Why not wanting children is a choice you shouldn’t feel ashamed of

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The choice to not have children still carries an enormous societal stigma, with childlessness looked down upon and even chastised.

Here are 11 reasons there’s no shame in not wanting to have children, despite what naysayers try to tell you.

1. Everyone has the right to personal sovereignty and independence.

Countless people choose to live life on their terms, rather than devoting their lives to raising families. Some have been scholars or scientists, while others simply didn’t want to divide their energy between their pursuits and parenting demands.

Prioritizing personal sovereignty is often labeled as “selfish” by those who have chosen to raise a family instead. Women, in particular, are disparaged if they choose to live lives of personal freedom instead of sacrificing 18+ years to raise another human being.

In reality, there’s nothing wrong with choosing independence and personal interest, especially for those who would end up resenting their children for the demands that keep them from having any time to themselves.

2. Partnerships can be more important than parenthood.

Many relationships fall apart when a child is brought into the mix, especially if a couple was together for several years before starting a family. They cultivated a “dynamic of two” that worked together in perfect harmony, and suddenly a third, small and demanding party threw that into disarray.

As such, many people who manage to cultivate an ideal relationship together choose not to have children. They’ve dedicated their lives to one another, and don’t particularly want a third party to interfere with their dynamic. They’ve chosen the comfort and familiarity of couplehood, and that’s just fine.

3. Personal limitations can make parenthood a bad idea.

Many people are fully aware that they have limitations that would prevent them from being good parents, either because of past traumas or health issues. As such, their decision to not have children is often the best choice for everyone involved.

This is especially true for those who struggle with mental or physical health problems that make their lives seriously challenging. If they have difficulty taking care of themselves on a daily basis, they won’t be able to give their child the care they deserve.

Parenting takes a tremendous toll on people, and if someone knows that poor health would make it impossible to raise a child properly, that’s an important and commendable decision on their part.

4. Inherited genetic conditions are an important consideration.

Countless people struggle with difficult—or even debilitating—inherited health challenges that prevent them from leading healthy, happy lives. Knowing what it’s like to suffer from issues like these, many choose not to have children so as not to inflict similar suffering on their offspring.

They often feel it would be kinder not to have children than to see another share their struggles for the sake of wanting to experience parenthood.

5. The cost of raising children can be prohibitive.

The basic cost of living is skyrocketing at an astonishing rate, and that includes many vital aspects of child-rearing. Rent, food, fuel, and childcare costs have gone through the roof in recent years, and as a result, many people are now struggling to feed and house both themselves and their families.

Those who choose not to bring more life into a world that’s getting increasingly more expensive to exist in shouldn’t be stigmatized, nor condemned. If anything, they should be recognized for their empathy and integrity for not wanting to subject small children to poverty and potential hunger.

In addition, some people who grew up with the stress of poverty have made it a priority never to experience financial hardship again. To them, having financial stability and freedom takes precedence over parenting, and that’s completely understandable.

6. It’s a matter of personal ethics.

Life on this planet has never been easy, but it seems to be a lot more complex and unpredictable of late. Overpopulation, the climate crisis, food shortages, and poor job prospects are just a few issues that people are contending with nowadays.

As such, the choice to not bring more life into a world that’s already over-taxed could be seen as the most ethical choice for some people. In their eyes, the kindest gift they could give is not subjecting children to the many issues that are unfolding, and are likely to worsen over time.

7. It can put an end to unwanted generational cycles.

Another reason why some people choose not to have children is to avoid perpetuating unhealthy cycles that they experienced. This is particularly common for those who have experienced intergenerational trauma, and who want to ensure that the cycle ends with them.

Not everyone has the confidence to transcend their difficult upbringing, even with therapy and support systems. Some have PTSD, while others would simply prefer not to risk becoming the type of parents who hurt them.

Another generational reason why people may not want children is because they don’t want to bring more lives into the world just to take care of them when they’re old.

In many cultures, people have kids specifically so they’ll have caregivers when they’re elderly, which places enormous pressure on those young people. If someone carries resentment for having been created to be a caretaker, they won’t want to inflict that experience on another.

8. Not everyone is wired for parenthood.

Some people are simply not wired to be parents. They’ve never had any kind of parental instinct, and the thought of pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare are off-putting to them. They know with certainty that they aren’t missing out on anything by not having kids, and they may panic any time they have a pregnancy scare.

Some people come to this realization early on, from being parentified in their own families and forced to care for younger siblings. Others discover their aversion once their friends start having families. Children’s traits that others find endearing simply annoy them or make them uncomfortable, and they’d prefer not to deal with that 24/7 for decades.

In any case, not liking the idea of parenting is just as valid as any other personal preference and should be respected and honored without judgment.

9. Fulfillment comes in many forms.

People who have children, and who have dedicated their lives to parenthood, often insist that reproducing is the only way to find true fulfillment. They claim that having children is the only way to experience real unconditional love and that others will forever regret the choice to remain childless.  

In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

There may be countless things that people would love to do with their lives that they can’t pursue if they’re tied down with children. They may wish to climb mountains, dedicate their lives to practicing law or medicine, or spend the time they have on earth in service to marginalized communities overseas.

What fulfills one person may be incomprehensible to another, and feeling completely satisfied with your life experiences and achievements is completely possible without having had children.

10. Personal health may take priority.

Reproduction and child-rearing can take an immense toll on people’s health. Pregnancy can cause life-long health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and reproductive problems. Years of sleep deprivation caused by caring for young children can have serious mental health effects, as well as physical damage from chronic exhaustion.

People who prioritize their health and well-being often choose not to have children because they don’t want to risk destroying their current physical vessels. These folks may do all they can to eat healthily and exercise regularly, and take immense joy in both physical activity and mental acuity—both of which would be seriously affected if they chose to have kids.

11. Having children isn’t the only way to leave a legacy.

Some people feel the only way to leave a legacy is to pass on their genetic material and/or name, to the next generation to carry forward. Many do this because they’re afraid of being forgotten, or because they have a strong family history that they feel obligated to contribute towards.

The thing is, offspring may end up being unable to reproduce, or may turn out to be a despot that the parents wish had never been created.

There are countless different ways to leave a legacy. This can be done through work, community contributions, artistic creations, and positively affecting other people’s lives.

About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.