Intuitively, one might think that a person who doesn't have kids would feel a sense of emptiness and deep regret in his or her decision. Believe it or not, we find that the exact opposite is true. One myth about childfree adults is that they're happier because they are selfish and have more money for fancy vacations and sports cars. But if you talk to most childfree adults, this is not what's causing them to report higher levels of happiness than are reported by parents. Let's take a look at some of the factors that may explain why childfree adults are happier than parents.
It's easier for childfree adults to stay physically healthy!!
Keep in mind how many hours per day childrearing takes (8 on average). Once this central task is done, how many parents have time to go to the gym or out for a run? Plus, it's a fact that households with children tend to contain greater quantities of high fat foods; it's no wonder that parents would have trouble resisting, and thus may be more overweight. Studies show that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to have weight issues-do you know some parents who lack adequate rest because of staying up too late trying to get everything done?
Childfree adults have an easier time holding onto a youthful attitude!
Okay parents, I know that many of you will argue with me on this one, but let's be realistic here. Having a baby is one of the fastest routes to maturity, and this has been tested out over time. If you've never been a parent, you've never felt that great weight of responsibility that only a child can bring. Look around you and try to pick out the adults who have never had kids. What I see often is women and men who look and also act younger than their parenting peers. I sometimes joke that we've never completely grown up!!
Childfree women have an easier time keeping their girlish figures than women who have borne children.
Dolly Parton recently shared in an interview that she attributes her still great figure, including firm breasts and a small waist, to not having had kids. Most women who have had babies will tell you just how difficult it was to get their bodies back, if they were able to do so at all.
Childfree couples are happier than couples with kids!!
Again, your intuition might tell you that this couldn't be the case, because we all know that a child will bring a couple closer—right?? Actually, marital satisfaction rates plummet following the birth of the first child, and they don't return to pre-child levels until the nest is empty. For many couples, the focus during childrearing years shifts to the children first, then work, and finally hobbies and self-care, with the relationship coming dead last.
All that free time actually is a good thing!
In our western world, we are spread too thin. The result is that many of us feel that there's not enough time for everything we want to do. Our careers suffer, we miss sleep, and we don't have time for those precious hobbies of golf, cooking, friendships, reading, or travel. As a childfree adult myself, I often face a weekend with little that I have to do, and this feels wonderful. I'm usually mentally tired after a long week of being a psychologist, and it's nice to not have to take care of anyone but me, my husband, and my dogs for a couple of days.
To sum it all up, don't have a child because you think it will bring you happiness or improve your marriage. If you're not content with your life prior to kids, this discontent will likely continue after the child is born. Plus, it's important to recognize the challenges that parenting will bring. There are positives and negatives in every life choice, and it's important to weigh these out as you create the landscape of your future.