The aim of the study
We are a team of researchers conducting a multi-national research project about people who choose not to have children and to remain childfree. (Each of our profiles can be viewed here.) Childfree people often face much stigma and find it difficult to have their choice seen as legitimate or to be taken seriously. This is largely because of pervasive pronatalist views. On one hand, having children is generally seen as highly desirable, natural, contributing to societal wellbeing and also personally fulfilling. On the other hand, people who don’t have children—especially those who choose not to—are seen as abnormal, unfulfilled, selfish, or lacking.
We want to explore the experiences of childfree people from South Africa, India and Poland – all countries with strong pronatalist values. We are interested in understanding childfree identities, as expressed in online spaces (like websites, blogs, discussion groups, and social networking sites) that are dedicated to childfree individuals. These online spaces are important because they offer childfree people a place to express their views more freely and also to potentially get support from other people who have made the unconventional choice not to have children.
Why we are doing this research
There is relatively little research conducted on this topic, especially from the perspective of childfree people themselves. We want to contribute to knowledge about childfreedom, which we think will be useful in informing mental health (and other) practitioners, who often do not understand the choice to remain childfree. In addition, through this project we also want to give a voice to those who are childfree. We are committed to contributing to a social climate that is truly supportive of reproductive freedom and we believe that true reproductive freedom depends on recognising and supporting both non-reproduction and reproduction as viable options. Ultimately, we would like to assist with recognition and legitimisation of diverse reproductive choices. This will go some way toward tackling the stigma that childfree people experience.
We invite any people (over 18 years of age) who describe themselves as childfree or do not want to have children to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and participate in online discussions on a forum dedicated to childfree individuals.
Please note that:
- Ethical clearance for this study has been granted by Institutional Review Boards at Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria (South Africa).
- We will ensure that your identity is not recorded in any of the research material to ensure that your participation remains anonymous.
- We will only use information which is offered by willing participants of the study. No archival data from online sites will be used.
- There are no immediate benefits to you personally from participating in this study, beyond being able to reflect on and share your thoughts, feelings and experiences about being childfree. By sharing your insights and experiences you will be contributing to the increased recognition of different reproductive choices.