Being childfree by choice: five women on why they decided not to have kids (2023)


As part of the Guardian's Childfree series, five women discuss why having children isn't for them – and how others perceive them as a result. 'There's no wrong way to be a woman,' says Sabrina, 25.
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I love to play with children.

I think there I think children are brilliant I.

Think you have so much to teach and don't so I, appreciate them for that.

I just won't be having my own the world perceives child-free women in the most negative light possible, I think, it's, not a need for a woman anymore.

We don't need to have children.

We we find that our own happiness is more important or mental health is more important.

We have been called selfish.

We've been called narcissists, which is kind of strange.

I do have a co-worker who recently had a baby.

All of my other co-workers were like ogling over him and and making silly faces.

And I'm just like typing away I was like computer, I'm still wearing new and I didn't want to have children it's hard to say, only because I don't ever feel like I.

Did I don't know what the feeling is like to want to have children.

You know when I ain't in groups and they are persons talking about wanting children and I don't know how to respond in middle school.

And one of my friends, she said, she never had the desire to have kids.

And she said that and I was like, oh, oh I can I didn't realize that that was an option.

And when she said that I was like I, don't know, if I want to have kids either what really sealed the deal for me was my time as a teacher and my time as a nanny, I, remember feeling, two different ways about my students.

One was that I wanted to adopt them all and keep them and taking a take care of them and love them and nurture them.

And then the other part of me was like, oh, my gosh.

This is all day every day and that's when the first seeds of maybe this isn't for me started to spring up, I knew for sure that having kids was not what I wanted to do.

Because of my gut, instinctive reaction, which was kind of like illness, kind of like kind of like a tunnel that just shot out in front of me and looked very very dark I, find it very interesting that a lot of the people who do give me pushback I'm, not wanting to have kids are women if you are women, and you don't understand why somebody else doesn't want to have kids learn about it ask about it don't immediately like to shut them down, or think that they're heartless I don't think that I'm a heartless person hands down responses from women are way worse with with men it's more like a curiosity, like, oh, how did you come to this decision? Women see it as an invitation to convince me, otherwise it's, oh, not right now.

But you want some in the future.

What are you gonna do when you're old and you're alone? Whatever I want that's? What I'll do regret is another threat also you'll regret it.

When you get older.

The thing about regret is you don't regret? Not doing what you don't want to do my parents know, I don't want kids.

They've known pretty much my whole life, I've kind of prepped them already like don't ask because you know, the answer in terms of pressure from my family, I don't, get it quite so much from my parents, but I do get it from my grandmother pressure to marry somebody Jewish.

So that I could raise Jewish kids I understand that she's like come where she's coming from.

And like I know, she just wants the best for me.

But at the end of the day I always end, the conversation saying, it's, my decision it's, my life, identify - Athena.

My father is from the Dominican Republic he's has African roots.

My mother is from Puerto Rico.

So when I think about, you know, if I were raising a child in this world, a black child in this world, you can't control, how other people perceive that my mother was bent on me having kids, oh, they would be so perfect, but I've spoken to them and I've started saying, I'm pushing 40.

And my time is up and I've been saying that since I was 35 about 36.

But it seems to work.

My stepmother was we were fighting, and she said, you'll, see what this is like when you have kids and I said, I'm, never having kids and she said, yes, you will you don't know what you want you'll change your mind you'll, see? You know what doesn't occur to people is that a five-year-old could walk up to a grown-up and say, I, can't, wait to be a mommy when I grow, and they will never say, you'll, change your mind.

But if the little five-year-old girl comes up and says, I, don't want kids she's loony or she's, you know, she's too young.

She can't possibly know, her mind guys in my past have been like, oh, she'll, make a great mom.

This is perfect it's been important to find someone who is interested in and cares about me for me and not what I can produce for him like I have tinder.

And like I'll, see you guys on there that are like maybe 10 years older than me and they're like looking to start a family I'm like that's, probably the worst thing you could put in your bio cuz, that's making every woman run away.

I mean, at least that's, how I see it nowadays dating in New York City is really tough and I don't, go any more than look at three or four dates, not on purpose, just because you know dating sucks, but it hasn't come up.

It hasn't become a deal breaker up to this point, my partner and I were very serious in our relationship.

Once we moved in bought a home.

He and I hadn't discussion about what the ring wanted children.

And both of us agreed that we don't I think he just agreed with my decision, not to move or sold anything, um cuz.

He respects, whatever I decide to do with my body soon.

There are lots of other things that make a woman, a woman caring and nurturing I love teaching and the passing on of like traditions and culture and knowledge.

Well that stuff that goes with being a woman, but I don't have to have a child to do that why can't women have that independence? Why can't women have all these careers or have these passions that that are unhindered by any sort of extra responsibility placed on them there's, something about women who don't want kids that is in a way threatening in the same way.

A happily single woman is threatening you want to have kids that's, fine I need you to respect my life choice, not to have kids it's, a two-way street.

Women aren't allowed to ocelli make decisions in a very Way was supposed to just follow a script and I think because women who have chosen to be childless aren't following that script.

It makes it look really uncomfortable there's.

No one way to be a woman.

We all just want the best for ourselves.

So so let's let's, all accept that.


Why are women choosing not to have children? ›

The two most important reasons for choosing not to have children were that it would infringe on their freedom and that raising children takes too much time and energy; many women who gave the second reason also gave the first.

Why are so many people deciding not to have children? ›

Some people feel they cannot afford it. Health/medical reasons. This is one of the top reasons people decide not to have children—a risk to their own health and well-being, or inability to conceive. Other caretaking responsibilities and/or other children in their lives.

What percentage of women do not want to have children? ›

Among adults of all ages, there was a notable gender split in the survey: 63% of women without children said they had no desire to have a child, while only half of males said the same.

Is it wrong to choose not to have a child? ›

Choosing to not have children is no more selfish than choosing to have them. In the end, people on both sides are choosing a certain kind of lifestyle for themselves, and each one has its benefits. There is a perception that a woman, or a marriage for that matter, is not whole without a child.

Are women happier when they don't have children? ›

Unmarried childless women are not happier, nor are their lives more exciting or richer, when compared to their married peers. Instead, married women are happier than unmarried women at all life stages, regardless of whether or not they have children.

Do women regret not having children? ›

Even if you try to plan your life perfectly, you may find that you still experience loneliness, guilt, and even regret after not having children. Luckily, there are always other options available in these cases, and regret doesn't mean your life will be any less happy moving forward.

Why are Millennials not having babies? ›

Millennials and Gen Z are less enthusiastic about having children than their parents. The reasons are many: financial, social, and biological, along with the preference among younger generations for “freedom.” America's falling fertility rates have been a cause for concern for several decades.

What percentage of adults regret having children? ›

Surveys conducted over the last few years on representative samples in the US and Germany suggest that the percentage of parents who regret having children is approximately 17–8%.

Who is most likely to be childless? ›

Childlessness is most common among highly educated women. In 2008, 24% of women ages 40-44 with a bachelor's degree had not had a child. Rates were similar for women with a master's degree (25%) and those with a doctorate or a professional degree, such as a medical or legal degree (23%).

Are more women childless at 30? ›

The share of women reaching 30 without a child has been increasing consistently since the late 70s, when around a fifth were childless. That proportion rose dramatically the following decade. By 1980, 24 per cent of women aged 30 were childless, rising to 37 per cent by 1990.

Is it bad for women to not have children? ›

Research shows that not having kids can raise the risk of certain health issues, like breast cancer. However, having kids can also raise the risk of cardiovascular disease for some women, and in others it can lead to chronic pain.

Is it normal to never want to have kids? ›

It's completely normal that some people, both men and women, won't desire children in their lifetime, Ambardar says. Even if this life choice is still viewed as unconventional in society, it's important that people who are contemplating a child-free life avoid conforming just to fit in.

Is it better for your body to not have kids? ›

According to The National Cancer Institute: Women without children may have a higher risk of ovarian cancers. Endometrial cancers are more common in women without children. There may be a connection to uterine tumors.

Can I be happy without a child? ›

A study from Princeton University and Stony Brook University found that parents and nonparents have similar levels of life satisfaction, but parents experienced both more daily joy and more daily stress than nonparents. "Life without children is simply much more stable," Glass says.

What percentage of people choose not to have kids? ›

Study: One in five adults don't want children — and they're deciding early in life | MSUToday | Michigan State University.

What percentage of people won't have kids? ›

We classified as childfree those who answered “no” to all three. Our estimate of the number of childfree people is much higher than past national studies, which placed the percentage between 2% and 9%. This likely happened because our measurement focuses on a person's desire to have children, not their ability.

How many couples decide not to have babies? ›

Just the two of us: 1 in 4 couples opt to never have kids — and are just as happy. EAST LANSING, Mich. — Parenthood is typically the next step in a relationship after making a commitment to that special someone.

How do I accept life without children? ›

How to Be Happy When You Can't Have Children
  1. Be willing to let go of how your life “should” be. ...
  2. Change how you think about happiness. ...
  3. Carefully choose how you spend your time. ...
  4. Learn how to live with wisps of sorrow…and say hallelujah anyway. ...
  5. Learn how other women are coping with childlessness.
May 5, 2023

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