain childfree—like you just simply decided, over a bowl of mussels and a glass of sauvignon blanc, that you were going to opt out of parenthood. It was that simple.

On the contrary, Horton describes her decision making and how she navigates outside of the norms:
It's not a light decision. I've spoken to a counsellor about it at length. It's never easy going against society's norms. I have some medical issues that mean it would be very difficult for me to have a child. Sometimes if I'm feeling judged or questioned I hide behind that, because saying ''I can't have children'' is more acceptable than saying ''I don't want children''.

I admire women who juggle family and career. I agree it's the hardest job in the world. It's not a job I want to put my hand up for.

If pressed on the subject I retort: ''Did you 'just know' you wanted to be a mother? Well I 'just know' I don't.'' I'm sure there are other women who feel the same way as me but don't speak up.

Yes, Shelly, there are plenty of other women who feel the same way as you and they do speak up. Right here.

Flickr Photo by Leoncillo Sabino

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Childess by Choice Project on Campus

When I started screening rough cuts of The Childless by Choice Project documentary to people I would usually be approached at the end of the film by a person with the comment, "This film needs to be shown in schools."

Well I am happy to say that now that the film is finished and is about to be launched into the world that day has finally come. After a few rough cut test screenings in colleges and universities, the finished film is now being shown in colleges and universities in the USA and in Canada.

I am heading up north this week to Madison, Wisconsin where the Sociology department of University of Wisconsin-Madison will host a screening of The Childless by Choice Project on Wednesday, October 19 at 7 p.m. in Room 8417 in the Sewell Social Sciences Building. I will be on hand for the Q & A that follows.

I am planning for more campus screenings in the future, along with home screenings across North America. Check out the Events and Community page of the Childless by Choice Project website for upcoming events and screenings. If you are an educator and would like to host an on-campus screening/Q & A or would like an educational-licensed copy of the DVD for your classroom, department or library, please email for information.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Are Childless Couples More Likely to Divorce?

Are the childless more likely to divorce? This was the question posed to me by Vicki Larson, a journalist for, recently, and it gave me the opportunity to clarify.

She contacted me because she wanted to know why childless couples are more likely to end up divorced than couples with children, and this is how I responded in the subsequent article titled article titled “Are Childless Couples headed for Divorce?”
"Not all the childfree are intentionally childfree couples," Scott discovered…"A good chunk are postponers, those who delay parenthood."

Sometimes couples delay to the point that fertility problems arise. "Then the question of ''When should we have kids?' morphs into 'Should we have kids?" Scott says, forcing couples to explore other ways to have a baby, such as adoption, surrogates or in vitro fertilization (IVF). That, she says, can be extremely stressful and can lead to a fracture that a couple can't get past. In fact, many infertility specialists recommend marital counseling.

"If one partner desperately wants to try to have a child and one partner might not put as high a priority on it, that could be a deal breaker," she says. Often a couple hasn't discussed what point they stop trying -- how much money, how much time, how many procedures. Many women often feel like failures and feel less close to their partners; for many men, the fertility process can turn sex into anything other than pleasure. "I hear from men who say, 'This isn't fun anymore. I feel like I'm sperm on demand,'" Scott says.
What I wanted to express is that childless couples are childless or childfree thorough different pathways--either they have:
1) Intentionally delayed parenthood by taking actions to prevent conception; or
2) Tried to have a child but have not yet conceived, are infertile, or haven’t tried that hard (note the recent media focus on sexless marriages); or
3) Have had a child through live birth or adoption and have lost that child; or
4) Intentionally decided not to have biological children and remained childless through deliberate actions to prevent conception, or through termination of a pregnancy.

If you are childless because of 1), 2), or 3) and you and your partner are not on the same page decision-wise, or in a different stage or mourning or acceptance on the issue of children, there is a risk of a fracture. And if you are childfree because of 4) when both partners had agreed on remaining childless but one partner has since changed his or her mind that can be a serious issue too. In any case, it’s stressful, more so because you have a choice, unlike parents who already have kids and can’t take them back to the store for a refund.

So yes, the childless are more likely to divorce, some because they separate before the kids come along and are thus are not motivated to stay together because of the kids, some because they can’t agree on the number or timing of children, and some divorce for the same reasons couples who have kids get divorced: incompatibility, infidelity, emotional or physical abandonment, whatever.

So can you say that the childless have higher rates of divorce because they don’t have kids? I don’t think so. But I think you can say that some childless couples divorce because they are at odds about how they feel about not having children.

Flickr photo by madmolecule

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some Parents Just Don’t Get It

Melody Moezzi's blog post titled "Childless by CHOICE—Get it?" on the Ms. Magazine site last December elicited over fifty comments, many seconding what Melody wrote in her post:
Not long after we started dating, I informed my husband that if he wanted kids, I wasn’t the girl for him. He thanked me for the heads up and said he could easily do without them as well. Relieved, we continued dating for several years before we got married, both in our early 20s.

From the moment we announced our engagement, the pressure began: “So, when can we expect to see a little Melody or Matthew running around?” Matthew always smiled and changed the subject. I, on the other hand, confronted the question head on. “Never” was my standard response, and it always evoked laugher. Nobody could imagine that someone would choose not to procreate. But we stuck to our guns, and now, in our early 30s, people are slowly realizing that we weren’t kidding.

As a result, many have come to view us differently—as selfish, cold, narcissistic and unwilling to take on responsibility, despite all that we’ve done personally and professionally to counter such claims.
Melody and her husband continued to feel pressure from friends and strangers to have kids even though Melody has been firm and open about the “never.”

However, a woman who posted a comment to this blog challenged Melody suggesting the busybodies Melody documented were “mythical” and that Melody was “an unreliable narrator using exaggeration to get attention for her blog posts.”

This woman could have just been a troll, but her comment set off a flurry of responses from other women who documented their experiences of being pressured and disparaged by parents who just didn’t get it. This is real, they said, this really happens.

Having surveyed and spoken to hundreds of childless by choice people over my years working on The Childless by Choice Project , and having encountered more than a few of them myself, I too can say “yes, it does. The busybodies are real.”

Flickr Photo by Miguel Pires da Rosa

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Adoption Option

Author Stefanie Iris Weiss recently wrote a post titled My Uterus is Officially Closed for Business in HuffPost Living. Is she childfree? No, Stefanie is planning for children:
As a woman who often cries at the sight of infants and coos at her friends' little ones, having biological babies always seemed like an inevitable step. But once I fully wrapped my brain around the relationship of overpopulation to climate change, especially in the West, I made a big decision: I won't bring more kids into the world. I learned that even if I spent the rest of my life recycling, having even one child would increase my carbon legacy by 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide. I still crawl around on the floor with toddlers when given the chance, and go ga-ga for goo-goos, but my uterus is officially closed for business. I'll be adopting kids when the time is right.

When I was interviewing childfree couples and singles for the Childless by Choice Project, I saw a pattern. When I asked the question, “What happens if you change your mind and decide you do want children?” the most common response was “I am not going to change my mind on this.” The second most common response was “I/we will adopt.” This was true even for married women who were still in their fertile years and very likely could have had a biological child if they chose.

There seems to be a movement or shift towards adoption. It used to be the adoption was the last resort for infertile couples, now it appears to be both a viable and desired option for conscious decision makers who are either environmentalists or hold a strong belief that we need to take of the souls who are already on this earth. Or might there be some other motives to adopt? You tell me…

Flickr Photo by nik_donna

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Population Media Center—Drama for Dramatic Change

Population Media Center (PMC) is an international NGO, and a registered charity in the U.S., which is working to educate people about the benefits of small families; elevating the status of women; encouraging use of effective family planning methods; promoting the protection of children from exploitation; and motivating behavior change for avoidance of HIV/AIDS.

The stated mission of the PMC is to: “work with mass media and other organizations worldwide, to bring about stabilization of human population numbers at a level that can be sustained by the world’s natural resources, to lessen the harmful impact of expanding humanity on the earth’s environment and to help large numbers of disadvantaged people live better and move out of poverty.”

Using the Sabido methodology, developed by Miguel Sabido when he was the Vice president of Mexico’s Televisa network, PMC works with media partners around the world to create long-running serialized melodramas, written and produced in local languages, to create compelling characters that are, in time, adopted as positive role models for the audience to bring about changes in social norms on issues that are of concern in that particular country.

In Nigeria, these Sabido dramas have been shown to be highly influential in the reduction in the desired number of children and an increase in condom use. In Ethiopia, listeners of PMC produced radio serial dramas sought HIV tests at 2.5 times the rate of non-listeners. PMC customizes the programs in consultation with their media, government, and NGO partners in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and North America to meet the particular goals of that region or country.

According to the PMC: “The programs incorporate many issues to make them reflective of life in the society rather than single-issue programs. Among the issues most frequently addressed are HIV/AIDS, age of marriage and childbearing, family size and health, contraceptive safety, self-efficacy with regard to childbearing decisions, employment for women outside the home, education of girls, ending abusive child labor, child survival, and conservation of natural resources.”

I normally don’t use this blog as a platform to highlight charities but the work of The Population Media Center is so impactful and amazing to me that I felt the urge to share it with all of you. Feel free to give shout outs to your favorite charities and NGOs here in the comments too!

Photo of actresses in Papua New Guinea recording a radio serial courtesy of PMG

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Truth about Babies and the Economy

Blaire Brody, writing for the Fiscal Times, gave her readers a heads up when she documented the real costs of raising a child. While the U.S. has been hit hard by the recession and everyone is looking for ways to save, the cost of raising a child has continued to climb.

School tuitions, health care, rent, transportation, daycare, and other expenses associated with raising a family have continued to rise but our salaries have not. Here are the sobering numbers:

In 2009, the Department of Agriculture estimated the total before-college cost of raising a child was $286,050 — about $11,700 per year today, and $21,600 a year by the time they’re 18. With college, the cost nearly doubles, not to mention the costs many parents face during a recession, when their college grad shows up at their doorstep expecting to move back in. Housing and child-care were two of the biggest expenses, 31 percent and 17 percent respectively, and 50 percent higher for those who live in urban areas. The U.S. is becoming more urbanized every year — 90 percent of the population is expected to live in cities or suburbs by 2050. For a newborn in New York City, the average family spends up to $16,250 per year on child-care alone.
After steady declines since 2007, the U.S. birth rate has now fallen below replacement rate, and that trend shows no sign of reversal anytime soon. While my research shows that the financial cost of raising a child is not always the most compelling reason to remain childfree, it is a consideration in the decision-making process, particularly for those who have postponed children and then ultimately decide not to have kids.

What about you? Has the cost of raising children in today’s economy influenced your decision making?

Flickr Photo by Hello Turkey Toe

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The No-Baby Boom

This recent article from has people buzzing and tweeting. Not just because of the solid reporting and the cool charts but also because of the humor.

Brian Frazer, the writer of this piece, tongue-in-cheek, reports on the increasing costs of raising kids, particularly in a society that values conspicuous consumption. He writes “you can get a vasectomy at Planned Parenthood for less than the cost of a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller.” This shouldn’t be funny, but it is.

The Childfree trend not just an American trend as Frazer points out:
One Italian mayor has resorted to bribery to restock his town, offering couples $15,000 for each child they produce. Germany's baby shortage results in an annual population loss of 100,000. And the sheep-to-human ratio in New Zealand, which currently stands at 10 to 1, seems sure to increase, since a staggering 18 percent of adult men there have elected to get vasectomies.
In the past an article like this, heralding the trend of voluntary childlessness, would illicit dozens of comments predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Yet, the comments posted here seem to be much more thoughtful and less fearful. Could it be that we have turned a corner, to a place where we welcome the impact of lower birth rates?

Flickr Photo by FS999

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is coming out as childfree like coming out as gay?

This is the question posed by Lisa Hymas, senior editor at in a recent article. I had to ponder this question for just a few seconds before nodding yes. There are some similarities because there is still stigma attached to being childless by choice, maybe not as much stigma as being gay in our society, but stigma all the same. It all has to do about the assumptions our society holds and the judgments we make about what is good or bad for society.

In a November 2010 TIME article titled Marriage: What's It Good For? results from a Pew Center Research survey showed that 29 percent of the U.S. persons polled felt that more women never having children was “bad for society.” Forty-three percent of those surveyed thought that more gay and lesbian couples raising children was bad for society. So gay and lesbian couples raising kids is obviously perceived by more folks as “bad for society” than women not having kids. However as Lisa Hymas has observed:

While LGBT people face more vehement and vicious prejudice than the childfree, they can, if they choose, ultimately lead more conventional lives. Their families won't look like the Cleavers, but they can have what many people would at least recognize as a family, following the traditional parent-with-child pattern. We childfree people, in contrast, are messing with the notion of family in a way that's perhaps even more fundamental.

Maybe that's why gays actually seem to be further along in gaining social acceptance than the childfree. In my urban milieu, no one skips a beat or lifts an eyebrow if you say you're gay, but people do often frown or avert their eyes or awkwardly change the subject if you say you've decided not to have kids -- if they don't tell you what you're missing and try to get you to change your mind.

Take, as a pop-cultural example, the Sex and the City 2 movie. Carrie Bradshaw and the gang are having a gay old time at Stanford and Anthony's big, fat, same-sex wedding when a woman starts interrogating Carrie and hubbie Mr. Big about when they're going to have kids. "It's just not for us," Carrie responds. "So it's just going to be the two of you?" she asks, voice dripping with pity and disdain. Flamboyant gay lifestyle: A-OK. Heterosexual couple deciding to forego parenting: deviant.

A stranger’s reaction to our status in one thing but the real acid test for testing the level of stigma or perceived deviance is how our immediate family reacts to our contently childfree status. As Hymas points out: “Coming out as gay or lesbian might hit your parents hard at first, but at least you can still give them grandkids!” Flickr photo by Sea Turtle

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marcia Drut-Davis—68 Years and No Regrets

Marcia emailed me to share her story and I knew I had to talk to her and learn more. Here’s an excerpt of her email to me:

I’m smiling seeing the direction of [your] project. In 1974, I was one of those interviewed on a “60 Minutes” segment. I was the President of the Long Island Chapter of NON. I announced my decision not to have children.

The next day, I lost my job as a passionate teacher.

My life was threatened, as was the life of my dog. I faced angry pickets at a high school where I was asked to speak. All this, because I dared to say I chose not to parent.

In 1974, you kept that to yourself. I’m now 68. I’ve just finished a memoir. I’m excited that I finally feel I’m being recognized as a woman who made a choice right for me and who has a message about this important choice.

When I followed up with Marcia by phone, she told me she used to wonder if indeed something was wrong with her, if she was a “genetic mutation.” But she set that thought aside and continued to follow her passions. She remarried and her name changed and she was able to re-apply for a teaching job and was later nominated by her peers as “Teacher of the Year.” She continued to be involved in the Long Island chapter of the renamed “National Alliance for Optional Parenting” and is now very active in a Humanist organization in her home state of Florida.

She admits she occasionally felt pangs of longing when she would witness what she calls “Kodak Moments”—those times when proud parents celebrate their children’s accomplishments or transitions at Bat or Bar Mitzvahs, but whenever she was asked “Do you wish you had kids?” her response is “No, thank you.”

Her plate is full: full of life, love, and the young women she has taught over the years whom she calls her “daughter-friends” who still call her up for advice. To Marcia, life remains “delicious.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is it Selfish Not to Have Kids? A Parent’s Perspective

Kudos to Trent Hamm, a parent who tacked the prickly question “Is it selfish not to have kids?” in a blog post on Christian Science

It was so refreshing to read a post from a parent who was willing to acknowledge that although he knew going in that kids were going to be expensive and that being a parent would be a challenge he chose to have children because he “deeply want[ed]” the experience of being a parent.

I love this guy because he took ownership of his “want” and didn’t wear his parent role as a cloak of martyrdom or as a way to be holier than thou. For him parenthood was simply a personal goal, something he was drawn to and wanted to succeed at.

“For me, the price of being a parent is one I’m willing to pay, because being a parent is something I’m intrinsically driven to do.” He has also noticed that “other people don’t have that drive.”

I found myself nodding in agreement as Hamm summed up his beliefs:

My belief is that if you don’t wish to have children, don’t have children. If you think that children are more trouble than they’re worth, you probably should not have children.

I also believe that if you feel driven to have a child, you should do everything you can to prepare to be the best parent you can be. This means spending the time to really figure out who you are, how to control your emotions, how to teach, and most mportantly, how to be patient.

The world needs both parents and non-parents. There is a lot of societal value in a wide range of skills, abilities, and thoughts. I absolutely feel that being a parent is a noble choice, but that does not imply that DINKs are not making a noble choice. They’re making a different one in line with their values, goals, and talents.

Very Cool.

Flickr Photo by RealEstateZebra

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Aimee’s Letter to Self

My friend and contributor Teri Tith received an email from Aimee from Australia. She had found the Purple Woman Blog (which Teri founded and I contributed to) and wanted Teri to know how she had been inspired by the posts.

Like many women and men who anticipate children in their lives but end up childless she was in the process of re-framing her perception of a childless life. She shared with us her “letter to herself” which was so touching and inspiring we knew we needed to share this letter with you. Here is an excerpt:
Today is the beginning of a new outlook on life. This weekend we made the decision to not continue on the IVF path. Not next year. Not ever. For me it is also a conscious decision not to continue on the ‘infertility’ path. That may sound strange, because technically we will remain, by definition, ‘infertile’. But today, and every day from now on, this is not how we define ourselves.

Spending our emotional energy, our time and our money trying to bring ‘something’ into our life implies that there is something missing. And that is what has kept us on the IVF rollercoaster and turned both of us – I guess me especially – into anxious and (if I’m being honest with myself) at times unhappy people. What I have come to realise this week is that there is nothing missing. We have a loving, fun, deeply committed relationship and we have a choice to make. So many of our choices have been made for us that I almost forgot the one we can still make – we can choose not to define ourselves by what we don’t have. We can choose to get off the emotional rollercoaster that is IVF. We can choose to embrace a different life. Not a lesser life, but a different one…maybe even a fuller one.

Yesterday I read that ‘There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else.’ Something about this blog excerpt resonated with me because, deep down, I know that I have something significant to contribute to this world. And I know that we both can make a mark, as individuals or as a couple. And that mark isn’t going to be children. But it will be something just as meaningful.

In the past, I was so sad that our beautiful love would never be reflected in a child. What I am focused on now is nurturing and protecting that love and having fun with it. There are other things that our love will be weaved into. We might volunteer overseas together… we might give something back in a way that others can’t. Importantly, we can move forward without resentment of other people’s fortune, because we are going to be fortunate in other ways. We are going to feel fulfilled and satisfied and free. We are going to make a difference. We are going to focus our energies on our marriage, on our own identities and passions, and on our friends – some that we have, some that we will meet. Most importantly, we will feel whole and happy because we have a deep love that we can spend every day investing our time and energy into and nothing will compromise that.

Flickr Photo by Donovan Beeson

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Parenthood and Mental Health

As I was cleaning up my office I came across an article from 2006 I had printed out when I was doing the research for Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice. It’s titled “Parenthood Ups Mental Illness Risk” and was written by Jasmine Karalakulasingam, M.D. a medical reporter for ABC News.

As I read this article, which reported a higher risk of mental illness during the first three months after birth, I was thinking why don’t people talk about this?

In 2003 actress Brooke Shields went public with her crippling post-partum depression but when I attended birth classes with a young woman I was mentoring that same year I didn’t hear any warnings of the mental heath risks of parenthood. The nurse who was teaching the class warned about post-partum infection, breast-feeding challenges, and what to expect when you bring your newborn home but not a thing about being alert for signs of mental distress or illness.

Shortly after I had re-read this article I received an email from a woman who admitted that although she felt, even as a young child, that she didn’t want children when she got married she thought she might change her mind and discussed the possibility of having a child with her husband, who had a daughter from a previous relationship. But her mind did not change and after finding out she was pregnant she knew that she couldn’t handle the stress of birthing and raising a child.

“The thought of being a parent actually scared the hell out of me,” she admits. “I did not want to be pregnant or keep the child. It was in that moment I knew that I did not want to be a parent and I knew that my mental health would not survive having a child as I suffer from depression and general anxiety disorder.”

After discussing it with her husband they decided to terminate the pregnancy, and he arranged to have a vasectomy so they wouldn’t have to worry about birth control. They now have custody of his seventeen-year-old daughter “working through the challenges of teenage life.” She feels they made the right choice for them even though she still hears things like ‘You’re still young, it’s different when they are your own,’ but she knows that it won’t be different because she knows how the stressors of step-parenthood have impacted her mental well-being and her life: “To this day, I do not regret my choice and I believe my marriage is better off for it. I know my mental health is better for it.”

Whether you agree with this woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy, or not, what are your thoughts on her consideration of her mental health in the process of her decision-making? Is this something you have considered in your fertility decision making?

Flickr Photo by Giarose

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Changing Roles of Women

Back in August of 2009, I posted a piece here on this blog about women who became the breadwinners for their family during this recent recession. Not so long ago, in the 50’s in many middle-class and affluent communities, it was considered shameful for a man to have a wife who was a working women. Even a woman who was working part time was tsk-tsked in bridge parlors and country clubs, “Did you hear about Betty? She is selling Avon. Can you imagine? I guess Bob’s business is not as successful as he makes it out to be…”

This attitude seems quaint now when women make up so much of the work force and contribute so much to our economic growth through their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. Yet I don’t think we’ve fully grasped the implications of this dramatic shift on gender roles, women’s empowerment and financial security, family structure and dynamics, and reproductive decision making.

I suspect that a recent report issued by National Economic Council in the United States titled Jobs and Economic Security for Women will prompt some awareness and actions. In the executive summary of this report, issued by The White House Press Office, the following is highlighted:

• Women are a growing share of our workforce, our entrepreneurs, and our innovators. As the majority of college graduates and nearly 50 percent of the workforce, women are in a position to drive our 21st century economy.

• An increasing number of women are breadwinners for their families. In almost two-thirds of families led by single mothers or two parents, women are either the primary or co-breadwinner. In two-parent families, with the wage gap and the loss of jobs traditionally held by men in this economy, reliance on a woman’s income in their family budget is even greater.

• Since women are nearly 50 percent of the workforce, the recession’s economic impacts on women are even more consequential for the economy than they would have been in past recessions. As a result of the recession that started in December of 2007, women have lost jobs and seen their median annual earnings fall. Further, women have faced increased economic insecurity as housing prices declined and states and municipalities have cut back on the provision of social services.

• Women face a number of longer-term challenges such as the wage gap and female underrepresentation in higher levels of management. Further, specific groups of women like single mothers, older women and minorities face additional challenges.

When I am asked, as the author of Two Is Enough and producer of the Childless by Choice Project documentary, “Why are women choosing to delay or forgo children altogether?,” I respond with the list of most compelling motives I uncovered during my research and then I typically add my observation that increasingly women’s security in the world is tied to their ability to be breadwinners rather than bread bakers. The June Cleaver ideal of the apron-clad mom busying herself in the kitchen while Dad climbs the corporate ladder is just so…dated.

Photo Courtesy of Cornell University Library

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: Year the Childfree Go Mainstream

Thank you Lisa Hymas for writing such a great article for
2010: The year childfree went mainstream (thanks, Oprah!)

It's true! When Oprah outs herself as happily childfree in a Barbara Walters interview, the childfree are definitely put on the map.

This is the best gift I have received this Christmas!