Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Childless Adults Ask, 'Why Am I Minding the Kids?'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Childless Adults Ask, 'Why Am I Minding the Kids?'

Article excerpt

THE BABY BOON: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless By Elinor Burkett The Free Press 272 pp., $25

Elinor Burkett belongs to the fastest-growing demographic group in the United States - childless adults. But during the 1996 presidential campaign, as Bob Dole and Bill Clinton proposed initiatives to ease the burden on "working families," she came to a sobering conclusion: The catchphrase didn't include her. She had been written out of the political equation.

As businesses scrambled to become "family-friendly," Burkett saw childless workers increasingly excluded and exploited. Employers, she charges, violate the principle of equal treatment when they offer parents perks such as flextime, family leave, paid child care, and work breaks for pumping breast milk.

Now, Burkett has channeled her indignation into a provocative book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless." Nonparents, she argues, occupy an "inferior station" in America. They see themselves as second-class citizens, "demeaned and discarded."

With 13 million childless adults over the age of 40 in the US, Burkett anticipates a demographic clash between parents and nonparents, pitting the rights of childless workers against the responsibilities of working parents. The childless, she warns, are "revving up for a fight." She adds, "A sleeping giant has begun to stir." Already Burkett finds tempers flaring, lawsuits being filed, and childless workers, women in particular, fighting for their rights.

They are tired of being asked to cover for colleagues with child- care problems. They are weary of snide comments about DINKS - dual- income, no kids. And they are fed up with lower tax rates and special privileges granted to those who reproduce.

"Where there is privilege for some, there will inevitably be unprivilege for others," Burkett writes. By her calculation, the past decade has seen the greatest redistribution of wealth since the War on Poverty. This time the transfer has gone from nonparents to parents in the form of tax credits, child-care benefits, and flextime policies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.