Are We More Youthful Without Children?

I feel younger than my age. I believe that not having somebody identifying you as the old person, as the parent or grandparent, means you don’t feel as old. You have not moved up the generations so that now you’re the elder. You’re still you. I really think there’s something to that, something even to be grateful for. I took one of those bogus tests online recently. It guessed I was in my 30s. I’m double that, enjoying my senior discounts, but I don’t feel that way. Most of my friends are a little older than I am. To them, I’m a kid.

So many famous authors, artists, musicians and others who have achieved great things never had children. Not having to take 20 years out to raise children gave them time to follow their dreams, and they seem to go on and on. I know most of you want to have children. I would trade it all to hold my own babies in my arms and watch them grow, to teach them and love them forever. It would be hard to focus on work while doing that. But since that’s not going to happen, so let’s look at the bright side. When you don’t have kids, you can still BE the kid.

I know people my own age who are so much older than I am. The non-parents I see are often more energetic, more playful, and more open to new experiences. Maybe they would have been that way anyway, but I wonder if parenting would have aged them. I think about my grandparents at my age. They were OLD.

Here are a few things to read about this:

From the Telegraph: “Does Having Children Make You Old?”

From Kristen Houghton at the Huffington Post: “Why (Most) Successful Women are Childless”

My own 2013 post “Does Being Childless Mean We Never Grow Up?” offers another way of looking at this question.

What do you think about this? Could never having children keep you younger? Please comment.

******************

Updates:

Last week I wrote that I was going to the hospital for a scary procedure. Well, it’s over, and I am not dying or damaged by my day in surgery. No tumors, no ulcers, no infections. The doctor did take some polyps to biopsy, but he didn’t think they were anything to worry about. Best of all, he says I can eat anything I want. Whoohoo!

One of my essays is included in a new book titled Biting the Bullet: Essays on the Courage of Women, published last month by Chatter House Press. You might want to check it out.

Another benefit of childlessness: More time to read!

Finally, there’s a pretty heated discussion happening in the comments for a previous post, “Childless Readers Help Each Other.” Me, I’m going to try to stay neutral, but this guy named Tony has really pissed some people off.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Are We More Youthful Without Children?

  1. I thint not having kids can definitely keep you younger. After all look at the fact you’ll get more sleep and can afford better quality food (generally speaking). You can spend more $ on aesthetics such as nails and hair. My last pity party i spent the $ i would have spent on birth, kids, college on a corvette. At least it makes me feel young even if i dont look young. And….agreed, give me the joy of carrying a child/ren any day and raising them any day over what I have.

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  2. How do I get to see “comments”? When I click your “Comment” button, it only shows your most recent column, never the comments.

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  3. I think not having kids keeps you young. I’m in my late 30s and I just took my 20 year old cousin and her friend up to Montreal for some bar hopping and sightseeing last weekend. I feel like me and my husband had as much energy, possibly more than they did. We still go to music festivals too and camp out in the summer, where most of the other people there are in their 20s. Its fun, but I feel a little bad about it sometimes, like I don’t belong there and people are starting to notice that. I don’t know if they actually are, but I find I’m self conscious about my age. Without any kids, my lifestyle is the same as it was 15 years ago. I wonder if someone will tell me when it’s time to stop what I’ve been doing. Or is it ever time to stop?

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  4. I guess you’re right. It just makes me feel a little bad sometimes, like there is something wrong with me for not changing or “growing up” like everyone else did..and that detracts from my enjoyment of it a little. I think at this point in my life this is what bothers me most about not having children, the sense of not being seen as a real adult, that maybe people look at me and think its sort of…pathetic? This is probably more my hang up than anyone else’s. Probably no one even notices or cares lol.

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    • I know what you mean, Erica. We all want to grow up and fit in with the big kids. But believe me, we do grow up with all the challenges that life brings us. Try to embrace your youthfulness and know that you are not pathetic.

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    • I have felt this way before too. Often at parties I get the old, “Oh, aren’t you lucky you don’t have to deal with this sort of thing.” I feel like I’m being patted on the head while the grown-ups talk.

      I know the “moms” talk about me and speculate on my story. When I join the kids or teenagers in a game I’m the only one. The “adults” are talking about important things.

      I have felt pathetic before too. Someone once referred to my dog as my ‘child”. I feel this almost stranger was trying to “throw me a bone” so I could join in on an adult conversation. It was condesending and rude. I get that some people do have “fur babies” and all that. Totally fine but my dog is an animal and not my child. I”m okay with that.

      Once an extended relative apologized profusely (very profusely) because she mistakenly thought I had children. When I cheerfully corrected her she refused to let it drop because she figured she had mortally hurt me by making me utter the words, “nope you are thinking of cousin Anna. She has three children. I have three dogs.”

      Going home that night my husband and I did feel pathetic. She was just so SAD for us. But you are right – if we feed into what other think – it’s is our own hang-up. We’re sad sometimes but mostly we love our life.

      So you should definately continue to enjoy your younger cousin and do everything that appeals to you.

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      • I hate Mothers Day when people wish me Happy MD and I point out to them that I don’t have children… and they respond… “But you have fur babies” That just kills me… I politely just walk away, but inside I am screaming “Yeah rights…. cuz THATS the same!!!” It kills me every time!!!!!

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  5. Hi Sue! Great news to hear that you are well! What a relief!

    My sister-in-law is the same age as me. She has three children, the oldest is 16.

    I feel I’m much younger than her – but not in a superior, “I’m hip and you’re not” way. Sometimes I actually feel a bit immature for my age. I might be stressing about a business decision (which I usually know will end favorably) but she will be stressing about the drugs that were at the party that the 16 year old attended. That’s a lot to have on your plate and I can’t really relate.

    When I leave a family gathering I might groan about the laundry that awaits me at home. She’s got to finish her laundry – 3 kids worth, pack lunches for everyone for the following school day and deal with the 12 year old who wants a answer about a complicated camping trip with friends. And she knows the answer will NOT be pleasing. I don’t have to deal with that sort of responsibility.

    Are my troubles “less” than hers? Not really always. I have valuable relationships and worry about the real troubles of my family and friends. I care. I pray. And I stress about their (and occasionally my own) health and well being. I know my troubles are just as valid as the ones with children.

    It’s like when I want to gripe about how my mom is driving me crazy. Understandable but I’m certainly not going to pull that stunt that with my friend Sally who still mourns the loss of mother and best friend. Much in this way, being childless has made me more mindful of the differences in my life vs. the lives of those with children.

    I don’t brag about how I can shop where I want, eat dinner at a new fancy place, have the means to do the expensive and time consuming hair treatments. I’m a bit more polished, “relevant” and fun. Compared to a stressed and tired mother I see the differences.

    But I’m still a 41 year old with saggy boobs. My mothers age spots are showing up on MY face. I’ll never pull off the antics of the 20-somethings and my husband has a lot of grey hair. I’m “old” and I know it. And I’m okay with it.

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    • I understand and appreciate your consideration of others…. I’m that way too. I am a Christian and celebrate Christmas, but I don’t get bent out of shape when people say Happy Holidays. I feel me saying Merry Christmas to everyone I meet who might possibly not celebrate Christmas is the same as everyone one assuming I have children and wishing me Happy Mothers Day.

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      • That’s an interesting comment Candy because I’m the same way about “Christmas vs. Holiday”. It never occurred to me that my feelings on that stem from being childless – it makes sense though.

        I’ve experienced the Mothers Day thing too. I’m a Godmother and at my in-laws certain people go out of their way to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. (“Oh, you’re a Godmother and that is REALLY important.”) I wish they wouldn’t. I’m okay with my status and when a person wishes me a HMD I feel they are insinuating that I’m not “okay” or not normal and that bugs me.

        Maybe I’m reading into it but you know what – none of those people have ever wished my husband (also a Godparent) a Happy Father’s Day.

        Just me.
        Because I’m a woman.
        The only one without children.
        And probably breaking inside and they think that pumping me up on Mother’s Day is going to help.

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  6. Thanks for your responses. It really helps to know someone else is going through the same thing and having some of the same feelings. Especially since theres no one in my “real” life that I can talk to about this kind of stuff.

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      • Candy,

        I feel the same way on Father’s Day. My stepsons send me a card or make some effort to contact me. Which is nice. But I still feel like I’m not normal because I didn’t have any bio kids. That I despise. I want kids now and I still can have them. But, I’m going to law school and that is #1 to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. It wouldn’t be right to have kids now. I know I’ve said some mean things. I’m not sorry for it. But seeing a friend of mine in his 60’s widowed and raising young kids did catch my attention. One way or another I’ll decide which path to chose. I pray that it’s right.

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  7. Tony didn’t piss me off… he cracked me up!!!! The double standards he lives by are hilarious. He cared so little about how he was treating his wife, but then whines about how people were treating him in their comments.

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  8. Yesterday a customer of mine came into my office. He’s a year older than me
    and sadly, lost his much younger wife (40) to a massive heart attack. This was
    his second marriage. We’ve know each other since high school. He has two
    children from this marriage. A daughter who is 11 and a son who just turned 4.
    Now he’s only a year older than me and here he is raising two children by himself
    approaching his mid 60’s. To me that’s scary. But, it comes with the territory.
    It did raise some questions, here I am 63 and I haven’t had my first family, And
    he is on his second. That’s messed up. If anything it galvanized my decision
    evern more. Although, the same fate he’s experiencing could befall me. That or
    I could die and leave my wife a young widow. Hell, life s a risk. I’m still marrying the young Colombian woman and having kids and go from there.

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  9. that depends on when you had them. I had my son at 20, people think we’re brother and sister- I’m now 36. I look at my friends in their 30’s with little kids and they def look older than I do-more wrinkles/bags under their eyes etc. We are meant to have kids at a younger age which is why I think it takes such a toll on couples in their 30s/40s.<<< the one reason of many why i don't want any more kids.

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