Looking Back: 2017 Childfree Trending Part II

childfree trends

Now for Part II of childfree trends we have seen this past year. In addition to muddied use of “Childfree,” “Child-free” “Child free “and “Childless” I wrote about in Part I, five more childfree trends are worth noting:

Even more stories on being denied sterilization:

Boy, have we continued to see lots of stories and forum discussions about women being denied sterilization this last year. Women’s troubles finding doctors who will do the procedure remains very frustrating for so many women. More pieces have appeared in many countries and people engaging in discussion forums on this topic have swelled this past year.

Some women have come out to talk about how they actually did find a willing doctor to do the procedure (one of the best is Rewire’s “I Tied my Tubes at Age 31. And it is not up for Discussion”),  and how they have had to deal with people’s reactions when they find out she did this.  But most lament not being able to find a doctor who is willing to do it.  The opinion piece by Alanna Weissman in the New York Times, “How Doctors Fail Women Who Don’t Want Children,” sums up many women’s experiences. The end in particular really got me.  She writes,

“For my part, I have since given up the search for a provider willing to perform sterilization. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind — I just find it too stressful to continually look for someone who accepts my right to decide what is best for my own body.”

Even more writings using the word pronatalism:

I am so happy to see even more discussion and direct use of the word, “pronatalism” this past year. Even though it has sometimes been written as “pro-natalism,” I’ll take it. Even one article in The Atlantic takes it on directly: “The Rebirth of America’s Pro-Natalist Movement.” Though I would argue there has not been a ‘re-birth’ of pronatalism in the legislative or wider societal realm (it has been a strong force for generations), the fact that it is being discussed directly signals progress!

However, at the same time media have continued to reinforce pronatalist myths. The biggest example this last year was the wave of articles claiming that not having children inspires moral outrage. Headlines with the ‘moral outrage’ phrase comes from one study that even the researcher acknowledges that “mean levels of moral outrage were small overall.” The media made one think the findings were a lot stronger than the study found. Overblowing results does not help the need to lessen the stigma associated with being childfree.

Even more talk about motherhood regret:

Now this topic is not directly about the childfree, but it is certainly related to it.  If there is more talk about the realities of regret, more women will hopefully not be convinced by pronatalist society that they have to become mothers to be a “normal” woman.  Looking squarely at regret will help people make the best parenthood decisions for themselves, and society seeing the choice not to have children as just as legitimate as the choice to become a mother.

This last year we have seen more media taking on this topic than ever before. Much of it highlights the work of Orna Donath, who is a research trailblazer in this area. Bust even listed their article on regret as one of their most popular posts of the year.

And briefly…

This last year we have also continued to see people seeking to bridge the ‘divide’ between parents and those without children.  This trend has continued in articles, and in a variety of blogs like this one on the Cincinnati moms blog, “Dear Childfree-by-Choice People.”

We have also seen more pieces and discussions about the childfree internationally. Two I have particularly enjoyed include New Zealand children’s book author Melisa Sinclair’s “Life on our Own Terms” (OK the post date was December 2016 but close enough!) and Dwani Chaitra’s piece on Lean in India, “Going Childfree. What’s Your Take?”

Following the trending in 2016, we’ve seen the childfree choice and those who make it talked about even more this year, which will only serve to keep the trajectory of its societal acceptance ticking upward. Here’s to 2018!

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