Daily Mail recently highlighted a new trend in the world of fertility: vasectomy parties to celebrate the decision of a couple to remain childless.
The cost of having children is deterring a growing number of couples from expanding the family unit. Vasectomies, once a source of shame, are now being celebrated openly by couples adamant about living childless lives… More couples these days want to avoid parenthood and embrace life without children.
Vasectomy parties can be compared to baby showers, except instead, they celebrate the babies that will never be. Guests are invited to live it up “in a house with sharp furniture and exposed outlets.” They can plan on games such as The Price is Right “where they talk about what they can buy now that they’ve saved money by not having kids.” In lieu of suggesting baby names, party attendees can help name the new (not family) car or boat.
The trend is attributed to changing attitudes about parenthood among millennials of child-bearing age (15-44). One woman summarized the new philosophy well:
After six years of having looked forward to becoming a caring and all-out stimulating and dynamic mother at some indeterminate point in the near future, I suddenly realized that this wasn’t the only possible narrative for my life…I had swallowed the motherhood mandate hook, line and sinker and I had never given myself the space and time to question whether I really, really want children.
Another blogger stated “You graduate, you get married, you have a child. But that’s a very narrow path and isn’t indicative of many people’s experiences. So why not decide to celebrate your choice not to have a child?”
Insert sterilization celebrations here.
Childlessness, or choosing a child-free life, may just be the next societal trend. City developers in urban areas are changing the way they build in response to modern housing trends. According to demographer Wendell Cox:
Governments put money into bikeways, transit systems, art palaces, and cool residential developments that cost considerably less than schools and roads.. This has led to calls for creating ever-smaller apartments intended for single professionals.
Green urban enthusiasts have dubbed this new “taller and smaller” architecture “a climate-change antibiotic” as children produce larger carbon footprints the higher a family’s income. An advisor to Prince Charles even went so far as to call parents with two children “irresponsible” in light of their environmental impact. One follower of the movement, Lisa Hymas, described her decision to be childless as a “fledgling child-free movement” fighting the “pro-natal bias that runs deeps” in society, even dubbing herself a “GINK, green inclinations, no kids.”
Children are definitely the most pricey addition to a family as they require shelter, food, clothing, transportation, childcare and an education. In 2014 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported the cost of raising a child from birth until age eighteen at approximately $245,340 ($304,480 when you consider inflation). That breaks down to $12,800 – $14,970 per kiddo each year for a family whose income is between $61,530 and $106,540. [Find your estimate here with the USDA’s calculator.]
Sure, kids cost money, but considering only the dollar signs is an incomplete evaluation of the child-free movement. Despite the cost, statistics show that most married couples still choose to have children. According to a Gallup poll, 90% of Americans either have children or want to have them someday.
Infertility rates are one reason some women remain childless. Around 10% of women are unable to conceive after trying for a year. Many women experience parenthood through adoption or step-children. Reports show approximately 1.6 million American children are adopted and 2.5 million others are part of a step-family.
Among women at the end of their childbearing years (age 40-44), 20% will not experience childbirth. That number stands in contrast to what was true of the same demographic of women in the 1970s, who represented only 10%. These levels are highest among women who continued their education past high school. Hispanic women are noted for bucking this trend. However, “that rate drops to the American norm in just a generation.”
Views on Marriage
It is undeniable that Americans’ attitudes towards marriage are shifting. Time reports that “only about half of American adults are married today, compared to around 70 percent in 1960.” Cohabitation, delaying marriage and childbearing (leading to less years of fertility for conceiving), the intensity of the job of parenting, and of course the cost of parenting are all factors leading couples to voluntarily choosing sterilization.
The question sociologists are asking now is “Has is stopped? Is this it, or will we see even higher rates of childlessness among future generations?” Many Americans fail to see this trend as a negative for our society. However:
As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees… and working age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor… and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes.
Examples of this problem can be seen in Japan and Germany. In some areas of Japan “there are already too few working adults remaining to take care of the elderly,” leading to more and more Japanese dying alone. One Japanese leader went as far as to tell the elderly to “hurry up and die” as their costs for keeping them alive are outweighing the taxes paid by working folk. Germany has even gone as far as to “bribe potential mothers” to reduce the problem of a “shrinking Germany.” Thirty percent of German women remain childless, despite the incentives.
One writer pointed to the danger of a “potential reversion to a more rigidly traditionalist worldview” and relinquishing “the Democratic stronghold of Gotham” if this childless trend continues. The reason: “conservative, religious populations [such] as Mormons and evangelical Christians” still have high birthrates, according to Eric Kaufmann, author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth. Liberal millennials choosing to remain childless tip the scale of politics to conservative parents raising future Republican voters. As a Christian Republican, I have to chuckle. Maybe I will move to Germany and make some money off of having more babies—as long as they can still vote in the U.S.
Should we celebrate sterilization? I am not convinced, and I refuse to help name a boat in between trips to the bathroom with my potty-training toddler! I will gladly purchase a gift for new parents, but not for a couple financing a luxury vehicle. I am extremely happy for all that motherhood has already taught me, and for the many years of learning ahead.