I had a conversation with a friend about a job interview they recently had. While in the interview they were asked why they don’t want/have kids, this of course has nothing to do with her skills or abilities to do said job yet the question was asked. Real talk - if someone asked a mother why she had children, people would be outraged. You had children, because you want them. That's it. That's the answer. I don’t have children because I don’t want them. It may be an alternative lifestyle choice, but that doesn’t mean its an invalid one.
* Im going to preface this post with a very clear statement of fact: We are not required to justify our life choices to anyone. Whether you are childfree, childless or somewhere in-between, please don't ever feel like you need a "valid" reason to be where you are.
The reasons for not wanting or not having children are extensive and this is no way an all encompassing list. Let’s start with the most obvious and easy to digest - infertility. I’ve had my experiences with infertility and I can promise you, it's not fun. Every single time someone asks you when you are having children it feels as though someone is pouring salt in an open wound. A constant reminder that you can't have the one thing you want the most. It hurts even more when they say “yOu shOuLd jUSt aDopT”. Newsflash! Adopting is not a backup plan. Next time you think to ask someone why they don’t have kids, take a second to consider the possibility that they can’t have kids and change your language. It's just as easy to ask "Do you want to have children?" instead of "When are you having children?" Another significant consideration for many are medical issues. Although we have made incredible advancements in health care, certain diseases/illnesses can still be passed onto children. If you spend your days struggling or in pain, it's difficult to think about the possibility of passing that same suffering onto a child. Personally, I experience mental health issues. I have health anxiety, bleeding into generalized anxiety. Not only would I be concerned that my health anxiety intensify for myself, but I risk projecting it onto my children’s health as well. I would also be concerned that they would develop that same anxiety. Not having children means my own mental health stays in check, allowing me to be the best wife/friend/sister/person I can be and I don't put others at risk.
Many people also take socioeconomic status into consideration when thinking about children. Babies cost money friends. A lot of money. Gone are the days people could live comfortably on one income, mom staying home and raising the babies. The majority of households now need 2 full time working adults to pay the bills. Can some people stay home? Of course, but those people are in the minority. I grew up in a home where we didn't have a lot of money, my mom was a single mom and had to make a lot of sacrifices for us. Although I recognize and appreciate everything she did, I wouldn't wish that life on anyone. Not having a baby because you can't afford a baby is a selfless and responsible decision to make.
A less talked about, and less popular, consideration is the environmental impact. Did you know the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to not have children? One child equals 58.6 tonnes of carbon each year. Not having a child makes more of an impact than giving up your car, recycling and not taking any transatlantic flights put together. Not reproducing is actually the best thing anyone can do for the environment. There are many people out there that subscribe to the belief of antinatalism – a philosophy that believes "it is cruel to bring another human into the world when they are doomed to suffer and cause suffering to others". Some others believe it is okay to reproduce, but only to replace themselves or less i.e. two adults having two children, or two adults only having one child. As the world struggles to get by, plastic drowning our sea life, overpopulation causes illness and demand on resources, it's not so crazy to think people are making the decision to not contribute to that.
Last but not least, some people just don’t like kids. There are many people who remember not liking kids, even when they were kids. Children are loud, demanding, repetitive, sort of like a tiny drunk person living in your home. I admit really love babies. The squishy thighs, the belly laughs, the falling asleep on your chest.. warms my cold heart. That being said, I'm less of a fan of the in-between years. If children could go from 2 to 20 I’d happily have one! This idea that every woman is born to be a mother and that 'mothering instinct' is inherent in all of us is a lie, there's a lot of bad parents out there to prove that point. Not everyone finds the charm in sticky hands, or soccer practice on a Saturday morning or watching Frozen twelve times in one day. Numerous women have spoken out about the fact that their career, travel or service to others came before having children and they wouldn't have wanted it any other way. No regrets, no mistakes made, just a fulfilled life without kids.
Regardless of reason (or ability) to have or not have children, there are many childfree/childless people out there, slowly coming out of the shadows and embracing this less taken path. We are finding fulfillment in our marriages, jobs, service to others, creativity, skills and hobbies. We are the babysitters, the listening ears, the volunteers, the helping hands and the aunts and uncles. Our motivations are not selfish or spiteful, but intentional and sometimes even altruistic. Some of us are dealing with loss and grief of a life we hoped for, and others settling in to a life we always dreamed of having. Our lives have purpose and meaning and joy, even if our title never includes "mom". What are some of the reasons you don't have children? Have you ever wondered why people don't want to be a parent? Share your thoughts in the comments!