There are many people in this world who don’t want to be parents, myself included. I have always known that about myself, and I have never wavered in that. Growing up, I never played with baby dolls or pretended that my Barbie and Ken dolls were getting married and having a baby. Instead, Barbie was single and working as a scientist and Ken was just hanging around with GI Joe at Barbie’s dream house playing pranks on her. It was a very annoying but strictly platonic relationship.
My point is, I grew up knowing this about myself in the same way I knew I was naturally attracted to boys. You just know. This may be the same for others. It’s just as much of an instinct as wanting to have children. However, the stigma around wanting to remain childless makes it hard for people to admit it to their friends and loved ones.
I have been asked/told these phrases many times in my lifetime and they honestly irritate me to no end. I have a response to each one of them, which are not all nice:
1. Oh, you’ll grow out of it. (I never grew into it.)
2. But, you’ll die alone! Who will take care of you when you’re old? (Nephews, nieces, 2nd cousins, hospice, retirement homes next to my favorite casino (preferred)… I could go on)
3. Don’t you want to leave behind a legacy? (Oh, you’ll remember me after this conversation.)
4. Your cats will eat your dead body. (I hate cats, but I heard you have three? How is that going?)
5. Why do you hate kids? You must be selfish. (I walk away from these people; they just want to pick a fight and need to feel justified in why they popped out 3 kids so early in their lives.)
6. What if your partner wants children? Why would you deprive them of that? (We don’t, that is a very personal part of our relationship that has already been discussed by both of us. We’re adults — we talk.)
I am going on 26 and still have not “changed my mind.” I’ve never wanted kids, never felt the urge and have always known this about myself. And for a lot of women and men, this is a real thing; we’ve accepted it, now others need to.
When that little old lady at some baby shower asks you when you’re going to “pop one out”, we’ve been programmed to laugh a little, take a drink and walk away hoping she won’t remember you or talk to you again. Keep on sippin’ that “tea” little old lady (I know it’s whiskey); it doesn’t change my mind.
For those who just don’t understand why I (and many others) don’t want children, know that it’s okay to ask questions about it, but don’t ask leading ones that will end in a fight. Not understanding is perfectly okay, but there is no need to be mean or patronizing about it. Give the person the time to explain without interruption. Be respectful, and make sure to listen because they may have already explained this a dozen times to others.
For those with kids, don’t take it personally when someone else claims they don’t want children. When you’re having a conversation with someone, understand that you both have feelings and they are not always ill-intentioned. When someone explains that they don’t want children, it might come across to you as “I hate children, and I hate yours and your decision to have them is stupid.” Unless those words actually came out of their mouth, remember that they didn’t actually mean or say that. Think about why you’re defensive about it in the first place, give it some thought.
Now that I am almost 26, about to have my third surgery in 4 years and newly diagnosed with a second incurable illness, I DEFINITELY know for sure that I do not want kids. I’ve got a long hard road ahead of me, and I’m lucky to have a partner who is in this with me. I have someone I love, and a family who cares, and a casino I also love dearly.
I’m happy with that.