Childless By Choice

On 1 January 2010 by Jessica

You know how sometimes you make a decision and then later you question it – if not completely change your mind about it? It’s a feeling we’re all familiar with, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. But there’s one decision I made so long ago I can’t even remember it that I have never – not once – questioned. In fact, I don’t even think it was a decision in the first place.

I am childless by choice.

I come from a loving home. I was raised by two incredible parents and grew up with two fantastic brothers. My mother, at one point in her childhood, wanted to have nine children of her own in order to field a baseball team. One of my brothers has a son to whom he is utterly devoted. The other brother started working part-time in a preschool recently and he’s so well-suited to it that it’s almost as if it’s his calling.

I, on the other hand, never liked babysitting and can remember very few kids growing up that I was drawn to. To this day I feel like I don’t “get” 80% of kids (if not more), and the ones who do seem to be on a similar wavelength to me are still fascinated by things I don’t understand. Plus, they all exhaust me.

But rather than it being a decision I made somewhere along the way, a decision to not have children of my own, it feels like it was something I was born with – just as I was born with the wiring for brown eyes, olive skin, and heterosexuality. To have gone against it and had children, which (let’s face it) is still the expected thing to do, would have been so counter to my being that it would have been like pretending to be a lesbian.

Whenever I hear about how my mother’s parents were with their two kids, I think they would probably have fared better had they lived in a time when being childless by choice was an acceptable choice – but in the 1940s it just wasn’t something that was done. Every time I think about them, I’m thankful to live in a time when I’m allowed to be an adult and not have or want kids.

Many years ago, a friend of mine who was also childless by choice lamented the fact that even in a time when saying you don’t want to have kids is technically acceptable, people still tend to say, “Oh, why not?” or “Are you sure?” Her feeling (and I mostly agree) was that having children was such an enormous responsibility that it was the people who do want kids who should have to answer “Oh, why” or “Are you sure?” – and not the other way around.

I don’t want to sound like an awful or heartless child-hating person. I love my niece and nephews, even if I don’t “get” them. I don’t much care for kids’ games, although I do love to sit and read to or with kids. I’ll admit that when I see children misbehaving or being unruly I do kind of wonder why they can’t be controlled, but I’ve heard from friends who I think are stellar parents that they thought the same thing – until they had their own unruly kids.

The bottom line is that kids are all more or less alike in that they’re all a little unruly. They’re all a little wild, a little bit testing their boundaries (and their parents’ limits), and a little bit uncontrollable. It’s part of growing up, of figuring out one’s place in a grown-up world. I know all of that. And I also know I’m not equipped – mentally or physically – to deal with it.

And to those who say – and who have said, many times, over the years – “Oh, you’d feel differently once you had your own,” I say this: I will not have my own. I may very well think kindly of my own kids, love them, nurture them to adulthood, and like some aspects of parenting.

But I will not have my own. And for that I am thankful. Just as I’m thankful for my brown eyes, my brown hair, my olive skin, and my affection for the male species that brought me to my wonderful husband – who is, I might add, although excellent with kids also not interested in ever being a parent.

And to think I didn’t believe in fate…

[UPDATE: Since I think my January 2nd comment/reply got lost in the crazy huge number of comments on this post, I’m adding here as a postscript as well…]

When I checked email on my BlackBerry this morning, I saw a note from WordPress saying that my post had been featured on their homepage. I thought, “Huh, who reads the WordPress homepage?”

Apparently a lot of people.

As much as I’d love to reply to each and every one of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings (the stuff I didn’t think anyone would see, let alone pay attention to), it would take me forever with all of the comments that are here. So, to the vast majority of you who have either agreed with me or at least appreciated my choice, I say thanks. I’m glad I was able to articulate something that resonated with so many people. I knew I wasn’t alone on this one. 🙂

To those who left questions about my age, whether I have pets, what would happen if my husband were to change his mind, or whether I’d considered that if my ancestors had made a similar decision I wouldn’t be here to “muse” on my blog, I say this:

I had individual responses worked up for every single one of you as I was reading your questions, but in the end I decided that things like my age or the number of pets in my house are (a) none of your business and (b) have nothing to do with my decision to not have children. There is no requirement to procreate anymore, and we’re perfectly at peace with our decision to remain child-free (thanks to those who offered that term as a replacement for “childless,” I hadn’t heard that one before).

If, after reading this post, you left one of those comments, then I’m pretty confident there is nothing I could say in response to those questions that would make you think any differently about me or my choice than you do now. So why should I bother? If you feel differently about this topic, that’s fine – but that’s absolutely no reason to try to change my mind.

Y’know what I mean?

Thanks again, all, for reading – and commenting – and I hope you like the other stuff you find on the blog. I don’t write as frequently here as I’d like to, since I write for a living, but I’ll certainly try to keep you entertained. 😉

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223 Responses to “Childless By Choice”

  • Jessica,
    I know you a little as our bands used to play together. I was in a band called Other Avenues an eon ago.

    You stated, “Whenever I hear about how my mother’s parents were with their two kids, I think they would probably have fared better had they lived in a time when being childless by choice was an acceptable choice – but in the 1940s it just wasn’t something that was done. Every time I think about them, I’m thankful to live in a time when I’m allowed to be an adult and not have or want kids.”

    Birth control wasn’t available back then. I don’t know your grandparents but it could be that they would have made other choices if it were. Nothing wrong with that choice. No one is obligated to have children. It is not a duty, and I could argue that some people should reconsider their choice to have children (especially when their crap parents).

    My wife and I chose to have children, one of which is autistic. They are great kids and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have had to give up playing in a band. Autistic child with over 20 hours of therapy each week and a full time nursing job makes that out of the question (I have to have some time for my wife of 12 years). There are times I would love to just go to the store, movie, dinner out, or hang out with that friend I haven’t seen in 10 years. There are times I even lament how busy and shut in my life is at times.

    Yet, my two children have given me far more than I will ever give them. They have given me patience I would never have achieved without them. They have given me laughter, insight, and yes the occasional headache. In the end they are my children and I love them and my bride more than any other person on this planet.

    When my autistic child has a meltdown he can’t control in public, people stare. They don’t understand. I had him panic over a cup of water once, and he started running around the car. I had to force him into his car seat with the eyes of disapproval passing by with every person going into the medical clinic that day. I understand it. Four years ago when I didn’t have children I did it too. Just remember people there can be a back story your not aware of. You can’t avoid taking your autistic child out in public as it is one of the best ways for them to grow. Plus, many high functioning autistic children come off very normal even when their having fits.

    It looks like your doing well Jessica. I’m glad to see you doing the things you love, and most of all that your happy.

    bless and be blessed

    your old buddy Marc

  • Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

  • Katina,

    I posted that I don’t care what other people decide to do regarding parenthood. It is a personal decision.
    For me–having children has been the best blessing ever.
    For my mother-perhaps the worst curse ever-she said she never felt maternal.

    So really–I think anyone–people like you–and people who think having children is the only way to live are fanatics.

    I state this based on
    “All the pro-child-ers think that all the years of one’s life amounts to nothing unless they reproduce- that’s a pretty sad way to look at life.”

    Is that truly what I think–being as ALL means ALL?

    Or rather–is that what you think people like me think?

    Like I said–I’m open-minded.
    But really–can you say the same?

  • I don’t understand how people think it is reasonable to ask such a private question as when will I have children. It’s commonly accepted that it’s inappropriate to ask someone how much they earn, what they paid for their house/ car, how their rectal fissure is going, etc, but it’s somehow ok to, essentially, ask about their womb, their sex life and their life plan. It deeply irritates me that choosing what to do with one’s uterus and adult life is public business and something that needs to be remedied.

    Why are people so scared of the idea that life can be completely fulfilling without reproducing? Does life have no other purpose than producing offspring? What exactly does reproduction mean to all these people who don’t understand child-freeness?

    All the pro-child-ers think that all the years of one’s life amounts to nothing unless they reproduce- that’s a pretty sad way to look at life.

  • I may now be comment number 218 and you’ll not be able to read this, but I had to respond.

    I have never had the urge to have children. I didn’t like them for a long time, but over the years I’ve mellowed and now I think they’re great. However, it has not changed my view on actually producing one. I never cease to be amazed at how people assume you’ll change your mind as soon as you find ‘the one,’ or when the biological clock supposedly rings in your head like tinnitus. Your friend was quite right to turn the question round to the people who want to have children when they ask you why you don’t want them. I would ask them “why do you want them?” The world population is growing and there are many neglected and badly treated children. Why would my not having a child lead to a cosmic quake in society’s eyes? Am I not being sensible by acknowledging that perhaps I’m not mother material and therefore choose to not bring a child into the world who, due to my mistreatment, deliberate or otherwise, will be in the therapists chair or worse by the time he hits his twenties? This need to conform is so strong that when I tell people about the hysterectomy I had at the start of 2009 (not by choice, obviously), I get the response, “Well, you can always adopt.”

  • I’m all for a person’s right to choose whether or not to have kids or not–but don’t act like you are selfLess because you choose not to, Mal–I mean–you don’t give up your career–your days to care for and better a future generation of children the way most parents (like me) do–so I wouldn’t go so far as to call someone like me SELFISH for having children. There has never been enough resources on earth to sustain populations–that is where innovation came into the picture. I love being a parent. I love waking up and knowing my children will thrive, have wonderful lives, and give back to society long after I am dead.

    Quote
    All you hear about it is global warming and a lack of clean water and food and yet we go on selfishly producing more of ourselves under the assumption that the earth can cope when perhaps it no longer can.

  • If I can begin with perhaps a tad bit of levity…
    “Where are all these women who don’t want to have children… and where can I find them ?”
    … seriously.

    To the original author of this thread… from a male perspective – I thoroughly respect and applaud your decision… as one that you have found is right for you. Obviously, to choose to not have children is one that can cause a variety of opinions.

    On this thread… I am surprised – and heartened – as a single man seeking the “woman of his dreams” to find that there are so many women who seem adamant and secure in their decision to not have children.

    As a single, dating, heterosexual man… I have found it to be quite the opposite… with many women feeling ( for whatever reason ) the need to beat the biological clock and have a child.
    Men like myself seeking on even the dating sites like Match.com for someone who doesn’t want children… is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    I am a good man, with much to offer… with a great capacity for love. … and, I do not mind children. In many cases, I enjoy being around them for a time… and can relate to them – for a time – in a caring, lovable way… that many friends remark how much I would be a “wonderful dad”.

    However, I KNOW myself better than anyone else does. While I can enjoy being around my friends’ children… that does not mean I would be a great parent.

    I enjoy my freedom… and when I find that “woman of my dreams”… it would be my desire to focus all my loving attention on her. I have read on this thread significant indications that having a child ( or more ) changes the relationship between a couple… and the attention shifts to the obvious responsibility of raising a child.

    I would not want my relationship with my fiance, wife… to shift in that fashion. I am not seeking a mate… to simply have one or two years of bliss… then procreate… only to have the interpersonal relationship dynamic that brought us together… shift due to the addition of another individual.

    Plus, I feel STRONGLY… it is the braver decision to realize and admit one is not “parent material”… rather than follow society and peer pressure… and have a child
    … only to regret it yourself later in life… and most likely, resent the child as well.

    Such a foolish peer influenced decision leads to sadness, regret or worse.

    It is a risk I choose not to take. However, prior to reading this thread… I had begun the process of “second guessing” my resolve. I was thinking… there are NO women out there who feel as I do.

    I think I speak for a percentage of men… who do not want children as well – but feel there are no women out there who feel likewise. So, lately – I had begun to compromise in my mind
    … and begun to think… in order to meet “Ms. Right”… I had to resign myself to either “go along reluctantly” and have a child
    … or remain forever single.

    Thanks to this thread… I am strengthened in my original decision. Again – I do say… how does one FIND these women who don’t want children?

    Before this thread… I was thinking it would be easier to find the Loch Ness monster – than meet a woman firm in her resolve to not have children… and/or one who would eventually succumb to peer, parental, or societal pressure.

    Finally, ladies – do not feel you are the only ones who get “the pressure”. Recently… some married friends of mine… arms loaded with two or more children running, screaming, and throwing tantrums… with all seriousness told me “I should start thinking about when I’m going to be a father one day”

    … as if it was an absolute certainty and expectation in my life. Though I love my friends dearly… they had the audacity to even foist their children on me during an outing … saying “you should get used to knowing how to do this… because you’ll be doing this someday”.

    While I took the occasion in stride… I must admit to being somewhat offended and resentful by their presumption that my future was destined to be pushing a baby carriage… and changing diapers as they were.

    All I truly saw were two lovely friends… and wonderful parents apparently… who were also beleaguered by several crying, screaming children… causing a weary, haggard look on both the parents faces.

    … I couldn’t help but wonder, “do they REALLY, REALLY enjoy this ?”
    I don’t believe so.

    Also… if I have any doubt about my decision to not be a parent… I need only be shaken back to my resolve upon hearing the shrill, high-pitched, high “C” note that all children seem to have the ability to hit when annoyed
    … the sound that makes glass shudder… and dogs as far as a mile away flinch in pain.

    Forgive my attempt at a little levity here… as I possess nothing but UTMOST respect and admiration towards those who choose to undertake the formidable responsibility towards raising a child.

    However, I also believe it takes as much courage and responsibility to realize one’s limitations AGAINST having children… as it takes great courage and more to choose to have them.

    … so, where are these women who don’t want children ?

    There are men like me desperately seeking you out.

    God bless.

    • I could ask you the same question….where are the intellectually, psychologically, legally, and emotionally available heterosexual men that do not want to reproduce?

      To respect or to agree with and embrace the concept and practice of not reproducing is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Throw in politics, faith, sports allegiance, and personality traits, not wanting to have kids may never see the light of day in conversation. ^O^

  • When I was in college at UGA, I took a Women’s Studies class (GLBTQ studies) for an upper level elective. While I was spending time in the women’s studies building, I was exposed lots of ideas about feminism and a woman’s role in society that I had never really considered (I was a Latin/Classics student). I met several female students who had decided not to have children, some because they did not want children, some because they had decided to pointedly deny the role that society had placed on them (i.e. the ideas that women should be wives and that women should be mothers). I met some women who also decided not to marry as a political statement (to deny the role of wife that society ascribes to all women) and because they believe that marriage should be a right for all people, not just for those who are heterosexual. So, for a certain group of people, it’s actually a trend to not have kids.
    And no, before anybody asks, these women I am speaking of were not all lesbians. Some were, but the ones who were not lesbians and chose to be unmarried and not to have children provoked the most thought for me. These were women who recognize that we do live in a time where it is acceptable to not marry or not have children, but that there are still people in the world who refuse to look past their own choices and their own opinions to see that child-rearing and being a wife aren’t necessarily “a given” for all women. The fact that it never even occurs to some women to do anything other than grow up, get married, get a job, and have kids is proof of that.
    I think that your blog entry is important because some women do feel pigeon-holed into fulfilling societal roles, no matter how outdated they are. And the feminist agenda doesn’t always reach a lot of people because people are turned off by the fact that a message is being delivered by “femi-nazis.” But you aren’t like that; you are just a woman who knows what she wants, despite the pressure of society or what others think of her, and the fact that you speak out about that is bound to reach out and affect other people.

  • Good stuff right here! You know, before I got married, that was the only really serious conversation we had. I didn’t care about buying a house or finances or any of that other stuff, I just needed to make sure that he really, REALLY didn’t want children, haha.
    It’s is sad that we have to justify this decision, but props you you! Awesome post and congrats on making the front page.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a beautiful daughter whom is now 20, but as a child I never daydreamed of being a wife and mother. I daydreamed of having a great gig and living in the city!

  • Wonderful. My father used to say that having children was the most selfish act a human being could commit. Having children is a personal “imperative” to leave a mark on the world. That is it, end of story. Incidentally, I have 2 for just that reason. In this day and age conception is a choice plain and simple. The problem is when people conceive for the wrong reason. Usually they conceive “by accident” or because they want the trophy that comes with the relationship. Once the child is conceived the rest of your life is given to that child not just the developmental years but your existence for as long as that person lives. If you go into parenthood without this understanding then you have already failed as a parent.
    While you are able to articulate your decision wonderfully you seemed unable to state its source. I think you would make an excellent parent because you seem to unconciously understand the commitment needed.
    Here is the irony. Your honesty with yourself not wanting children because of the responsibility involved makes you a potentially good parent.
    Kudos for you. Enjoy life.

  • I can dig it…though I’m a parent, I understand it’s not for everyone.

  • Thank you for your honest and open post. I honor your choice to not have kids. Being a parent can have significant challenges and taking responsibility for one’s own choices is critical to living an empowered and fulfilled life. I am not a kid person, yet I chose to have two kids. Whenever I think of my responsibilities as a parent, I often reflect on this quote by Brian Tracy: “To achieve something never achieved before, you must become someone you have never been before.” I have definitely grown as a person and feel that parenting is like living a personal development course on a daily basis. I am ecstatic about who I am, even though I never would have predicted my life would have taken this path.

  • Good for you.

  • I really appreciate your article. I am a successful 33 year old woman who is also childless by choice. I am tired of defending myself and my choices. I have well-meaning friends who tell me that “You’ll change your mind”, or my favorite, “Everyone should have at least one kid”. No, everyone should try sushi once. Bringing a living thing into the world is something that requires dedication and sacrifices that I am not willing to make. There are so many things that I have not experienced yet, and having a child would certainly stop me. I don’t hate kids, I just don’t want to be responsible for one. If anyone can suggest intelligent replies for me to use when I’m given the third degree for my lifestyle, I’d appreciate it.

    • Easy. Just smile sweetly and say “This is a very personal choice and not open for discussion.” Then change the subject. If they persist just ignore them. They’ll get the point. Or you could tell them you have a horrible genetic disease that turns you into a werewolf with every full moon 🙂 That might shut them up.

  • I was also raised by two wonderful people who are in their 80s now. I have 2 chronic genetic illnesses and that was the reason I decided not to sire children. My sister ignored the genetic aspect and gave birth to a child who will live the painful life I have. Out of 6 couples I know, only 3 had a child, and all only one. Two of them regretted the choice. I always respect anyone’s choice in this matter but that is not the view of most. The world is in the state it is in because of the level of population, It is the duty of young couples to resist the urge to further populate the Earth. Be in love but love the Earth at the same time.

  • Awesome bold writing! Though I agree with you wholeheartedly, I do want to raise children,not my own, but the needy ones. I want to adopt or help kids who are homeless and give them a home. I believe that spells a lot more responsibility and enduring than going through all the trouble to make ones your own!

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a beautiful daughter whom is now 20, but as a child I never daydreamed of being a wife and mother. I daydreamed of having a great gig and living in the city!

    When my daughter came I was so young and unprepared, but thank God everything worked out. We are very open with each other about motherhood and children. I tell her that she should only have children if she feels that urge from the depths of her soul. My favorite saying is, “Just because God gave you a womb, doesn’t mean you have to fill it!”

    Enjoy the single life. It’s fabulous (and I love my 40-something empty nest!)

  • I definitely understand where you’re coming from. I felt the same way for such a long time until I really connected with a little kid not too long ago lol. It was weird because it was out of the clear blue that they started following me around lol. I think now, I’m more open to having children… I’m actually excited about it!
    – Lakia Gordon

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jessica. I live now in the Bible-thumping south where it seems like if you are not on the “straight” and narrow path of being married, 2.5 kids, college degree, home-owner, etc etc than there is something wrong with you.

    I am very pro adoption because I think these are the most wanted kids out there despite not being raised by birth parents.

    I think people are so pressured not only to have kids, but have their own kids. But so many orphans and foster kids need good homes. And what do you really gain from addiing your own to the world?

    I even think it’s selfish to go beyond having 2-3 kids in this age. We just do not have the resources for everyone to keep procreating at the current rate. And so many of the folks now with multiples of children are the poor or uneducated who cannot properly care for these kids.

    So I am happy to know you are happy to be child free.

  • A very insightful and inspiring post, it made me think about my own choices and my motives to have children. I applaud women like you because it makes us aware of other ways of living and being fulfilled. In my case I have so far chosen to be childless because I do not have the time to care properly for a child, eventually I would like one but the biological clock might think otherwise, still I do not base my happiness in having a child. My husband and I have been happy together for 12 years without children and I do not think we need them in order to be happier. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • Hello again,
    I have this to say about being childless by choice. We must understand that everyone is not ment to have children. Having children is a blessing from God and some of us will have them, but many of us will not. And some of the reason people have no control over.
    I wanted to have children but because of a reproductive problem, I havn’t been able to have children. If I do get pregant, I am more than likely to misscarry because of issues with my uterus. Now am I being selfish because I have chosen to let it go and not have children, No. If it is Gods will for me and my husband to reproduce, guess what, we will. But until then I will chose to be childless.
    Being, childless have given me time to spend with my nephews and encourage young girls in my church. Because I am not to busy to have time for them and to listen to them. I know people who had children just so that they can remain on welfare, and those children suffer because they are full aware that their parents only see them as a bank.

    Most importantly remember that God did not call every man and woman to be parents. Do not let anyone presure you into something that is not in your heart of hearts to do. The only being you have to satisfy is The Lord God Almighty not your family, friends or those who as Why not! When most of them envy you, becasue you can do so much more with your life then those tied down with family responsibilities.

  • I commend, no APPLAUD you. I used to be hypocrite in a sense as to when friends of mine would state that they “do not want children”, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand until one day, a co-worked of mine explained to me in the simplest of terms why he and his wife chose not to have children. He told me that they decided that they were too selfish to have children and I thought and still think that is one of the most honest and amazing statements a person could make.

    More people should realize before they have kids if they do or don’t want them. Too many kids aren’t loved, understood, or taken care of enough and end up being a worthless use to society. So, Bravo.

  • Noo one seems to have mentioned the fact of porportionality. It is one thing never to want to have children,or to find oneself in a position where it is impractical or impossible. But it is another question in wanting to have children, but wanting to limit that number for external, ‘green’ reasons. China tried this for a long time, with its one-child policy,and even though it was ultimately unenforceable, the motive was sound. The mechanics of climate change are, after all, responsive to the number of people chewing up the carbon resources in the world.

    I think I would have made a great parent, but life circumstances have never been stable enough to meet the person who could share the child-bearing with me – but even if that had been so, I hope that the paternal, biological urge would have been tempered by an awareness of the larger consequences for humanity.

  • Hardy,

    Um…that’s pretty harsh. I have nothing against those who choose to have lots and lots of kids. If you are a strong parent, a child or children can survive this world just fine and for many generations to come. My response to someone who is strongly opinionated about every couple having children is a shrug of my shoulders. It’s their opinion. Not mine. :o) I hope you don’t take this wrong, but your response was really quite..um…mean. Some of it was okay, but I don’t think I would wish those sentiments on someone else.

  • Very nice read. My husband and I chose not to have kids. We can’t have kids, but we chose not to pursue any further options. I love other peoples kids. I detest when other people try to influence a couple to have kids and apply the kind of pressure that only alienates a childless couple from the rest of society. Many times I and my husband have gotten strange looks when we respond with, “No, we don’t want to have kids.” Although, I had been mulling over adoption here and there, but not seriously. When I begin to think of the major changes they would bring to our peaceful and adventurous life, I change my mind quickly.

  • Thanks for bringing this to the forefront! I see the dilemma that young women are facing when they are making similar choices because they know who they are, what they want and what is right for them. Let’s face it, however, this is a new choice. We represent the first generation of women that can make it. Our mothers for the most part did not have it. Over the history of human kind, women never had it. So we are at the beginning of something new! And, as usual, when something new starts it is difficult and counter to the culture! Thanks for speaking out.

  • Isn’t it funny how we whip ourselves into a tizzy over what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”?

    My husband and I were child-free until a “whoops!” occurred at age 40… people with the opinion that everyone should have children celebrated and people with the opinion that being child-free was the bees knees grieved that our social life (and retirement plans) was over. We were just plain scared because we couldn’t fathom what was around the corner for us.

    Neither side was correct. See, the situations life offers typically come in shades of grey, not black and white. We’ve made some adjustments, some happier than others, but all three of us are thriving.

    I don’t advocate having children – I think less of us should have them. You have to have to pass a test to drive in this country, but they’ll let any @$%hole raise a child. It’s not right, plain and simple.

    There have been times in my life when having a child would have made things rough. No lie. And being a mother has been a challenge because I’m career-oriented, short on patience, and I relish my personal space.

    On the other hand, my child taught me some valuable lessons. Life, it turns out, is richer in many aspects when it’s not about you – marriage does not offer the same type of lesson because divorce is always an option. My daughter forces me to play in ways that sparks creativity that I haven’t exercised since before college. And she inspires me to be the best I can be, when before I settled for the status quo. Earning a living is easy. Being someone a child can look up to is something else entirely.

    I guess if there is a moral to the story for me, it’s to just be who you are. People shouldn’t get so hung up on what they will and won’t do, because it keeps them from embracing the loops that life can – and will – throw their way. It’s great to have a preference and to follow that, but know that while the grass may look greener on one side of the fence, it does indeed grow on both sides.

    Your plan in life is to be HAPPY. That’s all anyone who is interested in your childbearing interests needs to know!

  • Great Piece Jessica!

    It Will defiently make me think twice in the future Re questionning ones choice not to have children.

    What is right for one may not be right for another and I think this has finally reminded us of this !!

  • Jessica! Awesome post and awesome response in the comments. At 5 days shy of 41 years old, I can easily say that being childfree by choice was simply the best decision my husband of 16 years and I have ever made – and we never changed out minds! And you are absolutely right – it doesn’t matter your age, whether you have pets in your life, or what your ancestors would think, this is a decision you and your husband made as a couple (and I find it hard to imagine either of you will change your minds about this – nearly ever childfree couple I know are on the same wavelength, if it had been a ‘deal breaker’ these couples wouldn’t be couples!). Enjoy everything life has in store for you!

  • I could have written this almost word for word, and thank you for doing so. Even though it is somewhat acceptable to make this choice, I still don’t know all that many people who have and I also get tired of explaining myself. I love my nephews, but I also love my life as my own and have absolutely no desire to share it with anyone other then my fiance. Thankfully there are people out there astute enough to realize that parenting is not for them. I have no idea why so many assume that in this one area of life we are all perfectly equipped and natually inclined.

  • I would LOVE to share this blog post with my sister…how do I do that?! It was so inspiring! Thank you for writing it and helping those of us out there that feel the same!

  • you said it sistah, agree with this 100%

  • Funny, honest and fresh!

    I really enjoyed reading it!

  • First off, let me say that you are not alone in this decision to not have kids. I have made this decision years ago, and actually before I was probably old enough to make that decision. And you are right, people look at me differently and are always asking, “Oh, you will change your mind some day.” No, no I won’t change my mind. Not today, not tomorrow, and not ever.

    I am only 26 years old and I already know that I never want to be a father. And just like you, I had two awesome parents taking care of me at home. I did not have any siblings, as I am an only child (it shows), but the folks took care of me. I never wanted for anything.

    I look at kids as an excuse to justify a life of normalcy. People live by this mentality that he or she graduates high school, goes to college, gets a job, gets married, have kids, and live the rest of their life as parents. Then, once their children are old enough they have kids and repeat that pattern. I do not have to have kids to lead a happy, successful, and self fulfilling life. Period.

    Am I wrong? No, absolutely not. And for anyone who says that I am, who are you to judge me for not wanting children? Studies show that a child, on average, costs a couple $15,000-$20,000 a year. (That might be high for some but that is what the numbers in my area show.) Think of what I could do with that extra money. I could travel, I could see more of this world that with having children I might not ever see. I am not trying to sound selfish here by saying that, but I was put on this earth to live one life, and I have chosen to not share that with children.

    Your post was passed to me by a coworker who in fact does have kids. Is she wrong for having them? No, of course not. Her choice. I have chosen to not have children. Am I wrong? No, of course not. I do not judge if you have children, but that is not the life for me. Not now, not ever.

    (Thank you for this post. I am glad that I was able to read and comment on your thoughts! I appreciate someone else who is as honest as me.)

  • Wonderful post! My husband and I are child free by choice and often it seems we are alone in this. Thanks for giving us a voice and showing that we are not alone!

  • hmm… guess that was a decision by you but god creeated and for existance of human race it needs to reproduce. What if all take the same decision…? please rethink

  • Very good piece, Jessica. My wife and I made the same decision a few years ago when we realized we love travelling, both work incredibly long hours, and just weren’t ready to commit to raising children.

  • I agree with another commenter in it’s really no one else’s business what you decide or why.

    Personally, I hope to have children but I will continue to evaluate this decision until it actually happens. I like (most) children, I go soft for babies but again, it’s a personal feeling. I don’t expect everyone to feel like I do.

    I know several couples that have decided to not have children and the only thing that gives me a twinge is that they are very intelligent, caring and interesting couples that have the kinds of ideals and knowledge that I would love to see passed onto another generation instead of the ignorance and lack of tolerance being taught by some parents!

    But this is mainly motivated by my esteem of the couple and not if they’d make good parents (or want to).

    To each his own! 🙂

  • Here! Here! You articulated your child-free decision and thoughts carefully and thoughtfully. It’s amazing that people still have the nerve to negatively react to your God-given right to exercise free will in your life. Do you! All of my female friends and relatives love their children but always stress that if they knew then what they know now…, I probably wouldn’t have as many cousins! Don’t get me wrong, they love their children as my mother loves me and my brother but all admit that raising a child is the hardest job on the planet and if you’re not “feeling it” then don’t have them. Plain and simple. Besides, they love living vicariously through me and wish they had the opportunity to travel the world as I do at the drop of a hat. Child-free, HELL YES! HA!!!

  • Yikes, Hardy. A little freaking extreme. Why not just “different strokes” and some loving, stumbling parent will bring out the next Gandhi or etc.

    And to Jessica: you’re right, it’s not their/our business, not the point.

    To perthro and expatsophie: I was a lucky one, am sorry the system landed on you so heavy. My path was easier:
    The oldest of 6, I’ve been taking care of infants since I was 6 myself and had that mothering instinct well satisfied. I’m also an artist. By the time I was 19 I could see the general deal for that profession: total dedication, very little private life, a hard row to hoe… and I knew already (thoroughly) what it takes to raise kids, and had no worries about continuation of the genes. SO: after being very sick with most birth control methods and being of a generation in which American men didn’t even want to discuss birth control (they thought the Pill was their get-out-of-jail-free card), and after much struggle with authorities, I got a tubal ligation at 21. No fearfullness or antipathy involved, just a big dose of Reality and what I felt was a loving choice.

    They asked me “What will you do if you meet the man of your dreams and he wants to have kids?” to which I said “Either he loves me or he doesn’t. This is me.”
    (There were a couple of break-ups over it. Painful at the time but not bringing me to yearning- actually bringing me to relief when I saw the directions those ones took.)

    My favorite friend-comment: “That’s just as much a lifetime commitment as having kids is. I respect you for it.”

    Now I’m 56, still doing the hard row, and have never regretted my decision. There are many many kids in my life and I’ve been able to “adopt” various grown ones through the years, whose own mothers have gone early and through whom I can now be honorary Grandma.
    I’ve been free to be extremely committed to my work, also free to take up slack sometimes that actual parents can’t. A parallel profession that’s grown is energetic healing work, in which I can help many kids & parents find strength in life (and each other) more easily- and I know that the way I’ve done it would not have been possible if I’d been busy raising my own kids.
    Yes, there have been pets. And now students. There will probably be someone to visit me when I’m old and feeble.

    Here’s to rational, calm, loving choice.
    Thanks for your post, Jessica.

  • What a nice post! It nearly expresses all my thoughts about this topic, especially because several people around me act like “Hey come on, think it over in some years, I’m sure you will change your mind about it!” and I can’t stand it. It’s funny how so many people can’t accept one’s view on issues like this one. I know that I don’t want to have kids (for the same reasons you mentioned) and I’m tired of listening to people who think they knew myself better than I do.
    I even bet with someone that I won’t have kids and as soon as I’m 40 years old, this person will go out with me to have dinner, in case I win. Can’t wait!

  • Fabulous, thanks so much for this! My 41st birthday was 2 days ago and I finally feel like I don’t have to be questioned/interrogated anymore now that it’s “too late.” I knew from childhood that I didn’t want kids although I get along well with them and can often develop a close relationship with people much younger than myself. But as I write this, I hear the screaming baby in the apartment above and think, “Thank goodness.”

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have absolutely articulated how I feel about motherhood. I am so glad to read all these comments and see that there are so many others out there who, like me, are childfree by choice. Good luck and much respect to you!

  • Love the entry and reminded that we are all wired so differently. I am a single dad of two unbelievable children. I absolutely cannot imagine not having them. In my situation, not unlike many, it is tough raising kids, but it is such a blessing…. so rewarding.. I understand your stance, however….. I’ve wondered how much different my life would be w/o them… put everything in storage and disappear for a while to backpack, hang out in Costa Rica, meet exotic women around the….. naaahhh… Sounds good, but, for whatever reason, I just want to be dad… Love your blog, by the way…

  • Hi Jessica
    nice to meet you with this post. I’m Italian, but I’m trying to move away from Italy, maybe we should swap places! 😉
    To your post – I used to want a family, but now I don’t even want to hear about it. I’m still single at 44 and I don’t care. To those who are pro-children, you can tell them (like I do) “I’m vhement about voluntary human extinction!” (the web page sould be vehmt.org, but my memory isn’t so good these days, you can google them, though, they give very good answers to any why have or not have children)! 😀

  • What a great article! I’m glad somebody finally wrote it. It shouldn’t be such a taboo to choose not to have children and those who do shouldn’t be subjected to endless questioning.

  • Everyone is entitled to making a choice …. & I salute you for your bravery in standing up to it!

  • I was never really meant to have kids but felt like I had to. Also, many years of child support after a failed marriage, I really wish sometimes that I wouldn’t have. That being said I would not trade my kids or the experience gained for anything. I love them with all my heart. I commend you for your forward thinking attitude.

  • What an inspiring post! I applaud you and stand with you! It’s difficult for me sometimes because my husband wants children desperately. Nearly everyone I know gasps when I say I don’t really want kids, or uses the ever so popular “you’ll change your mind” or “you’ll love your own”.
    Thank you for writing this!

  • As a parent I never say to any of my friends “You don’t know what you’re missing!” Because in actual fact they aren’t missing out on much. And when they ask me why I say that to them I simply answer “Just being you is a hard enough why make it even more difficult.” I don’t interact with other children outside of my own because I don’t like them lol. One thing I have noticed about my kids (this is strictly me btw) is no matter how much stress they cause me…it never compares to how much stress I cause myself when it comes to them.

    And by that I mean I have full on anxiety attacks when my kids leave the house. I have a very real fear of never seeing them again and I barely let them out of my sight, that kind of stress is something I DO NOT wish on anyone. So your decision to remain child-free, I say good on you for sticking to it and not succumbing to the fallacy that YOU MUST have kids because that’s the next step…

  • The thing is people aren’t “having kids”… they are having humans. Instead of saying, “I’m having a baby,” I wish people would say, “I’m having a human.”

    Children aren’t children for very long are rarely do they like their parents when they are grown up.

    I am 32 and recently married and inundated with the, “When are you having kids?” questions from people I do and do not know.

    I am pretty positive I don’t want to add another human to the planet, but the pressure is there and it annoys me.

    I want to do a study to compare how married relationships are for those couples with kids vs those couples without kids.

    Thanks for your post.

  • Here, here! I knew since the age of 7 that I never wanted to have children. Everyone said I’d outgrow it, except my father, who cheered my decision and also said to never get married. Well, I turn 45 this year, and I don’t regret my choice one bit. Thankfully I found a man to share my life who also has no interest in being a parent. Now if only I could get him more excited about travel.

  • I wish more women and men would express your sentiment, and I agree wholeheartedly!
    Have you read the article by Amy Levin-Epstein that was published by AOL, “Childless Ny Choice: Americans Who Choose Not to Have Children” ? (October 25, 2009)
    Sadly, too many men (and Maybe women who don’t know better or just are sheep) are trapped into parenthood by mistakes or inaction once they know and refuse to exercise options available to them not to bring unwanted children into the world.
    Cheers to you for Choice!

  • The patronizing “you’ll change your mind” that people give with a smug look on their faces is the most annoying. As though I’ve given no thought to my child-free choice. I’m glad there are so many people who understand and I completely agree that we should be questioning those that DO want children, not those who don’t.

    Thank you for an eloquent and thoughtful post about this topic.

  • Wow I think you make a great desision I have been married for 33 years and we felt presurred to have children from the beggining. When we said we won’t have any all family members were up in arms “You can’t do that”. Eventually they got to us and we had one but that was going to be all no more but that got the same response “You cant’t do that” and again we gave in to family pressure. I have now have two adult children both great kids but when I look back I could have done without them. I have never and will never pressure my children into giving me grandchildren I don’t need them. My daughter has 1 daughter and we love her but that will be her only child as she feels thats all she can afford to look after and thats fine with me. If my son has none thats OK to. Bravo to your descision.

  • I wish that most people put as much thought into having children as you’ve put into not having them. As you said, we so rarely expect them to justify their decision, even when it was clearly a questionable one…

  • Right Hardy, perhaps you should tell that to your parents.

  • Wow, how very honest and realistic of you.
    I always wanted to be a ‘mom’. I loved babies and anything to do with them, from a very young age. I don’t believe this was socialization – I believe I had the ‘kid gene’. Ironically, however, after three, I question if it was truly the smartest thing for me to do. We are a product of our upbringing and if mine had gone well, I think I could have been a great mom. But things didn’t go so well and although promising determination to be a better parent – well – best laid plans…
    I think one should ALWAYS ask “Are you sure?” before deciding to conceive. Unless one is prepared to deal with absolutely anything and give 100% of him/herself to ensure the safe and positive upbringing of another human being, then it is best to not go forward.
    Congratulations on your maturity and selflessness.

  • It seems that our genetic desire to procreate and ensure the survival of the human race has outlived its usefuleness. The human race has done such a good job of ensuring its survival that there are now too many of us.

    All you hear about it is global warming and a lack of clean water and food and yet we go on selfishly producing more of ourselves under the assumption that the earth can cope when perhaps it no longer can.

    Something will give.

    I understand all the emotional arguments to have children but perhaps it was time we stopped selfishly churning out children and gave ourselves a break.

  • Who really cares whether or not you have kids? Does it need a long-winded justification? I have friends and family with no children and not once have I ever asked them why.

  • Never feel like you have to apologize for childfreedom nor qualify it with “I like kids, BUT…” Like kids, don’t like kids, none of it really matters. What matters is, you don’t want to raise your own, you’ve taken steps not to, and good for you. Your choice is just as valid as the choice others make to have children. I just wish there weren’t so many children in this world who were obviously not wanted and born to parents who couldn’t care less about them. Thank you for not being one of those.

  • Growing up, I was told that I would have kids, and over many years, I genuinely believed that having kids was my idea and that I truly did want them. Thankfully, the choice was taken from me (due to illness and a hysterectomy at 28). As a result, I am left with no children of my own, but do happen to have a stepson, whom I love dearly (could be because he’s only here part time, at best).

    Looking back, each day I wake up, greatful that I did not have children. They’re great…as long as they’re someone else’s.

    Your blog is refreshing and I certainly appreciate what you’re going through. Keep believing in fate…

    Tara 🙂

  • Wow. Well said! I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at 30, and then I knew why I never had an accidental pregnancy. That said, I never really deeply wanted kids. Sometimes those not so sensitive, like to ask personal questions like, Why don’t you have kids? Well ouch. But the truth is, I realized long ago, that if I really had a burning desire to be a mom, I would have got married and had those fertility treatments that many people have, and I could have probably found a way to have kids. It’s just that I never dreamed about it. Yes, I could have been a great mom, I’m great with animals, heck! Right?? Well, now, that’s all good since I can put the bird back in the cage, or take the dog to the boarding kennel when I go out of town. But, a child is a MUCH bigger commitment and responsibility than that and for many more years. And, I know that I have commitment issues. So there I said it. Now I’m 53, and I’m a bit relieved that I don’t have kids, because I have choices and options that my friends and family with kids don’t have. And it works for me. Interestingly, although I come from a big Catholic family that values education and all that, only 2 of my siblings did the get-married-and-have-kids thing. And, ironically in spite of the ivy league education and all the money they have, both of them have kids that are in special ed classes with learning disablities. So you don’t know what you’re gonna get, just like Forest Gump said Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, that’s what his momma always said. 🙂

  • I never thought I wanted children and had actually decided for most of my life not to have kids. And, recently (2 years ago) I have changed my mind which I think has more to do with finding a partner whom I adore which has sparked my wanna-have-a-baby gene. The point is this …. at least there is a choice!!

  • Sometimes I wish people would just mind their own business. I think the question “Do you want to have kids” is a very personal question and I hate answering it. I myself want desperately to have kids but can’t, and that question is always awkward. I’ve recently decided to answer it with something like “my husband and I don’t believe in having sex.” In other words, none of your business.

    So even though we completely differ in our desires, I respect your decision and wish you the best.

    And if you or anybody else who doesn’t want kids finds yourself having a child you don’t want, please think of me and my husband! We’re trying to adopt. Our blog is sarahandbenblog.wordpress.com You can find out more about us there, along with contact information. Thanks 😉

  • Children are snots. I don’t blame you.

  • Until I was a parent, I couldn’t understand not having children. I now have tremendous respect or either decision as long as the people are making the “right” decision for them. Great post.

  • Loved your post! I know tons of people have already said this but I love finding other people who decide not to have kids. It’s definitely not for everyone, despite traditional thinking. The response I often get when I say I don’t want kids is “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” When the person saying that doesn’t have kids yet, I have often responded by saying “Are you going to change your mind about wanting kids?” That usually shuts them up. There are so many things I want to do with my life, mainly traveling, that just don’t allow for kids. I just don’t see my life that way, kids just don’t fit in for me. I’m going to be 30 in a few months, and that ticking biological clock just isn’t in me. Someone questioned what you would do if your husband changed his mind about wanting kids. Why can’t they understand that married people change their minds about all sorts of important things all the time, and the couple either has to work through it or add to the divorce rate. For me, I can’t imagine changing my mind and having a kid because my husband changed his mind. It’s just not something I could compromise on. I’d rather be single than miserable with a kid I didn’t want to have in the first place. I imagine it would just make me resent my husband and the marriage would probably end anyway. I’m glad I saw your blog post on the wordpress homepage, it’s always nice to find another member of the child-free club!

  • How funny you should mention about “it would be like pretending to be lesbian”, as that’s exactly as I feel about being a parent. It would be the same as pretending to be a lesbian! I feel so strongly about not having children that I feel embarrassed to think that someone would think I had children. Like in a super market, if I somehow stumble into the child care section, I make due care not to take even a glance at the kiddy stuff. I think it’s the same feeling gay people have (once they’ve out of the closet) – I bet they too would be embarrassed to be thought to be straight.

    I too feel I was born with the knowledge I didn’t want children. It became a conscious choice the minute I learned there was a choice (my auntie is one too, so I learned it young). Regardless of this, I feel like I am a child myself, I do *get* kids, what I don’t get is parents! I don’t want to associate with parents in the parenting context, and the most horrifying thought about becoming a parent would be having to take part in school functions, play groups and the sort. I simply do not want to be a parent even though I do like kids.

    That amongst many other reasons why not. And I’m too lucky to have a husband who feels the same way about the bottom line even though our reasons might differ.

  • Thank you for this candid, honest and thoughtful article.

  • Tremendous piece of writing! Thanks so much for creating and posting it!

    I was in my mid-twenties and had arrived at this same decision to remain child-free. Much to my surprise, I discovered several weeks later that I was already pregnant at the time of my decision. My beautiful son – who is now 19 – has been a joy, but being a mom (or a dad) is MUCH more difficult than our society wants everyone to believe. If you do it right, the responsibility is overwhelming.

    I applaud you for your choice. Rest peacefully in its arms… 🙂

    Casey A. South

  • Hi Jessica

    Good writing! I know how you fel as I am also childless due to health condition.

    I don’t find it hard as I am very happy with my llife but what sometimes I find it iritating is the way some women look at me and show pitty on me – suggesting that “Oh you poor thing – you do miss a lot of things by being childless”.

    Believe in what you think the best for you 😀

  • I totally understand what you’re saying – I, too, have never had even the slightest desire to have children. I would much rather have pets. I’ve just always been an animal person, and being around kids completely exhausts me. Growing up it was always my sister who was the babysitter – I tried it once and it was the slowest hour and a half of my life.

  • Allow me to add myself to your list of like-minded responders. I’ve not wanted kids ever since I was a kid. I can remember crying after my mother gave birth to my younger brother, because I didn’t want to have kids myself. I thought pregnancy was just something that happened to all females, like it or not, like puberty. I was rather happy to learn that it was preventable!

    Now I’m nearing 40, and not once have I regretted not having children, despite all the people who said that one day I’d change my mind. I think you’re right that it’s something in our wiring. I simply cannot imagine myself as a parent.

  • It’s good to know that I am not alone in choosing to be childless/child free…. it is liberating to not have any guilty feelings about it whatsoever.

  • Thank you for writing this, Jessica.

  • Hate to say it, but I have long thought that having children is one of the most selfish things a person can do. Look! I reproduced myself, aren’t you proud of me! Staying childless is the selfless choice.

    Besides, you can always ‘borrow’ other people’s kids for the day and return them, like a library book.

    What’s outrageous is how difficult it can be for a gay couple to adopt a child. If straight people want to have kids, all they have to do is boink. There’s 80,000 (yes three zeros) kids in Alameda County, CA in foster care. 80,000 kids unwanted or uncared for, just in one county.

    Wear a condom – and borrow other people’s library books (don’t forget to return them).

    loosefemme.wordpress.com

  • This was a really well-written post, I enjoyed reading it very much. Until the stigma is lifted off women who make these types of choices, women in this country will never be truly liberated.

  • Jessica~Thank you for your thoughtful post and for sharing your heart. Being a 31 year old woman, having been happily married for the past 7 years without children and presently half-way to obtaining my doctorate, I was immediately attracted to your post after seeing it on the WordPress homepage. My husband and I do indeed want children eventually; however, we have had our share of suffering at the hands of insensitive, uncaring individuals who seem to think that if you’re past 30 and have been married for more than 4 years without children, you must have some sort of communicable disease. My favorite insensitive comment came from a distant relative who said, “Do you guys even want kids?” I was literally shocked by this comment and had to seriously think about my reply while simultaneously holding myself back from punching this woman in the face! Thankfully, I did not punch her in the face. I cannot actually remember what I said to her; however, it is the insensitivity of the comment that has stayed with me to this day and one that I have quoted to many friends when talking about this very subject.

    Like I said, my husband and I do want to have children one day; yet, both of us are aware of the seriousness of becoming a parent and the demands on one’s emotional and physical capacity. Personally, I do not think that I would be the most available mother during graduate school, and I am pretty sure that I would eventually come to resent someone, something, or both (e.g. my husband for getting to spend more time with our child; graduate school for “taking me away” from my child; or both). All this to say, I think that we are making the better decision considering all that is presently going on in our lives, and I really do think that people should think before they speak and many times mind their own damn business! After all, are they going to be the ones ultimately raising and shaping our child?

    Again, thank you for your post, and I wish you and your husband all the best.

  • I have two kids…and while I would never say you would feel different if you had kids, I can say it is different with your own kids than with others. AND not always in a good way. While I don’t mind cleaning up my kids poops and snot, they get on my nerves a helluva lot more than other people’s kids in general.

    To anyone that needs a comeback just say this…you can’t give them back once you have them. There is no trial period…and what you don’t know, you won’t miss.

    🙂

  • Thank you for articulating this. I am an elementary school teacher, yet I have no desire to have children of my own. People keep telling me, “You will once you’re older.” and “It’s what your body was designed to do.” but I’m really not interested.

    For me, it’s not so much that I think I wouldn’t be able to handle being a mother (I handle 26 students quite nicely, thank you), it’s just that I simply don’t WANT to!

    Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind once I zip past 30, but I’m not holding my breath for it.

    ###

  • What an amazing post, and what an amazing responses.

    I have known all my life that I did not want children. I just never saw myself as a mother. At no time in any of my fantasies or projections of myself in the future did I imagine myself with kids. No matter how mundane or how far fetched the dream of the day was.
    I liked small kids in my extended family, but only for a couple of hours. I knew this was not for me. I realized that had I been born 150 years ago, this lack of patience and identification with children would have made me a lousy mother.
    When I reached my twenties, I wondered if I would grow out of this, that the desire for a child would just come. I saw this happen to men around me, but I never saw this happen to women around me.
    I knew not to discuss my lack of desire for children with others. I once informed my mother (I was in my mid-teens) and the reaction I got was something along the line of Bolbo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring movie, when he sees the ring around Frodo’s neck. I think she gave me mental whiplash. Pleasant!
    So I kept this to myself. This was fine with me, because it’s not like I needed advice on this subject. I felt comfortable that I was making the right decisions for me. The next time I discussed it was with my best friend from high school, who I had lost touch with and reconnected after 15 years. She asked me straight out if I was planning on having kids. I responded equally frankly that I didn’t see myself do that. She said that her mother had once said that you can be perfectly happy without children. She has a child, but she passed no judgment.
    But I was aware that her reaction was the exception, and that this was not a generally popular or supported decision. In my environment labels such as selfish and abnormal were freely bandied about by others. My very conservative and “take no risk” in-laws did not clue in for the longest time, simply because in their opinion we were not financially secure enough to undertake parenthood. Awkwardness ensued when my mother in law started to knit a baby trousseau a few years after we met, never doubting this would be used one day. We said nothing, we never raised the subject. We felt bad, but we knew the reaction was not worth it, (they had no sense ou boundaries) so we put off making things clear.
    When she died, it took my father in law less than 48 hours to sit my husband down, and tell him in no uncertain terms that it was now time. The message was delivered with all the tact and sense of entitlement as if he announced wanting an extra sugar in his tea. He tolerated no discussion or opinion. It was the beginning of the unraveling of our relationship with him. (Many other factors were involved as well.)
    Each time a friend or cousin with a similar lifestyle to mine got pregnant, I always wondered why. While respecting the choice, I could not step into her shoes. I could not see why she would want to add this to her life. But I would not state this to them, as I find this equally rude as people passing judgment on my choice.
    I am now in my mid forties, and I have never had a change of heart. I have read about some who have, and who happily adopted. What is wrong with that? Nothing.
    These days I no longer avoid the subject. It is simply part of who I am. An I am not afraid to tell people that they do not need to understand any more that someone ho hates spinach can understand someone else tucking into a nice spinach salad. But these days I require that they respect it.

  • Good for you! I totally support your choice and you speaking out about it. And shame on the people who would make you feel anything other than good about it. I’ve never understood others who say those who decide not to have children are selfish or anti-human. That’s ridiculous. That makes as much sense as saying my being a vegan is anti-human or that I somehow care more about animals than humans. Neither of our choices could be any further from that. What’s anti-human about not eating animals because I’m interested in supporting human rights? Yes, human rights are grossly violated in the names of agribusiness and monetary gain. And what’s selfish about deciding to take responsibility to not be an unhappy parent with regretful feelings? Nothing and nothing.

    It took me a while to decide whether or not I wanted to have a child. And it has nothing to do with the right guy coming along, though that helps. It had to do with me knowing when it was right for me. I have decided to have a child. Just one. Only one. And I know this decision is the right one for me. I also know I have no business questioning someone’s readiness for children or choice not to procreate. To do so is awfully judgmental and crossing very personal boundaries where we have no place treading.

    I have done years of thinking about this issue, and I know just one child is enough for me because I am concerned that the kind of emotional and financial strain that would result from having more than one child could tear apart my relationship with my partner. No, I am not married. And nor will I be just because I’ve had a child. Since when was marriage a biological requirement for pregnancy, anyway? And this does not mean that our relationship is not strong enough to survive a child and marriage. It means I’m being responsible to myself and everyone else in my life by doing what is right for me and not what society thinks I ought to do. If I do get married, whether or not it’s before I have a child, I’ll be getting married to my partner and not to my child and not to questionable societal conventions.

    From an entirely different perspective, I’ve thought a lot about the environmental impact we have on the planet and how much adding another person to this land puts so much strain on our already highly strained resources. For me, I need to take responsibility for the impact my choice to have a child will have on not just the environment, but on others’ ability to survive and live good lives too. And I will do everything I can to actively reduce my child’s impact, even if it means sacrificing my convenience. That is, if taking the bus or riding a bike to get my child to child care is the way I need to get around, then so be it. I won’t now or ever be buying a car just because it’s a more convenient choice for me. The repercussions for others or for my child of doing that for my convenience just aren’t dismissable in my mind. I wish that others would be more sensitive and try to be more open-minded to alternative choices like yours and mine rather than being immediately offended, as if our choices are declarations against them when, in fact, they’re actually in the best interests of so many others as well as our own.

    It’s curious just how many people fall in love with the idea of having children but have no idea what the reality of raising one (or more) involves. What’s more, it’s strange how it seems some of us choose not to come to terms with this reality before we find out just what we’ll be getting themselves into. In my mind, giving life is a gift and it should not always be expected as a right. Should we choose to use that gift, then hopefully we do that in the best interests of all and not just for our own selfish interests.

    So good on ya, sister! Always feel proud about yourself and your choices.

  • I enjoyed your piece, it is very well written. And I very much agree with you and think that there’s absolutely nothing wrong to decide not to have children.

    I never liked children much until I had my own nieces. Even so, they made me reaffirmed my thoughts that brining up a child is really no easy task.

    And I strongly believe that if you’re not ready, do not bring a life into the world!

  • Good on you for making and standing by your decision.

    I do plan to have a family but I frequently hear shock at the “details”: have one child of my own, be a foster parent, and even adopt out of U.S. foster care. Responses range from “Oh, but you’ll want more than one of your own after the first one” to “Wouldn’t you prefer to adopt an infant, even if it meant going out of the country?”

    I grew up the oldest child of three, and the only girl. I love my younger brothers and I don’t want to imagine what it would have been like to not have lived our growing-up experiences. I do like kids and I know that I have what it takes to be a good and responsible parent.

    However, the U.S. has roughly 500,000 children in foster care and about 100,000 of them available for adoption, so why shouldn’t I give a loving home life to children who – for whatever reason – cannot be with their biological families? Family is more than just heredity. (This is not a slam on anyone who has adopted internationally; it’s just not my chosen path.)

    Also, why contribute to the population explosion?

    Making any sort of “different” parenting choices (e.g., not having 2.whatever kids of your own) takes conviction and self-knowledge. Your fashion, mine, or whoever else’s for not being that “normal” family just mean that we’ve looked every bit as deep inside – and perhaps, more so – than those who choose to meet our societies’ cultural ideal.

  • I appreciate that you know you have a great life without children. However; the phrase you use “I just don’t get kids” is weird to me. As though “kids” is a separate animal. We’re talking about young, immature, growing humans. That’s all. And you don’t want to take care of one. So be it and, again good for you for knowing that. Thankfully, two responsible people did take care of you.

    I never wanted a house pet to take care of and glad, I had the choice.

    I’m just saying. We’re humanity, biology and the we die and new ones are bornscenario. That simple. We, in the first world, though, get to choose…all kinds of things. And, I am ever grateful to be born in the first world, educated and able to control my fertility and where I travel. AMen!

  • I applaud you for going against the norm & choosing to not have kids instead of blindly following what is expected of you as part of a married couple.

    I love kids, have 2 boys of my own (2 is enough though!), & am guilty sometimes of asking friends who are couples when they’re gonna have kids & single friends my age (I’m 40) why they’re still single. But it is just out of plain curiousity, I mean no offense. Note that I said I ask only my friends, as my friends know me, i.e., they know I love to ask questions about anything & everything…I would dare not ask this of a complete stranger.

    I think the bottom line is this – we all need to have the courage to choose to live life the way we want, & respect other people’s decisions in how they choose to live their lives.

    I loved how you articulated your choice. I shall be visiting your blog often 🙂

  • Hi.

    I am sorry for your post. It´s a sad one. But I understand you.

    You are the generation that think as you spiritual mother, Margarent Sanger. Even if you don´t know her, you obey her.

    I am very happy that I belong to St. Gianna Beretta Mola generation!

    I pray that you can choose to know God’s will and be faithful to Him.

    Julie Maria – Brazil

  • I’m also childless by choice and married for 24 years now.

    One of the reasons we did not want children was to be free to travel, and we’ve done a lot of that. There are few people I know who have traveled as much as we have. Typically, we travel four weeks a year, excluding the long holiday weekends.

    In 2009, we were in New Orleans for a “spring break” week; southern Utah for a week in July followed by a week in Vegas; and then spent the week before Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico and the long Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando.

    One question I get about being childless is: “Who will take care of you in old age”? That’s the wrong reason to have children!

    I believe too many people have children because it is “expected.” And not just by society. Their parents want grandchildren.

    • How right you are! Who will take care of you in your old age? What if you have grown children who’ve made it very clear that they don’t want to take care of you! Having children is no guarantee that they will want anything to do with you. Go to any nursing home and you’ll see tons of elderly who never see their children or grandchildren. It’s really sad but that is the reality of our society.

  • Thanks so much for a truly great, and important post! I have a 19 year old daughter who has declared as early as 5 years ago, that she was not interested in having kids. Knowing her, I am glad she made the choice. She has little or no patience, with anyone, adult or child. A screaming unconsolable child at 3 AM would not bring out the best in her! To face a two year old who’s favorite word is no…would send her over the edge, and dealing with a self centered pre teen and then a selfish, rude and rebellious teen might have her in jail for murder (just kidding), but here is why I am writing a comment……

    She had a boyfriend for 3 years, when she met him she told him she didn’t want kids. For 3 years he continued to press on with his own desire to have several children. He was sure that she would change her mind. I cannot understand how two people can be in a relationship with this critical issue unresolved. It is a core issue and someone will live a life of deep sacrifice if the relationship continues. Either he will be without the family he wants or she will be miserable for at least 20 years if she gives in. Fortunately they just broke up, for other reasons, and neither had to make a sacrifice, but now she needs to add another criteria to finding a partner, someone who also doesn’t want to be a parent. It will reduce her choices significantly but it is something she should never have to debate with her partner.

  • I agree with many of the comments above and, as a happily married child-free 29 year old, I share many of your sentiments and am relieved to find so many like-minded others in cyber space!

    It disheartens me that we pride ourselves on being progressive, modern, tolerant societies, and yet all too often I still hear the phrase ‘get married and have kids’ as if they were one and the same decision, an inevitable treadmill that irrevocably links deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone and procreating. It frustrates me that marriage and breeding aren’t yet recognised as two very different decisions and states of existence. I love the fact that my husband and I are the apples of each other’s eye, the first priority for the other. I admire couples whose relationship isn’t challenged by the disruption and pre-eminence of children in the family dynamic, but I love being able to put my husband first each day, as he does me.

    It is an easy thing to do to pressurise others into adopting a life choice you have made in order – perhaps subconsciously – to justify and feel reassured about that choice in your own life, and this is something I think might often lie at the heart of parents’ pressure on child-free women (men too, but women in particular I think) to change their mind. I sense that some of them want us to join their parents’ club so they no longer have to look on in silent envy at the independence, stimulation and freedom of their child-free friends’ lives and question their own decisions in return.

    Stay strong. Some of us do know our own minds and simply don’t have maternal body clocks ticking away. A child must be really really wanted, craved and yearned for. If that’s not your heartfelt, sacrificial obsession, don’t become a parent.

  • I am one of those who say: “I love children when they are not my own”. I don’t think I am even capable of taking care of a pet.
    While some people said some sensible things, the rest have been utterly ridiculous commenting on this.
    Especially that last comment about people who had children are the reason why the planet is dying. I think nothing tops the ridiculousness of it. Just a little reminder: if everyone decided they don’t want kids, none of us would be here today.
    I agree that it is selfish to have kids when you don’t want them, also it is selfish not to have them when you do and when you feel like you can do a good job with them.
    I don’t see why choices should be justified. I live in Lebanon where usually it is unfathomable if woman says I don’t want to get married or have any kids. And guess what I don’t feel pressure. Some of my friends ask, but the point is what? This is pressure? It is one question I brush off saying cos I don’t feel like it. Maybe one day I will change my mind if I find the right guy. Maybe I won’t it is after all my choice.
    It is not ridiculous to ask the age either. Some things change with age. Our purposes change, our outlooks change too. I thought it ridiculous before but as I grew older, my pattern of thinking did change.

    Some people make that having no children sound like it is a blessing. Well it is not, it is a choice, it has its downsides probably. Same as having children. While a child can be a tremendous amount of joy, he/she can be a huge source of worry. My point is nothing in life is perfect, the thing is when we make a choice it is best to be able to assume it and to know we are able to assume it. Same thing applies to having children, maybe especially with having children because it is a commitment forever: once a parent you cannot change that and you become responsible of a life; and life should be respected, if we are able to nurture it then it is great if not better for us not to have it in the first place.

  • I’ve been contemplating being child-free/child-less since I’ve entered college. I’m just 21 by the way. 🙂 I have seen many of my older friends let go of fantastic opportunities in their careers, and hobbies that they were so passionate about because they opted to have kids. Although they don’t seem to regret it taking care of their families, I do wonder sometimes what could have been had they done otherwise. (In my country, mothers are expected to return to the workforce after 4-5 years. And those women who choose to remain single and/or childless are considered “weirdos”.) It’s reassuring to know that there are others who share the belief that an accomplished life does not follow the “house+car+children+dog” template. This gives me a wider perspective on my decision. Thanks!

  • i salute your honesty, as well as those of the commenters. it’s refreshing to hear ideas like these.

  • This post is amazing and is exactly how I feel. I have always been good at looking after other people’s children but I am always so HAPPY to give them back. The relief I feel after I am no longer looking after these kids makes me think that I really don’t want any either. I’m 27 years old and I have not yet travelled outside Australia and I am about to start University this year so I have no time for children, I have too much to do! Thanks for this post, it has made me feel less selfish for my decision.

  • Seeing your entry on the WordPress home page and reading your post brought a smile to my face. It takes strength and courage to live the life you want to live, especially when you have no desire to play a role that has been handed to you simply because you have two X chromosomes—and it takes even more strength and courage to be open about it.

    🙂

  • I feel like you’re a much more eloquent version of myself.
    I feel exactly the same about this and I wish I could calmly explain myself to people in this way but unfortunately I am not the most level headed person when people attempt to tell me what I think.
    I should just print this out and anytime some unrelenting person swears that “when I’m older I’ll change my mind!” they may understand.
    I may be young and still not know a lot about myself but just like I know that I’m not going to be a doctor when I grow up I also know I will not be a mother. It just isn’t me.

  • Thank you for posting this. All my life I thought I wanted to have children, but suddenly within the last year I realized I only said I wanted them because all women are supposed to want children. “I’d like children… someday” is a socially acceptable response but the older I get the more I realize I’m not sure I really want children. I like my life the way it is and child rearing is tiring and expensive. Also it’s such a crapshoot – you could be the best parent in the world and end up with an ungrateful brat.

    Maybe one day my maternal instinct will kick in, but right now, no.

  • Hi jessica ..
    Some people also want this but they just avoid it by not going against nature. This is the most offensive thing they do to themselves & to the planet.
    I think hardy is completely correct about what he said.
    and jessica.. your act is purely human in nature, your thought is not lonely here.

  • What a wonderful, inspiring post.
    I’m 16, and I’ve decided I never want children. I’m fairly certain that this isn’t going to change. I’m afraid of the world that they would be brought into, hell, I’m afraid of the world I’m going to have to navigate as an adult. There is no reason for me to bring another mouth into this world. If I ever feel the need to care for something for 18+ years, I’ll adopt.
    I’ve bookmarked this post and will read it every time I tell anyone that I’m not having kids.
    Thank you for having the courage to speak up.

  • I am childless. I never really “decided” because it never occuered to me to have one. I could have birthed an Obama, or maybe Jefferey Dalmer…..

  • Anyone who asks “Why don’t you have children?” should be ready with a gracious answer for “And why did you bother to produce _that_? Was it an accident? What made you think you’d be a good parent? Any regrets _so far_?”

    Whether or not to bear children is a very private decision and fate doesn’t give everyone what they want.

  • I agree with you. I do not want to have children. Neither does my husband – one of the reasons we decided to spend our lives together. While my girlfriends are chomping at the bit to make families, we sit and watch them and support them. It’s not that I don’t like kids, I’m just not a huge fan. And it’s a huge responsibility that I don’t feel most people think about before procreating.
    Childless by choice – ditto.

  • You sound like a most wonderful lady and maybe fate brought you and your husband together for just that reason.I’m a parent ,that’s my life not yours.No apoligies needed from you to anyone and you’re right those wanting to have childern need to ask the questions of themselves.So good for you and give that man of your’s an extrx kiss today.

  • way to go, you have every right to the decision that you made

  • Hmm, this has become quite a provocative thread. I am actually very surprised to see so many people expressing their desire to be childless by choice.

    I personally can not imagine not wanting to have children… sort of like, ‘then what’s the point?’ But, I completely endorse any decision that one may choose.

  • The best thing about your decision is that you are not alone, that your husband support your choice. There is nothing spectacular about being single and child-free but when it comes to the relationship things get hard at times. What if we love our partner to bits and our partner, deep in his heart, would love to become a daddy but we can’t even stand a thought of being a mummy? In such situation there is another difficult choice to be made…

    I really enjoy your blog.

  • To Jessica:
    You go, girl. More ppl should speak up like you just did. I am a married man approaching 40 who is childfree by choice but for a totally different reason. (You’ll be able to tell which below;) – I didn’t know if any other Childfree folks were truly happy for any other reasons, so this was a very interesting glimpse for me. Thank you. I hope there are millions more like you. 🙂

    To anyone who thinks being childfree goes against nature:
    YOU are the reason the planet is dying. Please go kill yourself so the very few people that DO deserve to be born can live in a pleasant world.

    The way things are here on Earth today, I feel that intentionally bringing a life into being here is the worst, meanest cruelty that you can possibly do to them.

  • Well said!

    When I got the “Do you want kids?” question in my early to mid-twenties, I usually replied with “I don’t know, will depend on the guy I find.”

    I was told many times that was an unacceptable answer. Either _I_ wanted kids or I didn’t. So, the answer became “no.”

    As I just turned 35 and without a husband or even a date on my horizon, there is no disappointment by my choice.

    Also, as I pack my bags for a year of solo travel, I look to my college friend of the same age with 2 kids and think *phew* I missed that bullet!

    🙂

  • Agree completely. I am totally in the same boat as you. I also think it should be a lot harder to have children than it is to not have children. And I’m hoping that someday, the ongoing “when will you have kids?” question come to an end. It’s hard being childless is a kid-driven world.

    • You’ll be happy to know that people will quit asking by the time you turn 40. It’s a relief. Then, you don’t get the sympathetic stares (oh, she must have shrunken ovaries) or the suggestions (it’s really not too late, you know). I had an elderly lady tell me at a shower that it was not too late for me to have a baby. I told her that it was – that I was 40 years old and that ship had sailed. I really never intended to not have children – it just never happened to be the right time.

      My friends at work call us DINKS – double income, no kids. And, they don’t say it sympathetically. They say it enviously. It’s funny…they assume we lead very glamorous lives. Our life is not necessarily more glamorous, just easier, I think.

  • hi.. came across your blog.. I enjoyed reading your post about childless by choice.

  • I enjoyed this, especially because I question myself more and more every year, whether I want to really have kids or not.
    I’m 99% sure I will but it’s good to hear other (honest) views.
    Thank you for this!

    • You might consider baby sitting. You could get a taste of parenting without having to have them 24/7. Being a foster parent is another consideration but that entails a greater commitment. Or you could be a Big Sister/Big Brother. There are many ways to be involved with children without having to have one.

  • I understand wanting to be childless by choice. I am married, and in 2008 I was pregnant, but missed carried. Right now I am thankful that I did not have any children, because my husband and I are struggling enough with two incomes coming in. A child would have made it even worst.
    I have so many family members who think that I am being selfish,but I know that having children may not be in God’s plan for my life. And I am okay with that. But what is selfish is having kids that you know you cannot take care of. I see so many people who mis treat their chrildren and have told me to not have any kids because it is hard raising them.

  • When I checked email on my BlackBerry this morning, I saw a note from WordPress saying that my post had been featured on their homepage. I thought, “Huh, who reads the WordPress homepage?”

    Apparently a lot of people.

    As much as I’d love to reply to each and every one of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings (the stuff I didn’t think anyone would see, let alone pay attention to), it would take me forever with all of the comments that are here. So, to the vast majority of you who have either agreed with me or at least appreciated my choice, I say thanks. I’m glad I was able to articulate something that resonated with so many people. I knew I wasn’t alone on this one. 🙂

    To those who left questions about my age, whether I have pets, what would happen if my husband were to change his mind, or whether I’d considered that if my ancestors had made a similar decision I wouldn’t be here to “muse” on my blog, I say this:

    I had individual responses worked up for every single one of you as I was reading your questions, but in the end I decided that things like my age or the number of pets in my house are (a) none of your business and (b) have nothing to do with my decision to not have children. There is no requirement to procreate anymore, and we’re perfectly at peace with our decision to remain child-free (thanks to those who offered that term as a replacement for “childless,” I hadn’t heard that one before).

    If, after reading this post, you left one of those comments, then I’m pretty confident there is nothing I could say in response to those questions that would make you think any differently about me or my choice than you do now. So why should I bother? If you feel differently about this topic, that’s fine – but that’s absolutely no reason to try to change my mind.

    Y’know what I mean?

    Thanks again, all, for reading – and commenting – and I hope you like the other stuff you find on the blog. I don’t write as frequently here as I’d like to, since I write for a living, but I’ll certainly try to keep you entertained. 😉

    • With all due respect I have just 2 things to say to you –

      1. We are not trying to Change your mind but only trying to comprehend the motivations and reasons behind this decision of yours.
      Here I might add that the few reasons you have given for not having kids, like, ~ too much responsibility, ~ dun understand them, ~ unruly behaviour, are all reasons that can hold for not having pets too ( Hence the question – Whether You have pets ? )

      2. The comments section is more or less a forum for discussion and a discussion is supposed to have both sides of the view. So you can not only welcome one side and tell the rest of the people that it is ( I quote ) “none of your business”.

      • Have you ever sent a pet to college? Or gotten one out of jail because he decided to hang out with a stupid druggie friend?

        A pet is a much better “child substitute” for some of us. My cat is the best- she meows, she rolls over for tummy rubs, she eats, and takes a nap. Most drama I’ve ever had involved her getting fat and finding out she was diabetic, or when she stopped using the litter box everytime now that she’s gotten so old. But that’s why I have tile- it’s easy to clean, and lasts forever.

        No teen drama, no picking her up from school, no losing a job because of too many sick days taking care of youngsters who caught another deep-lung cough from a public place. I just let her out in the fenced-in backyard once a day or so with flea and tick protection monthly, and bring her back in for food and house/bedtime.

      • Um, it’s her journal, she has every right to welcome some comments and tell other people that what they’re saying is inappropriate.

        Just like if I was in your house, you’d have the right to tell me I was being a jerk and ask me to leave.

        If you’re in someone else’s space, they DO have a right to control what happens in it, whether you like it or not.

        ~Kali

      • You are correct, the reasons given can hold for not having pets as well – the obvious difference is that though pet lovers may frown upon it, if after adopting a pet you decide the reasons given above are too much to handle, you can take it to a shelter or sell it. What happens if after having a child your thoughts about those things are confirmed? One situation is certainly more detrimental than the other and are unequivocally incomparable.

        Would you recommend someone buy a new car if they say from day one they cannot handle the payment? Of course not, you’d think it was ridiculous. Why then do people encourage or even slightly suggest that someone take on a responsibility that is astronomically more important when they’re saying they can’t or don’t want to handle it?

        I love when I hear people say to my sister, “Once you have the child you’ll love it so much that those reasons won’t matter, and you’ll be instantly changed”. Ummmmm, what happens if she doesn’t?

        Additionally, the author has already stated her opinion in the article. The comments section is for OTHERS to discuss/comment. She is totally not required to respond to the comments, and if she does, once again she has the right to state HER feelings — including the feeling that her reasons are no one’s business.

      • Princess,
        I think she made it clear what her motivation was so whether having a pet or not, it doesn’t explain her motivation anymore. Either you understand her reasons or you don’t, and just the fact that you feel there is a need to “comprehend” indicates it is not necessarily a reasonable decision to come to in your mind.

        As for pet or not being similar, oh no, there is a big difference. Yes, animals are a lot of work, so are children. However, if you decide to go on vacation for 2 weeks, you can find someone to leave your dog/cat/fish with. I think it is not as simple with a child. There are a lot more investments required for children. You can not just open a can of food, give them a pet, maybe a walk around the block and go to bed! I love my cats and consider them my “children” but in no way would I think the next step is having a child.

        I am like many others who have posted here, I am child-free by choice (thanks for that suggestion). I like the ability to get up and go at the drop of a hat, I like to spend my money on a frivolous purchase, I like to sleep through the night. I do not want to have to feed a baby at 3 a.m., I do not want to be screamed “I hate you!” with doors slammed by an angry teenager, I do not want to worry about who may harm them, tease them, push them or just plain be mean to them.

        There are myriad reasons that will never fully explain to someone who could never make such a choice. It is like being pregnant, you are or your not. You feel the need to have children or you do not. I do not feel the need and that should be all the explanation required.

  • Great post! From one childless by choice woman to another

  • Commenting as another child free by choice person (40+ of age), I have had many years of negative criticism for not having children. Being a former teacher and babysitter and being married for quite a while, people expected me to want to have children because I work so well with them, but I never wanted to. I have had people tell me it is “very sad” that I don’t have children or that I will never be a “real” woman until I bear a child and of course the old “You’d better get working on having kids before you get too old!.” I have had people ask me what I’m going to do when I get older, who will look after me. I remind them that having children is no guarantee that you will have someone to look after you. I agree 100% that it is wise to leave the child bearing to those who want it and for those who don’t, leave them alone. It can be extremely frustrating to be badgered about this issue when (if you’re like me) you are never the one to bring up the subject.

    • I agree with you that having children dosen’t mean that you will have someone to look after you when you become elderly. I sometimes minister to the elderly in a a nursing home and you would be amazed at the number of them who have children who never come to see them. They put their parents in nursing home and have left them to die alone. And many of these people struggled to raise their children just to later in life be left alone and regected.

      Happ New Year!

  • Wonderful entry. You’ve mirrored quite a few of my own feelings on choosing to not have children.

    “Oh, you’d feel differently once you had your own,” my answer to this is “What if I DON’T?!?! What then?”

    I also get a lot of “You’d be a GREAT parent,” to which I say, “I’d probably be a great astronaut too, but I’m not getting shot into space any time soon either so drop it.”

  • I’m probably repeating what everyone else has said, but this is a great entry. I’m 22 and I don’t plan on having children – I hate when people tell me some variation of, “When you get older, you will.” I was 13 when my little sister was born, and I had a big part in raising her, so I feel like I have experienced enough about babies and children to have made a quality decision about whether I want them. I do like kids , though – I just don’t want to own one.

  • 1. Me too.

    2. People used to say “when you meet the right man” or even “that’s ridiculous.” I’m actually grateful to be over 40 so it rarely comes up anymore. Though sometimes, when I travel to very family oriented places, I am tempted to lie. “Yes, two, they’re in college, we’re very proud.” I never do, but I AM tempted.

    3. Friends have called my husband a “baby whisperer” coz he’s so good with kids. But he really Does Not Care that we don’t have any of our own. Hooray for that.

    4. Happy new year!

  • Fascinating, sensitive, well-written and well-argued. I’m curious to see what react you will get….

  • I read your post and agree 100%. I too have been childless by choice and not only is it a source of surprise for many, they often say, “wait until your clock starts ticking.” I am 40 now and my clock has not started ticking and even if it did I still do not want children. I love my nieces but I have always been happiest when they could go home again! I don’t have the patience, the energy or the emotional stamina to raise a child. But, it is more then that, it is just not in my DNA as you said. I don’t hate children, it is a difficult job to be a parent, but just as some are meant to be mothers, I am not meant to be one. As you said, I am just wired that way, it is not bad, it just is. Thanks for the post, it is nice to know there are others out there who feel the same way!

  • I also decided to not have children and am tired of people thinking that it’s because I hate children. I love them, but parenthood simply wasn’t for me. I’m glad to see that more people are begining to speak out about this subject.

  • I enjoyed reading this. My spouse and I have a daughter who is 17mo. at the time we were both entering our sr. year in college. Beecher my spouse was totally ready to be a mom from day one, I on the other hand am still struggling with the nuances of being a father. There are many benefits- seeing someone grow and develop who looks just like you, playing fun games with her, yesterday we sat on the floor and sorted her crayons forever. These things are great. But I do crave the simpler times. Being able to go on dates or writing a comment to your post without having deal with someone trying to rip everything off my desk. Having a kid so young was and is extremely difficult. I wanted to have children but having Taylor so early has felt a little entrapping especially when I graduated and had no job yet a family to provide for. In earlier times I would have just hopped on a plane and volunteered somewhere. I wish you the best of luck on your travels obviously something that would be extremely difficult with a little one and I applaud your ability to stick firm to your wants for yourself and your body.

    Regards
    Wes- http://www.pshouse.wordpress.com

  • I have three children, all of them wanted. I’ve also spent parts of my life working with children and youth who were not wanted — or whose parents, at best, were not equipped to raise children. And I am deeply grateful when people who don’t want kids don’t have them. There are enough children in the world who are not adequately cared for. There are enough adults who want to have kids and are good at raising them to keep the species going. Raising kids is really, really hard work. Nobody who doesn’t really, really want it should do it. So thank you, Jessica, for remaining childless. If you ever change your mind and decide you are up for it, after all, that’s great. But until then, thank you.

  • Oh thank God. I thought I was the only one left. I, too, get slightly irritated at the “Why not?” people. That’s like asking someone why they choose to wait for the right man / woman instead of sleeping with everything vaguely resembling a human of the opposite sex (or same sex, if they swing that way) that they come across. It’s just a choice.

    My favorite, though, is when people tell me I’ll change my mind when I get older. Now with fertility drugs and everything I realize that women are having children into their 40’s now, but going with conventional wisdom when 30 or 35 is sort of the unofficial cutoff… I’m 28 years old and single, people. I think at this point if I haven’t suddenly realized my life is empty and I want a husband and a dozen babies, it’s not gonna happen. Well, maybe the husband part, but definitely not the babies. 🙂

    Stay strong, my sister in arms.

  • I love this post. It’s actually full of reason and thoughtful insight rather than the “I HATE PARENTS THEY SUCK! THEY ARE RUINING THE WORLD! I SEEN A SPROG FALL DOWN AND GET HURT AND I LAUGHED!” That’s the type of ‘childless by choice’ that people tend to look down upon; and not because they’re childfree, but because they’re insane. You rock! <3

  • I don’t know how old you are, but a warning in case you are younger than I am.

    I’m a few weeks shy of 39, and apparently have started giving off some kind of pheromone that alerts people to that fact.

    I’ve made it this far with no one really questioning my decision (our decision, really, as I’m married) not to have kids. Suddenly, however, all kinds of people, ranging from my mother to a high school friend of my husband’s I’ve just met, have started applying the pressure, reminding me it isn’t too late to have kids.

    I’ve started showering only every other day to see if I can throw people off by obscuring that almost-39 pheromone, but so far, that doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll let you know if I find the cure, but until then, hang in there!

  • Hi Jessica, thanks for this post! This sounds so familiar to me and I am glad that I am not the only person that prefers to be a godmother instead of a mother. Especially after holidays when everybody wants an update á la “any-kids-planned-yet?” it feels good to see that I am not the only one to be so unconnected to children.
    Happy 2010!
    Valentina

  • What an intelligent honest person you are. There’s no crime in not wanting children. Not everyone is cut out to parent. It’s not easy parenting children especially when you have a full-time job and all the expenses that go with it. Good for you and don’t let others try and guilt trip you about your choice. We wouldn’t have so many children living in foster care if their parents had made wiser choices in their lives. Just about anyone can give birth to a child but not everyone can parent well. I have two children. One barely speaks to me because she was always closer to her father and blames me for the break-up of the marriage. Having children doesn’t promise that it will be white picket fences and warm, cuddly memories. Like the old saying goes “You can pick your friends, you can’t pick your relatives.” Should you ever have the need to parent you can always be a foster parent or sponsor a child through different world organizations. Enjoy your nephew and any that come in the future. It’s nice knowing that when they get cranky you can send them home to their parent(s)!

  • I myself decided at age 15 that I didn’t want children and I work in Education. So when I told people that I didn’t want kids of my own, they would always comment, but you work with kids. My reply would always be, my kids at school are my kids and in reality they kind of are as I see them more in school that thier parents see them at home in most cases. In other instances, when people are talking to me and they say, “When you have children…” I always cut them off at this point and say I don’t want kids, but it’s as if they don’t hear me and keep harping on the point that they were trying to orginally make.
    I am totally of the mind, were it feasible, that one should have to acquire a license, to have a child becuase there are way too many parents out there who should not be parents at all. But as with being a single person in America, what is supposed to now be socially acceptable (being single, not wanting to have kids) is not, because of media pressures and keeping the status quo in check.

  • Jessica You made a wise choice for yourself that many others should have considered as carefully before having children of their own.

    I think many people have children because of societal pressure or wonder if they are missing something, only to feel overburdened when the babies arrive.

    I think the world would be a better place if we all pondered this and many other decisions before we acted.

  • I hear you Jessica, and so do many other women! I read an article at MSN that says women with children are angrier and yell a lot: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34264093/ns/health-behavior/ That’s probably because women are still carrying the load at home and at work. There will always be people who think they should pity us non-breeding women, like there’s something wrong with us, but we should be the ones that pity them. We are the ones who get to keep our own money, have plenty of time, and don’t stress out every four hours. Honestly, we’re living the dream!

  • Hello. Very interesting post. Hope you don’t mind me asking, but how old are you? Are you at an age where you can’t change your mind? Best wishes, Sally

    • Her age has nothing to do with it. Even if she was too old to give birth, she could still decide to adopt if she changed her mind, but she seems very comfortable with her decision. Being child-free isn’t something that has to be cured or regretted. There are countless studies that show that couples that were happy before kids showed a significant drop when they had kids, and even when the kids had all moved out, their happiness never got back to its original level. Many couples find that by the time their 2 or 3 kids have all left home, the couples don’t really know each other or have anything in common anymore, and they either get divorced or the live out their lives separately, but under the same roof as strangers.

      • Calm down! I was asking b/c I am at an age where I need to really think about whether I am going to have kids or not. My comment was not a criticism of the writer. I wasn’t suggesting that she would regret ther decision later on. Knowing her age would help get a fuller picture of her circumstances – that’s all!

  • I DEFINITELY get this. I want to raise children, but I don’t want them to be my own, and I don’t want to get married–and I’ve known this as long as I can remember. When someone gives you the “just wait” it is absolutely frustrating!

  • I know just what you mean. I have no desire to leave descendants on this planet. I wouldn’t mind being a god-mother to a friend’s offspring. I wouldn’t object to functioning as a parental figure occasionally, but I do not want to give birth to kids of my own.

    Human beings are profoundly different from other animals because of the ability to choose not to reproduce. I value this distinction.

  • I totally respect this! I was NEVER having kids, and although I am one of those “got it once I had one” people, I’m still exhausted… and envious of people who have free time. I miss being alone more. I miss having time to putz around doing things. I miss my income. I miss my job and my co-workers because we’ve chosen for me to be home. I love my son, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but being honest, I miss that old side of life, too. You gotta be committed to this stuff if you want to do a good job and that means giving up a lot.

    I truly think that if people don’t “Get” kids or feel comfortable with them, the kids (that don’t exist) and the parents (who aren’t parents) are all better off if those people remain childless. So to you, I raise my beer and say- good job being honest with yourself!

  • Thanks for this. It’s always a pleasure to read yet another person’s take on being “child free.” Many of my childless by choice friends and I have also wondered why those who want kids (especially those who find out later they hadn’t thought things through) aren’t questioned on their decision.

    I write very, very sporadically at WordPress, and would like to link to your entry here, with your permission.

  • From one brown eyed, brown haired childless by choice women to another, I completely get it!!

  • Hi Jessica –

    I found your blog via the front page of WordPress (I am looking into starting a new running-related blog) and this post really resonated with me. I am 42 years old, also childless by choice, and feel that 98% of the world doesn’t understand me. I’m old enough now that it matters less and less what others think, but it was a difficult road to take going through my thirties as all of my friends and coworkers were breeding!

    I ALSO love to travel, and think it rocks that you are a travel writer! My husband and I have been to Europe several times, and we’ll be spending a week in Positano next May. I can hardly wait!

    Anyway, I am going to add you to my Google Reader feeds – I can’t wait to read about your travels!

    Ciao,
    Cheryle
    Portland, Oregon

  • Such an eloquent examination of your decision. More people (those who ask me/tell me the same thing about my childlessness) need to read your writing!

  • Well Jessica, this was quite the pleasant read this afternoon. I have always been around the same page on this issue, being 28, and knowing fewer people without children as the days go on, i tend to consider it more or less a selfish choice to bring children into this world. If i personally know you, chances are you are not mentally or financially prepared to raise children in these times, and it almost seems like a sport to me. I would have children if knew i could provide for them in every needy way, but that at this time is not certain, therefore my pit bulls are similar enough to children to allow me to keep it real. thanks for sharing your feelings on this, as you know its not often you hear anything on this subject, even though i have spent quite some time warranting my feelings on this.

  • I, too, am childless by choice.

    It was my inclination to begin with, though not so strong that it wouldn’t’ve been overridden by someone who really felt they MUST have kids. I just…they scream and they make messes out both ends and they’re heavy and they never STOP. It’s a bit more than I can handle. I need my space and my time and my quiet, and if I can’t get that, I become a very unpleasant, very stupid person.

    And then you add in my disability, a connective tissue disorder, and it becomes quite dangerous for me to have children. Like, could quite easily kill me. Not something I feel the need to risk. Not to mention, 50% chance of passing this mess on to a child, should I have one.

    Fortunately, the boyfriend is rather indifferent to having children. We adore my nephew, and lavish attention and things on him, but we’re very happy to be able to hand him off to someone else and go off on our own. He’s cute and very sweet…and I just can’t cope with him for more than a few hours at a time. I know they say your own will be different, but I’d rather not risk that.

    ~Kali

    • I, too, have been very ill my entire life- if I even miss one meal out of the many, many I eat a day, I could faint or become sick (especially dangerous while driving, walking down stairs, etc.) How can I carry a child that will use my body’s resources? If I can’t get enough from the ten or so small meals with supplements I eat NOW, how can I support another person? Without enough protein and other nutrients, 6 hours in, I’ll be nauseous and vomiting. 10, seizures. 12-14, coma. Within 24, death. Fortunately, my immune system is otherwise strong- I can’t risk getting a stomach flu, and some antibiotics can make my blood sugar plummet. Doctors are still at a loss as to why this happens.

      As well, much of my family is afflicted with physical and mental disease and severe disorders- forms of advanced diabetes, bi-polar disorder, cortextual dysplasty, and schizophrenia are not uncommon. There is a very high chance that I will pass these to any child I carry. It’s a painful daily life to face for myself. I cannot ethically cause someone else to suffer like this. But these reasons aren’t enough for a doctor or ob/gyn to recommend me for surgery. I obviously don’t know enough about the plights of my own existence to know how someone else would feel suffering the same way, or what it’s like to take care of these issues.

      People tell me, “Well, the kid might not get any of those things! How will you know?” Exactly. How WILL I know. Until it’s too late. Do you let your kids play with loaded guns because someone MIGHT not get shot? Of course not. You bring a life into the world, you are responsible- in a way, you are God. It’s not a game- if you know the chances are likely that the child will be diseased, don’t make someone live like that. Adopt.

      If they feel the need to be mother, they can adopt someone instead. There are thousands of kids who need homes, and if a person acts like a mother, then that person IS their mother. One doesn’t have to have a baby to be a parent.

  • My wife and I are Childless by choice. or as we put it “OOPS we forgot to have Children” as it wasn’t so much a decision as something that we never had any real desire to do.
    Only time the questions of why not gets bothersome for us is when my wife is at the nail salon – when the technicians BERATE her – “You have kids?”- “Why you no have kids?” – “You don’t like kids?”. Similar tales are shared by our other childless friends.

  • I feel ya, sister! I’ve never been a kid person either, and I’ve fielded all the same comments as you. Maybe I would feel differently if I had my own, but what if I don’t? Then I’m stuck with kids, and they’re stuck with parents who don’t want them. Sad for everybody. I just won’t have any, thanks.

    So many people seem to have children either because they’re “supposed to”, or just to see what they can make. I find that highly irresponsible. Like the saying goes – you need a license to drive a car, but any idiot can have children.

  • i completely agree with you.

  • I feel the same way- my entire life, I have never wanted kids. Even as a child, I never wanted baby dolls- just legos and Matchbox cars. At five, I wanted to be 23, graduating college, with a career.

    None of my family understands that I really* don’t want kids- ever. Ever. But unlike someone who can passively say that it’s not right for them, I really do despise children. I don’t like the screams, the noises, the slamming object sounds of toys being thrown, the kid TV, the car seats, ANY of it. And I have never changed my mind.

    Yet I somehow still don’t “qualify” (ie, I can’t get a doctor to recommend) for a partial hysterectomy until I’m in my 40’s. By then, what would be the point? If I can’t have that kind of safety in my most fertile years, the idea that having the option available in my 40s is a cruel joke. They all say “You’ll change your mind! It’s different when they’re yours!” Yeah, when they’re MINE, I can’t leave them with someone else for the rest of their lives. Unlike SOME people, I am bound by duty and obligation- I have the kid, I raise it. End of story. ::shakes head::

    I hope society progresses a little more. In this little backwoods town, I do feel like I’m still stuck in the 40’s.

    • I had the exact same thing happen to me. I asked for a tubal ligation when I was 30, and was patronizingly patted on the head and told that it would be “unethical” for the doctor to perform such a procedure. When I asked why she said that I would most definitely change my mind about having children, and she didn’t want to rob me of finally understanding what it was all about! I asked a second doctor when I was 32 and got a similar answer. The first time I asked for birth control I was 19 and was told that I couldn’t have a prescription for the pill because I wasn’t married! How much sense does that make?! And the best part is that it wasn’t 1963, this was in 1993.

      I now become enraged when people pass judgment on those who have children while in less than favorable circumstances of any kind or by total surprise. Would they have been given an effective, honest choice had they asked for one? No, probably not.

  • As someone who has been trying to have/adopt children for years, it’s interesting to read a viewpoint that’s the exact opposite of my own! Good for you for knowing what you want (or, in this case, don’t want).

    —Megan
    http://adventuresinadoption.wordpress.com/

  • Interesting post. I have three adult children of my own. At this point none of them seem at all interested in families. While many of my friends have become grandparents, I’m finding that I enjoy my ‘adult’ family with no little ones running around. That’s not to say I didn’t love being a parent when my kids were little. I would love having grandchildren someday I think– but I’m not pressuring my adult kids to start families.

  • I wonder if you have a pet ? Or will you ever have one ?

  • Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for writing.

  • I feel the same way.

    I am inspired. I keep thinking i may never find a man who will never want kids. I think i have hope now, i just might. =)

  • THANK YOU, I am sooooo with you on this, and wished everyone could open up their minds and hearts to all the wonderful and DIFFERENT people out there; we are not all the same and not everyone is destined to follow the same path.

    This choice is mine also and going against my grain to please others, will actually hurt them in the process, for I will not be ME anymore.

    The lesson is: Be true to yourself, whatever your choice! (and let others be to follow their own destiny).

  • Good for you for making this decision and sticking with it. I work with infants in a childcare center (and absolutely adore them), but I spend more time dealing with parents who are worn out, and quite often completely clueless about their children. I’m still not completely sure if I want children in the future, and I have a huge maternal instinct. You didn’t even mention how the world is over-populated already. Sometimes I wonder if I should even think about adding more humans to it. But then I look at the parents I work with, and how they have no clue what they’re doing, and I think, But I would be so good as a parent. And sometimes I feel like I’m just meant to be there as a guide for other people.

  • it really is better to make your own choices than to just follow the pack and live a life you never made a choice about

  • Indeed Ma’am you are lucky to be born in the 20th century.
    Or perhaps who knows you might have happened to be a trend setter, if born in earlier day !!
    Btw having kids is also not a bad way to understand them !!

    • True, but setting yourself on fire is also not a bad way to understand what it feels like. And both having kids and setting yourself on fire are irreversable decisions.

  • I admire you for your candor and your conviction. Even though I feel completely opposite and would like to adopt every child who needs it I applaud the fact that you so truly know yourself and have stuck to your guns. Far too few people know who they really are.

  • Your blog was on the front page of wordpress.com today when I went to sign up for a new account. I, too, am childless by choice… as is my Husband. Your blog summed up everything I feel yet have been unable to completely articulate. Thanks!

  • Great post! I found your blog on the wordpress home page. I dated a girl who had chosen never to have kids even though she was great with them. Her reason was simple she had realised she was too selfish and didn’t want to change.

    We split after a few months not that it had anything to do with kids. I’d just divorced and she was my rebound.

    For me the thing I could never understand before I had kids (I’ve got 5, 2boys, 3girls) was people saying “If anyone touched my kids I’d rip their throat out/beat them to within an inch of their lives” etc. I used to think oh please being a bit dramatic aren’t we? But now I get it. As a parent you really would risk your own safety to protect your kids often without even thinking about it.

    I admire your decision and think more people should have the courage to admit they don’t want kids. I’m going to check out the rest of your blog now 🙂

  • We are childless by choice, too. Not because we don’t like kids or anything, but simply because there are already way too many humans on this planet. We get really tired of the incredulous “why nots?” we receive when people ask us if we have children. So now I just tell people that Jesus didn’t give me good semen. That pretty much ends that topic of conversation. You don’t need to defend your choice.

  • Though I absolutely respect everyone’s desire to procreate or not, did you ever stop and think about the fact that if your grandparents had decided to become childless you wouldn’t be here to muse and write your blog? Also, you say, “The bottom line is that kids are all more or less alike in that they’re all a little unruly.” This could not be more untrue. Kids personalities, temperaments and character traits are absolutely as variable as adults. This is an unfair generalization.

    • Hi Mimi,

      Maybe Jessica hasn’t thought about what she would or wouldn’t be doing if she had not been born, however, how would anyone know what they were missing if they weren’t here, or hadn’t the awareness with which to experience it? If Jessica, (or anyone else for that matter) had not been born, then perhaps she (they) would be doing some other thing on another plane of existance that is just as important as what she (they) are doing now. Just as you are learning by living your life, others are learning by theirs.

      Peace.

  • I relate completely to your post! It is so refreshing to find someone in this childbearing obsessed era who feels the same way I do. I have nothing against children. I like them very much in fact. But I have never once in life had any desire to have one of my own.

    I find that people often react exactly as you describe tinged with an all-knowing, patronizing tone, pity for my lack of understanding of what I’m apparently missing, or barely described horror as though I eat puppies for breakfast. Even with those reactions and the social isolation that comes from being in my mid-thirties surrounded by friends having children, I’m happier being childless. And I don’t think it’s a choice either. It’s simply a fact of my life.

  • I’ve always liked the idea of having children, but I know how much work, time, and money go into caring for them and how much they absolutely change your relationship with your partner/spouse. I’m not completely ruling out the possibility for myself because, let’s face it, people change. But I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.

    I, too, have never been all that great with children (except when reading or exploring nature) and even as a child always sought out the company of adults (they were so much more interesting than my peers). I’m guessing that if people were given a choice instead of societal pressure, a lot of them wouldn’t have children. So you’re definitely not alone!

  • As someone who has four children (and wouldn’t mind having four more!), I applaud your principled and well-thought out stand.

    I have plenty of friends/relatives who are married and childless, who feel pressured by those of us with kids to start popping out some babies… but not from me.

    Like you mentioned above, I also believe the decision to have children should require more scrutiny than not. If only more people felt pressured to not have kids than to have them!

    For my wife and I, having a lot of kids is just a part of our particular DNA. We both always wanted a lot of kids and we both love having a big and chaotic family. Both of us were the oldest children of many siblings and I think we both “get” kids… as much as anyone can be said to understand their unique madness.

    Moreover, my job affords me the ability to take care of my family without burdening the government, and we try to maintain a conscientious and self-sufficient household.

    Having kids is not “for” everyone and, as I’m fond of saying about a number of things: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

  • This makes me feel much, much better….I am not interested in having children….and when I tell other people that I don’t want kids, they look at me like I’m crazy. Is it really that bad to not want to be a mother? No, I do not think so. I love children and I work well with them, but I don’t want any of my own…

  • Great great blog. Stumbled upon it on WordPress homepage. I for a while questioned why I don’t have kids, and I came to the logical explanation that although it is a (or seems to be) a requirement for society, I wasn’t chosen for that path. There are other goals for my life. I love kids but love my independence more.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Chad

  • I resonated with your blog today…I have too have had those feelings regarding children all of my life (I am now 57)…I describe it to people as “I didn’t get the kid gene.” Living in SF, I am not considered strange for my choice but outside of this area (I travel extensively for work), people look at me with a certain suspicion (wonder why she doesn’t have kids, must be a lesbian) or pity (isn’t too bad she never had kids) or sadness (must be lonely at the holidays)…It has always felt like a very natural and totally me way to live…I have had people say to me, you are very selfish for not having children…I actually think it is the other way around…people who have kids are very selfish…we frankly, with 6.5 billion people on the planet, don’t need anymore… and that most people are a drain on the very limited resources we have…thanks for your comments and good luck with your move to Italy.

  • Really well-expressed 🙂 I’ll never understand why people feel it’s appropriate to comment/question other people’s procreation decisions from not wanting children to waiting to have children to fertility treatments. To me, it just doesn’t get more personal and off-limits than that.

  • Hey, I loved the post, and I to a point can agree to it.. I know it is a huge responsibility, and I too have frowned when I have seen women, who according to me are immature, bragging about being pregnant and a little voice in my head always goes “Do they just think that you are just suppose to pop the thing out and then go about being a moron?”

    i am glad that your husband thinks the same way, but what if tomorrow he changes his mind? Where would that leave the two of you?

  • it’s so nice to find others who are childless by choice. and although it is more accepted than it was decades ago, I still get “what’s wrong with you?” looks when I tell people I don’t want kids, especially women. i think we are too conditioned to make certain “choices” without questioning them first. great post!

  • How refreshing it is to hear someone say they don’t want kids, actually mean it and be determined not to be swayed by peer pressure.

    When I got engaged 11 years ago the first question was “when are you getting married?”, once I was married they question changed to “when are you having kids?” or “are you pregnant?” if I dared to go to a party and not have an alcoholic drink. Usually I just rolled my eyes and made some flippant comment.

    The truth was, I didn’t know until a few years ago if I did or didn’t want kids. Sadly, when I decided for sure that I did, I found out it was unlikely that I could. Even then, people were constantly telling me about all the things that “could be done” as if I would have an empty wasted life without children. Someone actually did tell me that once.

    Whether I do or don’t have kids, it will be mine and my husbands choice – one thing for sure, my life will not empty or wasted.

    • if I dared to go to a party and not have an alcoholic drink. Usually I just rolled my eyes and made some flippant comment.

      Might such a flippant comment have included, “I’m not drinking empty calories” :smirk: ?

      Or… “I’d like to wake up tomorrow morning and remember every minute of what happened this evening” ?

      Whether I do or don’t have kids, it will be mine and my husbands choice – one thing for sure, my life will not empty or wasted.

      Exactly. ^_^

  • I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a parent. Despite working with children, I don’t think I could handle looking after one full-time. Everyone tells me that I will change my mind as my biological clock ticks. What makes them so sure that I will? I know myself, and I’m confident in myself. Frankly, I’m so sick of hearing people say that I’ll change my mind when I tell them I don’t want kids. It’s almost as if that admission dooms you somehow.

  • I prefer the term Child-free, not child-less. Child-less implies that children are missing from your life instead of intentionally absent.

  • Amen to that, sister.

  • I dont appreciate the decision to not to have your own children. There should be some meaning to your birth! Give birth to some other souls!

    Every girl/lady can become very good mother!

    Wishes,
    Chandra

    • I beg to differ. I live in the overcrowded Northeast U.S. and watch people a lot where I work. It’s frightening how almost everyone is physically capable to bear children even when they are truly horrible people. Stupid and mean people should be sterile. While every girl/lady certainly can become a mother either naturally or through adoption, not everyone should. It is painful to hear a mother tell her child she never wanted them, or that she wanted a child of a different sex, in the first place- out loud. That is crushing.

    • You don’t appreciate her decision not to have children? And who are you to make that call? We have plenty of souls who are dying every day due to lack of food and medical care. Our world is going to run out of fresh water and resources because of our insane need to mindlessly reproduce. No Mr. Sharma, not every female can become a good mother any more than every male can become a good father. Go get a job in Social Services and see how many children live in foster care because of poor parenting.

  • I respect your choice. However, I cannot imagine the emptiness one must experience at the end of life to look back and have never experienced the unique challenges and unparalleled joys of motherhood, and to have no legacy. So many millions grieve for this lost opportunity, often which was not by choice. For your sake, I hope you will not suffer the pain of regret.

    • Having children is no guarantee that they will want to be part of your life. there’s nothing lonelier than having grown children who ignore you and keep their distance. I have two children and neither of them want children. My daughter chose to be part of her father’s life and likes his new wife far more than me. It wasn’t my choice but hers. She just doesn’t like me and nothing I can do will change her attitude about that. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent and when someone is honest enough to realize that they don’t want to have children, their decision should be respected. We have too many children in foster care because of lousy parenting. Please don’t insist that someone should bring more into a situation when they really aren’t wanted.

  • Hi Jessica,

    I think in most societies marriages and procreation lays the foundation for normalcy. In this process, both marriages and kids are over rated. Even in India, no matter how urbanized/educated/modern one is in their attitude and outlook, the norm is you get married and have kids. Very difficult to bypass this stage in your life without being asked a billion questions or glares from pondering eyes. It’s wonderful that you have figured out your choice.

  • “To this day I feel like I don’t “get” 80% of kids (if not more)” – I think this says it all.

    I also tend to think that if you do not like the idea of having kids, then you should not have them. You will do neither them or yourself (and your partner) any favours.

    Not everybody wants children. And one of the happiest couples I ever met was childless.

    Plenty of others want children – so leave the child thing to them, and do not worry about it.

    You did not make the wrong decision!

    New Year’s Best,

    Alex

    PS Love the new look!

  • How about adopting? just kidding.

    Many people have fears in bearing kids, you choose not to have one because your experiences tell you a not a loving story, ….

    it is a personal decision,
    wish you well in 2010.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I have one child- a 5 year-old, and while I love her dearly, I will not have anymore. I just don’t have that whole “I want to wear dowdy cardigans and hang out in germy, loud places” vibe. I don’t fit in with the other “mom” types so well, either. Having only one, I definitely get pressured to have another. Kudos to you for being honest with yourself. It reminded me of how I have to stand strong against societal pressures to be true to myself.

  • I understand completely. I am childless by choice as well. I love children – my great niece / nephews, friend’s children. I just want any of my own. Soon the biological clock will make it’s stamp on that decision, but I won’t be fazed by that.

    When I was younger I would be told similar to you … it was assumed I would ‘grow up’ and have children to complete my womenhood.

    I remember going to a wedding just a few years ago. I was sitting with a group of happily married 40 and 50+ somethings. When asked if I was married, I said no. That didn’t elicit any particular response. Then I was asked if I had children (most couples at the table were on their second or third marriages and were well versed with single parenthood or blended families). When I said no, I then got the sympathic response. One woman did not know how to respond – she actually turned away.

    Why? Cannot people see beyond themselves and their beliefs and choices?

  • I made the same decision, but conceived a child after a vasectomy (carelessly – my fault not the surgeon’s). I must be hard-wired too. I really miss being childless. The kid is great, and I’m doing okay as a father, but that “Oh you’ll feel differently once you’ve got your own” sense has never come to me. It takes every emotional resource I have to be a father and not just flee this responsibility. Congratulations on your decision, and to all those others out there living full and rewarding childless lives, I envy you each day. And on the contraception front, I am that warning – be careful, be more careful than you think you need to be.

  • I hear ya Jessica! I feel the same and have had the same conversations with myself and others. It truly does get old when people are constantly interrogating you about your choices an assuming something is wrong with you for making ones against the status quo. Stay strong!

    PS. I also had my fill of Pa Dutch foods today as well! Gotta love it!

  • great post. i understand your decision and had felt the exact same way until about two years ago. i think biology has taken over, as well as getting divorced and now being in a different relationship. my partner and i will have a child together. i’m excited and scared. i want to do it, but i understand every reason you’ve listed. however, i “get” kids.

    what’s most important and what you’ve underscored is that it is a decision. it shouldn’t be something that’s expected or just done. it’s a decision i haven’t taken lightly, yet i fear too many people do.

  • Hey Jessica,

    I think this is a nice read, particularly because I dont want to have kids of my own. I am reaching mid twenties soon and in my culture, its time to start planning your family. I love kids. I love babysitting my friends kids. I volunteer to organize childrens programs during school holidays. But I will not have my own. Of this I am sure. My reason is this. I want to put my life to good use and make it fulfilling. There are already a million kids who lack food education and good health. Why dont I work for them to make life better for them? Why should I produce one more and then spend my life working for it? If I have one, of course I can love and give the child a beautiful home. But if I dont have one, I can make a difference to a hundred little kids. Because fact is that once you have children of your own, work and family just eat up your time. How much time will you have to work for your true passion?

    Plus I think the problem in the world today is overcrowding. and senseless reproduction. One more human being on the planet means, more resources like food water and fuel are being used up. More pollution as that human being will have to be clothed, fed and educated. So more trees will be cut and more energy will be spent. This planet will get destroyed the way people keep producing babies.

    So yea, I am with you in this.

    • Sri,

      I am so glad there are intellegent, beautiful young women such as yourself in this world! Bravo to you! I send you many blessings in the hope that you find and spend your life fullfilling your pasion! Keep close what you have written here, place it in a drawer somewhere, and look at it when life smacks you where it hurts the most.
      You may need to be reminded of your aspirations in a few years.

      Stay in your power Girrrl!

      Jessica, you’re an inspiration to many!

      🙂

  • I know what you mean. Intentionally childless adults get such an awful range of patronizing responses, people telling you that you think it’s what you want now but you’ll change your mind later, or that you’ll regret it if you don’t. Women should be able to choose whether to have kids or not without people being judgmental.

  • We each have our own journey…
    Happy new year!

  • Stumbled upon your post on the WordPress homepage. Excellent piece of writing!

  • Great post! From one “childless by choice” woman to another 😉

  • yes. we all have a choice. very inspiring.

  • I also do not want to have children, so I get what you mean. Although people sometimes say “you may change your mind when you’re older”. I don’t think I will – it’s just not a wish of mine to have children. Lucky for me, my husband also is not interested in having kids.

  • You go girl !
    I wish more people would stand up for their right to personal choice about not having kids.

  • Thank you for writing what I’ve been trying to articulate for a long time! It is less of a decision than just who I am. I’ve never gotten that weepy, sappy look or feeling when I see a baby and I know I never will. I’ll be visiting your blog often, as it seems we have several things in common! (spoiled cats, love of Italy, no kids)

  • I have a couple of kids and sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Even though I love them dearly I don’t like kids as a general rule. they love me, which I don’t get. I wouldn’t change having them but I think that I had never had children, I would not be sad.

    I can understand why some choose not to have children and when I come across them, I never question them. I would not want to be questioned on my decision to have children.

  • You don’t have to apologize or justify yourself. It is much better to be childless by choice (I prefer the term “child free”) than to have children for no good reason other than expectation and inertia, which seems to be more the norm.

  • Oh my … what a great entry! I may share it (by sending the link) to people, friends and family who are always bugging me about when will I get married or have kids. A few years back I went through some pretty rough patches that made me question the “normal” conceptions of go to school, get a degree, work 9-5, find Mr Perfect, get married and have kids. I have a nephew in the works, and cousins who are the light of my eyes, but not only am I scared of having kids, I’m scared of the kind of (horrible) parent I’d make. I’m OCD, I hate kids (and other people) touching my things, I don’t like changing poopy diapers, or cleaning snotty noses … and everyday I question whether I would (or wouldn’t) make a fit parent who would not turn her kids into total maniacs. A couple of weeks ago my mom (who’s awesome) said that had she known how much effort and pain are involved in staying married and having kids she would have chosen to not get married and just work and travel for the rest of her life. I do think she has a bit of an adventure-ess hidden within her. I’m so glad you have written about this topic. We sometimes are like mindless drones who follow into the “normal” pattern of things, rather than think things through so we make informed and smart choices about our future. I for one don’t think every single person that is biologically equipped to be a parent HAS to become one … there are so many things that I need to work through that if tomorrow I had to raise a kid I’d crap my pants because I know I’m not ready. And to hear family and “friends” always” questioning why I’m not married or have kids … I feel like being a little snarky and saying something along the lines of “I’d hate to be a horrible parent, or partner, just like you.” Thanks for this. It is awesome.

    • This post made my day… being a student nurse, an anarchist, a vegan-freegan who has food allergies among other things, I have enough on my plate to explain without having to laboriously placate those who see my ‘adoption-only’ policy, in the nicest terms, as a bit strange. It’s always funny to me that people tend to tell me what a good thing it is, however, I’m the one getting the better deal. I don’t want biological children for a few reasons: 1) Babies (and most kids) don’t float my boat, 2) environmental sustainability, 3) instability in living situations as well as the fact that 4) I think life kinda… just…….. sucks.

      1) Babies are terrifying… I frequently left my obstetrics/gynecology clinical rotation with ears ringing, exhausted and annoyed, smelling of diaper contents and vomit. Now, I have an incredibly strong pain threshold as a mountain biker and rock climber who’s had serious injuries and needed to bike to safety– having seen vaginal birth- I want nothing of it- I honestly have no intention of having anything inserted or extruded that’s larger than my boyfriend’s penis.

      Older children are better in the smell and bodily fluids department, however they replace their terror-inducing superpower with the extraordinary ability to annoy. I’ve met one little girl on my alternative spring break trip that I would have adopted in a heartbeat– she was 6 going on 18. Also, people in our lovely capitalist society love choice right? Well, sorry…you can’t choose your biological kids (yet [!])… they could be the next little Jeffery Dahmer… and you still have to love them…

      2) Kids eat up, literally, a lot of resources. Starting right from the beginning if they’re born in a hospital, like most Westernized kids, they are indirectly responsible (it’s the parents who can claim more culpability) for contributing to the biohazard waste streams, excessive energy usage and deforestation to greatly summarize. Adopting children just makes sense… you get the opportunity to rescue an unloved child of your choosing, reap the joy in raising one as well as help keep overpopulation at bay and thus a chance for the rest of humanity already here to have a somewhat decent life

      3) Personally, I’m a nomad…kids need some home stability… something military brats like me never had… it would be cruel to do that to a kid, particularly when I know how shitty it is to leave your friends… again… and again… and yet again… it fucks with your head into your adult life

      4) No matter how good your life is, there is always the human condition, and seeing others suffering and not being able to do a damn thing about it most of the time. If I had had the choice to be born or not be born, I would have definitely chosen the latter… why don’t I just kill myself you might ask? Been there, not quite done that…so I decided, well, whatever, if death comes, whatever, but until then, I have to do my best to make this world a better place…. for the people already here

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