Do Childfree Couples Have it All?


A little more than a month after The Atlantic ran Anne-Marie Slaughter’s cover story asking whether or not women can, truly, “have it all,” we’re still talking about whether or not she’s right. According to a new piece at the Huffington Post, Laura Carroll posits that we are overlooking a huge option in the work-life balance. It would seem, according to Carroll, that it’s the couples who have no children at all that strike the best balance and, therefore, have it all. Carroll writes:

Why is parenthood always in the work-life equation? Because we assume that at one point or another, our personal lives will involve raising children. And we make this assumption because for generations, we’ve been taught to believe that parenthood is the ultimate path to fulfillment in life. We may have successful careers and do many other things in life, but becoming a mother and father is what’s going to make life truly worthwhile.

She goes on to expand on three reasons that childfree couples are sitting pretty. First, she says, they have the time and space to devote to their relationship and, therefore, their relationships thrive. Second, they are better able to support each other’s careers. Third, they are able to strike a balance between what is in their own best interests and what is in the best interests of their partners.

Sure, it might seem that not having children is a great way to more easily balance your work and personal lives. One of the easiest ways to free up time, after all, is to get rid of an activity. It is, also, vitally important for us to change the narrative surrounding motherhood; if a woman doesn’t want children, we shouldn’t judge her like we as a society do now. However, Carroll misses the point of Slaughter’s article. By arguing that we should eliminate things from the work-life equation, she might as well argue that women can have children and a husband, but should stop trying to work or that women can have a job and children, but shouldn’t try to maintain a healthy relationship. If the answer to the question of whether or not we can have it all is, “No, you must choose only a few things in your life,” you might as well argue that women without jobs are much happier than those with them.

The point of Slaughter’s original article was to change the way we think about women, their careers and what impact that has on their ability to be mothers, wives, and have personal lives. The United States still does not have comprehensive paid maternity leave, often forcing women to choose between their children and their careers — a choice men are almost never criticized for making. If women solve this problem by choosing either children, partnerships, or careers rather than fighting for legislation that allows them to be able to have it all, they are treating a symptom rather than the disease.

If women want both children and careers, they should be able to have it all, but, the way society is going now, they still can’t, and that’s not fair. That is what Anne-Marie Slaughter was trying to say in her article. She wasn’t trying to persuade us to choose one over the other.

Related Stories:

The Ethics of Childbearing

Should We Wait Until We Are Older to Have Kids?

What If We Just Stopped Judging Moms?

Photo Credit:lel4nd


Friend I.
Past Member 3 years ago

There is nothing more rewarding and than raising children,watching them take their first step,saying their first word, all the way through to getting their Master's Degree and seeing the love they feel for you because you were always there for them. To me, this is what life is all about.

Friend I.
Past Member 3 years ago

Eden W. I love your comment! I so agree with you. Thank you for posting! :)

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

Well everything I heard about work places being behind the curve on kids, we reap what we sow. And no we will never run out of Americans if we make too few, there are immigrants as a backup. But Id rather see what few kids we do make succeed always.

Berny p.
Berny p.3 years ago

Unfortunately, it seems that those who can least afford them and have the least ability to be parents, seem to have the most.


Barbara D.
Past Member 3 years ago

Yeah, we have it all ~ bills, mortgages, unemployment, marital strife.......

And we don't put the burden on you and the world by producing rugrats that we can't, and in many cases, do not want to support.

Eden L.
Eden Wilber4 years ago

I really do think that trying to sustain a career as a woman while you have children is incredibly selfish. Even the phrase "have it all" comes from selfish wants. Children need their mothers to be with them and nurture them. Husbands need their wives to make their home a place they love to come home to. Ministering to her family is the greatest job a woman can do! It will effect generations to come! No other career can say the same. When two people get married and start a family their lives are no longer about themselves. The father also has a responsibility, this is not sexist. He must provide for his family no matter what selfish desires he might have. This is a balanced scale of sacrifice for the well-being of every member of the family. I was raised in a family the values education and career above all else. My mother pushed my siblings and I to the side in pursuit of her own goals. This is not atypical. It is what happens in two-income families (in my case my father was not around). I am so glad to have a husband who understands this and allows me to stay home. Sure, sometimes I get tired of being with our baby all the time (even though I love him to pieces!), but I know my husband gets tired of working 5 days a week too! It is balanced and it is the only system what works in every situation

Deborah Vitek
Deborah Vitek4 years ago

Having children is far more selfish than not having them. Open your eyes and look at the mess this world is in because of too many people. If you think your genes are so important you need to reproduce, that is selfish. My husband was a brilliant NASA engineer and I'm no slouch. We decided on our honeymoon in 1973 that the world had too many people and too many problems and we were not going to reproduce and add to mess.

With 7 billion people in the world and environment on the edge of collapse we should be rewarding people who don't have children and adding extra tax to anyone who has more than two. That is simply realistic.

Amanda M.
Amanda M.4 years ago

With over seven billion people on the planet, there is no NEED for every person to reproduce, and that's actually a GOOD thing. We should be recognizing the fact that opting to remain childfree is actually a selfLESS decision, because to force people to have kids they don't want is completely wrong.

My sister and BIL are childfree, and they are much happier that way, although the hoops that my sister had to jump through in order to get long-term contraception were absolutely ridiculous (now that they're living in England, I must remember to ask her if she had the same kind of trouble over there-knowing their medical care, probably not). One of our cousins is still a bachelor, and he's told me flat-out he doesn't want kids-I don't fault him for that. Another is divorced (no kids), and the third cousin has been married for just over a year now-no news on whether or not they want kids. So far my husband and I are the only ones in my family to have kids, and we stopped at two for a combination of reasons, with environmental and financial concerns tying at the top of the list.

People should be free to not have children if they don't want them without repercussions from society. To force everybody to live by the "Duggarite" mentality is absolutely disgusting and definitely an outmoded concept.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 4 years ago

Patrish, being childless is NOT selfish. To me, having children is sometimes moreso because people feel the sun rises and sets on their little darlings and they feel some need to carry on their priceless, invaluable genes. Hate to break it to them but in most cases, their genes ain't all that!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 4 years ago

For those who say one doesn't have it all if childless....OMG I must despair and drive into a bridge abutment. Rubbish. Never particularly cared for rug rats and babies aren't even cute. I prefer puppies. They're also less bother and more loving.