According to Harvard-trained psychologist Dr. Bella DePaulo, research indicates that single, childfree women can be just as happy as their coupled counterparts. Although the reasons for this happiness may seem obvious to anyone who’s ever spent any substantial time single or childfree, other people in an excessively couple-focused society may be curious about why a single and childfree lifestyle can be so rewarding. I interviewed therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, as well as childfree, single millennial women to shed light on the benefits of being childfree and single, especially as a woman. The main reasons that childfree and single life was seen as fulfilling? Personal and financial freedom, stronger social networks, less stress, and more professional success.
Here’s what therapists, doctors, and childfree millennial women had to say about the personal freedom and success this lifestyle offers:
“I am a Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and the director of an entrepreneurial mental health clinic based in New York City. Living a childfree and single life can be a liberating experience, especially for millennial women in the age range of 25-40. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for self-discovery, personal growth, and the pursuit of individual passions. Here are some benefits I’ve observed in my practice and personal life. First, freedom and flexibility. Without the responsibilities of parenting, women can explore different career paths, travel extensively, and invest time in hobbies and interests. This flexibility can lead to a rich, fulfilling life that might not be possible with the commitments that come with having children. Next, self-care and mental health. Being childfree allows for more time to focus on mental health and well-being. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and time for relaxation and reflection can be more easily prioritized. There’s also the benefit of financial independence. Without the financial burden of raising children, women can invest in their future, whether that’s starting a business, buying a home, or saving for retirement. Community engagement is another benefit. Many childfree women I’ve worked with have found fulfillment in engaging with their communities, whether through volunteering, activism, or mentorship programs. They can also have deeper relationships. Being single and childfree can provide more time and energy to cultivate meaningful relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. As a queer man living a childfree life, I can attest to these benefits. The freedom and flexibility have allowed me to focus on my career, contribute to my community, and cultivate deep, meaningful relationships.”
— Dr. Ryan Sultan, Professor at Columbia University
“As a therapist and someone who fits this demographic, I understand the significance of being a childfree and single millennial woman (age range 25-40). From my professional experience and personal perspective, I can attest to the numerous benefits associated with this lifestyle. Choosing to be childfree and single can provide an incredible sense of freedom and self-discovery. It allows individuals to focus on personal growth, pursue their passions, and establish a strong sense of identity. By prioritizing their own needs and desires, millennial women have the opportunity to create lives that align with their values and aspirations, without the added responsibilities of parenthood. Through my work with millennial women who are childfree and single, I have observed a remarkable resilience and self-assuredness. They demonstrate a unique sense of empowerment, allowing them to design lives that are fulfilling and meaningful. This lifestyle offers flexibility in pursuing career opportunities, personal growth, and meaningful connections. These women often engage in self-care practices, have more time for self-reflection, and are actively involved in activities that contribute to their overall well-being and happiness. Being childfree and single provides millennial women with the freedom to make decisions based solely on personal preferences and goals. It allows for greater flexibility in navigating life’s challenges and opportunities. With this freedom, these women can focus on building strong relationships, both platonic and romantic, and enjoy the benefits of independence and self-sufficiency.”
— Ann Russo, LCSW, Therapist and Clinical Director of AMR Therapy
“Being a childfree and single millennial woman can provide a multitude of benefits. It offers the freedom to fully focus on personal growth, career advancement, and self-discovery. Without the responsibilities of raising children or being in a committed relationship, one can allocate time, energy, and resources towards pursuing higher education, professional development, and achieving personal goals. It allows for greater flexibility in decision-making, independence, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Additionally, being childfree and single can foster a sense of adventure, exploration, and the opportunity to build a strong support network, meaningful friendships, and engage in self-care practices. Ultimately, it offers the chance to shape one’s own life path and priorities according to individual preferences and aspirations.”
— Dr. Zeeshan Afzal, MD, Welzo Medical Officer
“Being child-free allows you the freedom and flexibility in
your schedule to cater to your needs and wants. There aren’t any immediate dependents that rely on you. You have the liberty to travel whenever your work schedule allows you to. You are free to make independent decisions with respect to your career, money, and passion in life. Since there are no direct dependents relying on you, you can invest money and time into a long-sought passion without risking any sort of familial sacrifice. Such individuals often have a hard-earned success story in terms of monetizing their passion.”
— Dr. Joe Gardzina, Psychiatrist and Founder of ADAPT Programs
“Many of my clients are millennial women who are single, childfree and between 25-40. I have noticed many benefits to choosing to be childfree for this population. First and foremost is that as any mother will tell you, having children makes it exceedingly hard to focus on yourself. It is very difficult to have the time and energy to focus on one’s own hobbies, travel, healing, self-care, leisure, and pursuing interests and
relationships in the same way that a childfree woman can. Childfree women can fully explore their own pursuits and can create rich lives by doing so. Childfree women can also engage with the children in their life in a way that is fulfilling and fun, without it completely taking over by having to do it 24/7. This allows these women to really make the most out of the time they do have to connect with kids. It is important that women choose the path that feels right for them without pressure or judgment from others. Having children is not for everyone and nobody is served (especially the children) when women have children they don’t fully want.”
— Dr. Linda Baggett, Ph.D. , Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Being single and childfree allows women to prioritize their goals, mental and emotional well-being, as well as self-discovery.
Therapist Dolly Ferraiuolo, LCSW says: “As a licensed therapist specializing in women’s issues, I have had the privilege of working with diverse clients, each with their own unique experiences and perspectives. One topic that frequently arises in my sessions is the decision to be child-free and the profound impact it has on women’s lives. I’ll share the general observations I’ve made from serving clients in this demographic and delve into why both my clients and I embrace the choice of being child-free. The first reason is the empowering autonomy it provides. Many of my clients have expressed a strong desire for personal autonomy and freedom in their lives. Choosing to be child-free allows them to prioritize their individual goals, aspirations, and personal growth. By not becoming parents, they can devote their time, energy, and resources to their own well-being and pursue their passions wholeheartedly. The next is career and professional development. In today’s world, women are pursuing careers and achieving professional milestones like never before.
Many of my clients have shared their ambitions and the sense of fulfillment they derive from their professional lives. Being child-free provides them with the flexibility and availability to dedicate themselves fully to their careers, taking on new challenges, and making significant contributions in their respective fields. There’s also emotional and mental well-being. Parenthood is undoubtedly a profound and rewarding experience, but it also brings with it significant responsibilities and sacrifices. For some women, maintaining their emotional and mental well-being takes precedence. They prioritize self-care, mental health, and nurturing their own emotional stability. Choosing to be child-free allows them to focus on their own healing and personal growth journey.
There’s also freedom and lifestyle. Not having children grants women the freedom to craft their own lifestyles and make choices aligned with their preferences. They can travel, explore new hobbies, engage in spontaneous adventures, and cultivate a fulfilling social life. The absence of parenting responsibilities provides the flexibility to shape their lives according to their values, passions, and changing circumstances. I, too, have made the deliberate choice to be child-free. For me, it is an affirmation of my autonomy, a testament to my commitment to my career, and an avenue for personal growth. By embracing this choice, I can fully devote myself to my clients, continuously expand my knowledge and expertise, and provide the highest level of care. It allows me to lead a balanced life, nurture my own well-being, and be fully present for my clients. But also, I love being able to sleep in on the weekends, go to fancy dinners with my friends, travel without guilt, and invest in my own continuing education, which can be quite costly. The decision to be child-free is a deeply personal one, influenced by a myriad of factors unique to each individual. My clients’ experiences and my own journey have taught me that embracing this choice can lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life. It allows women to explore their passions, prioritize their well-being, and contribute to society in diverse and remarkable ways. Let us celebrate and respect the beauty of being child-free, honoring the diverse paths women choose to follow.”
—Dolly Ferraiuolo, LCSW, Owner and Executive Director of SHARE
“I am a 27-year old licensed mental health counselor who has chosen to be childfree for the foreseeable future. On a personal level, this decision has afforded me a profound sense of freedom and flexibility that’s empowered my journey of self-discovery and growth. Being childfree has not only allowed me to focus on my career but also on my personal development and relationships with loved ones. From a professional standpoint, I’ve observed a sense of lightness and unparalleled self-awareness in my clients who have also chosen a childfree path. There is a notable vibrancy and freedom in their lives that stems from being able to direct their energy towards their personal development, passions, and dreams. Often, societal narratives suggest that fulfillment for women comes with motherhood. However, I witness every day that fulfillment is deeply personal and not tied to a universal role or expectation. It’s a joy and an honor to be part of a demographic that redefines fulfillment, celebrates choice, and cherishes personal freedom.”
— Hannah Mayderry, M.Ed., Ed.S, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
“The biggest benefit to being single and childless is happiness. Married women with children often express their frustrations in therapy. They express feeling undervalued and unappreciated. They have sacrificed in both their personal and professional life, caring not only for themselves, but performing the unpaid labor of caring for a husband and children. Although there is the myth of happily ever after in marriage, evidently single women without children are the happiest.”
“I work with many women who have chosen this lifestyle. Women who have chosen to be single and childfree often report greater freedom than those who have chosen to have a family. Women who are single and childfree are able to focus on other things that may be important to them whether it be career, artistic pursuits, or simply enjoying one’s life. Disposable income and free time come much more easily to single, child-free women. Additionally, it is vitally important that we do not prescribe one way for life to be lived.”
— Dr. Dana Harron, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Monarch Wellness
“I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. The choice of being childfree and single seems to be ones that a growing number of the population are choosing. There are many benefits to making these life choices. Being childfree and single provides you with time to focus on yourself. You’re able to pursue your own hobbies, travel, and take on educational or professional pursuits without having to consider the needs of anyone else. As a single person, you have sole control over how you manage your finances; there’s no need to split costs with a partner or account for unexpected expenses related to children. This can give you peace of mind knowing that should anything happen unexpectedly in the future, you won’t be left with financial burdens alone. Finally, being childfree and single gives you a wider array of choices when it comes to deciding what direction your life will take. There are no obligations or expectations put upon you by anyone else, so you can pick and choose what activities, commitments and relationships you pursue. You have the ability to go about as you please. When you want to travel or go out for a night, you don’t have to scramble to get someone to babysit for you nor do you have to answer to a spouse. You have the freedom to go where you want, when you want and how you want. You are able to focus on yourself. You don’t have to sacrifice your dream for your child’s or husbands. You can concentrate on what you want in life and that can be a very liberating and empowering feeling. Although being single and childfree does not mean you’re free from responsibilities, it does provide you with more freedom and flexibility to pursue your personal needs.”
— Kalley Hartman, LMFT, Ocean Recovery
“There is a common saying we hear amongst millennial women: you can have it all. Within this saying there is an unspoken (or sometimes spoken) narrative that having it all means that you are married with two and a half kids, a dog and own a house with a white picket fence. Oh, and you also have your dream job. What if having it all looks different to everyone and does not involve kids? What if having it all for me means that I run my own business and get to sleep in as late as I want? Maybe having it all means you travel whenever and wherever you want and do not have to answer to anyone. Why does there have to be a one size fits all definition of having it all? Some women love being parents and would not have it any other way. Some women love not being parents and would not have it any other way. Sadly, for women who love not being parents, when they enter their mid-twenties, questions start to sneak into family dinners or drinks with friends about why they are single and if they are lonely without kids. What people don’t realize are all the amazing benefits of being childfree. More sleep. You control your own time and schedule. Increased freedom. More disposable income. More flexibility in traveling. You can focus on your friends, family and self. More time for professional goals. Research shows that couples without kids are actually happier than those with kids! ”
“Being a childfree and single millennial woman can have several mental health benefits, as it allows for greater freedom, flexibility, and
autonomy in various aspects of life. Raising children can be demanding and comes with its own set of responsibilities. By choosing to be childfree, you may experience lower levels of stress that are typically associated with parenting such as financial pressures, time constraints, and the emotional toll that can come with raising children. Without the
responsibilities of raising children, you have more freedom and flexibility to shape your life according to your own desires and goals. You can make choices based solely on your own needs and preferences, which can contribute to a greater sense of control and personal fulfillment.”
There is more freedom to travel and explore the world.
“As a millennial who has never been married or had kids, I’ve been able to do so much more, I believe, than if I’d worried about having to do those things. I’ve been able to get two Master’s degrees – one abroad while also getting citizenship. I’ve been able to travel solo and do a lot of archaeology, and have so much freedom to fulfill various dreams, even if they happened later than expected. I’ve talked to so many women who wished they’d waited longer to get married – and the older I get, the less I care about even thinking about marriage in general. I’ve never been super concerned about it to be honest, as I always wanted to be single to experience the world on my own. I might just be atypical, at least in the eyes of society, but why does society have these expectations of people? In my experience, there’s a lot of this need that many men have to control women. I can’t understand why more women don’t fight against this more when it comes to relationships (not just laws). There’s so much to experience in the world beyond worrying about what society thinks, in my opinion, whether people choose to get married or have kids or not—whatever makes people happy, should be totally fine and acceptable (because I know of plenty of couples who travel together and support one another, which is also great for them)! I think striving for equality of men and women should be made a priority above pushing people to get married and have kids. If they want that for themselves, great—if not, why try to control people? We can all do so much for our own lives and the world, if we’d focus on the right things.
“Kiss traditional traps goodbye. After internalizing stories where the ‘boy next door’ was supposed to be your best friend and the love of your life, the digital age made the world easily accessible, allowing millennial women to not only internationally date, but explore and create their own world. Single millennial women choose to avoid traditional traps with courage and an honest sense of human value and self-trust. Unsurprisingly, this has led to more women like me deciding to trade their baby dolls for airline tickets and postpone having children until they are truly ready to parent a child. As a Black, 33-year-old behavioral health professional (former therapist) who spent almost ten years earning degrees in higher education, it is less about me ‘not having kids’ and more about me prioritizing and clarifying my sense of self and trusting my intuition that will later serve me well in motherhood if that becomes a part of my journey. Part of my human gift is discovering peace in the present moment and trusting I know what I want and need. The benefit of being childfree and single is that I can make both of those happen right now without needing to care for someone else first. The benefits are: I can explore and follow my curiosities freely. I can avoid unexpected challenges that only upend my lifestyle and routine. I experience less anxiety with mistakes and recovery. I could have become a parent earlier on in life. It was my choice not to. This is a well-deserved freedom previously inaccessible to women, and I don’t see myself trading it anytime soon.”
— Sierra McKissick, MDiv., MA, Behavioral & Spiritual Health Specialist and Development Coach
“Being childfree and single has empowered me to reinvent myself daily, pursuing my passions on a budget. It led me to build a startup accelerator and now a skincare brand, Dune Care, where I make a positive impact on people with eczema. This lifestyle taught me the value of self-care, nurturing my well-being and enabling personal growth. Without traditional family responsibilities, I have the freedom to allocate my time, resources, and energy to explore my dreams and make a tangible difference in the world. Creating something meaningful and contributing to others’ lives is a thrilling journey I embrace wholeheartedly.”
— Margaux Pagès, Founder of Dune Care
The decision to be childfree is far from selfish—it can stem from a place of great self-awareness and understanding of the world we live in today.
“Unfortunately, we live in a society in which women who choose to not have children are often seen as selfish. However, neither being a mother or choosing not to have children should be wrong. Choosing to be childfree is not selfish, and a right that every woman should experience. Women without children can not only live fulfilling lives, but also be of incredible service to others by having more time to devote to causes that are important to them. Not having children provides women with more freedom of time, money, and resources, which can be allocated to other areas of their lives, such as career, travel, and community service.”
— Dr. Sarah F. Spiegelhoff, Ph.D., LMHC, NCC
“Many of my clients express concern over being viewed as “selfish” for not having children. My first question is: what’s wrong with prioritizing yourself and your needs? Selfish isn’t the same as being self-centered and it doesn’t have to be a dirty word. My second question is: what is selfish about not wanting to subject yourself to a process that has severe physiological, psychological, emotional, social, economic, and financial impacts for the rest of your life? This process can be rewarding for some and devastating for others—the important part is that you make the best choice for YOU. The expectation to become a mother is rooted in patriarchal, heteronormative culture. From a feminist and humanistic perspective, we know that shame is a universal experience for most women, and many of my clients have expressed feeling shame for not wanting to be mothers. The thing is, though, a woman’s value goes so far beyond her reproductive organs and her contributions to a nuclear family! When my clients deconstruct the origins of their conditioning, it can be really empowering for them to then create space for all the other things they value in their lives. These concerns are incredibly valid and until society chooses to safeguard women, especially women of color who have worse outcomes, it makes sense to opt out of motherhood. Personally, as a high-achieving and career-oriented woman, I’ve never been comfortable with the economic and financial impact that pregnancy and motherhood would likely have on my career.
We know that society continues to have bias toward mothers in the workplace, that mothers are more likely to lose out on years of career advancement, and that our social policies don’t support mothers (no universal paid maternal leave, no assistance with childcare, to name a few). The current political landscape is absolutely terrifying. Millennials are unable to afford adequate housing because of the student debt crisis and outrageous housing prices. Women of color continue to experience systemic violence and oppression. LGBTQIA+ folks are being targeted for existing authentically. Reproductive healthcare is expensive and inaccessible for so many people, leading to dangerous outcomes for women. Being childfree is a choice that I honestly feel simply protects my right to life. Until society can truly support women, being childfree helps me ensure that my investments into my career don’t just disappear. When I think about my core values, or things that make my life worth living, words like “exploration” and “connection” come to mind. As a childfree adult, I’m able to allocate my time and money toward experiences that align with my values. I get to prioritize international travel and explore new cultures! I get to connect with friends through hobby groups and brunch dates because I’m able to create time for those things. I can decide to sleep in one day because I’m tired! Being childfree is incredibly freeing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
— Laura Sgro, LCSW, Licensed Therapist
“I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 7 years in the field. I’ve worked with both adult and adolescent clients in agency and private practice settings. We often look at the benefits for adults, specifically young adults, in making these decisions. And yet, we often overlook the cost to children today in having parents who were not given the opportunity to explore life, heal emotional wounds and trauma, and find the best version of themselves before taking on the responsibility of shaping another human being. The healing of generational trauma doesn’t just come from identifying what our parents were carrying, and how they could have done better, but by taking a breath and finding our own path free of the generational pipeline.”
“The decision to be about 25-40 years old and live independently without any children is often driven by a deliberate choice, guided by sound reasoning and logic, not by their lack of ability to form meaningful connections. There are millennials who actively choose solitude, free from the responsibilities of a family. They make a conscious decision to prioritize their own personal growth and well-being. Those who understand the weighty burden that comes with starting a family and question their own capabilities choose to refrain from taking that step. The realization of one’s limitations and the understanding that one may not be able to provide the necessary support and guidance as a parent and a spouse is a sign of maturity and self-awareness. Raising children is a lot of hard work, and the demands and pressures of parenting can take a toll on one’s mental health, as the responsibilities, stress, and emotional challenges involved in raising children can significantly impact one’s well-being and overall psychological state. Some understand that bringing a child into this world just because “one wants kids or continued lineage” is selfish. They consider the fact that they’re bringing a child into a society that may subject them (the child) to hardships, and they also acknowledge their own limitations as parents. So, most millennials who are childfree and single have done so after carefully considering the potential challenges and negatives associated with starting a family. They understand that romantic notions alone do not guarantee a successful and fulfilling family life. Instead, they prioritize self-awareness and choose to refrain from engaging in relationships where they may not be able to provide the emotional connection and support that their partner would expect.”
—Stephanie Pawlak, Dating and Relationship Expert at FlingorLove
“I have a Master’s degree in marriage, family and relationship counseling. I am also a female, childfree millennial business owner–something I pride myself on. As a millennial woman, running my own gig and totally rocking the single and child-free life, it’s not just about being free—it’s about living life on my terms. I mean, who wouldn’t love a little more me time? No shared calendars, no compromises. I set my own goals, dive into my passions, and honestly, it’s a pretty sweet deal. I can put in the extra hours for my business or just decide to take a break and catch a late-night movie without worrying about babysitters or school pickups. One of the coolest things? The freedom to pack my bags and jet off on an adventure whenever I feel like it. Weekends aren’t just for groceries and soccer practice but for conferences, crash courses, gym, and sometimes, a solo trip to somewhere exotic. Being financially independent, without anyone relying on my income, gives me a kick. It’s liberating to know that I can invest in my business, travel, and in my personal growth, without hesitating about providing for others. Stress is mostly work-related. And that’s the way I prefer it. No fretting about parent-teacher meetings or toddler tantrums or school tuitions. My mental space is my focused, creative playground, boosting my entrepreneurial journey.”
— Tina Fey, MA, Relationship Expert at Love Connection
There are also perks such as more financial freedom and deeper connections.
“People who are childless and single have the freedom to create the lifestyle they want. They are free to move about, experience new things, and personalize their living circumstances as they see fit. With this freedom, one may be spontaneous and seize chances that might not be as accessible to individuals who have family obligations. Being childless and single can frequently result in more financial security and professional success. People may dedicate their resources to pursuing their personal and professional goals as they are not burdened with the costs of having children. They may invest in their jobs, seek further education, and make financial decisions that support their long-term objectives. It is not necessary to be alone if you are childless and single. In reality, it may present an opportunity for people to develop deep interpersonal bonds and meaningful partnerships. Without the obligations of parenthood or a committed relationship, people have more time and energy to devote to friendships, volunteer work, and other social pursuits, generating a vibrant and rewarding social life.”
— Erin Murphy, CEO of Best in Ireland
“I’m 27, and the best part about being single and child-free is that I can make plans on the spot without having to worry about anyone. I can randomly decide to go on a vacation, take a trip, go to the club, or even go out for dinner anytime, any day. I also get to spend all my money on me. With children, most of your finances go toward covering their expenses, and yours come last. Even in a relationship, you may find yourself taking care of your spouse financially, like covering bills. The financial and social freedom that comes with being single and child-free is what I enjoy the most!
— Felister Morra, Head of Marketing at FlexiPCB
The Big Picture
If you are single and childfree or considering this lifestyle long-term, rest assured you’re in good company and don’t have to let societal pressures sway your authentic desires. Even if you do want a relationship or children in the future, recognizing the benefits of being single over settling for a toxic relationship can still benefit you and your life-course trajectory. There are many benefits to being a childfree single woman according to both the experts as well as the women who have lived experiences. Whatever journey you choose and feel is most empowering for you is valid.