child-free couple

From online communities for people who don’t want to have children to intentionally kid-free influencers, the child-free movement is picking up speed. However, so is the backlash. Marcela Munoz is one of those child-free influencers; she recently posted a video dancing in a park. Her carefree social media post embodies her quest to celebrate living without children.

When asked why she doesn’t have children, Munoz replies, “I don’t desire to have children.” In her eyes, children would interfere with her passion for travel, among other things. When her friends with children share their parenting experiences with her, Munoz is horrified by what she hears. Deciding not to have children isn’t new, but openly discussing the decision and the ‘child-free’ label are becoming popular.

With influencers like Munoz, support groups and online communities for child-free adults have sprouted up over the past few years. While this movement is expanding, researchers believe that understanding the choice to live without children and societal acceptance is moving slowly. Most kid-free online groups define their members as people who knowingly decided against having children. This definition contrasts adults who don’t have children but want them in the future and those who wish to have children but cannot conceive or are ‘childless.’

Childless people may have endured fertility or other medical problems or been affected by social circumstances, like not meeting a willing or suitable partner at the right time. Still, according to Elizabeth Hintz, assistant professor in communication at the University of Connecticut, academic research lumps all adults without children into one group. Nonetheless, Hintz believes the ‘child-free’ label is gaining traction, as people who’ve opted against kids have reclaimed the term. This trend also coincides with research suggesting that more Western adults actively choose against children.

A US 2021 Pew Research Center study revealed that 44 percent of non-parents from ages 18 to 49 don’t think they’ll have kids, an increase from 37 percent in 2018. The reason? Over 50 percent say they don’t want children instead of circumstantial reasons like medical problems. A 2020 YouGov study in Wales and England found that over 50 percent of British 35 to 44-year-olds without children don’t plan on having any.

The reasons why Gen Zers and millennials choose not to have children range across different factors, though they are similar trajectories. Hintz says that some people know early in life that they don’t want children, but some decide later in life, then make it part of their identity. Then, some people go back and forth between the two choices. With the increase in ‘child-free’ content, creators without children no longer feel like they have to hide in the shadows. Munoz says this community provides what she felt was missing when she started making social content.

Experts believe the increase in online communities and childless influencers indicated that societal norms are changing. However, these groups also deal with the backlash from those outside the community, saying that childless adults will never know true love. Some believe that the media plays a significant role in normalizing child-free adults. Whether you decide to have children or not, you must make the best decision for yourself and your circumstances.

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