Well Being

Childfree By Choice: I Don’t Want Kids, And I’m In Good Company

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Last week, I wrote about my decision to be childfree, despite the fact that many people older than myself (which is a lot, because I am currently the ripe old age of 24) consider me too young to make the decision.

The response was overwhelming. Apparently, everyone has an opinion. And many are similar, if not the same, as mine.

Some commenters were concerned that I really might change my mind, despite the fact that the literal odds, as shown in multiple studies,  are highly, highly against that happening.

Others suggested that I harvest my eggs, just in case I regret it. Which is an extremely invasive procedure, and something I really have no interest in doing. Because not only do I not want children now, I don't want to have the opportunity to have them. I don't want to be able to change my mind at 45, because I know that it won't be the right decision for me.

And of course, there were those who told me to just wait it out. Which I am doing, because I have to, because my doctor won't perform a tubal ligation, no matter how much I ask. One commenter summed it up exactly, when she stated that she “(doesn't) want to be on the Pill forever.”

But for the most part, there was widespread agreement: If I am firm in my convictions, my doctor shouldn't stand in the way. Particularly if, should I get pregnant when I know that I didn't ever want to, it would be doing more harm than good. And doctors? They're supposed to do no harm.

This article also drew a lot of male readers—many who also wanted to remain childless, and many who, like me, had been met with a refusal to perform a vasectomy, despite their desire for one. And while I wasn't glad to see anyone being turned away from a procedure they wanted, it was slightly, weirdly comforting to see that this issue resides on both sides. Commenter Rich had this to say:

My wife and I both knew before we met each other at age 22 in 1979 that we were not going to have children. We heard all the same things such as selfish, misguided, “who will take care of you when you are old” etc. from our Mothers and some friends. Other friends told us that we were wise in our youth. 30 years have passed, and we still feel the same way. We do not regret our decisions at all, and have had a full and happy life.

Additionally, I received a lot of feedback from others who made the decision to be childfree, and who never regretted it. They gave many reasons: careers, fear of giving birth, fear of being a bad parent, or just not wanting to pick that path. Which leads me to believe that there are more of us making that choice, despite, often, feeling shouted down by the majority, who feel that, as women, it's what we should want. And, as men, it's what you should do.

One commenter offered this insight:

Regarding why people and doctors don’t say “You’re too young” if you want a child age 20 or 24 or whatever,” the answer is “It’s natural,” therefore it’s unnatural to know you don’t want to do it.

Which is how I feel, a lot of the time, when I tell people–unnatural. Weird. Wrong. And of course, selfish.

There's also the double-standard issue, which one commenter, who wanted to have kids, highlighted eloquently:

I’ve always known I wanted kids. Always. It’s never changed. Somehow that thinking is acceptable, but making the decision not to have kids is controversial. I can understand the caution regarding permanent surgery of any kind. With that being said, if I haven’t changed my mind why would I assume you would?

It's become difficult to separate this issue–deciding to be childless–from the other matters of choice. Yes, abortion is one of them. Because I really don't want an abortion. But I also don't want my genetics to be passed on. To anyone. I don't think they'd fare well. What I want is the choice to not be put in that position. The choice to be proactive and not be part of the problem.

The next time I visit my doctor, I'm going to request a referral to someone who will perform the surgery. Then, I'll probably have to take out a small loan (hello, no health care), or possibly start a Kickstarter campaign to get it paid for: the Help Hanna Not Have Kids Fund. Either way, knowing that I'm not the only one (and being even more sure now than I was) will definitely help me keep from being told I'm too young.

Photo: Paul-André Belle-Isle / Shutterstock