Living child-free by choice
Some people may choose to have many children, while others decide to have only one or even none at all! Everybody makes their own decision, yet those who don't want kids still face stigma. Let's dig a little deeper into this.
Not so long ago, our wombs were considered only nests for babies and life was supposed to follow a simple pattern: find someone to marry, move in together, have children. But that isn’t the case anymore; the choices outside such a “traditional” life have finally broadened.
Today, more and more people are opting out of parenthood to prioritise other life experiences, such as travelling, or to focus more on their careers.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that humanity will cease to exist soon (plenty of people are still having babies!), but it’s just become more of an option to consider rather than a given certainty.
However this doesn’t mean that the decision to be child-free is now completely accepted by society – even though it should be. Let’s take a further look at the way that this stigma still lingers in today’s world and why everyone should have the freedom to make the choice that best suits them.
Even my mother makes me feel guilty for not wanting children.
Living child free – the stigma
Whatever our reasons are for having children or not, everyone should be able to make that choice without fear of being judged. Nonetheless, there’s still a stigma around the topic of living child-free, and a lot of the time this decision is met with confusion and disbelief.
For one woman we spoke to, the realisation that she didn’t want children came very slowly: “I originally wanted to get my career moving first. Then it was about buying a house. It took me years to admit the time would never be right because a baby wasn’t something I truly wanted.”
Child-free people are sometimes called selfish or shallow, immature or unhappy, and may even be told that they will be unfulfilled without children. Or they are “reassured” that they will change their mind once they find the right partner. This kind of treatment can make them feel ashamed and disrespected. As a result, it’s unsurprising that six out of ten of those who choose not to have children feel misunderstood by society. 
If you’ve chosen the child-free path in life, remember there’s no reason why you should feel bad for making a choice that benefits you, rather it’s up to those around you to try to understand you’ve made up your mind.
Everyone’s reasons for not wanting children are different
Often, having a womb comes with the expectation of having children, however this should be a personal choice. Some people may consider the cost, physical impact, or the challenge of raising kids; but there are in fact many reasons why someone might decide to live child-free – all equally valid and deserving of respect!
Unattainable, perfectionist parenting standards put some people off, while others may not feel the urge or need to become a parent. In some cases, it could also be about the desire to feel truly independent or as response to the uncertainties of climate change. 
I assumed I’d want children when I reached my thirties – everyone speaks of a ‘biological clock’, but that never felt ‘real’ to me.
A life without children is such a big life decision that it would be impossible to list all the reasons behind it. There doesn't even need to be a specific reason – it's your life, after all! What's important is that you feel it's the right choice for you.
Talking to others about not wanting children
Talking about not having children is a topic that can come up a lot; be it on a date, lunch with friends or at family gatherings. And just because you may have decided for yourself that you don’t want kids, this doesn’t always mean that people won’t try and convince you otherwise. Even though it may be difficult to be assertive and firm (especially with those closest to you), it’s important that you try your best to set boundaries about asking questions around this topic. This will also help you to not feel influenced or affected by the opinions of others.
So if you do feel like people are pushing you to have children or if you are unsure how to respond to questions about your choice, then here are a few helpful tips:
- Remind them that it’s a personal question and that it can be quite hurtful, especially for people who are privately struggling to conceive or who have gone through miscarriage.
- Say that you would rather not talk about it – after all, it’s a private matter and you don’t have to share it if you don’t feel comfortable.
- Ask to move the conversation on or even propose a new topic yourself.
Ultimately, some people can’t wait to have kids, while others know it’s definitely not for them. And either choice is okay! Not wanting children doesn’t mean you’re strange or that something’s wrong with you; your life belongs to you and you have every right to take the decisions that best suit you.