The Chosen Lives of Childfree Men

The Chosen Lives of Childfree Men

The Chosen Lives of Childfree Men

The Chosen Lives of Childfree Men

Synopsis

More and more couples are choosing not to have children. While much attention has been paid to this trend from a woman's point of view, men are often seen as having a secondary role in this choice, as ready to accept whatever their partners decide. In an age when men are expected to be caregivers as well as breadwinners and encouraged to take on more parental responsibilities, this volume argues that they need to be active participants in this crucial, life-altering decision. Based on in-depth interviews with 30 American and British childless men, this is the first book to explore the motives and consequences of voluntary childlessness from a man's perspective.

Excerpt

Population is stabilising not because we are looking out for posterity, nor for society as a whole, and certainly not for our genes, but because we are looking out for ourselves. the world over people, rich and poor, are trying to juggle different aspects of their lives--work, family, friendships, pleasure--in the pursuit of happiness. For most of us, it now seems that having more than two or three children (indeed, for some of us, having any at all) is to risk letting those juggling balls crash to the floor.

We have a completely different mindset to our ancestors of just half a dozen generations ago. We no longer see children as bringing security in our old age. We know we can choose their number using fairly reliable and cheap contraception. Why incur the expense of a big family? and why, when the time and even the love we can put into parenting is finite, risk spreading those precious commodities too thinly? (Nicholas Schoon, 1998, p. 15)

Worldwide, the number of people being added to the global population is falling with each passing year. the United Nations says the highest growth rates are behind us and we'll never see their like again. Closer to home, the U.S. Census Bureau says that in 1995 the rates of childlessness among American women had risen to 27% for those between 30 and 34 years of age, to 20% between 35 and 39 years, and to 18% between 40 and 44 years (Bachu, 1997). the same trend is true for Britain. Monthly, if not weekly, our newspapers tell us--in the us and the UK--that one in five women today does not, and does not intend to, have children. But, what does this mean for men? Nobody's saying.

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