First off, this post isn’t about infertility, it is about making the choice & choosing to live child-free as a couple. I’m going to state up front I feel this is a personal choice for anyone and one you need to discuss early on in your relationship for it to work out for you as a couple. Both parties must be 100% agreed on this choice for the relationship to work after the choice is made. If either party is making the choice to keep the other happy the relationship will not last and will be very unhappy for at least one of you. You will very much feel pressure from society and family to have children as it is still assumed you will have children. To turn against what is seen as the “norm” will and can have you feeling like a misfit but you are not alone there is a rise in numbers choosing not to have children. I’ll get the stats out-of-the-way early, about 20% of people in the USA and 17% in the UK are making this choice and living child-free for a number of reasons which I’ll outline below. That’s’ risen from about 9% just after WWII in the UK.
Why are some people choosing to live child-free?
While parenthood is still seen as an obligation not an option for adults, people are making their own minds up about why they chose to live child-free. Among those reasons are genetics including mental illness and health-related issues, financial constraints and career choices, pursuit of lifestyle, having experienced abuse or neglect as a child themselves, already looking after elderly parents and not wanting to become exhausted by adding children to the mix, for others they see it as a decision to save the planet. In terms of career, women are deciding that not having it all is okay, they see that it leaves them open to have a better income level and promotion like men. (Currently, stats are showing that childless women have only a 4% pay gap with men whereas for Mums there is a 14% pay gap that huge. On the other hand for men being Dad is more likely to get you promoted over childless men. Some sad facts but true.) Their reasons may vary but they are all realizing that they do have a choice not an obligation as a society still tries to enforce upon them. So in making that choice what are the pros and cons of such as decision for you or you as a couple?
What are the pros and cons of living child-free?
I have to say these aren’t my pros and cons list, they are from people who are now in their 50’s 60’s and beyond and have lived as individuals or couples child-free. They all had one thing in common and that was they had no regrets about their decision but cautioned that it is one where both parties need to be on board to make the relationship work.
- More time and energy plus focus on your career. As I’ve said for women this may have the bonus of adding money in your pocket also.
- More time to pursue other lifestyle choices like hobbies, interests, travel, friends etc.
- More time to focus on you as a couple.
- You don’t have the worry of having someone completely dependent on you as a child would be.
- You can make decisions based on your own needs first not a child’s.
- You can help provide support and have a great relationship also with your nieces, nephews or friends children.
- You can support and give more time to charity work that you feel passionate about.
- You may feel pressurized by society and family, this can cause rows among family members and you may lose family to your decision also. You may, in fact, feel like a societal misfit at times.
- You will probably lose friends or at least drift apart when they have kids. It’s not uncommon for this to happen when people are at different life stages anyway, plus you will gain new friends along the way.
- Be prepared for the “what if ” moments, they may be times when a friend or family members child is having a communion, wedding, graduation etc, that you will feel a tinge of the ” what if’s”. It should pass after the day is gone though.
- No one to look after you in old age except your partner if you have one.
- No grandchildren to spoil but I’m sure there will be plenty of family members for you to spoil along the way.
As I said at the start, the choice has to be yours, for whatever reason, but in order to have a successful relationship it has to be a combined agreement where you support, nurture, stand-up for and love one another against outside influences. Otherwise, the relationship won’t work long-term. The decision isn’t an easy one at times but always remember when you inform yourself you empower yourself to make the best decision for you and your life.