Having a baby is not a necessary milestone or rite of passage. It’s a choice made by women in complete control of our bodies.
When I was younger, I told my parents I didn’t want children. They asked what I’d do if my husband wanted them. I responded, “Then he wouldn’t be my husband.” They laughed it off as if it was a phase and a man would change my mind.
When I began working with children as a daycare teacher, people would ask, “Doesn’t this make you want to have a baby?”
It felt like people were telling me it wasn’t normal to not want a baby one day. It felt like my decision was belittled or silly.
Women are in control
With the advent of condoms, birth control and access to abortions, women are securing more control over procreation. Fertility rates — the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime — in Canada are dropping, partly because more women are choosing not to have children or delaying the time that they have them.
As women, we’re in control of our bodies and should also be in control of sharing personal details regarding procreation and related decisions.
Daughters shouldn’t be asked by parents when they’ll give them grandchildren. Relatives and friends shouldn’t remind women that the biological clock is ticking.
These questions and statements are rude. They intrusively pry into the personal happenings of women’s sex lives, relationships and decisions.
Asking women when they’ll have children ignores the reality that not every woman will have a baby.
The decision not to have a baby may be the result of financial situations, a lack of maternal instinct, a general dislike of children, a desire to focus on their career or even fear of climate change. These reasons for not procreating are personal and not the business of others.
Child-free women aren’t selfish
Clinical psychologist Ellen Walker, in an article for Psychology Today, says willingly child-free women are often characterized as being selfish and cold. Research, published in the journal “Sex Roles” shows that some people feel morally outraged by others choosing not to procreate. Childless women face stigmatization for their decision.
Women choosing not to have babies aren’t selfish.
It’s not selfish for women to exercise our right to procreate or not. Having a child is not a moral obligation. Women didn’t come together to sign a societal agreement to all have kids. Child-free women aren’t breaking the rules of society or faulting on an obligation they have to procreate.
Don’t question the agency of women
Choosing to be child-free, or delaying having a baby, is about women exercising agency over our bodies and our lives. Having a baby is a lifetime commitment.
When I’d tell people I didn’t want to have children, the most common response was, “You might say that now, but you’ll change my mind in the future.” The reality is, many women delay having kids, but others don’t want them at all.
Women shouldn’t be stigmatized for being child-free. We need to normalize not asking other women intrusive questions about procreation.