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Child-Free Living

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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

1.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 want.

2.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.

3.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.

Social Parenting

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.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on September 09, 2013

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