Childfree & Shameless
Why We Have Chosen this Life
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Note: This piece was originally published on my old blog in October 2020.
We are childfree and in our 30s. You know, the decade many people have kids and, more importantly, the decade considered by most to be the “last one” to decide to have them, the one in which we will supposedly “feel the urge” to be parents. So we get asked *the* question a lot. The usual conversation goes like this:
stranger: do you have children?
stranger: “ah, not yet!”
us: ” no, we don’t want to have kids”
stranger: *very awkward silence*
“It’s ok”, we have to tell them, falling on us to console strangers who are all of a sudden stricken by grief for the unborn child of a couple they just met. You don’t have to feel sorry for us, we are going to be ok. The more times this interaction plays out the more frustrated I feel about the shame society wants to impose on us for this choice. But the thing is, we are not ashamed.
With time I have become more and more open about our choice and more and more assertive about it being as good a choice as any. Yes, we understand we are missing out on something. Just like all parents are missing out on a life without kids and on all the things a childfree life can bring. I am an only child so people with siblings like to tell me “I can’t imagine my life without my brother/sister!” and of course you don’t, they exist!, just as I can’t imagine a life with them, because they never existed for me. Think about it.
After the initial shock of us choosing to not have kids sinks in, we usually get the next question: *why??* Well, there are many reasons, and I thought it was about time to write them down in the hopes of normalizing this choice, but also to have something handy to share when people ask
We want to have complete freedom of movement
We want to go where we want to, when we want to, in whatever way we want to. For years we have been focused on creating a nomadic life, having multiple bases, fully remote jobs, and living in many different locations throughout the year. Although we understand we could - in theory - have such a life with kids, we simply don’t want to. We want to be free to make sudden, and sometimes irrational, decisions without worrying.
We want to semi-retire early
We know we would make different financials decisions if we had kids. We will be quitting our jobs to long-term travel in a couple years and afterwards we don’t want to come back to the same grind. We want to work less and have less stressful jobs, which will likely pay less. We are ok with this, but we wouldn’t be if we decided to have kids.
We don’t believe happiness and a fulfilling life is only achieved by having children
Over the course of our lives we are told many many stories that we internalize as being facts but are in fact myths. One of those is that the only way to truly be fulfilled is by having children. We call BS to that. People without children don’t just go around having a void in their lives forever, they instead go after passions and meaningful life paths different from those with kids.
We don’t think we should have kids
We don’t feel (or maybe we just choose to ignore), society’s pressure to have children. We don’t think anyone “should” have them, it shouldn’t be an assumption, it shouldn’t be a must, but rather it should be treated as any other (informed and intentional) choice.
We don’t believe we need to replace ourselves
The earth is over populated already. Climate change is real and devastating and won’t be going away. Bringing a child into this mess of a world is scary to us, and we are very unattached to the idea of “passing our genes”, whatever than means.
We don’t need to have kids to be part of kids lives
We love kids and really like being the fun uncle and aunt. We are committed to being part of specific children’s lives and to build meaningful relationships with them, but they don’t have to be our own.
We are not afraid of regretting the decision to not have children
As Rachel Chrastil says in How to be Childless: “when we fear future regret, we mistrust ourselves.” Fearing future regret is basically doubting that we know ourselves today and that our current desires and preferences won’t be the basis of what we want in the future. Have you ever seen a friend after years of not seeing or speaking to them and felt like they hadn’t changed one bit? How is it possible that even though the world around us has changed a lot, and we personally think *we* have changed a lot, this other person hasn’t? The truth is that the essence of who we are remains the same regardless of how much time goes by or how much we have changed. I have learned to not doubt myself today believing I will be someone else in the future. I have also learned to not allow society to bully me into feeling like I *should* regret it.
We won’t have children just because we are afraid of growing old alone
There has to be more than that to have children. Deciding to have children because of this seems like agreeing to a long and hard commitment based on an uncertain future promise. So nope, we are ok and not afraid to grow old without children to “take care of us”.
In a nutshell, we like our life just the way it is and we are not interested in bringing a child into the mix. The above are our personal reasons, but any other reason would be absolutely valid as well. You don’t like children? That counts. You don’t really want to be a mother? That’s fine. You don’t want to spend time and energy raising a child? Good for you. You want a less stressful life? Understandable. If you have decided not to have children, whatever reason you have is valid.
The fact is that not being sure about this major life decision is more common than you think. Just trust yourself, things are going to be ok with or without children.
My hope is that being childfree by choice becomes normalized, that people can be assertive about stating this decision without fearing the reaction, and that it doesn’t generate shock and pity but rather be met like any other important decision we make in our lives, such as moving cities or changing jobs.
If you have decided to be childfree, I’d love to hear your reasons!