Saturday, August 4, 2012

More of us are ‘Married without children’

I am part of a growing percentage of women in the United States who have never had children. Another of those women, Deborah Petersen, shares her experience of being “Married without children” at
“For nearly 40 years, the U.S. Census has been tracking a steady increase in the percentage of women who, like me, have never had children. In 2010, 47 percent of American women between ages 15 and 44 were childless. Some of these would-be mothers arrive there by design and never second-guess their decision to forgo diapers and baby monitors. Others feel more ambiguous, just as happy to use their extra bedroom as an office instead of a baby room. Some, sadly, are devastated that they will never be thrown a baby shower or tuck their child into bed.
“I fall somewhere in the middle. There’s no dramatic explanation for why I do not have children. I wasn’t trying to make a statement about feminism or the world’s population explosion, nor was I protecting my future offspring from some hereditary disease. It was not so much a choice as a lapse.”
I appreciate Petersen’s candor in sharing her story; there are too few of our voices being heard. During the course of my life as an intentionally childless woman, I have had people respond with intrusion and outright abusiveness toward what should be a personal decision.

Now, like Petersen and her husband, my husband and I are a family. We too dote on a cat and we cherish time spent together. In spite of this, not having children requires an excuse that the majority in society will accept.

I’ve found the only explanation I could offer that receives societal legitimacy is being past the age when pregnancy is medically advisable. And even then, I cannot say with certainty that our decision will never again face interrogations and challenges.

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