Even today, women are slow to admit that they have chosen to be child free. It has all kinds of negative implications. Generally, the belief in a maternal instinct has been strongly held. Freud made a case for the human maternal instinct, though more recent research suggests that it has no biological basis. Historically there have been a relatively few childless adults, and so their public image as deviant has remained. Research suggests, however, that strong cultural taboos play a large part in this. In 1975, when Ann Landers conducted a poll in the USA on whether parents would have children if they could choose again, 70% of 50,000 said “no”. It is also interesting to note that historically in all cultures the most acceptable alternatives to marriage and family have been spiritual ones. Since the mid-1960’s, the number of married women choosing not to have children has doubled. So far this group has largely consisted of highly educated whites but that is changing. However, the very word “childless” implies that one is lacking something. When the word ‘bastard’ was replaced by ‘love child’, it was more than a form of words. Perhaps an attractive new description is the answer.


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