|Women in all walks of life are forced to bear children whether or not they want to / Photo by: Tatyana Tomsickova via 123RF|
Women in all walks of life are forced to bear children whether or not they want to. Women have been raised to believe that the value of their womanhood depends on their marital status or if they will have children. However, today’s women are resisting.
While having a family to come home to every day is extremely satisfying for some, a lot of women don’t see this as their destiny. According to Market Watch, an online site that provides the latest stock market, financial and business news, the 2018 National Center for Health Statistics report showed the growing reluctance to procreate. The report revealed that 2017 saw the lowest number of births in three decades, seeing a decrease of 2 percent from 2016. Also, the fertility rate for women aged 15 to 44 declined by 3 percent from 2016 to 60.2 births per 1,000 women.
Aside from that, market research company Morning Consult reported that 36 percent of adults aged 20 to 45 stated that they didn’t want children or were unsure because they wanted leisure time; 34 percent haven’t found a partner; 31 percent can’t afford childcare, and 30 percent had no desire for children. The 2012 National Health Statistics Report “Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15-44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth” revealed that 80 percent of unmarried women are childless while 81 percent plan or hope to have children one day.
These reports show that women have been trying to remove the burden of motherhood from their shoulders for so long. Whatever their reasons are, it is only fair that they are allowed to decide on their own. If a woman wants to have kids, let them be. If they don't, that's fine, too. However, the latter isn't always easy.
Choosing to Be Childfree
Not wanting to have children is not a new concept. Since the 1970s, the childfree movement has been advocating for this cause. This was alongside the zero population growth and second-wave feminist movements. During those years, the Organization for Non-Parents (NON), dedicated to promoting childfree living as “both socially respectable and politically responsible choice,” was established by feminist Ellen Peck and environmental activist Shirley Radl.
According to WBUR.org, a public radio station located in Boston, Massachusetts, the organization faced resistance to their ideas and beliefs. The choice to not have kids was misunderstood and unaccepted. However, while childfree people are not all the same today, research shows that they all share several common interests and concerns. For instance, they enjoy having some spaces reserved for adults only. They also want equal access to work/life balance and a range of reproductive health services, including permanent methods of birth control and abortion.
Psychotherapist Zoe Krupka stated that being childfree is a conscious decision by women not based on infertility, chance, or circumstances beyond her control. Research shows that the reasons they choose not to have children are multifaceted and complex. This includes health concerns, a lack of maternal instinct, overpopulation and the climate crisis, and a desire for independence and freedom.
|Not wanting to have children is not a new concept. Since the 1970s, the childfree movement has been advocating for this cause / Photo by: Elnur Amikishiyev via 123RF|
Some women don’t feel connected to parenthood, which others are not open to understanding. For instance, 31-year-old Mikaela Fleisher from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, stated that motherhood never felt natural. According to USA Today, an online site that delivers current local and national news, Fleisher said that caring for herself without also caring for a child works best for her life.
"I have never felt drawn to have children of my own. Just because society tells us that we should grow up, get married and have children does not mean that it's the right thing for everyone to do,” she said.
Brady Hamilton, a statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics, stated that a lot of women nowadays are choosing higher education and career opportunities over the high costs of raising a child. It was estimated that the cost of raising a child is $233,610, excluding college tuition. They see children as a financial concern. Other women worry about their own mental health issues, since many of them cannot take their medications for depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
Unmarried Women Without Children are Happier
Some people might wonder what kind of life these childfree women have. They might be alone and lonely. Studies show otherwise. Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, conducted a study revealing that women who don’t have children are happier and healthier compared to their married peers. He argued that marriage or children – traditional milestones which are seen as a mark of a successful or accomplished life – didn’t always equate to happiness.
According to Bustle, the premier digital destination for young women, Dolan questioned married, unmarried, divorced, separated, and widowed individuals on their levels of happiness. He concluded that “the healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”
For so long, women have been faced with the pressure to find a partner, settle down, and have children. All of this may sometimes lead to unnecessary stress or unhappiness. Women shouldn’t be shamed or stigmatized for the decisions they make, especially if these decisions have to do with their bodies. They have the right to decide what will make them happy and what will satisfy them.
|Some people might wonder what kind of life these childfree women have. They might be alone and lonely. Studies show otherwise / Photo by: Dmitrii Shironosov via 123RF|