Author Sonja Lewis Redefines Womanhood

The media may be full of glamorous images of pregnant celebrity moms like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Beyonce, but not all women are choosing to have children. In fact, statistics show that one in five women in the U.S. do not have offspring. Why is the reason behind this growing trend? And can women find fulfillment in life without becoming mothers?


Women choosing not to have children

According to the Pew Research Center, more women are leaving the childbearing years without having children. Nowadays, one in five women does not have kids and this number is growing. In fact, it is nearly double the number of women who didn't have children just 30 years ago. What is causing so many women to choose this path?

Work vs. family

Journalist and author Sonja Lewis recently published The Barrenness, a novel that delves into this sensitive topic. Originally from Georgia, Lewis grew up in a traditional family where having children was more than an expectation. It was a given. But when Lewis decided to pursue a career in journalism, she realized that having children of her own might not be her top priority after all.

"I began to question societal expectations equating womanhood with motherhood"

Lewis explains, "It wasn't necessarily a direct choice of work vs. family. There were a variety of factors involved. I was climbing up the career ladder during a time when if you left your job as a woman to have children, it might not be there when you returned. At the same time, I began to question societal expectations equating womanhood with motherhood. Women can achieve life fulfillment in many ways. I enjoy my nieces and nephews immensely, but for me, being part of a family does not have to include having children of my own."

The Barrenness is the story of Lil, a 39-year-old high-powered business woman, who is faced with the difficult decision of whether to have children. In addition to a series of obstacles in her path including her career and her relationship with a congressman who does not want more children, Lil is faced with her own questions about conventional notions about motherhood.

Womanhood does not equal motherhood

Lewis wrote the novel in hopes that it would put the ball in motion to change outdated notions about women and motherhood. "Because it is fiction, it opens the conversation so that people can have a dialogue about this topic. My highest hope is that it will liberate women from feeling that they need to become mothers simply out of allegiance to an antiquated set of values and tradition. I want to empower the younger generations of women. I want to tell them, 'There are many ways that women can achieve happiness and fulfillment in their lives. Having children is just one path.'"

"Womanhood and motherhood are not one and the same. Define your happiness in your own way"

The infertility community is another group that Lewis would like to reach with her message. While she admits that it is different to make a choice not to have children vs. struggling with infertility, the outcome is the same. How do you find meaning in life without children?

She hopes that her book will lift up those who are struggling with these issues and help them feel encouraged to see other women who are living fulfilled and happy lives without kids. "These ideas go against tradition, but someone has to be the first to break the mold. Womanhood and motherhood are not one and the same. Define your happiness in your own way."

Tell us:

What do you think about women choosing not to have kids? Understandable -- or are they missing out?


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Comments on "Why are more women choosing not to have children?"

ColumbaNine October 01, 2013 | 4:29 PM

Ugh. It's not "one in the same." It's "one AND the same."

Patricia June 30, 2012 | 4:26 PM

I don't think that my decision not to have kids has anything to do with not finding a man. I am in a relationchip for 7th year now. I don't want to get married and I don't feel that I want to have kids. My partner feels the same way. Our relation is great just the way it is. And I absolutely hate the questions of my friend and family :"and when you'll get married and will have kids???" For some reason they can't understand that I am absolutely happy about my life and I don't need another person in my house.

Lady December 11, 2011 | 6:43 AM

What I think is that it is very hurtful to say that women don't have kids are missing out, simply because some did or do want them, but aren't in the right situation for that, or haven't found the right partner. These women suffer in silence while everyone is telling them how having kids is the best thing a person could ever experience. How cruel. I am not going to walk up to a man in a wheelchair to brag about how great it is to have legs.

Childless1 December 07, 2011 | 4:11 PM

Finally, the ungodly price of housing in places like California make it nearly impossible for the "young & fertile" to start a family when the average home price is $500,000! When my parents started out, my dad's annual salary alone was more than the entire value of their new home!

Childless1 December 07, 2011 | 4:07 PM

Men will not commit if you put out; so DON'T! If you are putting you, you have just given him every reason NOT to marry, because he's arleady got everything he needs. If you want to marry and have children, get him motivated by making him wait for you until your wedding night. :) Also, you may wish to find out FIRST if he wants kids and HAS THE ABILITY. Some men are impotent, infertile, or unwilling!

Childless1 December 07, 2011 | 4:02 PM

Simple Answer is: If men were sinless and were truly walking with The Lord, it might work; however, it is VERY PAINFUL for girls to grow up seeing their mothers financially, emotionally, verbally, and even physically terrorized by their husbands. No girl wants to grow up to place her very life in the hands of a control freak. Other problems stem from men not stepping up to the plate...they want to have lots of , but never ask for a hand in marriage! Ladies, DON'T PUT OUT! Wait until you ARE MARRIED. It's better to be single than to be ABUSED!

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