What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of a Child-Free Lifestyle?

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One of the first commandments God gave to Adam and Eve was to "be fruitful and multiply. " In earlier generations, young people were expected to marry for the purpose of starting a family, and those couples could expect to spend much of their adult married lives rearing children. However, cultural expectations are changing, and many couples are choosing to remain child-free. This lifestyle has both advantages and disadvantages.

Cultivating Your Marriage

  • One advantage to a child-free lifestyle is that you and your significant other have more time to spend together as a couple and can cultivate your relationship. Successful relationships between married couples require a significant investment of time and attention. Clinical psychologist Ellen Walker notes that parents typically have more household responsibility, have less time for sex and spend less time together than child-free couples, which can cause marital discord. In an 8-year-long research study authored by assistant professor of psychology Brian Doss from Texas A&M University, 90 percent of 218 couples felt less satisfied in their marriages after the first child was born.

Helping the Planet

  • On Oct. 31, 2011, the earth’s population reached 7 billion people. Overpopulation places a great deal of stress upon the planet, and as populations continue to climb, resources may diminish. If fertility and mortality rates continue to follow their current trend, the world will have to sustain nearly 11 billion people by 2100, according to an article by Tyler Fisher and Andrea Fuller in "USA Today." Some people are choosing to be child-free because they don’t want to contribute to the population explosion. Lisa Hymas, senior editor for Grist, sums it up by saying, “I recognize that I am the population problem. I’m trying to be part of the solution.”

Aging

  • Society expects children to care for their elderly parents. Heleana Theixos, philosophy professor from the University of Miami, notes that "30 states have filial care laws that establish a legal obligation upon adult children to provide some sort of care for indigent and/or elderly parents." One potential disadvantage to not having children is that you won’t have anyone to take care of you in your old age. The unfortunate truth, however, is that even if you do have a child, there is no guarantee that your child will have either the ability or the desire to look after you. Walker notes that more and more adult children are returning home after college, and many are still financially and emotionally dependent upon their parents. Instead of your child looking after you, you may find yourself still taking care of your child during your golden years.

Social Isolation

  • Walker writes that "not being a parent in your 20s, 30s, and 40s can mean spending a lot of time alone." Other parents get together for park visits and play dates, but since you don't have children, you aren't invited. Even when parents aren't with their children, they're talking about their children. This can strain friendships and make social situations awkward and uncomfortable.

References

  • Photo Credit oleksagrzegorz/iStock/Getty Images
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