The Place of Childless People in our Society

Frequently in American society, we view a childless couple or single childless people as less than ourselves. We view their situation in life as sad and don’t believe they could have a fulfilling life.  We have derogatory terms like “Old Maid” and many times I have heard it said that when men aren’t married by a certain age they are just “weird”, and everyone knows what they mean. 

Partially I think this is because the continuation of our species is in all of our best interest. We don’t want to see couples without children, as on a very primal level that scares us. From a sociological standpoint, it also makes sense as someone with children will have a person to take care of them and make decisions for them in their old age, thus potentially taking that supposed burden off of society.

But history belies this idea that people are “less than” because they didn’t marry or have children. The Bronte sisters never married yet gave us incredible works of literature. Beatrix Potter never married or had children and while she is most well known for her children’s literature she practically single-handedly saved the Lake District in England from being made into row houses and factories so that the beauty there could be appreciated for generations. Many childless men and women have made major contributions to our society at large.

Time and time again individuals have made their mark and made the world a better place simply by doing the best they could and trying to right wrongs, and their marital status and progeny had nothing to do with it. 

Years ago in my local church, the head of the women’s organization was a single childless woman, the head of the children’s organization was a single childless woman. Superficially one might think they had more time to deal with the organizational issues that arose since they didn’t have a husband or children, or that there is no way they could have been equipped to lead those organizations due to not having any experience in those realms. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. These women were capable, empathetic, caring, and I saw the church grow in ways it couldn’t have without these women to lead in these organizations. They had unique perspectives to give and they gave their all.

Let’s start reframing our society’s idea of single childless men and women. Let’s realize how much they can and do contribute.


2 thoughts on “The Place of Childless People in our Society

  1. Thank you Calleen for posting this. Being a single and childless woman, I often struggle with feeling “less” because I have not fulfilled those roles in life. However, I know that being a teacher and an aunt fulfills many of those needs within my heart. I think that society says that we need those things to be happy, however, I am finding for me that is not true. I have found happiness in other roles of my life.


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