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Can We Please Stop ‘Baby Shaming’ Women Who Don’t Want Kids?

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Matt Gregory
Matt Gregory

This is what it feels like to not want children: you cringe at any squeal others think are endearing, roll your eyes when a baby starts crying in a public place, are not any more attracted to men who express having interest in kids, and feel absolutely nothing when someone puts their child in your hands. Chelsea Handler once said, “I don’t think I’d be a great mother. I’m a great aunt or friend of a mother,” and she sums up perfectly how I feel about having children.

As a recent newlywed, I’ve been asked multiple times, “When are you having kids?” and I can’t help but wonder why so many people are interested in when my husband and I are having sex. I smile and change the topic immediately, but it doesn’t mean I don’t see their judging eyes and bitter frowns.

From an ecological standpoint, there are not enough resources in this world to sustain birthing a new generation of children, and there are too many children who are in need of loving homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of childless women aged 30-44 from 1976 has doubled from 15% to 30%. As a former special education teacher who grew up in a dysfunctional household, bearing children is the least of my concerns, and I, nor any other woman, should not be shamed for it.

Couples decide to be childfree by choice for a myriad of reasons, and they are always asked why they don’t want children. Why is it that people can ask a couple why they don’t want children, but rarely ask parents why they wanted to be parents in the first place? Note to self, let’s start this trend. Isn’t it worse when someone becomes a parent for the absolute wrong reasons, like fear of missing out or out of desperation to mend their faltering relationship with their S.O.? I’ve seen those parents in action when I was a teacher. They blamed their children’s failures on me and barely wanted to make an effort in caring for them.

So what if I don’t want kids and don’t plan on being spontaneous and travelling the world? I do not have to fit in a stereotype to justify why I don’t want kids. How am I hurting others when I’d rather focus my life on building my career and marriage sans having kids? My point is that I’ve already contributed to society by helping children learn, and I’ve had enough of it.

My mother always tells me, “one day you’ll want kids. Maybe not now, but soon.” She’s wrong. I’ve always admired Jennifer Aniston from an early age, and I realize now it’s because she’s never caved to the pressures of society. When tabloids claimed Brad Pitt wanted children, thus pitting Angelina Jolie and Aniston together, Aniston shrugged and moved on with her life. Now that my body is in its prime for making babies, all I can do is pray I don’t get pregnant.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t be a horrible mother, but I wouldn’t be great. As a teacher, I saw the worst in parents and I would rather not have any children than be a mediocre mother. When I was a nanny, I often let the one year old I was looking after cry for a whole hour before I intervened. The mother herself said she let him cry for about 45 minutes (they were teaching him not to depend on crying), so I was only mildly pushing it. People who have never seen me nannying in action have often said I’d be a good mother. I felt no maternal obligation to care for the child, and I doubt the gene would start kicking in me if I had one of my own.

Since society has long been patriarchal, it’s no surprise women are shunned when they express having no interest in bearing children. Women from Oprah to Helen Mirren have been shamed for not having kids, but it is not a woman’s duty to procreate. I repeat, it is not a woman’s purpose in life to have children. If a woman does not want to have children, it does not mean her life is meaningless, nor does it shatter her whole identity, and it’s time we stopped acting like it. TC mark

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