In my last blog, I wrote about some of the upsides -- for me -- of not being a mother. It wouldn’t be honest, though, to say that childfree living is always wonderful. As I point out in my book, Complete Without Kids, there are some clear disadvantages to being childfree in a world made for parents. Below are a few of the things that can make this life choice challenging.
1. Feeling like a misfit
By the end of their childbearing years, four out of five women become mothers. That means that I, at age 53, am a true anomaly among my peers. I like to tell the story of how, when I was writing my book and looking for folks to interview, my mother was able to think of one woman I’d gone to school with who was not a mom. And keep in mind that I grew up in a large urban area and graduated from high school with a class of 500. I often find myself standing silently in a group of women who are chatting about their children’s school issues or their grandchildren’s accomplishments.
2. My taxes are over the top
Tax season is just behind us, and it stings financially to not have dependents (other than my dogs) or the child tax credit that all parents enjoy. Even more troubling is the talk online over the past couple of weeks about Slate Magazine columnist Relhan Salam’s proposal that childfree adults pay an even higher rate of taxes than we already pay so that parents can pay less. In my personal opinion, it makes no sense to financially reward people for having children; our world is overcrowded and we are scrambling to find ways to save the environment, and so those who are choosing to not bring children into the world are actually the ones who ought to be rewarded with a no-child credit.
3. Greater need for estate planning
Parents generally assume that they will leave their financial assets and personal belongings to their children, but when you’re not a parent, what happens to your stuff? I’ve done quite a bit of planning for the future and spelled out in my will where I’d like my things to end up, but because my relationships are less permanent, updating these decisions is a burdensome task that must be done from time to time, but this also provides an opportunity to reevaluate my relationships and personal priorities.
What aspects of your childfree life are not so great? How do you cope?