On July 28th, BBC radio’s Woman’s Hour did a show on women who are childless by choice in the UK and Europe.

Dr. Catherine Hakim, Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics, baby coach Beth Follini, writer Cristina Odone and Melanie Notkin, the creator of SavvyAuntie discuss some of the usual topics on the childfree, but make a number of interesting points, especially when you compare it to what’s happening in the United States. Here are 10 points that stand out:

  • 10% of women in Europe between the ages of 25-45 report being voluntarily childless (and excludes those who are “parents by proxy”). 25%of women in Germany are childess by choice. In the States, the closest we have based on research is 6% of women aged 35-44 who are voluntarily childless.
  • How much does economics drive the choice? Hakin says not at all–the choice is distributed across the “social spectrum.”  This is different than what some research says in the States, particularly in times of recession.
  • Is there still a stigma associated with being childfree? Hakin says that it’s a question of generation and age, and that the stigma is gone now.  Do you think the stigma is totally gone now in the States?
  • The decrease in fertility is not due to not wanting children, it is due more to people having smaller families.  Being childfree is “a separate phenomenon.”
  • According to Notkin, July 25th is “Auntie Day” — who knew?!
  • 40-50% of commenters on SavvyAuntie are childfree (as opposed to” aunties” who want kids but do not have them)
  • A certain “kind” of woman says no to motherhood: includes things such as being an “alpha” woman,” a fear of ramifications to their career, fear of the lack of freedom, fear of the loss of opportunity, fear of the loss of their identity to motherhood, and/or a fear of falling short of being the “ideal” mother. CF women out there, which if any would you say are true for you? I see that these can be true but certainly not a given. How about just the lack of desire to be a mother?
  • Women still feel they need to choose between their career and being a “caring, nurturing mom”–one or the other.  The message  is you can’t have/be both. Do you see this here?
  • There are women that have regrets that they did not have children, e.g, never met the right person at the right time. Do you think there are more women who fall into this category in the States than those who chose not to merely because they never wanted them?
  • It is not just a matter of biological urge–there are huge social and psychological influences are powerful motivators as well;  “our minds are engaged much more than we give it credit for”–amen!

I love seeing pieces like this. It reminds us that the childfree phenomenon is not just in the United States, but in many other countries around the world. It’s worth a listen for sure!

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