I am twenty-two years old and I have decided that I will not have children. I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, she’s young, she will change her mind.” No, I won’t. This kind of comment implies that the desire to be a parent is something that comes to everyone with age—almost like getting wrinkles. However, the truth is, that desire may never come to many people.
Since I was thirteen years old, I have said I did not want children. Whenever I would say this, my grandma would chuckle and pat my little head, “Oh Lauren, you will want them when you get older.” I considered her comments at the time because at thirteen, you’re not quite sure if your opinions are actually your own or a product of the latest TV show/friend/magazine you are entertained by.
Now that I am out of my teens and approaching adulthood (although it often doesn’t seem that way), I have realized that I still stand by my decision, but this time it is supported by knowledge of what it really takes to be a parent.
I am a person who enjoys their “me time” as much as possible. While I am not introverted, I am selectively social. A quote by famed writer/alcoholic Charles Bukowski describes this all too well, “’People empty me. I have to get away to refill.’” I enjoy reading, watching TV, listening to music—all without interruption. Especially if I come home from work, I need at least two hours to sit down and do absolutely nothing so I can recharge after a long day.
Once you become a parent, you are a parent 24/7. Even when your child grows up, you will be constantly worrying about their well-being/whereabouts at all times. Parenting is a full time job in and of itself, and I commend the parents who work on top of caring for their children. I know now that I could not commit to being a parent full time.
A friend recently brought her 10-month-old nephew on an outing with us. He was a cute little kid and I enjoyed making him laugh and holding him for the two hours we hung out. When we brought him home to his mother, she had to give him a bath and then entertain him for the remaining hour or so until he fell asleep. While I enjoyed spending time with him, it is when we brought him home that I realized that was my limit. Two hours playing with a baby while he was at his best (no tantrums, no dirty diapers) was all I could do. I couldn’t imagine having to do that all day long, every day. I simply could not commit to that—mentally or physically.
Some people may call me for selfish for this. It is not being selfish. Do you know what is selfish? People who become parents—whether it is by accident, or not—who cannot or will not commit to their children full time. I believe children deserve two parents who can be there for them full-time. I am not saying both parents have to be unemployed—I am referring to being there emotionally and physically more often than not. There are too many part-time or absent parents in our society and the only people paying for it are the children. I think more people need to think a little bit more before they become parents. Do they really want this? Are they willing to put the time, energy, and money in to raising the child?
I was recently talking to a friend who mentioned that several of his college buddies went through “pregnancy scares” with their girlfriends last semester. “Yeah, I mean if it happened, the guys would have to accept it, you know?” is what my friend said. I’m not saying these guys and their girlfriends would be horrible parents – some of them may actually be wonderful parents. However, is that the kind of situation you would want to bring a child into?
This brings up the topic of birth control. If you do not want to be a parent, you take the proper precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen. Or at least that seems like that would be the most obvious decision. I suppose not. TV shows such as 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom make this “obvious decision” seem like a completely abstract one. It’s even worse when we realize educated, employed twenty- and thirty-somethings may be acting the same way.
A lot of people have the mentality of “Oh, well if it happens, we’ll just deal with it.” I think that is a selfish decision. A child should never just be “dealt with.” A child should be a reason to celebrate and a reason to get excited about the future.
Any man that I have a relationship with and eventually marry will know how I feel about being a parent. He will also know that he cannot “change my mind” on the topic and if he really wants to be a parent then he is not with the right woman.
For myself, I plan on having a demanding career. I also plan on traveling the world and exploring different cultures. If I had a child, I would resent the fact that I did not get to do what I wanted to do. If I had a child, I would go all the way with raising them. I would not be content with being a “part time” parent. Whenever I do something, I don’t half-ass it. There’s too much half-assed parenting going on right now, and the children suffer as a result.
Some people are childless—by choice and not by choice. It is important to realize we should never question or criticize someone’s decisions in life regarding children; you may come to find the reason behind it is much more than you expected.