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I’m going to say two things together that will sound totally contradictory and might make some people mad. I’m a conservative Christian, and a childfree woman.
Go ahead and pop some popcorn; this is going to be a wild ride.
When I was a little girl, I thought I’d grow up and be a mom.
When I was a teenager, I figured I’d eventually find a husband and have maybe two or three kids. I thought about what names I liked.
When I was in college, my ex-boyfriend and I discussed kids. Same thing—two or three, eventually.
There are many reasons for couples to have children, but none of those reasons should be “because it’s what couples do.”
The husband and I definitely discussed kids, and we were kind of “meh” about them until shortly after we married when we both simultaneously and separately realized that we, in fact, did not want children.
That was the day we became childfree.
What Does Being Childfree Even Mean?
Put succinctly, being childfree means not desiring to have children at all, either biological or adopted. It is the purposeful decision to build a life without children in it.
This contrasts with childlessness, which is a term to refer to couples who WANT children but currently don’t/can’t have children, either temporarily or permanently. For many women, childlessness is a source of grief.
For the childfree, it’s a source of empowerment.
I’d always been taught, whether on purpose or not, that what girls did when they grew up is get married and have children.
As the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding says,
“Get married! Make babies!”
But I was terrified of what pregnancy and giving birth would do to my body, my mental health, and most importantly, my diabetes control.
I’m terrified of passing on my diabetes, my anxiety, and other issues on to a child who doesn’t deserve it, and who doesn’t need it.
Some Women Should Not be Mothers
I am one of those women, and I freely admit it.
As the husband can attest (and the rest of my family, to be honest) I am not a naturally patient person. I practice patience a lot at work and in my business, and I practice delayed gratification and building habits that will get me closer to my goals every day.
But those are different kind of patience than patience with a child.
I have a niece. She’s adorable, practically my clone (in appearance), and at the moment does not have an inside voice.
I’m glad I’m not her mother.
Her mother is glad I’m not her mother.
Figuring out that I don’t want children lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I worried about when I was going to have them because I needed to finish school and start a job.
But Money! Finances!
Then I decided that I’d better be financially stable before having kids (not to mention married), and that made me hyper-aware of where my money went.
Related Post: 10 Money Conversations to Have With Your Kids
I worried that I was doing something wrong.
Aren’t women popping out children all the time without being financially prepared?
“Don’t worry, it’ll all fall into place.”
“Just have a little faith.”
I worried that I’d be one of those late-twenties first-time moms whose career got tanked for having a kid.
What if I accidentally hurt my hypothetical children and they hate me?
I worried, I worried, I worried.
And suddenly I didn’t have to worry anymore.
Realizing that the decision to not have children is valid and acceptable removed that impetus for worry.
The decision to have or not have children should not come lightly to anyone.
A lot of thought goes into it.
None of it is about being selfish.
While many of my reasons have to do with my patience levels, my need for seven hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep, my requirement as an introvert for long stretches of quiet time to recharge—there are other reasons, equally valid, that have nothing to do with anything that someone might construe with selfishness.
I don’t want a child to feel unloved because of me.
I don’t want a child to suffer illnesses and mental problems because of me.
And most importantly, I would have to live with the decision of which I’ve never felt 100% supportive.
I would regret it.
Kids are smarter than we think.
They can pick up on emotions and feelings like regret, resentment, guilt. They know when you’re fighting with your spouse, regardless of what it’s about.
It’s why parents who stay together “for the kids” almost always have kids who wish their parents had divorced.
For me, kids are a deal breaker.
I won’t get into pro-life versus pro-choice right now. Let it suffice that internal paranoia drives all my decisions about birth control.
What Other People Think
There’s another side to this, though.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about kids, parenting, parenthood, blah, blah blah.
But you know what?
The most important opinion on the subject is YOURS. For YOU. Not for anyone else.
Certainly not for me.
It doesn’t matter if your mom wants grandchildren.
It’s not her choice.
If your drunk aunt keeps pestering you about your lack of progeny during family reunions, it’s not her business.
It’s not her choice.
If your friends are popping out babies right and left and giving you the side eye for not even being married yet, ignore them.
It’s not their choice.
Our Decisions Are Our Own
And just like your decision is yours, my decision is mine.
Some people respond to this with the question,
“But what does your husband think??”
And that’s the part of the conversation where I say,
“He doesn’t want kids either, soooo…”
The assumption that your husband has no idea that you don’t want kids is naïve and insulting.
The insinuation that you both are operating under different assumptions about your future with or without children is disrespectful.
When a woman is completely sure of herself and her wants, her desires, her choices—there is no excuse for pandering to deeply personal questions that, at the heart of it, are really just asking when you’re going to have unprotected sex.
And the same is true for men who don’t want children, either.
I have equal mad respect for the women who have multiple children and the women who are childfree.
Because it was their choice.