Childless and happy: The new tribe of women?
- More parties, more sleep, less stress. Childlessness is not a negative for growing numbers of women.
… Being “child-free” is not the great tragedy in my life. I travel a lot. I have fantastic friends. In my spare time I’ve written a couple of books. I live with three unruly cats.
Yet I’m also part of a growing trend. One in five Irish women over 45 is now childless. A new OECD study revealed that women in Ireland have the fourth highest rate of childlessness in the developed world (after Italy, Austria and Britain).
The child-free are no longer a strange aberration, pitied by society. In fact, 43pc of university-educated women from Generation X (born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s) remain childless.
Sometimes, it surprises me. How did I manage to avoid the template that is laid out so clearly for women? Maybe it’s that time has a habit of slipping away while the drama is going on elsewhere.
Looking back, in my relationships I was drawn to creative, depressive men. My father suffered anxiety attacks throughout my childhood so it was something I knew quite a lot about.
…The OECD study highlights issues that make it harder for couples to begin family life: it takes a long time to get on the housing ladder even with a professional job; there’s a lack of affordable childcare.
Many women delay having children until they feel more secure to take maternity leave; others haven’t met a significant other likely to make a good co-parent (dubbed “social infertility”).
… A study of families in the US found that no group of parents, whether married, single, step or empty-nesters, reported significantly greater emotional wellbeing than adults with no children. In contrast, other factors such as not having a job or friends did have a major impact.
In essence, a child brings huge joy, but it also brings anxiety about the future, which pretty much cancels out the joy. Pets, on the other hand, are truly emotionally rewarding.
It helped that I never felt that gnawing baby hunger.
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