Saturday, August 23, 2008

Children? Who needs them?

Jan Barden on the couples who are happy to live without offspring

We try hard not to resent our childless friends, who, in comparison with us, breeze through their lives flashing more cash, getting more sleep and having more fun and freedom. "Marrakesh next weekend?" they murmur to each other. "Why not?"

They must be so happy. Or are they? Could they just be filling their empty days with conspicuous consumerism to mask an aching loneliness and fear of a solitary old age?

Apparently not. Those who have chosen not to become parents are, on the whole, pretty pleased with their decision. At the extreme end of the scale, some are smug and others are aggressively evangelical. Many prefer the term child-free to childless, which implies, to them, some sort of loss. It's quite the opposite, they insist in large numbers in internet chat rooms.

There's certainly a lot of them around: projections by the Office for National Statistics suggest that, of women born in 1973, 23 per cent - nearly a quarter - will not have had children by the time they hit 45.

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