The cover story for the August 12 issue of Time magazine promotes a child-free life. The article, by Lauren Sandler, which decries the cultural expectation of having children, cites the positive experiences of individuals and couples without children, and tries to explain why they choose a childless lifestyle.   Sander writes that American culture “often equates womanhood with motherhood” and boasts a “baby-product industry” that is at an all-time high, despite the drop in the birth rate. Meanwhile, childless women are “sidelined” and “scolded” for endangering the future of the country. With the rise of the fertility industry, women are now taking the full blame for the choice to have children.

One explanation that the article provides for not having children is that some women feel they are not meant for motherhood, and Sandler provides copious research to support this. From his research, Santoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics said that smarter women are less likely to become mothers. Philip Morgan, the director of the Carolina Population Center, says that research indicates people who want at least two children postpone childbearing while “they develop lifestyles they enjoy.” Sociologist Julia McQuillen said that the extraordinary amount of economic investment parents are expected to make into the lives of their children is dissuading women from becoming mothers.

Childless 34-year-old Esmeralda Flores, who lives with a man and his 15-year-old daughter, said she stays in this living arrangement because he says the teen in the house “shouldn’t be a reason for you to be held back from the things that matter to you.” Another childless woman, Jenna Johnson, said, “my plans – professionally, daily, long-term, even just for vacation – are free from all the contingencies that come with children.” Leah Clouse, a nanny and a children’s art teacher, said she and her husband, who do not plan to raise a family, play a game every week fancying how they could fit raising children into their busy schedule. The couple has a baby box in the closet symbolizing the child-filled life they chose to “grieve.” “I resent that the entire culture of this country is obsessed with kids,” said 40-year-old Rachel Agee, who complains about parents using social media to boast about children and states she stopped going to church in Nashville because it was “oppressively family-centric.”

“The article does not touch on how many of the couples interviewed use hormonal birth control to maintain their childfree existence, but I’d guess it’s a lot. I’d imagine there have been tubal ligations and vasectomies, too,” Kristen Hatten, vice president of New Wave Feminists, wrote of the Time article for LiveActionNews. “And of course, many people who insist on remaining childless have ‘oopsy-daisy,’ moments that lead to abortion. In other words, they’re not willing to sacrifice their comfort or convenience for a child, but they have no problem sacrificing a child for their comfort and convenience.”

Research has mixed messages on whether childlessness leads to regret. A study conducted from 1998 to 2001 by sociology professor Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox from the University of Florida based on data from the National Survey of Families and Households found similar rates of well-being among parents and nonparents as they grew older. Rather, well-being depended on the kind of relationship parents had with their children. The results of small survey of nonparents by sociology PhD candidate Robin Hadley of Keele University in the United Kingdom presented in April 2013 found 59 per cent of men and 63 per cent of women wanted children. Men were more likely to feel depression and isolation for not having children, while more women reported feelings of guilt and yearning.

In fact, Kate Spicer, a 44-year-old journalist unable to have children, and who had an abortion at 18, wrote in the Daily Mail that the childless life feels “empty” and that new mothers’ “total intimacy with their child leaves me feeling like an outcast, not least because it exposes the ties of friendship as thin and practical.”

A 2003 Gallup poll found that over two-thirds of adults over 40 that do not have children regret their childlessness whereas few surveys of parents find more than 10 per cent would have fewer or no children than they ended up having if they could do it over again.