A common refrain from people who criticize our choice not to have children is, ďBut who will take care of you when youíre old?Ē
This makes me crazy!
What kind of reason is that to have a child?
As Iíve said many times before, having children is no guarantee that youíll have a built-in caregiver in your old age. If that were true, there would not be a single lonely parent rotting away in a nursing home.
There are ways to ensure your golden years will indeed shine. Plan for your future and save your money in case you need it. Cultivate friendships that will sustain you for the long haul.
There are plenty of good reasons to have a child. But having someone to ďtake care of you when youíre oldĒ is not one of them!
I recently spoke with an older member of the child free community, so he could share his perspective on the child free lifestyle with younger people who have made this decision, and for those who are still trying to decide.
Hereís some of my conversation with Roger, who is now 66 years old:
Q: Why did you decide not to have kids?
A: There was never a decision not to have kids, we just never considered it at all. The way we never considered a mirror ball for the front room, or a trampoline.
Q: Did you ever worry about regretting your decision?
A: Not at all. In fact the longer we didnít have children, the better we
liked it. Now, as retired people, we have even less interest in children than when we were first married.
Q:. Describe your life as an older child free person.
A: We have a home on 24 Ĺ acres in British Columbia. Itís a high dessert area with few people at the present time. We have six Alpacas that we raise for their fiber. My wife is learning to spin and has joined a spinners and weavers group. The alpacas have become a sort of petting zoo for people who visit us.
My wife is a volunteer tutor for the local adult literacy group, in the summer she volunteers at the Desert Centre. We also volunteer for the Citizens Patrol.
Because I never completed high school, I took adult education at a local learning center. I completed my grade 12 a couple of years ago. Since that time, I have been taking computer courses in Premiere Pro, Illustrator, PhotoShop, Corel Draw, Photo Paint and a few other programs.
We have a camper for holiday trips. Two years ago we drove the Dempster Highway to above the Arctic Circle. The year before, we went to the North West Territories near Yellow Knife.
Q: When you were younger, did people ever pry about decision not to have kids?
A: Yes they did. At that time, people still believed getting married and having children was obligatory. One woman said, if you donít have kids, who is going to look after you when youíre old. Weíre old now and looking after ourselves quite well.
There doesnít seem to be many adult children looking after their parents currently. In fact, the parents may still be looking after them.
Q: What would you say to people who canít decide whether or not to have children?
A: Not being able to decide should raise a red flag. Think about it for quite a while. Make sure itís your decision and not your parentís, friendís, societiesí, or a hormonal flare-up. Write down why you think you should, or should not have children. Just because everyone else does it, is not a good reason.
Check out your finances. Children are extremely expensive and the price is going up. Kids are like a second fulltime job, which costs money instead of earning it.
Donít expect your kids to appreciate what you do for them. They think you owe them. Having kids was your idea, not theirs.
If you have kids, can you protect them from the onslaught of dangerous homemade drugs? All the peer pressure makes it difficult for them.
Canadian law protects underage criminals and this puts your kids at risk throughout their years of school.
All these things matter, but the most important is: are you having kids for your own well thought out reasons, or just to keep other people quiet. Donít rush into it. Take a while and be certain. There is no return policy on kids.
Being married is a large adjustment for people. Having children, if you decide to, should not happen for at least three years. Procrastination is a good policy here.
Approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. This is not a good situation for children. I was there as a kid and it sucks.
One third of the worldís population is born by accident, so be careful!
Q: Are you worried about what will happen to you when you get old?
At sixty-six, I'm already old and I'm not worried. Not having children is still the decision I would have made. If I did it over again, I would positively not want kids. I would not consider marrying a woman who wanted a family.
Q: Any other thoughts to share?
A: During our marriage, we spent many years touring on our motorcycle to various parts of Canada, the US and Mexico. I had a monthly motorcycle show on the Cable Channel. We learned to sail. I took flying lessons.
After two and a half years of marriage, we were able to buy a very small old house. Later we bought a lot, then sold it fourteen years later. This allowed us to buy a larger new home. A few years ago, we bought the place where we are living now.
If we had kids, none of this would have been possible. We would probably be renting in a trailer park, next door to the strange people with a pit-bull.
I really donít want to spend my life talking about crayon on the walls, or any of the other child related topics. I donít have photos of grandchildren in my wallet.
Are we child haters? No, we have nothing against kids, we just donít want any of our own.
So, have kids or donít. Just make it your own decision.