To Be Childfree Or Not: Does A Woman Have A Choice?

To Be Childfree Or Not Does A Woman Have A Choice

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Choice.  A fascinating word if you haven’t realized it yet.

It’s lovely and satisfying when you choose what to study, where to work, who to marry, and even the minuscule life decisions such as what to wear and what to eat.

But what do you think about this statement of choice: ‘I choose to be childfree.’ Well, that’s reasonably accepted if it comes from a man, but it startles the society and even the family when a woman says it.

But why? Is it because a woman is a channel to procreate life and take the world ahead? Or her body is designed to bring a life, else it is worthless? A man might even say ‘If I had a uterus and a blessing to give birth, I wouldn’t have been so fussy as you.’

Sigh.

Alright, this society is unconventional and may not understand you. But your family knows you and would support you, wouldn’t they?

Unapologetically, no!

Even her loving husband might say, ‘She’ll change her mind as she keeps changing her mood.’

Yeah, she is still immature,’ her mother would exclaim, and her best friend might say, ‘you’re crazy girl, being a mother is such a beautiful feeling.’

Yes, she knows it’s an out-of-the-world feeling, but still, she doesn’t want to.

(Awkward silence, rolling eyes, and ‘something is wrong with her’ faces)

The essence of being childfree

Also termed as voluntary childlessness, being childfree means choosing not to have a child. The term has been coined already, which means you are not alone, lady. So, if you are wondering why you don’t get the motherly instincts or if you are being selfish, put a halt to those dubious thoughts.

In fact, the idea of being childfree is not new. The flicker started somewhere around in the 1500s, however, it was in the 1900s when women, though hesitantly, became vocal about it. And that’s how reforms like birth control, postponing the age of marriage, abortion, and even discussions about a woman’s body started gaining some momentum.

On the statistical side, the number of women who voluntarily chose to be childfree are increasing every decade. According to the US National Survey of Family Growth, there was an increase of 1.3% from 1982 to 1988, which further increased to 6.6% in 1995, and since then the number has been escalating (1).

Why a woman might want to be childfree

I simply don’t want to have a child’ – will anyone buy this?

It might not be considered convincing despite being the first reason of choice. Every woman has her reason, which is followed by numerous preconceived judgments.

While some could be concerned about the baby’s health, pregnancy, delivery, and after effects, some women may not have a desire to raise a child as they feel they already have a complete family. A few women may not have a better half or share zero emotional attachment with their partner and they could not be ready for a lifetime responsibility.

Some women could be anxious about their child’s future due to financial crunch or may have apprehensions about their body and health after childbirth. Also, some don’t want a major change in life as they fear their career coming to a standstill or worry about unreasonable attachment. There could be women who have concerns regarding child safety and overpopulation too.

The reason can be anything or there may not be a reason at all because a woman is as free as any other human being to have her own thoughts and preferences, isn’t it?

Narratives of the society: Busting the misconceptions

Despite citing several reasons, the woman could still be perceived as ‘selfish,’ ‘overthinker,’ or even ‘foolish.’ It doesn’t end there. She is often given confused glances, taunted, and in worse cases, not invited to cultural or religious events.

A woman is considered complete only when she procreates a life. She is not accepted as a part of a nurturing world. People get on to sit on the judgement seat:

  • She doesn’t like children: She loves children, but she doesn’t want to give birth and raise a child.
  • She is barren: No, and what if she is?
  • She is crazy: She is being responsible.
  • She will be alone all her life: That’s okay, but she has her husband, parents, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Not Guilty Of Choice. No Regrets.

Life is all about choices, isn’t it?

A massive change in life for your life partner, family, or society might please them, but if you are not satisfied, you might regret your choice.

When you want to be childfree, you live a childfree life on your terms—this is what choice is all about. It is also being free and responsible at the same time. Even if a woman chooses to be out of motherhood, she is fulfilling her life in many other ways. She is a doting wife, a caring aunt, a loving daughter, and a professional at work. And probably, she may choose to adopt at some point in her life.

Still, she might not be a so-called ‘satisfying’ woman for many. But that’s okay, she did not arrive in the world to please people around, did she?

On that note, why do people love to have children? Umm.. they want to grow their family or want to see their younger self. Or they don’t want to be alone or need someone to take care of when they turn old. So, aren’t these thoughts selfish? If these aren’t selfish, then choosing to be childfree shouldn’t be too. Irrespective of what the society assumes or the family says, if a woman’s heart says ‘no,’ she isn’t obliged by anyone to surrender her choice. But yes, she has to make her opinion clear to her partner because her partner has a right too. In fact, being open about her thoughts with her partner in the early stages itself can decide the future of their relationship without much heartbreak in the later stages.

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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship articles, where she deals with both the rosy and the grey side... more