With 24.9 per cent of Australian women currently of childbearing age expected not to have children (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996), up from 10.3 per cent in the early 1970s, a significant proportion of our population will never be parents. The trend is for Australians to have fewer children, later in life and for many not to have children at all. In the past, almost all couples who could do so had children, but today, more than ten per cent choose not to.
CHILD-FREE ZONE contains the experiences and opinions of over 80 child-free people aged between 22 and 60. It is not an academic study or statistical analysis, but a practical, readable and often amusing discussion of the decision to remain child-free. In it we discuss the issues involved in choosing not to become a parent, the reasons for and benefits of staying child-free, what child-free people do with their lives and what problems they face.
Some of the topics covered in the book include:
· Why do people choose to be child-free?
· What are the benefits of being child-free?
· Are child-free relationships ‘different’ to other relationships?
· The ten (or so) worst reasons to have a child
Walk into any almost any bookstore in Australia and you will find a wealth of information about parenthood. From guides to pregnancy and ‘baby’s first year’ to 'how to' child-rearing manuals, books about combining career and motherhood and books for new age dads - there is no shortage of discussion on the subject of parenthood. Yet you'll be struggling to find even a passing mention of the alternative - not having children! It's as if there is no choice, that parenthood is still so ‘normal’ and expected that it is beyond question.
CHILD-FREE ZONE is partly an attempt to address the imbalance in the discussion of parenthood. As one of our survey respondents said: "… the contemporary promotion of a culture around pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood has far outweighed the promotion of an aware, informed and intelligent acceptance of the decision not to bring more babies into the world." Sometimes it is smart not to have children. And it’s okay to talk about it.
Despite the stereotypes, the child-free in Australia fall into all categories. They are married or living de-facto, divorced, single, young, old, heterosexual, gay or lesbian, white and blue collar workers, professionals and small business people. They have a range of backgrounds, occupations, family sizes and live in regional and city areas. The only essential characteristic of the people surveyed is that they have made a conscious decision not to have children.
We want to provide an insight into the lives of people who choose not to have children. What do they do and what do they plan to do with their lives? What are the pressures and prejudices they face? Where are the child-free zones for recreation and holidays? Who can people making the decision now look to as role models and what can they expect for the future?
We hope that as a result of this book, more people like ourselves will look forward to a wonderful child-free future.