As a historian by trade, I see things a little differently than most people. While many view the world around them solely through the lens of their own lifetime, I see the past, present, and future as one long continuum.
I was at a conference once where I had the great fortune to hear historian and Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough speak (he is the author of several best selling history books, including John Adams and 1776). In his eloquent and inspiring address, he told the audience it is impossible for a historian to walk down the street and only see what there is today. Instead, historians have a keen insight into the passage of time, knowing that what we see before us is not how it always was, nor how it always will be. Time is constantly changing the landscape, writing new chapters of history.
From a historical perspective, I believe that more women are choosing to be child free today because we are now realizing that we have a CHOICE. In past generations, options for women were limited. Basically, the only option for women was to get married, have children, and take care of the home. Men worked. Women did not. (At least “respectable” women didn’t) We were dependent on that paradigm for our very survival.
I also believe today’s higher divorce rate is a result of the same economic reality. Women are more independent than ever before, and if you are in a bad marriage there is no reason to stay. We no longer have to be married in order to live our lives. Of course, as a married woman, I wish that everyone’s marriage was a happy one. But as a child of divorce, I think women should never feel forced to stay in a relationship that makes them unhappy.
Individual reasons to remain child free may vary considerably from woman to woman, but I believe the groundwork has been set for all of us to make different choices than our mothers or grandmothers did. Knowing that we have options is empowering.
Any of us can CHOOSE to become a mother, if we want to. Birth control allows us to plan our families, or plan not to have a family. Motherhood is no longer a foregone conclusion to womanhood.
As I have said many times, Married No Kids is NOT an anti-family site. It is about helping women realize that they are not alone in their decision not to have children, and that there is nothing wrong with them. We are indeed a minority in society, but our numbers are growing.
I want women who become mothers to do it because they truly want to have children. Not because their parents want grandchildren, or all their friends are having kids, or society makes us feel like we have to.
I also want women who choose not to have children to be respected for their choices too. That is why I am against lying about why you are child free, and why I encourage people to think about their reasons for not having children so you can make a real and convincing case when people ask you. I want the decision to have children to be seen as a lifestyle choice, not something that is elevated above all other decisions. Yes, it is a serious decision, but it is one of many decisions we make that shape our lives and the people we become.
So, whatever your reasons are for not having children, be thankful that we live in a time where we DO have options. As tough as it may be sometimes to explain ourselves, it is far easier today to choose not to have kids than ever before. And it will be even easier in the future, so hang in there!