Why Not Wanting Children Doesn’t Make You a Horrible Person

Whenever I talk to my mom about this, she always tells me the same story: “Kel, when you were a little kid and someone handed you a baby, you had this look on your face like, ‘What am I supposed to do with it?’  Babies were just never your thing. You loved reading, you loved being alone and making up stories, but you never wanted kids of your own someday.”

Not much has changed, honestly.  I’ll be 26 in about one month, and I still don’t want kids.  I never have.  Many of my friends and coworkers are having babies or have young children already and I love playing with them, but it’s more because I’m joyful that my friends are so happy.  It’s amazing to me that these babies are a part of themselves – I love their children because I love my friends.  I see the light in their eyes upon looking at their children, the human beings they made.  I completely understand the awe – conception is an incredibly beautiful thing.  I’ve just never wanted it for myself.

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I was at the park yesterday after work and it was very active – many families had gathered for a large barbecue, many of them with young children.  I watched them play and interact with each other, saw them fall down and clumsily get back up.  I watched their parents scoop them up and give them kisses on their chubby pink cheeks.  I was acutely aware in those moments that I felt absolutely nothing.  Not a twinge in my heart, not an “aching in my uterus” as a lot of my baby-wanting friends often say – I felt nothing.  Though, minutes later a puppy ran by and I almost died from cute overload, so there’s your proof I’m not a heartless monster!  No, something else is going on here.

The simple truth is that there are some women in this world who do not want to be mothers.  An uglier truth is that we live in a society where admitting that is considered shameful.  When you admit that you have no intentions to mother a child someday, people automatically assume many things about you; you’re selfish, you’re career-obsessed, you had a bad childhood, your mother wasn’t a good mother… it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve heard every last one of these assumptions come out of peoples’ mouths when I tell them how I feel about the topic.

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The two most common things I hear, however, are these:

“You’ll change your mind someday”

and,

“Oh that’s a shame, I think you’d be a great mother!”  

Reading those just now, even though I’ve heard them millions of times each, I had to stop typing and take a deep breath.  If you take away anything from this essay, please let it be this:  Never say either of those things to a woman telling you she doesn’t want kids.  JUST DON’T DO IT.

Let’s start with, “You’ll change your mind someday.”  Maybe it’s true – people change their minds all the time.  Hell, as sure as I am, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that I might change my mind someday.  That does not negate the fact that right now, I am telling you that I do not want children.  Don’t assume you know better than the person speaking, that you have some secret insight into the workings of her mind just because she’s a woman and that’s how all women operate.  If a woman tells you she does not want babies, perhaps try asking her what other life goals she has, rather than projecting your desires onto her.  You may learn something interesting!

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And finally, the absolute worst in my opinion, “Oh that’s a shame, I think you’d make a great mother!”  Despite the fact that this is supposed to be a compliment, I personally feel this is one of the most sexist things you can say to a woman who is expressing her feelings about not wanting children.  What the speaker is likely trying to say is that you are a good friend and that you take care of others well.  What the woman is hearing, however, is that despite her expressing the opinion that she’d like to do other things with her life, all you can think to say is that she’s missing an opportunity to mother a child because all women who can conceive should be mothers.  Let me tell you something – I am the only one who gets to make the judgment of whether I’d be a good mother.  It’s as simple as that.  And another thing, no one asked you!

As I hope anyone who knows me would understand, I am certainly not against motherhood in general.  My siblings have 7 children between them, and I adore them each to bits.  Some people, from very young ages, can’t wait to have families of their own.  I think that’s wonderful!  I am at the age where many of my friends discuss babies and families frequently, and it does not bother me one bit.  I love seeing people make their dream lives come true.  It’s just that my dream life looks a little different, and I think that’s perfectly okay.

I have dreams of someday helping eating disordered people escape the hell that I lived in for 10 years – maybe open a low cost rehabilitation center where anyone is welcome, despite their insurance situation.  I have dreams of publishing books on eating disorder recovery, body positivity, and self love.  I have dreams of running my own company someday, and inspiring others to follow their professional passions.  I have dreams of seeing the world and learning about as many cultures and ways of life that I can.  I have dreams of bettering myself as a person and becoming the best friend I can be, the best partner I can be, and the best person I can be.  I have dreams of a very fulfilling life.

People with children can do all of the above and more – I just prefer to do it alone.  I truly hope that someday, when women say they don’t want to be mothers, people will ask with sincere interest, “What are your dreams and passions?”  Next time you find yourself in that situation, try it out.  I guarantee the conversation will go better.

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8 thoughts on “Why Not Wanting Children Doesn’t Make You a Horrible Person

  1. Honestly, with every post, I like you more & more! I read your bikini search post and all I could say was “YES!” cuz I had just written it on my to do list with =\ next to it. You inspire me to be more kind to myself, and be a brighter light in the world.

    As someone who has two small children, I respect you so much for making a conscious decision to NOT have children, based on your goals and aspirations. There are too many people who decide to have kids for all the wrong reasons, and some who don’t even decide but just fall into it. And although, things may turn out fine for them & they may end up happy, they didn’t start their journey with a CLEAR picture. You, on the other hand, have direction and a purpose. I am confident that regardless of whether or not you decide to one day have children or fly to the moon, you will live your life and make your decisions with that same intentional direction & purpose.

    ~Heather Rebekkah =)

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    1. I am truly honored that you have taken the time to read so many of my posts! It really means a lot to me – plus, your responses are always so thoughtful! We should probably hang out in real life again 🙂

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  2. Kelsea, I quite enjoyed reading your post, and I congratulate your uncanny ability to ward off the biological mandate that seems to infest and infect most people. Just look around and see where that has gotten us. Perched on the very precipice of something, something that well may be disaster followed by chaos. And why? Just because we have this senseless, irrational inner need to whelp a flock of mini-mes to dote over and to help deplete the Earth of its resources, all of which would be better spent elsewhere.

    I assure you, Kelsea, absolutely no one understands or appreciates your perspective with the intensity or acuity that I do. In reality, I truly believe that your attitude should be the norm and that all those Doubting Thomases and Thomasinas you so eloquently described should be viewed with pity for their ill-conceived neediness and perhaps with more than a little condescension and scorn for their selfishness for wanting to drag someone else to the party without consulting them first, and quite possibly against their will. In a more sensible society in a more enlightened time, that would clearly be illegal.

    So, if some hopeful, testosterone-laden beau in the future suggestively asks you how you would like your eggs in the morning, please continue to assure him and any other pretender to the throne that your answer today and every subsequent day will always be, “Unfertilized, thank you very much.”

    Now I can almost hear you say, “Now, Doc Ham, if indeed that is your name, I recall that you have two close genetically linked specimens that you always seemed to treasure. Are you just trying to humor me to stay in my good graces, or what?”
    Now hold on a second, Kelsea, I’m deeply offended, and even a little hurt that you would accuse me of such a thing.

    I, too, was a dedicated and determined genetic deadender, and quite frankly still am, although at this point in my waning years, or hopefully, decades, the danger has passed and the autumn has arrived.

    When Suzie and I got back together after a five-year hiatus for bad behaviour, she had little Althea in tow, and so it was a package deal. Althea seemed harmless enough. She was potty trained and with Suzie’s help could keep herself clean. I had been bitten by mosquitoes and stung by a couple bees, so I thought, “What the hay, eh?” This little pest seemed relatively harmless. And then despite the strongest contraceptive known to man, or at least to European man, Jordan showed up, uninvited, whiny, and wet from stem to stern. What’s even worse the pill company wouldn’t honor their guarantee. They sent me an attorney’s demand to cease and desist and a coat hangar. I still think that was in very poor taste.

    We had made an appointment with the hospital Hoover in the first trimester to turn this whole thing into a bad memory, but we ran out of gas, we had a flat tire, some out-of-town guests arrived unexpectedly, and we overslept, or something like that.
    The next chapter in this saga is my story only, Kelsea, and is in no way an attempt to buy you off like your friends who by their own admission, know you better than you know yourself. Quite the contrary, I hope, no… INSIST that you remain true to your vision.

    For me, fatherhood has become not only the happiest and most fulfilling project of my life, but also my greatest achievement. Althea, 36, and Jordan, 32, are both determined not to perpetuate the family seed. This biological strain ends here. At first I was a bit taken aback, and wondered aloud to them why after the great childhood they had had and all the fun that we had shared together, why wouldn’t they want to love someone and give them the same benefits? It took me a while to realise that my story has two happy endings. It’s just that the first story took an additional generation to arrive. Kelsea, I want you to have a similar result a generation earlier, so allow me to congratulate you on your very mature stance and offer my hope that you will hold onto it.

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    1. Kelsie,

      I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, but I used to frequent The Vine and listened to your music. I want to say, “great article!” I’m glad someone has the courage to say what many people have wanted to. I know many women and men who don’t want children either and I always say, “that’s so cool you know that.” People think they need to graduate school, get married, buy a home, have children……blah,blah,blah (for lack of better words) You go girl and I too love when your Mom posts your articles/stories! Keep up the great work and so happy you want to open up a center for everyone!!!

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  3. Kelsea, I read your posts and particularly liked this one. I just want to say one thing, I agree whole heartedly with what you said! I am fifty-six years young and I never wanted children. Never yearned for them. (Loved your “uterus” comment) To this day I have never, ever regretted my decision. I own, and operate my own business. I have traveled all around the world, and for the most part by myself. Two years ago I got married for the first time in my life and I am in awe with being married. We travel the world together, which is new for my husband. I want to encourage you to Pursue your dreams and passion, and know with all your heart that you are not making the wrong decision! Later in life you will hear MANY, MANY of those same people say…..” I love my children, don’t get me wrong, I mean I would never want to give them up……BUT…… if I had to think it all over again ……I wish I had thought it completely through like you did.” So many people have responded to me in this manner. Granted there are those out there who adored having them and still do however, there are those who should have “Thought it through” blessings to you woman!

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