No children, no judgement

No kids, no judgment

I love kids. I have worked with kids for more than five years and have loved every moment of it (mostly). The biggest thrill I get out of my job is being a role model for my students on a daily basis and being their support system if they don’t necessarily have one at home.

However that being said I don’t necessarily believe having children of my own is something that I have hopes for, especially in the near future.

When I express what others think is a strange novelty, I get looks of confusion.

Most people reply with the typical “you’ll change your tune when you get older,” which frustrates me. I often wonder why society has this antiquated idea of what a normal life looks like and what it comes with?

Why do I have to justify my decision to others? My decision to be childfree stems from the fact that mental illness runs in my family. The cost of having a child is exponential. The pressure to always make the right decision when it comes to a child’s future is crippling, it can ruin you, the child and a partnership all in one fell swoop.  The sacrifices that come with having a child seem limiting to a person’s growth.

Perhaps it’s a naïve perspective but it seems the only options one can have are having a family or a career without being half-assed in one area. Not to mention the commitment any half way decent parent has to make in order to provide a happy healthy life for their child. Spending a lifetime supporting a child financially and emotionally is a tolling experience; imagine having to being tied to the parent of your child for the rest of your life, together or not?

According to a 2010 Pew Research study in the US 18% of women now reach their mid-40s without having a child, an increase of 80% from four decades ago. Last year the Office for National Statistics recorded the biggest drop in live births in 40 years. A childfree life — a far preferable term than child-less — either by choice or circumstance, is increasingly normal.

The real problem I find is when talking with a colleague at work, a friend or an acquaintance in class who happens to have a child. You can hear the irritation in their voice when you ask why they can’t meet you at the bar after work. It’s the anger that you don’t understand how childcare works or the demands a child has on them. Excuse me for choosing to live a life without a succubus attached to me 24/7. It’s the passive aggressive attitude that gets under my skin, as if the choice to not have children is wrong, a waste of my life. I choose adventures in my life, such as education, traveling, love and comfort outside of parenting without shaming others who choose not to.

Contrary to what society still might claim, there is no right answer when deciding about parenthood. I suspect both parties are riddled with a fear of future regret: regret for what they’ve given up by having kids, regret for what they’ve given up by not. Because the grown-up truth is, when it comes to regret, everyone’s a winner. And the flipside is, when it comes to personal fulfillment, everyone can win again too.