As the global population hits seven billion, it’s never been a better time to really think about whether you really want to bring another person into the world. Fortunately, in the 21st century, more and more people are seeing parenting as an option rather than an obligation.
“The percentage of women who reach the end of their childbearing years without kids in the U.S. is around 20 per cent now compared to 10 per cent in the 1970’s,” says Dr. Ellen Walker, author of Complete Without Kids, who also cites declining birth rates in the West, China and Japan as evidence.
“For me, at age 50, I’m still quite an outsider with my peers, but a woman in her 30s who has chosen to be childfree will have more women her age who are in the same boat.”
There are hundreds of reasons for not having kids, from the cost of raising a child, lack of support network to concerns about the ecological impact of adding to an overpopulated world.
The global recession is also a factor. “Many people are concerned about the current and future state of the world and deciding that this is not a place they want to bring children into,” says Dr. Walker.
It’s also a result of openness in society. Choosing to be childfree is not only becoming a more popular life choice, but unlike their predecessors, the new generation of DINKS – dual-income, no kids couples – don’t feel awkward talking about it.
“People are talking openly about the decision and actually viewing it as a choice, rather than an essential life step,” says Dr Walker.
“I’m seeing that women in particular are realizing that we can’t do it all, and that it’s OK to choose either mothering or career and to walk away from the other.”
Where parents see raising decent children as their legacy and purpose in life, DINKS channel their energies into projects, charity work, hobbies or volunteer work.
“I encourage childfree adults to take time to consider this legacy question carefully,” says Dr Walker.
“If you’re not a parent, it’s critical to find your own purpose. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself having regrets at some point about not having had kids.”