Being childfree can be equally beautiful as a life with children.
My partner and I chose not to have kids, and while on the one hand it is quite personal and not really anyone’s business, I decided to share this for those it might help.
I’d like to dissolve the stigma around this topic because it is an empowered lifestyle choice that I believe young people should be allowed to feel comfortable making. It may very well be an increasingly better choice for many people as this world faces the many challenges it currently does.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t like kids – I love other people’s kids, I just don’t want my own. If a child were to somehow appear in my life through unexpected circumstances, I would give myself wholeheartedly to motherhood. But I am talking about right now.
Having Children Is Not A Priority For Everyone
It’s not that I have never wanted to have children. I’ve imagined life both with and without, parenthood has just never been a big priority in my life.
While other young girls used to fantasise about their futures with children in quite a lot of detail, I didn’t. I never ruled having children out. I just had other things that felt more important to me that I wanted to do first.
I always felt that if the time and the circumstances were right, if I had a loving partner and we both felt it’s right, then I would be happy to have a family. But as I explain further along in this post, my partner and I looked at the big picture and decided that all things considered, it’s not for us.
Overcoming Peer Pressure
I’ve experienced a lot of pressure from people around me to consider having children before I regret it. My GP even brought this up one day when I was in my late twenties.
For much of that time I wasn’t even in a relationship, and I was definitely not in the right emotional or financial situation to be able to handle motherhood. So that advice, though well intentioned, was as bad as trying to sell sub-prime mortgages to those who cannot afford it. I would have been driving myself and a baby into trauma.
I was surrounded by a lot other people’s anxieties about being childless, they were not mine.
I was told all about how conceiving becomes more difficult as we get older, the risks involved even if you do get pregnant and so on. I was told stories of women who apparently didn’t want children until one day they woke up at the age of 50 desperately craving motherhood and it being too late.
There’s a whole lot of fear in the messages women receive, and in my opinion, this is not the wisest way to make any decisions.
For years, I felt like the odd one out amongst friends who all married and had children in one big wave. It was sometimes awkward in social situations having no clue – or interest – in what wannabe-mothers and actual mothers had to talk about.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved occasionally babysitting my friends’ children, but our lives are just so different.
In a different society, where people still lived in close communities, I’d be the cool aunt who babysits and helps friends, but because we live in such independent ways, it’s a logistical challenge.
But I just never felt that burning desire for children and full time parenting responsibilities, especially not if it requires so much effort to conceive in the first place.
Choosing Not To Force Life To Happen
This point is actually moot for me, because I have decided not to have kids in the first place.
But I was warned that if I changed my mind later, I’d be looking at IVF as a real possibility in order to have children. Of course I have taken this well into consideration. I took my path with full awareness.
I have friends who went through IVF and I witnessed the effects of the hormones, the physical discomfort of the entire process, the stress it puts on couples and their relationships, not to mention the financial expense.
I’m sure all my friends who succeeded with IVF would say that there is no question that it was well worth it for the gift that their beautiful children are in their lives. I’m not trying to diminish that in any way.
I personally just would not go through that. I have a very different approach to life. I’ve always been more comfortable with embracing what arises naturally and not having to be so forceful in creating something. I also don’t want to risk my relationship with my partner, because I’ve seen marriages fall apart from all the stress this can pile onto a couple.
If I ever wake up wanting babies and it doesn’t happen. I am fine with that. I trust my path.
No Guarantees, No Regrets
I’m so glad I never had kids simply to negate those feelings of anxiety, of being left out socially, or out of the fear of being lonely when we are old.
I understand the concerns about getting older and worrying about feeling lonely or not having the support you need. But I think there are also enough examples in the world of where having children doesn’t guarantee that they will be close at hand during our older years. I am the best example of this. I am an only child who moved to the other side of the world and spends very little time with family.
Of course my partner and I have thought about our older years, we don’t know how it will be, but we walk this path with our eyes open.
People who have children to fill a void, resolve an anxiety about the future or other similar reason, often don’t realise the kind of stress and trauma their children can go through because of it. This kind of motivation usually seeps through in parenting styles and creates great frustration for everyone.
Having children is not the answer to finding fulfilment and purpose. That still lies with us as individuals to resolve within ourselves.
I know lots of parents will say that you don’t realise all the wonderful moments and things about being a parent until you are one. And I know this is true. But by the same token, I enjoy many qualities of life that parents can only dream of. Neither is better than the other.
The Cost of Raising A Family
Having kids is expensive and time-consuming and that’s a stress we are happy to do without, especially in such financially unpredictable times as we are experiencing now. We made the decision several years ago and had no way of knowing this pandemic even lay ahead.
I had a burnout several years ago without even having any children. I can only imagine what it’s like for parents trying to juggle so much all at once.
We looked out our old lifestyles and everything that frustrated us about it, that was causing us greatest stress and what we wanted to change.
We both realised that our frustrations were a result of our corporate work routines and culture. We were both overworked, always stressed, I burnt out, I believe my partner was on the verge of burning out himself. We had no idea why we were doing this to ourselves.
The only reason for us to stay in the corporate world was the financial stability it offered us if we wanted a family and needed to find a bigger home, mortgages and so on. But that would mean putting up with the long working hours and the very things that frustrated us — and neither of us were willing to do that anymore.
We felt there was more we wanted to explore in life, both as individuals and as a couple, and that would be easily possible if we didn’t commit to family life.
So we chose to resign from corporate life, to simplify our lives and we now enjoy the freedom that allows us. We’ve found new careers that give us greater fulfilment and we express our gratitude daily.
Overpopulation – The Elephant In The Room
This is such a stigmatising topic, but it’s a serious issue and is directly contributing to the climate crisis and the world problems we now face. Sir David Attenborough has been speaking out about this for a while and everyone seems to put their head in the sand.
We took overpopulation very seriously in our considerations. I personally don’t want to add to the burden we already place on this planet, especially when so many already go unloved or unwelcomed — not just orphans or neglected children, but also immigrants and refugees who suffer the consequences of conflict, climate change and struggling economies.
We don’t want to bring a new life into a world that is already under this amount of pressure.
This is a global issue and not one that will be solved by governmental policy. For now I see no other ethical alternative except by making a personal choice.
We Don’t Need To Have, Or Be, Everything To Be Empowered
A lot women of my generation have been given the message that success is managing the perfect work-life balance. That is, being as successful as men at work and being the perfect mum at home. For most people, the only way to do that is to try and be both a “man” and “woman” at the same time – in the old-fashioned sense. But if you ask me, that’s an impossible task and also why would you want to? You can create your own version of success, design your lifestyle based on what your own priorities are and not trying to be everything.
I considered my own capacity to make room for another human in my life. I have the best emotional capacity now than I’ve ever had before, but I still don’t feel willing to make room for anyone else. There are other things in my life that are still more important to me and I know what it was like being a child of parents who had no time for me. In fact, perhaps that’s another reason why this time for myself is even more important, because it’s also a way of honouring my own needs, that were not honoured when I was a child.
My way of being an empowered woman is not trying to have it all, but by choosing to live life the way that works best for my partner and I.
By not having children and leaving the corporate world, I have the time and flexibility to create a lifestyle I enjoy. It doesn’t require lots of money to do so – just a simpler approach to life and knowing what really matters to me.
I don’t mean to gloat — but my days are beautifully spacious, my life feels full of love, gratitude & contentment. I am able to live very freely. I have done so many amazing things in my life and I could die right now feeling so content because of it. Being childfree has made this possible.
We Have Lots Of Love To Share
When we made the decision around children, the first thing my partner and I asked ourselves is why we would want to have children if we did have any. We wanted to first be clear about our motivations.
What it came down to was the desire to share our love beyond our relationship.
We recognised that we have plenty of love to give, but we don’t necessarily need kids to share that. We have been considering various ways we can do that – for example, by helping the environment, or animals in need. We admire those who adopt children, rescue animals, help refugees, the homeless, do any charitable work or put their love into their creativity and work.
Love is needed all over the planet and there are many ways to channel love and compassion into this world. Making babies is just one way, but it’s not our way.
I’d Love to hear from you
Are you also childfree? What has it been like for you? I’d also love to hear from younger generations and learn more about how you view having children or not? Have I missed any important considerations that might be relevant for others?