Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different. Some people say it is strange to define ourselves by things that we are not, so let’s determine what we are instead. In this series, childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women bloggers without children who answer the question, “If you’re not a mom, then what are you?”
If you have spent any time at all engaging in the current discussion about childfree and childless women, you have probably heard the name Laura Carroll. A book editor by trade, Laura has also written several non-fiction books. Her latest, The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World. looks at biological, psychological, and emotional reasons to embrace parenthood or to opt out. We are so excited she’s talking with us here at TheNotMom!
Tell us about yourself, your blog, and your writing career.
My professional background is in business psychology and communications, and I first began writing nonfiction as a result of my experience working with people who had been laid off from their jobs. What I learned formed the foundation for my first nonfiction book, Finding Fulfillment from the Inside Out:.
My next book, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice came as a result of my own personal questions. When I had been happily married about 10 years, I went looking for a book about long-time childfree married couples –- their lives, how their marriages were going the distance, and the like, and I found no such book. So I decided to do the book myself! I interviewed over 100 couples across the U.S., conducted in-depth interviews with 40, and then chose 15 to include in the book that best represented the range of couples and interviews.
The book received international attention, and paved the way for me to become a sought after expert on the childfree choice. For over the last 10+ years, I have appeared on major media, including The Early Show and Good Morning America, international syndicated radio, and have been interviewed for many articles in major news publications.
In 2009, I launched the blog, La Vie Childfree. It now lives as part of LauraCarroll.com, which is where I also discuss my books and communications services, and have my nonfiction bookstore, LiveTrue Books. Since the release of Families of Two, I began digging more deeply into why society finds this choice hard to fully accept, and my research paved the way for my most recent book, The Baby Matrix.Did blogging lead you to write non-fiction books about childfree life, or was it the other way around?
I began writing nonfiction in the early days of the Internet. When blogs became popular, I started La Vie Childfree to share information, inspire stimulating discussion, and support the building of childfree community online.
Women without children attracted attention in mainstream media this year, particularly women childfree by-choice. Is this a sign of true culture change or just temporary buzz?
As someone who has been tracking the childfree choice for quite some time now and talked with thousands of childfree all over the world, I see the acceptance of this choice becoming more accepted with every generation.
When the childfree made mainstream media on the cover of Time magazine last year, the article and a lot subsequent media presented women without children as a “new” trend. However, it has been trending for awhile now. Not just recently, but for over the last decade, the numbers for women without children ages 40-44 have hovered at about 1 in 5 or about 20 percent.
The road to social change began in the 90s. Writers like Mardy Ireland, the author of Reconceiving Women: Separating Motherhood from Female Identity, and Elinor Burkett, the author of The Baby Boon, are just two of many who made cornerstone contributions to the waves of change.
The evolution of the digital age has spurred powerful culture change. In over the last decade, the advent of blogs and forums has helped to form and strengthen a strong online childfree community, and create exposure of this topic and life choice more than ever before.
And in the last decade, more research has been conducted than ever before on having no children by choice. Last but surely not least, culture change has been driven by all the people who helped make the books, growing digital community and research possible. Me, I nod to those who were willing to speak out and go on the record in my book, Families of Two – back in 1999-2000, they did so in a time when it took more bravery to do so. Anyone who has spoken out about the childfree choice has been part of getting childfree where they are in today’s society.
The recent mainstream coverage is not a temporary buzz; it’s not a sign of “true” cultural change per say. It is a wonderful blip on the continuum of social change that has been happening for some time now.
How do you balance a successful, busy career with your passion for issues involving childfree life? Where do the two intersect?
My passion for my communications work and to playing a dedicated role in seeing the day when there is full acceptance of the childfree begets lots of passionate energy! The two intersect with my website, online writings, media, and books.
What do you want advertisers to understand about women without children?
One of the myths about the childfree is that they have high incomes and lots of disposable cash. In my interviews and in talking with many childfree women and men, the reality is that the childfree come from all walks of life, all socioeconomic groups. When trying to sell to women who have no children by choice, it is important not to assume high ticket priced items are what they want…or can afford.
Big, big thanks to Laura for talking with us…and you. Now it’s your turn! If you are a woman without children blogging about that, or any other subject, share your story with us!