Have you ever heard of the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood (NAOP)? It existed from 1972 to 1982. A non-profit organization, its purpose was to “educate the public on non-parenthood as a valid lifestyle option, support those who choose not to have children, promote awareness of the overpopulation problem.”
It “advocated having no children (or no more than one child) and not having children at all before the age of twenty-one.” It had three offices in Maryland and Washington D.C. and was funded by some of the most respected foundations, including Rockefeller Brothers and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.
In the Hewlett Foundation’s 1981 annual report, it described NAOP as an organization that “encourages young people to make thoughtful and responsible decisions about parenting by trying to reduce the impact of societal pressures that equate success or growing up with parenthood.”
NAOP was known as the group that fought the “must-have-baby” pressure. It did some great work, including media-outreach programs, a national referral network of people who counseled or presented workshops on decision-making about parenthood, and had a volunteer network in thirty states. It developed tools for school counselors and teachers that remain in publication today, including their most widely-distributed publication titled, “Am I Parent Material?”
According to childfree wiki, members were single, married, both parents and non-parents alike. “An estimated 69% were married, 6% divorced, 16% single, with 49% self-identified atheist or agnostic. NAOP even celebrated a Non-Mother’s Day, a Non-Father’s Day and had annual awards.
I am going to do more homework on this organization–find and ask the founders or members about the story behind why they had to close their doors (all I can find so far is it was due to financial difficulty). I believe one is Ellen Peck, the author of Pronatalism: The Myth of Mom and Apple Pie. I will write more when I get more info…
Do you know anything more about this organization? Have others existed since that are similar in mission? Do any exist today? I have run across population groups but not ones that are also dedicated to educating young people about parenthood and that it is an option in life, not the option, and to being a more formal support network for the childfree.
I think it is high time for an organization like this to exist again–don’t you?