If you say: “I don’t want children” as a young woman (or a woman of any age), the backlash is astoundingly great and extremely harsh most of the time. I have said since I was a teenager that I don’t want to give birth. The headline might be a bit misleading as I might want to take care of a child one day, maybe through adoption or as a foster parent, but I do not want to go through pregnancy. People often ask you for a reason and usually are not satisfied with the simple answer of: I just don’t want to be pregnant.
Some of the things people have told me when I said that I don’t want children, or at least none of my own, were straight up inappropriate and rude. I am sure, most people did not mean it in a bad way, but commenting on someone’s desire, or lack thereof, to be a parent is in most circumstances not acceptable. I can give you examples of what I have heard throughout the years:
- There is the classic: Oh, you are just too young. You will change your mind and you don’t know what you want yet. I’d say I know what I want better than you, especially considering I have been saying it for a decade.
- You are in your mid-20s now. You should start family planning. Your clock is ticking. If I really wanted to, I could freeze my eggs and have children much later in life, but also having children is not the only purpose of a woman.
- You haven’t met the right guy yet. First of all, I don’t need a guy to fulfill my life. Secondly, I might end up with a woman. Lastly, who are you to tell me that all my values and ideas will drastically change once I meet “The One?”
- You will be lonely when you are old. People with children can end up lonely, too. And if I have a loving partner or best friends when I am old, how does that make me lonely? You should never have children out of fear of being alone later in life.
- Pregnancy is the best thing in the world. You don’t know what you are missing. It might have been the best thing for you, but I cannot think of many enjoyable things about it . Also, I have heard that from men, too?! How do they know what it feels like to carry another human for nine months?
- Do you hate children? I love children. My godchild is one of my favorite humans! I just don’t plan on pushing one out of me myself.
- My favorite so far: You are selfish and you owe it to your parents because they have done so much for you. Thankfully, my parents are the best and they want me to do whatever I want to do with my life (and my body), but the fact that a person I barely know said that is simply flabbergasting.
While a woman (or any person capable of giving birth) should never have to give anyone else a reason why or why not they choose to have children, here are a few things to consider and reminders as to why you should stop asking people why they don’t have or don’t want children.
They can’t have children or they have lost a child in the past
Asking about family planning can be so harmful to women who want to have children but can’t or who have lost a child in the past. You don’t know what people are going through. Maybe they suffer from infertility, had a miscarriage, their child got sick or had an accident. Whatever it is, you don’t know about it. While some people are child-free on purpose, others are not and questioning those people can be extremely hurtful.
Their circumstances don’t allow for children
Children cost money and time. If you only have one of these things or neither, then bringing a child into the world will be rather difficult and met with many obstacles. Of course, if you truly want to, there can be a way of managing but for many people nowadays it is not worth it to sacrifice all you have. You might think that sounds bad, but it is merely the truth. After becoming a parent your life dramatically changes. For some it changes for the better and for others it does not. If it worked out for you, great, I am truly happy for you. Not everyone can afford children though.
Even if you want children, but for whatever reason want to adopt, that is also not possible for everyone. Adoption is very expensive and the process takes forever. If you are a LGBTQ+ couple, becoming a parent is even harder from the get-go. You are illegal in some countries and denied your rights and adoption might be even more difficult even if you are technically allowed to go through the process.
In the past, I have worked for an organization in Tanzania for a while that worked closely with orphanages and young children who have lost one or both of their parents and I realized how many children are out there who need a home. We are already overpopulating the world and children across the world are dying because we cannot feed and protect them all. You don’t even have to look to other countries to see a big issue. The foster care system in most countries is completely drowning. So many kids out there are looking for a safe and loving home. If I have the means to give that to them instead of putting more children into the world, why not do that?
It’s their own choice and priorities differ
It’s that simple. People can make their own choices. I like the freedom I have right now and that is my priority. Traveling a lot, moving to different countries for work or to study, doing what I want and when I want. The likelihood of me ending up with a woman is pretty high so having a child the traditional way would not be possible anyway. If I end up with a guy, I still simply don’t want to be pregnant and that should be enough of a reason for people to accept my decision and leave my choices alone. Also, people often consider a family to be father, mother and children. Families can be so much more. If I live only with my partner and my pets, we are still a family. If my best friends and I move in together and live together until we are old, we can still be family. A family in the traditional sense is not all there is to life.
Finally, in case people change their mind at one point, that is also none of your business. Saying things like: “I told you so” or anything of that sort is disrespectful and takes away from the feelings that person had when they made their specific choice. People can do what they want with their body and it is no one else’s right to judge their decision.
It’s crazy that people think they know better than I do what I want. Having children might be for you, but it is not for everybody. So, stop assuming that it is and stop asking.
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