Why It's Perfectly Okay To Not Want Children In Today's Judgmental Society

by Casey Cavanagh

At this point in my life, I don’t want children (yes, I know things change). This is neither because I hate kids nor because I come from a negligent family.

I think children are precious, adorable little humans who are often better company than some people in my own age bracket.

I come from a very close and loving family. Having three siblings, who are also my best friends, makes me a firm believer in the value and bliss that can sometimes come from unprotected sex.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage!

Right. So, we’ve been told. Fortunately, it seems society has realized this cute equation doesn’t always add up.

All healthy relationships need a solid foundation of love (duh), but sometimes, even when you have love, marriage isn't in the cards. Sometimes, marriage doesn’t come even when a baby does.

Sometimes, once you have love and then marriage, a baby never comes. It’s not uncommon (or wrong) nowadays to have one or two without the other.

My heart goes out to those who face great difficulty trying to get pregnant, and those who have found themselves unable to conceive at all. It is a truly wonderful world we live in that allows for life-changing adoptions. I feel fortunate that if I became pregnant, I would have choices.

However, at this point in my life, I have no interest in pregnancy.

Today, slightly less than half of US adults are married, which is a record low. Pew Research Center recently found that only 20 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are getting married, compared to the 59 percent in 1960.

As our traditional views on marriage begin to unhinge, it seems that our assumptions about bearing children are, as well. In 2013, TIME Magazine found that US birth rates are also at a record low and that the number of childless women has doubled since the 1970s.

We can attribute this to people finally waking up and realizing there is no simple formula or surefire path to a happy life.

Still, there are plenty of people who believe that all women should have kids and that purposely trying not to is both selfish and goes against nature. I know this because whenever I admit that “having children” isn’t on my bucket list, I’m more often than not met with arguments.

When I was younger, it was easy for people to brush off this admittance by saying things like, “You’ll change your mind, don’t worry” (thanks, but I wasn’t worried), or “You’ll feel differently when you’re older.”

Although I still have plenty of time before I miss my “window of opportunity,” my feelings haven't changed thus far.

I don’t think this choice warrants judgment, yet when I talk about it, people often seem thoroughly offended, as if my choice is somehow insulting (or has anything to do with) theirs. That, or they look at me like they think I’m ludicrous, as if I just told them I’ve decided to change my birthday.

Yes, the anatomy with which I was born is designed for me to be able to birth a baby. Contrary to the very popular (and annoying as hell) belief, an innate desire to reproduce is not instilled in every female. I can’t control that I was born with a uterus, but I can control whether or not another life grows in it.

Many people have the tendency to pity childless women, as they assume them to either be barren a cold-hearted, work-orientated b*tch, or a flat-out child hater.

I consider myself to be very feminine and I love children (so long as they aren’t mine). I am nurturing and affectionate. I love cooking and cleaning when I’m not working.

The thought of being a “stay-at-home mom” thrills me — until we get to the part about children being involved. Then, I start to slowly back away with both hands up.

My decision not to be a mother has nothing to do with whether or not I think I would make a good one — I’m confident I would. I also think I would be an awesome English teacher, reality TV celebrity and private island caretaker, but that doesn’t mean I will become any of those things.

Sure, there is always the chance I will change my mind. Aside from this subject and only a handful of others, I tend to change my mind every 15 minutes. However, if I’m not certain I’ll be able to change my mind, what makes others so confident I will?

Another Pew Research Center survey found that 38 percent of Americans think the increase in childless mothers is bad for society. You know what I think is “bad for society”? Conforming to dogmatic social pressures based on outdated precedents.

When people say things like, “I thought that, too, but now my life has real meaning,” it is condescending and ignorant. I understand that giving birth to another life is beautiful.

I also know there are so many mothers and fathers out there who know no greater happiness and haven’t ever thought twice about their decision.

However, my choice to not have children has nothing to do with whether or not I believe life with them can’t be fun, exciting, fulfilling and joyous. I know it can be, but I also know that there are infinite ways to live your life. As with success, a “meaningful life” can only be subjectively defined.

Of course, being a parent is “like nothing else in the world.” I agree because you either are a parent or you aren’t. There are many magical experiences in life I’ll never know, like winning an Oscar, letting my leg hair grow out and riding an elevator that has a billion dollars in it.

But, that does not make my life void or meaningless. Not wanting to have children does not mean I won’t be happy and fulfilled. It does not mean I will lead an empty life.

When people try to analyze my choice with questions like, “But who will take care of you when you’re older?” I need to actively remind myself this is a personal choice and the opinions of others shouldn’t waiver how I feel. In my opinion, “selfish” is bringing another human being into this world to feel more comfortable about getting older.

My not wanting to have children does not make me selfish. It does not make me less of a woman. It does not make me confused, infertile or ignorant. It makes me an aware, honest, conscientious and realistic individual about what it is I want and don’t want out of life.

Maybe one day I will change my mind. Then again, maybe I won’t. I try to live my life with no regrets because, you know, “YOLO.”

Whether I do or I don’t have children, there’s a 50/50 chance I will end up with regrets. I would rather regret the children I didn’t have than the ones I did. If I choose to not have children, it is my choice to make and no one is allowed to make me feel inferior for it.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It