Choosing to be Childfree in a Changing World

More adults than ever are rethinking their plans to have kids.

Posted Jan 14, 2013

The age-old human desire to procreate came about by necessity. Just think about it—families living in rural areas needed to have as many hands as possible to manage the workload, and it really didn’t cost much to feed and clothe another person. Many children died at birth or at an early age, and couples were unable to “plan” their families through use of birth control. The common practice of having extended families live together also made it easy to have many children underfoot while Mom and Dad went about their daily work. It was a different time and place from today!

 In our current world, at least in Western society, the arguments for having children are so very different. Just ask a young couple their reasons for wanting to have kids and you’ll get a variety of responses including the desire to create a family together, wanting to give grandchildren to their parents, really enjoying being around children, and wanting to join their peer group in becoming parents. The fact is, though, that most young couples don’t even think about whether or not they want to have kids—they just let it happen. I believe however that if potential parents really took the time to consider the pros and cons of bringing children into the world, many would choose to not take the plunge to parenthood. A couple of reasons for my belief follow.

The future of the world does not look bright:

Just take a look at the state of the world and consider if this is a place where a child will be able to have a good life. Last month, when 20 1st graders were killed in a secured school, I once again felt a sense of relief that I don’t have a young child to worry about in an ever-violent world. I also see the increased lack of resources, even basics such as clean water, clean air, and adequate food to feed us all. Will future generations have these basic resources? Given the complacency that I observe from our world leaders and the general public, I don’t have much confidence that things will get better.

The financial cost of childrearing is prohibitive:

These days it costs upwards of $200,000 to raise a child to age 18, so adults in childbearing years need to carefully consider if they are ready and able to take on the responsibility of having a child. More potential parents are also realizing that parenting usually doesn’t end at age 18. Look around you to see how many young adults are still living with their parents and others who have left home are back or are dependent on mom and dad to help them to pay bills. 

Parenting will have an impact on your marriage:

It’s a fact that parents report lower levels of marital satisfaction than do their peers who don’t have kids, and when you look at the reasons for this it makes perfect sense. Parenting takes considerable time. Time analysts say that it takes on average eight hours a day to raise two children to the age of 18. Many couples try to avoid out of home childcare by using the tag team approach, working different hours so that someone is always at home, and this results in little time together as a couple or a family. Parents often complain of being exhausted due to lack of sleep, too busy, and not having time for sex or to just be together as a couple. 

For many parents, the costs and risks I’ve discussed here would not cause them to wish they’d never had kids. But for younger folks just starting out, not yet having bonded with a child or wedded to the idea of being a parent, these factors might just make them hesitate…and decide to go the childfree route. 

Photo by Bob Lowe: Girl and Dog.