Last month, TIME Magazine came out with an article titled Childfree Adults Are Not “Selfish,” in which the writer talks about her decision of not having children. As she recalls, it’s a decision that to this day remains highly scrutinized. “Over the course of our marriage, we’ve been peppered with the kid question — from distant uncles, hair dressers, bartenders, bosses, the postman and even the neighbor lady: Don’t you have kids? When are you going to have kids? Saying “I don’t want kids” simply set me up as a challenge to be surmounted.”
The other day I was talking to my friend, who has decided not to have children. She’s happily married, and it’s a decision they both have agreed on. As she told me, she’s never really had that maternal calling. In my opinion, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s sad that society puts so much pressure on women to have children.
I interviewed five women on their decision to not have children, and here’s what they had to say.
Would you decide to not have children? Leave a comment below.
Would you Decide to Not Have Children? 1 of 6
Five women share their story for not having children ... scroll through to read their interview.
Photo: frankdekleine via Flickr
Barbara Palazuelos, 32: "I Don’t Have the Maternal Instincts" 2 of 6
I don't have one main reason for not having kids, I have quite a few, well-thought and rational arguments on why I don't personally want kids. Firstly, I don't have the maternal instinct to have children and I feel part of that is because I don't want to become my mother. Without getting into specifics, she and I didn't get along while I was growing up, for a number of reasons. I have actually been pretty much living on my own since I was 13 and if it weren't for both sets of my grandparents, I wouldn't have made it to where I am today. How could I risk bringing a child into this world if there's the possibility that I could treat them like that, or even worse?
Another basic fear I have when it comes to having a child is the pregnancy and labor itself. I watched my sister go through three, long pregnancies that resulted in her being sick for 3-4 months, having to close a business that was just getting off the ground and leaving her unable to do much else besides try not to get sick on the couch. Her labors, fortunately, went smoothly and quickly and I love my nieces and nephew as though they're my own. On the other hand, I have friends who went through relatively easy pregnancies only to have their own personal nightmares in the delivery room. One friend, after 27 hours of labor, ended up having to get a C-Section because of the length of time it was taking. Another friend was so torn up 'down there' from her labor that she couldn't sit for a month. Other friends lament how their bodies have been ruined by having one or more children and while I know they love their kids more than anything else, their body-image has fallen to pieces. I've heard enough of these horror stories to realize that I don't want to put myself through anything like that. Selfish? Yes. Realistic? Yes.
A more practical reason for not wanting to start a family is that I am not, nor have I ever felt, financially stable enough to support more than one hungry mouth besides my own. Because finding a husband and getting married isn't high on my list of to-do's either, I don't have the money or support to try to care for another human being. I am a college graduate who is paying off my student loans myself as well as a car, all while paying down major credit card debt. By the time I've paid off my debt, it would biologically be too late for me to have a child. I would also end up racking up more debt to pay for food, clothing, diapers, school, medical, etc. just to keep a child alive and living the life that is expected of it. That would leave me without a savings plan and at the end of my life, what would I do? Yes, I've heard the argument that our children are supposed to take care of us in our Golden Years, but that isn't the culture we live in. In absolute reality, almost all of us are going to end up in a retirement home when we're old, but on whose dime? Our families will be having the same struggles with their household finances as the ones I fear of having myself.
My last reason for not wanting to have any children is that simply, there are enough people on the planet as it is. I am not a die-hard environmentalist but I know the signs when I see them and our world isn't the healthiest or safest at this point in time. I don't feel that bringing children into this world, right now, would benefit anything. Another human is another resource-user and I feel many of our resources are running thin.
I am 100% happy living my life as it is without children. I have dogs who get all of my attention, I'm able to travel much cheaper and easier than a family, I can go out on the weekends and socialize without the added expense of a sitter and can eat at a 5 star restaurant if I'd like. In other words, I can do whatever I want and I don't feel empty or as though I'm missing out on something. Let the mothers out there have the children. Let the loving, financially stable families bring another generation in. I'm perfectly fine with me, myself and I.
Marla Martenson, 51: "There’s No Way I Could Have Properly Taken Care of a Child." 3 of 6
Even though I adore children and love spending time with them. I would say that not having children is the best thing that I never did.It's funny, I always wanted to get married and live happily ever after with my soul mate, but having kids never crossed my mind. I must have been missing that gene or hormone or something. Although I am incredibly nurturing, I always have a pet that is the light of my life and constant companion. My dog Macie is treated better than many children.
I remember as a teen, observing my older cousin. She was married, had two kids and then got divorced. She became a single mother working as a waitress to support those kids. It was very unappealing to me. I made a mental note, that life is NOT for me. I also always dreamed of living in Hollywood, becoming an actress, and traveling the world. I moved to Hollywood from my hometown of Seattle at the age of 20. I jumped into the artist life of working nights and going on auditions in the day, taking acting, singing, dance and language classes. I always had a husband or boyfriend in my life, and never in a million years thought that having a child with one of them would be a good idea. The last thing I needed was to be connected to an ex husband for the rest of my life. And I could not imagine having to hand my child over to an ex's girlfriend or new wife for the weekend. I could never have handled that. And, after all, I was a struggling artist just getting by paying my bills, there was no way I could have properly taken care of a child.
I always fancied myself a world traveler, leading glamorous life. I loved being able to sleep in as late as I liked. I remember a friend of mine that had kids telling me that she got up every morning at 5 am because she had to get the kids up and ready for school, and that she had not slept in past 6 am for years, I shuddered at the thought. I had no desire to get up at the crack of dawn, filling sippy cups, changing dirty diapers and trying to fit a stroller into the trunk of the car.
Now that I am 51, I see my friends with their grown kids and even grandchildren, enjoying family time, dinners and holidays, and all the joys. It would be nice to have a magic wand and create a family of grown up kids, but sadly, it is not to be.
Ellen Goodwin, 51: "It Makes Being an Adult Just That Much More Fun." 4 of 6
For me choosing to not to have children was an easy decision. My sisters loved kids. They loved to baby sit them. To be around other people's children. To play with them. I felt none of that instinct. And I knew it from a very young age and was perfectly fine with it. Surprisingly, I was a camp counselor for 7 years during high school and college and was around 12 year olds for full summers. While I had fun it didn't make me want to change my mind and become anyone's mother. It was easier then, and now, to be the fun person around kids. To look at children like library books -- you check them out, you enjoy their company and when you are done you send them back to the parents. You don't have to be the disciplinarian. You don't have to clothe and feed them. You don't have to deal with them being cranky.
Luckily when I met my future ex-husband, we were both on the same page about not having children. We actually talked about it on our first date. Neither of us saw ourselves having and raising children. And we made a point of being with friends that didn't have children. It made (and makes) being an adult just that much more fun. My sisters all had children so I made the decision to be a fantastic, fun aunt. The one that did cool things. That talked to them and treated my nieces and nephews like they were adults. And now that they are, I have great relationships with them. Not having children was a slam dunk idea in my world and one I have never regretted.
Amy Maria Blackstone, 41: "I Enjoy the Financial Flexibility." 5 of 6
I chose not to have kids for a number of reasons but I think the most important factor is that my life is fulfilling as it is. I haven't ever felt a void that I thought could only be filled by having children. The default assumption in our culture is that women will - even must - have kids. In many ways, I'm baffled that it's the choice not to have them that we put under the microscope. Isn't the choice to bring a child into the world the one that should require the most inquiry and depth of thought? I think that all children deserve parents who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they want to be parents.
Of course I also enjoy the flexibility (financial, time, etc.) that not having children affords. Not having kids means that I have more time to nurture and enjoy my relationship with my husband, Lance. It means that I have the opportunity to participate in my profession in ways that would be more challenging if I had kids at home. It means that I have the flexibility to develop new hobbies at the ripe old age of 41 -- last year I joined my local roller derby league and now skate as Wined Up for Central Maine Derby. It means that Lance and I are able to spend a month or more each year on our favorite Caribbean island of Roatan.
None of these activities is limited to the childfree, of course, and many of my closest friends in derby and elsewhere are mothers. I support the choice they've made and am grateful that they support mine. It is possible, however, that not having kids may free me up more to engage in all of these activities and still reserve some time for solitude, reflection, and quiet. I am grateful to live in a time and a place where not having kids is a choice I am able to make. Whether one decides to become a parent or not, to me it is having the opportunity to make a thoughtful, conscious choice that matters most.
Tricia Bennett, 52: "I Had Used Up My Parenting Energy…On My Parents!" 6 of 6
There are several reasons that I never wanted children. The first is that I never really wanted to have babies. I've never had a biological clock ticking. Maybe I just don't have that much estrogen, but other things were always more important and interesting to me than having children. I remember making a conscious career decision in my late 20's to early 30's. I love children. I work with children. I knew if I had children myself, changing diapers would take away from my ability to work on behalf of and serve large numbers of children and families, which is what I do and what I have done for the past 30 years.
Last, but not least, I have a theory that everyone has a certain amount of parenting energy in them and when it's gone, it's gone. My parents were both chronic alcoholics. My mom died when I was 30 and my dad died when I was 40. By the time my father died I believe that I had used up any and all of my parenting energy .... on my PARENTS! I always relate to parents who say, "Thank God my kids are finally grown and out on their own." I think to myself, "So are mine!"
At age 52, I have no regrets about my choice. I am very happily married to a man who chose not to have children either. We both love and work with children (he is a soccer coach) and when we are not at work, we spend time with friends and family, travel around the world, and have tons of fun taking care of each other. Life is simple ... and good!
Read more of Carmen’s writing on her fashion blog, Viva Fashion.
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