Childfree and Fine

Child-Free and Fine


Just like people say you can’t be happy or have a meaningful life if you’re single, they say the same thing about your decision to pass on parenthood.

Childfree and Fine
123RF Photo

I never had children. I was never all that interested, nor did I have the sense that a clock was ticking or some crucial element was missing from my life. And since I had no desire to be a single mom, I was well versed in how to prevent that from happening.

When I was married for a brief time in my 30s, I was still ambivalent about having a baby. I was busy doing other things: pursuing a career, traveling and figuring out how to be a wife. If I would’ve gotten pregnant, it would have been fine. I would’ve accepted it as the next indicated step. But there was no sense of defeat when it didn’t happen.

These days, when people ask me if I have kids and I say no, they look at me with a sympathy I don’t feel for myself. They tell me I’ll never know a love as profound as what they feel for their child. They tell me what I love — my pets, my friends and my romantic partners — all pale in comparison. They make sure I know, with smug superiority, that I’ve let something very special slip through my fingers. 

Well, truth be told, I’m not sorry I’m child-free. I’m grateful I don’t have a life that revolves around the demands of another human being. I’m grateful those tender hooks were never set into my heart — hooks a child pulls so adeptly to control a parent’s behavior. 

I feel no sense of regret, envy or longing. That’s because from what I’ve seen, being a parent doesn’t end when your child grows up. It means doing things like putting them through college with funds from your retirement account — despite your financial planner telling you it’s a very bad idea. Sure they could get a student loan or go to a less expensive school, but it’s your child and they deserve the best. You don’t want them to face the challenge of repaying a student loan like you did. You love them too much to do that.

It means buying them a car so they don’t have to figure out how to take the bus. It means taking them shopping for new clothes, a new phone, and buying them concert tickets, vacations and music lessons they don’t care about. It even means giving them a credit card when they implode their own credit history. You tell them it’s just for emergencies, but before long, you see charges from gas stations, restaurants, bars and boutiques.

It means keeping a roof over their heads long after they’ve turned 21 because it’s tough out there. You know how hard it can be because you were there once, too, and faced the challenge of sharing a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment with four of your friends — challenges that shaped you into the person you are today. But it was hard, too hard, and you can afford to help out, so why not?

It even means ponying up to pay for your 33-year-old daughter’s dream wedding by violating your own rule to never borrow money you don’t have or put more on your credit card than you can pay off, in full, when the bill comes. And as you create this new financial hardship for yourself, you know she considers it to be her entitlement and your obligation, even though you’re 10 years from retirement and severely underfunded.

I don’t dare say a word when I hear these things. I know they think I’m the one who has missed out. I’m the one who never learned to love or be loved the way one does when you have a child.

OK, if you say so. But although I’ll never say it to them, I’m glad I never had kids. If being a parent means that by depriving yourself, you’ll get something you want — a child that loves you unconditionally — then be my guest. As for me, I’ll do just fine with my cat, dog, parrot and the company of friends — all of which ask for very little and give back so much.

Copyright © Kim Calvert/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.

Kim Calvert editor of Singular magazine.
Kim Calvert is the editor of 
Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.

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8 thoughts on “Child-Free and Fine

  1. I think the point of this article is that if you’re a parent, don’t make the assumption that people who don’t have kids don’t have the same quality of life as you do. Having kids does not make you better than someone who does not have kids. It’s simply a life choice or due to circumstances beyond their control. BTW, you parents are much more interesting to the rest of us when you can converse about topics other then what’s going on with your kid.

  2. I actually didn’t plan to have a child but I didn’t plan on getting a divorce either. Sure, being a parent has its challenges but I didn’t go into it worrying about if someday my son was going to run up my credit card or how I was going to have to pay for his college. My focus has been to raise a good, responsible kid. It’s been and honor and a privilege to be a parent and I wouldn’t change it for anything. And he has been a bright light during the many often lonely years of being a single parent. Having a child for me has not been a horrible thing! So just like you don’t want to be judged for not having them, please also don’t assume that for all parents raising a child is a thankless awful responsibility.

  3. Although I chose to be a parent, I fully respect the decision not to have children. I hear parents say they can’t wait to be grandchildren and I feel strongly that it’s an individual choice. I support whatever decision my own children make. I have plenty of friends who either chose not to become parents or through timing, did not end up having kids and very few regret their state. Being a mother has given me so much joy and love but that is my choice. I have never felt that my children were a drain but again, being a mother was my choice and it isn’t for everyone. There will always be people who try to make you feel bad for being single, being divorced, not having kids, or even having kids when it’s got nothing to do with them. It takes strength to follow your convictions.

    1. Beth, I doubt there are many parents who can’t wait to be grandchildren, as I’m pretty sure they already have been. (Sorry – I couldn’t resist.)

  4. What you’ve stated here is something I’ve endured for years. It’s that same variety of single shaming that we get from our married friends (and from our friends who have children). Of course, not every parent lords over others simply because they have kids and think that somehow that makes them “better.” And of course there are some great parents out there and somebody has to do it, right? Still, it’s happened to me many many times (I’m single and do not have kids) and it’s annoying and embarrassing and I wish it would stop.

  5. Child-rearing has changed over the decades. We’ve gone from thinking that the job of a parent is to raise a child into a disciplined, empathetic, and responsible human being to the notion that our job is to coddle, protect to the point of harm, give everything we have for their dreams, do everything for them so they don’t have to, and generally make the entire life of the parent into nothing but a never-ending parade of ways to make their life all about their child and not about themselves.

  6. I think they can be cute and endearing but not so nice when they don’t grow up to be self-supporting, kind, generous people who contribute to society in their own special way. Adults who still act like children? Too many like that IMO.

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