Choosing Childlessness

I’d like to think that as society, we have reached a place where a woman’s value is not dictated by the number of children she bears. But sadly, I think I am very much mistaken in that idealistic viewpoint.

It’s no secret to most people who know me that I am very firmly in the anti-breeder camp. This does not mean I drop kick small children when they unwittingly crawl across my path. Some people seem to struggle with the notion that I am nice to the children who form part of my family (both blood and urban) and in fact even love these children, yet do not want children of my own. They think I’m just saying I don’t want children to make myself feel better about the fact that I don’t have any, and let’s face it, the eggs ain’t getting any fresher. Why do women do this to each other? Is it so very hard to accept that someone else does not want to reproduce? There are many reasons why I don’t want children. To start off with, what do you even talk to them about? They’re expensive. And there are far too many humans on this planet of ours already; I don’t feel the need at all to increase that number. I’m not judging the people who do (unless of course they can’t actually afford to look after their kids, then I judge away) – it’s just not for me. And yet apparently this makes me selfish, or ‘unfeminine’. Really? Do we have such limited views of our role as women that we define ourselves by the simple biological capacity to reproduce? No offence, but it’s not exactly a skill. And men do it too – after a certain age, a woman who doesn’t want children is just entirely implausible, and not very appealing, to a lot of men. Of course, my heart goes out to the women who do want to have children and can’t – it’s one of life’s bitter ironies that people like me, who don’t want kids, are perfectly able to (according to my gynae…more on him later) while many who are desperate for the little critters are incapable – but alas, me popping one out just for the sake of those who can’t isn’t going to alleviate that situation.

So, if I’m so confident and comfortable with this choice, why even write this post? Well, I guess it’s because people’s reactions to my choice get increasingly stronger as I get older, and I just wonder how many other women out there don’t really want children but have them anyway because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Back to that gynae. All smart girls go for an annual check-up and I had mine recently. It’s the second time I’ve seen this doctor and I find his reaction to me, and mine to him, quite perplexing. The man is judging me. Big time. I have never had a medical professional so blatantly confront me about my childlessness and react with such utter disbelief when I say I don’t have children or have any plan to have children. So much so that I find myself fobbing him off with some mutterings about being single so that he will shut up and stop lecturing me about how I should be breeding up a storm in my perfect uterus. Which is a lot less honest than I typically am, and makes me wonder how less forthright girls would cope. Maybe he’s just trying to make extra cash out of me – after all, it’s a lot pricier to be pregnant, with all those check-ups and scans involved, than it is to pay him a visit once a year just to hear about how awesome my reproductive organs are. But the look on his face, and that of his nurse, is pure incomprehension. Like there is genuinely something amiss with a woman who doesn’t want a baby. And I’ve heard it from so many other people – the whole “as soon as you turn 30 your biological clock will go into overdrive” story (I’m turning 33 this year and that sucker is still silent) or even better, the “it’s just because you haven’t met the right man, and when you do, you’ll instantly want to procreate” line. Well, I’ve been in love and it still didn’t make me want to breed, so I think that’s some faulty reasoning right there. Why can’t we just accept the possibility that there are people in the world who really are not designed for parenthood? And just get on with it. I think the best experience I ever had was with a former colleague who was waxing lyrical about the fact that she would not have to attend a work function because she could say she had to get home to her kids, and that I should really have some children so I could use the same excuse. When I said I didn’t want children, her response was “But I thought you were a nice person?!” So….my desire to remain childless makes me a bad person, but her promoting having kids just to get out of work is okay…right? Some more faulty reasoning, perhaps.

Of course, if my birth control ever fails me and I don’t take the gin and hot bath route, there will be many, many people who will be endlessly amused by that little twist of fate. But here’s hoping it never happens. And that no matter what choices each of us make, we realise that there’s a lot more to being a woman than the ability to have a baby.


  1. You’re awesome, just keep being awesome.

  2. Bel

    May 25, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Why thank you!

  3. Add to this the mother who believes she has failed because you do not choose the path she chose (3 kids – you think maybe that was a lesson in itself, Mom?). And the work colleagues (or hairdressers, or beauty techs or just random people at a cocktail party) who nod knowingly when they ask “do you have kids” and you reply “no thanks”. And oh my god, the men who pressure women to have kids (luckily not my one) – that flaws me every time. And of course the logic that you must have kids because who else will look after you in your old age? Well take an old age home tour my friends – where are the old people’s kids now? Immigrated to Australia or New Zealand and left their parents to rot. No thanks, at least my cat is honest about her role in my house. And she’s a lot less trouble.

  4. Bel

    May 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Yeah, having looked after a grandparent with Alzheimers (before I could get him into a home), I can honestly say I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and so having kids to look after me when I’m old is not even something I would consider. It’s a very selfish way of thinking frankly. I’m starting to think that the reason the choice not to have children threatens some people so much is because secretly they question their own choices, and they need everyone to comply so they will feel like they did the right thing. Otherwise why not just let everyone get on with their own lives?

  5. I agree with most of what u r saying. Except that I would love to have had a child, but for me the moment passed when I hit 35. A decision I made many years ago-if I hit 35 and had not had kids then there would be no kids for me. What amazes me is that the vast majority of society consider me to be a ‘failure’ by their standards, because at 36 I am unmarried and don’t have kids. The fact that I own 2 properties and have a successful career does not, according to the ‘accepted standards’ of society make a successful woman. Unbelievable!!
    So thanks for your honest and frank post. Enjoyed it!

  6. Bel

    May 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for your comment Gwen, you’ve hit the nail on the head. There seems to be just one standard by which a woman is judged – her ability to have children. Which is just ridiculous because we are so much more than that. Make the most of your success and to hell with the people who don’t see it for what it is 🙂

  7. I absolutely agree with your sentiments. In my opinion – there are far too many suffering children in this world. Personally Id like a law like China implemented of 1 child per family. Then perhaps we can all stop footing the bill for the 50 million people in this country that refuse to take ownership of themselves ket a lone their 6 odd starving children… Personal choice is not a sign of weakness. It shows a strong character with some honest knowledge of themselves. go lady! Thanx for a great read.

  8. My house mate has 2kids and she is from Nigeria, she almost murdered me when I said I don’t want kids. I didn’t say I hate them, I said I don’t want them. She said I’m possessed by an evil spirit…lol. I have plans to go and study abroad and I don’t see how possible that is with a soccer team in my house. Like you I believe that a woman’s worth is not determined by her ability to birth unwanted kids in order to conform to societal pressure. Like you said, breeding is not necessarily a skill.

    Thanks for the gr8 read.

  9. I think I enjoyed other peoples children and was quite content not having children.Three years ago I was you and for similar reasons. Then I turned 40. I decided that motherhood was afacet of life I desired to experience. My two year old daughter is fabulous. I made that decision but I can relate to you. Different is not wrong. I just use to hate people trying to convert me all the time.

  10. Hi Bel. I totally agree with you. If people ask me about children, my reply: no do not want them. Not that I’m a terrible person, but it comes a long way back. My mom died when I was 1yr 4 months old, she turned 30 and three days later died of cancer. As a child it did not bother me really, but today, in my 30’s I miss a mom. My gran who became my “mom” died in Jan 2011, and really now I miss that mother figure. So for me, I’m kind of scared to have children, what if I have to leave them the way my mom did? My fiance has a child who turns 11 on June 1st. She became my instant child, as I was part of her life since she was 1yr and 2 months old. My fiance is completely with me on the child thing. I think mostly because he is much older than me, and does not really want another child. She is not my child, but yet she kind of arranges my life for me. But for me, having kids of my own it’s way too much responsibility, as you have to arrange your life, according to your child. No more jump in the car and go here or there. Or arrange for a dirty weekend away, because we have to sort out the kids first. No more late nights. Suddenly your whole world is turning around the kids, and not you anymore. Sorry, but for that I’m way too selfish. So crucify me for making my own choice in life!

  11. This blog came at the right time, just this saturday my boyfriend and i had this chat. We were having lunch at Nelson Mandela square and there was this couple at a table opposite us with 3 kids. I watched them the whole time wondering to myself how are these people coping, they had to continuously run after their kids leaving their meal. Whilst my boyfriend and i enjoyed our meal with no interuptions and this is when te topic came up and he thought i was insane to even say i dont want to have kids and the reason being is that they are so much responsibilty, you have to constantly be behind them. Its just too much to handle. I love kids but just not my own, I have 5 nieces and nephews and i love them too bits they light up my life. But i don’t want to have my own coz i dont feel the need to. Motherhood is not for every woman and im one of them, and quite content with how my life is, besides i love to enjoy the finer things in life-travel, go out when ever i feel like and have a decent meal with my partner without interruption.

  12. Hi there

    As an Indian female who does not (and never has) wanted children, thank you for your article! It is so nice to know that there are others in the same boat. I cannot understand people’s reactions when they hear that I do not want children. Half of those people aren’t even good parents and really aren’t in a position to judge anyone. The day that I am willing to devote more than 95% of my time to raising a child then I will consider changing my mind but as it stands my husband and I enjoy a wonderful relationship and I wouldn’t change for the world. Not to mention the overpopulation of our planet and the thousands of unwanted children who could benefit from adoption.

  13. Bel

    May 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Thanks so much for all your feedback – it’s wonderful to hear from others who feel the same way! And of course, there will be many who think that we are selfish for wanting to have the ‘luxury’ of time to ourselves, or with our partners, or the ability to spend our money as we see fit…personally I think it’s a whole lot more selfish to bring a child into the world simply because it’s what you’re ‘supposed’ to do.

  14. Hello Bel. I read your blog today and want to thank you for being so frank about you “non-breeder” status. At 30+ I have come to terms with the fact that joining the breeder group is becoming more and more unlikely; but how the family and friends react to you is insanely shocking. Just this weekend my parental type suggested I adopt!! Anyway, love your point of view, Lee-Anne H.

  15. Hey Bel.

    I am joining this boat rather late but anyway. I am so glad i am not a weirdo everyone makes me to be when i declare my non breeder status. At some point in life i wanted to get married but the dating scene has revealed to me that BLACK men want kids and you are not an elligible bachelorette if you want none. It was a sad discovery but years later i am comfortable with being by myself 🙂 . i look at some mothers and feel we non breeders are more honest and responsible than they are. My mother has even suggested i freeze my eggs in case i change my mind when am ‘too’ old she says .

  16. How we have not found each other and become besties is beyond me. Literally like you opened my mind, took a wander around and wrote down what you saw. I love you!

  17. Bel

    March 11, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Hahaha Rochelle, well, I’m glad you found me now!

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