The Pros and Cons of being Childfree when Old

I have written about being childfree before, but I wanted to think about what is different about being childfree now I’m in my 7th decade.

For those of you who may not know, there is a difference between childfree and childless.

Childfree means you have chosen not to have children, and childless is someone who is unable to have children, or just hasn’t been lucky enough to have had them yet.

7 Pros of being childfree.

You can retain your inner child more easily, not having responsibility for other humans.

I know people who still retain their inner child and have children, and I also know people without children who don’t retain theirs. They’re possibly just very serious people! But, it is easier to be more carefree and be in touch with your inner child when you don’t hold responsibility for another human, and you don’t have to think about their needs 24/7.

You aren’t reminded daily of how you looked when you were younger

My age is something I am obviously aware of, but I also sometimes forget, because I don’t have children to remind me of my age. For example, I don’t have the restraint of knowing I could be talking to my child, or even my grandchild. So, I happily talk to anyone, without any thought to their age or mine. And I certainly don’t think I know more than them, because I’m older. Their experiences of life will be very different to mine, and in certain areas they can easily be more expert than me.

You can choose when you do things without having to consider where the children are.

I’m not at all good at routine. In fact, the only thing that I can think of where we have a routine, is; we shop on a Sunday afternoon.  The lack of routine that has to be there when you have children e.g. feeding them at regular times, taking and picking them up from school, ferrying them to events… has given me a freedom. Not always good though, because I don’t ‘do’ routine well. Even when I worked in education, apart from the first few years when I worked full-time in schools, for the rest of my career, I had jobs where I went to different schools every day, or visited different clients etc. It taught me to think on the ‘hoof’. So being routine-free is something I’ve always enjoyed.

Also, I must add here, I’m not being flippant about the dedication required to bring up children. I have a huge respect for any single mothers and people where they have to work several jobs to look after the children, balancing that alongside all of the things that children need in terms of their relationships, activities and hobbies can take an enormous toll on their own health and lives.

You can explore your career in whatever way you want without dependents

Choosing not to have children as a woman, makes life much easier when you want to explore your career. Unless, of course you are super-rich and can afford live-in nannies. But, then if I were that rich and had children, I’d feel I was missing out on seeing them grow up if they were farmed out to a Nanny.

You can move location more freely – again, I wouldn’t feel comfortable moving around if I had children, because you’d be forever, pulling them away from friends.

Not having to worry about making enough money to feed extra mouths, also has an impact on the type of work you can do. When they closed the arts team down, we were all made redundant, I didn’t have to worry about finding a job that would keep me and any dependents. I was free enough to explore other roads of employment.

You have more time to dedicate to your own relationship

Observing other friends, I’ve noticed that not having children can go one of two ways in relationships.  In my first marriage, my husband didn’t want children, and I decided I didn’t either, but our relationship wasn’t really strong enough for us to spend the rest of our lives together anyway, with just the two of us.

My second husband, who is younger, didn’t want children, and I certainly didn’t when I met him (being 40), but we are so well matched that I think children could have unsettled the wonderful relationship we have. We are able to give all of our love and focus on each other without anyone getting in between.

You can swear when you like at home

I’d have to learn not to swear in front of the children. My mouth would be continually taped up!

You don’t have to worry about having noisy sex

This isn’t anything at all to do with my own sex-life, honestly, but I’ve heard many friends say how hard it is to get time to themselves for their own relationship!

7 Cons of being childfree.

You don’t have anyone to carry on your family line

If this is something that is important to you, then you would probably choose to have children.  Not having siblings, I am the end of my family line. Years ago, one of my friends asked me if I was worried about not continuing the family line? For me that’s not a reason to have children.

You don’t have children to come and visit you in your dotage

You can’t guarantee that any children you have, will visit you anyway.  Several of my friends have children who live on the other side of the world.

Should we have children so they’ll look after us when we’re old?

My dad died, when I was 18. An old maiden aunt came to take me home on the train. She spent the entire journey telling me I’d have to give up college and look after Mum. Thankfully, my mum didn’t want me to do that, she’d always wanted me to study music, and having got into college, she certainly didn’t expect me to leave. 

That idea of looking after elderly parents is definitely something of the past, as travelling and emigrating around the globe is more prevalent. Even if you do have children, it can’t be an expectation.

You have to rely on yourself and possibly friends

I do sometimes worry about the fact I could be alone when I’m older, if my hubby isn’t’ here, and I’m sure it will be the same for him. However, neither of us want to rely on friends. As the saying goes, we made our own bed, we have to lie in it!

You have to work harder to leave a legacy – if important to you

I’m a people person, and I believe that every time we meet someone, or are involved with other people, part of us stays with them. As a teacher, I know I passed on my love of music to children and other teachers I trained. Then as a photographer, I left people memories with photos of their loved ones, and as a writer, I’ll leave my writing, which hopefully someone might find on their shelf in the future and enjoy.  People will remember Conrad too, due to his bubbly, loveable, kind nature, he’s hard to forget.

You are on the outside when other people talk about their children

This is a rather contentious point. I know I chose not to have children, so I shouldn’t complain, but I do get fed up when people assume because of my age, I must have grandchildren.  Don’t add your perceptions of life on to me. Especially if you don’t know me. You can’t and shouldn’t make assumptions about people based on their look, age or gender.

You are often considered selfish and you deserve to be alone

There are people out there who consider those of us who choose not to have children as being selfish. My take on that is that lots of people have children without giving it any thought, and haven’t considered what it means to be parents.  There are far too many unwanted and mistreated children out there where people have decided that they liked the idea of having a baby to look after, but then the reality isn’t quite what they imagined.

You may be on your own at the end of life

I may well be, but aren’t we ultimately, all alone? We come into the world alone and leave the world alone. All of us get older and as we do many of our friends pass away, so, it is a part of getting old, a part of life. I just hope to remain well and do as much as I can for as long as I can.

As you get older, these thoughts do become more poignant, but I definitely don’t regret not having children.