Between You and Me

Why some relationships work—and others don't

The Price of Parenthood: Part 2

On New Year’s Day I became a parent, sparking my curiosity about the research on parenting and well-being and inspiring a four-part series on parenthood and happiness. In this post I look at the type of research being done on whether or not parents are happier than non-parents. What different approaches have researchers taken to answer this deceptively simple question? Read More

I'm a childless woman

by choice. So, if I'd had children I really do believe I'd be miserable. I had around 10 good reasons to not have them and so I consider not having had children as one of my greatest achievements. I don't see how I could be much happier. And, BTW, none of my reasons were "lifestyle" oriented or "it'd ruin my perfect figure" selfish BS.

And, what is the point of this anyway? Who really cares who is happier, unless it is to gloat and hold something you did over something someone else didn't do? For god's sake why do people want to know this kind of stuff???? If having children really and truly made one happier, we would have so much evidence of that and no need whatsoever to even ask this question. And also, people like me wouldn't be made to defend ourselves and our choices over and over again. It's like the "marriage makes you stronger, smarter, faster, richer, wiser, and better in every way" BS. If it truly did, there wouldn't even be a discussion.

I chose what was best for me. Why can't that be enough?

No Right Answer For A Non-Defendable Question.....

@ Another Anon Female:

In my deepest opinion, there is no right or best answer to that endearing question. There's nothing wrong with remaining childless as well - except if you hate the idea of "parenthood" - b/c you haven't been a parent & until you do, you'll never truly know what it's really like to be one. You kinda have to experience it to really know for sure.

Good parents take on the responsibility of raising children whether it was an "active" choice/decision or not. I know plenty of non-parents that do well at taking care of children from baby's to teens; but there's no way of knowing if they're happier than me. There are times when I wish I had their freedom of untethered life, but in contrast, many non-parents have expressed having feelings of emptiness as though they are missing the joys of parenthood.

If you are confident in decisions you've made in life, there's no need to defend non-parent over parenthood. It should be enough of an explanation to just simply say that you are happy.

That was my point

I know this is probably beating a dead horse, but, your last lines are exactly my point.

I shouldn't have to defend the best choice FOR ME as if it was a bad choice or one made out of selfishness. I didn't drown the kids in the lake or in the bathtub, etc. so why do I feel like the bad "guy" for not having had children. I've actually been told that it isn't NORMAL to not want children implying there is something wrong with me.

Just as good parents should be lauded, people who do the right thing for themselves should be lauded...not accused...not scolded...not told they're not normal...not told they're selfish...not told they're missing out on the "greatest experience ever" and on and on and on and on and on. I'm asked that question at least once a week, and I've watched the reactions to my answer. "Well, there's still time" is almost the universal response as if I can't possibly NOT want children.

Sorry for the rant, but I hope you can understand how people make each other feel bad over things that are really none of their business or concern.

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Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral scholar in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

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