Financial security, personal growth: Why Malaysians are choosing to be childfree

From healing trauma to embracing freedom: Diverse reasons for a childfree choice

10 Jul 2024 07:10am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo credit: Olga Kan/Getty Images/Canva
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo credit: Olga Kan/Getty Images/Canva

SHAH ALAM - Many couples are choosing a childfree lifestyle, driven by various factors such as the desire to reduce financial burdens, save aggressively, and invest in their future.

This choice also allows them to travel, pursue personal interests, and heal from inner child trauma.

The challenges of raising a child in today's unpredictable economy make the decision increasingly appealing.

Financial Freedom and Personal Fulfillment

One anonymous couple shared their mutual decision not to have kids.

The husband, 38, who is from the IT industry noted that he never had an opinion on children until high school, and by then, it was clear he didn't want any.

The couple chose each other because of their shared views on not having children, a topic they discussed while dating and before marriage to ensure they were on the same page.

"I think not having kids significantly reduces our financial burden and allows us to travel and pursue our personal interests.

"The world is changing with AI (artificial intelligence) and stuff, so you have to upskill all the time.

“Thanks to not having kids, we can use a bit of our savings to pursue courses and skills that will ensure we are in demand post-retirement. Things never go according to plan, and I know and accept it," he told Sinar Daily when contacted.

The husband added that having a partner who understands his health condition is a blessing, and he counts his blessings for finding his wife.

He strives to make his wife’s life smoother, acknowledging the hard work marriage requires.

They recently adopted four stray cats and find fulfilment in caring for them.

Without the rush of parenting duties, they enjoy giving their undivided attention to their activities.

He also noted that people often don't realise how much time kids consume, which can detract from building a strong bond with a partner.

The husband described himself as a stoic person with simple needs who enjoys a good book, coffee, and occasional travel.

He and his wife love beaches and had plans to travel more, but Covid-19 delayed those plans, and now flight tickets are very expensive.

Without kids, he can afford to buy his wife things she likes without being overly frugal.

The wife who is from media industry also never had a longing for kids, influenced by personal issues. Her older brother has a mental illness and requires lifelong care.

She believes having kids would add emotional and financial burdens, impacting both her and her husband negatively.

Besides, she feels they wouldn't be able to provide the lifestyle she would want for their children, even if she did want them.

"With the cost-of-living crisis, saving for our retirement is my utmost concern so that there’s enough money for myself, my husband, and my brother in our old age.

"There's also the fear that if I ever decide to have kids, my child may be born with a disability, so that's an additional financial and emotional burden,” she added.

Healing from Trauma and Building a Strong Bond

Meanwhile, Rose Farhan, a 30-year-old baker in another childfree marriage, shared that she and her husband chose this lifestyle for similar reasons.

Rose said she hadn't fully recovered from her inner child trauma, growing up in a polygamous family with impoverished and uneducated parents who left no savings when they died.

She also endured abuse and domestic violence, making it a mutual decision, as her husband had similar experiences.

"When we were kids, we never managed to get everything we wanted. So now, our life is filled with hobbies.

"We pet cats, build Lego, play musical instruments, bake good cakes, and go on holidays. I have benefitted greatly from not having children.

"My traumas are slowly healed, I can have my own life schedule, and I don't have to think about other people's problems either,” she said.

Rose cited the absence of Childfree Communities in Malaysia, as marriage without children is still taboo among Malaysians.

However, she has joined an online Childfree Group, which includes childfree couples from around the world.

She enjoys reading their stories, routines, and experiences.

“Childfree marriage allows me to earn more money, do a second job, and adequately prepare for my non-working years without worrying about a child's commitment,” she added.

Living Life on Their Terms

Siti, part of another childfree couple, said they have embraced this mutual choice for nearly a decade.

Siti and her husband decided after observing the harsh realities of the world and the challenging economy.

They feel financially stable, but only to support their own lifestyle, dreams, and goals.

The 35-year-old pre-school teacher added that before marriage, they never seriously discussed starting a family and focused on achieving their personal goals after getting married, with having children never part of their plan.

“This choice gives me the flexibility to pursue my passions, travel, and experience life fully without the constraints that come with parenthood.

"In terms of my life goals, career advancement and personal growth are at the forefront.

"It also allows me to focus my time and energy on my professional aspirations, enabling me to achieve my career objectives without the additional responsibilities of raising children,” she said.

Siti's choice to live childfree aligns with her lifestyle and personal goals. Inspired by her father, who became a globetrotter after raising his family, she values freedom and exploration.

She enjoys diverse hobbies and continuous learning, finding joy and accomplishment in exploring new skills and interests, from crochet to mountain biking and various courses.

“One of the most profound positives is the freedom and flexibility it offers. I can make spontaneous decisions, pursue my interests, and travel extensively, all of which bring immense joy and fulfilment.

"In terms of relationships, it has really strengthened my bond with my husband.

"We have more quality time to spend together and focus on our relationship.

"I can maintain and deepen friendships, investing time and effort into the relationships that matter most to me,” she added.

Choosing a childfree lifestyle has empowered her to save and invest more for the future. Freed from the financial obligations of raising children, she directs resources towards retirement savings, investments, and personal financial milestones.

This flexibility not only supports her personal interests and travel aspirations but also allows her to invest in enriching life experiences.

It was revealed that Malaysia's birth rate continues to decline, with the latest population estimates for 2023 showing a decrease in the number of children under 18 years of age.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the estimated number of children under 18 in 2023 is 9.13 million, constituting 27.4 per cent of Malaysia's total population of 33.38 million.

This marks a decline from 9.19 million children under 18, which made up 28.1 per cent of the total population of 32.7 million in 2022.

The report also detailed the gender distribution among children under 18.

In 2023, there were 4.72 million boys and 4.42 million girls, compared to 4.74 million boys and 4.44 million girls in 2022.

Children under 5 years of age numbered 2.35 million in 2023, with 1.21 million boys and 1.14 million girls.