Not Having Kids

As progressive as we’ve become as a society regarding women, there is still an air of expectation that women will become mothers at some point during their 20s, 30s, and sometimes 40s. Becoming a mother is a totally valid decision, and so is the decision not to. Yet when was the last time you heard a conversation in which a woman tried to justify her decision to become a mother? It’s probably far more common to hear a woman trying to justify the decision to NOT have children.

And women arrive at this decision in very different ways. For some women it is far from being a decision that they made, but rather is one that was made for them. Like for the numerous women who were either stricken with illness that left them unable to conceive, or were hit with early menopause — which I would bet hits more women than anyone realizes. Or maybe they found their life partner and that person was unwilling to have children for one reason or another. Then those women are left with having to face how much they want this (because, of course they could adopt or foster children).

And then there are other women for whom the idea of raising children never really sounded all that good — or maybe they considered the idea but opted not to — or for some women, they just got busy with life and career and didn’t get around to it until it was too hard to conceive.

And there you are, in your 20s or 30s, and all your female friends are busy at home with their kids — and there you are, alone. It can be a lonely time! Not to mention the queries of perhaps well-intended family members who just don’t know when to quit asking when you’re going to have kids.


I just want to say that it can be a challenge no matter what road you take. I don’t think it’s as simple as some people have stated it — that you have to be selfish to NOT want to have children, or that life is much freer when you don’t have children. Nothing’s so black or white. There are always shades of gray.

I know when I hear that a friend of mine has just gotten pregnant, plans to have kids, or is in adoption proceedings, I am happy for them that they are following their dream, but I also have a moment of wondering if I will still get to see them much. It’s right and proper that a child should be its mother’s top priority, it is just really hard as the friend to that mother to know where we should fall in their hierarchy of priorities.

I’m curious if men have a similar experience. I would guess that they do not, since they can more or less have a child at any age, and there isn’t so much society pressure to be paternal. But I am curious.

Oh, and it can be a challenge when you’re pretty sure you don’t want to have kids — and to have them is a HUGE decision — and then you meet the man or woman of your dreams and he or she REALLY wants kids. Egads. That’s a toughie. Sometimes it is clear you’re not right for each other, and sometimes you feel like you just can’t let that person go.

The worst part of all is the implication that a woman would not know. That only having children would make a woman’s life whole and complete. There are those inane comments from people such as, “you just haven’t met the right man/woman yet,” implying that one might not know what is right for them. Or the implication that one’s life will simply not be fulfilled without experiencing parenthood — as if one cannot have deeply connected relationships or experience times of selflessness in other types of relationships.

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Sara Crain

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