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The Joys of Childlessness

By Nina Steele 

What a difference the passing of time makes. This time last year we were still hoping to become parents, driven not by a burning desire but simply following what we believed was the norm. That norm is what society expects of most couples and as far as we were concerned it was the only way. All our siblings have children and so childlessness was something that we never anticipated. We assumed rather naively, that we would automatically become parents once we were ready to start a family. We were not aware for example that a woman is at her most fertile in her late teens up until her mid-20s and that her chances of conceiving start to drop after that. Similarly, we were not aware that a man’s fertility starts to decline after 35. I was in my late 20s and my husband in his late 30s when we started trying and 9 years later we decided that enough was enough.

The good news is that, life has never felt so good! Society is so dominated by the ideal of the nuclear family that not much is written about in terms of the joys of childlessness. For example, we as a couple are living our life on our own terms as opposed to someone else’s and we can be as spontaneous with our spare time as we want to be. How many people with children are able to say the same? Ultimately tough, this is not a competition between those who have children and those who don’t. Childlessness gives you the opportunity to live a different kind of life that can bring you a great deal of joy and happiness if you are ready to embrace it wholeheartedly, as we have done. For what is life really about? Is it about ticking boxes, in this case following convention and having children even when deep down you know that you have never been keen on the idea? Or is life ultimately about self-development. Whatever your answer to these questions, it is important to be true to yourself and live the life that you feel brings you the most happiness as opposed to one that you think is expected of you. How many people have had children just so that they can fit in with the rest of society? Looking back, we are greatly relieved that fate has ensured that we did not end up living an inauthentic life. Surely, had we had children we would have done the right thing and looked after them well, however, would we be as happy as we are today? I doubt it.

Living life on one’s terms is a luxury but ultimately one that is available to everyone. Some choose this option from the word go and so become childless by choice while others such as my husband and I, are forced into it by fate. Whatever the reasons why one is childless, the truth is that, because of the established convention, i.e. having children, childlessness has been stigmatised in a way that anyone without children is made to feel as though they are living a life that is devoid of true meaning. However the reality as we have discovered is that childlessness can lead to a life filled with joy and happiness and one of the main reasons for this is that you have the chance to live life on your own terms in a way that many people aren’t.

Comments

  1. Dbohio1969 says

    This article expresses my feelings so well. Thank you for writing it.

  2. A great article. My thoughts about it too.

  3. Thanks for your feedbacks. I hope that reading this will be a comfort to all those who are still struggling with being childless. I do accept that it takes time for most people to become accustomed to the idea that they will not have children, including dealing with infertility issues, however, eventually most people do come to terms with it, while some unfortunately never do. Again, it is my view that most people find it difficult to deal with childlessness at first because of the fact that they are not equipped to deal with it in the first place. We are all raised with the idea that, you grow up, meet someone, get married and have children. We are not told that some people may end up childless and that it is ok. So when as an adult you are faced with this, you are ill equipped to deal with it, hence the reason why it takes a lot of people quite a while to come to terms with being childless. Times have changed and unlike our mothers’ generation, women today are generally educated and have careers and so many will not have children in their early 20’s but will want to give their career a head start and then start trying for a family later. However as we have discovered, the later they leave it, the more the chances of encountering fertility issues. This means that childlessness can rightly be called the reality of our time and so people should be made aware from early on that they may end up not having children and that it is ok. It is ok because not everyone is meant to have children. Imagine what would happen to the earth resources if we all had children. Mother nature will ensure that a balance is always maintained in order that the earth resources are available to future generations.

  4. moonaj10 says

    How true! Reading this article made me think of the reasons why we wanted children in the first place and I suspect that we too wanted to fit in. In a way, it is the easiest path; you just blend in with the rest of society, as opposed to standing out. We are both quite happy with our life as it has turned out and would not wish to change it for anything.

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