Child-free by choice: why it’s OK to not want kids

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Now and again someone asks if I have kids, and they can usually tell by the enthusiasm of my answer that I’m one of those people who heartily endorses the child-free lifestyle. Historically, there have been various names for people who don’t have children (often derogatory), which have all contributed to a strange taboo. A 2021 study showed that a quarter of people happily don’t want kids. Meanwhile, a 2017 study showed that people are judged harshly for choosing not to have them, considered to be “psychologically unfulfilled” compared to those who do.

People who choose not to procreate are often seen as missing something essential to the human experience. This is unfair on everyone, and it’s time it stopped. Choice is exactly that – a choice. It’s a conscious decision having weighed up the pros and cons, and opting for whichever decision is most appropriate to the individual.

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Some suggest it’s ‘selfish’ to deliberately not have children

And, although I always knew I didn’t want to have children, it’s still something I’ve had to seriously think about as I’ve grown older. Am I absolutely sure? (Yes). Might I regret it later? It’s impossible to know but I’d rather take the risk than have kids I don’t feel I want. My partner is also very sure. We love our nephews and our friends offspring, but we choose to value something else for our own lives. Our lifestyle is exactly what we want it to be.

Now and again, someone will suggest that it’s ‘selfish’ to deliberately not have children. I always counter that with the suggestion that it’s somewhat more selfish to bring children into the world if you really don’t want them. No shade on kids, I don’t have anything against them, but that’s no justification for creating a life against your own will. I have other things I’d rather do.

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The money I’ve saved has enabled some additional lifestyle choices

Some people think it’s about money, and while it isn’t about wanting more money, it’s definitely a perk to have fewer financial commitments. The £2o0,000 per child I’ve saved (average UK cost of raising a child up to age 18) has enabled some lifestyle choices that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to make.

The first of these is career. I grew up working class, in a council house in the Midlands. People like me didn’t often move to London to become writers. But having the freedom and flexibility to move wherever the work and networking has taken me, and – crucially – to not have to worry about feeding and clothing kids, has meant I’ve been able to take up the luxury of a freelance career.

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I’m not wealthier but I’m freer to take career risks

I can work the hours I choose (handy, as I’m a night owl), take up a last-minute commission the other side of the country, and attend events without needing to consider anyone else. Being child-free hasn’t made me wealthier, but it has made me freer to take career risks.

I’m not much of a partier these days, but I love the freedom of spending an entire weekend on the Playstation, or heading to the cinema at the last-minute.

My friends with children sometimes say “you’re so lucky, you can have a lie-in!” and I always think, it’s not luck – it’s a choice. But of course, they wouldn’t swap their kids for any number of lie-ins, and I respect them for that even though it’s not something I want for myself.

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Friends are also child-free. We have a Golden Girls-style vision

Increasing numbers of people are making the choice to be child-free, though. Birth rates are declining in Western countries. Those who choose not to have children tend to be be employed in professional or managerial roles and have higher incomes.

We also tend to find each other. Many of my friends are also child-free. We all answer the age-old question “won’t you be lonely when you’re old” with a sort of Golden Girls-style vision. The joyous plan of all living together as grumpy or glamorous elderly folk, gathered around the Playstation, reminiscing about the time when our lifestyles changed from taboo to acceptable. I really hope that time is now.

Writer and producer, Tracy King, is based in Birmingham and London. Ready to celebrate your choices and set off on a solo adventure? Join Flash Pack today to meet other like-minded travellers just like yourself.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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