Married Without Children: An Increase in Childlessness

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

POSTED November 25, 2013-- 6:30 p.m.

"We met our junior year of college, dated all of college, and got married right after we graduated," said Chris Reese of Sun Prairie.

Chris and Sarah Reese are living the American dream-- high school sweethearts, now in their early 30s, homeowners, married for 10 years now with four children.

"We still have dinner together every night," said Chris. "I guess you could call us more traditional."

Chris works, Sarah is a stay at home mom. Their days are strictly scheduled.

"Rec cheer, she also does swimming lesson. Olivia does soccer and swimming. Owen does gymnastics and swimming lessons," said Sarah.

Their home is full of energy and love.

Not far away is Josh and Kayla Geirach-- also in their early 30s. They've been married for four years, work together as properly managers, and live in a quiet apartment with a less "traditional" life. They don't plan to have children.

"I like their kids, but I'm always happy to give them back. There's nothing in me that makes me think I have to have one," said Kayla.

They're not alone. It's becoming a trend in the U.S. Childlessness is on the rise across all racial and ethnic groups, according to a 2010 Pew Research Report. Scholars say what was once a social pressure to have children has turned into an individual choice, along with more job opportunities for women and an increase in delayed marriage.

"We made this choice and anyone could have made the same choice," said Josh.

The trend's spurring national attention like a recent article in TIME magazine where "having it all means not having children." Locally, an Estately article named Madison as one of the top cities in the country for child-free living. And a social group in Central Wisconsin founded last year is specifically for those without children.

"When you have kids that's your life," said Josh.

It's a view that having kids means giving up something rather than gaining something.

"I saw the sacrifice my parents made, and I totally respect that and parents who do that, but i wanted to live life a little bit more and travel and do other things and have a better foundation financially," said Josh.

"I never had the desire to have children," said Kayla.

The desire to have children is being replaced by the desire for a career, education, freedom, and the journey of identity.

"I never felt like my purpose in life was to get married and have children," said Kayla. "I think I'm figuring out who I am and what I want."

A child cost calculator on the USDA website factors in everything from food to transportation to health care. It says for a middle class couple in Wisconsin, raising one child will cost more than $200,000 over 18 years.

But the Reese's say having children at such a young age made them more financially responsible.

"Planning for retirement, planning for our kids college funds, planning for the future, I think that's helped us," said Sarah.

The Geirach's say, along with taking at least two trips each year, they're freed up to spend time how they want to.

"Josh is taking Spanish lessons. I'm taking guitar lessons," said Kayla.

They can also focus on their marriage.

"We're still figuring out how to be with each other," said Kayla.

"It helped us realize what was important early on," said Chris. "For us it's worth while and fulfilling."

"A lot of people will look at you and ask what's next," said Kayla. "We're not really sure what's next, and that's OK with us."

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