I have many friends with children. Most of my childhood and lifelong friends started having kids in their late twenties. I was always happy for them and the choice they made, even though it was a choice I would never make for myself.
I didn’t get a lot of pressure from them to confirm my decision to remain child-free by choice, nor did I receive the constant “but you’d be a great mum” comments either.
I think this is because I was always so vocal about not wanting children throughout high school and in early adulthood that my friends accepted my choice. They also understood how strong willed I am and that I knew what I wanted from my life, so my choice wasn’t really questioned.
However, I do wonder if that is the norm.
So many women in my online child-free communities and in various Facebook groups talk about their friends and family pressure them, and feel offended by the fact that they don’t want to have children.
When these women have expressed that they don’t want to have children, a common reaction is a sharp intake of breath and a look of disbelief, almost as if someone has slapped them across the face. “Whaaaat, you don’t want kids?,” they ask.
Why is it that parents find it so offensive when they encounter a woman who has chosen not to have children?
My choice to remain child-free is not a reflection on another woman’s decision to become a mother, much like another woman’s choice to have children is not a reflection on my decision to be child-free. We are both just doing what we want for our lives. Why is that so offensive? And why do other women take my decision so personally?
My choice does not impact you in any way, nor does my decision have anything to do with you or your choices. You weren’t a factor in my decision making.
My decision to be child-free by choice isn’t about casting a judgement on a mother or her choices. Please understand that.
I don’t think I will ever understand why mothers take it so personally that I chose to be child-free. It might be a right choice for you, but it isn’t for me.
Perhaps it comes down to cultural messaging and pronatalism brainwashing that has taught women we should want to be a mother.
Perhaps mothers are offended that I have the courage to say no to a traditional ideal, that I dare to choose me over a tiny human, and that I turn my back on the traditional choices they have made.
Perhaps they are offended that I made a decision that they never considered or had the courage to say no to.
As a parent, you don’t need to evaluate my life based on my what I haven’t done. Keep in mind that every person on this earth makes different choices based on their own experiences, values, perceptions, goals and abilities.
I should not have to explain my decision to opt out of motherhood. Parents don’t ask me to explain why I don’t like cats, red wine or sky diving. They don’t seem offended by those things. So why do I have to explain and defend my choice to be child-free to them?
We seem to live in a culture where everyone is offended by every little thing. And I think it’s about time that we stopped and realised that women make different choices for their lives, and we shouldn’t be offended by those choices.
I’m happily married with no children. I like my child-free life. And that’s exactly why my choice to be child-free is not a reflection on your choice to be a mum.