Thanks to a savvy source who located a New York Times archived article, I’ve found out how the National Organization for Non-Parents, or NON (which later become the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood, or NAOP) celebrated Non-Parents Day in 1973–and they did in style.
As NON at the time, it chose a Male National Non-Parent of the Year, and a Female National Non-Parent of the Year. The winners: Stewart Mott, a 35 year old bachelor and philanthropist and Mrs. Anna Silverman, a 25 year old teacher and co-author (with her husband Arthur) of The Case Against Having Children.
They both rode down 5th Avenue in New York on August 2, 1973 in a special open top cab with laurel leaf crowns, and were crowned “Non-Parent King and Queen” near the Plaza Hotel to call attention to the fact that they had declared the day before, August 1, Non-Parents Day.
There were other festivities as well. Joan Harriman, the executive coordinator of NON, who had two children of her own, organized a “Consciousness Raising Social” at the Institute for Rational Living, with the National Non-Parents of the Year winners presiding.
Interestingly however, neither winner would go on record saying they “never” wanted to have children; they knew that they did not want them “right now.” This seems to reflect that NON was not so much about promoting not having children, but more the larger idea that parenthood is optional.
How do you think this would go over if we had these kinds of festivities today? In part, like they experienced then, we might very well experience some looking on with disdain. However, I’d like to think that today, many childfree and parents in support of the idea that parenthood is optional would turn out in support of a day like this.
Writing 60 Minutes was a way to begin the revitalization of Non-Parents day this year. To those who would like to continue to celebrate Non-Parents Day, how could we up its celebratory game next year? Let’s start gathering ideas now!