Women choosing not to have children aren’t a rare breed, with one in four deliberately making the choice to be child free despite living in a world that raises them to be mothers.
Yet, there’s so much judgement around women not having children.
Child free women experience dire warnings about a loveless barren future and living a life of regret. Women are still expected to have kids or at the very least want to have kids. If you don’t have kids, you experience criticism, judgment for your choices, and a barrage of pity from other mums who think nothing of saying you are not a real woman, you don’t know what real love is unless you have a child, you’ll change your mind, and you are missing out.
When I tell people I chose not to have children, I’m met with stunned silence and shock.
Choosing to have a child is a big responsibility and having a child just because it is expected impacts the child and has a ripple effect on society.
For many, it means giving up their careers, travels and goals for a couple of decades. For women who are pressured into having children because of these expectations, the resulting resentment can impact their relationships.
In researching my book, Childfree Happily Ever After, I uncovered anecdotes and facts revealing the cost of enforced motherhood and the insidious bullying that takes place when some women reveal they choose not to have a child.
Over the past 100 years, women have been told they can do anything and be anyone they want … until they don’t want children. But being child free is an option: it’s not a trend or a fad it is a life choice that women are free to make.
When I decided I didn’t want to have a baby, I asked my husband Shayne what he thought. He responded it was my choice, my body and my career that would have to be put on hold. “I am going to respect your choice,” he said.
Whilst he acknowledges that ultimately it was my choice, it does take two to tango. I was upfront with Shayne from the start: when I realised how special he was, I knew I had to tell him I didn’t want to have kids.
At no stage did I try to trick or deceive him. I was always honest about my position when it came to children. I didn’t want him to miss out on having them, if that is what he really wanted. I just knew it wasn’t something I wanted.
And while that was my choice, it had to become our choice. I sometimes wonder what might have happened if Shayne had wanted kids and pressured me into having one. I can only imagine how resentful I might have been. And i think about the reverse too: imagine if I hadn’t been open with Shayne from the start and one day informed him I didn’t want children.
August 1st is International Child Free Day.