For anyone that has walked the road of infertility, you know that it involves many twists and turns. Decisions that you never anticipated having to make such as what does this mean for my future? What is the best option for me physically, emotionally and financially? Fortunately, for those of us who have walked this difficult path, there are many options out there when it comes to building a family such as IVF, adoption or surrogacy.
But one option that is very rarely talked about: the decision to live child-free
Last week, we invited Michelle Peterson to speak at our event about her decision to live a child-free life. She talked about how it can mistakenly be thought of as “the last resort” or as settling and can often be seen by others as a selfish option. Michelle expressed that at times she felt broken, both physically and emotionally and looking back now, wished someone had told her that the option of child-free living was just as valid of a choice as IVF, adoption or surrogacy is.
Through her story, she helped us recognize that living child-free can produce a very joyful, fulfilling and purposeful life. While she was very careful to say that this choice is extremely personal and not right for everyone, she shared some of the ways that this choice has benefited her life. Michelle talked about the advantage it gave both she and her husband to pursue fulfilling careers, individual interests and passions. Without the responsibilities of raising children, they have had more time, flexibility and resources to explore hobbies, travel, and engage in self-discovery.
This freedom has allowed both Michelle and her husband the opportunity to focus on personal growth, self-development, and self-fulfillment. But this also included learning that there are more ways to “parent” than just the traditional roles.
Michelle enjoys being involved in the lives of her nieces and nephews as well as the children of their friends. She wants to get rid of the stigma that those who choose this lifestyle are selfish and don’t like children. For Michelle, this couldn’t be further from the truth and this alternative form of parenting has allowed her to make a positive impact on children's lives. She and her husband have embraced a child-free lifestyle and are leading fulfilling, purposeful lives while making valuable contributions to their communities and the world at large.
A big thank you to Michelle for teaching us to respect all family building options and that there is not a one-size-fits-all. It is crucial to recognize that the decision to have or not have children is deeply personal, and individual preferences should be respected. We can do better to acknowledge that living childfree is not being resigned to not having children and that it can be a fulfilling and beautiful life.