You may not realize it, but there is an entire day devoted to people who choose not to have children. August 1 is International Childfree Day, and it mostly exists to “educate the public on non-parenthood as a valid lifestyle option,” according to the blog site “We’re Not Having a Baby!”
So you might be wondering, what are some actual benefits of living childfree? There are actually several mental health benefits.
For one, if you never have children, you will never have to suffer from postpartum depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression is a type of mood disorder that only impacts women after they give birth.
“Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others,” according to the Institute.
This is differentiated from the “baby blues,” which is when mothers worry after giving birth, and also experience fatigue and unhappiness for sometimes up to two weeks, even though the feelings are mild.
A study in 2005 also demonstrated that parents are more likely to suffer from depression when compared to people without children, according to a press release from the American Sociological Association.
The blog Childfreedom also mentions some potential benefits of not having children:
1) “You will have the capacity and time for meaningful, engaged, quality adult relationships.”
2) “You will have the time and energy to exercise regularly and take care of your health and appearance.”
3) “You will have the freedom to come and go at will – you will remain independent, self-determined and autonomous.”
4) “Your life will have a manageable and comfortable pace. You will not be harried and stressed out, running around like a headless chicken trying to do it all.”
Dr. Jeanette Raymond, a clinical psychologist and author of “Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship,” said in an email that there are five major benefits of choosing to be childfree:
1) “Avoiding anxiety”
2) “Never have to worry about being a bad parent”
3) “No competition with other parents to be the best”
4) “Never getting blamed by your children for screwing them up”
5) “Never having to be conflicted about focusing on yourself or your children”
There are also two benefits of choosing not to have children versus giving in to pressure to have children when you don’t want them:
1) “Making choices based on a solid sense of self and your needs is empowering and makes you less reliant on others to make you feel good.”
2) “Avoids relationships based on doing what others want or expect just to maintain that connection.”
Many women make a conscious choice to not have children, and they are happier because of it.
Kelly Meister-Yetter, author of “Crazy Critter Lady,” said in an email that she has never wanted children and has never regretted that decision. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and due to her traumatic experiences she still suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“If I had children with my mental health issues, I'm sure I would have been a terrible parent with no patience whatsoever,” she said in an email.
“In addition, it's taken me decades to raise myself; for too many years, I did not possess the necessary characteristics of a good parent,” Meister-Yetter added. “I had no values, and very little self-esteem.”
“I would not have been able to raise a happy, healthy child who would grow up to be a productive member of society,” she said.
We’re Not Having a Baby! International Childfree Day, 2014 Edition. Web. July 31, 2014.
International Childfree Day. Web. July 31, 2014.
Childfreedom. The Top 100 Reasons Not to Have Kids (and Remain Childfree). Web. July 31, 2014.
National Institute of Mental Health. Postpartum Depression Facts. Web. July 31, 2014.
American Sociological Association. Feeling the Holiday Blues? Then You Must Have Children. Web. July 31, 2014.
Raymond, Jeanette. Email interview. July 29, 2014.
Meister-Yetter, Kelly. Email interview. July 29, 2014.
Reviewed August 1, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith