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A New Perspective: Study on why people choose the "child-free" life

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We live in a society where we have control over the path we take and the choices we make - including whether or not to have children. In fact, more and more adults are choosing to opt out of being parents all together.

We live in a society where we have control over the path we take and the choices we make - including whether or not to have children.

In fact, more and more adults are choosing to opt out of being parents all together.

A sociology professor at the University of Maine did a study on why people are choosing not to have kids.

Data in her study shows US women in their early 40's -- not having children -- was twice the amount now then it was 40 years ago.

"I see a lot of couples and individuals that come in,” said Andra Williams, Licensed Professional Counselor, Northern Michigan. “Usually when it's couples, one wants to have a child one doesn't want to have a child. And they can't come to an agreement on what's the best thing for their relationship.”

According to the National Survey of Family Growth, roughly 15% of US women and 24% of men have no children by the time they reach 40.

"I've not had very many come in and say things like ‘oh I don't like children, I hate children,’” said Williams. “Now there are some that come in and they just don't like kids and that's OK (laughing)."

Sociologist Amy Blackstone did a recent study -- featured in TODAY Health & Wellness -- of 21 women and 10 men who chose to be child-free.

What she found were 7 key reasons behind their decision.

One example being, people are making it a conscious decision to be child-free.

"Women, more than men, come in and they don't want to have children because they don't feel like they have the time that they can give to their children, if they have them,” said Williams. “That's huge. Many feel like they would be inadequate and they're worried about not giving them the attention that they would need, plus being able to fulfill themselves in their career."

Blackstone also found people she interviewed used reasons like, people with children didn't look happy, or they were losing freedom and individuality.

"If we look at something that is hard as a burden, then we're going to automatically assign an unhappiness factor to it,” said Williams. “If we look at something that is hard as a challenge, but a way to grow and to contribute then we're going to look at that and we're going to assign a positive value to it. It's all about perspective."

And in northern Michigan, Williams says the main reasons she hears from people who are child-free are either, seeing their career as a main focus or negative experiences in their past.

7 & 4’s Courtney Curtis: “Do a lot of them feel like they are going to be like their parents?”
Williams: “Yes. I have individuals that come in and they've had either traumatic childhood's or their parents struggled raising their own children and so, they have been sent the message that having children is a burden. So a lot of fear of and the belief that children are just going to be in the way."

Williams says the 'busyness' of our culture can also play a factor.

"Women are working outside of the home,” said Williams. “It used to be you had children and you have large families because you had family farms and things that you needed the work power really."

And one of the final things people were telling Blackstone was the reason for their child-free life, ‘it was the responsible decision’ telling her, they think the world is against the 'child" right now and we can't bring them up healthfully.

"I hear that a lot,” said Williams. “That I'm frightened to bring a child into a world where there is still racism, where there is still hate, where there is still violence and turmoil because I don't want to put them through that. And I think the reality is, they don't want to put them through that but they also don't want to put themselves through watching their children have to suffer through that."

Williams says not everyone is called to be a parent and knowing yourself is important because if you're not honest with yourself and your reasons, she say's you're going to struggle. And it could be a struggle that last's your entire life.

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