Michigan State University concluded research revealing 1 in 5 adults does not regret not having kids.
Michigan child-free people in numbers
Jennifer Watling Neal, MSU professor of psychology and co-author of the study, explained, “We found that 20.9% of adults in Michigan do not want children.” She added, “Michigan is demographically similar to the United States, so this could mean 50 million to 60 million Americans are child-free.”
What about regrets?
Zachary Neal, associate professor of psychology at MSU and co-author of the study, stated there was no evidence that “older child-free adults experience any more life regret than older parents.” He added, “Older parents were slightly more likely to want to change something about their life.”
The study is vital as reproductive rights are being taken away
The researchers concluded child-free people deserve more representation since we live in times when “reproductive rights are being eroded.”
Evolution or something else?
One Reddit poster shared, “It’s only been 100 years or so of society that the nuclear family was common and that two parents were expected to raise kids themselves.” They explained how previously, children were raised by extended family members and earlier in history by whole tribes.
The co-author discussed the issue in-depth
Since the study attracted attention on social media, Dr. Jennifer Watling Neal introduced herself in a Reddit thread and was willing to share answers to all burning questions. She also shared a “free copy of our paper here as our data and statistical code here.”
Surprisingly, money is not the reason why people choose to be child-free
Watling Neal answered that the “study showed no differences by income in the prevalence of childfree individuals.” She added, “There may be other factors (cultural, etc.) at play in the decision to be child-free.”
Gender is also not significant
The study co-author shared that “23.82% of men identified as childfree & 18.2% of women identified as childfree.” Though more men prefer to be child-free, the differences are not drastic.
Some people left brutally honest answers
One Reddit poster shared, “I regret getting a dog sometimes. I cannot fathom having a child.” Another chimed in, “Not A Father’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year.”
Others shared witty quotes
Someone stated, “It is better to regret not having kids than to regret having kids.” Another added, “I never regret not doing the thing I didn’t want to do.”
Parents also showed understanding
A parent of adult children said, “I have three children, and exactly zero of them want kids of their own.” Another merely stated that kids are great, but only if you want them.
Many child-free people shared their stories
One person wrote, “Everybody told me I would regret not having children, and here I am, almost 50, not regretting it.” Another replied, “I’ll be 48 next month. I’m really happy that we don’t have kids.”
One person reminded everyone of the age-old question
A person asked everyone’s favorite question, though they added they were being sarcastic. They wrote, “Yeah, but who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?”
Many talked about the state of the world
Someone jokingly shared, “The bank and bills take everything, no room in the budget for a million-dollar reproduction experiment.” Another pondered, “Would you want kids if the economy was more generous and one person’s average paycheck could comfortably buy a three or 4-bedroom house?”
Children are a massive responsibility
One woman wrote, “The thought of being responsible for another human being, even though I have very little control over them, is utterly terrifying.” Another added, “I just can’t understand how people perpetuate generational poverty.”
Speaking of regrets…
As a Reddit poster proclaimed, “Having a child and then regretting that is a LOT worse than not having a child and regretting that.”
Society should be more open to people who do not want children
Another Reddit poster shared words of wisdom, “We need to stop treating people (especially women) as freaks if they simply have other plans in life than child raising.” Another reminded people that being a parent “doesn’t stop at 18. You’re a parent for life.”
A child-free husband says their choice was more challenging for her
The man explained the wife was treated differently at work. He gave some examples, “You don’t have kids, you can work late,” “Becky is going on maternity leave for the 3rd time in the last five years, and you need to cover for her”, “John is going on maternity leave for the next 6 weeks, and you need to cover for him”, etc.”
Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all answer
One Reddit, now a parent, shared a valuable insight. They wrote, “Not having kids is fine. But once you have one, it’s a different thing. Not better or worse, just like, an entirely new life that is incomparable to the one before.”
What are your thoughts?
Do you think that life is incomplete without children? Or is society evolving toward a more individual approach to family life?
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