Sunday, August 3, 2014

Childfree Women will be at the Forefront of a Creative, Cultural Renaissance, says Futurist

Faith Popcorn, a New York –based Futurist Marketing expert and author, says the SHEvolution is coming and childfree women will be taking the lead, redefining family, exploiting their gifts, following their passions. Here is an excerpt of her Huffington Post article:

With more opportunities in education and careers, women are eschewing traditional family structures. The old "college, marriage, home-ownership, then parenthood" sequence has been shaken up, turned upside-down, and transformed. We are customizing our own life timelines to do what satisfies us at a particular moment. 

Women are opting to have kids later: The number of children born to women 35+ has increased 150 percent, and egg-freezing is up 28 percent. Soon, egg-freezing will be a commonplace graduation gift for young women starting their careers.

Many of us are choosing not to have kids at all. The number of women between age 40 and 44 who remain childless has doubled in a generation. In 1976, it was one out of 10; by 2006, it was one in five. More and more women will decide that children are not for them. 
We call this group Childfree by Choice or CxC. These females shatter the stereotype that not having kids is sad, shameful or pitiable. Because they are free to spend more time focusing on their own goals, CxC women will be at the forefront of a cultural creative renaissance, starting more companies, leading more social initiatives, creating newer and better solutions. They are becoming the envied class.
When my book Two is Enough was published in 2009, there was still significant stigma associated with childlessness, chosen or otherwise. However as more women delay or forgo parenthood, they will be increasingly be recognized for their contributions outside of the role of mother.

In recent years, Female entrepreneurs drove the economic recovery here in the U.S. as they started new companies and grew existing ones. They continue to be in control of the “purse strings,” but now the purse has turned into a portfolio. Women under age 30 earn, on average, more than their male peers in the U.S. A. and they are savvy investors.

They bought homes, got degrees, and were voted into office. They retired then began again, in an “encore” career (some of them as volunteers) making a difference in their communities and ensuring their legacy as women leaders, business people, professionals, educators, philanthropists, humanitarians and humans BEing.

As I always say, in reference to the demographic we call the childfree by choice, “this is a trend, not an aberration. This is not a ripple, this is a wave; a cultural tsunami.

Are you going to going to nod and take notes or are you going to get on your board and surf this?!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Studies Don't Support Pope Francis' Opinion that Childless Folks are Destined for a Life of Loneliness

The Two Is Enough Facebook page blew up over comments made by Pope Francis saying that couples should have kids instead of pets and vacation villas or they will be destined for a life of loneliness.


"Where's my villa?!" asked some. "Why doesn't he take his own advice?" asked others. "St. Francis loved animals, why can't we!?" All legitimate responses, for sure. However, the best response came from an excellent article from Amanda Marcotte writing for the Daily Beast which makes the very strong case that Pope Francis' assumptions about a childfree life just don't hold up under scrutiny.


Here's an excerpt:
My first instinct, as a deliberately childless person myself, upon reading Pope Francis’s remarks was to think, “If you think having children is so important, then why don’t you go first?” But while sarcasm is a satisfying hobby, it’s perhaps better to look to empirical science to answer the question of whether or not it’s actually true that childless people will be punished with loveless marriages and age into loneliness.
Luckily, there’s been a lot of research into both those questions. In fact, the question of whether or not having kids makes marriages happier or not is one that has been looked at again and again, to the point where you start to wonder if they’re trying to get a different result this time. The answer keeps coming back the same: Childless couples have happier marriages, on average.
Or, to be more specific, studies that measure the day-to-day satisfaction of parents shows that satisfaction with your marriage starts to decline rapidly when you have your first baby, goes up and down with the stresses of child-rearing (with a particular low point around adolescence), but it stays relatively low, only rising again after the kids move out of the house. The daily grind of child-rearing and the stress of sharing responsibility seem to be a big part of it. That may explain why mothers are less happy than fathers. After all, they spend more of their time with the children.
And, on the loneliness question, Marcotte writes:
Nor is it true that childless people are doomed, as the pope warned, to be lonely and sad in their old age. A 2003 study that looked specifically at this question found that having children was no guarantee against loneliness in old age. After surveying nearly 4,000 people ages 50 to 84, researchers found no difference in the loneliness rates of people with children and people without children. Common sense should suggest the same. Relying on a phone call a week from your kids is hardly a panacea for loneliness. Non-lonely seniors are usually the ones with plenty of friends, and being able to make friends isn’t dependent on your status as a parent or not.

I have reported on most of these studies, and more, on this blog, so if you still aren't convinced that childfree people report greater happiness and well-being than their peers with children, just dig a bit deeper in the archives of this blog.


And if you want children, that's good. You can still be happy if you choose and BONUS! you will have the blessing of the Pope.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Whose Side Are You On?

Our Guest Blogger, Melanie Holmes, offers her perspective as a mother who chooses to respect a woman's choices rather than pick sides. Holmes writes:


BeyoncĂ© is not “feminist enough.”

bell hooks is “too feminist.”

Some women are not “mom enough” because they don’t wear their babies, breastfeed, or co‑sleep. 

Others are not “woman enough” because they don’t want motherhood.

When are we going to refrain from trying to define what “fulfilled” or “happy” looks like for each other? 

I am a mother of a teenage daughter whose life is spread out before her, and I absolutely refuse to define “happiness” for her.    

Happiness is subjective.  Calista* always dreamed of being a teacher.  What she didn’t dream of was being a mom.  Calista doesn’t volunteer her thoughts on this topic because she feels embarrassed by the reactions she receives.  Knowing I’m a mother who believes in the right of every woman to decide if motherhood is the right path, Calista remarked, “I’m so glad there are people like you on our side.” 

Because of my refusal to espouse one side or the other, the book I’ve been writing for three years was passed over by a major publisher who thought I needed to pick a side.  However, that would defeat my entire thesis, which is:  We need to equip females with the facts and then give them the freedom to decide if they want motherhood.  What makes my voice unique is that I am a mom.

Often, women who are moms espouse sentiments such as, “My life was meaningless until I became a mom.”  But do women really mean this or are they gushing about the love they feel for their children?

I have interviewed/polled 200 women, mostly in the U.S.  Overwhelmingly, women hold assumptions about other women – that down deep, women who aren’t moms miss out on the quintessential female experience.  But assumptions are discrete from words.  Only half the moms said they would cajole their daughters toward motherhood if they heard ambivalence.  The other half said they would respect their daughters’ journey.  One mom said, “Motherhood is too personal a choice for me to interfere.” 

Dating to the 18th century, mothers have fought for women’s rights, such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Charlotte Perkins Gillman.  Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was…broken-hearted with the…injustice I saw.”  She was referring to the slave trade, and babies torn from their mothers’ arms.  20th-century activist Tillie Olsen spoke out against the silencing of voices of those disadvantaged by gender, class and race. 

Madelyn Cain joined her voice to Wollstonecraft, Perkins, Stowe, and Olsen by writing The Childless Revolution in 2001.  Cain shed a light on the realities of 21st century women who are not mothers ‑‑ that they are not selfish people living empty loveless lives.    

Words matter.  And it matters who says the words. 

I add my name to the list of mothers who wish to speak up for women’s rights as a way of paving a smoother road for their daughters.  By fighting for justice for all women, my daughter will benefit.

My husband and I are cautious of the scripts we use.  Rather than saying to our daughter, “When you have a child…” we say, “If you ever have a child…”  I want her to hear the things I never considered while growing into the woman that I am.  This is not to say that I regret being a mom.  But that’s my journey.  And it may not be my daughter’s.  After all, she’s only 16. 

As women come to grips with how much the world has changed over the past few decades, they also need to come to grips with each other.  This is not dodge ball.  We shouldn’t divvy up sides.  As women, we should all be on the same side.


* Name has been changed.




Photo Credit: R.L. Holmes
 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Over 40 and No Regrets!

They said you would change your mind. They said when you got older you would regret it.
This is what we childfree folks hear all the time but studies and anecdotal evidence, including my original research for the Childless by Choice Project, tells a different story.

Like the experience of this over-40 couple living in Canada, where the majority of married couples live in "child-free" households. Here is what Barbara Fletcher, a happily-married childfree woman, writing for YZ, had to say:
It’s a tough thing to say out loud: I’m a happy non-mom. I grew up in an era where life’s end goal was to find wedded bliss and have a family, and an awkward procreation question can still surface when meeting new people at parties. Being a non-mom can feel peculiar when 99 percent of your friends are parents — and really great ones: the kind of attentive, loving moms and dads who pour all of their energy into making their children’s lives enriched and, well, pretty damned amazing.
I suspect that I’m the kind of person that married parents might not want to hear about: married, on the other side of 40, childless and happy . Not happy because I am childless, but happy in my childless life.
Being happy is largely a choice we make as we make conscious decisions about what we do or think. Happiness is not conditional on the number of children you bring into the world. 

Unless you make it so...


Monday, February 10, 2014

"Not a Mother" Mindfulness

Last month a received an email from Maaike, a woman from the Netherlands who shared one of her blog posts with me.
I was very impressed and touched by the way she honored her decision not to have children. I will share an excerpt here and invite you to click here to see the whole post:
"Everywhere I go, everywhere I am, I set up altars for the woman in me who will not be with child and will not give birth to a child. A choice. My choice. Every day I take a little bow to this choice and to the woman that I am today. And every day I check with myself if this choice still feels right, making sure that this is my path - that this is my life I need and want to live. Then I take a deep look in my husband’s eyes – he is inextricably linked to the choice that I made – and I know it’s right. I won’t wake up one day regretting this choice and blame him or myself for it. 
"Honoring the importance of this choice I decided to make this choice every single day all over again. But it is since a little while that it feels different. It's not just a choice anymore. It's changed into the realization that I will not become a mother for sure. Not only because it's my choice, but also because I am a woman of 39 and I truly feel that I am too old to become a mother. After losing a close friend earlier this year – this new awareness hit me really hard.

"I share all of this with you my fellow sister, because I need you and other women to read this - to know this. This is important. Choosing to become a mother is a choice for the rest of your life but so is the choice to not become a mother. Regret is too high a price to pay - either way."
I, too, reaffirm my decision not to have children even though that option for me is past. It feels good to check in with myself again, and again, and know it still is the right decision for me. How about you?




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Valquiria's Story

I recently received an email from a woman who wanted to share her personal story about what can happen when you say "Yes" to starting a family when your heart and mind says "No."
To protect her privacy, we agreed we to use a pseudynom. This is Valquiria's story:
I’ve been married for 16 years and my husband and I live in Brazil. My husband always knew about my lack of interest in having children, but both of us thought, over the years, that something would awake in me that would make me want to be the mother of his kids. But that day never came. What came was his invitation to start trying seriously for a pregnancy because he wanted so badly to be a dad.
For fear of losing him, I relented.
The first time I had a delay in menstruation, I panicked.  I had never felt so sorry for a decision. I told my husband what was happening; that I was scared and it was not the time for me to be a mom. Fortunately, it was only a false alarm. But then I made my real mistake: once again, for fear of losing his love,  I let him think we would continue trying.
Meanwhile,as my true self continued manifesting, my husband showed me, excitedly, kid and maternity stuff, but that only made me want to run away and to be closer to my animals ( yes, I am a rescuer ). Time passed by, and the dreaded and inevitable questioning came. In a painful conversation, I told him I had agreed to try for children just for love – my love for him. Well, it happened that he did not take it well. I went through a long ordeal of psychological abuse and maltreatment. I had to hear very hard and offensive things, like “I’m wasting my time with you”, “I’m not nice to you because you don’t give me children”, “this is not a real marriage” and so on.
Apparently after some sort of inner struggle, he decided he would stay with me anyway. I don’t know whether this is a permanent decision for him. I’ve NEVER regretted my choice. I don’t want to parent ANYONE. However, it’s been a long journey to regain my self-confidence; and I’m having a hard time trying to be okay with the fact that I HAVE to consider and love myself more than anyone else. My feelings hurt not because I might, later in my life, regret not having sons and daughters, but because I’m breaking his heart.
I’m a 40 year old healthy woman. I got married for love and for love only. Contrary to what people think, choosing a childfree life doesn’t make me a bad or selfish person; it just means I have the courage to be true to myself. And this is priceless. If I could be of any help to anyone passing through a similar situation, I’d gladly help. We all have our reasons for not having kids.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Kids Don't Make Me Happy

I have to give Kudos! to Matt Walsh, a Canadian blogger and father of twins for writing this post My Kids Don't Make Me Happy

As a life and leadership coach who specializes in decision-making (including reproductive), I always say "One choice or the other will not make you happy. Happiness is a choice."
Matt made this point: 
My kids don't make my happiness. That isn't their job. My happiness isn't a responsibility that falls on their tiny little shoulders. Kids come into this world helpless, naked and needing, yet so many of us immediately shove them into the Happiness Factory and bark commands. "Get on the assembly line and build me some happiness! Quick! Do your duty, sir!" This is precisely why many mommies and daddies are NOT very happy people. Many are lost, confused and disappointed. They are anything but happy because they were fooled into thinking that they didn't conceive a human -- they conceived a little happiness generator. They were fooled, in many instances, by parents who know better.

Yeah, you have heard those parents. I call them the parenthood lobbyists. They say "it's the best thing..." or "You are missing out..." but they are only telling part of the story. The trick is to tune the lobbyists out and focus on what you really want and what your partner really wants. Then, whatever you choose, whatever the outcome, you can still choose to be happy.