Different couples have different reasons to be childfree. Nowadays, the concept of Double Income No Kids (DINKS) is on the rise. Whatever be the reason to not have kids, being childfree by choice is working well for many partners, including celebrity couples. It would not be wrong to say that there are many benefits of not having kids, though the idea stays controversial.
Reasons to not have kids could be many, ranging from prioritizing your career to wanting to travel the world to having limited financial resources. If a couple chooses to be childfree, it doesn’t mean that life is dull or directionless for them. Couples that opt out of parenthood value their partnership and other aspects of life more than raising kids, that’s all.
To get more clarity on the matter and understand the advantages of being childfree better, we spoke to psychotherapist Dr. Aman Bhonsle (PhD, PGDTA), who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. He spoke to us about the benefits of not having kids and the reasons that several couples choose to go childfree.
Couples Are Realizing The Benefits Of Not Having Kids
There are plenty of reasons or advantages of being childfree. But conservative values often don’t let us recognize the same. With a marked deviation from tradition, couples are indeed realizing the benefits of not having kids. Earlier, being childfree meant being ‘childless’, where a couple could not have children (though they wanted to). The gossip aunts, then, would give a sympathetic nod to the woman who was attributed for this ‘misfortune’. However, times are changing.
Several movements and support groups have spoken in favor of couples who choose not to have kids. Belgian writer Theophile de Giraud, in his book The Impertinence of Procreation, spoke against human reproduction. He puts the spotlight on the benefits of not having kids, on adoption, parenthood training, and to put an end to patriarchy-imposed procreation for ecological reasons.
Maria, who is an assistant manager at a bank, doesn’t think that having a child is an achievement. On the contrary, her reasons to not have kids stem from the fact that she has no desire to spend the next few years of her life cleaning spit-outs, finding nannies, and then later, having arguments with her teenage son caught with a cigarette in his bag.
The reason for not having kids is more of a conscious choice now. Even for young, fertile women like Maya, having a child is not a priority. She says, “I choose my career and quality time with my partner over everything else.” There are others too, who have slowly realized the benefits of not having kids and are, thus, making the informed decision of living a childfree life.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “Having a child depends on the couple’s professional, personal, and social goals as individuals as well as a team. It depends on the kind of lifestyle you want to build for yourself and your partner. For the older generations, having a child was the ultimate shared project that would help them reconcile their personality differences and cultures. Times have changed now.”
A married couple might be big on traveling and work hard to sustain this hobby. They may want some time off work to go climbing or trekking, chill by the beach, or take in the greenery of the hills. All that is difficult with a kid around. It boils down to the individual’s personal choice. It’s not that they think babies are awful. It is just about the kind of life they want for themselves.
Related Reading: What Is It Like For A Married Couple Not To Have Kids?
There are many childless celebrities who have been very clear about why they opted out of parenthood. Oprah Winfrey and her long-standing partner never had plans to raise a child of their own. Likewise, Jennifer Aniston too clearly stated that she is not in pursuit of motherhood and that she doesn’t like the unwanted pressure put on women to procreate.
Stats on childfree couples by the Open University in England claimed that partners without children were happier in their relationships than partners with children. Another study claimed that the number of childbirths in the United States has been on the decline consistently over the past few decades.
Deciding to be childfree is not a selfish choice. Several couples do not wish to go through the whole headache of finding the best school for their child, PTAs, exams, education loans, etc. Plus, look around the world, really. The Earth is dying and overpopulated, with child hunger and malnutrition at its peak. Yet, there are people who deliberately shame you for not wanting to bring another child into this world.
This is not to condone people who want children and are in love with the prospect of being parents. That should be the sole reason to procreate – wanting to have kids knowing that you’re going to be amazing, non-judgmental parents who continue to unlearn their own biases. Any other reason – be it societal pressure, ticking biological clock, or your grandmother asking for a great-grandchild to spoil – is just not good enough and should not matter.
What Is Meant By Being A Childfree Couple?
Many people ask, “Is it normal to not want a child?” or “Should I have a baby for the sake of it?’ or “Will I regret not having children?” Childfree couples are those couples who deliberately choose not to procreate, thereby not succumbing to the societal and patriarchal pressure of having children. It does not mean that they are selfish. Rather, their reason to not procreate could be a selfless one.
But here’s the thing. Even if they are being selfish about it, why shouldn’t they have a right to be so? Many selfish people go on to have kids, and don’t parent their child well. No one tells them that it was a mistake for them to bear children, then why is it considered a mistake to “not” have kids?
Having children just for the sake of it, or to please your family and society, even though you have no interest, time, or money to raise a kid is irresponsible. Having a child is not an achievement or a life goal (contrary to what the society wants you to believe). It is a huge responsibility, especially if you are skeptical about committing to parenthood.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “Societal pressure is largely imagined, because there is no individual known as society. A bunch of 4-5 people who may be your extended family or friends or who live in the same building as you are not considered representatives of society, if you go by the scientific method. To have any consensus, you need to have representative samples. As far as dealing with pressure is concerned, it exists on every human being no matter what station of life they are at. You have to decide what pressures of life are palatable to you.”
15 Awesome Reasons To Be Childfree
If you do not want a child but decide to bring one into this world because you believe you are ‘supposed’ to, then you are being unfair, not just to yourself but also to the baby. In fact, more to the baby than to yourself. The poor child will have to bear the brunt of your wrong decisions for no fault of theirs. Each child deserves parents who truly love them and want to take care of them.
But if you have many reasons to not have a kid, then don’t let your snarky neighbor or interfering relatives make you feel guilty about a choice that makes you happy. You are not born to raise a child. For some parents, having a kid is what completes them. For others, they find no joy in the thought of having kids, and they find their fulfillment through other activities and people. There are several benefits of not having a kid. We list here the top 15 reasons or advantages of being childfree:
1. Consider the finances
My aunt, mother of one, jokes, “Raising an elephant needs less money than raising a child.” Though she meant it in a funny way and absolutely loves her daughter, her exaggeration is understandable. According to a Times of India article, the cost of child-rearing, from conception to college, is about 7 million in Indian rupees.
Imagine the amount of money that goes into raising a child, excluding the entertainment and miscellaneous expenditure. You will always be worried about educational loans, lifestyle expenses, and securing your child’s future. You might just miss out on living your own life in the process. Saving money is certainly one of the benefits of not having kids.
Dr. Bhonsle explains, “If a couple is not financially settled or is struggling professionally, then having a child might not be a good idea. Some couples prefer a free and easy life where they don’t have to deal with the hassles of school admissions, babysitters, extra-curriculars, and more – all of which are additional expenses. In today’s times, the cost of living has gone up exponentially. Couples do not want to complicate things further by spending that kind of money on a new member.”
2. Environmental benefits
What are some health benefits of never having children? Well, newsflash! The world is dying and climate change is coming for us all. While you talk about having grandkids, Mother Earth shakes her polluted fingers at you to say, “Haven’t you heard? Y’all either drown or be gassed to death in a few years.” Not to forget, the pandemic has been wreaking havoc upon the world for over two years now, and more might be on their way for the younger generations to suffer through. Aren’t these warnings enough?
Dr. Bhonsle says, “While there are countries that pay their citizens to have children, we cannot deny the fact that environmental concerns and climate change are valid reasons to not have kids. If a couple believes that one of the many causes of problems in the world is its population, then you may want to do your duty and not have a child.”
World hunger is at its peak. Population is on the rise. Glaciers are melting. And don’t even get us started on how inhuman the governments have become, and how intolerant the citizens have become under them. Do you really need a child to grow up in this world because you think they will look after you when you are old? Do you really want to be raising teenagers for that? The best-case scenario is your 45-year-old child wearing an oxygen mask and night-vision goggles because of the growing pollution.
Or, you can do your bit for the planet. Instead of adding another mouth to feed, you can educate other kids (and adults) on how to live in an eco-friendly way. If you really want a child, why not adopt one and give them the life they deserve instead of bringing another child into this world? We hope this gives some respite to your ‘will I regret not having children’ dilemma.
3. You don’t want to be a parent
This is a strong enough reason to not want to have children. You are as cool as a couple can be. But you just don’t see yourself as a parent. Being a parent means being responsible for your household and your kid, and you have barely learnt how not to sleep through the afternoon on Saturday.
Being childfree is awesome on its own. If you are not ready to have kids, you should not go for it. You don’t need a child to complete your family. You and your partner are a family. If there are other parts of your life that you need to work on, do that first. Don’t let anyone let you believe that having a kid will make you or your family complete or add joy and fulfillment to your life. Saying no to motherhood or parenthood is not a crime. Think of all the things you can be if you don’t have to be a parent anymore!
Dr. Bhonsle says, “Happiness and sadness are no one else’s business except for the people experiencing both emotions. It is for the couples to figure out for themselves. Couples don’t have kids for several reasons – lack of finances, no time, frequent travel, emotional unavailability, mental health issues, general health problems, etc. There is no set dosage or lifestyle that can make you happy. You decide what makes you happy.”
Related Reading: 7 Ways To Get The Romance Back After Having A Baby
4. You don’t want to have a legacy
Having someone to pass on your savings, wealth, and houses to is not a good enough reason to have children. No matter how big the legacy is, your children could still turn out to be spoiled brats and cut you off. Besides, if you really want to do something about your wealth and legacy, there’s always the option of charity. Why not put all that money and assets to good use?
5. You can always be on the go
One of the benefits of not having kids is that you can always be on the go without having to worry about making arrangements for the little one. Travel for two only! If you are the kind of couple who works hard the entire week or year with the sweet prospect of a road trip to a nearby place during the weekend or a holiday to an exotic location, then deciding not to have a child does not make you selfish or self-centered. It’s not a crime to think about yourself.
If you do not prefer traveling with a crying, pooping toddler who refuses to get dressed and needs to be taken care of all the time, it’s absolutely fine. Dr. Bhonsle says, “If a couple is required to travel due to the nature of their work or they are just passionate about trekking and backpacking, then having a child may not be the kind of anchoring they need. They probably just want to be footloose, free, and easy, and wander the world. They’re just happy with living off the road.”
If someone makes you feel otherwise, politely ask them to mind their own business. Get rid of the ‘will I regret not having children’ dilemma. It is normal to want to spend your time traveling and not vetting the best pre-schools for your little one. Without a baby on board, you can choose to travel when you want, how you want. Without the added expense of raising a child, you have the bandwidth to make impromptu plans. And boy! That’s amazing, isn’t it?
6. No spending hours at PTAs
No kids. No school. No homework. No art and craft assignments. No exams. No PTAs. No annual functions to sit through or watch your child practice the same dance seven times in a row or sit through the performances of other kids who you barely know. You don’t have to worry about which school is the best for your child or save up for higher studies.
Natalia’s 12-year-old daughter has a PTA every 3 months. Since her husband is always traveling for work, she has to take the day off from her work to go to the PTA. She loves her daughter dearly but doesn’t understand why the school is so adamant on seeing her. “I’d rather have them email me my daughter’s evaluation,” she remarks.
7. Have better things in the house
The sharp edges of the tables contrast the winding stairs in your house and you love it. It might not be safe for kids but you like the feel and the vibe of your house, and don’t want to change anything about it. You don’t want to worry about your kid falling down. The Santangelo Altar bowl can be put at the dining table with no fear of a kid breaking it.
You can redecorate your home any way you please. Your curtains will be paint-free, your walls won’t have random words written on them with crayons. No spilled milk, no toys lying around, no worries about the half-empty wine bottle under your bed. You can choose to have nice things in the house without thinking about having to baby-proof the place. Isn’t that one of the best reasons not to have kids? You tell us.
Related Reading: NoBabyLand: Why We Chose To Be Childfree
8. You can sleep well
No diaper change at 2:30 every night for two years straight. No pushing your partner to clean up the bed sheet because little Ricky had an accident. No worrying about feeding the baby every couple of hours. You can even fall asleep on the couch while binge-watching your favorite series. No childfree regret for you. Life is comfortable, you get your 8 hours a night, your husband doesn’t complain either, and you finally see the advantages of being childfree.
What are some of the health benefits of never having children, you may ask. Well, certain stats on childfree couples reveal that there are health benefits of not having kids. A study, that spans 116 years, by the American Journal of Human Biology found that those without a child lived longer than those who chose to have a child. The study also claimed that women who don’t have children do well in terms of education and income – factors linked to an improved overall health and well-being.
9. Your instincts are sharper at handling your professional work
Is it normal to not want a child? Absolutely, if you think your strengths lie elsewhere. Will I regret not having children? Absolutely not. As long as you are sure about what you want and have not been forced to make a decision. Is it wrong and selfish to focus on your career instead of parenthood? No, it is not. You have the right to decide what is important to you and what makes you happy.
Your instincts are right, just not apt for handling a baby. Without any distraction, you will be able to focus on your work, especially if you are working from home. For you, your work-life balance is much more important than taking care of a baby 24×7. Your instincts shine through when totally channeled into handling a work crisis, rather than keeping an eye on your child in the crib because well, babies can be awful. They can drive you up the wall.
10. You and your partner can work things out on your own
Sometimes, couples have babies in order to fix a marriage. But that is hardly ethical or effective. It’s a silly, unrealistic expectation that you set for yourself and your partner. Having a child to fix an unhappy marriage is not just wrong but also a risky solution. You don’t need an innocent baby thrown in the mix, especially when you and your partner are not on the same page. It’s ideal to communicate and resolve conflict in a marriage rather than having a baby to fix it.
11. You have an old-age plan
People who try to tell you that you need children because they will take care of you when you’re old, please look up the number of old-age homes that have increased across countries in recent years. Having a child is not an achievement nor is it some kind of a need. Besides, do you really want your child to give up their life and career to take care of you? Is that why you gave birth to them? Wouldn’t you want your child to lead a happy life?
Jenni, who doesn’t have any childfree regret, says, “I do not want to impose myself on my children for my well-being. I have my partner and my forever group of friends who will get old with me. And I happily intend to be childfree.” Those dealing with the ‘will I regret having a child’ dilemma, are you listening?
Related Reading: 5 Ways Our Married Life Changed After A Baby
12. Global rise of crimes is making you less optimistic
There are plenty of reasons not to have a kid and avoiding bringing a baby into this sad world is one of them. Look at the increase in the crime rate today. With children, you will spend half of your sleeping hours thinking if they have reached home safely or not. Being harassed online or cyber-bullying is another worry most parents have to deal with today. Neither you nor your child needs that stress and anxiety. What is the point of putting everybody through such worry?
13. You can travel light
One of the benefits of not having kids is that you can go anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to consider child-friendly locations for a simple dinner at a restaurant, or fuss over packing snacks, toys, and extra clothes for kids. The packing list is endless when you’re going anywhere with a child. Even a simple visit to a friend’s place can make you prepare the child’s bag for an hour. You have to make sure to not forget even the smallest of things or everything goes for a toss. But, without a child, you can just lock your home…and leave! Traveling light is definitely one of the best advantages of being childfree.
Dr. Bhonsle adds, “If a couple would much rather want to be around friends, go backpacking, attend music festivals, and just trance their way through their youth instead of changing diapers, worrying about school admissions, and attending parent-teacher meetings, then they might not want to bring a new life into this world. Later, if they feel like they’re ready, they might go for surrogacy or adoption instead of giving birth to a child.”
14. You won’t feel the urge to be violent
Anyone with children knows that they can suck the living lights out of you. They can drive you up the wall and make you want to tear your hair out. Without kids acting as a catalyst, you will never have the urge to imagine that if the kids were standing in a line and you hit one of them, the others would go down like dominoes. Basically, even if you are a violent person, you won’t have people to abuse at your place, which is a good thing.
15. Sex – anywhere and anytime
This is definitely one of the best advantages of being childfree. No crying baby to ruin your orgasm. Parents, when was the last time you had a sexy time, uninterrupted? I mean, imagine you and your partner making love and your child walks in! Awkward, right? One of the best reasons to not have kids is because they could potentially hinder your married life by not allowing you to enjoy intimacy.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “If you don’t want to have a child, don’t. Live your life the way you want to. You are accountable to yourself. But if you have a child even when you don’t want to, then it’s unfair to the child. Poor child is dependent on you. And if you have financial issues, and are not able to provide for yourself, then how are you going to provide for this unknown entity that has come through you, rather than to you?”
Remember, with children comes big responsibility. If it’s not your cup of tea, accept it, and capitalize on the many benefits of not having kids to find your true calling in life. With these reasons not to have a kid, it is up to you to decide whether this lifestyle is for you or not. If you have one out of compulsion, you will only put yourselves and them through a really tough time and neither you nor your child deserves a toxic and unhealthy life.
Disclaimer: This is not to provoke the parents who are doing an excellent job at raising mentally healthy children. Having children or going childfree is entirely a couple’s personal decision.
Several studies have claimed that childfree couples are happier in their relationships. They tend to have more fulfilling marriages and feel more valued by their partner. Having said that, there’s no rulebook for happiness. Having a child or not is a personal choice. If parenthood makes you happy and feel more satisfied, then go ahead.