Now that I am entering my late twenties, I have started to notice more people asking me about my plans to settle down and have children. Currently, I am single, with no real intent to find a lifelong partner anytime soon, and I am passionately child-free. The way I lead my life is entirely valid, something I am perfectly aware of. Despite this, I can’t seem to go more than a few weeks without an entitled person diving into my life choices and quizzing me on them. This came to a head for me when a former friend with children accused me of having internalised homophobia because I do not want kids. I know, I was confused too.
Alas, I suspect as I hurtle towards hitting 30, I am destined to endure more conversations like this where I am expected to defend my choice not to have financial dependents for at least 18 years. Personally, I think every time I have sat on a plane or a train with a screaming baby or toddler mid-tantrum is enough reason to swear off children forever. However, if, like me, the ‘but why don’t you want kids?’ brigade doesn’t seem to be letting up here if your playbook for every commonly asked question you will be asked about being child-free.
Who is going to look after you when you’re old?
Hopefully, myself, but regardless, it is not reason enough to have kids to place expectations on them to become carers to you in your old age. Your children deserve to be free from your burden. I genuinely find this question quite disgusting. If you’re having a child as some sort of retirement plan, you should NOT be having children.
But you’d be a good parent!
I know. I have no doubt I would be a great parent; it is because I understand how much energy, time, and effort it takes to be a good parent that I do not want to be one. I have two amazing parents who worked very hard to give me the best start in life I could hope for, and I know that I don’t have the mental bandwidth to pass that on to a child of my own.
Won’t you regret it?
I would much rather regret not having children than regret having them and putting a living person through the mental strain attached to being an unwanted child. All children deserve to be truly wanted and loved from the second they’re brought into the world, I would not be able to guarantee that to a child.
Don’t you like children?
I won’t lie to you, I really don’t. I believe all children deserve to be safe, loved, healthy, and happy. I just don’t want to be anywhere near all that, thanks.
What if your dream partner wanted them?
Then they would not be my dream partner, and it is a dealbreaker that I will never compromise on. It is for this reason I am always upfront about my stance on children early into dating someone to avoid wasting our time. I will not settle for a partner who does not share many of my deeply held personal values, including living a life free from nappies and shopping for school uniforms.
You’ll change your mind!
While I am certain that I won’t, so what if I do? I am telling you that right now, it is NOT going to happen. I am allowed to reassess my feelings but take what I am telling you at face value. If I tell you I don’t want them, then accept that as a response. Also, by the by, I am 100% sure I will never ever want to be the mother to anything but a cat.
Isn’t it quite selfish to not want kids?
Yes, it is. When a decision only concerns me and my future partner, why shouldn’t we be selfish? To quote Nicki Minaj in the 2014 film The Other Woman, selfish people live longer.
What don’t you like about kids?
Respectfully, what is there to like about them? From what I can see, very little. I am sure for people who enjoy the company of children, there’s plenty to like about children, but for me, as someone who strongly dislikes being around children, there is little that appeals. For me, it is similar to how I feel about Drake’s music; millions of people really love it, but I just do not get the appeal, even a little.
But you have the means to have kids, so why not?
I also have the means to spend my hard-earned money on things that I want, not what you deem to be a worthy cause for my income. Frankly, my finances and how I spend my money is nobody’s business but mine and my bank’s. Personally, judging how other people spend their money is a massive pet peeve. Some people are cool with spending £12.5K on average a year on a child. Personally, I would rather spend that money on investing in property, taking dream trips abroad, and funding my hobbies.
Do you feel like less of a woman because you don’t want kids?
Womanhood is not synonymous with motherhood. Millions of women cannot have children for a number of reasons ranging from health to finances to lifestyle. They are all valid in their womanhood. Nobody asks men if they feel less like men if they aren’t fathers.
Do you think gay people shouldn’t have kids then?
Yes, I have actually been asked this (see internalised homophobia above). I think ALL people should do what makes them feel happy and fulfilled. Asking this question is like asking a single person if they don’t believe people should be able to get married on the basis that they are not married. While there is an environmental argument in favour of saying having children is unethical, I don’t think I should be expected to represent the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community and our rights.
Don’t you want a family?
I have a family already that is made up of people I love, and have chosen to be a part of my family. The idea that a family needs to be more than two people always sits weirdly with me. Families come in all different shapes and sizes, and many have no children.
It’s the most amazing, magical, life-changing thing I ever did. Don’t you want that?
I like my life as it is, thanks. For some people, going to the Eras Tour is life-changing; for some people, taking a trip to India is life-changing; for some people, having a child is. Guess which two are on my bucket list.
Who’s going to give me grandkids?
Not. My. Problem. Grandkittens is all you’re getting out of me! Thankfully, my mother has made it VERY clear she does not expect me to have children or get married if I don’t want to. For those of you who aren’t so lucky, know that you don’t owe anyone in your family grandkids or nieces and nephews or cousins or a damn penny for your thoughts if you don’t want to.
You don’t want them, or can’t have them?
None of your fucking business, Cheryl. Stop asking women about their fertility and ability to produce children. It is intimate information that only concerns a woman, trusted medical professionals, and anybody she chooses to share such information with. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to live life as a woman who deeply wants children and cannot have them due to fertility issues. By asking this question, people are invading your privacy and deserve to be shut down swiftly and harshly.
Don’t you think it’s your purpose to have children? Like biologically?
I’m sure even Charles Darwin himself could concede that human beings have a lot more to live for than merely passing along our DNA to the next generation. I, for one, have crappy eyesight and don’t plan on tampering with natural selection by passing this along to a child. The same can be said for anyone who phrases this question in a religious or philosophical light. I have WAY much more to be doing to find purpose, meaning, and joy in my life than sacrificing my freedom for a child.
But why don’t you want children?
Because I don’t. We can rattle off all the reasons we have to justify our choices, but we do not have to. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation if you don’t want to give it to them. I couldn’t imagine having the audacity to ask such a personal question to someone unless I was close enough to them to know the answer already.
There you have it, hopefully, everything you need to bat off out-of-pocket questions about why you don’t want to have children. Being child-free is a way of life more and more people are adopting for a number of reasons, and what’s great is it’s nobody’s goddamn business why you’re choosing to.