Thursday, February 08, 2007

Emergence of the Childfree Community; Extremes are More Often Covered By Media

This is an old article from 2005.

Are the childfree a fast-growing, misunderstood movement — or just a bunch of mean ol’ kid haters?
Deciding not to bear the fruit of your loins is nothing new, but within the last five years the childfree community has begun to band together, largely through online support groups.
. . .
Reasons for choosing this lifestyle can range from personal to pecuniary. In a recent study conducted by economist Amalia Miller of the University of Virginia, a woman in her 20s can expect to increase her lifetime wages by 10 percent for each year she delays giving birth.

Who are the voluntarily childless? Numerous research studies have revealed that most couples who choose not to reproduce are well-educated, are employed in a professional field, have high incomes, are generally white, live in urban areas and are less religious than their child-bearing counterparts.
The article goes on to describe the No Kidding!, the Detroit chapter and quote its members on different topics.
Childfree people also lament what they feel is preferential treatment given to those with kids. Debra Mollen is an assistant professor of psychology at Texas Women’s University, and conducted an extensive study on childfree women. She found many of her subjects were expected to work longer hours than co-workers who were mothers.

“Pregnant women get preferential parking, those without children are expected to work longer hours, people with children get tax breaks,” Mollen says. “There’s social sanctioning for having children.”
. . .
Some media have eagerly jumped on the more outspoken of the childfree set, the “hardcore” contingent.
. . .
Dennis Byrne of the Chicago Tribune recently wrote a column expressing his empathy to the childfree: “Aw, poor babies.” The self-proclaimed “Primo Breeder” then went on to say that “having children is both a blessing and a great service to society, perhaps one of life’s greatest. Raising children is vastly more important (and difficult) work than childless couples planning a winetasting.”

Web designer Brenda Smith, who’s 26, childfree and living in Novi, says of such criticism, “Sometimes it’s easier to go with ‘childhater’ rather than someone who decides this as a choice. It’s something to get people angry about, which makes a better story.”
. . .
Though there certainly is a small segment of the childfree community that does, in fact, loathe and detest all children, many more childfree people say that’s not the case. “I have a 13-year-old nephew who’s like a son to me,” Johnson-Bignotti says. “Few of us who call ourselves childfree are completely free of children in our lives — we just choose not to parent.”

Parents sometimes invade online childfree communities to lecture or insult the denizens, causing white-hot flame wars. In turn, many childfree boards post stories about neglected or abused children as proof that not all parents are such selfless angels.
It's a long article, and I have quoted enough. Suffice it to say that the journalist seems to be commenting on how the media comments. Good thing it was only the one time, or I'd be out of business. Well, not really.

Media focuses on the outspoken hardcore contingent, opposition creates flame war online. There is nothing new or unique about this. It is less a function of the parenting and childfree communities, and more a function of society in general, and specifically the way interaction on the internet goes. Anonymous forums = more divisive speech.

The article also goes on to cover the idea that you can be 'childfree from birth'. This is not unlikely, although many of us do not realize or articulate these feelings when young (some do). I think the number of childfree people who have been told of the existence of childfreedom for the first time and responded "Wait, you can do that?" are a further testament to this possibility.

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