Overheard on CNN.com: Are childless people happier?
May 24th, 2011
04:38 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Are childless people happier?

Comment of the Day:

"I was an unwanted child. The way I see it, it's better to regret not having kids than it is having them." –makemlaff

Having children doesn’t always equal happy

According to recently released U.S. census data, the parenting landscape in the United States has changed. Today 1 in 5 women end their childbearing years without having a child - in 1970 that number was 1 in 10. In the CNN.com Living article linked above, a married woman expresses why she does not want to have children, and sociologists report that parents experience emotional distress more often than childless adults - although that doesn’t mean they recommend not having children.

The article sparked a debate among CNN.com readers; many of whom said they were happily childless but often feel they have to defend that choice.

beechleaf said, “I don't want children. Never have, never will. No, it does not make me less of a woman, and no, you are not going to change my mind by telling me how rewarding it is. And no, I don't hate kids. I have two nephews and a niece and I love them so very much! I love babysitting and helping out with them and when they're older I plan to help them financially with private high school and college. But I'm also very glad to go home to my quiet, kid-free house at the end of the day.”

NAK said, “I am so sick of trying to justify to people why I don't want kids. How about this? Since this planet is overpopulated, what makes you think that you're so great that your DNA needs to be passed on?” Teri122 said, “This story is an inspiration to women who chose not to have kids. I'm 19 and while I haven't blocked out the idea of kids, I'm not totally open with the idea either. There is so much stigma against women and couples who don't want kids. People should learn to realize that they have no right to judge other people for their choices.”

SpiritedOne said, “It's so interesting to see the strong emotions this subject brings about in people. I'm in my mid-30's and while single, don't share the same desire my friends do to have children. And with my niece, extended family and friends' kids, I don't feel like I'm missing out. What bothers me, (and I wish by now I had a better way to answer people) is when folks ask me outright why I'm single, why I don't have kids, why I don't want them, etc.” normal45 responded, “Tell those people the most selfish thing they could do is clone themselves. Then they'll see it in a different light.”

But many happy parents weighed in, too.

Wow57 said, “I was walking on the beach late at night with my seven-year-old daughter on my shoulders. She whispered to me, ‘Dad, do you know how you can sometimes hear people’s voices in your head after they stop talking to you?’ I said yes, I guess… She said, ‘Well, in school when I am really sad, I put my head down on my desk, close my eyes, and think of your voice… then I feel better.’ I was childless for 43 years and had no clue what I was missing.”

JLM73 said, “There is nothing selfish about choosing to not have kids. Being a parent is an extremely challenging and oftentimes frustrating job, and I totally understand why some couples choose not to do it. I love my son and have no regrets. Being a father is both the greatest and hardest thing I've ever done.”

kevin591 said, “As a father of two children, I can say that for me, having children is the best thing that ever happened to me. Parenting has challenges and it’s not easy, but being a dad is the best gig I ever had.”

Laureth said, “Children have the ability to either make you happy or miserable. I love my girls (16 and 13) with my whole heart and soul. I would wrestle a grizzly bear to protect them. I would take a bullet for them. They have enriched my life in ways I can't even verbalize. But that being said, there are days when I could cheerfully, and without regret, sell them to the circus.”

skydreamer07 said, “I saw my son crawl for the first time last night. It was an indescribable feeling. The closest thing I can compare it to is my first skydive. I feel like people without children, especially women because of their motherly instinct, have a gap in their lives.”

And some readers shared their struggles with parenting.

taralee469 said, “Since no one else is willing to say this, I will: I'm a mom, to a four year old boy. And you know what? It's not all it's cracked up to be. As much as I love him, there have been many times I wished that I never had kids. I miss having free time, and doing all the things I used to before I became ‘Mommy.’ ” FleetFoxx responded, “There have been times since I've became a parent that I've felt the same way that you do. I think a lot of people feel that way at some point, but don't tell anyone out of fear of being labeled a bad parent or a selfish person. Thanks for being so honest.”

The end of the world, again

Last Saturday, according to preacher Harold Camping, the rapture should have occurred, ushering five months of destruction until Judgment Day. But the day came and went without any divine rumblings. He still says the second part of his prediction - that October 21 will be the end of the world - still stands.

If their comments are a true indication, CNN.com readers are losing their patience with the preacher.

Nick said, “Hey CNN. Why are you making time for this? No one cares and it scares kids and people. This guy needs to be arrested or beat with a bat.” Massiel said, “The world is only ending for him ... he is probably like 300yrs old!” Marty in MA said, “Jesus isn't coming again. Either is Elvis. Cased closed. Get a life you crazies.” Lettuce Prey said, “I don't feel the least bit of pity for Camper's followers who gave him money, sold their homes, quit their jobs on this swindler's say-so. Anyone who continues to believe this guy is a complete moron.” Observer quoted President George W. Bush, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says: fool me once, shame on, shame on you, if you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” Joe said, “Man I hope the media doesn't cover this for the next five months. If they do I will be rooting for the end to happen myself.” HoosierMessiah said, “It takes really large cajones to publicly display one's ignorance and lunacy in such an enthusiastic manner. Glad I'm not on that CAMPING trip.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (387 Responses)
  1. lauren

    By definition, childless couples could not be happier, as they view the absence of children as a negative. On the other hand, childfree couples may indeed be happier – as they have chosen to not have children – especially when compared to parents of teens and those paying college tuition. I'm just sayin'....

    May 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Nikki

    I wish people would think before they say, "You're missing something by not having children." The world is overpopulated and human beings (along with all life forms) are paying for it with our/their lives, well-being and loss of habitats–super-tornadoes, floods, droughts, oil spills, loss of natural resources, pollution, deforestation–much of it resulting from planet overpopulation. I'm shocked by what has been lost in my own lifetime and sobered to think of what the next generation may encounter.

    May 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Leah

    Even when I was young I knew I would not become a mother and have kids. Some people are cut out to be moms but I am not one of them. I am very happy in my life and nothing bores me to tears except talk about weddings, pregnancy and babies! I am in my fifties and single and I love my life. As I told a friend, if I had gotten pregnant and had kids I would have run away from home!

    June 14, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sara

    Why all bitterness and hostility? Whether or not someone chooses to have a child is a personal decision. I decided to have one. I could care less if someone decides not to. That's their choice. Sure raising kids isn't glamorous, but I worked full time and supported myself for 12 years and, trust me, that wasn't glamorous either. All this debate about who is happier is silly. Those who make thoughtful, honest decisions about their lives are the happiest.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ketchupandmustard

    my issue was more with treating employees without kids differently–when my husband's grandmother (who raised him) suddenly passed away, my former boss tried to tell me I couldn't leave BECAUSE my 2 other coworkers had to leave early for the 5th time that week to watch their kids play ball. (I left anyway and quit shortly after). They weren't made to work Saturdays bc they had kids. They also thought it was funny if their kid faked sick at school so they could leave work an hour after arriving to go pick them up and still get paid (salaried).

    June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Barbara Chojnacki

    I'm in my mid-50's, married nearly 35 years, childless by choice. I don't hate children; I just was never interested in having any of my own. The decision to have children is far too important to take lightly, and to pressure someone is, in my book, unconscionable. I never felt pressured to have children by older women in my family; it was my own peers who told me "I'd change my mind someday".

    June 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sillybean

    I'm 31, single, live in a Downtown high rise, drive a paid for Jeep and have a corporate career. I LOVE my life. A husband and kids or even a boyfrined for that matter – simply aren't needed. I can work late and get every last little thing done = less stress on the job. At the end of a work day, I can leave the office and head out shopping, go with "the boys" to happy hours, or meet girlfriends at a pub for drinks before I head home. I have several friends and family who visit and stay for days, weeks, etc. I'm not lonely at all, I have ALL the freedom in the world (financially, socially, time mangement wise) and very few responsibilites (pay rent, feed dog). I can up and go on a whim whenever I like and can head out of town on a moment's notice. I have enough wiggle room in my budget to contribute charitably and buy new clothes every once in a while. I leave my loft spotless in the AM and return to it in the evening and it's just as clean...Launry and dishes are minimal. It's a simpler life, with 1/10th the stress of married/family life. I don't miss work b/c of sick kids, graduations, programs, drs visits, sporting events...I dont' have to rush in the AM and get kids ready for school and dropped off, I don't have to pay for the healthcare and daycare of children. I don't have to monitor someone else's every move and teach anyone anything. I don't think the single/childfree life is given as much accolades as it deserves. Growing up I always imagined I'd get married and have kids – just because that's what I thought you were supposed to do. But now that I'm older and I made it through my 20s without any illigitemate children, baby daddies, etc. I really feel like I dodged a bullet. I see the financial and familial struggle of single parents and married ones and I know it's not the life for me!

    Ladies, you can be single and childless and successful and ROCK! I highly recommend it :)

    November 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eileen

      @ Sillybean, I totally agree with your viewpoint and lifestyle. I am married and we have no kids. Our life is so much easier and we always have money to do whatever we want.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
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