Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To Breed or Not To Breed

My grandmother has 8 great-grandchildren. All girls. Recently, she prophesized that I’m going to be the one to give the family their long-awaited boy child. It’s apparently my genetic destiny.

What my grandmother fails to understand is #1) I’m not having children, and #2) Lucky me, I’m not in possession of a y chromosome. Only my husband can make her dreams come true, and that’s highly unlikely, as he also subscribes to point #1.

I know it’s difficult for grandma to understand why I’m not having children. To her antiquated thinking, I’m not single. I’m not a lesbian. I’m not poor. In fact, I’m married. I’m healthy. I’m what she sees as “normal.” So what possible reasons could I have for not having children?

To save grandma a little time, and to clarify for friends and family in general, here’s a quick “Top Ten - Plus One” list of random thoughts about being childfree and what it means to me:

1. I like kids. I just don’t want children of my own. It’s nothing against your kids. I’m not a child-basher. I don’t call them names, like snotmonsters or ankle-biters, and I don’t refer to my female friends as “breeders”. I don’t have to hate children to not want them.

2. Not everyone has children. If everyone had them, the planet would be even more over-populated. You can do your part to populate the world, and I’ll do my part to maintain the balance.

3. Some of us like baby smell; some of us don’t. Others don’t even register a unique smell that is “baby”, which is pretty much where I fall.

4. I wasn’t much for playing with baby dolls as a child. How is changing diapers and singing to a crying plastic doll fun? I played with Barbie, and Barbie had an exciting life. I made her travel in the big Dream Van everywhere, and she had like 18 different boyfriends with different colored hair and the same face.

5. Some women feel born to be mothers. They feel complete with children. I know it’s hard to imagine, but I feel complete without being a mother.

6. I have very little patience, even with adults or with myself. I can road rage while driving the car alone on an empty highway if I’m in the right mood. Luckily, I know this about myself and realize that a marked lack of patience is not ideal when raising children. It’s not even ideal for being married. I have to work on it all the time.

7. Yes, I have doubts. I have them about as often as people with children have doubts or regrets about why they did have children, which is to say, sometimes, but not all the time, and only when I’m feeling vulnerable.

8. I believe there is a biological clock. It’s not that mine isn’t ticking, it’s more that I think I might have been born without one. At 32 years old, I seem to have less and less urges to contemplate parenthood, so if I do have a biological clock at all, it seems to be working in reverse.

9. I’m not selfish just because I don’t want kids. Selfish to me is having kids and then complaining to anyone who will listen about how tough your life is. We all have at least one friend who makes you wonder, “Why the heck did she have kids if she hates being a mom so much?” If I had kids, I guarantee I would be that person. Who wants that? (Disclaimer: The majority of my friends love having children, and I love that they love it. Someone has to make the world go round, and I’m glad they are doing it.)

10. My pet peeve: When I say I’m not having kids, people nod condescendingly and suggest that I don’t know my own mind or that I will change my mind. Many of my friends had their children in their mid-twenties. So they knew their minds when they decided to have kids at that age, but at 32, I don’t know my own mind yet? Pleeze.

11. If I express the slightest bit of doubt, regret or consideration about this topic in front of some friends who have children, even during a moment of weakness (read “intoxication” or “severe chocolate-deprivation”), they jump on it like a hungry shark on a paper cut. That’s why I always have to be so firm about this topic. And I have to say, it’s exhausting maintaining a “position” on this issue all the time.

There it is. If grandma reads blogs, then I’m all set. She did take a computer course last year, so I’m hopeful. If not, the above thoughts will undoubtedly be served at holiday dinners for years to come, in response to the usual questions like “Are you still not having kids?”, “What does your husband’s family think about this?”, “When are you going to change your mind?” and “If you don’t have the boy, who will?”


  1. Jen, I applaud you and your choice. I think many people have children for the wrong reasons. They either get pregnant "accidentally," feel that reaching their own goals in life is no longer a possibility, so they have children as an excuse to say, "I had to give up on my dream because I wanted to start a family," or they have them because they feel it is what they are supposed to do. You get married...then you have kids. It takes a much stronger person to go against the norm, know their own mind and the person they are and whether or not they feel children are the correct decision for them or if they would be a good parent. I think some people make wonderful parents, while some others still act like children themselves. More people should follow your example and explore what they really want to do when it comes to having a family and not just do what their friends, family or society expects them to do. In the end, it is more selfish to have a child, not spend any time with them & resent them for robbing you of time that could be spent with your spouse, traveling, or whatever other thing you wish you could be doing & hold it against them for the rest of their lives than to not have the child in the first place. It is also important to take into account any medical issues that you have that you may pass down to your child. Most people don't and the child suffers. Again, I applaud your decision. Not being a parent makes you a good parent (as strange as that sounds). You are doing what is best for you and YOUR family, just as others choose to do what is best for theirs. I'm support you 100%...but you knew I would:)

  2. Love your top 10, plus 1 list. I wish more people would understand those points. I know I'm single, but part of the reason I'm ok with it, is because I don't want to have kids!

  3. A quick update to this article. My cousin is having another baby, and we've learned it's going to be a girl. That will make 9 great-granddaughters, none from me. Grandma's suspicion that I am the destined boy-bringer has likely increased...

  4. Another update, I'm now 36. Still childfree. Still happy. :) A while back, I started a Facebook page called "It's okay to be childfree and happy about it". Feel free to join our small group of childfree men and women.

  5. Time for an update...39 1/2, and I still know my own mind!

  6. 40, still married, still childfree. It's okay to like kids but not like the idea of yourself with kids!