Don't want kids? That's okay. A lot of people don't. In fact, the CDC has found that the national American birthrate is the lowest it's been in 30 years. People are having children later in life, if they're having them at all. And sure, you can point to more and more women working outside the home as a potential, partial explanation for these lower birthrates. But a better answer might be the fact that people who just don't want kids — men and women alike — are finding it easier to stand by that decision.
For previous generations, getting married and having kids was something nearly everyone did. It's what you were "supposed" to do in the course of a normal, not to mention complete, life. Today? Not so much. While you still get The Questions ("When are you going to settle down/get married/have kids?") from older relatives and even complete strangers, more people are forming a different definition of what a life "should" be. So, it's getting easier to say, "Here's why I don't want kids."
Because you're allowed to have your own feelings and make your own life decisions without needing to explain yourself to anyone. Period. If the concept of motherhood has just never felt like it was relevant to you, it may even feel strange to be asked why you don't want kids. You may never have given the topic a second thought.
If pressed — because some people will always insist on pressing — don't feel like you need to unpack your reasoning, especially if there isn't any particular reasoning or deep underlying meaning to your decision. You don't want kids because you don't. It's okay to say it's just not for you and leave it at that.
Having kids is a big life change. It shifts your focus, your priorities, your routines and your lifestyle. And listen, you can totally love kids, coo at babies and always play with the toddlers running around at family gatherings. But you can also love sleeping in, staying up late and taking a trip when you feel like it, too. You can love kids but love your life as it is even more. That's not a selfish decision to make, although being called selfish is something people who decide not to have kids still face. But this is your life. You deserve to be able to live it on your own terms.
For some people, parenthood is a deep-seated desire. They really want to have kids and build a family. You can have a similar need and life goal — for something else. Parenthood requires a level of devotion you may be reserving for some other goal. Being an artist — creating, preparing for shows or managing the sales of your work; studying to become a doctor or for any other profession that requires years of schooling and dedication; working overtime and weekends to save money for long-distance, long-term travel.... Having kids would get in the way of any of those pursuits and lifestyles. Having other goals to which you devote your time, energy and focus are very common reasons why you and many others don't want kids.
Not liking children is absolutely a reason not to want kids now or ever. The mothering instinct isn't something every woman has, after all. For women and men who know in their hearts that they just don't like kids, parenthood is a non-issue.
Kids are a lot of work, they're noisy and confusing and they simply don't appeal to a lot of people. It's perfectly fine to find babies, toddlers, kids, tweens, teens and even young adults completely annoying. Simply being unable to relate is a very common reason many people don't want kids.
The world is a scary place. It's not easy being an adult and not freaking out about your own safety and future security on an almost daily basis. So the idea of creating a child, raising it, loving it and then having to send it out into that same world? That's enough to scare a lot of people. Even school, especially high school, can be a survival-of-the-fittest situation or feel that way. Growing up is hard, and so is life. And for some people, that's reason enough not to inflict it on someone else. That may seem like a harsh or even depressing way to look at the topic, but if that's your truth, then that's your truth.
Parenthood is a job. There's no getting around that fact. Not only are you responsible for the physical well being of a very tiny creature — which itself might be scary, as fragile as babies can be — you're also in charge of that little person's growth and development. It's up to you to teach, to lead by example and to show the right and wrong ways to navigate the world, relationships and life in general. From tying shoes to having a sense of self-worth, you'll be the biggest influence in this new person's self-hood. To people who want to be parents, this is a tremendous gift, something they're ready and willing to work hard to be good at. Those are the people that should be having children. Sound like too much work, pressure and stress? Then you don't want kids, for sure.
Medical science has brought us a long way, but pregnancy still carries a lot of inherent risks and even dangers for both mother and child. Miscarriages are far more common than most people might assume, and the health risks to women during pregnancy, during delivery and after childbirth are significant enough to warrant serious consideration before conceiving. Many women decide it simply isn't worth the risk. They don't want kids enough to take those chances.
Some women aren't physically able to conceive or carry a child to term for a variety of medical reasons or situations. The loss of the opportunity to become a mother is devastating to some women, and they might choose to use a surrogate or adopt as ways to start building a family. For others? Maybe they weren't very inclined toward motherhood to begin with, so learning that they can't or shouldn't try might seem like a kind of a sign. Adoption and surrogacy are complicated processes and potentially an emotional minefield, after all. Learning that you're unable to conceive might be the reason you're personally able to put the subject of motherhood to bed.
The flip side of not being able to conceive is being able to become pregnant but having concerns about certain genetic conditions or disorders you might pass on. From mental illness to congenital heart disease, many families carry the markers of disorders and diseases you just don't want to risk passing on to another generation. A lot of people have that exact "the buck stops here" mindset. And while some may then choose to pursue adoption or fostering kids, for others it means parenthood just isn't for them.
Once you carry a child to term, you have to get through childbirth. And that's just the start. Your job really begins once you hold that baby in your arms, and take it home. While you may be able to physically conceive, feeling emotionally and mentally prepared for the career that is motherhood is an entirely different kettle of fish. No one is ever completely prepared or so they say, but you can have a pretty good idea about whether or not you're up to the task to begin with. You know yourself well enough to know that the amount of work and stress is something you don't want or can't handle.
So there's the physical cost, the emotional and psychological cost - and then, if those aren't already big enough issues to deal with, there's also the financial cost of having kids. Pregnant woman need regular check ups, vitamins, even medications. The cost of a hospital stay for childbirth can be an enormous burden. And that's just the price of bringing the child into the world. Let's face it: kids need a lot of accessories. If you struggle to feed and clothe yourself, or are more focused on saving money for your personal goals, then the financial aspect of having kids can be a big part of why you decide you don't want them.
Because having kids is a lifestyle. Your life will revolve around the responsibilities of parenthood for decades. And maybe you want to travel the world instead or even already do. Maybe you work third shift so your life operates on an entirely different schedule than most of the rest of the world (like daycare facilities and schools). Maybe you like to move around, pulling up stakes whenever you get the notion. However you live your life or aspire to, if kids don't fit into that picture, then they simply don't fit into your life plans.
You may have a maternal instinct that's being perfectly satisfied taking care of pets, your partner, your friends and other loved ones. And there's nothing wrong with that. Feeling fulfilled with the outlets you already have for all the love and care you want to give is exactly why many people don't want kids. Because they don't need to.
People, especially women, still face a lot of pressure and even backlash when they say they don't want kids. Why? Because women are the ones who actually grow new people inside them, for one thing, and for another, many people still feel the purpose of womanhood, the feminine ideal, is motherhood. And so you may still encounter stigma against being a childless woman or being part of a childless couple.
That's a hard thing to experience. So knowing why you don't want kids, understanding yourself, your life and your feelings, is essential to being able to deal with those people — from the well-meaning to the outright condemning — who don't understand your decision. Just remember that it's your life, your body and your choice. You and only you get to decide what's right for your life and what isn't.
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