The Stigma Attached to Not Wanting Children

Have you noticed there seems to be a stigma around being a woman of a certain age who doesn’t want children?

To preface this post, I’m not writing about myself and my own desires not to have children. I personally do want children, but I also wouldn’t be devastated if I couldn’t have children. I am an only child and I’ve always had a desire to have a bigger family, and naturally I feel pretty maternal.  I’m nearly 33, so this whole ‘having children’ thing is on my mind.

Despite wanting children, at this stage in my life, I identify more with the woman who wants time to work on her projects and her career than have children. I love my alone time to think, ponder and daydream. I love vast swaths of private time with no particular place to be or people to see. Is this me being an INFP? Perhaps. But, I’ve always been a late bloomer in my life, and in this particular area, I don’t have the luxury of being a late-bloomer. Of course I could wait till I’m nearing 40 and chance it with having kids, but that is indeed, chancing it.

When I say I want children, it sometimes feels like the “I” I’m thinking about my future self; specifically, the needs and desires of my future self. The same way I might plan for retirement financially or dream about having two dogs and a jacuzzi, deep soaking bathtub when I’m older and have more money.

I’ve just noticed lately that there’s such a stigma to not wanting to have children. The stigma seems to be this notion that if you don’t want children, it’s because you really did but you put your career first or didn’t find a husband/boyfriend in time, and now you’re subconsciously justifying your ‘choice’  And I hate that! Choosing not to have children can be a very active choice and not some by-product of running out of time, as it is often portrayed.

Another aspect of the stigma seems to be that there’s something inherently not ‘natural’ or ‘feminine’ about not wanting children. So many characters in films who don’t want children are tough and mean, like the evil corporate bitch that is Sigourney Weaver’s character in Working Girl.

This whole post was inspired by an interesting article I read on, Why I Never Wanted Kids. The article touched a nerve because I was surprised and intrigued by all of the reasons the author listed for not wanting children. There was one in particular that I never thought about: Having a negative experience as a child and not wanting to subject another person to that. I thought that was intriguing. While I had a good childhood, it wasn’t a reason I could relate to, but I could certainly empathize.

Do you have friends that know they don’t want children? How do you view their choice?

One response

  1. I wouldn’t necessarily say “never” to having kids, but at the moment it just seems we are not ready, financially and otherwise. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love children. In fact, my nieces and nephews ask to hang out with us all the time, which we’d be happy to. So I agree with you, there are many reasons for not wanting children, at the moment or ever, but it can’t be seen as not natural or not feminine!

    Liked by 1 person

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