Being child free

Sunday 1 June, 2014

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Not having a child may cause a range of emotions, including:

  • sadness or emptiness
  • a sense of grief or loss
  • relief, contentment or happiness
  • empowered, if you made the choice.

You may arrive at this decision after your cancer experience or unsuccessful fertility treatments. You might feel like you ran out of time, money or energy to pursue the goal of having children. However, other people may feel that the timing was not right. Some people don’t want children, and find other ways to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Your feelings may change over time, and may depend on if you have a partner and how they feel. If you want support, a counsellor, social worker or psychologist can talk to you about being child-free and help you deal with challenging situations (for example, if your partner feels differently to you).

Some people who don’t have children of their own like to be involved with young people in other ways. This may be by volunteering with an organisation that works with children or embracing the role of special friend, aunt or uncle. 

"In some ways, the idea of not being able to have children made me think of other ways I could make my mark on the world. It’s hard to explain, but I definitely feel much more proactive, and a little less selfish." - Katie
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Reviewers: Prof Martha Hickey, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, VIC; Franca Agresta, Clinical Research Manager, Melbourne IVF, VIC; Alyssa White, National Publications Project Manager, Cancer Council NSW; and Georgia Mills, Cancer Survivor.
Updated: 01 Jun, 2014