Not wanting to have kids doesn’t mean you’re *afraid* of anything

In Entertainment, Fan Submission by Guest Poster0 Comments

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One of the most unpopular, if not almost taboo, things a woman can do is say that she doesn’t want children. And one of the most common responses from anyone in earshot when she says it is that she’s “scared” to have children (and should probably just get over it before her ovaries dry up and she’s filled with regret forever). But not wanting to have kids doesn’t mean you’re afraid of anything.

If anything, most women who decide they don’t want children do so very early in life, and it’s a rational, reasonable, informed decision that she only becomes more sure of every time someone tries to talk her into it, spends time around her parent friends and their kids, or is told that she’ll change her mind one day.

But because our culture is so terrible at believing that women know their own minds or that the fabled “maternal instinct” is just a myth, they often end up having to explain their choice in such a way to make the other person — even when it’s their own breastfeeding BFF — more comfortable about their own decision to have kids. It’s not that we’re judging our peers for having kids or think we’re somehow smarter or better off for not feeling the urge to grow a baby inside of us. But since our culture is so obsessed with telling women that their sole purpose is to become an eventual nurturing mother, it’s still really awkward to talk about why we don’t want them.

One recent study found that “deliberate non-breeders” (as opposed to an infertile woman who doesn’t make a choice not to bear children) are among the most hated groups in society, with only the pregnant woman who hates her pregnancy ahead of them. A 2010 Pew Research Center found that only 1 in 5 women choose not to have children, in some part because it’s breaking a really strict societal norm, which is to not just make babies, but want babies.

The moral outrage targeted at women who don’t want kids, along with the assumption that they are sick, miserable, lonely people is so strong that they often over simplify their experiences for the sake of just keeping things civil. Women who don’t want kids will say things like, “Oh, I’ll just screw them up anyway” or “I’m too selfish and like to travel” or shudder at the idea of of all the things pregnancy and giving birth does to our bodies. This makes it easier for questioner  — they can assume that we’re just selfish and scared of all the things people who decide to have kids have to just accept and take on when they become parents.