I am of the so-called “child-bearing age” and one of the last things I want in life is to have a child. My husband and I have taken almost every precaution to ensure this does not happen. We married not only because we love one another and have devoted ourselves to care for one another, but also to seen and treated as family in the eyes of the law and civil matters. We are family yet we have no children. We chose this life after years of careful thought and examining of our values, experiences, and desires. I am happy with our decision to be childfree I’m here to give you a peek into why I feel the way I do and how I think our attitudes toward families without children should change.
Lots of people have children for a multitude of poorly thought out reasons. However, I have yet to hear of one poorly thought out reason not to have kids. It’s not that that I think people shouldn’t have children at all, that’s ridiculous. It’s that I think the bar is set waaaay too low in American culture. In general, we aren’t taught to think about the choice of having children. We are expected to simply accept it. As early as our own childhood, we are bombarded with messages that parenthood is our future. This is especially true for young girls. It is drilled into our heads that we will be moms one day. If you aren’t aware you have choices, are you truly free to make them?
I view the modern childfree lifestyle as a series of intentions and processes. First, a person has to realize that they have the choice to be childfree. This might be the most difficult part since, as I mentioned above, it is so ingrained into us that parenthood is a part of our destiny. Next, the person considers their options and weighs the benefits and disadvantages of having a child. At one point or another, if the person has a partner or the means to procreate, they must decide whether to use protection and take precautions or not. This is important and this is where many of us came to be. From an accident. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a happy accident on many occasions. But on others it was earth-shattering, terrifying, and unwanted.
Perhaps the most taboo subject of all, aside from abortion itself (which I do not feel the need to discuss any further aside from this mention), is the subject of parental regret. Parents who regret having their children. To read stories about this you can search online forums like Reddit. This is where I first heard about these people’s experiences. It is all too easy to demonize these individuals when our society takes pride in parenthood and bases so much of our self-worth upon it. Of course, a child should never feel unwanted or like a burden on their family. But don’t rush to criticize and demean people who disclose their honest struggles with parenthood. If nothing else, consider it a cautionary tale. It couldn’t happen to me. Oh but it could.
When it comes to criticism, I’ve heard it all. And what I haven’t heard I’ve read from other’s experiences. Here are some of the greatest hits of childfree critics, italics being things actually said to me:
- That’s very selfish of you…
- Oh, you’ll change your mind (with a smirk or eye roll added)
- Who will take care of you when you get old?
- You are far too young to decide this
- You should give your parents grandchildren
- You would look cute with kids though
- You’ll feel different when your biological clock kicks in
- But you would be such a great parent!
- Honey, that’s what I said too
Maybe you’ve heard these before too. Maybe you’ve said some of them. Either way I’m sorry for that. No one should have to constantly justify, argue, defend, or explain their decision to be childfree yet most of us do. If you do want to understand some reasons people don’t want kids, here is another handy list, where all reasons are completely valid, italics being mine (let me also stress that I don’t think any one reason is more moral or better than another when deciding to have children or not):
- I don’t make very much money to support a child
- I make enough money to support a child and I don’t want one
- I don’t want a kid, no reason in particular
- I don’t have a partner and I prefer to be alone
- My partner and I don’t like kids
- My partner and I like children but we don’t want to change our lives with a child
- I’m scared of childbirth
- I don’t want my body to go through pregnancy
- I’m not scared of childbirth but I don’t want my body to change
- I’m focusing on my job
- I’m focusing on my education
- I don’t have a particular focus right now and it’s not a good time for me to have a child
- I absolutely love kids but I want to spend my time focusing on me
- My parents were great but I’m not sure I could do it
- My parents were terrible and I’m not sure I could do it
- I feel a sense of existential dread when I think about having a child
- I want to travel without restriction
- I want to stay at home and children don’t fit into my life
I could go on all day if you let me. But allow me to conclude: There are many reasons a person might not want to become a parent. It’s okay to reject parenthood just as much as it’s okay to embrace it. You can change your mind too. Plan to be childfree your whole life? Great! Plan to be childfree for one summer? Awesome! Plan to have kids right away? That’s great too! Take charge of your life when and where you can. I made my decision along with my partner not to have children and I’m looking forward to our lives together. We wish you all the best.