I am 38 years old, married, with no children. I chose not to have any. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate kids – in fact, I adore them. I’m not sure why people care so much that I don’t have any. I have literally had cashiers in stores (yes, plural) ask why I don’t. When I got engaged, the FIRST question people ALWAYS asked when they found out about my upcoming wedding was if we were going to have children. My family has long stopped asking and most of my close friends know and have accepted my decision. Though I don’t owe anyone an explanation, I can appreciate people’s curiosity. So here are a few of the things that surrounded my reasons for why I don’t have kids.
My career took the front seat
I’ve worked freelance for a good portion of my adult life. Mostly as an actor, often as a writer. These are not careers for the faint of heart – they require hard work and result in a lot of broken hearts. Granted, I know PLENTY of women in creative fields and other very demanding jobs who have children, but I didn’t see it as feasible for me. I didn’t think it was fair to have a child take a backseat to my career. I’m not saying working women neglect their children, AT ALL. But the uncertainty of my working life, in my personal life experience, didn’t seem like the best scenario for raising a child.
Health problems made me hesitate
As I’ve said in past blogs, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thryoidits in my early thirties. It wreaked havoc on my energy levels, my body, and my self-worth. I cannot imagine bringing a child into that – I barely know how my husband survived! Not to mention, my condition raises my risk of birth defects. The safer option was to not procreate at all. Don’t be afraid if you have thyroid issues and you want kids – many women with these conditions have successful, healthy pregnancies. But since I wasn’t sure anyway, it was pretty much the final straw in deciding not to have kids.
Fear is a strong motivator
What if I had a child and regretted it? Most parents adore their kids, but I’ve known plenty that made me wonder. Let’s be honest – we probably have all met a parent that made us think “Why in the world did he/she have kids? He/she doesn’t seem to like them!” I didn’t want that to be me. Not to mention that I’ve heard ALL of the horror stories about being pregnant and giving birth. They didn’t exactly make me want to go out and have one of my own. Then there’s trying to save for college, the climate crisis, school shootings, overpopulation…none of it made me confident that having kids was a good idea.
I thought I might change my mind, too
So many well-meaning people, when I told them I wasn’t going to have children warned me, “You’ll change your mind!” or, “It’s different when you meet the guy you want to marry.” Some people who decide not to have kids are solid in their decision, but I never was. And that wasn’t something I was willing to gamble on – literally another person’s life. When I was really young and thought boys were “gross”, I used to think I would adopt a child when I got to be an adult, but never get married. In college, I thought I’d eventually do the whole marriage-kids thing that most people do. My 30s hit and I was very on the fence about having kids. My husband felt the same way. We decided that we’d let life happen and if kids entered the picture, we’d welcome them, but otherwise we weren’t going to actively pursue having any unless we were sure about it.
Trust people to make their own decisions
As far as I know, I don’t have any fertility issues (though, with the aforementioned hypothyroidism, it’s a possibility). But I know countless women who do, and prying questions from people about plans to have children can be very upsetting to them. If you’ve done this, please stop. Please tell other people to stop. Even for me, it is tiresome having to answer these kinds of questions. Asking IF a couple has kids as you’re getting to know them is one thing; asking WHEN they will or WHY they don’t is another.
To wrap this all up, don’t think that I would ever judge you for having children (unless you, like, had them just so they could be your servants or something). I would hope you wouldn’t judge me about why I don’t have kids. There are people in this world who are amazing parents, whether their kids are biologically theirs or adopted. I have just chosen not to join them, and I am fine with that. I don’t think my life is vastly better or worse than most parents – it’s just different. We’ve all got to stop this notion that we MUST do certain things because “that’s what everyone does.” If we did, I’m willing to bet we’d have a lot more happy people – children included.