Just the two of us: Childless by choice

(CBS News) Even as we celebrate motherhood today, a dissenting point of view is gaining ground . . . as more and more young couples are deciding that "just the two of us" is quite enough. To be sure, the vast majority of young American women still aspire to motherhood, but not so many as did a generation or two ago, as Tracy Smith (a mother of twins) reports in our Cover Story:


In a sprawling home in northwest Arkansas, 19-year-old Jinger Duggar plays solo. This is about as close to alone time as she ever gets.

You may already know her family: the Duggars. Mom Michelle, dad Jim Bob, and 19 kids, most still at home, living in a 7,000-square-foot house that doubles as a set for TLC's "19 Kids and Counting."

It's crowded but calm: a cheerful place where proper etiquette is enforced down to the tiniest tot.

But the Duggars never dreamed it would turn out like this. When Jim Bob and Michelle were married nearly 30 years ago, children weren't even on their radar.

"We didn't know if we wanted to have children right away," he said. "And so Michelle actually went on the birth control pill, and she was on that for a little over three years. And then she went off that, we had our first son, Josh."

Michelle went back on the pill, got pregnant again, and suffered a miscarriage. Devastated, the couple sought divine intervention.

"And right after that, God blessed us with twins," said Michelle. "And then another one."

And another one. And another one.

"Matter of fact, we got up to about seven or eight, somewhere through there, and we thought, 'What have we done?'" said Jim Bob.

Clearly, the Duggars are different: not all couples can, or want, to have this many children - or, any children at all.

"We don't know if our children will be able to have children or not," said Jim Bob. "And there could be medical problems, or they may choose not to have children. But that will be their decision between them and their spouse."

"Whatever the Lord allows in their life," added Michelle.

"There are lots of reasons that people don't have kids," said Jonathan Last, a writer for the Weekly Standard and author of "What to Expect When No One's Expecting." He says money is often a roadblock to parenthood.

No Kidding!, a social organization for couples without children, has chapters in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand.
nokidding.net
"It's become phenomenally expensive to have a child right now in America," said Last. "When you add up all the costs, it's about $1.1 million to have a child for a normal middle class American. That's a lot of money to spend on, you know, something that in 15 years is going to tell you that it hates you."

Whatever the reason, motherhood is in decline.

According to the Pew Research Center, in the 1970s, around one in 10 women were childless. That number now is closer to one in five.

Kids were never part of the plan when Laura and Vinny Ciaccio got married. Tracy Ellen Kamens and Jared Skolnick felt the same way. Both couples are now members of a social club for the "childless by choice," called No Kidding!

Vincent Ciaccio says he does not hate kids: "Well, my favorite quote is [from] Jerry, the founder of No Kidding!, [who,] says, 'I like women's breasts, [but] I don't want my own.' "

"I've been an SAT teacher and loved my students," said Laura Ciaccio. "But I just don't feel the same way about toddlers and babies that everyone else seems to."

"But it doesn't mean you hate them?" asked Smith.

"No, I don't hate them," she said. "I'm indifferent toward them."

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