Childfree: Truly Happy or Simply Justifying a Poor Choice?

Is it Possible to be Content Without Kids?

Posted Aug 28, 2012

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with an older woman during the time I was writing my book, Complete Without Kids. As I told I her about my writing project and excitedly mentioned the details of a chapter on some positives about not being a mom, I was taken aback when she suddenly said, “Ellen, me thinks thou doth protest too much!” For the non- Shakespeareans in the Psychology Today readership, this quote from Hamlet refers to times when a person appears to be passionate about something but they’re actually feeling just the opposite. 

So, while I was offended and even a bit stung emotionally by my friend’s comment, it opened up the door to the realization that many, if not most, parents simply can’t wrap their minds around the concept that we childfree adults are perfectly content with our lives without kids. And not only are most of us content, but a common thought, when we see a parent pushing a baby carriage or hear our friends talking about their lukewarm relationships with adult children, is that we’re lucky and relieved that we didn’t stumble into parenthood by accident—as so many of our friends and family members did. 

I’m seeing more and more blogs and articles written by childfree folks talking openly about their decision to not have kids and the reasons they see this as quite positive. Here are just a few:

Because in Life, You Truly Can’t Have it All!

What I mean by this is that we really do have to make some tough choices about which pathways to take. If your goal is to fully focus on your career, this will mean sacrifices in other areas. You can’t expect to get the promotions at work if you’re leaving early to go to soccer games or calling in sick to stay home with your ill child. This scenario is especially true for women, who still tend to take on the bulk of parenting tasks. 

To Be Able to Enjoy Flexible and Abundant Free Time:

Childfree adults have up to eight hours more a day of time than do our parenting peers. Plus, there’s so much more flexibility in how we can choose to spend our days. If I want to have dinner at 9 p.m. or not at all, no one but me is impacted. Plus, I have the opportunity to engage in whatever leisure activities I choose without taking away from time that I should be spending with children. It’s simply not feasible to think that you can travel the world, climb mountains, or run marathons on top of the fulltime job of parenting. 

The Possibility of Having a Quiet, Uncluttered Home

Go into the home of many childfree folks, and you’ll find a haven of quiet, open space. One can’t say for sure if we’ve developed the preference for this ambience because of not having children or if we didn’t want to have kids because we like peace and quiet, but my guess is that being around children over time results in a desensitization to chaos and noise. 

The Opportunity to Give More to the Environment and to the World

The childfree community pays more in taxes than do parents, and we use far fewer resources. Plus, we have time and energy to engage in volunteer activities while parents struggle to meet the daily demands of childrearing. Each child takes an enormous toll on the environment, and in our industrialized, busy world, this toll rises all the time. With the increase in industrialization, more of us are driving, eating packaged meals, and using disposable diapers.

Marital Happiness and Other Relationships can be Preserved and Nurtured

It’s no secret that marital happiness plummets following the birth of a couple’s first child. There’s the sleep depravation, worries about money, lack of sex, loss of free time to be alone, with friends, and with one another, and myriad decisions to be made about childrearing, all of which can lead to conflict. Many couples don’t make it, and others stay together for the sake of the children.

So, while choosing a life without children is no sure guarantee of happiness, neither is the choice to become a parent. The reasons given above, and many others that childfree adults are talking about, provide plenty of real proof that we’re content without kids! 

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