Thank you for writing this article. We don’t have enough of them out there outlining what child-free or childless by choice women experience regularly.
I do not get why people assume all women want to be wives and mothers and feel the need to viciously project and discredit anyone who bucks the traditional role of this archetype. Sure, I get it. It is social programming. We’ve had it hammered into us from day 1. Even at a time when we can be whatever we want, we should want to be wives and mothers. But what if I don’t want to be? Speaking generally, men can choose to not be husbands and fathers, and society accepts it without branding him a child or woman-hater. So how is my choice less credible?
I’m just making a different life choice. I elect not to be a wife and mother and want to do something else. If I were a guy, no one would really care. It doesn’t hurt anyone if I decide I’d rather not have kids. And yet I’m accused of being selfish for this choice. How is that selfish?
You want to be a wife and mother — awesome. I applaud your choice. How about you give me the same consideration and respect?
People can take it very personally when you do not share their viewpoints with the same devout faith. They don’t consider your circumstances or feelings. They also do not care what your reasons are. They will patiently wait to jump on and eagerly tell you just how wrong you are. Instead of accepting your life choices are different and go about finding other common ground.
To these people, I say, “Have you ever heard of The Feminine Mystique?”
I’m only just in my 40’s. Since I can remember, I never had the inclination to have children. I’ve been scolded for decades, told over and over how wrong I was. I have been told by friends, strangers, family, doctors, educators, etc. my choices, when it came to not being interested in marriage and children, was just flat out wrong. Nothing I said to reinforce my choice was acceptable. Instead, I was met with lectures.
“You’ll regret it.”
“Oh, well, you’re still young.”
“The right guy will come along one day and change your mind,” or “What if you find him and he wants kids?!” I actually had a doctor say this to me in a genuine panic when I brought up not planning on having my own kids. She imposed her personal opinion here, not anything medically valid, and lectured me about it.
It is disheartening when people discredit and gaslight your personal choice. Even if it pertains to a health issue, they are still critical. I’ve had people argue, defriend, and outright treat me like a child-hating, man-hating monster. I don’t hate children or men. For many personal reasons, related to health, finances, life, etc.. I elected not to have kids.
I did take a stab at marriage and, guess what, I discovered I was right. It was not for me. I regret getting married in the first place. He completely wasted my time and love and took me for granted, as I predicted he would. I’m told I should have curbed my expectations to be treated better (fair) and just sucked it up and remain quiet and miserable. Why do we tell women they need to be the ones to dumb down their expectations when it comes to how they are treated in relationships? Go listen to the Cool Girl diatribe in Gone Girl and move along.
But I digress. Now that I’m older, I’m told how sad and pathetic it is that I am not married and don’t have kids of my own. “Oh, who is going to take care of you when you get old?” In life, there are no guarantees. I could pass away at any time, and not require end-of-life care. Children are not built-in elder care. The same can be true with a partner. He could pass away before I do. And there are men out there who leave the moment things get too real (a new baby, a lost job, an illness). So don’t sit here and tell me just because we’ve betrothed ourselves, he will actually be there when things get tough. Granted, I’m speaking generally. There are adult kids and partners who step up. But there are times they also don’t or can’t.
I wish people were a little more open-minded when it comes to a woman’s right to choose her life-path and make her own choices. Men (generally) don’t get nearly the same level of abuse when they elect to be single and childless. They’re seen as a catch while women are branded as bitter spinsters or sad cat-ladies. The double-standard we are unfairly held to.