Friday, October 26, 2012

Pressure to Have Kids: For Childfree Women, Reasons & Religion Matter


"Still, there are some interesting tidbits in the study, which surveyed 1,200 childless American women.

• Highly religious women perceived fewer average social messages stressing the importance of having children compared with less religious women.

• Hispanic and African-American women were least likely to be voluntarily childfree, but were most likely to have “biomedical fertility barriers” (i.e. infertility).

• The average age of women who were childfree by choice was about four years older than the average age of those with biomedical barriers and about six years older than childless women with “situational barriers” (financial concerns, education or job demands, lack of a partner).

• Family income was highest among voluntarily childfree women and lowest among women with fertility issues."

Without Children, Who Will Be There to Provide Care?
"Now that I’m of an age when mortality is more than just a vague, faraway notion, childlessness has taken on a different meaning. To be childless in a culture that revolves around family and children means that, to a certain extent, you’re on the outside looking in.
. . .
The feeling of being an outsider is most keen when I am with a group of women. I am an oddity. The ones with children cannot imagine a life without. The unasked question hangs in the air: “You don’t have children because — —?” The implication is that if I chose a life without children, I am cold. If I can’t have children, I am to be pitied. "

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

After hearing the New Yorkers call in, some of our readers may understand why I don't see myself as representative of the childfree experience. It really is pretty common and normal here. I'm halfway through Ms. Valenti's book right now, and the political is very much on my mind. I don't envy feminist mothers forced to choose between the all-consuming-mothering paradigm and the desire to maintain a sense of self. You just can't win. Either you relegate yourself into a pre-feminist role of second-citizen status, or you don't love your kids enough to sacrifice for them. I think that is because we don't question the notion that kids should always come first - even if the cost to the mom is higher than the benefit to children. The book suggests that we fetishize motherhood as a unique bond partly to discourage women from roles in the public sphere. If the holy rites of motherhood are so much better for the child than is time with other caregivers, it gives us license to tell women to make the home their domain without admitting that's where we prefer them anyway.
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