I’ve always known I’ve never wanted kids — and that doesn’t make me selfish

When I was three years old, I told my mom in my cheery little voice, “I don’t want kids!” It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, because what three-year-old has any concept of planning for the future? The next thing out of my mouth was, “cookie for dessert!” and that was after several minutes of contemplation. Making decisions has never been easy for me. I still struggle when someone asks where I want to go for dinner. Don’t get me started on trying to decide between watching Pretty in Pink or 16 Candles for the 25th time. But as I’ve grown older, that one decision has remained easy to make — I still don’t want kids.

I have never imagined a future where children are involved. I’ve never felt the desire to settle down and have a family. I even say “when I don’t have kids, I’ll name them…” as a joke. My entire life I’ve told people that I don’t want children, and my entire life the response is to question me and deny my very real feelings.

When I say that I don’t want kids, I often hear: “Why not!? You’d be a great mom!” or “Really??” or my least favorite, “Oh, you’ll change your mind!” I understand that many of these people are coming from a caring place, but it’s frustrating when people think they know better than I do what I want to do with my life and body. I have never felt the desire to be a mom, even when I try to force it. It’s just not there. I don’t daydream about being a mother. I daydream about traveling the world with my fiancé, moving to whatever place we feel will further our careers, and even simple things like going out to dinner whenever we want. It isn’t selfish to want those things, and honestly, I’m not so sure it’s bad to be selfish, anyway.

The implication that I am making a selfish decision is what bugs me the most, because it implies that I’m doing something negative or wrong by making this choice. The thing is, I feel I can make a positive impact without bringing another human into the world. I love kids, and I hope to work with them in my career. As an artist who struggles with anxiety, my goal is to become an art therapist. My mom is a preschool teacher and I grew up volunteering at her school whenever I had time off from class. I loved to do art projects with the kids and see how the smallest things could amaze them. Some of the people who had the biggest impact on me were teachers, and I want the chance to help others through art.

I’ve heard so many jokes over time that my biological clock will start to tick, that I’ll change my mind, and that I have to give my parents grandchildren. The funny thing is, my mom fully supports my decision. I have always made it clear to her and my dad that children are not in my future, and they have never pressured me to go against my deepest feelings. Being a mother is an incredible thing, and I fully support everyone who makes the choice to have children. I consider my mom one of my best friends, and I feel lucky to have her in my life. She taught me to think for myself and be honest about my thoughts, and I appreciate more than anything that she doesn’t pressure me to have children. I will continue to explain my choice as best as I can, and hopefully one day people will stop asking others this very personal question. 

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