• Tue, Apr 23 - 9:00 am ET

As A Woman With Many Kids I Totally Get Why Some Women Never Want Kids

The Childfree By Choice Movement I love my kids more than anything on earth. They bring me joy every day, joy that takes my breath, swells my heart, gives me reason to get out of bed every morning. My kids have made me smarter, stronger. They have given my life meaning and purpose. But this is just me, and not every woman feels the same way I do, and some women have zero interest in having children. And I totally respect a woman’s decision to never have kids of her own.

The “Childfree by choice” movement is back in the media due to a recent slew of articles on the topic, the first coming from Jen Kirkman on Time.com. Jen writes in her essay:

Why is it okay to impose on women sole responsibility for population growth (or decline — I’m looking at you, China), to label a childfree woman “selfish,” and then to insist that she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about and will eventually come around to a more rational line of thinking? I have never once sidled up to a group of moms watching their sweet little toddlers playing on the swing set, nodded knowingly and announced, “Believe me, you’ll change your mind.” I know enough to know that children are not like hair color, or college majors, or other things you can just “change your mind” about.

 

And an excerpt from the book “No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood” appeared on Salon.com yesterday, written by Margaret Cho:

My fear of having children is that, frankly, I just don’t want to love anyone that much. I have my own problems with love, and I have processed and played the same games for a lifetime, but what if I had to do that with someone I actually MADE?!

 

And I love that quote so much. And to me it makes so much sense that it actually makes me want to, you know, return my kids and just forget this whole thing.

I fully understand the other reasons people have for not wanting to breed or adopt, the loss of freedom, the work and stress involved, the loss of identity when you devote so much of your time caring for another human, but it’s this fear of love that I can relate to most, because for me, the love I feel for my children, is a scary, overwhelming, breathless, heart-aching thing. It’s waking up in the middle of the night and checking on them for no reason, it’s analyzing something they have said to make sure I’m not missing some hidden angst or concern they have that is troubling their tiny little minds. It’s the many hours spent stressing about upcoming college tuition costs, if they have lost a mitten on the way to school, if some asshole is calling them ugly on the playground. It’s dusting my bedroom and hearing my daughter down the hall singing some made up stupid song to the cat and my heart just dropping in this pile of meat and blood on the floor, this love that can catch in my throat and feel so overwhelming and huge. Being a mother can strip you bare.

No one should ever feel bad or less than for not having kids. It’s no one else’s business. I fully respect this decision. But I know I have even been guilty of speaking to one of my woman friends and when they have mentioned they “never want to have kids” I know I have replied:

OH no, you have to, there are too many fucking idiots in the world and if the truly smart, amazing people on earth don’t have babies or adopt babies or raise children then pretty soon the world will be overrun with Ed Hardy-clad mouthbreather fuckwits and my own children will have no one to discuss books with.

Yeah, I suck that bad. And I’m sorry. And I do truly respect the decision not to have kids. I don’t see being childfree by choice a selfish decision, any more than I see having kids as being a selfish decision. If anything, I think having kids is even more selfish, when you factor in the whole ecological footprint and overpopulation of the world thingy. I love being a parent, but I totally respect women (and men) who decide not to be.

(Photo: Joyce Vincent/shutterstock)

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  • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

    Some people are just cut out to be the spoiling aunts and uncles. I think it’s great that people are taking a critical look at the whole procreation thing. We NEED more people having kids for the right reasons – not just because someone (or some thing) told them so.

    Also, the Duggars are looking to adopt a *twentieth* child after their last pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

    I love my two little tax-deductions to death. I get sometimes-jealous of my DINK brother when he gets the latest game console, but then my son makes this amazing painting in art class or my daughter comes home with a “student of the week” award – and I realize I don’t have time for Forza anyway – It all balances out.

    My daughter is ready to discuss “Oh Say Can You Say” anytime, Eve.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      The Duggars literally baffle me. There aren’t twenty people in this world I like enough to live with. Hell, sometimes I give out to myself if i forget where i put the remote or the milk, could you imagine multiplying that by twenty???

    • Victoria

      The Duggars baffle everyone. I think the trick is that their children raise their other children. By the time they are adults, each child has raised their own brood of 5, or however many. Normally I don’t like the term ‘breeders’ for those who want to have kids, but for them I’d make an exception. I feel bad for the kids of child-hoarders.

  • M3970

    The Cho article appeared on Salon, not Slate.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Thank you fixed it

  • Tea

    I alternate somewhere between child free and too poor for kids (And I really don’t buy in to the “you always make it work” mindset, because I’m already having anxiety attacks over how long we can squeak the electric bill and do we /really/ need vegetables this week?) and “adoption agencies won’t touch us with a ten foot pole.”

    I think we’ve decided to just be really awesome uncles, and I don’t really feel any sort of loss by doing so.

    Also, I want to give you the biggest ‘THANK YOU’ ever for saying that not having kids doesn’t make us selfish. I’ve kind of always believed the opposite, yet we’re getting harassed by family to go get a surrogate right this minute so that grand-kids can happen, and I’m killing the family line by not having kids.

    Because god knows why the inter-sexed albino guy needs to breed…

    • http://www.facebook.com/iwill.findu.90 Iwill Findu

      Killing the family line? Why do you not have any other siblings, or cousins to carry on the family line? What about children that are adopted are they not part of the family line or do they have to go make their own family line?

    • Tea

      They all blame circumstance for there being no other children in the family, and I really am the last of the “line”. It’s all a bunch of rubbish, really, my family doesn’t even believe in the legitimacy of adoption, because “It’s not the same as having one of your own.” They’re actually pretty bad about adoption-shaming :/

      As you can imagine, marrying another man did not go over well.

    • kitten

      even when you “give in” (we really wanted kids anyways) they still arent happy. My husband is the ‘last’ of his line, and we had a son and his grandmother said “well…its not your uncle, but it’ll do”. If his uncle had a kid, it would jsut be on the same branch of the family tree as my husband!
      and good for you you are who you are despite the family. my family doesnt know about my alternative relationship (hetero, but non-conventional) and it wont be pretty if i tell them eventually

  • steve

    All the reasons you mention for why you want kids (they make you smarter, stronger, love more, etc) sound pretty selfish. Funny you think childfree people are.

    • CMJ

      “…And I do truly respect the decision not to have kids. I don’t see being childfree by choice a selfish decision, any more than I see having kids as being a selfish decision. If anything, I think having kids is even more selfish, when you factor in the whole ecological footprint and overpopulation of the world thingy. I love being a parent, but I totally respect women (and men) who decide not to be.” -the Author, this article.

    • Simone

      Reading. It’s for everyone!

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      sigh :(

  • http://twitter.com/SylDLucas Sylvia D. Lucas

    Thanks for this nice piece, Eve. As someone who has never wanted kids (no deep, psychological reason – just not interested), I can also understand what appeals to those who do, and like you, I respect the other decision. I think there’s undoubtedly a lot of beauty and heart-swelling stuff that happens to parents, but it’s just not the kind of beauty and heart-swell I want, and I greatly appreciate that you get that (but more, I appreciate that you shared it publicly and will hopefully influence others on both sides to be equally empathetic). – Sylvia, author of No Children, No Guilt

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      I really believe that childfree can have just as many heart-swelling, beautiful moments, plus, with a lot more money and less bullshit angst. Plus, every one I know who has decided NOT to breed (or adopt) do so in such a thoughtful and truly insightful way, sheesh, how can ANYONE fault that. I don’t get it. Plus, a lot of the people I know who don’t have kids LOVE kids, it’s just not for them.I also HATE when people assume all CBC people hate kids, it’s absurd. Thanks for reading.

    • common sense

      You wouldnt know, you dont have kids.

    • Lady

      You wouldn’t know what heart-swelling beautiful moments child-free people know if you did have kids. Once you have them, you’ll never know what you would have experienced in your adult years without them.

    • John

      No You are in no position to know what it is like to be child free if you have kids and are contributing to world over population like its your birthright. Happiness in an inside job not dependent on if your ego and primal urge want to procreate.

  • Sara

    I recently became a parent for the first time, and I think this article is super interesting and something I’ve been pondering on lately. My husband in particular is a much older first-time parent (late 40s) and I think he intended to remain child-free before he and I got together a few years ago. He and I both love being parents. Its not always easy, of course, but its also not nearly as stressful, financially straining, or chaotic/time-consuming as some make it out to be. Sure, if I’d had my first kid in my early or mid 20s, maybe I’d be resentful of the money or time, or if my husband and I didn’t have as strong as a relationship we’d be worse off. I dunno. I think some people are so gungho on “warning” people without children on the difficulties of parenting that it turns some people off from it. The way some parents make it out, parenting is the most difficult thing in the world, and I wonder why they had kids if its so freaking difficult? I was one of those people on the fence about kids, and then I got really scared near the end of my pregnancy and thought I’d made some huge mistake, and I thought maybe I was far too settled in my life and routine to have kids. But now I’m so much happier and love my kid to death, and every new thing he does amazes me and I love every day more and more. And I’m not some mushy sentimentalist about babies or kids. I know plenty of people who vehemently don’t want kids, and more power to them. I’m not going to begrudge anyone their own lifelong choices (why would I? – it doesn’t effect me) But I also know people who are scared of the time commitment, or the finances, and seriously – its not all that bad as some parents make it out to be. Personally, I enjoy it a lot.

    • Beverly

      Do you feel guilt though that you have contributed to the overpopulation of the planet? You may enjoy your child but several others may starve and go without starve because of your choice and the planets rapidly diminishing resources do you even know what the current population projects are by 2050?

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    I like your advice to the childfree a LOT more than “But you’ll change your mind”

    I never want to have kids, but I’d prefer to be called smart and be told that the rest of the world is stupid than be talked to like I’m three years old.

  • Ashley

    “OH no, you have to, there are too many fucking idiots in the world and if the truly smart, amazing people on earth don’t have babies…”

    Heh, that’s kind of the argument I’ve used with my fiance about why we must have a child. Yeah, creating a person is kind of terrifying, but but we’re just too awesome not to pass that shit on to the next generation!

  • officialhealthtips

    I agree, the real selfish decision is to have kids ! Just think about all the obligations and pain they will have to live BECAUSE OF YOU ! They asked nothing and because of you they will have to go to school, find a job, fight to live… and see you die !

  • LiteBrite

    I have several friends who are child-free (as in never wanted kids ever). Some are not great fans of the youngins, but many do like kids; they just don’t want any for themselves for various reasons. I respect their decision just as much as I think they respect my decision to have a child.

    I do, however, get a little jealous when my close and child-free friend posts pics of all the cool drinks she’s ordering on a Friday night, while I’m stuck on the couch watching “Despicable Me” for the 34 millionth time.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    I feel the same way. I have three kids and obviously there are rough days (and awesome ones too) and it’s definitely not going to be for everyone.

  • Chris

    That’s actually the best argument I’ve ever heard for why someone should have kids. So much better than the typical “You’ll change your mind” or “You must just not be mature enough for it yet”

  • Rachelle Kebaili

    Being single and child free is awesome! I love kids and I’m great with them but there is no way in hell I want the responsibility of raising a human being. I love to sleep and I love having money and being able to do what I want when I want. I’ve met a few mothers who regret having kids…kind of sad. I don’t think It’s selfish to not want kids…I actually think It’s more narcissistic to have a little you running around. Trust me I’m more than enough for this world…I don’t need another me.

    • common sense

      Sounds like you live for yourself, good for you. There is more to life than trying to be the center of the universe

  • 1mish

    “Life is no way to treat an animal.” – Kurt Vonnegut

  • Anon

    Well for me I actually don’t understand why ppl want kids. They cry, moan, make a mess, want everything, need your time and money all the time. If I’m selfish from not wanting kids then hey I’m selfish & I give two fingers to anyone who thinks not having kids is a selfish act. I couldn’t care what ppl think. I completely agree with u about having kids being more selfish, cuz thats just adding to the already messed up, over populated, polluted world. Everyone says if u don’t have kids your evolutionary dead, well man will destroy itself in the end anyway, we r already on the path to self destruction & the end of the world, so get over it. I bet I’m a lot happier then some parents who have to deal with disruptive, incredibly irritating little humans. Humans are not nice. We r selfish, careless of our actions, nasty, bad mouthed, vindictive creatures, with no concern for anything around us, just material things & money. Why would ppl want to create more of these selfish beings. I for one will never understand it.

    • common sense

      The thing is… You dont know anything about what it means to be a parent. If life is about getting money and partying with other 40 year olds then it clearly seems that you would be a bad parent. Thank you for not hurting the human race.

  • Little Fauntleroy

    There’s more to life than contributing to the massive overpopulation of the planet. Shame most people are either too unimaginative, unobservant, or plain irresponsible themselves to do much else. If people stop breeding for like five years, many world problems would be eased in that time. That is not an extreme view if you can see where the world is going. Places like China are horrible because people were not informed enough to abstain from breeding so they’re government had to forcible prevent people from breeding. Eventually we will all be forced into controlled breeding programs unless the people start being responsible adults instead of dumb cattle, In fact overpopulation is good for greedy industries for example, as they can charge more for basic recources and are never overstocked. This is probably why western governments have taken a different approach from China and actually encourage us to breed more, probably to help their masters in big trade, industries, corporations etc. Don’t mean to piss on anyones fire or anything, but maybe having kids/sex is far too overhyped(although the latter can be fun with someone nice and not whatever dregs you can get hold of). If it’s special to you then great, but trillions of people have done it before so get over it, or take up anal or something.

    • spicytuna00

      The whole thing about China being ill informed about breeding is simply false….the Chinese population exploded due to the dictator MAO ZEDONG encouraging people to have large families. It isn’t because Chinese are somehow more inclined to constant breeding…that is ridiculous.

  • Jack

    I’ve seen so many people have children to ‘save their relationship’ only for it to make things worse. In my opinion this is far more selfish then somebody who is being pragmatic and admitting that they aren’t ready to have children. Having a child is a big decision, and it’s not for everybody.

  • spicytuna00

    I LOL at anyone who thinks having kids will be the greatest thing ever.

    My best friend decided to have a kid with her boyfriend after only 3 years, thinking it would be so wonderful and fun. 2 years later, after realizing what a mistake it was, and after hearing endless drama about how badly she wants to leave her boyfriend and how stressed out and tired she is, she has popped out her SECOND child (an accident, of course).

    She was just bemoaning the other day about how incredibly exhausted she is and she hopes for the sake of her kids that her boyfriend will change and that things will FINALLY get better…and that if not, she wants to take that step to leave.

    Silly, silly people. Your relationships won’t survive the incredible stress that is raising children unless you have a damn good foundation to begin with.

  • sarah

    Me and my husband has been married for about 6years now but have not be able to get pregnant and last year his family member want me out of the house because they said i was on able to give them a child and they want him to get married to someone else i have know where to run to one day a friend of my told me about Dr Gboco on how powerful he is and how he has also help her with spell so i have to contact him immediately on his email: gbocotemple@yahoo.com and he told me what i have to do which i did and after 7days i started seeing some charges in my body and i have to go and have a test carried out on me and find out that i was pregnant and it was just like a dream to me and i and my husband are very happy now and even the family member love me more than ever before and i had my baby delivered on may this years thanks to Dr Gboco.

  • achimwolfgermany

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Around the year 1804 there lived for the first time more than 1 billion people
    on our planet. By 1928, two billion were reached. 1960 we were 3 billion people
    on Mother Earth. And so the increase went on: 1975: 4 billion / 1987: 5 Billion
    / 1999: 6 billion / 2011: 7 billion (official figures, in which case those
    living in the underground and jungles surely are not taken into account).

    If the birth rate remains the same – or even increases –, there will be living
    on Earth more than 15 billion people in 2050.

    The bad consequences of this population explosion are described in this
    petition:

    http://chn.ge/1bSmBDH

    Please be kind
    enough to consider how you could spread the campaign, so that as many people as
    possible hear about it, and that the disastrous outcoming effects of the
    world-overcrowding can be mitigated.

    You can advertise the campaign. This makes the petition visible to more
    supporters. Please, use the following link: http://tinyurl.com/ohyphyf

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