If you haven’t chosen a childfree life, you have to learn how to be happy without having kids. These tips on accepting life without children are from me – a woman who has accepted infertility.
Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility by Janet Jaffe, David Diamond, and Martha Diamond is a valuable resource for women and men who are childless. Sometimes it’s the little things, like knowing you’re not alone, that can make a big difference. If you feel like you’ll never be happy without a baby, reading books for childless couples can help you accept and even be happy with your life.
Accepting a childfree life is easier said than done – but here’s something that really helped me: “The willingness to win OR lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness,” writes Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal. “From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life.”
How to be Happy Without Having Children
Kitchen Table Wisdom is one of my favorite books because it’s all about accepting both the bitter and the sweet parts of life. Dr Remen is an oncologist who never had children. She struggled with Crohn’s Disease for most her life, and when she was in her 20s had surgery to remove most of her intestines. Remen knows failure and heartache…and she teaches people how to bounce back to live full, passionate lives.
Be willing to let go of how your life “should” be
Do you associate not having children with feelings of failure, being a “loser”, or feeling less worthy or fulfilled than the mom next door? The first step to accepting a childfree life is express your feelings of pain and loss. Admit that it’s painful to not have children.
Second, you have to be open to your life as it is. Instead of hating your body or wrestling with the fact that you can’t have kids, try opening your heart and mind to a life without children. You don’t have to love or be cheerful about your childfree life, but being open to your life as it is will help you accept the hand you’ve been dealt.
You might also read 5 Ways to be Happy as a Childless Couple, which I wrote for a reader who needed encouragement.
Remember that everyone deals with something
Everybody has problems; they just look different. My friend’s 19 year old son was recently killed in a car crash. I have ulcerative colitis; my husband and I are coping with male infertility (azoospermia). One of my writing colleagues recently had a stroke, and can’t think clearly enough to write anymore.
If want to be happy without having children, remember that infertility is a condition that you’re unfortunate enough to hav…and we all have stuff. Knowing that I’m not alone in the pain that life brings helps me accept a childfree life. All God’s children got their crosses.
Surround yourself with childfree couples
We spend time with friends who have kids – but I most enjoy my friends who don’t have children, or who have grown children! I especially like my friends who have chosen never to have children. If it hurts you to spend time with pregnant friends or big families, then reduce those visits. I wouldn’t advise avoiding families altogether, but I think accepting a childfree life is easier when you’re with people in the same situation.
Another thing that helped me be happy without children is my dog. We adopted Georgie from the SPCA, and she adds so much love and happiness to our lives – and frustration too – that it helps take our minds off not having kids.
You might also consider joining a group for women who aren’t parents.
Accept that you may experience sadness or disappointment every day
Getting and staying emotionally healthy is a daily choice. Accepting your childfree life and being happy without having children is something you have to decide to do — perhaps every hour! Being okay with your life doesn’t happen overnight. And, feelings of acceptance don’t last forever. It’s like showering or eating; you have to do it every day. Sometimes three times a day!
To be happy without having children, you have to remember that happiness is a daily choice.
If you don’t know what to do to be happy, read Starting Over After Infertility – A New Beginning.
Are you accepting a childfree life? Can you be happy without children? I welcome your comments below.