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Time magazine story: Yes, leading 'The Childfree Life' is rational, but ...

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Reuters/Daniel B. Wood

(Read caption) Time magazine's "The Childfree Life" has stirred emotions of parents and non-parents content with their choice to either have kids or not. A woman reads a book on a sunny spring day in the western Austrian city of Innsbruck, April 25.

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The cover of Aug. 12's Time magazine was (by clever design) instantly polarizing.

Entitled "The Childfree Life," it shows two young thirty-somethings splayed out on a white sand beach, relaxing with arms intertwined, not a care in the world evident on their tan, happy faces.

These people, we're led to believe, are "having it all [by] not having children."

As important as what the image depicts is what it doesn't: parents keeping a wary eye out to ensure that the kids don't drown, leap headlong into a bonfire, or try to pick up a dead seagull; kids pestering the parents for ice cream and throwing tantrums when their demands aren't met; parents so exhausted from travel with young kids that rather than smiling angelically at the summer sun, they sleep on the sand with their mouths open, snoring audibly.

The staggering statistic upon which the story hangs is as follows: "The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there's data, the fertility rate declined 9%."

Not surprisingly, the cover has touched a lot of raw nerves. Without reading a word of the story (which explores new paths to fulfillment and acceptance trodden by childless women ... men are somewhat of a sideshow, as per usual), you are swept up in a tidal wave of emotion.

You’re reminded of the love for your own children and defensive over your choice to procreate, perhaps, or of the love for your adventure-filled, childfree life and defensive over the people who keep insisting that "you'll change your mind, and it'll be great when you have kids, you'll see."

A sort of complement to the story ran on BBC this week – the piece was entitled "Your post-pregnancy tales: Stretch marks, scars, and 'breasts like zeppelins,'" but it may as well have been called "when you have kids, you turn big and stripey and then it's sort of up to you to make the best of it or forever bemoan your choice."

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