I don’t have children, I never wanted to have children and I am now of an age where the odds of me having children are slim to none. It has never left me feeling like I missed out on something, or unfulfilled. I have never felt my “biological clock” ticking.
But I had a conversation with a older woman recently who asked me if I had children, and when I said no, she asked if that was my decision or a “medical condition” that I might have! I was a little stunned, but laughed and said it was all my decision. The fact I said it was my choice not to have any came as a surprise to her and I don’t think she realised that not having children is also a decision you can make. I know she didn’t mean it in an offensive way, it’s just that she couldn’t understand why I never wanted to have children. For years people have said I would change my mind, but I haven’t.
Societies view on women not wanting to have children
So this lead me to thinking, how badly are women still judged for not having children? Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was expected that you would get married and have children, it was “the norm”. If this was something a woman didn’t want to do, it was assumed that something was wrong with her. Why did she not want to get married and have children, is there something wrong? I find you have to explain more about why you don’t want to have children than why you would. Why aren’t we asking people why they want to have children? Nobody asks that question do they!
I recently read an article about Gloria Steinem. She was a formidable force in Women’s Liberation in the 1960’s & 70’s. Now 86 years old, she explained that when she was younger in the 1950’s she didn’t even realise it was a choice not to have children. She went on to state that she was happy and never regretted her decision not to have children. That it wasn’t even a conscious decision that she made, it was a “maybe in the future, not just yet” decision.
Women not wanting children in 2020
But now in the year 2020, women can have it all, can’t they? Can you have the career of your choice, and have children. Can you make a realistic work/life balance. Do you have to make any sacrifices. All these questions about how women, career and children will all work together. But what still amazes me is that nobody asks men these questions. Is it still just assumed that women will stay at home with the kids and men carry on going to work. Does a woman have to sacrifice her career to have children. In 2020, unfortunately these questions are still relevant and are being asked.
But I digress, back to women actually wanting children. I started to read about what was going on out there, and I discovered more and more women are choosing not to have children, couple’s are happy with it being just the two of them and children aren’t a factor. Does this make them selfish and shallow. Is it our duty to bear children? No, it isn’t! It makes me angry that it is still something that is accepted will happen, getting married and having kids.
The question that kept popping up was “Is it normal for a woman not to want children”. What is normal? Are we still living in a world where we want everyone to be the same. If you want to get married and have children, great, I’m very happy for you, just don’t expect everyone to want the same thing.
When should we have children?
Then there is also women who are leaving it till later in life to have children. Depending on what you read the best age to have a baby is between 25 and 30 years old. When I think of myself at 25, I can’t possibly envisage me with a child. We are reminded that at 37 years old our fertility drops significantly, and by the time you are 40 you only have a 5% chance of getting pregnant, and the risk of miscarriage is higher. It estimates that around 20% of women will miscarry at 20 years old, compared with 90% at the age of 45 or older. Yet more and more women are leaving it until later in life to have children.
So what do you do? Have children when you’re younger, or have half a career, stop to have children. Then can you go back to where you left off. Or do you have a career then stop and have children at forty and call it a day. These are just a handful of the decisions that we are faced with.
My view on not wanting Kids
I realised whilst writing this article what a minefield this subject is. Just the questions and answers out there on the internet are truly awful. The judgement that comes from a woman holding her hand up and saying she doesn’t want to have children, that it is a conscious choice she is making, is met with disbelief and cries of “you’ll change your mind”. I am really shocked and surprised that this is still the attitude out there, and I hate to say it, more from other women. Can we not accept that maybe some of us simply do not want to have children, without being vilified for it. It is a personal choice and it should be respected! You are child free, not child less!
Not wanting children does not equal not liking children
But then comes the assumption that you dislike children, that you hate the little monsters. Also, not true. I adore children, I’m an auntie, a damn good one too, my friends have kids, I love them, I just don’t want any of my own, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to justify that. The one thing that was at the back of my mind the whole time I was writing this article was… ‘What if it was men who physically had babies instead of women. Crazy thought I know! But would we still question them for not wanting to have children? Hmm, food for though!
What are your views on women not wanting children?