Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

We, the Majority March 12, 2012

The cover of last week’s TIME magazine (March 12, 2012) boasted “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life.” As I read about Idea #1, how living alone is the new norm, I was surprised to come across these words:

“According to 2011 census data, people who live alone–nearly 33 million Americans–make up 28% of all U.S. households, which means they are now tied with childless couples as the most prominent residential family type.”

So, by my math, at least 56 percent of us don’t have children, and similar figures were shown for Canada, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Japan, Russia and South Africa. Whether we are single or part of a couple, we are more prevalent than traditional nuclear families.

Boy, it sure doesn’t feel like it, does it?

I have to say I was surprised to see these figures. But as childless, childfree, unchilded people (whatever you want to call us) we are, in fact, the norm.

Knowing this is not going to change people’s attitudes, at least not just yet, but if anyone should tell you that being childfree isn’t normal, feel free to whip out these numbers and set them straight.


It Got Me Thinking…About the Answer to the Question April 18, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

My book club recently read Rhoda Janzen’s hilarious memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. Janzen is childfree, and in an interview included in the back of her book, she was asked if this was a difficult choice. She begins by sharing that her then-husband’s bipolar disorder was a factor, not only the risk of passing his condition on to the next generation, but also because they felt they “couldn’t provide a stable parenting environment.” Certainly very sound reasoning. Then she took her answer a bit deeper, and this is what blew me away:

You know what troubles me? The notion that we should reproduce just because we can. Seems to me we should be able to articulate some proactive, deliberated reasons for bringing a child into the world. When women cite their biological clock[s], I wonder if they’ve thought that out. Shouldn’t human beings assess their biological urges as well as admit them? What if we’re having babies to feel less lonely, more needed? If so, we’re using someone to make us feel better about ourselves. That’s a little creepy.

I’m one of those women who “assessed” and, for many well-considered reasons, decided motherhood would not be the appropriate path for me. It stuns me that other people, and our baby-obsessed society at large, still frown upon this process, this logic. “Creepy,” indeed.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.