Dispelling the Assumption that “Everyone Has Kids!”

The dictionary definition of an assumption is a fact or statement taken for granted or presuming that something is true. The Your Sexy Librarian definition of an assumption is making an ass out of you and me.

I organized a meeting at work with several positive, outgoing people from other areas of the building. Our goal was to lay the foundation for a fundraising event. The meeting was going smoothly, until a young woman, who just moments before toted her multiple college degrees, suggested we create a summer fun basket because “everyone has kids!”

Sigh.

I despise assumptions because the little bastards just keep popping up despite their lack of truthful existence. Some great past examples of failed assumptions include, “Women with short hair are lesbians.” and “Women with short hair are not feminine.” Short hair does not measure femininity at all. That sexy woman with the short hair may very well be sporting matching La Perla undies, which are far more feminine than run-of-the-mill store bought underwear sold at mass retailers.

Then there are the assumptions that men with bigger physical statures will be rude or mean, that all people who grow up in a trailer park turn out to be drug-abusing trash, that a rape victim “was asking for it” based on her attire and that all Catholics do not believe in birth control. Assumptions are essentially opinions that some people share without thinking.

My absolute favorite asinine assumption was spoken by a middle-aged female newspaper editor. This woman had the nerve to say to me, “Your mom is from the Appalachians. Can she read?” Socio-economics and geographical location alone do not determine if someone is literate, just like being wealthy and a graduate of Brown University does not guarantee one is intelligent.

Back to the “everyone has kids!” comment as it is now time to squash this ridiculous assumption.

 

A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 74 percent of American adults have children, leaving 26 percent without children, proving without utilizing common sense that not everyone has children.

Of the poll respondents who are sans children, 16 percent “do not have but want to have children,” three percent “do not want children but would like to have had children,” and five percent “do not want children.”

One might wonder why people do not want to have children as this thought position is still in the minority in America. I am not sure the reason behind the poll respondents’ answers, but I have spoken to several real people recently who do not want to have children.

Rebecca and I met at an in-home party featuring stick-on vinyl for nails, which is a story in itself. She told me she knew at a young age, before she was a teenager even, that she was not interested in having children of her own. This mimics what a few other women have told me about their reasons for not wanting to have children of their own.

People often assume that Rebecca and other women like her must be selfish for not wanting to have children. On the contrary, Rebecca takes care of other people in her daily life and really enjoys being an auntie. Instead of being too selfish for motherhood, she just simply never felt a maternal yearning to have children of her own.

Men sometimes don’t feel a paternal yearning either. Several of my male friends have never been interested in fathering children and quite a few even scheduled vasectomies to assure they would not have children in the future. One of these men treats his girlfriend exceptionally well and is very devoted to her and to the upkeep of their shared house. He may not want to have children, but that lack of desire does not mean he is without the capacity to love another person.

My uncle, Big John, lost his bride-to-be in an automobile accident when they were both young. He never loved another woman as much as he had loved her, thus he never married. He did not have children of his own either. Big John helped raise my brother and me, though. He taught us how to be strong emotionally and how to push through the difficult times in life without being negative. He proved to me that being childless is not an indicator of a person’s ability to love or to share their lives with others.

I know a very loving, happy couple who have been married for over 12 years. Before their marriage, they decided to not have children and have held strong to that decision all this time. The wife told me not having children means they can travel the world and experience life to the fullest on their own terms. She said she has no regrets about not having children of her own and enjoys being childless.

 

The 2013 Gallup poll revealed that six percent of Americans aged 18 to 40 do not want to have children at all with another 40 percent currently being without children, but wanting to have children someday.

An interesting finding of this poll resulted from the question, “If you had to do it over again, how many children would you have, or would you have any at all?” This question was asked of respondents aged 45 and older. Among the respondents with children, seven percent would elect to not have any children if they had a do-over.

The Gallup study consisted of telephone interviews conducted between August 22 and August 31, 2013, with a random sampling of 5,100 adults age 18 and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Of the total adults surveyed, 719 adults did not have children.

For a broader view and what I hoped would be a better understanding, I looked at the 2010 Census data available online. Unfortunately, the Census does not specifically count the number of Americans without children. Instead it collects data on individual households and the ages and relationships of people living within those households. For example, if a married couple’s only child moves out of their home, that household shifts from being a married couple with children to a household consisting of a married couple without children.

In 2012, the total percentage of households consisting of married couples with children present in the households was 19.6 percent, compared to 29.1 percent of married couples without children in the household.

Of the total 114 million reporting households in the census, almost 81 million did not have any children of their own under the age of 18 living within those households.

Since the Census data made the topic of Americans without children as clear as mud from a statistical point of view, the bottom line of all this data and this blog is to simply not assume “everyone has kids!” Please don’t assume that all people without children or without the desire to have children are selfish. These childless adults may just be the world’s best aunts and uncles in the eyes of someone else’s children.

XOXO,

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