EMMA’S REVIEW: 25 Over 10: A Childfree Longitudinal Study, by Laura Carroll

I’m back from my summer break, during which I read Laura Carroll’s recently published “25 Over 10: A Childfree Longitudinal Study,” which follows 25 women without children over the span of ten years. Each year, the participants were asked the same questions about their feelings about not having children, the challenges faced as well as the best experiences that resulted from their choices. The participants were also asked specific follow-up questions that were unique to their responses, in order to get in-depth information about each woman’s experience (this clarification was made at the request of the author).

The women are organized in three separate groups: those that remained certain of their choice, those that expressed ambivalence throughout the decade, and those who had become parents by the end of the study.

The objective analysis offers great data and statistics, which might be especially interesting to those looking that. For example, demographics include the fact that 56% of participants are the eldest child and 88% of participants consider themselves introverted, something that was notable to me, as I fit that profile as well.

The book also includes the participants’ personal stories and direct quotes, which allow the reader to connect to specific individuals. Challenging life events such as divorce or health issues, but also positive experiences in personal growth and the accomplishment of professional or personal goals are part of each participant’s journey.

Interestingly to me, I felt like religious pressure and pressure from romantic partners or close family seemed to be the strongest external influences on the participants’ feelings.  

One of the overarching themes, in my opinion, is that the participants shared many of the same feelings no matter where they situated themselves on the childfree-scale. This a good reminder that the human experience is universal and that there are more similarities between women’s experiences than differences.

Small spoiler: two participants ended in parental roles by the end of the study, one as a step-mother and the other as a biological mother after an unplanned pregnancy that she was not willing to terminate, stating “If I hadn’t accidentally fallen pregnant I would not have a child right now.”

The two women specifically identified parenthood as both the most significant source of happiness but also the greatest challenge. To me, that is the biggest drawback of parenthood, the fact that it becomes the most difficult part of life. In comparison to the two parents, for the childfree women in the study, the advantages of not having children were vast and multiple, including freedom, time, finances, etc. The challenges faced in living a childfree lifestyle included dealing with assumptions and stigma, loss of friendships, issues with parents or in-laws, and struggles to find a romantic partner. Most of these challenges are outside of a person’s control. Furthermore, they can be resolved, which is another thing I find appealing about the childfree lifestyle.

Get the kindle or paperback book today! (Link below)

For more information on the author, Laura Carroll, see her website: https://lauracarroll.com/

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