I spoke at the annual No Kidding! convention in Houston this last weekend (Founder Jerry Steinberg is on your left). No Kidding is an international social club for childfree couples and singles. Many thanks to Amanda Vermillion of the Houston No Kidding! chapter–she orchestrated a great event. There are lots of fun activities around Houston, childfree author Laura Scott talked about how the childfree challenge assumptions society has about parenthood, there was great discussion on topics related to the childfree and more, and the gala event had excellent entertainment, including the belly dancing by childfree dancers..Not only did Amanda make this convention happen, she belly danced as well!
My talked focused on the big picture of the childfree in the last 10 years. I talked about what we knew then, what we know today and looking to the future. Here are few highlights–I hope to have the talk available for view on the blog soon, but until then here’s a preview:
In 2000, what I learned when developing Families of Two:
- There were predictions that as much as a 50% increase in the number of childfree couples by the year 2010.
- One of the biggest reasons why women did not want children was because they just did not feel the deep, emotional desire or urge we are supposed to feel re having a child; many had a role model in their lives or a woman they knew of who did not have children who showed them there were other ways to live their adult lives than to become a mother.
- What I heard most re concerns: couples made the choice because they did not want children badly enough to risk changing their relationship, and/or to take on the financial commitment of raising children.
- Many childfree men had men in their lives, their father or another man they knew, who faced financial struggles to provide for their families, and the men decided they just did not want this in their own adult lives.
Today, what I see based on research and talking to hundreds of childfree over the last ten years:
- Did the 2010 predictions turn out to be true? To date, we don’t know. If you run across research that speaks to this let me know!
- Other numbers are coming out though-in June, the Census will be releasing childless women numbers for 2008. In 2006, 20% of women aged 40-44 reported being childless (the numbers do not delineate childless by choice however). We will see soon what the numbers are closer to today.
- The Nations Survey for Family Growth does track “voluntary childlessness” for women. Numbers for the years 2006-2008 will be out later this year. Predictions: about the same as 2002 –of very large samples, about 6% of women describe themselves as voluntary childless.
- Why do couples make this choice? In general the same reasons as 10 years ago, with the financial concern even stronger today.
- While just making the choice challenges many pronatalistic assumptioms, we need to go further to find tangible ways to take on and chip away long held values about parenthood for the childfree decision to finally be seen as equally legitimate as the decision to become a parent.
This gives you a taste so watch for more to come! There was lots of great discussion after the talk. Lots of great minds and thoughts from childfree No Kidding! members. I encourage you to check in with the No Kidding website and keep tabs on what’s up next year’s convention…and go! It is a great way to meet like minds from all over, and have stimulating discussion and learning about the childfree.