The past 2 years has been a non-stop cycle of engagement and wedding announcements. It’s bad enough I am now the only single person in my group of friends, but as I go to wedding after wedding and now baby showers for baby number 2, I have found that explaining why I do not want children is an emotional and exhausting conversation to have. In fact I more recently stop saying that I do not want children all together. So, before I begin to explain myself once and for all, lets be clear, although I am neutral and have no particular feelings about having children, it is not my life’s mission to bear children and be a parent.
From a very young age we are brainwashed to accept that raising children is our fate as adults. We see this belief reflected all around us: in newspapers, in movies, in TV shows, in books, in magazines and in our everyday lives; in our friends, family members, relatives, and business partners. Whether you choose to have children, live vicariously through others’, or completely opt out of parenthood, that choice is yours to make.
If you are like most people, you associate a woman’s desire to not have children as a sign of selfishness, self-absorption, and therefore lack of desirability. Women who choose not to have children have been referred to as “shallow” and “self-absorbed,” and even the cool pope has said the decision not to reproduce is fundamentally “selfish.” Today’s society seems to believe that the desire to not have children is somehow narcissistic, unnatural and miserly.
But the truth is that not wanting to have a child is so much more than just “being selfish” and involves deeper matters. For many people having a child is the genuine, heart-felt highlight of life– but not for me. For me, the heart-felt highlight of life is love and I want to give that love to more than my imaginary child –which, by the way, would be graced with incredible genes. The love that I have to offer is bigger than me. So big, I can’t imagine having to put all of that energy into one creature that comes out of my body.
My opting out of parenting for the cause of civil service and philanthropy often invites judgement of everyone I’ve mentioned this concept to. Judgement so bad that I have even been compared to Oprah. “Oprah is a self made woman and her life has been impactful to others”, as if to say: “What are you doing with your life that’s so great?”. I’m sure some women have found success in a life of philanthropy and parenting simultaneously. I am not saying it can not be done, it is simply an option that I do not see for myself.
My single life is busy and fast paced, and I don’t vision a change in that. When I am not working in corporate america I am working on a freelance project, volunteering, writing, or helping a friend with something. I honestly have a fear that children would keep me from achieving my highest potential in my career. I get it, not everyone has to give up their career for a life as a spouse and parent. But, I would always be worried that trying to better myself and achieve expectations would hurt my child in the process.
One thing I must address is this decision has absolutely nothing to do with a man. Meeting the “right man” will not change my mind. I have witnessed men of my generation be better fathers to their children and break the cycle of deadbeat dads. There are some great men out there that want to be great fathers. I am not opting out of parenthood out of fear of reproducing with a terrible man. Although my choice inadvertently cancels out the possibility I’d become a single parent, I admit it is refreshing to know that’s a problem I will never have to deal with.
I want to be a wife, but I do not see children as a product of my marriage. Granted a man without a want for children would be ideal, but dating a man with children is not a deal breaker for me. I would be a great support to my future husband as he co-parents with his children’s mother. Of course I’d have a relationship with his children, but certain responsibilities simply would not be upon me. My purpose will be to back my spouse 100% through his ventures as a parent.
Some people have children to fulfill the need to exhibit what they’ve learned in life and from their own parents. Kids aren’t personal experiments. They’re not mirrors we can admire ourselves in. They’re their own living, breathing people and they’ll look how they look, learn what they learn, and be who they are regardless of their parents.
Not all women are pre-programmed with maternal instincts, and not all men have an urge to spread their seed. Some people are self-admittedly shitty human beings, and the worst thing they can imagine doing is repopulating society with mini versions of themselves. Even more people are decent human beings who want to do more for themselves, and, offer the world their love in a different way than giving it children.
I am not alone. Women decide not to have children for many reasons. Whether it be career-motivated, or a lack of maternal feelings — it is often a carefully considered decision.
Choosing not to have children is as valid as choosing to have them.
Just because I don’t want to have kids of my own, doesn’t mean I hate children, it doesn’t mean I’m not maternal and it doesn’t mean I’m selfish. I actually love children, am very maternal and only a little selfish. I love kids. I just don’t want my own.