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Women Who Don't Want Kids (Gasp!)

By Danielle Sullivan |

women becoming mothers, pro choice, feminism, having children, zooey deschanel, mom health

Who says every woman must have kids in order to be happy?

In the May issue of Marie Claire, actress Zooey Deschanel said she didn’t want to have kids, and instead chose to focus on her career because that is what she wants to do. (Bolding mine, hostility mine, too.).

Oh my, a woman not wanting kids… cue the end of the world.

Yes, it’s still 2012.

Here’s exactly what she said as reported by the NY Daily News:

“That’s never been my focus … My sister [Emily] was always very motherly, baby-sitting and stuff,” she told the magazine. “I like kids, and I like being around kids — but it was never an ambition, something, like I need … I like working. That’s what I like doing. I like to work.”

Her stance or statement didn’t surprise me. I actually thought, ‘you go girl’. Know what you want and go after it. What surprised the heck out of me were the comments on her feelings that she didn’t want  kids. All over the TV and the Internet, people (mostly women themselves!) felt compelled to point out that she must hate kids, be too selfish to have a child or just be an eternal child herself, incapable of being a mother. Seriously?

I think that recognizing a person doesn’t want children is one step closer to finding herself and paying attention to her individual wants and needs instead of societal pressure. Isn’t that more adult than, say, having a baby to please mom…. or even America? Today’s women don’t need to have a baby to be complete, as much as they don’t need a man to be whole. In fact, discovering who you are is the most beautiful relationship you’ll probably ever have. And your relationship with yourself is one, for the most part, that you never end.

When I was a teen, I didn’t want kids. I detested tradition but was surrounded by those in who it was ingrained. My husband and I met when we were kids ourselves and I know now that I had no idea what I wanted or who I was back then. We started having kids early and I don’t know what exactly changed my mind but once we had our first daughter, I wanted more children. I have enjoyed having a family and I don’t regret it at all.

That being said, I do sorta envy those women who spend their 20s and 30s getting to know themselves, enjoying their career and natural spontaneity that should be in every young person’s life. If my girls never have children, I will more than fine with it. In fact, neither of my daughters want kids and I’m not even sure they want to get married at all. I think it’s awesome.

Why should women feel pressured to reproduce? If they want to, that’s one thing but if they don’t or if they want to wait, go for it.  There is tremendous pressure on women for everything. As if you’d ever catch anyone questioning a guy in his 30s about when he’ll have kids.

Being a mom is great but it is definitely not the only thing a woman should be, and not every woman wants to be a mother. It doesn’t make her selfish or child-like.

And even when a woman is a mother (or a wife), that is just one part of her; it is not the sum of her whole being.

Image: iStock

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About Danielle Sullivan


Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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13 thoughts on “Women Who Don't Want Kids (Gasp!)

  1. Diera says:

    So where is the criticism that is all over the Internet on this? I can’t find it. There are 0 comments on the story in the link you provided, and when I searched on ‘Zooey Deschanel children’ I found numerous references to the story but none with heaps of critical comments. I must be missing a motherlode of meanness somewhere, link please?

  2. Danielle Sullivan says:

    I’d rather not promote the hate, but if you wanna read it yourself, check out the blogs that covered it and the TV programs that discussed it

  3. Alison says:

    Hmm. I didn’t see the criticism either. It must be tucked away in corners I don’t read.

  4. Diera says:

    As I said in my first comment, I did look. I found many mentions of the article, with either zero comments or no critical comments. I’m probably not going to watch TV for this, but I would think if the Internet was aflame with criticism for Ms. Deschanel it would be easier to find.

  5. CW says:

    If IMDB is to be believed about her age, she’s only 31. Having seen the 180 degree turns of many of my formerly “I don’t ever want to have kids” friends who caught baby fever in their mid-to-late 30′s, I’m taking this statement with a big grain of salt. Now if she’s still singing the same tune a decade from now, that I’d find a lot more believable.

  6. Meggie says:

    It’s not so much that there’s out right criticism. I have a google alert for the Dechanel sisters (cause they’re awesome) and every emailed article has in bold letters “Zooey doesn’t want kids!” It’s as if the editors can’t believe this is true and need people to confirm that it’s real. It’s the first thing that’s written when the story is repeated. It’s the headline…

  7. Rosana says:

    I have more respect for women that know they do not want kids and don’t have them than for women that have kids and are “overwhelmed with surprise” about how hard is to raise them, geez!!!

  8. Canuckmom says:

    Anyone who doesn’t want kids shouldn’t have them. I have worked as a daycare teacher and nanny and have seen too many unwanted kids. No, I’m not saying all kids in daycare are unwanted, but some are.
    And women will get criticized by someone no matter what: no kids, one kid, too many kids, having them too young, having them too old, big gaps between kids, small gap between kids… Meh. You can’t let it bother you.

  9. Jen says:

    “she’s only 31. Having seen the 180 degree turns of many of my formerly “I don’t ever want to have kids” friends who caught baby fever in their mid-to-late 30′s, I’m taking this statement with a big grain of salt.”

    God forbid a 31 yr old should know what they want. I’m 37 and dont have kids, should I be turned inside out and laying on my back within hours of turning 38 so I can fulfill my mommy destiny?

  10. Lorna says:

    Good on her for admitting it publicly. And since she didn’t feel the need to justify herself in the way people normally do I think it’s safe to say she knows her own mind and is unlikely to do a U-turn (much as that will upset one commenter above.

    I’m 36 and I still get morons saying I’ll change my mind. I won’t, I’ve never wanted kids. It’s not for any set reason, it’s because I was born without that desire.

    People who do want kids are the ones that should actually get the badgering that us childfree people get. After all, our lack of desire to have children hurts no-one, the desire of future parents can eventually hurt another human being (the child!) Which is worse? Oh, let me think :-D

  11. Tc says:

    I agree if u dont want kids kudos to you for knowing what you want, i dont’t see anything selfish about that:)

  12. Jessica says:

    Feminists tend to be the biggest hypocrites. that is all I am going to say.

  13. melissa says:

    I respect her for knowing what she wants. What is she supposed to do? Have kids and then feel resentful because she never wanted one in the first place. That doesn’t make any sense! Kids are amazing and they all deserve to have loving parents who WANT them. Not saying Zooey isn’t a loving person. Not saying she is for that matter. But it is clear what she wants. Kids are just not on that list. Nothing wrong with that

    But it’s not cool to bash people who do want them either. Live and let live. Which is exactly what I do so can’t appreciate anyone bashing me for my choice either.

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