Childlessness in Old Age

In the world today, children are considered as a mixed blessing. Some couples opt to remain childless for the rest of their lives while others view children as a bundle of joy. Childless couples can be grouped into three, the involuntarily childless, the voluntarily childless and those who wanted to have but until old age they have never had children of their own or adopted ones. These three groups of couples will have different degrees of effect. Low fertility and government policies in the world today have limited the number of children per couple.

This is a centaury where a large population of people is entering old age with no children or just a few of them (Besngton, Rosenthal and Burton 1990). Children have been viewed as the resource providers and providing social support for the family members. Most importantly this support is extended to parents at old age. Couples without children face no such support in their later stage of life especially when a couple earns limited income.

Childlessness has been associated with loneliness, depression and social isolation. Most low income childless aged couples have been absorbed into social institutions for support and care.

Benefits and drawbacks in families with several generations living together

Households with three or more generations living together are referred to as multigenerational households. In America only four percent which is approximately 4.2 million people are in such kinds of families.

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There is high care and support in these families as compared to nuclear families. The older generation has full support from their descendants. Likewise, the young children are supported by the whole family as the parents go to earn a living. Generally this form of family setup ends up being a cheaper and affordable means of living because there is no cost incurred for caring for the old and young children. Housing expenses are divided among members leading to reduced housing cost.

The younger generation benefit from the advice and guidelines that the older generation gives them.


In multigenerational households, social problems are likely to arise due to the generational gap. For example the mother-in-law issue which may require more additional adjustment in separating living quarters.

Setting up a multigenerational household requires high investment in financial capital. The construction of a house to accommodate all generations is expensive. This house will also require other internal plans that will consider private space, facilities fit for all generations as well as spacious room for movement and access.

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Living together in such a family has been kwon to harm the concept of a family in the American society. Marriage is always seen as a situation where by a man and a woman leave their families and start living together as a husband and wife as they gradually become fathers and mothers. It was therefore not meant to be for grandfathers, grandmothers, in-laws and uncles and aunties as it is seen in multigenerational households.

In maintaining such a home, effective financial planning among members is essential. The working generation needs to unite in the contribution of funds. This will require set guidelines so as to avoid internal conflict.

Lastly, the old generation as caregivers to young children may find it a tiring and stressful duty both physically and mentally.

In conclusion multigenerational households have contributed to 50% of divorce cases in America because the marriage lacks unity, privacy and time for newly wedded to know each other.

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Bengtson, V, Rosenthal, J & Burton, L (1990) families and aging; diversity and

heterogeneity. Handbook of aging and social science. Third edition. San Diego, CA

Academic press.

Papalia, D, Sterns, H, Feldman, R & Camp, C (2007) adult Development aging. Third

edition. McGraw-Hill. New York.

Quadagno, J (2008) ageing and life course: an introduction to social gerontology. Fourth

edition, McGraw-Hill, New York.

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