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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.
As I started budgeting and watching where I put my money—my priorities—and I noticed that preparing and saving specifically for children never found its way into the categories.
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.
You make such good points. I feel like choosing not to have kids can be so stigmatized but there should be no obligation for a woman to have to have children. I love what you had to say and hope you keep spreading this message ❤
Thank you. Since my husband and I came to this decision it’s been like a weight has lifted from us.
Truly, good for you for being honest with yourself about what you want–and your husband, too. That must have been a really scary conversation to initiate before you realized you were both on the same page! My husband has always been ahead of me in wanting to have kids, and though I’m starting to catch up to him (he’s three years older and has always been quicker to make commitments and settle down!), I’m savoring the time that I have to be selfish and relatively carefree. I don’t want to bring a human into this world before I’m fully prepared for the reality of it–it just doesn’t seem fair (or logical, frankly) to create a life before you’ve thought it through 100%. And I’m with you on being scared about what it’ll do to your body, your mental health, and your career!
Thank you for your honest comment. The conversation was less scary than you’re imagining; he’d been more “meh” than me about kids and there were cues and clues that made me think we were on the same page. The fact that people have kids without thinking about it is what’s scary!
I love this refreshing pov. It’s perfectly fine to choose not to have children! Your life, your business
I respect your choice, and respect everyone else choice, but this is a choice which confuses me. I feel like I merely don’t understand this, because I always have a ongoing existential crisis going in mind. LIke who would remember us after we die, if not our kids? I would like to know your answer for that question if you can.
Sure. It’s a matter of values. Leaving a genetic legacy doesn’t appeal to me, especially if it means continuing a line of type 1 diabetics. There are other ways to be remembered, like contributions to science, the arts, and society. Many big name actresses, like Helen Mirren, have chosen to not have children. Her name will live on for quite a while, and not because of any offspring she could have had. There are also plenty of children who do their best to forget their parents. Having a kid is no guarantee of being remembered. I’d rather be remembered for things I did for other people. You may value leaving such a legacy, but remember that not everyone feels the same way.
Yes, I understand! Thank you for replying. I know leaving an offspring is only one of the choice to make a legacy for us. I finally feel like I understand this choice, and it’s kinda weird how the stigmatizing of a choice by other people affected my view of it.
Some people just don’t have a need to be “remembered”. When you’re dead, you’re dead.
This is such an important topic that needs to be discussed more often, and I love your open honesty about it. It reminds me of a book I read, called “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed.” Contrary to how it sounds, it’s not negative. It’s a collection of 16 writers who talk about why they decided not to have kids. It was quite enlightening.
I will definitely be checking out this book!!
The choice not to have children is often more thought out than the choice to do have children.. I respect both choises and I’m still having trouble to understand why chosing not to have any kids is practically still taboo. I am one of those women who should not be a mother – I can relate to a lot of reasons you cite. This article is truly a comfort, a relief and a breath of fresh air.. Thank you so much!
Thank you for your comment! So many people have bought into the “Life Script” that what women do is get married and have babies. When one of us bolts from the herd and questions that life script, it’s almost like society is trying to “fix” us by making our decisions taboo.
[…] I’m not and won’t ever be a parent. […]
Wow yes being childfree and christian subject and the Culture influences in my case my hispanic family, being evangelical but is a taboo subject in my country, we as women should support each other and machovism agh is horrible! I am 34 years and I dont feel the baby deber I thought I was going to get married at 31 but my incomes are for me only I live my singleness to the fullest and im an only daugther