My husband and I are very often asked why we have decided to live our life together childfree. We are white-collar upper middle class college graduates in our mid thirties. We have a 3 bedroom/2 bath house, two cars, and a dog (amongst other pets). We are financially comfortable. For most Americans, we live the “dream,” the only thing missing is the 2.5 kids. In a social situation, and often when meeting people for the first time, one of the questions that does inevitably arise is “How many children do you have?” More often than not, people are taken aback when learning we are childfree. A few almost seem to take it as a personal affront. In this age of pro-natalism, we are definitely in the minority. Speaking only for Craig and I, there are a number of reasons that have played into our decision to be childfree.
Our primary reason for choosing a childfree lifestyle is that I don’t really care for children all that much. Craig shares my sentiments, but in a less adamant way. There are a few exceptions to be found here and there-cute, well-behaved kids who are endearing in their mannerisms and intelligence-but for the most part what we see are children who are ill-behaved & sloppy, with little to no etiquette. While we blame the parents, as it’s obviously how these children are being raised that makes them this way, we also know that giving birth is a crap shoot and you never know what you’re going to get. We’re not willing to take that chance.
Another very important consideration is financial comfort. We realize that having a child is a lifelong commitment, and especially with adult children living at home longer, we are just not excited about indenturing ourselves to a 18 year + financial commitment. Children are expensive, bottom line, and once having a baby, you no longer live for yourself, but for that child. You will do without in order for that child to have, and honestly, we are just too selfish to do that. We enjoy our “toys” and vacations. We enjoy being able to do what we want, when we want to do it, and quite frankly, we enjoy living comfortably. We realize if kids were involved, we would not be able to live so extravagantly and we’re not willing to give that up: to us, having a child is simply not worth it. We’re not willing to sacrifice our lifestyle-we enjoy it too much.
Enjoying our lifestyle goes hand in hand with the joy that we find in each other. My husband and I are closely bonded; we are soul-mates, and very much in love. We feel that having a child might destroy that closeness. We’ve seen a lot of other couples with children who are now more “Mom & Dad” than they are husband & wife. We’ve also been told quite frequently by parents we know that given the chance to do it over again, they wouldn’t. We cherish what we have together, it’s the most important thing in the world to us, and we just don’t think there’s a place for a child. We would never risk our relationship on such a non-priority.
My health, being what it is, would also be a considering factor, had we actually wanted children. Rheumatoid Arthritis is believed to be genetic, and I wouldn’t want to pass that along to someone else. I’m on several hardcore drugs for this lifelong disease that I would have to stop prior to becoming pregnant as they can cause severe birth defects, which would mean that as soon as the drugs leeched out of my system, I’d be in severe pain, and have very limited mobility. Though it has been seen in some cases that pregnancy might result in a temporary remission, again I’m not sure I’d be willing to take that chance if I did in fact want kids. If this were the only thing holding us back, I realize adoption would be a wonderful option for us, but then again we’re back to the crap shoot analogy, and not really ever knowing what you’re going to end up with. (Sure, that cute baby boy is sweet now, but what about when he’s sixteen, high on crack, and has just knocked up his girlfriend? How cute & sweet is that? Uh, no thanks.)
Also, while people are entering their first marriages later in life now, and as a result, starting families later in their thirties, Craig & I just don’t see how being an older parent is beneficial to the child or the parent later in life. For example-I’ll be thirty-seven in a matter of months. If I had a child now, I would be 55 or 56 before it graduated high school, add another four years or more on for college, and already, I’m retired and trying to figure out how to supplement for a college education (taking for granted the fact that most of the education would already be paid for with savings). Now imagine if we had two or three children, those younger kids might still be in high school when I’m hitting retirement, and aren’t these supposed to be my “golden years?” Goddess forbid, if one or both parents have health issues that result in death while the kids are still in school, or even in their early twenties. Very traumatizing, not just at that moment, but also in the years to come when certain “rites of passage” occur, such as weddings & births, and that parent is absent. I can honestly say, having older parents myself, that this has had an effect on my whole life. My mom died at the age of 58-I was in my very early twenties. My dad, who will be 80 this January, is the same age as my husband’s grandfather.
To conclude, there are several reasons one would choose to be childfree, each as different & unique as the person they stem from; these are ours. While those living childfree appear to be the minority right now, I believe that our numbers are growing as people are marrying later in life, and as the cost of living rises. I also believe that education plays a large role in choosing to live childfree-those of us who are college educated and have invested time and money into pursuing our goals often choose a career-oriented lifestyle, or a lifestyle that allows enjoyment of the financial success & gains of said career.