A friend asked me recently, “Does it sound selfish for me to say that I don’t want to have kids?” My first thought was, “Yes, kids are a gift, and I have two. How could any able bodied woman not want to have a child?” I wouldn’t have been so shocked by her question if she said that she wasn’t having children due to health concerns or fertility issues, but to not want children due to vanity reasons, I thought, “What kind of woman doesn’t want kids?”. Of course I didn’t say those words out loud, but I sure did think it as I judgingly listened to her selfish reasons for not wanting kids. I simply replied to her question by saying “Well… it’s your life and that’s your choice.” Well duh, of course she knows it’s her choice, but the fact that she felt the need to ask the question led me to believe that she, in some way, felt guilty about her decision to not want children. A part of her must’ve felt like it was selfish, and she was looking for me to validate her decision. Or maybe she didn’t feel guilty for not wanting kids, but in some way felt like she had to justify her reasons for not wanting them out of fear of being judged by another woman.
Let’s be honest, as women, we have a tendency to judge other women whose choices don’t align with our ideals of what women should do. It’s not right, but we do it. Women judge other women all the time. We judge each other’s clothes, we judge each other’s life choices, and we judge each other’s parenting decisions. I once had another woman criticize me for not disciplining my daughter the way she thought I should.. I thought, “Who the hell is she to tell me how to raise my child?” I felt violated. I thought “just because another woman doesn’t do things the way you would do them doesn’t make her wrong”. Based off of my experience, I should’ve known better than to judge another woman’s parenting choices. I’ll try not to make the same mistake again. So while my initial reaction was to judge her decision to not have children, I really had to take a step back from my own self-righteous and hypocritical ideals and see things from another woman’s perspective. I had to ask myself a few questions. “Who am I to judge?” Who made me the decider of all things women should do? “Is it really selfish for a woman to not want kids?” If so, what’s wrong with being selfish? All too often, women have a tendency of putting other people before themselves and end up with resentment because of it. The more I thought about it, the more I could see the benefits of going childless. In fact, I didn’t always want to be a mom myself.
When I was younger, getting married and having kids was never a thought for me. In fact, I dreamt of being a successful career woman, driving around in a luxury sports car and living in my pristine apartment with glass tables and white furniture. I remember once upon a time, I would be too nervous to even hold a new born baby and I cringed at the sound of a crying toddler in public places. It’s not that I didn’t want kids, I just never imagined my life with them. And now that I have them, I can’t imagine my life without them. My junior year in college, I decided to marry my husband on a whim. After his job transferred him to another country, we could no longer stand the idea of living apart from each other, so we decided to get married. The next year we became parents. Less than 3 years later, we had our second daughter. I put my career aspirations on pause so that I could be a full time mother to my children. I traded my pristine apartment for a cookie cutter house on a cul de sac. I decided against the glass table, and opted for comfortable furniture and functional storage décor instead (it’s ideal for neatly hiding all the kid’s toys). Yeah, I gave up a few things, but all in all my kids bring me so much joy, it was well worth the trade. I think that I’m a better person because of them. I get to teach them all about life, and they teach me new things along the way as well. But believe me, parenting is no easy job. It takes a lot of patience and sacrifice.
When you decide to have kids, you gain a lot, but you also sacrifice a lot too, some more than others. Having kids is not a choice that should be taken lightly. After listening to my friend and thinking about our conversation, I have a better understanding for why some millennial women are opting to go childless.
- Career: For some women, having a career is their main desire in life. Oprah said that if she would’ve had kids, they probably would’ve hated her because something would’ve had to suffer (either her career or her kids) and it probably would’ve been her kids. While it’s true that many woman successfully juggle having a career and being a parent, studies have shown that women with children climb the corporate ladder at a much slower rate than women without. Usually women without children have more flexibility with work than women without kids.
- Money: Children are expensive. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, babies born in 2013 were expected to cost a middle-income family $245,340 from birth up until to the age of 18. That doesn’t even cover college expenses after the child graduates high school.
- Their body: This probably seems like one of the vainest reasons that a woman can give for not wanting to have kids, but for some childless women, this is their reality, and they have every right to feel that way. I know women who model and work in the entertainment industry for a living, and their physical appearance is high cost for them. Stretch marks and loose belly skin is no big deal to me, but for some, it could be a major setback. And while it is very possible to have kids and still have a banging body and do those types of jobs, some women would rather not take the risk.
- Not finding the right guy: For some women, not finding the right guy will not stop them from having a baby. . More modern women are raising kids by themselves anyway and many are even opting for a sperm bank. But for those women who would prefer to get pregnant the traditional way, they are choosing to go childless because they just haven’t found the right guy to procreate with.
- Time: Kids take up a lot of your time. Some millennial women simply don’t want to give up their time for changing diapers, watching Dora, and playing with bubbles. They’d rather spend their time traveling, partying, or absolutely nothing at all. Having someone who depends on you 24/7 makes having “me time” extremely difficult.
- Fear: Some women are too afraid to have a baby. They are afraid of the pain, afraid that they won’t make good parents, afraid of the dangers in society. So instead of succumbing to those fears, they’d rather not bring another life into this world.
What are your thoughts? Do you think these are accurate reasons for why more millennial women are choosing to go childless? Do you think it sounds selfish to hear an able bodied woman say she simply does not want kids? If you’re a millennial woman who chooses to go childless, please share your thoughts and experience with us.by