Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No Kids

This is an article I posted on Facebook that generated a lot of discussion so I'm posting it here:

I'm Coming Out: I don't want children

The article talks about how she now feels a kinship to the LGBT community due to her decision not to have kids.

This article irritated me on a few levels:

1) Comparing the plight of gay people to a couple who doesn't want to have kids is pretty insulting to the LGBT community and what they go through. Even just calling it a "choice" shows how different it is. I make tons of choices that have been subject to criticism (e.g. choosing to work as a mom) but that doesn't mean I know what it's like to be persecuted for my sexual preferences.

2) You're 27??? Write this article in another 15 years. Because I think every single one of my friends in their 20s who strongly didn't want kids have somehow changed their minds.


  1. My first impression was that it was a pretty pointless article to begin with. Her complaint seems to be: other women are judging me. Of course they are, they are judging all women and you are judging them right back. Look specifically and the people who take issue with her choice: all women.

    I read an article a few weeks back along the lines of "all you other feminists aren't doing it right!"

    This article is too absurd and immature to get worked up about. Barely warrants an eye roll.

  2. Just to address your second point, I think it's pretty patronising telling someone they are not old enough to make choices about their body.

    Making a choice that is against current social norms is pretty hard, wondering if there is something wrong with you that you don't have the same goals that everyone around you does. Telling other people about this choice is even harder.

    Having people scoff and tell you that you are going through a 'phase' and that your decision is 'silly and will change' is belittling and humiliating.

    Recently I went to a play that illustrated the history of the first female medical students. They were also told that they were going through a phase, that they would fall in love, have children and forget their folly and dreams of becoming doctors.

    As 21yr olds we can drink, get married, vote and have children. We decide on our futures by choosing college courses. These decisions often change. We change careers, partners, get divorced but at the time, these decisions were for the rest of our lives. These decisions were made with all the knowledge we had on hand and felt right.

    Things *might* change. Women who feel like they don't want children may change their minds.
    But this doesn't mean that people should belittle and patronise their current decisions.

    I'm currently getting told that I will change my mind about joining emergency medicine. "Every woman does, it just doesn't fit with children and family.. you don't want to be 60 and doing night shifts" Aren't we passed these antiquated sexist views by now?

    1. I know a lot of women who say EM is a great career for a mom. Tons of days off, lots of schedule flexibility.

      I wouldn't make that comment if I hadn't seen SO many people change their mind about not having kids after making passionate speeches on the topic. Eventually, you get jaded and stop believing it.

    2. EM is a great choice for ANYONE (not just potential moms) who wants a manageable schedule as a doctor, and prefers shift work. You gotta like the medicine too of course, but this pool isn't limited to women.

  3. There are plenty of women/people who decided they didn't want children, I am one of them. It's no big deal. I've found many women of various ages who didn't have kids, and it's no big deal to them either.

    I'm 55 now, and have never regretted the decision. I like kids. Other people's kids. Just didn't want my own. If anyone judged me, I never knew about it.

    The author of the article needs to just be at peace with her decision and get on with her life.

    1. I agree. This was a comment I particularly liked from Facebook:

      "But that the issue with "coming out of the closet" about not wanting children is the SAME as "coming out of the closet" about being a working mom, about choosing to breast feed for 4 years get judgmental comments, you get gossiped about etc...but if you are gay, coming out of the closet can mean being cut off from your family, being beaten up, being denied basic human rights, and in many places actually be arrested for committing a CRIMINAL offense. Yeah, so it sucks that this woman is making an unpopular choice to not have kids and gets some slack for it. Was she disowned by her family? No. Was she denied the right to get married? No. Was she beaten for it? No. Was she arrested and thrown in jail? No. Was she denied a job or been fired for "coming out" with her desire not to have kids? No. So please don't say this is same thing as coming out as LGBT because its totally minimizing the real problems that gay people face all over the world."

  4. I disagree with her ideas about "coming out"--you're right, she's never going to be persecuted for it, or possibly be put to death for it like in many countries where it is actually illegal to be gay.

    But I am in her shoes--I've been child free since I was a teenager (I told my obgyn at 12 that I didn't want kids) a fought for birth control, fought for sterilization--even when it became medically necessary, I was told that since I was under 30 and had no kids I couldn't possibly make that decision yet.

    I am so glad I found a doctor who listened, and that I was able to get the surgery I needed (and desperately wanted) but there are a lot of women who can't, and they don't need to be patronized because they're "too young" to decide yet.

    1. Not getting sterilized didn't mean you were forced to have kids though. Just to use alternate birth control.

    2. Yeah I had stuff typed out but it comes down to a.) it's nice having a permanent solution and b.) it's kindof a let down that you're like every other person out there saying "Oh you're young you'll change your mind". (Got mine finally at 35, still getting the bingo)

      The article did suck though.

    3. An IUD works 10 years and is as effective as sterilization. Safer too.

    4. Until you bleed continuously through one and the next one punches a hole in your uterus. I wasn't allowed any more after that. Yes, I'm a tiny statistic, but that didn't leave me a lot of options, and I was *still* being told no dice on sterilization, despite severe hemorrhage being the result of many of the pills they tried.

    5. Orli, same boat here.
      No one will take me seriously about wanting sterilisation.
      Implanon caused constant bleeding.
      Mirena has changed my cycle to 'I will bleed without warning whenever is most inconvenient to you for as long as I want and often as I want"

      Someone take it out already!

      I almost feel as if I have body dysmorphic issues with my uterus. I hate it, I don't feel whole with it. it's like an alien is in my body and at any moment can ruin my life.

  5. I didn't want kids when I was in my 20s. Now I'm more than twice as old, and what do you know, I never did change my mind.

    My family spent a couple of decades telling me I would certainly change my mind when I got a little older. That was really condescending when they said it. It doesn't sound much better when you say the same thing.

    1. Blame all the people I know who swore they wouldn't have kids and now are posting baby pics on facebook. What am I supposed to think?

      I'm not saying she'll definitely change her mind. Just that she should hold off on the melodramatic articles till she's older.

    2. Agree re: condescending attitude. Always knew exactly what I did not want and had no problem telling my family or anyone else who asked, from a very young age.

      No interest in babysitting. No interest in younger siblings or cousins. Never wanted kids of my own, ever. Approaching 50 now. Certainly some of my friends and relatives have kids, but a good number do not. Some thought they wanted kids, didn't have them, and now are glad they don't have them. Maybe people who are childless by choice are more likely to associate with others who are also childless by choice? My husband and I are in total agreement here, with no regrets.

    3. I certainly wouldn't have had any objections if YOU had written the article. But I also suspect you're mature enough at 50 to realize that your situation is very different from that of a gay person who comes out of the closet and is ostracized by their family and community.

      Plus I think there's a big difference between SAYING to people that you don't want to ever have kids at 27, and writing an article in which you make yourself into a martyr for it.

    4. Not wanting children is not comparable at all. Some of my childhood friends are gay and I saw some of what they went through, especially during the junior high years. It was no picnic being a gay kid growing up in the 1970s and especially coming of age in the 1980s, the era in which AIDS was first recognized. I'm not sure who had a more difficult time, the gay kids I knew who were singled out for teasing and bullying, or the ones who managed to "pass". Several of my friends came out to me late in high school. Now that we're grown some of my gay friends are legally married. Some even have kids. Better them than me.

      Mostly I had to put up with my parents, grandparents, and other relatives telling me I'd change my mind. Tedious. Also I knew they'd be proven wrong in the end.

    5. "Just that she should hold off on the melodramatic articles till she's older."

      LOL! You have a pretty melodramatic blog sometimes, you know! We all have the capability of being melodramatic, you (and I) are no exception.

      I have several woman friends, a couple of male friends, too, who always wished to be childless and are now well into their forties and have never regretted that decision.

      I'm 38 and shall remain childless because my health does not permit me to get pregnant, and my doctors have strongly urged me to abandon the idea of adoption because the added stress of child rearing would be too hard on me physically. I am also single because once a guy finds out about my illness, he flees for the hills.

      While I wouldn't compare my situation to that of an LGBT person per se, the irony of your comment that there can be no comparison is that people who don't know I'm sick all assume that I must be a lesbian. Because in my Stepford Wife community, I am quite the anomaly (and the unwritten rule of the town is that gays are, in fact, not particularly desirable neighbors). Numerous friends, more than I can count, have told me that people ask them "is she gay?" or "she's a lesbian, huh"?" when they find out I don't have a husband or kids. In my town, I think it's pretty safe to assume no physical violence would be inflicted on me because of the belief that I am gay, but I have absolutely been excluded from certain social events because of this mistaken assumption.

      Now, would someone beat me up or kill me if they knew that the reason I was childless and single was because I am sick, and not because I am a lesbian? Of course not. But I'm not sure the writer of that article was insinuating that, anyway. I think you guys jumped to the conclusion that that's how she feels. She was simply saying she has been ostracized and feels out of place when people judge her decision to not have children, so she can relate to others who are judged for simply being who they are.

      Of course a white person will never understand what it's like to be black, because they can't. Similarly, a straight person can never understand what it's like to be LBGT. But at a high level, anyone who has felt excluded or treated differently can empathize with someone else who has been excluded or treated differently, even if the reasons for their ostracism are completely different. I don't see why that is such a controversial statement.

    6. It's not controversial, but it just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe because she acts like she's *especially* treated differently for this, even though EVERYONE has been excluded or disappointed their parents or whatever at some point. I certainly have.

  6. I wish I had made that decision 50 years ago. Had two daughters and they continue to disappoint and distress me. I have two grandkids who suffer now from lack of attention and/or the wrong kind of attention. Not physical abuse, thankfully. Just having to go it more or less on their own because mom can't be bothered to be supportive.

    On a lighter note, the older daughter is childless - hooray! - and ignores me.

    Anonymous for obvious reasons.

  7. Ugh. These articles are all the same. Recently there was a big to-do about an article went on about how awesome it was, but how much criticism the mom got for having one child. Now no children. No matter what choices a woman makes, she'll be criticized. Get over it.

  8. Wow... That statement of yours that every friend of yours who did not want children in their 20s had them in their 30s had me heaving for a bit...

    Will I change my mind too?

    Until my early 20s I wanted a marriage and children. Now I am 26 years old and very strongly feel against both the things. I am trying to plan my future life based on that w.r.t. financial security, housing etc.

    I have a very faint hope I might fall in love with a man who does not want children but other than that I am gearing towards my life of planned solitude.

    Now the key points in my case being: I am an Indian living in India. Though I have a few Indian females within my family who chose to remain single I spend a lot of my time thinking about how I would tell my Indian Parents that I love my solitude.

    I am writing all this here so that few years down the line I can look at what I wrote on a public blog.

  9. i didn't want kids when i was a teenage, i am now mid-40s and never changed my mind.

    my friend married when she was 20s and wanted to have kids so badly, but her husband didn't want kids hence she kept putting it off, and then when she was 30s, she started to change her mind and didn't want kids either.

    maybe it's because you have kids hence people from your circle of friends mostly have kids too. if your friends are mostly childless, it might change your views...

    1. These are mostly people I happen to know from med school and residency, not necessarily in my social circle.

  10. Fizzy - All my friends who didn't want kids also have them. Even the one who was emphatic and ended up getting pregnant by accident - now thinking about number 2. Another friend was married for 15 years and they didn't want kids - got divorced, now she has 3 and he has 2. It's ok to not want them, but sometimes I think that people don't want them with the people they are with or the situations they are in. Things change. As far as the LBGT community, that also changes - I personally know 5 "lesbian" women who all married men when in their 30s and now are heterosexual moms. But it's not the same as chosing not to have kids.

  11. I read this posting last night but waited until today to make a comment. I strongly disagree with your opinion and your approach to giving your opinion. It may not be coming out to you, but the deciision does bring on changes in other's behavior.

    The assumptions that you have made about the author of the article are the same ones that our families make when we choose not to have children. Only more so. Was I beat up for my choice? No, but I most certainly have been bullied.

    I made my choice at 16 and have not changed my mind ever. I am now 45. I never went through the "Oh I want one" phase when seeing someone's baby. In fact, other people's children only make me feel like I made the right decision.

    My family and aquaintances who have children assume there must be something wrong with me or that they can bully me into having children. I do not look my age and often must remind people of my age when they say I will change my mind soon.

    I think it is hard for people who have children to understand my not wanting them, just as it is hard for those of us who are not interested to understand why people think we need them. I grew up in a third world nation although I am American. In addition to never having the desire, I also do not understand having children who are not allowed to be children.

    This is one of those difference of opinion times. Please do not jump to conclusions just because of the author's age. She may not be telling you everything. Assuming that you know better, well you know what ASSUME stands for. Making an ASS out of U and ME.