Childfree Without Regrets

Laura Carroll posted a well-researched argument that parents are more likely to regret their decision than people who choose not to have kids. I hope this encourages the nudges out there to stop telling the childfree that we will regret our decision when it’s too late — like the doctor who pushed and pushed a childfree friend of mine to freeze some sperm before his vasectomy. Thanks for the advice, but we don’t need the ice.

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2 thoughts on “Childfree Without Regrets

  1. Juliette says:

    There may be studies that child-free women are happiest but there are also studies that say that married couples with children are happier but that a woman’s happiness decreases with each child ( you can find a study to say anything )

    In the end, it doesn’t matter what a study says… it isn’t the reason to have children.

    I always thought I wanted children which is odd since I was never really fond other people’s children but tend to be a very nurturing type and love animals. Then, I got married. For 9 years my husband and I traveled the world constantly and reveled in our alone time. I truly loved our time as a couple together and wouldn’t trade that for the world. So, by the time we thought about having children, I saw myself happy either way… I could see living a happy life through either path ( child-free or with children).

    We did decide to have a child and have a wonderful daughter. No regrets and I love her dearly ( and it helps she is amazingly good ). I find a sense of peace and balance and fascination that I hadn’t had before and it is truly amazing and wonderful. I never find myself wishing for alone time or time without her… I cherish every moment. BUT, I also find myself smiling when I think that years from now she will be grown and in the world and my husband and I will have had that special experience to look back on and then continue our journey together ( somewhat alone ).

    We got flack before we had children saying we had to have a child and I hated that. Even today, being a mother doesn’t define me ( I have a great career, marriage, friends, hobbies, etc.)… it is a huge part of me but not who I am exclusively. I think the real problem is that many women I know need a way of defining themselves and it is easy to say “I am a mom” and feel defined. My mother even said (terribly ) to me when my daughter was born “Now, you are really a woman.” I said “That’s horrible. I’ve been a woman for many years… I’ve had a career, traveled and moved all around the world, loved and lost, etc.”

    People don’t criticize you for not having children because they want you to be happy– people that are truly happy before kids should understand the decision completely. They criticize because they need to justify to themselves their decision was the right one.

    That said, I still get criticism that I don’t REALLY know what parenting is like because we chose to just have one child. We chose to have one child for a reason… to still have some peace and enjoy our marriage and travel with her and show her the world and spend time with her without being so harried.

  2. m says:

    I find this issue of why parents are so insistent on the joys of parenthood despite all of the evidence to the contrary is so fascinating.

    All my life, the one thing I really wanted to do was have kids. I’m a resolute feminist and I have a career (b/c I think it’s important ) but my one true passion was to have children. And I’m lucky b/c have 3 beautiful, but very high maintenance kids who are a source of joy and misery well beyond what I could have conceived. I simply could not have imagined just how much I’d lose when I had my kids. (And I say this, even though I’m still longing for a fourth child.)

    Here are at least a couple of the reasons parents get so crazy when they come across someone who is happy being childless:

    1. We’re jealous of you! You have all of these resources and free time just for yourself. How we miss it!

    2. A more complex version of the above. I know how great it is to not have kids – in fact, until I had kids, I didn’t realize just how sweet life was without them. I’m not even sure people who are childless by choice really realize how GOOD they have it. However, I also know that (despite all of the drudgery and angst and sacrifice) you get a huge rush from your kids, often on a daily basis. It’s really like falling in love over and over again. And that’s still true, even with my 10 year old. But all those non-parents out there – they’re happily enjoying their great life not not knowing what they’re missing! And that’s not fair, b/c we parents – we know *exactly* what we’re missing.

    I think when it comes down to it, having kids has huge rewards and not having kids has huge rewards, too. For me, I had such a strong drive to have kids, that I try not to regret having them and just revel in the good of it. I avoid thinking about what I’m missing, b/c I know I’d make the same choice again. However, there are definitely times (like on an evening out with just my husband, feeling happy and fulfilled) when I think – oh well, living with just my husband, that would’ve been really nice too. Too bad you can’t have everything.

    I have a lot of admiration for people who choose not to have kids. I think it takes self-awareness and a willingness to not conform to make that choice. And I think they and their non-existent children are certainly better off for their boldness and self-knowledge. Nobody (except maybe the person’s parent, who really wanted their grandchildren ; )) should give any non-parent a moment’s flack for making a good choice for themselves.

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