One of the most common questions I get when people learn I’m childfree is, “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re older?” The presumption is that by having children, one is guaranteed to have an end-of-life caregiver.
The problem is, it rarely works out that way. So not only is having kids for such a self-serving reason selfish, it’s also downright irresponsible.
Here are the reasons that having kids is NOT a retirement plan.
1. You Don’t Need Kids to Have Happy Golden Years
Earlier this year, one of my company’s clients became terminally ill. She was a single woman with no children. As her illness progressed I would regularly hear my co-workers say things like, “I feel so bad for Ann. She never had any kids… no one to take care of her now.” To me, this was a perfect example of the confirmation bias people have when viewing childfree women. Because Ann actually had a truly devoted friend and caretaker who saw her through everything. Her friend was a younger woman who was in no way related to her and in no way obligated to take care of her during her illness. And yet she managed all of Ann’s finances and the details of her life for no payment. They were friends, and that’s what friends do.
It always make me wonder how unlovable people think they are to believe that they must bind someone to care for them through filial obligation.
2. Having Kids Is No Guarantee of Care
I can say for a fact that Ann was cared for much better than many elderly mothers I’ve come into contact with during my career. If you’ve ever known an older parent, you know what I’m talking about. Poor old mom sits lonely in a nursing home while her children have the nerve to mind their own lives and care for their own young children. Or worse, she’s abused or abandoned.
3. Kids Are Not Responsible End-of-Life Planning
The final major flaw with this line of thinking is that, frankly, it’s a bit irresponsible. I know many cultures believe it’s the child’s responsibility to care for the parent. And at one time, the only way you could ensure you’d be looked after in old age was by bearing children. But this isn’t the neolithic age. Today we have an advanced society, the ability to work, and currency. There’s no reason most adults should depend on their kids to give them money, comfort, or companionship.
Because here’s the thing: kids grow up to be humans. (Okay, they’re always humans, but most of us don’t see them as actual individuals until they age-out of childhood.)
Having children so you don’t have to make provisions for your own future is lazy and selfish. And probably one of the reasons your grown kids (if you have them) will come to resent you.
What You Should Do Instead
If you don’t have children, consider not having them. Take a portion of the fortune you’d spend on raising a child and invest it in your future. I mean literally invest it. Like through a bank or an investment company. Instead of relying on someone else, rely on yourself! Make all of your own decisions, including the kind of allowance you’ll give yourself in your retirement or possible illness.
Instead of creating children and then planning to be a financial burden to them later in life, just create your own financial freedom. As to having another person by your side to help you navigate those waters when they arise, come on. You are not such an unlovable person that you need to resort to guilt-tripping a child to avoid end-of-life neglect. People end up alone when their kids abandon them because they invested everything (emotional and financial) into one person who never agreed that they owed them anything.
If you don’t want to end up alone, be kind and have friends. If you don’t want to end up broke, start planning your retirement and end-of-life finances now.
Whatever you do, don’t plan to be a financial and emotional burden to someone who never signed up for that.
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