Making the Choice: Top 5 Websites for Information on Living a Childfree Life Vs. Raising Kids
Deciding whether or not to have kids is arguably the biggest decision a person can make. While becoming a mom is one that our society has largely treated as a given — something you unquestionably just do — motherhood isn’t a must. The decision to have kids or not is a choice that should be made with deliberation and intention. After all, having a child means bearing responsibility for another life for at least 18 years, and in all likelihood, offering various means of support and resources for many years thereafter. 2021 stats show that the average age of adults leaving the parental home is 26.5 years in Europe, and as parents will attest, it doesn’t end there. Of course, a person’s investment in their child(ren) goes beyond time, money, and energy — it’s a massive emotional investment too. As the internet memes joke, becoming a parent means having to accept that you’ll be worried for the rest of your life. When you have kids, the way you spend your time changes and where you invest your money does too. Your relationship with your partner (should this apply) shifts to make room for this new human. Your focus naturally shifts from having your own life and well-being front and center, to the lives and well-being of your kid(s). I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that your relationship with the whole world changes. Yet while you may agree that bringing a whole new human into this world is a big deal, I hear from moms all the time that they didn’t realize just how much work having a child would be; that they didn’t understand how much life would change; moms who tell me they didn’t know that living childfree by choice was a valid option, not really. Provided you agree that this decision is a huge one (and I really hope you do!), it then naturally makes sense that you’d want to spend time doing your research and deeply exploring the question of “kids or childfree?” so you can make an informed choice. As with any decision, there will be aspects of either path that can only be uncovered through lived experience, but there is also a wealth of information at our fingertips.
Understanding The Decision
In order to make an informed decision, one you can feel confident and secure in, it’s important that you take a close look at what it actually means to have kids, as well as what it means to live childfree. Especially as women, we’re often only shown what a life with kids looks like. That is, as mothers often tell me, living childfree isn’t really presented as an option. Even then, our view of motherhood often only skims the surface. Beyond the baby cuddles and family trips to Disneyland — what does motherhood truly entail? If you’re not privy to real accounts of the day-to-day of being mom, it will be tough to fully know what you’re signing up for. Likewise, if a childfree life is only tinged with worries about future regrets and loneliness (the picture that’s often painted by those who are shocked at the prospect of a woman not having kids), how can you make a decision you feel good about? Perhaps I’m being a bit unfair by setting up kids vs. childfree with the above examples, but the fact is that society generally romaticizes motherhood, and disparages women who live without kids. By getting a better understanding of the positive and negatives of both sides of the equation, only then can you make a truly informed choice. While there are many different means of getting information on what it really means to live childfree vs. with kids, in this article we’re going to focus on websites you can use to help make your choice.
Top 5 Websites for Information on Living a Childfree Life Vs. Raising Kids
Top Website 1: kidsorchildfree.com
Our own site has been designed with the sole purpose of helping women make a confident, supported choice when deciding whether to have kids or remain childfree. While there are websites and other resources for women who have already made their decision (i.e. that are designed for moms or moms-to-be, or those who are confidently childfree), my own experience trying to navigate this choice left me feeling generally unsupported, and like I was in the space between: I didn’t know what I wanted, and it seemed like there were few resources for a person like me. If you’re curious about the childfree choice like I was, this article is a great one for discovering what it actually means to be childfree; in this particular post you can read about some of the perks of choosing a childfree life. You’ll also find a growing number of resources to support you, like our Kids or Childfree Response Guide (which gives you 25 answers for those asking when you’re going to have kids). Plus, you can hear about my own experience navigating this choice and tips for how to get clear on your right path, by tuning into the various podcast episodes I’ve appeared on.
Top Website 2: psychologytoday.com
Psychology Today is the world’s largest mental health and behavioral science destination online, and has a wealth of different articles on the topics of motherhood, raising children, and being childfree. Not only does Pyschology Today boast countless informative articles related to these topics, but the website also offers a large database of accredited clinicians in the U.S. and internationally (counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.) should you be seeking additional support with your decision. Some of the articles are firsthand accounts of motherhood (like this piece about a mother’s reflections on her first 25 years as a mom) or being childfree (childfree author, Ellen Walker, PhD. shares 3 things she doesn’t love about being childfree in this article); other articles offer broader insights into topics like the traits of people who are choosing to be childfree and how millennial women can redefine and rewrite the narrative of motherhood. While there aren’t any resources on Pyschology Today that have been explicitly created to support the kids or childfree decision, there is a wealth of information, and in particular, information written from an evidence-based, psychological perspective, that can help inform you about issues relating to having kids, motherhood, and/or being childfree. While the site isn’t overly user-friendly from an organization and navigation perspective, a simple search and find for any questions or topics you’re interested in exploring will usually elicit a number of related content pieces.
Top Website 3: Reddit’s Fencesitter Subreddit
This online forum calls itself “a safe place for those who aren't sure whether they want to have kids, or not.” If you’re struggling to arrive at a clear decision on the matter, hearing from others who are grappling with this choice can certainly provide some solace. Plus, there are accounts of those who have now made a clear decision — and what it’s like on the other side (like this couple who decided to have a child, and this one, who decided not to have kids). Likewise, Reddit’s childfree subreddit is also worth exploring — a place you can find discussions ranging from being childfree and dating in your 30’s, to rants like this one, where a Reddit user laments being asked to give up paid time off because their coworker couldn’t find childcare. And if you’re ready for a real peek behind the curtain of some parents’ realities? Cruise on over to this subreddit that’s all about parental regret. Yes, it’s a highly taboo topic but it most certainly exists, and if you’re a woman considering motherhood it’s a subject worth considering. The fact it’s a community-driven resource is one of the best and worst things about Reddit. On the one-hand, the platform offers real-time hot takes by real people, on a myriad of different topics and issues related to kids vs. childfree. On the other hand, it’s kind of the Wild West of the internet: anyone can post anything, totally anonymously, and there’s no shortage of snarky commentary about kids and parents. However, with the disclaimer “user beware” — I’d suggest that Reddit and it’s accompanying subreddits is an interesting place to explore topics relating to your choice.
Top Website 4: wearechildfree.com
What began as a photography project documenting the lives of childfree women, We Are Childfree has grown into an online community, podcast, and storytelling platform for any and all people living (or considering) a life without kids. We Are Childfree was an instrumental part of my own journey to getting clear on my chidfree choice, and was also my first major experience realizing, Wait, I’m not the only one who feels this way?! Founders Zoë Noble and James Glazebrook do a beautiful job featuring people from all walks of life, and whose journeys to being childfree vary as much as they do. The childfree space has been often patrolled by so-called gatekeepers — for example, folks and communities who say you’re only childfree if it’s by choice and not circumstance — whereas We Are Childfree makes clear that their community is for everyone, whether you’re still grappling with your decision or are unable to have kids. Some of my personal favorite stories include Maren’s, who emphasises that her decision to be childfree was emotional, rather than fact-based; this conversation with novelist Donna Freitas, who wrote a wonderful fiction book (The 9 Lives of Rose Napolitano) about the many different paths our lives can take, with and without kids; and I’d be remiss not to share how much of an honour it was to share my own story of navigating ambivalence and uncertainty, and how I finally arrived at clarity.
Top Website #5: huffpost.com
HuffPost has a whole section dedicated to the topic of childfree living. Many of the articles are first-hand accounts from those who are childfree, like this one, whose author shares that her concern about the enviroment was the main reason she didn’t have kids, and this piece, where the author addresses the notion that “ultimate love” is only available to moms. The website also shares helpful advice, like the input given in this piece (which shares how to respond to people who shame you if you don’t want kids), as well as articles that address important issues for those considering not having kids, (like this article about how childfree seniors can prepare for their futures.) Huffpost is a great resource because it offers varied perspectives and experiences of being childfree — both the positive and hopeful, as well as some of the frustrations and challenges of this path.
Making Your Decision
Once you’ve spent some time perusing some of these websites, how do you actually make a choice? First, know that chances are slim that any given article or perspective will be the one to tip you in favour of kids vs. childfree. Rather, I’d encourage you to think of these resources as providing different ideas, inspiration, and considerations for you to chew on as you explore the question, Do I have kids?
Despite the data and so-called “facts” you may come across as you explore these different websites, know that the experience of having kids or being childfree is largely personal, subjective, and can’t be decided by a pros and cons list or by weighing the importance of different criterion and then measuring it against itself (I won’t be surprised if you tell me you’ve tried that though! ).
Rather, here’s a brief guide on how you can use the above resources to help you make an informed choice:
1.) Notice what thoughts and feelings come up as you read a given article or post.
Do you find yourself identifying with what’s being shared? Do you agree or disagree? Does a particular topic have you wanting to go even deeper? Have you considered this particular perspective or aspect of kids/no kids before?
2.) Honour what your body is telling you.
I know how easy it is to ignore more body’s signals and to want to make a choice based on what “makes sense”, or what we deem to be normal, good, or right. For many of us women that means we’re compelled to follow the narrative that womanhood = motherhood — even if our bodies are screaming, This isn’t for me!
Get curious about your body’s response as you read and consider various aspects of this choice, and try not to respond in judgment or with shame. If you were to listen to what your body is saying when making this choice, what would that be?
3.) Write down your observations from the above, and anything you want to explore or consider further (whether through journaling; coaching or therapy; with your partner or a trusted friend).
You don’t have make any immediate meaning or sense out of these observations, but it can be helpful to pay attention and also, notice any themes — for example, are there certain fears, judgements, or beliefs that come up?
4.) Know this process takes time and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have kids requires personal reflection, consideration, and the kind of soul-searching that doesn’t happen overnight. If these websites provided input that you feel has informed you in this process, bookmark them or give them a follow on social media, so you can delve into new articles or other resources, as your decision-making unfolds.
A life-changing choice that takes time
Deciding whether or not to have kids is one of life’s most important decisions — one that, in many ways, will change the entirety of your life. Spending some time exploring websites on the topic can help you make an informed decision that you can feel good about — no matter which path you ultimately choose.
My hope is that these websites can help you either kick-off, or continue your exploration of whether to live a childfree life or raise kids, and to trust that you’ll reach the decision that’s right for you, in exactly the right amount of time. Use the chat on the site and let me know: what has your experience been like doing research on this topic of kids or chidfree? Do you have a favorite resource you’ve used in the process? Take a moment and share your thoughts — I'd love to hear from you!