Right from when we are little girls, we are conditioned to believe that motherhood is a vital chapter of a married woman’s life. Without it, her life is incomplete. Thankfully, some of us have the privilege and courage to defy social norms and make our own choices regarding motherhood. With an increasing number of couples opting to go childfree, this begs the question: is staying childfree bad for women’s mental health? Let’s take a look at the impact of choosing to not have kids on a woman’s life.
It’s undebatable that our world today is not a great place to live in. There is no shortage of reasons: overpopulation, shortage of natural resources, climate change, unethical technological surveillance, rise in hate crimes and terrorism, easy availability of drugs, a decline in empathy, unchecked capitalism, pandemics, and so on. Choosing to not bring a child into this dangerous world would naturally leave the woman with a clear conscience. What’s more, by not having a baby, she would not be passing on any mental or physical health issues to an innocent newborn.
When a couple has a child, their life changes forever. From morning routines to weekend plans, everything has to be changed to revolve around the needs of the child. Since the 24×7 task of child-rearing is more on women than men, they can kiss their freedom goodbye. Even though men today have become more hands-on fathers, women spend significantly more time on parenting. Add to that the fact that women spend more time on chores because “housework is for women“, and you can see why women are preferring to not have children.
Less financial stress.
Raising a child in today’s world is expensive. Considering food, clothing, housing, education, entertainment, healthcare, transportation, and miscellaneous expenditure, how much does it cost to raise a child? The infographic below proves it is a lot.
Imagine the kind of money you can save when you don’t have children. With no child-rearing expenditure to worry about, this translates into reduced financial stress.
Little kids disrupt sleep and are responsible for chronic sleep deprivation in mothers. This may cause a range of health issues like obesity, depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Sleeping poorly often translates into poor memory, fatigue, irritability, and reduced ability to cope with stressful situations. Therefore, being childfree is good for women’s mental health because it means getting adequate sleep and as a result, none of the above-mentioned health problems.
Ease of separation and divorce.
With so many marriages falling apart these days, no one can say for sure that their marriage will last forever. Having kids only makes separation and divorce harder on the parents, because now they have to deal with issues like custody and child support. It is easier for a woman to walk out of a bad or loveless marriage when no kids are involved.
No obligatory or forced career break.
Society still expects women to make most of the sacrifices in heterosexual relationships, and this includes taking career breaks to raise children. Many women are unable to return to work after a break either because they cannot secure employment due to the gaps in their resumes, or because “it is better” if they are “only” homemakers. The women who do manage to return after a break are often struggling to manage their personal and professional lives, and are made to feel they are failing at home and at work.
Time for self-care.
With so much going on in their lives, working women with kids get little to no time for self-care. This leads to poor mental health. Check out this article on how the pressures of motherhood impact women’s mental health. Or just let this sink in: “According to a recent survey, mothers put their health and well-being at the end of the list because they juggle many roles such as caregiver, spouse, homemaker, employee, and daughter-in-law among several others. Each of these roles requires the utmost mental presence and that is bound to take a heavy toll on their mental health.”
Way too many people have kids so that they can have someone to take care of them in old age. Is it fair to see your child as an old-age plan? Why should they focus on taking care of you when they have their own lives to live? This quote best explains why self-reliance is the best choice:
“If people tell you that you need children because they will take care of you when you’re old, ask them, do you really want your child to give up their life and career to take care of you? Is that why you gave birth to them? Wouldn’t you want your child to lead a happy life? Besides, a lot of people with kids have faced the need to turn to assisted living facilities despite having children.”
So no, staying child-free is not bad for women’s mental health; on the contrary, it is good for their mental health. What is bad though, is stigma, discrimination, judgment, and unsolicited advice. The childfree lifestyle is not unnatural or selfish, it is merely a personal choice. Deal with it.