3 Reasons Elders Are Crucial Friends for Those Without Kids

4 min read


Throughout our early years, most of us make friends who are our same age. That’s fine when we’re young. If you grow into adulthood without having kids of your own, though, you’d better expand the age range of your friends. Here’s why:

  1. Your mom can’t really do the job.

Try as she might, your mom can’t fathom how your life might unfold and what issues you will grapple with as you age yourself. Even if she could, she’d be speaking from conjecture, not life experience.

On the other hand, older non-moms and dads have weathered many milestones in the company of people other than their kids. They’ve identified options and solutions parents would never consider, like how to endure baby showers when you have no birthing stories of your own to toss into the mix. Or choosing a friend to act as power of attorney if you’re unable to manage your affairs.

As I actively search out people without kids, the most compassionate and open-minded individuals I’ve found are at least a decade older than I am. In most cases, their perspectives are more grounded and pragmatic about aging, regardless of why they didn’t have kids.

  1. Unsplash/Evi T.

    Source: Unsplash/Evi T.

    2. Elders without kids offer perspective.

Unsplash/Evi T.

Source: Unsplash/Evi T.

During our presumably fertile years, similarly aged friends often deal with life questions and circumstances concerning the bearing and rearing of children. When you don’t have kids, navigating the mainstream of motherhood is diverted into a sprawling sea of possibilities. While there can be fantastic options to consider, the range of choices can also be daunting.

Self-aware elders a decade or more ahead of us can offer the wisdom of hindsight and lighten our concerns by sharing their experiences, suggesting resources, and simply validating different outlooks than those of our friends and family with kids.

In return, our elders have the pleasure of sharing their learnings and life stories. It’s a win-win exchange.

  1. You can glean ideas about what your own aging might look like.

If you’re worried about who will be around for you in your elder years, where you might live, and other related issues, older friends without kids can be a godsend. The older they are, the more pragmatic most are about facing their own mortality (although some remain stubbornly in denial).

Unsplash/Christie Ash

Source: Unsplash/Christie Ash

For example, roughly half of my ukulele group doesn’t have children. Several of our older members have chosen to move into the same independent living community, where they foresee spending the rest of their lives. I’ve visited this community a few times and can sort of picture myself there, at least well enough to put down a small deposit to get on their waiting list. Once I hit the top of the list, which will be several years hence, I can decide when I’m ready to move. When that day comes, I’ll have a few trusted older friends to help ease my transition.

After years of offering to help, my 90-year-old friend Wendy has involved me in her end-of-life planning process. When the time comes, we both know I’ll be by her side. For now, I’m her sounding board and confidante. I can’t help but project myself into what my own future might hold. Thanks to Wendy, I have a much better sense of what I can do now to ease the burden on the loved ones I hope will be by my side someday.

Elders without children are everywhere—an aunt, neighbor, or coworker. By befriending one another we can enjoy the symbiosis of rich, interdependent lives exploring the sea of possibilities ahead.

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