General

Why Don’t You Have Kids?

I'm one of 4 "kids". My mother was one of 7 – it would have been 9 but two died very young. At the time of our respective childhoods, it wasn't unusual for either of us. Now, though, typical family sizes are much smaller and more and more women are having no kids at all. Childbearing, once deemed totally natural for women and not a decision at all, is increasingly considered optional. Not that all social pressure has lifted. Most women who choose not to have kids are at some point – or many points – asked to defend their decisions.

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Why Do People Get Angry at Women Who Stay Single and Don’t Have Kids?

As part of the feature, "Up for Discussion," at Zócalo Public Square, a panel of experts (myself included) was asked to provide a brief answer to the question below. Our discussion was published in Time magazine.

The question:

"Americans have come to accept a range of non-traditional family structures--so why does a woman's choice not to have children still elicit skepticism and judgment?"

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What Is the Best Way to Help More of the People More of the Time?

Look at the tagline at the top of this site, Psych Central, and you may find, "We've helped over 175 million people. We can help you too." The focus here is, of course, on the psychological. As a visitor to the site, you have probably become familiar with the many ways the information and the experts at Psych Central can help.

American discourse has always included an ongoing conversation about how best to help people in need, not just psychologically but all sorts of other ways, too. A recent concern is the growing economic inequality and the many ways it makes life more difficult for so many. One simplistic solution that is getting a whole lot of attention in the media is that we should simply get more people to marry (and discourage the already-married from divorcing). The advocates for the marriage solution have formed a Marriage Opportunity Council, so I call them the marriage opportunists.

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Taylor Swift and the Unabashed Love of Cats

The op-ed page of the New York Times included this great headline, "Stand up for your cats". In the essay, Julia Baird heaped praise on celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Kesha who are cat lovers and proud of it. Swift, for example, "posts their pictures on Instagram and has been featured in commercials where she is swarmed by fluffy cats…"

Cat lovers have research on their side. For example, a 20-year study showed that people who had ever owned a cat were less likely to die of a heart attack than those who never owned a cat. (I don't have a cat now but I did when I was a child.) Another interview and questionnaire study of people with serious mental illness documented the many ways that people thought their pets (not just cats) had helped them with their recovery. Also, as I noted here previously, research has shown that writing about your pets and what you love about them can be a great way of bouncing back from a painful rejection experience.

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Challenges of Living Single at Every Age: Part 3

Our Conversation with Wendy Wasson Continues

[This is Part 3 of a four-part series on how the experience of living single changes over the course of the adult years. In Part 1, I introduced the series. Part 2 was the beginning of my conversation with therapist Wendy Wasson; we focused on singles approaching the age of 30. In this Part, we discuss the fears and misperceptions facing single people.]

Bella: One thing that really bothers me is the conflation of being single with being alone. Sometimes single people are assumed, by definition, to be alone. It is not just in everyday informal conversation that you hear insinuations like this; it is in the media and even in some scientific writings. Is this something that comes up in the clinical setting?

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Almost 30, the Hardest Time to Be Single? Part 2

A conversation with Wendy Wasson

In the first post in this series, I described the widespread belief that living single only gets harder as you proceed through midlife and then through later life. I also said that my guess, in most cases, is that just the opposite is true. I think that single people are likely to find their lives full of more joy and less angst as they proceed through their adult years. I found a few snippets of research that supported that possibility. Still, I admitted that the most convincing study of this question has yet to be done.

In this post, I'll begin my discussion of this topic with Wendy Wasson. Dr. Wasson is a psychotherapist who, in her practice, has worked with many single women of different ages. She is also one of the creators of the website MySingleSpace, and for nearly a decade had conducted SingleSpace workshops. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University, where she has been on the faculty of the Feinberg School of Medicine.

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