This is an important question to ponder as time goes by and your chance of becoming a parent gets slimmer and slimmer. Just today a young woman, age 28, was in my office expressing her frustration that her slightly older sister—married with two children, was making jokes about her becoming a “cat woman” if she doesn’t act soon. As usual, it’s a parent suggesting that someone who is happily childfree is missing out! We’ve all heard what a joy it is to hold your very own child and that the love one feels for that child is unmatched by any other. And we’ve all heard from parents who talk about the legacy they’ll leave behind. And many of us have too felt that we’re some kind of freak because we don’t have children.
When I’ve talked about some positives in my life associated with being childfree, some parents have actually said, “Me thinks the dost protest too much!” So, does this mean that whenever a parent goes on and on about how much she loves her child or about an activity the child is participating in this means that she’s taking every step to justify her choice? Most of us would agree that this is a crazy notion.
Let’s face it, the norm still today is becoming a parent, so if you choose to not do so you’re likely to be asked about your reasons and you may have an opportunity to share some of the positives in this life decision. Let’s take a look at a few.
1) More time for sleep. Many parents I know are chronically sleep deprived. They get up earlier than I do and hit the ground running. They’re responsible for themselves and for dependents too, and this means supervising and preparing meals, supervising self-care, disciplining another person, going to appointments, chauffeuring, and doing hundreds of other tasks that dependent children cannot do for themselves. And how many teens count on their parents to pick them up from late social gatherings on Friday nights? Time researchers say that parenting takes a lot of time, on average 8 hours a day for 3 children up through the age of 18, and this likely means fewer hours for sleep.
2) More time and energy for marital connecting. Couples who do not procreate are less likely to get out of their romantic friendship roles. How many parenting couples do you know who refer to one another as mother and father? Plus, it’s a fact that couples without kids have better sex lives and in general higher levels of marital satisfaction.
3) Energy for career goals. I spend 45 hours a week on my career and feel relief that at the end of the day I only have to take care of my three dogs. My job as a psychologist takes enormous emotional energy, and I’m not sure how much of this I’d have if I was giving it to a child. My evenings are spent getting myself rejuvenated for the next day’s work. My pups of course want attention and need to be fed and exercised, but if I choose, I can cheat a bit and have them come to cuddle in bed with me for a while.
4) Doing your part for the environment. I’m happy to see more and more being written about the environmental footprint of each human. Just last week I read that the single action you might take that would make the most difference in saving our world is to have fewer or no children. I feel proud of what I’m giving back as a childfree adult.
Pillow Fight in Bedroom by imagerymajestic: Freedigitalphotos.net.