India has the second largest population in the world, led only by China, and when I visited there four years ago, locals were bragging that they’d pass China up soon. Having kids is customary in India: Wedding ceremonies are full of fertility rituals and getting married moves a couple into a stage referred to as grihasta ashram, where they are expected to bear children. So, it must take courage to choose a different route. According to the Times of India, more and more young Indian couples are choosing to stay childfree.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits these Indian couples see in choosing a childfree life.
1. They can spend more time with each other. For couples without kids, the relationship serves as a mechanism for personal growth. They focus is on one another as opposed to a third dependent individual–a child. Cory Jones created a wonderful website just for childfree couples. Jones says that having it all also means growing as individuals through shared life experience.
2. They are able to explore places together. If you’ve ever been on vacation or even out to ice cream with a child, you know that much of the focus ends up being on the child’s experience. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s quite different from the experience of two adults sharing their perceptions with one another. For many people, having children means that they are able to teach someone about life, and this brings true joy. But if this is not something you’re yearning to do, it can instead feel like a burden.
3. They can make the world a better place. In case you haven’t heard, August 1st is International Childfree Day! There’s a website devoted to this day and childfree adults are recognized for their gifts to society. For 2013, the chosen childfree woman was Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon. She wrote the book, How Geek Girls Will Rule the World to inspire women to break free from patriarchal notions of what they should do with their lives. She encourages women to follow their “geeky” dreams. The male winner was Theophile de Giraud, a writer from Belgium. He has no children by choice for “personal, ecological, and philosophical reasons," and he has worked hard to spread the word about the childfree choice and advocate for it’s acceptance
4. They are able to take care of their parents. In my book, Complete Without Kids, several of the childfree individuals I interviewed talked about the caretaker role they play in their extended family. We also have more time for helping out friends and neighbors who might need some assistance. Remember, it takes an average of almost eight hours a day to parent two children to the age of eighteen, so a person without this responsibility has a lot more discretionary time.
5. They can build a bank balance. The numbers just came out this week showing that it will take more than $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013. This does not include costs associated with pregnancy or any college expenses or other money spent on children over the age of eighteen. I also know that, as a childfree woman, I’ve been able to focus on my career without breaks for maternity leave or cutting back hours to focus on parenting, and this has allowed me to earn more than my colleagues who are parents. Childfree adults are able to save more and we’re less likely to run into unexpected expenses along the way.
What other benefits come to a couple that chooses to remain childfree?
Photo courtesy Flickr user Saad Ahktar
Ellen Walker, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of Complete Without Kids: An Insider's Guide to Childfree Living By Choice Or By Chance.