Newsflash: Everyone isn’t a fan of children.
Picture it, you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see that a high school classmate’s expecting, another showing their day’s haul of freshly purchased baby clothes, and your class valedictorian? she posted about that funny thing her kid did today. There you sit, as you read the congratulatory comments and watch the number of likes and heart reactions continue to climb even though it’s been posted 18 hours ago. There you sit watching everyone happily bombard the post with good wishes, showing how pleased they are with the purchases and joining in the laughter at what the kid did and then there’s you, not moved. By any of it.
A thing that is somewhat of a mystical phenomenon in today’s society is Voluntary Childlessness. Also called being child-free, it is the voluntary choice to not have kids. With the ingrained expectation that women are to have kids, the choice not to bring forth any, in the past, was difficult to make. People today still can’t wrap their heads around others not wanting to embark on the ‘journey of being a parent’ nor can they wrap their heads around people thinking their kids aren’t as great as they do and, what really seems to stump them is the candid reason of “I don’t like kids/I don’t want kids.” What are clear bundles of joy to many are glaring stop signs to more than a few. One online user who isn’t a fan of the whole ‘being a parent’ lifestyle is of the impression that a percentage of people have kids for the wrong reasons such as: continuing legacy, that it’s expected and that they “just know the baby will be cute.” Though, let’s get real for a bit. If given the choice, would you give your kid up with the knowledge that you won’t suffer abandonment repercussions such as being arrested? Let’s chat!
Over in Nebraska in 2008, in keeping with the “safe haven” law, the country decriminalized child abandonment. Truth be told, the “safe haven” law allows parents who feel like they are unfit and unprepared to care for their child can drop him/her off in a designated location without fear of being arrested and prosecuted. Within a couple of months, 36 kids were dropped off. Of this lot, “twenty-two of the children were over 13 years old.” A 51-year-old grandmother dropped off a 12-year-old boy and one father dropped off his entire family—nine children from ages one to 17. Others drove from neighboring states to drop off their children once they heard that they could abandon them without repercussion. This included a mother from Yolo County, California, who drove over 1,200 miles to the Kimball County Hospital in Nebraska where she left her 14-year-old son.” To be noted is that in all the kids abandoned, none were babies. The question still remains: if there were no consequences attached, how many parents, mothers specifically, would give up their kids? Though, when you think about it, child abandonment has been a thing – think adoption. However, I’d like to draw your focus on the testimonies of mothers, as it acts as a contributing factor as to why every day more people are opting to be childless.
In the following accounts of financially stable women, they speak of regret, “I feel so trapped, anxious, and overwhelmed. I love my daughter and she’s well taken care of but this is not the path I would have taken given a second chance.” On depression, another woman says “I am depressed. I hate being a mom. I also hate being a stay-at-home mom too!” One woman who got pregnant at 42 wrote, “I hate being a mother too. Every day is the same. And to think I won’t be free of it until I am like 60 and then my life will be over.” Another wrote, “I love my son, but I hate being a mother. It has been a thankless, monotonous, exhausting, irritating, and oppressive job. Motherhood feels like a prison sentence. I can’t wait until I am paroled when my son turns 18 and hopefully goes far away to college.” One D.C.-based mom even said that although she was against abortion before having her son, now she would “run to the abortion clinic” if she got pregnant again. Then, “Your vagina getting ripped during childbirth, 9 months in hell (pregnancy) but then childbirth and pregnancy aren’t even the hardest parts of parenthood. Staying up at night, getting little to no rest, changing smelly diapers, post-partum depression, physical and mental exhaustion, the financial strain of having a child, and the unavoidable health damages of pregnancy. The list goes on.. seriously, what is there to like?!” The consensus drawn is that these women no longer see the appeal and if given a second chance, won’t do it again.
At this point, it’s evident that society can’t accept the reality of a woman who does not want to be a mother. Anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy argued in a 2001 Utah lecture, for example, that being female is seen as synonymous with having and nurturing as many children as possible. So when women don’t want children, it’s seen as unnatural. A survey from the Pew Research Center finds that more adults report they do not want to have children — ever. About 44% of people ages 18 to 49 report it’s unlikely or “not too likely” that they’ll have children. In a 2018 survey, 37% of adults who weren’t parents shared those same thoughts. People who are already parents also note they’re not eager to have more children. A whopping 74% of parents under 50 have no plans to add another child to their lives.
All in all, it’s likely that the trend of more child-free adults will continue. Truthfully, with people becoming more vocal and from the testimonies of mothers being quite candid it’s getting easier to state that you’re not a fan of children. From not liking kids which heavily influences an individual to not want them, to taking a look at the world today in the midst of what feels like the always soaring cost of living, on the topic of children, it’s quite justifiable to say: “I don’t plan on having them” Maybe one day the world will not get offended when a woman declares she doesn’t like kids and has no plans of having any because, as you know, not everyone is a fan of children.