The older you get, the topic of not having children starts coming from everywhere, sometimes when less expected and when you are less prepared. Many times I tell myself I shouldn’t be answering this question because it shouldn’t be something I need to explain to anyone, right?
But every time the topic comes up and I answer that I don’t want to have children, every single time the mood changes and people tend to either fall silent or to start asking, judging, telling me they know better about what to do with my life.
I think Kate McDonough spoke for most women who don’t want to have children in this comic strip and she couldn’t have expressed it any better.
I can relate the answer “no, I don’t want to have children, ever” to the “no, I don’t drink alcohol”. The reactions are pretty similar: “Why not?”, “Oh, come on, let me change your mind!”, “This is a party, what else are you going to do?”. Til the point people around get pretty nervous and awkward, somehow confronted with the reality that there are other options that they never considered or never wanted to consider. There are so many other things you can do instead of having children.
I’ve never pictured myself as a mother. I’ve never wished children in my life. Not at the age of 5, not when I was 10, also not when I was 20, or 25, and also not after hitting my 30s. I don’t feel much when I see a child. They are cute and smart and it’s sweet when they smile and say something, well, sweet. But I don’t need to have a child to feel complete, to give meaning to my life, to feel happy and loved. I don’t need a mini-me or the feeling I’m leaving my legacy or imprint behind when I’m gone.
I really cannot find a good reason inside of me to go through everything that means having a kid. Everyone has his and her own reasons to want children and to have them. And everyone respects that. In the same way, everyone has his and her own reasons to not want children, to not to have them or to not to be able to have them. And most people don’t seem to understand that needs to be respected too.
I don’t really hate telling people my reasons. I actually take it as an opportunity to be an example of someone who gladly builds a life without children. But the reactions and answers I get range from condescending to insulting.
The decision to not becoming a mother means for many that I’m an egoist, I’m broken, I must have had an awful childhood, I haven’t found the right person yet, I’ll end up alone without anyone around to take care of me when I’m old, I’ll regret it and then there will not be a way to fix it.
Turns out I’m rather an egocentric with a giving heart, I’m pretty solid, my childhood had ups and downs like everybody else’s, I’ve found my person 5 years ago, and I don’t think the fear of what might happen with me at old age justifies having children. I really don’t think it is a good reason to bring a new life to this world.
I consider becoming a parent the hardest job in the world. It’s the biggest commitment you can do – it’s a contract for life to pour all your love, passion, time, money, everything you have to provide the best life possible to your offspring. And it’s a decision that, first, you cannot take back, second, determines someone else’s life forever. I believe you need to be mentally and financially prepared to have children. You need to know who you are, be in peace with yourself and have a minimum of economical means to take the step. This is of course my opinion.
I have so much respect for parents, and that’s exactly why I’m not becoming one. And I honestly think there are many people in this world who should think more than twice before getting pregnant out of respect to the high office they are about to enter. I don’t want to judge, but being biologically able to reproduce in the times we live in shouldn’t mean you actually must reproduce. Being able to conceive is not enough. Being a parent is not just carrying on with a pregnancy.
And I say this because my decision to not to have children is for many seen as an attack to society. And it is really not. I’m happy to support with my taxes any woman who wants to be a mother. I will be the first to defend their right to keep being supported if they want to stay home or to keep working and having a career. I might understand more or less their decisions, but my heart is with them. Same for men who desire children and want to really be involved in being a parent: they need our support as well to consider their decision to stay at home a very brave one.
A couple of years ago I asked my gynecologist whether I could be sterilized so I don’t have to take hormones anymore. And the answer was an absolute no. I’m too young, I never had children before and no doctor would perform the operation out of fear I could sue them. Getting a doctor to actually go for it would mean wasting years of my life and she talked me out of it. But this means that as an adult I get more trouble and obstacles to not to have children than to actually have them.
The problem I see there is that with my decision of not having children, my impact is society is rather low. I contribute to the system without getting much back, I cause no damage except to me eventually if I regret the decision, but I’m not raising anyone that might become a burden to the system or hurt someone else in the future. Meanwhile, anyone can have children without any minimum guarantee they will provide the best emotional and economical environment without facing any questions or obstacles from institutions and their peers.
Of course there are processes in place to protect those children, but who pays the bill then? All I am saying is my decision to not to have children has much less negative socioeconomic consequences than the decision to have children. The risk of my life choice is basically all on me.
Whenever I give this speech to close friends, most of them understand what I mean. They know me well and know I don’t speak lightly about these topics. Some of them point out that if everyone followed my thinking, I wouldn’t be alive and we as species would go extinct. We are here because our parents were brave enough to have us.
But what I’m saying is that some of our parents should have thought twice – mine should have at least.
Here some of the debate an article I posted a few weeks back sparked on Facebook. I knew after reading it that the title is click-bait and the writing over the top, but as I point out in the comments, the chore is real.
I look around and I see friends who want children but don’t see how they will be able to afford them. I see people frustrated because everyone judges their parenting paths. I see people desperate to conceive and feeling like a failure because it is not happening. People being abused and robbed while trying to adopt a child. I see people on the verge of going for it even if they are not 100% sure whether they want children, but wonder what else they could do with their lives at this point. People who, knowing my open-minded and understanding ear, with heavy heart confess that actually they wish they had thought about it twice.
They love their children, but they realise how much was lost on the way and they regret having them so early or having given up to so much without finding other ways to manage their family. Or people who now that their children are almost adults, struggle to find meaning to their life (and that’s why they want grandchildren so desperately).
And most of all, I see all the taboos and all the conversations people don’t have around what it really means having or not having children. Wanting or not wanting them.
This is a topic very close to my heart. I felt attacked and misunderstood many years. Frowned upon. Luckily, I have great friends. I do see though that not everyone has a place to talk about children struggles, being it miscarriages, loving your pet more than any baby, having your heart crushed in adoption processes, having a partner who begs for children while you stall. And for this reason today I’m deciding to put my heart, brain and soul creating a safe place where to discuss a life without children. Where to find other important things, projects, causes to focus on. Find others who want the same in life or whose circumstances pushed them into a life without children. Or where to choose a balance in raising decent human beings instead of perfect kids to show off through.
I know I’ll keep being hated and misunderstood for going against biology, against doing what humans are designed to do, and supposed to do. Or for putting on the table a topic not many people dare to talk about, to be so brutally honest about it. But the lasts years have shown me I’m not alone. There’s plenty of people around me who don’t have children by choice or because of their circumstances, but in any case there’s a growing community of people for whom children are not their priority in life.
If you know you don’t want to have children, if you are still not sure about it, if you want them but feel you cannot afford them, if you are trying to get them but it’s getting too painful and frustrating, if you are not buying the normative way to raise your children, if you forgot to have them and now there’s no way of going back, if your kids are set and gone and you don’t see what to do next, take a look into insteadofkids.com.
And if after looking around you feel you can contribute to the conversation, I’d be very happy to hear and publish your story, whether for or against the beliefs I exposed in this article.
Thank you for reading until the end ❤︎