Being Selfish or Being Sensible? What’s So Wrong With Not Wanting To Have Children?

June 14, 2012  |  

Depending on who you talk to, we are on this earth to procreate and keep the human race thriving. In the meantime, we get jobs, we achieve things, we possibly get married, we live and learn (and change hairstyles), but in the end, folks are conditioned to be ready to bring another human being into the world (once again, this depends on who you’re talking to). According to the media, everybody is doing it (“Teen Mom,” celebrities, hell the Duggar family just won’t stop), and people should follow suit. But what happens when in your mind, you’re the one person who doesn’t want to have kids?

For years, I wasn’t extremely amped about the idea of motherhood, maybe because of the fact that I’ve had nieces and nephews to help look after and keep entertained since I was 4 (I can barely remember when my first niece and nephew were born, that’s how young I really was). I liked the idea of naming kids, but the raising kids part seemed like more than I could wrap my brain around, especially when my mom would say,”When I was your age, I had TWO kids and was married!. Oh, okay.

But as the years have gone by and I’ve watched other nieces and nephews be born and grow, and now watch my sister go through her first pregnancy, I realize that IN THE FUTURE, I’d like a little bundle of joy myself. But a coworker of mine looks at the idea of motherhood the same way she looks at the rubbery stick of cheese she tried to ingest from 7-Eleven this morning…with a bit of confusion, or as I like to say, she gives it the “Oh hell no face.” She respects those who do it, but she’s over the whole “Oh, I want to have a baby” hysteria. Aside from naming the struggles of growing up in a big family, when I asked her what influenced her to pass on having her own children in the near future, she threw out a variety of scattered reasons and responses:

The Commitment: The reality of the fact that when a child comes out, it’s with you and yours until you pass on (God willing) was a little too much for her. Having responsibility over another human being for years and years was something she was a bit leery of, and even when a child grows up, that doesn’t mean the worry over them stops. There’s no vacay from being a mom.

The Financial Burden: From the cost of the pregnancy test, to the money you have to put together to help put them through college, children are indeed expensive. My co-worker says she realizes she’s not in a place in her life where she can shoulder all the costs, and isn’t sure she’ll ever be there  or ready to shoulder it at all.

The Thought of Taking Care of Children Isn’t a Pleasant One: While she might not mind taking care of a little cousin for a few hours, knowing she can’t give said child back to their parent at the end of the day is a tad bit scary. Dealing with their possible terrible twos and tantrums, their energetic personalities and more for 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year (of course, with school or daycare involved) is something that fills her with anxiety, not a sense of happiness or fullness. Forget diamonds, kids are forever!

After we discussed her issues with motherhood and childbirth, the conversation turned to the idea of whether or not having these feelings and being against the idea of having children made people self-absorbed. She told me a story about hanging out with a girlfriend while they had a conversation with a man about why they didn’t have kids yet, and her friend made it clear that she wouldn’t have a child if she didn’t meet the right guy. The fella decided to blast her friend for being “selfish.” As crazy as that sounds, it’s not the first time someone has tried to pull that on a woman. When Oprah made it clear that she wasn’t going to push out any babies and reiterated the point over the years, people wondered why a woman who could provide so much to a child wouldn’t want to have children, or even adopt them. Selfish, much? But it was an interesting question: Does not wanting children make a woman selfish?

While some women might not want to give birth for superficial reasons (“I’m trying to keep my body right!”), or for random reasons (they had a bad encounter with ONE child and are over them all), there are many who just really don’t feel the need to do have a kid. Not because they hate kids, but because they just don’t see themselves in the motherly role. Maybe they’ve had bad experiences being children in humongous families, or have aspirations to do a wealth of things that wouldn’t be baby friendly, but whatever the reason, while folks might not immediately understand it, I don’t think it makes someone selfish. That’s like a woman unsure of whether or not to get married to her boyfriend does so to please the folks who say she should, only to have a rocky marriage. If you know in your heart you don’t have an enthusiasm for the concept, why would you go forth and have a child? Why bring someone in the world that you don’t want? In reality, what would be more selfish is to bring a child in the world that you can’t provide for, don’t have love for, and don’t want to take responsibility of, and sadly, we see women do things of that nature every day. Instead of giving these ladies the side eye, you might want to show them love for keeping it real with themselves.

Who knows, my co-worker’s feelings could change in the future. The right guy could come along, sweep her off of her feet and make her want to start a family. Or maybe she’ll continue to work her way to the top of the fashion world and leave all the babies and the baby talk to everybody else. In the end, I know what I would like for myself, and she clearly knows what she doesn’t want for herself. Coming to terms with the fact that you don’t want to have kids and being okay with your choice doesn’t make you selfish though, at least in my opinion. But uh, good look getting your family to be as understanding…

What are your thoughts on women who don’t want to have children? Is it selfish?

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