The Guilt of NOT Wanting Children

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I have never seen myself as a mother. I know a lot of women who shared that sentiment prior to having children, but I deeply question if my view will change (although not opposed if it does). The thing is, being unsure of wanting kids took a really long time to admit. When asked in the past, I always said yes without much thought. I felt a pressure to answer a certain way. Having children is one of those societal things like marriage that can easily take on an autopilot execution – of course I want kids, isn’t that what you do?

It wasn’t until recently that I started questioning my stance on motherhood. A few years ago, I had a dog and shared the responsibilities with my partner at the time. In all honesty, the workload was nowhere close to being evenly split. As much as I loved the dog, I often put myself before him and never went “above and beyond” the call of duty. I liked the idea of having a pet, but shied away from the every day reality of it. I understand that children and pets are different, but the concept of being solely responsible for another living being day in and day out is one that I struggle with. This experience was important because it highlighted that.

Even now, I question how honest my stance really is; does being “unsure” sugar coat the real truth of not wanting them at all? While one part of me knows to “never say never,” there is another side that is afraid of being judged if I lean too strongly into the idea. When speaking hypotheticallyNOT wanting children tends to come with a host of opinions.

Who will take care of you when you’re older? You’ll feel left out when all of your friends have them. Think of people who CAN’T have them. You’ll change your mind when you meet the right person. What will your purpose be in life? There is no greater gift than having a child. Don’t you want to give your parents grandchildren? It’s selfish.

These are all questions and comments I’ve received after expressing the slightest doubt in having kids. Because a lot of them contain the rationale behind being pro-family, I won’t discredit them. However, it’s the belief that choosing to be childless is selfish or a negative quality that is frustrating. If it’s something you struggle with as well, consider these points when overcoming the guilt of not wanting children.

How IS it Selfish?

To take a step back, I consider selfishness to be the constant prioritization of personal needs, wants, and feelings without considering anyone else. Essentially, this definition requires the involvement of another person. By that logic, NOT having children cannot be selfish. In my opinion, I don’t think simply having a child is an instant qualifier of selflessness. Parenthood status shouldn’t be used to assign any level of selfless or selfishness.

Bottom line, there are plenty of ways to be a giving person at any stage of life. And no, choosing to be childless also doesn’t mean that “space” needs to be devoted to bounds of charity work either. A life without children is just that – a life without children. It is a lifestyle choice that should be respected.

Meeting the Job Requirements

Parenting is not a role that I take lightly. With that being said, I would never want to have a child without ensuring I could give them all the love, attention, and dedication they deserve. Just like any other job, I would not apply for one that I am not qualified for. Being honest with how I measure-up to the basic requirements of parenthood is not something to feel bad about and is a valid consideration. If I don’t think I could give 110%, I wouldn’t choose to become a mother.

Be True to You

No matter how much I wish I loved watching sports, I don’t (even though I’ve tried). There are many things I WANT to be “into” because other people popularly find joy in them. But what brings one person happiness and fulfillment may sound completely opposite to someone else. Parenthood is no different and it is OKAY that it is not for you. Opting out is not a personality flaw; it is staying true to who you are, not what society wants you to be.

Choosing to start a family is a highly personal decision. I don’t judge someone for WANTING children and I don’t want to be judged for [potentially] not wanting them. While that cannot be controlled, how much it is internalized can be. Whether you’re positive you won’t have children or still deciding, having your reasons for yourself (and ensuring they’re aligned with your current or future partner) is all that matters. Everyone’s path is different.



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