What is childfreedom and why is it becoming a popular choice?

Childfreedom is a lifestyle choice where individuals or couples decide not to have children.


This decision can be made for a wide variety of reasons, often because the demands of having a child can clash with other goals, such as pursuing a career, making enough money to buy a house, travel, or become/remain debt-free, enjoying a lifetime of freedom (whatever that means to the individual, but often boils down to freedom from too much responsibility), or maintaining good physical health. 

Childfreedom is not the same as antinatalism, which is the belief that people should not have children. There is a degree of overlap between the two groups, but they are best understood as being largely distinct.

Childfree folk vary from wanting to avoid children entirely to uncles and aunts who enjoy their nieces and nephews but don’t want any of their own, to teachers and other people who work with children who want to support the growth of the children they serve without coming home to more in the evenings.

Reasons why people may not want children

When asked, people have many reasons to not want children, but here are a few of the most common:


Tokophobia is characterised by an intense fear or anxiety surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. As such, it may or may not be described as ‘irrational’, as the impact of pregnancy and birth can be drastic for women.


The cost of pregnancy, birth, and raising a child to age 18 in the UK can vary significantly depending on various factors such as location, lifestyle choices, and individual circumstances, but averages between £157k and £209k according to Finder. That’s a life-changing amount of money, and childfree folks generally prefer to spend that money elsewhere – or at the very least, avoid the pressure of having to make so much in order to provide for another human being.

Environmental concerns

In 2024, there is a plethora of environmental issues that a potential parent might be aware of: climate change, food or water poverty, late-stage capitalism, the plastic problem, the polarisation of politics, and issues around carbon footprints and sustainability. Some people choose not to bring a child into such a world. 

These are three of the most common reasons people choose not to have children, and they are valid, but others frequently cited by childfree people include a desire to protect their hypothetical children from their intergenerational trauma, mental health problems, or hereditary physical conditions, and a preference for peace and quiet – which can be especially important for neurodivergent folks who experience overstimulation.

Where’s the support for childfree people?

Support for childfree people is growing, but there is still work to be done. Most childfree people have been pressured to have children, perhaps to provide their parents with grandchildren or to ‘continue the family line’. Others have been called “selfish” or been told that parenthood is inevitable and shouldn’t be fought. Cultural pressures can be greater in some groups than others. Overall, coping with this sort of pressure alone can be infuriating, exhausting, and sometimes daunting.

Most childfree people want nothing more than for their choice to be respected. Having a child is an enormous responsibility, and many childfree people believe that parenthood should be entered into only with due consideration; that a child should be wanted, or not be conceived at all. 

Support groups are starting to be founded around the world, as are social media channels raising awareness of the existence of childfreedom as a valid option. The changing zeitgeist around parenthood and its alternatives over the coming decade will be interesting to watch as it unfolds. You can start by joining one of the Cactus Counselling Childfree Groups, either online, or in person if you live near Bristol.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol BS8 & BS3
Written by Hayley Watkins, Dip. Couns. (MNCS Accred)
Bristol BS8 & BS3

I qualified as a counsellor in transactional analysis two years ago and am working towards my psychotherapy exams. Since qualifying I've run a private practice in person and online. Aside from being interested in supporting people in taking the childfree route, I also enjoy working with older teenagers and survivors of narcissistic abuse.

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