Childfree thoughts on “Parentless Parents”

Nonfiction author Allison Gilbert’s writes about a topic we don’t hear much about–how the deaths of mothers and fathers can impact their children who are parents. She is currently researching a book on this topic. Gilbert speaks to how not having your parents around if you are parents can impact a marriage, and can create a recurring fear of dying young.  She also discusses things parents can do to keep their parents alive for their kids.

Gilbert talks about “practical and emotional voids,” which I found interesting–ideas relating to how grandparents won’t be around to answer parenting questions, baby sit, pick kids up from school, things like that.  When reading about this point I couldn’t help hear the voices of many of the childfree people I’ve interviewed about when they were deciding whether to have children. Often even if they had great relationships with their own parents, they did not think it was necessarily a “given” that they would get this kind of support from their parents if they had kids. It is a tragedy to lose one’s parents, to be sure, and this loss may create parental challenges.  But having expectations of how your parents should be part of your parental process may not be wise –it may not turn out the way you think.

Many childfree also realize that having expectations of one’s children when you are old may not turn out the way you want either–thinking your kids will be there for you when you are  old is not necessarily a guarantee, and is certainly not “the” reason to have children.  Research also tells us that in their senior years, the childfree are  more likely to grow a family of friends as their support network.

Re the myth that the childfree will be alone and lonely in their senior years– do you think it is alive and well these days?

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