No Really, I Never Want To Have Kids

I am twenty-four years old and I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that I don’t want to have children. Ever. At some point, I want to get my tubes tied, and until then I will take every possible precaution to avoid getting pregnant. We live in the 21st century, so why is a woman who opts to stay childfree for life still given the stink-eye? The stink-eye is typically followed up by a condescending comment that “you’ll change your mind” and “baby fever” that makes me want to bitch-slap the commenter. “You like kids, you’d make a great mother!” “It’s really selfish of you to not use the God-given gift of childbearing.” “I know kids annoy you, but it’s different when it is your own.” “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right man.” NO. A million times no.

No, I will not change my mind. My wish to remain childfree is not limited to those of the biological variety, but also excludes adoption. I don’t want to have children biologically because I have a host of mental illnesses running amok in my gene pool, and I shudder to think of those passed onto any child. I wouldn’t wish the pain and struggles of my mental illness journey on anyone I cared about. Furthermore, the whole mess of being pregnant for nine months, having the baby (where you might, at any point: shit on the delivering table; tear your vagina; vomit; die, etc), and breastfeeding the baby is not something I want to endure. I don’t think it’s selfish to respect what I want my body to do in this one life that I have. My body is made for running, swimming, reading, biking, loving, sleeping, and more—but it will not be used to bear children. I believe in bodily autonomy, and any partner I’m with will have to respect that, or they can take a hike. If I accidentally get pregnant (which the IUD I have makes highly unlikely), then I will get an abortion. We don’t need any more unwanted children on this planet.

Having a child is such a massive physical, emotional, and financial commitment—the likes of which are not taken seriously enough by many adults. Some people aren’t meant to have children. Some people, like myself, would probably make a decent parent but just because I can doesn’t mean I should, or ever will. The latest estimate of the cost of raising a child until they are 18 years old is $245,340, much less the costs that continue to play out for the rest of the parents’ lives. I have places I want to travel to, people I want to see, and adventures I want to have, and a child and the accompanying financial burden would put a swift halt to those life plans.

Much less the emotional wear and tear that a child has on its parent. I think about what I put my parents through and I don’t want that. What if my child grows up to be the next Hitler? What do I do when my child inevitably rebels and/or runs off with their significant other? What if they die in a school shooting? None of what people say are the “positives” of having children are worth it to me. The risks associated with the entire gamut of bearing and raising a child are too great to me, and so I choose not to embark on that journey. Why do people choose to judge me for this informed decision?

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photo of glass of milk on table

I feel like women who choose to not get married and/or to not have children are judged as being selfish and workaholics. This is simply not true. We just have other areas, outside of what is socially acceptable, that we pour ourselves into. I have various passions I give my love and time to — such as my career, friends, and manfriend. I prefer animals over people nine times out of ten, and thus my pets are my children—I often fondly refer to them as my “fur-babies.” The only reason I want to have a bigger living space and more money is so that I can rescue more animals from being euthanized or abused.

I do not dislike children, as long as I’m only exposed to them for a brief period of time. I choose not to allocate my body and my financial, emotional, and physical resources to that particular avenue. I love animals more than practically anything else, and I am passionate about my career. I am more than my ability to bear and raise children. No, I will not change my mind. No, I will not cave to the shame you attempt to heap on me. But yes, I will stand tall and gleefully live my childfree life.

View Comments (20)
  • Yes!! My SO and I are totally on the fence about having kids. We know it’s about a decade away if it’s going to happen at all. I can’t imagine FINALLY becoming financially stable and then transitioning all of that income into having a child. My dog is enough responsibility at the moment and I’m allowed to leave him with near strangers (the kennel) when I go someplace. Family members always look crushed when I say that we don’t know if we want babies and they assume one day everything will just kick in. But right now, I’m liking the idea of spoiling nieces and nephews (from future in-laws we know WANT children) more than making my own.

    • The whole financially stable thing is what really boggles my mind – because it seems so elusive right now, lol. But I love that your SO is open to discussion – for some couples it’s not discussed often enough and precautions aren’t taken in the meantime. So I think your SO is a keeper ;)
      And YASSSS for the fur-babies :D

  • This is quite possibly the best piece I’ve read on this topic. Unfortunately, with me, my mother is the main source of the “you’ll change your mind” comments and I’m still not sure how to convince her that I won’t be changing my mind. But I guess that’s a side effect of living in the Bible Belt. I feel ya on the fur babies thing. I grew up showing horses and I plan on getting into Thoroughbred race horse rescue and rehab. No way do I plan on trying to juggle my labor-intensive, time-consuming rescues with kids.

    • When I was reading this article, I thought it had written it myself….this is exactly how I feel about children and I’m so glad there are other people that feel the same way. Why have children because it’s what everyone else does with their life?? I have horrible traits in my family as well. And I would much rather not take the chance of my child having the same illnesses. Why take the chance and risk having the child grow up depressed or schizophrenic? I feel that’s its smart and mature of you to omit children from your life. If anything, the gentic traits reason is enough in my opinion.

      When those people sneer at you because you don’t want children, make sure you let them know that you’re taking ANOTHER vacation out of states when they complain about tuition for their kids.

      • Hi Hillary, initially my decision to omit children was based solely on the genetic reasons – too many illnesses with strong genetic heritability. Having children is not the default, and the sooner people can realize that the better. And I LOL’ed at your vacation comment – this is SO true. I plan on traveling to Europe a lot :)

    • Hi Sara! Yea my family also lives in the Bible Belt and my father actually has the gall to be offended that I won’t be passing along his genes. I was like, wuttttt. But then again, he and I don’t get along very well.
      And oh my goodness – horses! I love horses! They’re so beautiful.
      Thank you for commenting, darling!

  • I actually think it is very respectable that you have made this decision and are sticking to it. Many people do not understand the commitment behind raising a child. It is draining in every way imaginable and sometimes it gets the best of us. Many people out there may call you selfish but as a mother of four (both planned and surprises) that I wouldn’t trade for anything, I call you mature and ambitious and your decision to focus on you shouldn’t be up for debate. It’s your life and you should live it based on your interpretation of full and not someone else’s.

    • Hi Whitney! I so appreciate your comments – especially because you ARE a mother. And in turn, I admire what you do every single day so much. I come from a family of 4 and thinking about how my mom lugged us all to the grocery store and back, and so much more is completely baffling to me. So thank you again and all the best to you!

  • Kelsey, you are my hero! THANK YOU for putting this out there. I am 33 and had an epiphany 12 years ago–I don’t need to have children like most others, I have choices. And I chose pets over children (and friends! and sleeping in! and spontaneity! and a great relationship with my manfriend! etc). I live in one of the biggest, most diverse metropolitan areas in the U.S., yet am still met with so much judgement and scorn over my choice to be childfree. “I am more than my ability to bear and raise children”…YES. I will forever save your article and use it to prep for various family parties when my fertility comes up and folks inevitably compare me to my younger, pregnant sister (talking points are key in those situations). I identify with every single thing you mention in your article.

    • Mara, you are so sweet! And oh my goodness yes to sleeping in and spontaneity and not having to cut out coffee while breastfeeding :D – because this is me every morning:

      I will never understand why women are pigeon-holed into the childbearing role and I’m sorry you’re still being met with so much judgement. Families are… special that way. But I’m glad I was able to help out a little!
      All the best <3

      • Man I thought that only I watch Gilmore Girls… XP On a more serious note, I never thought there are women who decide flat out to NEVER have a child. I just assumed some postpone it for career/financial reasons (I know I know, assuming is wrong). And now that you mentioned it, I also don’t know if there are men who actually don’t want any children, simply because I have never considered that particular choice myself. Thanks for sharing this with us ‘MEN’. I completely agree its your right to decide and nobody else’s businesses (except egg cryolabs or whatevs :P)

  • I was only 21 when I got pregnant for the first time, I was on a full academic scholarship at U of T. Living a long long way from home and scared out of my mind. My then boyfriend (who is now my hubbie) was the only one happy with the news. When I rang my parents and sister, they’re first words were get an abortion!

    This was 12 years ago. In those 12 years I’ve earned my PhD, travelled the world, worked for the United Nations, jumped out of a plane, swam with sharks and scuba dived in the great barrier reef.

    By far the most special part of this amazing journey was having Austin (my now 12 year old) along with us for all of our great adventures. My life only really began the moment I was handed over that little bundle, as cliché as that sounds.

    He gave me the swift kick in the butt I needed to succeed.

    I don’t believe it is selfish to decide not to have children, many of friends do not and will not have children. I never tell them they should and I don’t even ask why at this point but I do admit that I feel they are missing out on the greatest deepest love they will ever experience.

  • This is all true, but it also happens to men, like myself. In fact, I’m often told by people that it isn’t my decision to make, only my female significant other can decide whether or not we have kids.

  • I don’t ever respond to these sort of things but I wanted you to know that I feel exactly the same way, I don’t want kids either and there is too much mental illness in my genetics. I love kids, I even work with them, but that doesn’t mean I want them at home and the responsibility.

  • “What if my child grows up to be the next Hitler?”

    I thought you were listing reasons you **didn’t** want children.

  • Amen. Stick to your guns girl. I’m 32 and my husband and I decided a long time ago we weren’t having kids and it’s BEEN AWESOME

  • I decided to be CBC – childless by choice – in my 20s. (Your entire article sounds like me). I am 53 years old now and never regretted my decision even after I got married.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully it will help other young women who make the same choice endure the remarks and pressures they will inevitably have to endure.

  • Yes! Thank you! I am 27, married and I really love children but never want to have any of my own. I even told my husband before we got married that if he ever wanted to be a father, he would have to find someone else to be with because I do not ever want to be a mother.
    My mom has accepted it by now but like you I constantly run into people who tell me I will change my mind. NOPE, not going to happen.

    Thank you for your story!

  • I love you for writing this article <3 It has all the points that I ever wanted to say about this topic. I'm so glad I'm not alone :) My cats are my children and they are the only children I will ever have (yes, maybe dogs too in the future :)) My parents think I'm mad, but they just need to realize that I'm different. And accept me the way I am. I'm so not going to have babies just because my parents want to be grandparents :/ Nope!

  • Your article basically sums up exactly why I have chosen a child free life as well. I suffer from PTSD from childhood abuse by my father, and I struggled with other mental issues as well. I am an only child, and my mom fully understands and supports my decision. I have told her that if she wanted grandchildren that she should have given me a sibling. I have panic attacks around children, and my biggest fear is that I will end up accidentally hurting them. Thankfully, I am with someone who also does not want children. He wants robot kids that he builds himself, and I want furbabies.

    I have best friends that tell me that I will probably change my mind, and I get so tired of it. Maybe it is because I am 22, but my age shouldn’t matter. I went to high school with a girl who was pregnant with her 6th when I graduated. Some people know early that they want to be parents, and some know that they do not.

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