“Why is the happily childless woman seen as the unicorn of society?” -blog post by The V Spot

This post on NewStatemen blog The V Spot asks why it’s so hard for us to believe that childfree women might actually be happy.

Why is the happily childless woman seen as the unicorn of society?

Non-mothers are often told they’ll “change their mind when they meet the right person”. Between that and being forced to worry who will visit you in your old age, it’s no wonder society seems to believe the happily childless woman is more myth than reality.

By Rhiannon and Holly | Published 03 July 2013 9:36

The happily childless, or child-free, woman is more common than you think. Photograph: Getty Images

The happily childless, or child-free, woman is more common than you think. Photograph: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a parent isn’t always a walk in the park, according to the World Happiness Database unveiled in Rotterdam this week. In fact, it could be bad for your mental health: one of the activities which sends happiness levels plummeting, according to the research, is having a child (although, it hastens to add, your happiness increases when they grow up and leave home – which hardly seems a glowing recommendation for having them in the first place). Meanwhile, it was reported by the BBC that China has just passed what it is euphemistically calling the “Elderly Rights Law”, a piece of legislation that makes it compulsory for adult children to visit their parents in a country with a rapidly ageing (and lonely) population. In other words, you sacrifice happiness to parenthood in the prime of your life, enjoy a brief but halcyon retirement, then are abandoned in your twilight years to the extent that the government has to force your children to pop in for a cup of tea. No wonder we’re all procreating less.

But the fact remains that the “childless by choice” – or, as some prefer it, “child-free” – are still looked upon as dangerous oddities, possibly with some sort of social disease. Even worse is the female half of the dreaded “childless by choice” couple, all settled down with someone they love in a perfectly good home with a spare bedroom that could be easily transformed into a nursery and just downright refusing to warm up a bun in her oven.  “Tick tock”, publications aimed at thirtysomething women sing-song, as you scour the magazine rack for something that doesn’t make you want to throw up, move countries, cry, or all of the above. “Your ovaries are getting old! Your eggs won’t last forever! You’ll change your mind in a few short years – and where will you be then?”

Continue to the source article at NewStatesman

Childfree Feedback

At the end of the article, Rihannon and Holly share three tips for “how to stop the constant barrage of criticism if you are to live life as a contented childfree female human being”: 1) Ignore magazines aimed at 30-somethings; 2) Have faith in social progression; and 3) Grit your teeth and bear in mind that it is parents who may ultimately wind up changing their minds. What tips would YOU add to this list?

5 Responses to “Why is the happily childless woman seen as the unicorn of society?” -blog post by The V Spot

  1. Liz July 12, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Saw your comment in the article so reading through your web page now 🙂

  2. Lelaina Landis (@LiaLiaBoBia) July 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Thanks for the link to this article, Amy. But since I’m on your blog, I’ll respond to it here.

    I think that the reason so many people refuse to believe that childfree women are happy is because a lot of us — especially those who don’t talk about our childfree-ness too much — are reticent to admit it outright. Some of us still feel secretly embarrassed (or ashamed) of being happy. I don’t necessarily have more discretionary income than the childed people I know, and I don’t lead an exciting life of international travel and margaritas on the balcony of the trendiest bars. But compared to the majority of my childed friends, male and female, I do perceive myself as being happier — more relaxed, carefree, and far more financially stable for the long run. And I don’t mean a “tad bit” more happy. I mean a horkin’ LOT more happy! 🙂

    It’s sort of like being a struggling middle class woman who wins the big lottery. She might try to downplay it and say, “Oh, winning all of this money hasn’t changed my life; it’s hasn’t made me any happier than I was.” When the reality is, it *has* made her a lot happier. But of course, it’s considered uncouth to say this around friends who weren’t fortunate enough to win the lottery too.

    • Amy July 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks so much for your response, Lelaina. What you say totally makes sense. Part of me wonders too if this is a gender thing. It seems like it’s ok for men to brag about how great their lives are but as women, we’re socialized to be more restrained and not be too boastful. Maybe there isn’t a gendered pattern here but I do wonder…

      • Lelaina Landis (@LiaLiaBoBia) July 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

        Amy, I totally think this is a gender thing. I’ve been at the Texas State Capitol acting as an advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and I’ve been listening to testimony anti-choicers present in committee. And yes, there are a lot of them who feel that a woman is deprived of happiness if she doesn’t have a child, because children are *always* a wonderful thing. ::headdesk::

        But more disturbing: even the women who *are* fighting against restrictions on reproductive choices tended to say, “I absolutely want to have kids one day … just not now.” — or — “I already have children I love, and I don’t want any more.” Almost as though they wanted to make it clear that they did have that maternal drive, that child-raising was a vital part of their identity. I didn’t hear too much from the CF crowd. Only one women, to my knowledge, identified as CF when she presented her testimony, and bless her for that.

        CF men and women are not speaking out — not being advocates for their own happiness — and this absence of a positive, non-defensive, pro-choice (whatever that means to an individual) collective voice is why we’re stuck with outdated perceptions of child = meaning of life.

        • Amy July 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

          Amen, Lelaina! And thank you for being an advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights!!

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