Whitney Houston sung that children are our future. For a great deal of people, that’s true. Grow up, get married, pop out the stereotypical 2.2 children and grow old. There are a growing number of Canadians, however, who are choosing to go outside the realm of societal norms. They are choosing to go child-free.
In 2011, the Canadian census shows that of all couples living in one household, 29.5 per cent do not have children. Granted, the aging baby boomers and their kids account for some of that number, but the fact is more and more people are actively choosing to live without children for many different reasons.
“I have a lot of goals and things in my career that I want to experience and accomplish before entertaining the notion of having kids,” said 25-year-old Algonquin journalism graduate Courtney Rodriguez.
Trista Wallebeck, a computer and network technician from Regina, Sask., has known since she was a teenager that she doesn’t want kids. “I have a very nasty temper and a distinct lack of patience,” she said. “And I do not wish to inflict that temper upon a child.”
It is engrained in our brains at a young age that having kids is the natural progression of life. Keep refilling the gene pool. What if society is wrong? What if, for some people, their idea of contentment doesn’t involve sticky fingers or runny noses?
Audra Jones, a 46-year-old Calgarian, and her husband of 11 years, Leighton, always figured they’d have kids until they realized they were just as happy without them.
“We just did not feel that ‘need’ to have them,” Jones said. “We did not feel unfulfilled without them. We like to travel and have the disposable income to be able to do that several times a year.”
Rodriguez says she hasn’t ruled children out entirely yet because of her “never-say-never” attitude, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be complete if she doesn’t end up having them.
“I think the biggest misconception is that life has less meaning if you’re not a parent,” she said. “Children don’t necessarily dictate how meaningful a person’s life is.”
Each person defines his or her own meaning in life. It is not about being “childless,” which implies a lack of something.
Many child-free individuals don’t regret their decision not to have children. Rodriguez, Wallebeck and Jones all appreciate the spontaneity and freedom of packing their things and taking off without having to worry about babysitters or school lunches.
“I get to focus on career and academic pursuits and improve myself as a person,” Rodriguez said, “and also have the time and money to travel and have different experiences. The term ‘selfish’ has a negative connotation to it, but I appreciate the time to focus on myself and my goals and set myself up for whatever comes my way.”