‘I don’t want children’- A challenge to the core belief that we should have kids.
Firstly, I want to be clear about something. When it comes to having children, I am neutral. I have no particular feelings about having, or not having, a child in this period of my life. I remain in the middle ground. I am on the fence. I am in Switzerland. The truth is that I don’t really know what I want at this point in my life. So I will leave it at that, and see where the tide pulls me.
But what about other men and women? What about the desire to remain childless as opposed to having a typical nuclear family?
When someone tells you that they don’t want children what is your first reaction?
If you are like most people you will associate the desire to not have children in women as a sign of selfishness, self-absorption or lack of desirability – same with men (but perhaps less so). If you are like most people you will think of childless women as “spinsters” or “yuppies” and childless men as “playboys” or “infertiles.”
In fact, our beliefs surrounding conceiving and rearing children seem to be very warped and imbalanced. We seem to carry this deep-rooted conviction that life is about getting a job, getting married, having kids, working until the age of 60, and retiring. We seem to still be stuck in a 1950’s mindset of how life is “meant” to be.
We seem to believe that the desire to not have children is somehow narcissistic, unnatural and miserly.
It’s about time that we challenge the belief that adult life is inevitably about raising a hoard of children. We need to explore the other side of the equation.
DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO HAVE CHILDREN – THE CHOICE IS YOURS (IF YOU LET IT BE)
All throughout our lives we experience immense, but often subtle forms, of pressure. We face the pressure of being fashionable, we face the pressure of being liked by others, we face the pressure of getting a good job and education, we face the pressure of living up to our parent’s expectations, we face the pressure of remaining young and beautiful … and unsurprisingly, we face the pressure to fit our lives into the mold that society tells us is “acceptable” and “normal.”
This, irrevocably, includes having children.
In fact, from a very young age, we are brainwashed to accept that raising children is our fate as adults. We see this belief reflected all around us: in newspapers, in movies, in TV shows, in books, in magazines, and in our everyday lives; in our friends, family members, relatives, and business partners.
We are constantly asked, “When are you going to have children?” by our friends and acquaintances, and we are asked by our parents, “When will you give me grandchildren?” As we age, the crushing weight of people’s expectations and demands for us to have children increase as our bodies mature. Women especially face overwhelming stress as the burden of “having to have a child” increases as their biological clocks begin to wind down.
All in all, we carry around the crushing weight of an out-dated idea that, for some people, results in a lot of regrets and financial hardship.
This is not to say that having a child is a bad thing. In fact, for many people having a child is the genuine, heart-felt highlight of life. This is perfectly fine as well.
On one side of the equation, people want to have children to:
- Fulfill their desire to nurture.
- Continue on the family name.
- Find meaning in life.
- Have companionship.
- Have someone to pass on life’s treasures after death.
- Live vicariously (through their joys and accomplishments).
- Not wanting to die alone.
However, on the other side of the equation, people who say they don’t want to have children, they say that because of: