The Psychology Behind Being Child-Free

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The Psychology Behind Being Child-Free

It’s often reinforced that having a child is an important milestone in one’s life. Many people assume this is a natural progression, and for those who choose to remain child-free, there are many stereotypes and assumptions others can make about these groups of people. In reality, some people choose not to have children for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons can include finances, health circumstances, future concerns, or simply because they don’t want to. Regardless of those reasons, many adults are now making this choice. For those within mental health, this also means looking at those choices and seeing how these choices can impact or improve mental health.

The Research Behind Adult Without Children

With recent conversations about declining fertility rates across the world, more and more people are becoming open about their reasons for now having kids. However, childlessness isn’t new, as this lack of fertility has been a long-standing reality for many civilizations. One of the main exceptions was the baby boom period of the 1950s. After that, the decline of fertility rates contributed to a heavier conversation about the topic, including conversations about the stereotypes of women, societal expectations placed on women, ideas and concepts related to family, and the implications of what being child-free means to both the individual and the public.

But beyond these conversations, the mental health effects of those remaining child-free have mixed results, all of which depend on the life satisfaction rates of those living child-free, how these choices impact their reproductive rights, and how this choice impacts their thoughts and emotions. Most studies report a high satisfaction rate among those child-free, and where negative results occurred were from those who wanted children but couldn’t have them due to reasons such as finances, health, and environmental factors. Other studies also report that there was little to no difference in the satisfaction rates of those child-free parents and non-parents.

What Does It Mean To Be Child-Free Truly?

Processing thoughts and emotions about being child-free can be a highly complicated journey. For those who choose to remain child-free, this choice often comes with many frightening perspectives about how one envisions their future, their personal worth, their social standing, and their relationship with their identity. For those on the outside, this can be a frightening choice because it challenges the notion of happiness and life fulfillment within themselves. For loved ones, it creates cascades of change regarding the future and what that means for them and can heavily affect how one sees themselves in relation to their world.

However, it’s always important to make the best decisions for yourself, no matter the reasons, and learning to be confident with your choices is one of the most assured ways to become more fulfilled with your life. Through therapy, you can process those reasons and find ways to continue forward with your choices more freely than ever before, child-free or not.  

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.