I'm childfree, and I will be for life, for numerous reasons. Childfree women face a lot of scorn and stigma within society and even within their own families sometimes, and it's all completely unjustified. I've known since I was a small child that I never wanted to reproduce, and all of my reasons are completely valid because, as a woman, I'm an autonomous human being capable of considering a multitude of factors and logically arriving at the reproductive decision that's right for me. Over my 25-year lifespan, I've been subjected to many hurtful comments and impertinent questions about my reproductive choices. Many assumptions are made about childfree women are made that just don't apply to everyone, so here's my master list of things that childfree women want you to know:
1.) Asking Why We Don't Have Kids Can Be Hurtful
So many women and men struggle with infertility, and that can be painful enough without being constantly asked why we don't have children. I have severe polycystic ovarian syndrome and a tilted and tipped uterus, so I'm likely infertile. While it doesn't bother me because I don't want to procreate anyway, a diagnosis of infertility is absolutely devastating to many people. Asking why someone doesn't have kids is impertinent to begin with because it's none of your business, and it can be hurtful if there are other factors like infertility or financial status that come into play and prevent people from having children. So, just don't ask.
2.) We're Capable of Making Our Own Reproductive Decisions
These seems like an obvious one, but apparently, it's not. Whenever it's revealed that I'm childfree, I get comments like, "You'll change your mind," and "You just haven't met the right man yet." Telling women that they'll change their minds about their decision not to reproduce undermines their intrinsic ability to make basic life decisions, and thus is both disrespectful and rude. Women are perfectly capable of making the logical, reasonable decision to not reproduce after considering any number of valid factors, none of which are anyone's business. That being said, some women do change their minds about not having kids, and that's perfectly okay, too! That fact still doesn't give you license to disrespect women everywhere by telling us that we're incapable of making logical reproductive decisions.
3.) No, We Don't All Hate Kids
Not everyone who doesn't have children hates kids. This is a very common assumption, which baffles me. Children are a serious undertaking, and there are a huge number of reasons not to have have them, varying from economic factors to reproductive issues to genetic abnormalities and conditions that shouldn't be passed on, etc. Assuming automatically that all childfree people hate kids is ridiculous. That being said, some people don't like children, and that's absolutely fine. Kids are messy, expensive, loud, selfish, demanding, and need constant attention; they're not for everyone, and that's okay because everyone's entitled to their own opinions and intrinsic preferences, and they shouldn't be made to feel badly for them.
4.) Our Reasons for Not Having Children Are Both Valid & None of Your Business
We don't owe you any explanation as to why we don't have children. Off the top of my head, I can think of dozens of reasons why someone wouldn't want to procreate. Any reason not to have children is valid and should be respected. As examples, I've decided to open up and list for you my top dozen reasons below for personally not having children:
1. I have severe polycystic ovarian syndrome and a tilted and tipped uterus, so I'm likely infertile.
2. I have terrible genes. Cancers, rare bone diseases, and an enormous list of psychological problems run in my family, so I feel that procreating and passing these terrible genes on further would be irresponsible.
3. I just don't feel any maternal inclination or drive to reproduce. I have rescue dogs, and any maternal feelings I do have, I express by doting on them. This fulfills me, so I see no reason to have human kids of my own.
4. I'm selfish. I want my husband all to myself. I don't want to have to share his attention and affection by creating a child with him.
5. Children are expensive. This goes back to my point about me being selfish; I want nice things. I want to make my home into my dream home. I want to continue to be able to donate to animal shelters. I want to continue to buy things when I want them, and not have to sacrifice my happiness for a child's wants and needs.
6. I want to continue working with large/giant-breed aggressive dogs. Fostering is something that means a lot to me, and it's socially responsible of me to continue fixing other people's mistakes by rescuing and rehabilitating abused and unwanted aggressive animals. If I had children, I'd have to stop working with aggressive animals because it'd put the child at risk. Fostering/rehabilitating abused animals is something I'm extremely passionate about and I'm unwilling to give it up to have children.
7. Environmental reasons. The planet is already overpopulated and over-polluted. Why add to it by creating even more people? Not procreating is environmentally responsible.
8. I simply don't like the way the world is today for hundreds of reasons, and I don't want to bring a child into this mess. It just sounds horribly stressful and depressing.
9. I'm autistic, and I have several autistic family members. I'm high-functioning and I don't view my autism as a problem or malady though it presents many challenges, but if I were to reproduce there's a strong likelihood that my children would be autistic, too, and there's no telling where on the spectrum they'd fall. An autistic parent trying to deal with an autistic child just sounds like it'd be chaos, and good for neither of us.
10. My own parents were terrible. My mother was abusive before she abandoned me and my father was verbally and emotionally abusive throughout my childhood. I didn't grow up with good parents, so I don't really know how to be a parent, and I'm worried I'd emulate my own parents in some way unintentionally and mess the kid up. I also never really had a childhood because of all the trauma and abuse I went through, so I feel like I can't relate to children at all.
11. I feel completely fulfilled. My family doesn't feel incomplete in any way, my life doesn't feel like it's missing anything, and I'm perfectly happy and content. My husband and I are financially stable, our marriage is fantastic, and we're both on the same page as far as not wanting to reproduce. Why bother messing with any of those positives in my life by procreating?
12. Honestly, childbirth disgusts me. Sorry, it does. I know it's a natural process, but I also find a lot of other natural bodily functions disgusting. The thought of my body being put through childbirth is literally nothing short of horrific to me, and something I'd like to avoid at absolutely all costs.
Childfree people face so much stigma in our society. We're told we're unfulfilled in life, irresponsible, and incapable of making decisions about our own reproduction. We're assumed to hate children, we're told that we're not fulfilling some sacred or intrinsic obligation to procreate, we're belittled and harassed. Childfree lifestyles are completely valid. The decision not to have children isn't an attack on people who do have children, and there are a huge number of reasons both within and out of our control as to why we don't procreate.
So, next time someone tells you they're childfree, don't ask why, don't make some demeaning comment about them changing their minds later, and don't assume they hate all children; simply accept their childfree status as part of who they are and just move on, because it's really no one's business but theirs anyway.