Not All Women Want To Be Mothers: The Stigma That Surrounds Choosing Not To Have Children by Dr. Peggy Drexler

(Link): Not All Women Want To Be Mothers: The Stigma That Surrounds Choosing Not To Have Children


by Dr. Peggy Drexler

Birth rates around the world are going down as maternal ambivalence climbs. So why do women who have happily chosen childlessness still feel judged? Dr Peggy Drexler, a New York-based research psychologist who has written books on gender and family, explores the ongoing stigma.

….The reasons women are giving are varied. Having babies is expensive for one thing: a (Link): 2017 USDA report found that American parents spend, on average, more than $230,000 on child costs from birth to age 17, not including college.

…The increase in working women — and female breadwinners — around the world has also left many reluctant to leave jobs that aren’t always guaranteed to be there when they return.

…Even as more women are choosing not to have children — and the idea that there’s many different ways to create a “family” has become more normalised — there still exists a stigma surrounding women who don’t bow down to, or perhaps even feel, a maternal urge.

Women who opt out feel somehow “threatening”, as Andersen puts it. They defy our expectations of what women do or “should” want.

“Many people think that women who don’t want kids don’t like kids, which is almost never the case,” says psychologist Dr Sarah Gundle, co-clinical director at Manhattan behavioural health studio Octave.

“Liking kids or not is rarely the reason I see among patients who’ve decided to remain childless. Women now have more choices, and for many, it’s a choice like any other choice. But the idea of women [having children] is still so deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness that women who choose not to are often seen as a little suspect.”

Or worse than a little.

A 2017 study published in the journal (Link): Sex Roles found that many people consider the decision to forgo parenthood as not only abnormal, but also morally wrong.

“Voluntarily child-free people elicited moral outrage — anger, disgust, disappointment — relative to people with children,” says study author Dr Leslie Ashburn-Nardo.

“They were also seen as less psychologically fulfilled.”

In other words, she says, most of us expect voluntarily child-free people to live “incomplete” and “unhappy” lives.

In a piece on Chinese online magazine (Link): Sixth Tone, Fan Yiying writes of the open Chinese disdain for couples who choose not to have kids…

The irony, as Dr Gundle points out, is that having children does not actually make people happier.

A 2016 study published in the (Link): American Journal of Sociology looked at families in 22 countries and found that having children makes people significantly less happy compared to people who don’t have kids, a phenomenon researchers dubbed the “parenting happiness gap”.

Nevertheless, says Dr Ashburn-Nardo, “As a society, we tend to assume [having children is] more than just what most people do, it’s what they should do. It could potentially be effective for a voluntarily child-free woman to deflect bias by providing a reason,” she continues, “but this alone isn’t very fair – we don’t tend to ask parents why they chose to have kids, so why would we want to question non-parents’ motives?”

It could be, perhaps, because some parents question their own motives. Dr Gundle says that she sees many patients who have mixed emotions about children after they’ve already had them, often a reaction to the pressure on women, and mothers in particular, to be perfect, to take on too much and to always prioritise their kids….

Related Posts:

(Link): Study (2014): Couples Without Children Have Happier Marriages

(Link): Widows and Childless and Childfree Have Better Well Being Than Married Couples and Parents says new study

(Link): Childless and happy: The new tribe of women?

(Link): Parenthood Does Not Make People More Loving Mature Godly Ethical Caring or Responsible (One Stop Thread)

(Link): Evangelical Adoptions: Churches Are AWOL in Helping Parents of Special Needs Kids by Julia Duin – Churches Are Useless (and Not Just Re: Adoptive Families)

(Link): Times You’re Glad You Were Never a Parent (1)

(Link): Why the World Needs Childfree Women by Claudia Spahr

(Link): Not Wanting Kids Is Entirely Normal – Why the ingrained expectation that women should desire to become parents is unhealthy by J. Valenti

(Link): Cultural Discrimination Against Childless and Childfree Women – and link to an editorial by a Childless Woman

(Link):  Stop putting pressure on women to have kids before they’re 30 by A Chandler

(Link): Totally Obnoxious Parent: Childless Couple Who Donates to Childrens Charities Lambasted by Snotty Adult Sister for Not Showering Her Kids with Christmas Presents – Parents Who Discriminate Against the Childless or Childfree

(Link): Prejudiced Writer Stupidly Blames Slutty Halloween Costumes and Societal Ills on Childless the Childfree, and Unmarried Adults – but Married people and parents are not perfect either

(Link): Why we’re child-free and happy (article)

(Link): Many Parents Will Say Kids Make Them Happier. They’re Probably Lying. by A. Swanson 

(Link): A Woman’s Fertility is Her Own Business, not Everyone Else’s by L. Bates

(Link): Is The Church Failing Childless Women? by Diane Paddison

(Link): Why is the childfree singleton a curiosity? by V Blackburn

(Link):  ‘It’s a break from the kids’: Why parents cheat more than childless couples

(Link):  Mommy Blogger Confesses in Blog Post that Mommy Blogging is a Bunch of Fake, Happy-Clappy B.S. – Kind of Like Most Christian Adult Singleness Blogs

(Link): Idiot Author Thinks Childless and Childfree Should Pay Higher Taxes to Subsidize Parents

(Link): Childfree By Choice: How Women are Redefining Tomorrow’s Family

(Link): Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches? by Sandra Crawford Williamson (Also discusses never married adult women)

(Link): ‘It’s a break from the kids’: Why parents cheat more than childless couples

(Link): Study: Couples Without Children Have Happier Marriages / Study: Having Kids Ruins Your Life

(Link): On Being Circumstantially Childless by A. Pearson

(Link): Post by Sarah Bessey Re: Churches Ignore Never Married Older and/or Childless Christian Women, Discriminate Against Them

(Link): When Your Personal, Private Choices Enrage Others by Bella DePaulo (Regarding People Who are Single and/or Childfree)

(Link):   Marriage, Parenthood, Judgment by Christians and Non Christians – You Can’t Win No Matter What Choice You Make

(Link):  Thirty Year Old Woman Kills Herself Due to Being Single and Childless – Churches contribute to this by either Ignoring adult singles or shaming them for being single and childless

(Link):  A Teen Tried To Kill Three Women “In Revenge” Because He Was A Virgin

(Link): I’m 45, Single And Childless. No, There’s Nothing ‘Wrong’ With Me. by M Notkin

(Link): Hypocrisy: Conservative Christians / Catholics Pressure Women To Feel Their Only Worth is in Becoming Mothers, But If Women Try to Use Medical Technology to Get Pregnant, the Women Are Condemned by The Same Groups

(Link):  Hypocrisy in Christian Culture – Those who idolize parenting chide infertiles for trying to have kids

(Link):  Mothers Over 40 in Record Baby Boom: Number of Women Who Give Birth in Their Fifth Decade or Later Trebles

(Link):  Why do we still have to justify the choice to be child-free? by H. Freeman

(Link):  Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother

(Link): Baby Making Fixation at Christianity Today Magazine Online – Shaming Women For Not Procreating, or For Delaying Motherhood, or For Limiting the Number of Children

(Link): Typical Incorrect Conservative Christian Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough, Mr. Right will magically appear

(Link): Otherhood – An overlooked demographic – the Childless and Childfree Women and Singles Especially Women Who Had Hoped to Marry and Have Kids But Never Met Mr. Right (links)

(Link):  Really, It’s Okay To Be Single – In order to protect marriage, we should be careful not to denigrate singleness – by Peter Chin

(Link): Christian Patriarchy Group: God Demands You Marry and Have Babies to Defeat Paganism and Satan. Singles and the Childless Worthless (in this worldview).

(Link): Fatherhood Not Quite the Producer of Manly, Mature, Godly Men Some Conservative Christians Make It Out To Be

(Link): Hey, Pope Francis: Some people would rather raise pets than children by C. Hall

(Link): More Criticisms of the Pope’s Anti Childless Anti Childfree Comments

(Link): “You’re not a real man until you have children” by G. Proops – women should be able to relate to this too

(Link):  Why all the articles about being Child Free? On Being Childfree or Childless – as a Conservative / Right Wing / Christian

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