Some fertile couples are choosing child-free living because of environmental
and financial concerns. Many truly feel the world is an environmental disaster
area and do not wish to raise children in a world of questionable health
hazards. Other couples find that they can barely meet their bills as it is, and
opt not to add more stress to an already badly strained budget. Remember, parenting is a selfless, largely self-sacrificing job.
Choosing a child-free lifestyle may be an appealing option in an economically
turbulent and difficult world.
Some of the traditional reasons for having children were purely
economic. Children, many people thought, guaranteed financial security in old
age. Today, with so many college-educated adults living at home because they
cannot get jobs, the economic benefits of progeny are no longer visible. And
you'll find that most senior-age parents of financially successful children
today do not want to be a financial burden and will choose to be independent as
long as they can. Another traditional reason for having children was fear of
loneliness in one's old age. Twenty years from now, the majority of the
population will be over age 65. You won't be lonely.
The Benefits of Child-Free Living
Freedom. You may have the time and extra money down the
road for all the things you dreamed of: going back to school for that second
degree, buying a vacation home, traveling, early retirement, or whatever you
Control of your life. When you have children, you lose a
certain amount of control over your own life. Children can have lots of
problems. They may have difficulty at school; they get sick; they have
accidents; they get in trouble; they get pregnant; and so on. You never
stop being a parent.
Self-expansion. You'll have the time to explore parts of
yourself that you never knew existed, because you'll have time to yourself.
Insights about your life, your gifts, your talents, your desires, your
interests can be explored. Here are two images to keep in mind: Katharine
Hepburn at age 70, and any other 70-year-old whose life was ruined because of
his or her children. I'll take Katharine Hepburn's life any day.
At any rate, whatever your reasons are for living child free, the decision
is, of course, reversible in most cases.
This is what you get when you cross adoption with child-free living. You can
become involved with the children in your life: nieces, nephews, godchildren,
or friends' children. One woman I interviewed has a toy chest and children's
book library that is the envy of all her friends. She spends precious quality
time with many of her friends' children of all ages. The children love her, the
parents love it because they get a break from their kids, and she benefits
enormously. She has become that one special grown-up the children can confide
in, yet she can also influence their developing values and skills. She shares
in their successes and trials of childhood. "I've never met a child who doesn't
have room to love one more person," she tells me.