Is motherhood every woman’s dream? To put it plainly, no. However, you may feel like it should be – even if you honestly don’t want kids.
The good news, however, is that if motherhood isn’t your dream, you aren’t alone. In fact, in 2015 the U.S. Census Bureau reported the highest percentage of childless women since 1976. Of the women between age 15 and 44, almost 50 percent had never had kids. And in April 2017, Chrissy Tiegan reminded people in an interview that not all women want children.
But the most troubling part of her comments? It’s the fact that a woman who admits to doubting motherhood is praised as “commendable.”
Why? Because even though all women don’t want kids, society does its best to convince them that they do. Or at least they should.
Societal Conditioning for Motherhood
As one Skirt Club hostess – whose name has been left out to stand by Skirt Club’s promise if anonymity – explains: “I don’t want kids and never had a desire to have kids. I feel like society seems to think it’s abnormal and that I will change my mind. I’m 28 now, and I think my boyfriend and I will get even more questions in the future and will need to constantly defend ourselves that we just don’t want kids.”
You’ve probably seen the societal norms of “motherhood” for yourself. They plant the dream of “having a family” in girls – through TV shows, toys and even songs – and young women spend their whole lives trying to achieve this dream. Parents might even be the worst offenders. Clearly, they want the best for us, but they project their parents’ pressures onto us. Call it a habit, belief system or societal pressure, but our mothers want us to have children just as they did.
As another hostess tells ENTITY, “People often say ‘there is no love greater than that of a mother to a child,’ and think, ‘Who wouldn’t want to experience that ecstatic trip?’ Our parents want to go on that trip again through us. Once our parents’ purpose in life – us – is out of the house, they think pressuring for a grandchild is a step closer to becoming ‘useful’ again.”
But here’s a newsflash: if you don’t want kids, don’t have them – for your sake and theirs.
Why You Shouldn’t Have Kids if You Don’t Want Them
Consider the future you’d want your child to have. Most likely, you’d want them to thrive – physically, mentally and emotionally. To do that, you need to nurture your child from an early age (which has been shown to increase the size of children’s hippocampus, the brain region responsible for learning, memory and stress reactions). You need to spend quality time with your son or daughter – but not when you’re stressed, which can actually hurt your kids. You also need to be emotionally available, not just pretending to listen to your daughter tell you about her imaginary friend for the third time that day. And those are only a few of parents’ daily duties.
You might also want to consider the well-being of future generations as a whole. The human population has doubled in the last 50 years. So, if you don’t want children and don’t have them, you might actually help create a more sustainable future.
But what if you don’t want kids – but you believe you’ll just “fall in love” with mothering after you have them? The truth is, having a child probably won’t “fix” you.
First of all, not wanting kids doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Secondly, you’re probably more likely to regret having a child – like all the members of this “I Regret Having Children” Facebook support group – than turn into a motherly domestic goddess.
The Bottom Line
To put it simply, bringing life into this world without a solid foundation – in terms of wanting a baby and being ready to pour the rest of your life into your child – is unfair on both the parent and child.
Not everyone wants to have kids and that’s fine. Go forth without regrets! What isn’t fine? Having a child to please others or conform to social norms and having your son or daughter pay the price.
ABOUT GENEVIEVE LEJUNE: Besides being a collaborative writer for ENTITY, Genevieve LeJeune is the founder of Skirt Club, an underground community for women who play with women. She is also known for talking openly talk about bisexuality and bisexual women, and for her work empowering and supporting other women.