The decision of when- and if- to reproduce is central to a women's basic human rights. People who choose not to have children are subjected to a myriad of hurtful comments and impertinent questions regarding their choice and physical reproductive abilities. Sometimes, these questions and comments can be shocking, and it's hard to know just how to respond. Below are the most common comments/questions I've gotten when my childfree status is revealed, and italicized are my replies.
"Not having children is foolish because no one will take care of you when you're old."
1.) Having children is no guarantee that you'll have someone to take care of you when you're old; so many moms and dads are dumped in nursing homes and never visited.
2.) I'm going to save so much money by not having children that I'll be able to hire professionals to come and take care of my husband and I in our home when we're old, which is a luxury we probably wouldn't be able to afford if we had kids.
"You're missing out. You'll never live a truly fulfilling life without kids."
I'm a writer. I'm a poet. I'm an artist. I rescue dogs. I found the love of my life. We have a home together with two fur-kids, one of which I rescued from the brink of death and spent a year rehabilitating. I go on vacations. I get out. I live life. I feel completely fulfilled and content.
"You don't want kids? How selfish."
I am selfish, but not for not having kids. Having kids would be selfish of me, because I'd be doing it for the wrong reasons, since I don't want them. Bringing kids you resent and can't emotionally care for is selfish. Not having children, in my case, is responsible.
"You'll change your mind."
Anything is possible, but I probably won't change my mind, because there are a lot of reasons why I don't want children and I don't appreciate you undermining my decision making skills by implying that I'm incapable of rationally deciding to not procreate.
"You're too young to make reproductive decisions like that."
I'm actually an adult human being perfectly capable of making my own reproductive decisions, thanks. I've known since I was a child myself that I'd never want one, and there are numerous reasons why I don't have kids, none of which are any of your business.
"If you don't want children, you must not be with the right partner. 'The One' will make you want kids."
My husband and I are extremely happy together and our marriage is perfect and not missing a single thing, especially children. If anything, children would ruin our marriage by taking up so much of our time and resources. I love having him- and the money we're saving by not having kids- all to myself.
"You're stupid for not having children."
I actually test at genius levels in some subjects, and I've used this powerful brain of mine to rationally make the logical decision not to have children, for many reasons. It would, however, be stupid of me to have children I didn't want because of ridiculous and degrading social pressure.
"There must be something wrong with you."
There is, and it's the fact that I'm wasting my time talking to you. If there is something biologically wrong with me that prevents me from having children, it certainly isn't your business.
"It's irresponsible of you to not reproduce."
Do you have any idea how overpopulated the planet is or how much garbage a single person produces? Creating further burden on the planet by having children is irresponsible, not my reproductive decision. It'd also be irresponsible of me to have children I don't want to take care of.
"Does your husband know and accept that you don't want kids?"
Obviously, or we wouldn't be together. Also, how dare you undermine my autonomy by assuming I need permission from my husband to refrain from reproducing.
"Why did you even get married if you aren't having kids?"
Children don't make a marriage. I married my husband because I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, and because I wanted to enjoy all the perks of being married.
"Your family is incomplete without kids."
The notion of what constitutes a family is completely subjective and ambiguous. For me, my family feels complete with just my husband and I; our dogs are welcome additions to it, but as far as the concept of family goes, it doesn't need to include any certain number of people- or any children at all-to be complete.
"Pets aren't an acceptable replacement for children. It's not the same."
I get out all my maternal feelings by loving my dogs. I don't care if that's "acceptable" to you or not, because it works for me. The love and devotion I feel for them is real, I don't care whether or not it's exactly "the same" as the love and devotion I'd feel for a child of my own. It's very real to me.
"You're cruel for not giving your parents grandchildren."
So I'm supposed to have children I don't want and be a resentful mother to them out of a sense of duty to my parents, who'll see them once or twice a year maybe? You're right, that makes sense.
"A woman's purpose on Earth is to procreate, and you're not fulfilling your duty as a woman."
How barbaric. What century is this? I'm an autonomous person. I don't have any kind of intrinsic obligation to the universe to procreate, and my reasons for choosing not to are completely valid.
"Why does your husband stay with you?"
He stays with me because he's in love with me, because he also doesn't want children, and because we don't need to have children in order for our family to be complete because our marriage isn't so flimsy as to need distractions or obligations like kids to enable it to survive and thrive.
The decision of whether or not to procreate is a very private and personal one; it's no one else's business why someone has chosen the childfree life. Still, people always seem to throw rude comments and questions at me whenever I reveal that I don't have children, as if my childfree status is a personal attack against them. Knowing what to say in these shocking situations is hard, but hopefully these help you get an idea of how to combat the hurtful comments and stick to your guns!