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Laura, London
"I have always known that children aren't part of my life."
 real 28k

Andrew Greiner, Australia
"I go to work full-time so I support many different groups of people."
 real 28k

Pierre Stapely, Argentina
"Childless couples do not get discriminated."
 real 28k

Theresa Rosmarin, USA
"I think employers need to redress this issue."
 real 28k

Colin Clayton, UK
"If we're childless we have a responsibility to help people who are bring up children."
 real 28k

Sherman Sewell
"It is a very courageous thing for someone not to have children."
 real 28k

Friday, 18 August, 2000, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Does society discriminate against the childless?

More and more people, particularly those in the West, are choosing not to have children. But increasingly, many childless people feel ostracised by a society that, they say, still puts a relentless cultural and even political premium on 'the family'.

Governments are introducing more child-friendly policies, particularly in the workplace and a recent survey says the childless are getting increasingly resentful of the benefits and child-friendly hours extended to parents.

In the US, the 'child-free' are already a political pressure group. Could that happen in other countries too?

Are governments, forcing childless adults to make personal sacrifices to support "families with children"? Or does society have an obligation to help working parents as they are raising the next generation of workers and leaders?

Is having children a behavioural choice or an obligation? Does society stigmatise those that choose to remain childless?

Select a link below to watch Talking Point On Air

Read what you have said since the programme

Read and hear a reflection of your comments during the programme

Read what you said before we went ON AIR

HAVE YOUR SAY

Your comments since the programme

I have chosen to be single and childless yet I have to pay a fortune in taxes to keep others in schooling, medical bills and countless other facilities. I pay the most and get the least!
Colin Gaunt, Bristol, UK


It's no achievement to have children. But it is certainly an achievement to raise them and to get them there in the end

A. G., London, UK.
I agree. It's no achievement to have children. But it is certainly an achievement to raise them and to get them there in the end. It is an achievement to turn them into successful adults who would contribute a much needed and valuable service back into the society.
A. G., London, UK.

There is definitely cultural discrimination against people who do not have children at work. I will be covering for some one on paternity leave and will be setting up a few projects which he will then just take over and this means I cannot go on leave as planned.
My other comment is this that to be fair to people who want children this must not affect their career but what about the people who work all the time but the management do not want to be sued so give the job to the person with children
Patrick Quinlan, England

James Moore says; "It's no achievement to have children, it's just the ability to have sex". Wrong! My wife and I would love to have a child, but due to fertility problems we cannot. Medical fact. That is how God made us. Adoption is a choice, but in late 30's/early 40's, is frowned upon as we are "too old"...... but financially stable. A sad and disappointing reflection on the views of society and in my opinion a discrimination.
G Connor, London, UK

If parents of children of school age are discriminated against it is usually because they fail to keep their offspring under control.
Hazel, UK

Had I met the right partner at the right time, I would have children now. Those who suffer most are those who have NOT chosen childlessness, but fate chose for them. We pay enormous taxes to support families with children, to give them benefits to buy their own homes, while we, as singles, can only afford smaller rented accommodation. The quality of life for those with families - apart from people on social benefits - is higher, not lower than that of single people. In addition to that we experience discrimination when we travel alone or try to enjoy ourselves alone in bars or restaurants - just the stares of people are enough to put you off appearing in public alone.
B. Swoboda, Cologne, Germany


It is to everyone's benefit to choose civilised children, and invest accordingly.

Ellen Forradalom, USA
The decision to form a family is not simply another consumer choice. It's not just a lifestyle, but the life cycle; not a fashion statement, but the real thing. Children, whether yours or someone else's, are a fact of life: the choice is not children or no children, but civilised or feral children. It is to everyone's benefit to choose civilised children, and invest accordingly.
Children are not just tomorrow's taxpayers, they are also tomorrow's consumers, workers, care-givers, inventors and entrepreneurs. Their demand will give your investments value and their labour will perpetuate the businesses you worked so hard to build. Suffer other people's children gladly, because without them, you're nothing.
Ellen Forradalom, USA

I see no evidence of childless couples and are certainly not ostracised in the UK. Unfortunately as a husband and father I have the joyous fortune of having to wait for my son coming back from his first day at school where he will be ridiculed by all the other kids....."You've got a mum and a dad, my mum says your dad pays tax and lives with you...you're weird!"
Billy Glencross, Scotland


I think that people with children are more ostracised than those without

Paul Williams, UK
Oh in my dreams. As the father of a young child I can state if anything the British resent children especially in public places. Bars and Pubs that do not allow children in the beer garden, public buildings with long flights of stairs for people with pushchairs to navigate. Appalling access to public transport, restaurants that treat children as second class citizens and worst of all an older generation that firmly believe children should be seen and not heard. I think that people with children are more ostracised than those without.
Paul Williams, London UK

In my experience, its the childless who discriminate against those with children - in the workplace. And I speak with experience as an employer as well as an employee. In highly competitive industries, such as consultancies or merchant banks - women with children are seen as less committed to work. And I've seen it time and time again when the women are side-lined for promotion or put first on the redundancy list, purely because they are seen as most likely to take up financial resources i.e. maternity leave and finding an expensive contractor to do the job whilst they are away. This happens all too often!
Vivienne, UK

It is very much easier to have a child but it is a hard job to bring him/her up, it is a challenge. I think parents should have enough time for their children. It is important that they look after their kids and educate them. Perhaps flexible working hours would be the best thing for parents if they want to have a child. It is fact the most of people are busy with studies, valuable service for the country etc. Therefore it is narrow-minded thinking if one feels that it is discrimination. The people have different choices and different ambitions in their life.
Deen, Norway

It's high time that the affluent societies get off their high horses and look at basic facts. Man is a mammal; to survive man has to reproduce. There are very simple basic natural laws. If affluent societies keep ignoring them and set up programs like 'Equal opportunities for women and men' which do not contain anything more than balderdash to produce a sublime mysticism to cover up their hot air thoughts about having children or not.
If you want to enjoy your current life-style you'll have to have more children - not negative birth-rates - and those who are ignorant enough to frown on the one or the other should think twice about children and supporting those who have children even though if they 'can't afford them'.
Wulf-Dieter Krueger, Thailand


Those that do choose to have children, should not be revered as 'saviours of society'. It was, after all, their choice

Michelle, UK
As a child-free working woman of 33 who co-habits with a divorced father of 3, I can quite categorically state that going to work is easier than looking after the demands of 3 children. That said, those that do choose to have children, should not be revered as 'saviours of society'. It was, after all, their choice to have children - often "to carry on the family line/name" - how much more selfish can you get than that? It's not a divine right to be a parent. If you choose to have children, you should ensure that you can provide for them - financially and emotionally. To expect the state or a nursery to substitute the bits you can't provide is much more selfish than remaining childless and bearing the stigma that goes with it.
Michelle, UK

Who knows what underlying factors determine whether couples do or don't want children, and who are we to question people's decisions on a matter that is personal to them?
Morgan Keogh, England

Where do you think your pension growth is going to come from? People with children are subsidising those without. £50per month per child does not go very far. When these future adults will be earning money and generating investment income through their spending for the "childless" peoples pension plans.
Peter, UK

What a ridiculous question? The fact is that people having families are performing a valuable service to the State/ species. There are plenty of benefits available to those who are childless. It is ridiculous to think that they are being "discriminated against". Their circumstances are completely different. I completely support family friendly initiatives. I don't have children, but I am not so selfish and narrow minded as to resent those who do.
CP, Wicklow, Ireland


It's no achievement to have children, it's just the ability to have sex

James Moore, UK
It's no achievement to have children, it's just the ability to have sex. I don't think the government should pay child support either unless it's essential - and then it should only be paid on the understanding that the parent(s) will not have any more children. If they can't afford them, they shouldn't have them.
James Moore, UK

Much of the debate centres on finance; children cost now but will pay in the future for the elderly. They will also be paying taxes for the upbringing of the next generations! On a global scale the planet is overpopulated, with many people living in what us Westerners would call poverty. The one issue that is bigger than finance is resources. This planet has limited resources of all the things we humans need to continue the existence of the species. You can't eat money and neither can your kids!
Mike H, England


If you want a child; are professional and sentient then get a system of friends/family to support you [dare I suggest partner?] or stop pretending to believe in equal rights!

Jean McEvit, England
It's been gratifying to read so many sensible and well-considered views. As a Union Rep I attended an Equal Opportunities course and felt totally angry by the views of my colleagues. Time and again women and babies were mentioned; it was accepted that women needed to be there for their children and it was discriminatory to think otherwise. I felt completely differently. No one should be arbitrarily discriminated against, why therefore have an antediluvian view of your position in society and see yourself as sole parent? I got so tired of hearing 'I'm a feminist but I look after the child' Excuse me? I choose to support myself it's a career. If you want a child; are professional and sentient then get a system of friends/family to support you [dare I suggest partner?] or stop pretending to believe in equal rights!
Jean McEvit, England

There is a sense, here too in the San Francisco Bay Area that if you're a single person with no children, that you're almost expected to sacrifice all of what should be your "free time" outside work, for work purposes. Those with families (including a former boss of mine) took considerably more time off than their child-less single peers, and such was accepted, whereas the single folks are chastised for doing the exact same things. It makes me wonder how those advocating this bias think how single folks will find their eventual spouses if the individual is without a life aside from work! The only thing worse than this are the parents who believe they can be both a workaholic and a good parent. Those are the truly delusional folks!
Stephen Kenney, USA

Society does not discriminate against the childless: raising a child is a monumental task, it is as difficult as being handicapped. I was 16 when my parents suddenly had a third child, and I had to take much care of him. Since then I decided I will never have children of my own, not to go through that hell again.
Let's face it, in the light of entire ethnic groups slowly dying out in the developed world, we need to appreciate families and inspire them to have children, even at the cost of such "discrimination". Someone's got to support us when we're old.
Andrei, USA (ex Russia)


Having worked hard for the qualifications I have why should I accept a job of a lower standard just because I chose to give my children the best start in life

Janie Richter, UK
As a mother of young children I made the choice to put my legal career on hold to spend time with my children. However only 5 years down the road I am now being told that I left it too long to come back into the job market. Having worked hard for the qualifications I have why should I accept a job of a lower standard just because I chose to give my children the best start in life. I don't ask for any special provisions just that I am treated as an individual.
Janie Richter, UK

Children, biological or adopted, are property owned by one or more individuals. People should have freedom of choice as long as it does not endanger others. All we need is a constant awareness campaign run by governments and international organisations dwelling on such issues and their niceties without undue encumbrances to individuals. Informed decisions would positively reflect our collective responsibility in society.
Francis M Cooper, Uganda

I am one of those resentful employees, annoyed by the special consideration given to parents. My husband and I don't mind paying taxes for schools, and other things necessary for children, but we do feel that child payments should be means tested. It appears to be a "reward" by the government for being able to reproduce.
As couples with no children are less of a drain on the health system, maybe we could get some kind of break in our NI tax, the childless paying less those with children. That seems very fair to me.
Ellen Thompson, UK


The fact is this is another artificial divide which has been substituted for race or sex in order for people to discriminate against each other

Paul Hicks, UK
I was once childless and single, and I'm now married with three children. I've never experienced discrimination by employers in either case. However I have noticed an increasing tendency whereby parents and childless individuals/couples regard each other as a different species. I remember that, when I was childless, I would often be treated with disdain by acquaintances who had children; they liked to think that being parents somehow made them superior, and no doubt they were also jealous of the childless person's carefree lifestyle. Now that I've qualified as a fully-fledged human being by having children, I notice childless folk claiming moral superiority on the grounds that they aren't contributing to the "population problem". (They are, by being here themselves.) The fact is this is another artificial divide which has been substituted for race or sex in order for people to discriminate against each other. And I dare say this debate will fuel the fire.
Paul Hicks, UK

Better that these western women don't have kids. They don't want kids and kids don't want to be unwanted. It goes to show that having kids is more than a biological function which females do.
Jeff, Sydney Australia


Your comments during the programme

As a parent myself it is a very courageous thing for someone not to have children. It's much harder, there is definitely a stigma. I had children at 38, my brother is childless by choice and I have some other friends who are childless not by choice and there is definitely a stigma. It's much easier to have a child on the stigma level but it is so profoundly difficult to be a good parent so if you're really not up to the challenge you shouldn't do it.
Sherman Sewell

I firmly believe that for the progress of society fit persons should reproduce bearing in mind however that a child needs to be fed, clothed and educated or he/she will be a liability to society rather than an asset.
Paul Philips, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We've all got a responsibility to contribute to today's children, not just by producing them, because we'd be over populated. But it should be treated as important as any job, so if we're childless we have a responsibility to help people who are bring up children.
Colin Clayton, Bristol, UK

All those who say we should pay for others' children now because "they will look after us when we're old" have missed a crucial point:- these future carers will be paid for out of OUR savings. I expect there will be people to look after me when I'm old, but I expect to have to pay for it out of my savings, and am planning along those lines.
Gus, London

1) Societies don't have children, individual couples do. 2) The issue should not be so much parents/society interests, but in fact the interests of the children (education, health, stable home environment etc) 3) People should be able to make a choice to have children or not, including adoption. However, the KEY should be: People should only choose to procreate when they can afford it. After all, who supports them if they can't find the means?
John Burrows, (Happily married Dad)


The attitude that I have personally experienced is that because I do not have a child I don't have a life outside of the office

Theresa Rosmarin, New York, USA
There does need to be more of a balance, because even though I recognise that working parents have a hard time with taking care of child care and doing their job, but the attitude that I have personally experienced is that because I do not have a child I don't have a life outside of the office so I can afford to spend 10 hours in the office. I do it because it needs to be done, whether I'm there or whoever does it, it needs to be done. But I think employers need to redress this issue.
Theresa Rosmarin, New York, USA

What goes around come around. Even if today's "child-free" (of which I am one) cross subsidise those with children, then those children will be in turn contributing to the services of a "social democracy" that I hope would be in place in years to come. I believe we will have to take greater responsibility in the future for self financing of our own older age, but there will still be a significant calls on the community for a range of health and social services, which will be financed in part by those children some of us unfortunately see as a burden now.
Stephen, Sydney, Australia

Those who do not have children are not being selfish. On the contrary they are concerned about the world and have made a personal sacrifice. Those who want children have the option to adopt the many orphan children in the world. Instead these people are egotistical and want to have their own off spring. To leave a part of them behind.
Muru, Melbourne, Australia

All the members of society have a collective responsibility to the other members. Everyone should have choice to have children or not, without censure for their decision. While the taxes of people without children support the children of today, in the future the taxes of those who are currently children will support the aged, if only indirectly through public hospitals and by supporting the systems and structures of society. This is how societies continue to function. We need to be able to pass the baton on to the next generation.
Pam Hulland, Wollongong, Australia.

Unless Western countries have insufficient birth-rates, governments will take the easy option of allowing immigrants and asylum seekers to settle to make up short-falls. This erodes the culture and stability of Western countries, especially noticeable in the UK.
Dave, London

Childless couples do not get discriminated, it is actually the ones with children that are being discriminated. For example, if a mother wants to go and work, an employer will see that if she has a 16 year old son then a mother is too old to work. If she has a younger child, the employer will think how many days she will need off to go to the dentist or if the child is ill.
Pierre Stapely, Rosario, Argentina

I am a father of two (a boy and a girl) from a previous relationship. I would not have fathered them if I had my way because they are very expensive and can be a nuisance too. Now that they are here, I love them and take my responsibility as a father very seriously. I am in a new relationship with a woman I love and who hasn't had but keen to have them. This means that I will have more children by default and should love them as well. I can identify with those who have made conscious decision not to have children and would have been one of them if I had met a like minded partner.
Ayabs, London, UK

I think we all have a responsibility which the government sets us when we become an adult to look after society and the way society ticks over. I go to work full-time so I support many different groups of people. It's something you accept when you go into the workplace that you are going to be supporting different groups of people. We don't divide our taxes up and say "this is for you, this is for me". The government does that and that's the way of the world.
Andrew Greiner, Boston, UK

Governments should be aware of the value children, so should the community. Without children society would be a miserable collection of oldies. We are always ready to fob off our social responsibilities for the children within our own community. It time that we realise that they are our most valuable asset. Employers are members of the community and as such should also take some of the load for rearing the next generation.
Bill, Perth, Australia

We need to keep in mind that government and each of us have an interest in a constant crop of younger workers since they are the individuals who pay into social security programs which allow us to retire. The fewer children we have, the fewer to pay into that system.
Robert Swain, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

I believe there is a degree of social stigma attached not being childless by choice. I'm 23 myself and I've know all my life that I don't want children and I've recently faced enormous opposition while I've tried to get what I want out of life, which is to be sterilised. It's something that's always been there, like the knowledge you're gay or your straight I have always known that children aren't part of my life. I've faced nothing but patronising and derisory comments from the doctors and acquaintances.
Laura, London, UK


We will not live forever and we need children to carry on with the business of this world.

Cornelius Herelle, New York
Those who decide to have children also need to take the responsibility to care for them. Making everyone else to pay and support for their decisions is quite a bit unfair. Mind you, I'm not suggesting we should discriminate against those who have children, but at the same time we shouldn't discriminate against those who make the choice not to have kids.
Jay R., Melbourne, Australia

Children are our future. We will not live forever and we need children to carry on with the business of this world. Also, as we get older, we need care and service providers of all sorts. If we look around us, we will realize that the old and retired are not able to effectively care for their fellow old and retired. We need people to ensure the continuity of our civilization and our very survival among other things.
Cornelius Herelle, New York

The children that suffer at the hands of the generally poor parenting skills of the British swell the ranks of the disaffected/maladjusted in our society. Hats off to those individuals who recognise that they haven't the time to devote to what should be the major commitment of bringing-up children
Richard Weeks, Worthing, UK


Your comments before we went ON AIR

Bringing up children is the sole responsibility of parents. Society should not pay for choices parents make.
A Attieg, DeKalb Illinois

I am childfree and have every intention of remaining so. I do not wish to add to the population problem. I have also had the gift of a good education, and feel that I can better serve humankind -and the planet - by working towards solutions to the problems we have engendered, rather than producing more consumers who, to a large extent, are the problem.
KK, Oxford, UK

Everyone needs food, but too much is harmful. The same applies to children. Every day about 180k people die and are replaced by about 450k. babies. This is a situation that must lead to trouble especially as overpopulation inevitably means over polution.
Guy Bellairs, Portugal


The entire western world is suffering a population decline, and we need to elevate motherhood and babies if we are going to survive.

Josephine Quintavalle, London, UK
Blair 'replaced' the married person's allowance with a family tax credit not payable to childless couples - just the latest discrimination against those who choose not to- or cannot have - children. It seems that Blair is buying the votes of those who wish to have unreasonably large families to the detriment of the country, the continent and the world as a whole.
Dermot, Oxford, UK

It seems, from some of the comments, that we are extremely selfish. On one hand we have the 'why should we pay for other people's children' childless and on the other the 'don't you realise how much time it takes to raise children' parents. Both views are all about me, me, me.
Dave, Reading, UK

The entire western world is suffering a population decline, and we need to elevate motherhood and babies if we are going to survive. Killing of the elderly and poaching the best brains from the developing world, is our current cynical response to the population crisis in the West.
Josephine Quintavalle, London, UK

I think not having children was a major part of the long and non-stop hours I used to work. In the end, I lost my job through stress. Many of the parents (though not all) seemed to work less hours; and one even commented on how she couldn't see the rest of us ever having time to start a family. That's what I think's the real issue here - are childless adults (not all of whom choose to be childless) to have friendships and relationships ruined in order that employers can give reduced hours to parents? It's employers that need to change their ways.
Ian Henderson, Norwich, UK


Latin countries such as in South America, childless couples are always being asked when they are going to have children but luckily they are not discriminated against

Pierre Stapley, Rosario, Argentina
I don't feel that childless couples are being discriminated. Maybe pressurised, yes. People nowadays tend to respect the decision of couples who wish not to have children but those couples will always get the standard questions "When are you going to have kids?" or "Any plans yet for a family?" The childless couple is already family! Society does sometimes put pressure but doesn't discriminate. In my opinion, discrimination of this sort is almost dead. When you go to Latin countries such as in South America, childless couples are always being asked when they are going to have children but luckily they are not discriminated, the only outcome is having sad relatives who won't have a small baby to bounce on their knee BUT the childless couples final decision will always be respected and that's the way it should be.
Pierre Stapley, Rosario, Argentina (Ex-pat from the UK)

Why should my wife and I, having taken the decision not to have children, be penalised by having to support through taxation, those who conciously or by accident, have them? We believe that all financial 'child benefits' should cease. If people choose to have children, they should ensure that they can properley provide for them and not depend upon the state to do so.
Paul Twiselton, Guildford, England

This is an absurd debate. People with children are constantly discriminated against by society. We are given substandard tables at restaurants and aeroplanes and certainly children are compromised in this "Adult" world. If parents are given some additional relief while providing such a huge service to society, i.e., the proliferation of a species and additions to a working society, it's the least that can be done!
Saeed, USA

In view of our unsustainable high population we should reward people who do not want children. The rest of us need to accept that the price of having children is greater inconvenience to ourselves.
John W, Holland

The moaners who do not have children should bear in mind that when they finish their days work they have time to do as they please. On the other hand if, like myself, you have children your working day continues when you get home. Everyone out there with kids will relate to this.

I work with a guy who is the only person in a team of 10 who does not have kids. He is selfish, self centred and immature. His view of people with kids is they are lazy and overpaid. When you point out to him that his time outside of work is his and that his financial situation is much healthier that the rest of the team (even though he earns about the same) he simply won't accept the truth of the situation. I can not wait for the day he has kids to look after.
Gary Hart, Nottingham - UK


To all those who don't want to understand why parents get benefits: the children of today will be maintaining the welfare system in 30 years time when you will need it more than ever

Manuel, Spain
Apart from any ethical considerations, I just want to say to all those who don't want to understand why parents get benefits: the children of today will be maintaining the welfare system in 30 years time when you will need it more than ever. It is very simple, parents get benefits because they perform a service (through lots of sacrifices) to the society.
Manuel, Spain

I run a small company. When I formed the company my first employee was a very capable lady who was a key asset to the company. After 13 months of employment she announced proudly that she was expecting her first child. As a responsible employer I paid everything that was required under EEC law. It took me three months to recover the sums from the Inland Revenue who stalled me at every point and said I should offset the sums due against other employees. This is OK if you have any other employees. A few thousands of pounds in contract labour were also expended to cover the shortfall in resources. The government did not lift a finger to assist in any way. I was lucky that the business survived. Any change in the law is most welcome.
Jim, Northamptonshire, UK

Isn't it selfish to expect other people (yet to be born) to devote their lives to making sure we are OK at the end of ours?
Karla P, Cambridge, UK


My wife and I are not childless by choice. I find it increasingly infuriating with the Governments constant dialogue regarding their 'child friendly policies'

Wayne, Cardiff, Wales
My wife and I are not childless by choice. I find it increasingly infuriating with the Governments constant dialogue regarding their 'child friendly policies'. All very well if you have children, but try getting IVF and other such treatment on the NHS that's another story.
Wayne, Cardiff, Wales

The primary cause of childlessness in heterosexual couples is not choice but infertility, which despite medical advances still blights the lives of one couple in ten. Infertility can have all the symptoms of a major mental illness. Anyone who wishes to contribute to this debate should recognise that there is as large a difference between "childless" and "childfree" as there is between choosing to close your eyes and being born blind.
Martin Ternouth, Dorchester UK


We were married for a long time before we had our daughter and we never resented the time off that people had to deal with family crisis

Paula, Aldershot, Hampshire
We were married for a long time before we had our daughter and we never resented the time off that people had to deal with family crisis. We now have a daughter ourselves and we get nothing from the Government to help us raise our child. We both work so cannot get the working families tax credit; we have lost the married couples allowance and do not get any allowance for having a dependant. We worked out the figures and we would in fact be better off childless or divorced. That way our mortgage would be paid we would get benefits for being single parents and would get income support. So the people who say that the Government are stigmatising the childless are getting it all wrong. They appear to be penalising you nowadays for being married and having children, running a car and owning your own home.
Paula, Aldershot, Hampshire

The simple truth is, if you can't afford to give up work to look after your kids, then don't have them! There's no way that my partner and I could afford for me to give up work to look after a child, so we don't have any.
Lisa, London, UK

In the working environment, if asked to do something extra, there is only one question to ask: "What's in it for me?" If you are adequately compensated in some way for putting in extra time, doing extra work, etc, then fine. Otherwise, just say "no". After all, your employer only does what he is forced to by legislation, and the only possible reason for working is for financial gain. Why waste your life (which is the real thing, not a rehearsal) doing anything you don't want to unless it's absolutely necessary for you or your own family?
Enceladus, UK

Have kids by all means. Your choice entirely. But why should I pay for it? State benefits and welfare for parents (single or otherwise) only encourages the production of more feral and equally fecund and feckless offspring. The problem gets worse with each generation. Crime wave? You ain't seen nothing yet.
Dr D, UK

Children are a blessing from the Lord. If some employers do not treat childless employees fairly, children are still very valuable and worthwhile now and in the future. The European civilisations that are too selfish to reproduce themselves will continue to decline psychologically and otherwise.
Dr. Alden Marshall, Gatlinburg, USA

As a childless married couple my wife and I are the highest tax payers supporting those who through choice make a commitment to dedicate the next 12-16 years to parenthood, 12-16 years that I fund through child credit schemes, maternity and paternity breaks. What we need is law that does not discriminate against one set of society to support personal choices of another. The Government must stop passing legislation to remain popular and look at effectively resolving issues such as these.
Kevin H, London UK

This all seems like yet more divide and rule by our employers: If we didn't all have to work such unreasonably long hours, then there wouldn't be any problem with anyone needing more time for family/ social commitments. By the way, to the person who suggested that schools stay open until 5:00 pm - do teachers not have lives and commitments, too? When will they be expected to do all the marking, preparation and paperwork if the children are at school for the whole working day?
Mik, UK

Any benefits (tax, work or otherwise) gained from having children are more than offset by the additional work, and cost of raising them.
Ben, Netherlands


Why should those who choose to have children automatically be given benefits that those who choose to remain childless do not?

Louise, UK, Yorkshire
Whether or not someone has a child is their choice. Why should those who choose to have children automatically be given benefits that those who choose to remain childless do not? Is it any less important to take time off work to look after a sick partner or friend than it is to look after a child? Or to receive financial benefit for having a child (a child that only adds to the population of an already highly populated country) rather than remaining childless.
Louise, UK, Yorkshire

Being childless may be a conscious choice (for either personal or economic reasons), or one made by natural selection. Either way the 'rights' available to non-parents are not in any way comparable to those of parents. Maternity leave/days taken to "look after the family when sick" do not exist. I know the government needs to provide a positive signal to those families who produce offspring for the future well being of this country, but that should not preclude the fact that all should have access to all benefits. An employer, for instance' is now legally bound to allow a new father a 13 week 'sabbatical' during the first five years of their progeny life, when they do not have to advance the same benefit to a childless person at any time during their working life. Fair?
Andy, England

This debate simply shows how self centred, petty and jealous the human race in the Western world has become. It is a 'ME' centred culture, with no thought for others. I personally have children, but do not resent anyone leaving early or coming in late for any reason whatsoever. This should not be an issue of childless against families. Its time for the Western world to become more family orientated than work orientated, then perhaps people would realise what is important in life.
ND, UK

Childless couples are only stigmatised by ignorant people who are not aware of what goes into making a successful society.
Steve Hunt-Anschütz, London, UK


It's a complex debate certainly but each of us has choice and the right to that choice should be respected

PJT, London
It's a complex debate certainly but each of us has choice and the right to that choice should be respected. One thing I have noticed though is the expectation by parents that those without children will defer to them at holiday times, especially Christmas. I did this myself when I was parenting, now that I'm in another partnership without children, and no desire for more, I can see the other side of the argument. Be tolerant, but be assertive.
PJT, London

Most of this interesting debate has been about economics and the workplace. My grouse about "discrimination" is linguistic and philosophical: the way the expression "family values" has pushed out words like "ethics" rather implies that as a person who has no family and doesn't want one, I must necessarily be a thief, a liar, and a generally Bad Person. So let's go back to talking about right and wrong instead of "family values".
DP, Norway

As a childless Paediatrician, I'm fed up with lame parents who rationalise their dysfunctional lifestyles as "you don't understand you don't have kids!"
David Huntley, Pebble Beach, USA


I believe there is a degree of stigma attached to being childless

Laura P, London, UK
I believe there is a degree of stigma attached to being childless, or childfree as those who choose not to have children prefer to be called. As a 23 year old woman who has known all her life that she simply isn't cut out to be a mother, I am facing enormous difficulties in getting what I want - to be sterilised. I face a barrage of patronising doctors. I do not dislike children - I simply do not want any of my own. Oddly enough, if I were consulting doctors for help in getting pregnant, I would be helped without a second thought. Getting sterilised is as much my right as getting pregnant.
Laura P, London, UK

Why are all these sanctimonious parents insistent that they are doing us all a favour by having children? They're not. Here in the UK the population density is making life intolerable. These people should not be indulged, they should be made to bare the fair and full cost of their decision.
Graham, UK

I get tired of hearing politicians harp on about "family values", "the family budget", "the family way" - the "Blair way"!!! As a single person I pay high taxes for services I do not use. I do not see today's young generation providing me with a realistic pension to live on in my old age despite paying in for it now. It strikes me that governments would like most people to die around 55 so they pay as much tax as possible before becoming burdens on the state which has to "rob Peter to pay Paul" all the time.
Charlie, Whitstable, Kent, UK

Just because I don't have children doesn't mean I'm an unfulfilled, materialistic work-slave. I have a loving partner who I'd like to spend more time with. If I had children, there would be no problem going part-time to look after them, but try asking to work less hours so you can spend more time with your partner.
Andrew Dowle, London

In a time when we are having to work harder, faster and longer hours I think people easily become resentful of others they perceive as getting extra benefits and an "easier life" for making a choice to have children. It is understandable that women and men who have made the choice not to have children should resent even more having to work harder because of those who do. However, if we all took a deep breath and actually thought about the consequences of not having an adequate welfare system maybe we would grumble a bit less.
Gerry, Glasgow, Scotland


Keep driving those wedges in, we'll alienate each other yet

Matt, Netherlands, ex UK
I think the segregation, if perhaps not the discrimination has been perfectly demonstrated here. See how quickly everyone joins their "group". Look how the battle lines are drawn so easily. People are so quick to compartmentalise. It's always a woman/man, parent/childless, black/white, old/young thing. First we pigeonhole people, then we lose all empathy for them, then we discriminate. For all the parents/childless people here who couldn't see the other side's point of view, you are the problem. Keep driving those wedges in, we'll alienate each other yet.
Matt, Netherlands, ex UK

Maternity legislation in Brazil is actually stronger than in Britain. As an employer, I now have to give a receptionist a range of benefits because she is pregnant, on top of having to lose her for four months. I love kids, and I'm happy that she's pregnant, but why should my company suffer because of this? I employed her to do a job and when she can't due to her own choice, I'm not allowed to replace her. I'm not her father or her husband and I really don't see what it's got to do with me. To all those people who go on about their endless rights, perhaps they'll give four months of their time free when their employer has a problem. "Somebody else" must always solve everything, mustn't they.
Graham Bell, Brazil

Having children is a choice... Just remember where you would be if your parents made the choice you are making.
Wangeci Gatei, Kenya


If I do not wish children of my own, the last thing I want is to be beholden to yours.

Roger, London UK
So all you parents are carrying out your duty, providing us with tomorrow's tax payers who'll be supporting me? I think not, some of us are organised so that provision is made for our retirement. If I do not wish children of my own, the last thing I want is to be beholden to yours. Oh, and as well as producing tomorrows politicians and doctors and nurses, you'll also breeding tomorrows murderers and rapists and warmongers and despots
Roger, London, UK

Twenty-one years of working for an international organisation have convinced me that parents are often the hardest-working members of a team. Far from "sneaking off early" to look after their children, they work hard because they need their job! In addition, they are often better-balanced personalities than their childless colleagues, being less self-centred.
Richard Aplin, Belgium

I do support that fathers should spend more time with their children. However, if the paternity leave of a person results in shifting his burden of work to his childless colleagues and they are not given any reward for the extra work, it seems to be unfair. What I suggest, is the companies should offer those childless workers compensation for covering the work of the others. So both the fathers and their childless colleague will be happy.
Florence Ng, Hong Kong


We are in no danger of going extinct through under reproduction, so spare us the argument that it is the most important thing we can do with our lives

Sue , Australia
My three points to add to this discussion: 1.The human species is the most fecund feral pest this planet has ever had to support. We are in no danger of going extinct through under reproduction, so spare us the argument that it is the most important thing we can do with our lives, when we are pushing every other living thing out of its habitat. 2.As for discrimination in the workplace re being child-less, I am in the situation that my husband is a teacher so can only have school holidays off whereas I am expected to not take school holiday's so work mates who are parents can (mostly so they save on childcare fees). 3. Every choice has consequences, and very few people consider them, as 'responsibility' is not as fashionable as that other 'r' word 'rights'.
Sue , Australia

I think that flexible working for EVERYONE in the workplace can solve the problem of parents and childless people both feeling that they are being made to lose out. Plus, instead of throwing mud at each other, both sides could actually say "thank you" to each other; If everyone was childless there would be no next generation to carry on our (now richly enriched and mixed) culture, and if everyone had children at the same rate, then the allowances of benefits to parents would be unsustainable. I think the balance is about right. If parenthood declines, we should provide more incentives. If it increases, we should provide disincentives.
Anthony, Switzerland

I am still a student, so I do not have any clear ideas about this affair. But I am sure of one thing- the real problem in the world of work is not parents having time off for their little sons and daughters (because they are doing good and essential social work, they are dealing with our future); the real problem are those employees who, in their own jobs, are doing everything but working!
Goran, Italy


Family is very important for our society, it's the foundations of the future

Cristina, Spain
I'm a student and in my opinion, parents should be with their children, particularly when they are babies. Family is very important for our society, it's the foundations of the future. As a consequence, it's important that enterprises help their employees who are having children and taking care of them, otherwise there wouldn't be any youth and the population will continue decreasing, as it's doing now in many western countries.
Cristina, Spain

I think that people (non-parents particularly) should stop generalising. Just because we now become mothers, doesn't mean we can all just stop working and stay home. Sometimes the only way to support our families and give our children the basic necessities in life, we need to continue working and if our children are sick or we have to leave early because the daycare centre closes at a certain time, I feel it is unfair that we are being resented for having to do so. It is our duty as parents to be there for our children and part of that duty is providing for them. Not everything in life is a choice, sometimes we have to make the best of a difficult situation and perhaps when these non-parents become parents, they will have a better understanding!
Tercia Dawes, South Africa


Those who are often unhappy at not finding a partner are definitely discriminated against

Andrew J. Chisholm, Northampton, UK
I am lucky to have at last met and married the right partner. But I know that, had I not, I would still be looked upon "as a bit odd" by women and children who live in my street; could always look forward to being stuck at the end of the table if actually invited to a dinner party; single person supplements - the list goes on and on. I cannot speak for single women, but much must be the same. Those who are often unhappy at not finding a partner are definitely discriminated against, and are expected simply to work hard to pay taxes.
Andrew J. Chisholm, Northampton, UK

We are reaping what we have sown in the name of "progress". Until a generation ago it was possible for a working man to support a wife and children, thereby ensuring that the best child care of all was available - Mum. Feminism, and the political correctness it spawned, forced women into the workplace and away from their children. In turn, two income families generated economic demand that forced up prices (especially of housing), which made it impossible to live without two incomes! As a society, we have made choices because they seemed "progressive" or fashionable and sought ever more rights without paying sufficient heed to our responsibilities. The results are all around us and plain to see.
David K, England

I can't help thinking that many of these "childless couples" who protest about the trend towards more "family friendly" employers would make similar complaints about having to support the old, the sick, the handicapped and the unemployed.
Martin Gamble, Chesterfield, UK

It's obvious that those who don't have kids haven't realise that things have changed since the 50's and 60's when their mothers stayed at home to raise them. I don't have children, but I can appreciate that childcare and nurseries are NOT cheap, and that one parent staying at home for 5 years (a disastrous career move in any case) is not always an option. At the end of the day, everyone has the right to take time off work at some time. How else would society progress if everyone decided not to have children?
JM, London, UK


Not everyone capable of procreating will make a good parent

Raedju, Brighton, UK
If anyone seriously believes that state benefits (to be paid for by all these children we therefore "must" have) are going to make the slightest difference to the quality of their lives when they retire then they are living in a dream world. Have kids because you want them and are able to raise them in a loving and secure environment to be an asset to the world in more ways than merely financial. If anyone doesn't like the choice you've made, whether you have children or not, then that is their problem. Not everyone capable of procreating will make a good parent.
Raedju, Brighton, UK

Children are a blessing. Parents should be honoured to have them but not lean on society to raise them. They are blessed and should fulfil their obligation.
Lavoie, Fay/ USA

I'm childless. I'm not expecting or relying on the children of today to support me through their taxes when I retire, I've already planned ahead for that. If I need to be cared for at that time, I will pay for it myself and not expect to be supported through other people's charity. I already pay out thousands of pounds a year in taxes for services I do not use, and then I'm expect to cover for working parents as well? I think I know who is really getting the raw deal here.
Rob, UK

As a childless worker in my mid 20's I feel no resentment towards colleagues with children being given leave, etc. Maybe this is because I have better things to do than go around seething with jealousy and resentment. I suspect that the people who do resent workers with children being given special consideration are the type of people who are always worrying that someone else might be getting something they aren't, rather like spoilt children themselves.
Colin Wright, UK

Given the rather unpleasant views of the "Child-free", I am only too happy that natural selection will take its due course.
Glyn, Bramham, West Yorkshire

My wife and I have not been able to have children. Having come to terms with this we are able to see the behaviour of others from the outside, and never cease to be amazed at the way couples choose to have kids and then spend all their lives moaning about how much hassle it is and then expecting the rest of mankind to owe them a living. If you choose to have kids - great, but do not expect the rest of us to make allowances for you.
Mr T, UK


How sad that so many choose the emptiness of material things and money, and consider themselves 'child-free'

Ken Beach, Germany
Here in Germany the long-term decline in the population is now a real issue regarding how to finance pensions in the middle of the next century. How sad that so many choose the emptiness of material things and money, and consider themselves 'child-free'. No, you don't have to have children, but I would always question the motives of why some choose not to. Isn't the permanent love of a child (despite the hassles!) worth more than the passing pleasures of mammon?
Ken Beach, Germany

Not one contributor has addressed the whole subject which is FAMILY friendly policies in the workplace. This should not be restricted to parents with young children, but everyone who has a family member in need of help and support from time to time. I was extremely grateful for the flexibility my employer allowed me when my three children were small and it was even more important when my mother was dying of cancer. So, childfree employees should not feel resentful but glad that such enlightened approaches mean that they can find it easier to meet their responsibilities to their extended families - it's not just a "perk" for younger parents.
Mark, UK

I do find the hysterical reaction by the "childless" brigade a little unsavoury. Having children is a choice but I am sure such people will be pretty grateful that someone made the sacrifices to enable us to have a future population when they are old.
Harriet Daly, UK

It's certainly not easy to find an adequate solution for this problem. What I'm wondering is why there are so many mothers working after their childern are born - or fathers? At least one of them should stay with the baby if possible, don't you think ? What do you have children for, if you just leave them with a babysitter or take them to nursery? In any case you shouldn't punish those people who choose not to have any children by giving them extra-work for "less" money! An employee should earn money for the performance and not for the children he has.
Tina B, Switzerland

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