This article on Voluntary childlessness was published on the Metro website recently in which a woman explained her reasons why ‘I don’t want children…’:
“As an unmarried (another rant for another time), childfree, 30-year-old woman in a long-term relationship, I’m viewed by many as a bit of a mystery – kind of like Brexit or the dark web.
Cisgendered females are widely assumed to be mothers at some point in their lives and will actively want to be mothers, of course. Parenthood isn’t an optional extra we might decide to take up one day, like cross stitch or kettlebells, it’s a given.
So to push against the norm can, in my experience, be utterly perplexing to people. ‘How can you NOT want children? Wonderful, magnificent, angelic, innocent children?!’
My answer: pretty easily.
Not being a parent has never been a conscious ‘choice’, more something I’ve always inherently known. It’s like asking someone to cite precisely when they decided not to like tonic water or olives. They didn’t consciously elect to hate the taste of them, they just do.
Similarly, producing offspring is something I’ve always been sure I didn’t want any part of. But that’s simply not enough for some.
Motherhood and womanhood seemingly go hand-in-hand, we possess the means to reproduce, so that’s exactly what we should be doing. But more than that, society still dictates it should be at the top of a woman’s priority list all times, starting the very moment we’re born.
We push toy prams around before we’ve even uttered out first words. We play mummies and daddies in the playground before we’re taught how babies are actually made. The significance of 13-year-old me being asked my favourite baby names doesn’t escape me. Then when we do become adults, our parents pine for the grandchildren we’ll ‘give’ them one day.
If anything, it’s quite a miracle I’ve managed to emerge from it all with such a strong anti-birthing mindset. It’s been far from easy.
Like any childfree person (also called voluntary childlessness), I’ve been questioned tougher than a thief under police caution by many people, some who know me well and some who don’t know me at all. Starting with…
‘You just don’t have maternal instincts!’ *rolls eyes continuously for 35 years*
The thing about instincts is, we all have them in varying severities – they’re called instincts, after all. Just like how most of us possess tonsils and ear lobes, it doesn’t mean we have to put them to good use at all times.
Translation: I can be maternal, I just really don’t want to and I won’t apologise if that’s confusing for you.
We push toy prams around before we’ve even uttered out first words.
Second in play is always the ‘I get it, you’re more of a career woman’ speech because obviously, the world of babies and the world of work sit at two opposite ends of a spectrum, and I must be hiding at one extreme to avoid the other.
I don’t have a job to get me out of being a parent, I have a job because we live in a capitalist society that demands productivity in order to survive. Motherhood has nothing to do with it. In fact, 4.9million women in the UK with dependent children were in employment in 2018, accounting for 74 per cent of all mothers.
In some more extreme situations, I’ve been told I’m not doing what I was put on this earth to do and have even been faced with the existential dilemma: ‘But what will you do with your life?’
Keep scrawling down angry rants and possibly buy a super yacht? Not too sure yet if I’m honest. And don’t even get me started on ‘you’ll change your mind one day!’. Funnily enough, my boyfriend never gets his childfree standpoint queried in the same way.
Of course, they’re all inaccurate assumptions used to fit our lives into society’s limited blueprint of womanhood. If we’re plonked in the non-maternal career woman box, it’s a neat and tidy justification of our existence, rather than the messier, ‘I just don’t’.
Whatever someone’s reason for not reproducing, they don’t owe the world an explanation. Whether it’s for environmental, mental or physical health motives, or simply because they just don’t want to, respect that they will always know their mind better than you do. For me, it’s as simple as this: I don’t hate children. I just don’t want them.”
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