SUPPORTING AND UNDERSTANDING THE INVOLUNTARILY CHILDLESS
Eight actions for family, friends and the rest of the world.
#2 KNOW THE NUMBERS
Currently, 17.1% of the female population in the United States over aged 45 does not parent. In the UK it is 20%, and even higher in other countries such as Germany and Japan. The rate of men without children tends to either match or exceed the rate of women without children. This group includes those who are child free by choice, by circumstance (i.e. battling disease or not having met the right partner before the end of their fertile years) and childless due to infertility.
Recent meta analysis found that in samples of the world’s childless population, 10% are child free by choice, 90% are childless not by choice. Of the childless not by choice population, 10% are childless due to infertility, 80% are childless due to other circumstances.
Census data does not yet track chosen vs unchosen childlessness.
According to the CDC, 12% of women in the US between the ages of 15 and 44 will have difficulty or find it impossible to get and stay pregnant.
In 2012, 1.5 million assisted reproductive technology cycles were performed world-wide. Approximately 1.1 million failed. This clocks treatments in at a global failure rate of almost 75%. The CDC reported the failure rate in the US in 2014 to be approximately 66%.
The World Health Organization’s revelatory research estimates that one in four couples in developing countries is affected by infertility.
Approximately one in every four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage.
One in every 160 births is a stillbirth in the US.
These numbers tell a story. These life altering experiences affect far too many to be extricated from the human conversation.
Welcome. If you’re here because you’d like to support someone in your life who wanted children but couldn’t have them, then thank you for stopping by.
While we make up approximately 20% of the world’s population, the childless not by choice are one of the most invisible and yet likely fastest growing demographics on the planet. We are living with a loss that will impact us in one way or another for the rest of our lives.
Many of us make our way through the grief and trauma and come out on the “other side” to rebuild a full and meaningful existence. At the same time, most of us have done this with sub standard or no support from others, even those who are supposed to love us. We commonly feel isolated, sidelined, abandoned by our society and not valued for our unique experiences and hard-won wisdom.
Given our numbers, which are expected to rise in the coming decades, I often reflect that our lack of integration into the daily mainstream doesn’t benefit anyone – our demographic or the greater whole. The childless not by choice deal with frayed relationships in every category – from siblings, to friends to parents and beyond. In addition, we field derogatory stereotypes and are left out of the human conversation on a daily, if not hourly basis. Bu tit doesn’t have to be this way. As building bridges between us and the rest of the world needs to be a collective effort, I’ve created the following to aid the process.
#1 Myth Awareness, #2 Know the Numbers, #3 Listen, Listen and Listen, #4 Have An Informed View of Adoption, #5 Respect the Grieving Process, #6 Setting Reasonable Social Expectations, #7 Know Your Audience, #8 What To and Not To Say