I just want to live in peace with my decision to not have children. I feel that I have to constantly defend myself from family, friends, and society.
I want to ‘just be.’ I want to be myself and feel confident and happy with this choice that I’ve made for my life.
I do not want children. Simple. I am okay with my decision, of course, but I still struggle with feeling judged by others.
If this sounds like your situation, we are sad that you are feeling pressured because of your personal choice to remain child-free, but we want you to know you are far from being alone with it.
Voluntary Childlessness – The Statistics
These two words speak volumes for people who do not want to have children: voluntary childlessness. Voluntary means that we act out of our own FREE WILL.
An adult that chooses to not have children lives life child-free through intention, and in today’s society, this is becoming more common.
A new Pew Research Center survey reports:
“A rising share of U.S. adults who are not already parents say they are unlikely to ever have children, and their reasons range from just not wanting to have kids to concerns about climate change and the environment.
Some 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 say it is not too or not at all likely that they will have children someday, an increase of 7 percentage points from the 37% who said the same in a 2018 survey.”
Several studies indicate that the number of couples without children will outnumber the couples who choose to have children sometime in the next decade. But, despite these trends, we’re still living in an age where society applies pressure on individuals (especially women) to have children.
You Don’t Want to Have Kids? How to Circumvent the Pushback
Our friends, family, and society may have the best intentions in mind when they try to persuade us to have children, but it can feel ultra-challenging to deal with. What can we do?
It may seem counterintuitive, but we must remember to strengthen our own backbone when dealing with ‘well-wishers.’ We cannot change others, but we can strengthen and nurture ourselves.
Here are several ways to get started:
1. Practice saying, “I like me.”
Say these things out loud or use them as a daily mantra: I like the life decisions that I have made. I like planning my own life. I embrace the choices that I have made that help me to take care of myself. I like me. Think these thoughts and breathe life into them!
“It’s not your job to like me…it’s mine!” – Byron Katie
Absolutely remember this – it is not cool to make life decisions based on other people’s beliefs. Your job is to take care of yourself, and that is never selfish!
2. Share the burden with your partner.
As women, we often saddle ourselves with an extra load in life. We do things because we think we should (for example, we have children) to conform to society’s idea/myth of a caring and fulfilled woman.
Men do not fall prey to this as much as women do. A man can say, “I don’t want children,” and it is widely accepted. It is not questioned. And in men, it seldom ushers in feelings of, “I am being judged (by others).”
Sit down with your spouse or partner and share your concerns and burdens. Be clear with your needs. Speak of mutuality. “I need for you to stand up and be honest and open with others about our choice to remain child-free. I feel that the pressure from others is being placed on me. I need for you to clearly speak up and uphold this joint decision in our lives.”
In a partnership, none of us want to feel that we must defend mutual decisions on our own. But remember that your partner may not be aware that you need his help.
Related article How to Have the Equal Partnership Conversation with Your Spouse
If you don’t have a partner, and you have chosen to remain single without children – have this conversation with your closest friend or parent (someone who supports your decision 100%). Explain that this part of your life is a struggle and ask them to side up with you in support. They can help you stay on track – to ensure you are not letting the questions and pressure from others ramp-up to extra stress and anxiety.
3. Keep your response vague.
Most of us sit down and share the details of our life decisions with the closest of our friends and family. These are the people that unconditionally have our backs – and this is healthy.
But when people question our decision to not have children, especially people that we hardly know, or those that we may know (but think they know what is best for us), it is mentally healthy for us to practice keeping our responses vague.
By responding vaguely, we free ourselves up to move on – to not let unsolicited advice and questions dig into our mental well-being.
Remember that your reason(s) for remaining child-free might change throughout your life, so this is even more cause to remain vague.
Plan your words, and not only practice saying them, but practice letting your feelings roll off your back. This is self-care!
Try these short responses (some with a touch of humor – humor never hurts!):
- Yep. I am definitely being selfish today to ensure I can take care of my tomorrow.
- I love kids, but I love (name your passion) more.
- The only thing I love more than kids is doing anything I want at all times.
- My favorite thing about kids is that I’m not responsible for any of them.
- I choose to not have kids. Tell me why you chose to have them. (Imagine the conversation coming to a screeching halt!)
How Do You Cope and Gain Back Some Control?
Choosing to be a parent, or not, cannot be a decision made to please anyone other than yourself (and your partner if you have one). Yet, despite your best soul-searching and lengthy decision-making, it can be questioned and judged by others.
You are not alone with your struggles. It is healthy that you recognize and articulate what you are feeling. It is super healthy that you want to gain control and not let your feelings turn into anxiety.
The first step to reign in control of your stress is to recognize and call it what it is.
“I feel judged and questioned. I am anxious and now I feel like my life/feelings/stress is out of control.”
Taking care of yourself, and partaking in self-care, will help you gain back a sense of control. You CAN control yourself (despite what is going on around you)!
You may not be a mother (by choice) – but you are a person. A person with real-life needs.
We cannot say it enough, it is not selfish to take care of yourself! We want you to do it today!
Related article I Feel Like My Life is Out of Control
We Want You to Feel Good!
Do you reside in the Austin, Texas area, or are you planning a visit? We want you to experience the mental health-boosting benefits of massage and salt therapy or any of our other bodyworks!