More women are delaying motherhood, Census Bureau reports

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guest: Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, Sociology Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She's been studying women and childlessness for more than a decade.

Contributors:

Katherine Lanpher and Christina M. Russo

Comments [17]

Lois wallace

You cannot plan on having a family to "take care of you in the future" Life does not go that way. If it works you are one of the lucky ones. Sometimes it is that you end up being the caretaker of one of your adult children. You plan, God laughs

Aug. 21 2008 01:45 PM
Paula

I am 44 years old this September and have always struggled with the concept of having children. I grew up in a chaotic household with a paranoid schizophrenic and bi-polar father, and a pretty unstable home. We also moved a lot within the same 5 towns, over and over. My mom is wonderful and the "center" of our family. She put up with a lot to bring us into this world; there are 3 of us.

It was not necessarily a conscious decision to not have kids, but, the older I got, I kept thinking, I only would wand a child if I were to meet someone who seemed like a good father, a good husband. I am single, career-minded with two dogs at home, and I'm tired! I cannot imagine having the energy or finances to bring kids into the world. Perhaps I have the finances, but don't realize it because I have become so "set" in my ways.

My younger sister, DID decide to have a child later in life (she's 37), and I live vicariously through her and her husband. They have a beautiful family and I moved to Oklahoma from NC to be near family. And that's ok. Sometimes it gets lonely, and I look at my beautiful niece and think, wow, what a beautiful baby and what would it have been like for me to have kids? I won't know (unless I decide to foster or adopt - not likely).

Aug. 21 2008 05:48 AM
Britgirl

"She's been studying women and childlessness for more than a decade"
Really? Then surely she must have realised that childfree is the term many women who have consciously decided they do not want to have children(myself included)prefer? If so why persist in the term "childless" or "childlessness" which, no matter which way you look at it, conveys a sense of lack or loss?
I've never been childless. But I am very happily childfree.

By the way, there are many men who are childfree too.

Aug. 20 2008 08:08 PM
Ed Helmrich

It seems to me that the decision to have a child is one made by a couple: a man and woman, in communion. Why not have a show asking men why they are postponing having a family? They are just as involved.

Aug. 20 2008 06:50 PM
Jean S

My husband and I didn't 'forget' to have children. Nor did we delay it till it was 'too late'. I've known since I was 16 that I didn't want children. Everyone said I would change my mind...I didn't...I haven't...and I don't expect to. My life is fulfilled with the work I do and the relationships I have. I don't need to produce a child to feel fulfilled or to have someone to take care of me when I'm old.

Aug. 20 2008 04:20 PM
maggie f

This is an interesting story, but one area I'd like to hear more about is whether or not men are choosing to have less/no children, and in what percentages. In the old days, men had to get married if they wanted sex, and now it seems that many, many more men can and do remain single and childless. Why do these news items only focus on the female side of it?

Aug. 20 2008 03:31 PM
Bridget

My husband will be 49 in October, I'll be 44 in November and we will celebrate our 20th anniversary in March. We agreed before marrying that while neither of us wanted kids right away, we'd keep the lines of communication open. Since then neither of us has had a burning desire to reproduce, and we've certainly never felt that we were missing out on anything. Many of our friends and family members who are parents spend a good deal of time complaining about how tired they always are, how they never expected it (parenting) to be so hard and how they don't have any time for themselves. We can't begin to relate, and whenever we hear this, we are left to wonder, what did they expect?

Aug. 20 2008 02:06 PM
nicole r.

Delaying motherhood until late 30s & not mentioning the impact of rising infertility rates? Starting at 33 we've been trying for years. I'd choose to have a family, but that may not the ultimate result. (no pity needed) Why is inferility the big pink elephant that everyone is busy ignoring? Let's talk about it so it can be a better experience for thousands of couples.

Aug. 20 2008 01:11 PM
cs

At 39, with a partner 18 years older than I am, is it selfishly unfair to continue wanting a family when my children will be burdened with an older mother and an elderly father? To wish for a family to help care for me as I care for my grandparents and will for my parents? And is it fair to any of us to have to choose between retirement funds and college funds? "Having children" has never been more of a choice, and more of a burdensome one.

Aug. 20 2008 11:49 AM
mc

Haven't wanted all the responsibility frankly. At least I'm honest with myself. I think many people have children to give them self esteem, because they think it's the thing to do, they're bored, pressure from parents, to fill a need to be needed within themselves... I feel unless you can emphatically say I'm having kids with the person I love, I really want the parent lifestyle and responsibility and I can financially afford to do this... don't have kids. There's nothing more tragic than a neglected child.

Aug. 20 2008 10:25 AM
Laiah Raphael

Your reporting on the delaying of motherhood didn't go far enough. The key remark was "highly educated women are putting off motherhood or just deciding not tohave children, while less educated women are having more children. What does this bode for the future? A population that is less skilled and unable to compete in the global society and unable to provide for the well being of its ownsociety. A further note is that white people are slowly becoming the minority in the United States. Other countries choose to control their population as they see fit - one method is to give generous subsidies to women to have more children. And what about China's policies regarding birth control???? Laiah Raphael

Aug. 20 2008 10:24 AM
Lorraine

Choicing not to have children isn't necessarily done to be "child free," or due to selfish or self-absorption.

When my husband and I were thinking about having a family, no easy, early, or affordable test was in place to see if he was the carrier of an heritary disease. We didn't want to knowingly pass along polycystic kidney disease -- especially after the damage it had done to several generations of my husband's family.

Now, tests for and treatment of the disease have improved but we still feel, given other considerations, that we made the right choice for us. Passing along what can be a death sentence would have made us feel extremely guilty.

And, we don't consider ourselves "childless," we have quite a few great-neices and one great-nephew to play with when we visit.

Lorraine

Aug. 20 2008 10:02 AM
Mary

I am 57 now. I was watching my life unfold on the covers of Time Magazine in my 30's. "Superwoman" etc. Well, I knew I wasn't a super woman and I couldn't manage my full time business and raise a child in the way I felt was nurturing. It's a brutal decision to make then and now. The lingering repercussions still hover.

Aug. 20 2008 09:57 AM
sarah

I currently can't afford to have a child, and I will not intentionally bring into this world a human being I could not adequately provide for. I do hope my circumstances change soon--if I wait to pay off my very pricey grad school loans before having children, I will be nearly old enough to be a grandmother. For now, I will content myself with the bittersweet joy that is watching my friends, family, and loved ones welcome children into their lives, and I'll continue to be one of the best babysitters for miles around.

Aug. 20 2008 09:02 AM
Edward Helmrich

Of course, if it wasn't for the horrible reality of abortion, for which men and women are responsible, many more women would have children today. Also, our attitudes toward children would be much more healthy.

Aug. 20 2008 09:01 AM
Martha

I'm not "childless." And I hate to use the term "childfree..." it makes it sound like a diet soda. It's also a female-specific term, which reflects the deep biases around child-rearing. Just read any interview with any female celebrity above the age of 18 (okay, 16--thanks, Jamie-Lynn Spears!), and notice how it comes up. Notice how it doesn't come up with male stars unless they bring it up, or thye've gotten someone pregnant recently.

We seem to be going through an intense fetishization of celebrity mommy-dom right now, which ignores the very hard work and money spent involved in bearing and raising a kid--which is why I've chosen not to have kids. It's really hard work, and very poorly supported in this country. I'd love it the next time People magazine does a story on Angelina Jolie's brood if they'd analyze just how much it costs in terms of money and labor to raise those kids, and ocmpare it to a parent in the real world. That's a reality show I want to see.

Aug. 20 2008 08:14 AM
pw

Childless couples and individuals are forced to subsidize and support those who have children. Until tax laws and other systems reflect the differences in choosing to have kids or not, there will always be a bias toward breeding.

Aug. 20 2008 07:12 AM

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