I'm often asked whether adults without kids are different from parents. My answer is that we for sure are different by the time we reach middle age, but this is perhaps due to lifestyle as opposed to personality. It only makes sense that years of living in a childfree home results in a certain kind of personality as well as lifestyle preferences, including enjoying lots of free time, limited responsibilities for caretaking of others, and preference for a quieter, less chaotic living situation.
Childfree adults tend to be viewed in certain ways. Let's look at some of these labels and then beyond them to see what's fact and what is fiction.
Childfree adults are selfish!
We certainly tend to have more discretionary income and the ability to spend our time in the way we choose, rather than having to focus on the needs of children, but does this make us selfish? Most of the childfree adults that I come in contact with are extremely involved in giving—to their spouses, their communities, and their friends. They often have a clear mission in life that is focused on bettering the world. I know two childfree women who work for Planned Parenthood and do not have children, and they are spokeswomen for environmental and population control issues and spend significant time on these endeavors. Most of the mothers I know are busy with child rearing. It's a fact that parenting of two children takes on average eight hours a day. So, just how much time is left for unselfish pursuits outside of family once all these tasks are done?
Childfree adults secretly yearn to be parents!
It seems to be tough for women who are emotionally bonded to their kids and into their role of mother to believe that most childfree women truly do not envy them. We treasure not having to worry about or focus on dependent children. And if we have the desire to do some caretaking, there are alternatives to kids. I have three dogs and this is plenty of responsibility for me. Being a pet owner provides me with the ability to bond, nurture, and teach, without eating into by focus on career, friendships, marriage, and hobbies. When I see a parent with his or her child, I notice right away that all the focus is on the child, and I feel a sense of relief to not have this burden.
Childfree adults hate children and they are genetically flawed!
Some would suggest that it's only natural to want to parent, and if you don't have this desire there must be something wrong with you. What about another totally contrary notion that, with way too many people in the world, it's healthier for a large segment of the population to not have a desire to procreate. It would benefit all of us if we could see a decline in numbers over the next few decades so that the world's resources might sustain us in a healthy manner.
Childfree adults are bored and unfulfilled in their lives!
Another strange notion is the idea that people who don't have children are bored and lack meaning in their lives. In my book, I encourage childfree adults to recognize that, due to not being a parent, there is an opportunity to put energy into other areas. For example, I chose to write a book and to dedicate personal time to speaking out about childfree living and supporting those who have made this life choice. Bored? I struggle to have time to do everything I want to do in life. How do parents fit it all in?
The commonality that I propose exists for childfree adults is that we are individualistic. Due to not having to focus on parenting, we have had the opportunity to more thoroughly develop our unique personalities and lifestyles.