Woman Reading (c.1900). Paul Barthel (German, 1862-1933)
In 2017, there are far more reasons for having fewer children than at any other time in history. The battles I see parents go through today are disturbing. I can’t imagine the world being better off in 10-20 years by the time their kids are old enough to reach college age.
I have never wanted to have kids, something I am not ashamed of. My parents fought over ridiculous things, things that didn’t matter, things that only pushed buttons and hurt one another. My brother had multiple marriages, four children, spending an exhaustive amount of his life fighting in family courts over visitations rights, dental appointments, and alimony. I never wanted that for myself.
As a member of Generation X, I don’t have the means to purchase a home. I live with a family member; hold $40,000 in student loan debt, just over a third of that in retirement savings. I rarely date. I have other things I’d rather do with my life. I find it refreshing to know that many women today are voluntarily not having kids. Many of my friends that do have kids (with a few exceptions) have gone through bitter divorce, navigate unstable family circumstances, and have children who are depressed and fighting an uphill battle just to exist.
I’ve had countless conversations, where someone will ask if I want kids and when I tell them I am single and childless by choice – I might as well have told them I just flew in from the Butterfly Nebula. Some responses range from “Isn’t that selfish?” or “That’s what women do,” or “the people who should have kids, don’t.”
First, it is not selfish to choose a childless life. It is a well-thought out and sound decision in an unstable environment. I would rather completely provide for a child’s needs and if things are not to my liking, then I’d rather not. It’s that simple. If that is selfish, well, I could introduce you to a lot of people who would prefer they were never born. So what is selfish? – Parents who thoughtlessly have children and do little to raise them to be good people for the planet.
Second, not all women are interested in having kids. It’s not that we don’t like kids; it’s a bigger issue. Many of us care deeply for humanity. The prospect of raising a child in broken families, fleeting relationships and financial burdens makes my ovaries want to shrivel up and dissolve.
Third, “people who should have kids don’t,” is the worst statement of all. It suggests that you are withholding a human being that should be in the world, that it is your duty to leave this special heir. It may sound flattering, but people fail to realize that there are no guarantees you will have a healthy, well-adjusted kid or the sustained resources to adequately prepare them for the future. This is especially true for those without sufficient family and financial support. These are not excuses. These are sound, well thought out assessments and in an overpopulated planet, a responsible choice.
Society needs to support women and men who choose a childless lifestyle. I take ownership to the choices I’ve made. I care about the planet. I care about all innocent children born after me and desperately hope they will have a better world to live in. Society needs to back off and support the idea that less is more and better for everyone and be OKAY with this trend.
I’ve read many articles about women who choose a childless life. I am greatly disappointed that the reasons they give are only based on micro-societal pressures. It is a much bigger picture. My pressures come from within. My pressures are a result of seeing a world unfit for child raising, a world that is hot, flat, and crowded, a world whose principles are so completely unaligned with my own that I feel raising a child to be futile.
We don’t talk about population as a key factor that impacts our planet or how it correlates to the dwindling natural resources, the lack of jobs, the struggle of governments to manage the numbers, the plight of families to deal with the competition to ensure the welfare of their children when classrooms are overcrowded and the cost of everything is rising beyond a live able wage.
In my time, I had my own problems trying to survive without being a burden on my parents or anyone. My own experience while fascinating and good storytelling is not gratifying and mostly depressing. Imagining the world my child would inhabit with 7 billion + other souls all competing, all fighting, all struggling to make ends meet is too much a burden for them to bear and I don’t have the resources, the support, the time or the drive to ensure their future and prepare them.
The thing about men and women like me is that we fill a void that represents the lives of so many discarded people. We are complete as an individual, a singular cell, an agent for change, a mentor, a caregiver, an artist, a poet, a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, an activist, an inspiration, a trailblazer, an adventurer, a storyteller, an advocate, a peer counselor, an aunt, a muse, an enigma. And, now more than ever… necessary.
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