Some people seem to suggest that our lives are incomplete without children, while others openly express their desire for freedom without children.
Regarding certain attitudes, not having a child is selfish and self-centered.
Dr. Rachel Chrastil, a specialist in the history of childless women in Western culture and author of How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life Without Children, has examined many assumptions about childless couples, which are not terribly flattering. Here are some negative stereotypes that are not supported by any evidence.
- They are unusual
Being childless is often considered rare and abnormal. While most people will have children in their lifetime, being childless “is more common than many people realize,” Chrastil said. “Approximately 15 percent of women in the United States reach age 45 without having children,” either by choice or because they cannot do so. It’s more common than being left-handed.
In some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, childlessness rates are even higher, at about 1 in 4 couples. Far from being a rarity, being childless is relatively common and widespread.
- They are selfish
It is said that “parenthood is the antidote to selfishness. “While being a good parent involves thinking about another person’s well-being all the time, just because you don’t have a child doesn’t make you selfish overnight.
I’m sure you know many selfish parents and childless couples who are kind and generous. A self-centered adult is likely to become a self-focused parent or express their selfishness through their children as if they were hogging the sidewalk with their stroller.
So where does this accusation come from? Parenting is really hard work,” Chrastil said, “and for many people, it’s difficult to become a parent. “Parents who are keenly aware of their own sacrifices may assume that childless people know nothing about serving others. But being a parent is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to blunt selfishness; fortunately, there are many ways to do it, such as through active participation in an association.
“Selfish” is an accusation that goes both ways, like when a mother is labeled “selfish” for bringing her crying child on a plane. It is easy to ignore or forget that a child’s crying is much heavier for parents than for other passengers, and that parents may travel for very altruistic reasons. Whether for the parents or for the children, accusations of selfishness are often unjustified.
- They are the product of modern feminist movements.
A common narrative holds that “everyone” had children until highly effective birth control (i.e., the pill) and greater participation of women in the paid labor market. But Chrastil notes that women throughout history have chosen not to have children.
The pill has made a big difference,” she said, “but not as much as we think. “She noted that as early as the 1500s, in countries such as Britain, France, and the Netherlands, people began delaying marriage until their late 20s. About 15-20% ended up not getting married at all, especially in urban areas, and single women rarely had children.
- Their lives are not satisfying
Many people assume that having children is the pinnacle of existence, perhaps especially among those who find extraordinary fulfillment through parenthood. As a result, they might assume that childless people miss out on the full experience of life. Chrastil herself has seen well-meaning friends or strangers imply that she misdirected her time and resources by giving up children.
However, there is no evidence that parents are more satisfied with their lives than non-parents. In fact, as Chrastil points out, “satisfaction with life and the ability to exercise control over life is greater for people who have never had children. »
So, while it may be difficult for parents to imagine feeling fulfilled without their children, it is not safe to assume that everyone finds fulfillment the same way.
- They face more loneliness and financial difficulties later in life.
Are having children a guarantee that someone will take care of us when we are old, and that being childless means that we will grow old alone? Not,” says Chrastil. “Research findings show that old age is a challenge for most people, including financial, health, and social challenges. “But people without children are no more vulnerable to these kinds of problems. »
One of the main factors is that women without children are better off financially than mothers of the same age since they have worked more years and have fewer expenses. And everyone, regardless of their parenting status, needs to stay socially connected in their later years.
In the 21st century, there are many reasons children do not care for their older parents, such as geographic constraints or lack of financial means.
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