Voluntary Childlessness

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"There has been an unprecedented decline in childbearing in the Untied States over the last decade and a half. This change has been attributed to a number of factors, such as later marriage, fewer marriages, higher levels of female employment and education, and most remarkably, an apparent increase in voluntary childlessness" (Silka and Kiesler: 1). "The voluntary childless are those who do not have children, expect none, and have no known biological impediment to childbearing, or have been sterilized for contraceptive reasons" (Abma and Peterson 1995). These individuals have many personal, economic, and monetary reasons for a childless marriage and the majority of these women fit into one of four categories; practical, hedonists, idealistic, and emotional. Although, these couples vary in their reasons for not wanting children they have carefully examined the pros and cons of a childless family and made their choices accordingly.

Couples today are less sure about the rationale for having children. In former times (and in many non-western cultures today), children were seen as playing an important role in the continuance of family. Children may have been needed for kinship ties, to work on the family business, to look after parents in their old age, or to safeguard an inheritance. Presently, in Western society, the economy and the interests of industry have generally taken precedence over parenting and the interests of family (http:/wwwcfi.ie/feb2001/crisis.htm 3). There are two categories of women who wish to remain childless, as identified by Baum, which fit into this particular scenario. The first group of women falls under the heading of "practical". They have a practical reason for being childless, such as a desire to pursue their career without the interference of a family life, or the fear of passing on a genetic defect. The second group of women who share this viewpoint are "hedonists". These women choose to remain childless through a desire...
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