Growing up, we are often led to believe that the adult formula and key to happiness are getting married, buying a house, and having kids. We don’t think of parenthood as a choice, but rather as one of the milestones that occur automatically once a person reaches adulthood. The truth is, not everyone is meant to or would like to follow this path in life. And get this: these are still happy and successful people living their life to the fullest!
A Struggle for Women
Unfortunately, it is much more common for women to face this issue in their lives. There typically comes a time in a woman’s life, when she starts getting the age-old question: ‘so, when are you having kids?’ Apart from the infamous ticking of the biological clock, there exists social pressure on the female to become a mother; to fulfill her duty as a woman by bringing life into the world. Those who don’t are missing a vital part of their womanhood because a woman should want to have children, right? Wrong.
Some reasons that people provide for not wanting to have children include, but are not limited to: health issues, financial reasons, concern about the sustainability of the world, or simply have other priorities in life.
The Stigma of a ‘Child-Free’ Life
A lot of people are actively choosing not to have kids, however, many are still afraid of being open about this due to the stigma attached to wanting to be child-free. Family and social pressures may lead one to think that they are weird or horrible for not wanting to have children. Emotions such as guilt and shame are common feelings expressed by adults who do not choose to follow the traditional family structure. These emotions can be difficult for some to process, and may lead one to conform to the idea of becoming a parent to avoid disappointing those around them, or because they are afraid of regretting the choice of not having kids when they are older.
It’s a matter of choice
It is time to assert that there is absolutely nothing wrong with people who choose to opt-out of parenthood. While some may still consider the lack of desire to have children to be unconventional, it is important to focus on bodily autonomy and personal choice when it comes to reproduction. Deciding to become a parent is a life decision that only the individual or couple in question should have to make. It is often not easy for people to come to this decision, as this usually comes with a lot of personal deliberation surrounding the pros and cons of procreating.
Being met with disapproval or disgust from society for wanting to be child-free does not make it any easier. However, we need to reiterate that it is a perfectly valid and healthy choice to not want to have children. No one should have to feel like a lesser individual for deciding to not bring children into this world. There is so much that life has to offer for those who choose not to become parents – the key lies in being your most authentic self and choosing to do whatever makes you happy.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Pamela Borg is a counsellor who enjoys working therapeutically with adults experiencing various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing, gender, sexuality, relationship issues.
Dingwell, R. (2022). I don’t want children, but sometimes I want to want them. Retrieved from: https://www.insider.com/woman-doesnt-want-children-told-shed-change-her-mind-2022-9
Majumdar, K. (2021). The decision not to have a kid is personal — but the social pressure against the choice is all-pervasive. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.in/thelife/article/the-decision-not-to-have-a-kid-is-personal-but-the-social-pressure-against-the-choice-is-all-pervasive/articleshow/81259181.cms
Smith, E. (n.d.) Why Not Having Children is a Valid and Healthy Choice. Retrieved from: https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/articles/not-children-valid-healthy-choice/
Styx, L. (2021). A Quarter of Adults Don’t Want Children—and They’re Just As Happy. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/a-quarter-of-adults-don-t-want-children-and-they-re-still-happy-5190690
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