Sunday, February 3, 2013

ABC Lifematters, Shelly Horton and childfree by choice

Excellent discussion last Friday on ABC Radio National's morning show Life Matters. You can currently listen to the podcast and read the comments on the show's site.

One of the interviewees was journalist Shelly Horton, discussing an article she published in 2011 "Childless by Choice".

If pressed on the subject I retort:''Did you 'just know' you wanted to be a mother? Well I 'just know' I don't''. I'm sure there are other women who feel the same way as me but don't speak up.

I've now travelled to 47 countries. Is that bragging? Yep. Is telling me your son was voted class captain bragging? You betcha. Is one worth more than the other? I don't think so. 

I feel like I have to apologise for my choice. Reassure people I don't lack compassion. I give to charity, I donate blood, I've offered to donate my eggs to a girlfriend and I'm in the process of creating a mentoring group for young female journalists. It upsets me that my choice seems to disappoint people. I don't want people to think I'm selfish. I'd just like my choice to be respected. 

One of the positive surprises related to the article is that Horton mentioned of the hundreds of comments, only one was negative (similar to the experience we've had at this site).

The program's presenter Natasha Mitchell made the point that according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics one in four Australian adults live on their own. Single occupancy houses are on the rise, while the nuclear family continues to show signs of decline. Mitchell commented that with the upcoming election she expects this rising demographic to be ignored by politicians once more, with tax cuts and other voting ploys being targeted at families.

If you're part of this new demographic, what message would you like to give to the political parties. Should they continue to only encourage those who choose to breed and ignore the tax payers who remain childfree?

Update March 2013: Horton's revised and reprised her article on this theme in the Fairfax media. No Baby on Board is a good read for the childfree, childless and parents alike. As always, the comments   are as meaty as the article.