No it’s not selfish for your life to be mainly about you and your husband or partner

By Nina Steele 

Happy childless coupleThe idea that we are all somehow conditioned to want children in our lives is so entrenched that there are those who cannot bring themselves to believe that a couple can go about their life without being actively involved with other people’s children. Last year, I politely declined an invitation for us to spend Christmas day with a couple and their children. It was obvious from the invite that they thought they were doing us a favour. It never occurred to them that there are many people just like us, who like nothing more than a peaceful time together during the festive season in order to reboot.

For many years now, I have been very forthright in my dealings with family members and friends. I have learnt that trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for unhappiness. Also, I want to make it unambiguously clear that as a childless couple, we are not missing out on anything. After saying no to many invites from parents who thought they were doing us a favour, the message has finally got through.

I take every chance I get to educate people on the various aspects and complexities of being a nonparent. Like any other group of people, we come in various shades, and everyone in society needs to understand that. Some of us have long ago understood that a big lie is being told about parenthood. That lie is all around us in the form of marriages that went downhill from the moment children were brought into the mix. Parents who regret having children but are too afraid to speak out. Those struggling to feed their children because they ended up having more than they can afford. The list goes on.

The myth about parenthood is being debunked every day. The stories are all around us. For people to pretend otherwise and expect us to envy them is both dishonest and wishful thinking. No I don’t want your life as a parent. For some of us, being childless is one of the best things that has ever happened to us, for one reason or another. For my husband and I, the money issue is a big deal. Not having another person(s) to worry about financially is a source of great comfort and peace.

Once upon a time, we would have been reminded that we run the risk of being lonely in old age. Now that myth too has been busted. It turns out that having children is no longer a guarantee for being spared loneliness in old age. I am not just relying on anecdotes, I have witnessed this first hand from working with the elderly for 8 years. As it is now abundantly clear, being happy and fulfilled is entirely up to us as individuals. Being a parent may be one element that contributes to happiness, but so too is being childless.

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