“I don’t want to have children.”
In 2016, it’s a phrase we are starting to read and hear more and more — from men and women alike. Currently, we are experiencing a surge in discussions around parenting and child-rearing, between those who would like to, and those who wouldn’t. The whys of choosing to be childless are varied and many — motivations are unique to people, and the people who say they do not want children say so for a lot of different reasons.
It might be about work, but probably isn’t
One of the most common assumed motivations for voluntary childlessness, particularly in the case of women, is that it’s a decision made on the basis of their career.
With the rise of gender equality, many professional doors are being opened for women, so it does seem logical to suggest that it is a contributing factor. However, a 2009 survey of childfree men and women showed 80% of respondents citing ‘I value freedom and independence’ as a strong motive for the decision. Contrary, then, to the popular stereotype, only a small minority of individuals forgo having children to focus on their careers.
For many, it is a question of the kind of home life which best suits them or of feeling like they can contribute as meaningfully to society in other ways. There is also the rising financial uncertainty of society, overpopulation and concerns about the environment which foster a reluctance to bring another person into the world.
It’s not about not liking kids
Often, when someone says they aren’t interested in having children, the assumption is that it’s because of a dislike of children. And while a small percentage of individuals may indeed feel that way, many adults who decide to remain childfree in fact love children — in some cases, people who serve as mentors and teachers to young people don’t see themselves as childfree at all.
Some individuals simply say they do not believe they have the necessary qualities for parenting. Either in their personality, in their financial setup or in their relationship. For many of them, the decision to have children is part of deciding what kind of person they want to be and sometimes, the two do not align.
It’s actually about parenting
Perhaps it is less about wanting to have kids or not, as it is about the pressure to have kids, which comes from all directions of society.
People who decide to remain childless sometimes get called selfish — with infertility rates rising, the continued success of the human race could be in jeopardy. In response, people who decide to have children have also been called selfish — many children are neglected and abused and lack proper care due to absent parents and high-stress and dangerous environments.
Those people who decide to not have children are more likely to be pushing back against age-old assumptions and pressures rather than actively being selfish or disliking children.
At the end of the day, when considering whether or not to have children, consider the whole picture: whether you are emotionally, mentally and physically equipped for child-rearing; whether you have the required environmental and financial stability; and whether you have considered all the implications of having a whole other person in your life.
Because really, the question isn’t whether you should or should not have children. The question is whether you will or will not be a good parent.
Links / References:
Psychology Today – Choosing to Be Child-free. (Apr 21, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201504/choosing-be-child-free
Elle – There Are More Childless Women Than Ever Before…So Why Don’t We Know What to Do With Them? (OCT 5, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a30984/the-baby-gap/
CBC News – Meghan Daum says adults who choose to be childless aren’t selfish. (Apr 24, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/meghan-daum-says-adults-who-choose-to-be-childless-aren-t-selfish-1.3048614
The Christian Science Monitor – Why more millennials are choosing to be childless. (APRIL 29, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0429/Why-more-millennials-are-choosing-to-be-childless
The Atlantic Monthly Group – Women Choosing to Go Childless: Your Thoughts. (APR 28, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2015/04/your-thoughts-on-women-choosing-to-go-childless/391712/
The Huffington Post – The Truth About the Childless Life. (Oct 01, 2013). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-notkin/the-truth-about-the-childless-life_b_3691069.html