Some Women Don’t Want Children: Deal With It

More women are choosing to live child-free, yet this has been met with inherent backlash.

Kristen Catterson, Editor of Global

Children have been advertised as an expected outcome of marriage and relationships for centuries, society pressuring women into desiring kids for the sake of carrying on a lineage. Even though this pressure can seem insurmountable, some women have maintained a want for bubbly, energetic, and enthusiastic toddlers to fill their days. However, for some, kids are chaotic, boisterous, and costly rather than a miracle to have.

According to CNN, the national birth rate has decreased 2% every year since 2007. After the pandemic, this number has risen to a 4% decrease. This means that more families are choosing to not have children, which is becoming a more popularized and modern practice. 

Women who don’t desire children can be perceived as selfish, cold, or heartless. However, many simply do not wish to live the lifestyle that is motherhood. When parents have children, their newborns will be their first priority for many years to come. With this onslaught of time devoted to a singular baby, the parents may have trouble finding personal time for themselves. Furthermore, for mothers and fathers who may be struggling with their own mental health, it may seem impossible for them to care for another human.

Additionally, receiving benefits such as paid maternity or paternity leave is rare in the United States. In 2021, only 21% of American workers had access to paid family leave, something that is universal in countries around the world. Estonia allows families to receive up to 80 weeks of paid leave, while Americans do not have the comfort of that guarantee. Women wary of having kids shouldn’t be shamed for their skepticism—they may not be rightfully compensated for time with their child.

There are many reasons why women opt out of procreating, but these are often overshadowed by the villainizing that follows their decision. Women are perceived as cold, selfish, or cruel because of their lack of desire for raising a child. While some believe vilifying these women will guilt them into getting pregnant, it actually drives recognition of the reasoning behind this difficult choice.

“What’s selfish is having children that you don’t want or can’t properly care for,” said Meghan Daum to the New York Times. If a mother has children she didn’t want in the first place, wouldn’t that be crueler to the child? 

Another common misconception is that women will change their minds and eventually want children. This argument has come up in medical practices, due to more women choosing sterilization rather than birth control—either used as a contraceptive specifically or for medical purposes. Medical professionals have pushed for biological motherhood rather than the wellbeing of their patients. For example, a woman with endometriosis or fibroids may be denied a hysterectomy because she still has childbearing years left ahead of her and may change her mind. To clarify, women are not only frowned upon for not desiring children but are also not taken seriously when seeking medical help. 

“The choice not to have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished,” said Pope Francis in 2015 in a speech at St. Peter’s Square. The belief that all women should want children and enjoy the experience is not only outdated but also demeaning. Is motherhood all a woman is fit for?