1. Many of the top reasons for skipping parenthood are especially true for millennials

The cost of living and having a baby are a particularly difficult issue for millennials who are facing all kinds of college debt. Certainly, having a child has an impact on the environment and that’s a reason that millennials have shared for their choice. Other top reasons include the desire for autonomy, spontaneity, freedom and the ability to travel.

2. Many child-free people want to focus on the relationships they already have

Quote from a 44-year-old married woman: “I worry that if I had a child I’d become a terrible partner because I’d be so focused on being a good parent.”

This doesn’t mean child-free people necessarily have perfect relationships or better relationships than parents. But some feel that they would be giving something up in terms of their ability to feel close with their partner and nurture that relationship.

3. It’s not a ‘selfish’ choice

We can choose to abandon the “selfish” label and decide it’s OK for people to make a life choice that is best for them, whether that be parenthood or non-parenthood. Maybe neither choice is selfish.

There’s an impression that child-free people don’t give back, or aren’t giving to their communities or making a difference in the world. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. We know from research that the child-free are involved in their communities — they’re about as likely as parents to volunteer.

4. Many child-free people do like kids

A quarter of the child-free people interviewed actually chose careers that require them to be involved and make a difference in children’s lives. Many of them are teachers, social workers, pediatricians. There are all kinds of ways the child-free are engaged in kids’ lives and made a choice to do that.

5. Child-free people don’t have regret down the road

Not one person in this research mentioned  feeling regret about their choice. We should accept when people tell us they don’t want to have children. Parenthood is a role that is best fulfilled when it’s one that’s chosen. It takes a lot to be a good parent so if somebody doesn’t feel that pull, that’s perfectly OK.

6. Child-free people are fulfilled and happy

When people say the child-free are missing out on something, that’s absolutely true. But  it’s equally possible that parents are missing out on some aspects of the lives that child-free people enjoy. 

7. ‘Who will care for you in old age?’ and ‘Won’t you be lonely?’ are questions for everyone

These are questions that we all should be thinking about as we age, whether we have children or not.

In terms of the child-free, many have been creating a nest egg to help them be able to provide for themselves in their old age. And we’re seeing more and more examples of “The Golden Girls”-style living where older adults are sharing households with each other.

It’s a mistake to assume having children means one will have a person to care for them in their old age. Research shows that not every adult child cares for their aging parents.

8. A child-free household is a family

Child-free families fulfill the same functions that families with children do. They create households as a safe space that provides an emotional connection and an opportunity to recharge. They engage in “social reproduction,” which involves anything that people do to help rear the next generation. For the child-free, that means being mentors and friends to children.