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The Payoff for Speaking Up About Not Having Kids

A Personal Perspective: The power of connecting with other non-parents.

Key points

  • When childless people stay silent about not having kids, we miss out on the power of true belonging.
  • Key to better understanding of our own and others' situations is listening well and, when ready, being frank.
  • Elder childless and childfree people agree: It's important to build connections as soon as possible.
Calvin Hanson/Unsplash
Calvin Hanson/Unsplash

We need to talk.

Talking frankly and openly with others who don’t have kids is crucial to living a full life as a non-parent. When we choose to connect with others like ourselves, we transcend our individual origin stories and can mine the life experiences we share.

Not including our experiences of non-parenthood leaves us misunderstood, marginalized, and often silent. We also limit our access to practical life lessons from others like us. Being a non-mom or -dad has ramifications for almost every aspect of adult life.

There’s juicy and challenging stuff here, like how family-of-origin dynamics and friendships change with the addition of each child. At work, non-parents are frequently asked to adjust work hours to accommodate parental pressures. How we consider end-of-life planning differs from that of those with kids.


Having children is a cultural expectation and often a gateway to flowing with the mainstream. When you don’t have kids, it can sometimes be tough to feel like you belong. We’re often seen as not quite right in the eyes of others.

Mindfully choosing when and how to integrate our non-parenthood is key to inclusion and belonging. “We need others,” writes cultural psychologist Marianna Pogosayan, “for completing the patchwork of our identities, with our singular traits and those that we share with kindred and friends. For the safety they give us to pursue our goals. For the effect and meaning they breathe into our lives.”

Take this advice from an international group of elder women who gather around a virtual campfire every quarter: Find others who don’t have children and swap stories, challenges, and opportunities.

At these “Fireside Wisdom Chats,” hosted by Jody Day, it seems to be unanimous that the single most important way to become our true selves is to talk frankly with other non-parents. Just like moms congregate to swap strategies for dealing with raising children, those of us without kids benefit from sharing how we cope, grow, and thrive.

Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash
Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

Heck, you don’t even need to talk; just listen to what others have to say. Today there are many podcasts, webinars, and social media communities that focus on childless/childfree concerns. In-person options include Meetup groups, pop-up book groups, and weekend retreats.

The Payoff

The payoff is simple and powerful. When we include our unique perspective, we take our place in the world as fully functional adults living perfectly normal lives. We increase the odds that we’ll encounter others similarly situated and can access their input, wisdom, and strategies for better-integrated lives.

We become more comfortable in our own skin and unlock the power of true belonging.

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