20 Surprising Things That Happen When You Don’t Have Kids

Parenthood is often hailed as a universal experience that brings joy, purpose, and fulfillment. However, there exists an alternative path that challenges societal norms—the decision to forgo having children. While this choice offers some advantages, it is essential to acknowledge that every decision carries its consequences.

What Are the Cons of Not Having Kids?

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A Reddit user asked, “What are the cons of NOT having kids?”

In this intriguing list of responses from Redditors presenting a compelling perspective on the road less traveled, we explore the twenty cons of not having kids.

1. Losing Friends

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One Reddit user responded by saying, “Losing friends who have kids. Even when you do get to spend time with them, and I even like kids, the whole time you are expected to sit around and gaze adoringly at their child. Not everyone who has kids is like this, of course, but enough. It’s all right, they seem happy, and that’s all one would wish for them, but still a con.”

Another said, “Most of my friends have kids in their teens now. We don’t have that in common, and we drift apart a bit.”

Another Reddit user emphasized, “You lose friends because they don’t have the money/time to do fun stuff anymore.”

While another non-parent said, “As you get older, your friends who aren’t childfree will start getting married and having kids. They’ll still love you, they’ll still like you, they’ll still try to keep in touch…. but their life will be very different from yours. Their priorities will change, and you will inevitably be bumped down the list. You could start resenting them for not being present for you like they used to be. They could start drifting from you because they feel you don’t understand their life and struggles anymore.”

2. Loneliness

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One person commented, “As someone that will probably never be able to afford kids, I’d say loneliness later in life, especially when one spouse dies sooner than the other.”

Someone else shared, “My wife passed away almost two years ago when she was only 37. My wife and I decided not to have children. I just turned 40 and spent my birthday alone. 40 is supposed to be a big event, but I had no one to be with. Also, once I’m dead and gone, all the memories my wife and I made will die with me. That’s a depressing thought.”

3. Limited Support in Old Age

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One user wrote, “One day, I’ll be old and have no one to help me. My boomer parents are in poor health, and both need me to do most things for them. Maintaining the garden, cleaning, grocery shopping, doctor appts.”

Another user who chose not to have kids shared, “I’m almost 40 and taking my health seriously, realizing I don’t have the luxury of letting my physical mobility go to s***.”

4. No Tax Credits

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Someone said, “Those tax credits you get for each kid. I’ve done tax work, and people with several kids can get some absurdly large refunds. For a good reason, I should add, but that is something I notice.”

A user replied to the comment above, saying, “That tax credit doesn’t add up to the cost of having children. Given two couples with equal incomes and similar personal spending habits, the couple without kids will have way more disposable income tenfold of that measly per child credit.”

5. Bias at Work

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One Reddit user shared, “Hard to get leave at Christmas, it’s prioritised for parents.”

Someone else added, “People seem to think it’s okay for us to work on holidays like Christmas and give way for parents to have the days off.”

Another Redditor wrote, “You have to fill in the slack that people with kids often leave. Having to work longer, harder, and during holidays because “others have a family”. No unquestioned excuses to leave work one-time or early because of family.”

Someone else shared, “Always getting picked out of all your other coworkers to come in for overtime or extra days because you don’t have kids so no issues finding childcare, so you should be automatically free right?”

Another Redditor re-inforced the narrative above saying, “Work assuming you can be the first or only one to call for overtime. I mightn’t have kids but I also have non-work life commitments/hobbies/activities that make my time as valuable as my parent colleagues’.”

6. Being Questioned About Your Decision to Not Have Kids

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Someone left a comment on the thread saying, “People constantly pestering you by asking when you’re having kids, judging you for not wanting them, saying stupid sh** like you just need to find the right person.”

Another Reddit user shared, “Slightly different approach but as a married dude who doesn’t plan on having kids (wife approved ofc) the social stigma of not having kids is getting worse and worse as we get older. We are in our young 30s and beginning to get grilled at social and work events.”

7. Difficulty Connecting With Fellow Adults Who Are Parents

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A Reddit user wrote, “For me it’s difficult to make friends because everyone else is in the parent club. They can relate only based on the shared experience and talk about nothing else. I suppose on the flip side it’s a pretty boring way to be friends when that’s all they have in common.”

Sigh, not being able to relate to people your age or feeling like an outlier must not be a good feeling.

8. Being Forced to Babysit Other Kids in the Family

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Someone shared, “Other parents think you are a free babysitter for them, as though you only exist to help selfish parents.”

Ouch! Have you ever been forced to babysit kids in your family just to give the parents a break?

9. No Paid Maternity or Paternity Leaves

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One user commented, “No maternity/paternity leave. That’s free leave you’ll never be able to take.”

Well, anybody who has experience with a newborn will tell you that’s no “leave.” Newborns can be so much hard work if you ask us, that paid leave is very well deserved.

10. Regret Later in Life

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A Redditor shared the following recollection, “Emptiness. Regret. I helped my Mom clean up the family graves on Memorial Day. I was like “After I’m dead. Nobody’s gonna do this.” And she got all quiet.”

Pheww…that’s some heavy existential stuff right there. Choosing not to have kids is a big and important life decision. It’s only natural for one to evolve with time, and you may feel differently about your decision a few years from now when it’s too late to do anything about it.

11. Strained Relationship With Your Parents

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One Reddit user left the following comment, “Your parents will never stop reminding you of their disappointment in not having grandchildren.”

Someone else agreed to say, “As a 30 year old without kids…my family only seems to want to make plans with the siblings that do have kids. Because I have no grandchildren to provide, I am left out.”

Another commenter shared a similar story, “My parents are not well off. They spend everything they have on my sisters, their husbands, their children, their stepchildren. My husband and I have to go out of our way to visit, to spend time with them, etc. I’ve lived away from them for 11 years now and my parents visited twice. If I don’t crank out grandchildren, I will never be as important as the rest of the family.”

12. Missing Out on a Life Experience

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Someone said, “A con of not having them for me would be missing out on the complexity of the level of relationship I have with them. There are no other humans I feel this deeply for, and I love my other family and friends dearly.”

Another person reemphasized, “You’re missing out on a unique kind of interpersonal relationship.”

Someone else added, “You’ll be missing out on a special kind of love, joy, and pride without them.”

13. Holidays Are Boring Without Kids

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One user shared, “Holidays aren’t as special without kids. They’re fine without kids, but with kids, holidays are EVENTS.”

Someone else agreed to say, “They do bring a special excitement to every family event. My daughter couldn’t sleep tonight because she was so excited about her grandfather’s birthday party tomorrow.”

While sometimes children can be a handful during the holiday season, they do bring a certain innocence and pure joy to the festivities. No one is as excited about Christmas, birthdays or Easters as a young child. It’s one of the simplest pleasures of life, watching your kid experience life in its full glory with their wide-eyed wonder.

14. Absence of a Biological Legacy

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A user left the following comment on the thread, “I am an only child. There will come a day when my whole family is dead. Mother, father, aunts, uncles, all of them. And the only family I have left will be those I married or made. I will spend years, possibly decades, without a single family member alive. I will be forced in those last years to draw up a will, deciding who gets my meager belongings when I die. I will leave no legacy, no furthering of my line, no solace that in death, my home/family/stuff will continue in any way, or even be remembered. I’m afraid of being stuck in a nursing home for decades and becoming one of the people forgotten about while they are still alive.”

15. People Assume You Don’t Like Kids

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Someone shared, “People assume you don’t like kids. I LOVE kids and am an honorary cool aunt to several. Things just didn’t work out for me to have my own (didn’t meet spouse till older, went thru traumatic life events during post marriage childbearing years, etc.)”

It’s important to be mindful of the fact that there are many reasons someone may be childless. While for many it is a conscious choice, there are couples out there struggling with infertility or other financial or physical/mental health ordeals.

16. Difficulty Finding a Compatible Partner

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A Redditor said, “Making the conscious decision to walk away from a great relationship because things are getting serious and your partner still wants kids, but you still don’t.”

The decision to have or not have children can be a deal breaker for many in a relationship. It is super important to have this conversation with your S/O as early in a commitment as possible to avoid heartbreak down the line.

17. Feeling Judged

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A female user shared how she has felt judged throughout her life for choosing not to have children. “Especially if you’re female, some people will judge you, assume something is mentally and/or physically wrong with you, and act like you’ve wasted your entire reason for existing.”

Do you agree that women are pressured more than men in our society to have kids? Does the female “biological clock” have anything to do with it?

18. Limited Legacy Beyond Personal Accomplishments

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Having children offers the chance to leave a lasting legacy through the lives they create. As this Redditor puts it, “You turn 40-50. Been everywhere you wanted. Drive the car you want. Did all the things you wanted. Wake up one day and see there is no point. You did all the achievements, accumulated money, and knowledge, and built a house, and it was all for nothing. Nobody will take that over from you. It will all die with you.”

19. Reduced Societal Contribution

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Without children, individuals may have fewer opportunities to influence and positively impact society. As this gentleman suggested, “I have two college-age children. Knowing you helped add to functioning, caring adults into the world is so comforting.”

It is always comforting and fulfilling to know you played your part in shaping a better future for the generations to come.

20. Missed Opportunities for Personal Growth

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Parenthood offers unique opportunities to learn, develop patience, and expand emotional capabilities, thus exposing individuals to a different lens and offering insights and experiences unique to raising children.

As this user puts it, “Psychologically, having children comes with a profound shift in purpose from living just for yourself to living for your kids. This really changes your perspective on life, although I’m certain it doesn’t happen to everyone.  At some point in your life, you may realize that living just for yourself is exhausting and not as rewarding anymore.”

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