“I don’t want to have kids” - a statement known to end conversations, often times leaving jaw dropping or confused expressions on the faces of those who hear it.
Voluntary childlessness, or being childfree, is becoming an increasingly common choice amongst women in society. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of couples without children will soon be higher than that of couples with children.
A choice often times labelled as selfish
Around the world, girls are raised in cultures of assumed motherhood. From grains of rice being thrown at weddings as a sign of fertility, to family members straight out asking newlywed couples when they are going to have kids, women are pressured to fulfill the role of being a mother. Unfortunately this culture of assumed motherhood has not decreased at the same pace as recent birth rates, contributing heavily to the criticism women who choose not to have children are faced with.
"There is this assumption that you're selfish because you've chosen not to have children."
As Tory Shepherd discussed in her book “On Freedom” about her decision to remain children, women who decide against having children tend to be labelled as selfish. Before jumping to this label, perhaps the reasons behind their decision should be considered?
Why women are choosing not to have kids
In recent years, there seems to be increasing interest in the reasons why women are choosing not to have children. Is it due to climate change? A lacking maternal instinct? Or possibly the desire for freedom and independence?
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the expectation of a pandemic baby boom, the Pew research center dove deeper into the growing numbers of childless adults in the United States. Whilst 56% of individuals involved responded that they simply did not wish to have children, other participants expressed varying reasons behind their choice. Amongst the responses were:
⁃ Financial reasons
⁃ Medical implications
⁃ State of the world we live in
⁃ Their partner does not want children
Whilst each individual’s situation is different, and women choose not to have children for varying reasons, research has shown that in a majority of cases those who make the choice to remain childfree are happy and confident with their decision.
The normalization of being child-free is, arguably, beneficial to us all. Whether one personally chooses to have kids or not, it is a reminder that children deserve to be raised by individuals who want them.