Why I Decided to Not Have Kids

One woman explains why she has decided to go against the grain.

Back in the good old days of junior high, I was positive I would have kids at some point in my life. But after years of watching my friends work at daycares, coo at little kids and gush about how great it would be to have children, I began to question that presumption.

Having children never really called to me in the same way that it did to them. I was even told by a sweet old lady I had come to know that if I didn’t really, really want kids, I shouldn’t have them. Fast forward to today as a college student in my twenties, and I am quite convinced motherhood is just not for me. Unfortunately, society does not respond so favorably to this.

Society views motherhood as just another chapter in the book of life ... rather than the biggest ethical decision women will make in their lives.

I stumbled across a very insightful and well-articulated article in The New York Times called “Think Before You Breed” by Christine Overall. She highlights the paradox of society’s views on “childless” women by pointing out that when a young woman says she does not want kids, people immediately demand to know why not; yet when a woman says she does want to have children, no one questions her about why she does. It is simply the default.

But having kids is a much greater risk, Overall reasons, so shouldn’t the “burden of justification” be on the mothers-to-be? Society, it appears, views motherhood as just another chapter in the book of life that we must keep flipping through rather than the biggest ethical decision women will make in their lives.

This assumption of child-bearing as the default for all women is troubling because it allows them to bypass the critical question of why they truly want kids (terrible reasons do exist!) and not fully understanding the sacrifices they must make. Am I doing this to mend my broken marriage? Do I want someone to keep me company and take care of me when I get old? Am I looking to raise a genius so I can brag about him or her? (Kids are not therapists, retirement packages or trophies.) In fact, some of us don’t even pause to consider what a life without children could be like before hopping on the one-way train to motherhood, potentially leading to a resentful and broken relationship between mother and child.

This phenomenon is undoubtedly more pronounced in Christian circles, in which family (consisting of a mother, father and group of kids) is so highly focused. Many women who are married but childless by choice are scrutinized and judged. Church leaders like to point to a verse in Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” as a command from God to have children.

However, this is by no means an instruction to individual couples, but rather, to the population as a whole so the human species doesn’t die off. The same exact thing is said to the animals in Genesis 1:22. And we dedicated humans have already accomplished that—we have filled the earth to the tune of 7.1 billion people and one birth every 8 seconds (I am watching the world population clock ticking away as I write). Though children are regarded as blessings, such as in Psalms 127:3 which states, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward,” there is no direct command for women to bear children.

Simply put, motherhood is a gift. Some women have it, and some do not. As Paul writes, “There are varieties of gifts ... but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

To those who respond to a woman’s decision to refrain from motherhood with an indignant “What?! But why not!?” or the off-putting “Just wait, you’ll change your mind in a year,” you may be right. Of course, God can always change our hearts and plans, but leave that up to Him, not others.

Simply put, motherhood is a gift. Some women have it, and some do not.

Women without adequate resources to nurture a child (keeping in mind that time and energy matter just as much as, if not more than, money) should take an honest look at what other gifts they may be blessed with. Those without children are freer to work missions abroad, have more time to volunteer in the community and can serve as stable, supportive figures to other children when the parents are overworked. Couples without children have an important role, both in and outside the Christian community. That often gets overlooked.

Speaking from a young woman’s perspective, I am not seeking to discourage other women from motherhood, but rather to help them see that the choice to have children is just that—a choice. It is neither a biblical command nor a societal requirement (no matter how much society wants it to be). Not every woman has to be a mother, and to force yourself into a role for which you are not meant can have lasting consequences on both you and your child. But when you accept the role God does intend for you—be that as a mother or not—the results can have a powerful impact for His Kingdom.


William Clark


William Clark commented…

John P why would you "presume" that going childless means that she would have to automatically abort a baby in the womb. There are plenty of alternatives to the pill, everything from condoms for men and women to a histerectomy if she so desires. Are you truly ignorant of these options or were you as I suspect just looking for a reason to justify your pro-child worldview? If so you should come up with better arguments based on less faulty "presumptions".



Daniel replied to William Clark's comment

Also just plain celibacy.



Ria commented…

For the record, birth control pills *do not kill babies* and sex was not created solely for procreation. Thanks to William Clark for a more nuanced answer to this.

To the author, I applaud your bravery to write this article. This is the first Christian point of view on this topic I've seen, and it's a breath of fresh air. Women were created to be more than *just* moms.



NIKKI commented…

I hate the idea that if, as a woman, we do not use our bodies to make babies then we are wasting our womanhood. I battle with knowing and owning how much of a "woman" I am while still being childless. It is entirely possible that I will never have children (half of it medical conditions, the other half, no viable man in my life to procreate with). I have to accept being childless as a possible reality and ignore all opinions of me being less of a woman because of it.

Michael Kilpatrick


Michael Kilpatrick commented…

I don't agree with the premise-

Read Gen 1:28 and take it literally

Read 2 Tim 3 to understand

Joe Maluso


Joe Maluso commented…

I know this article is a little old but I have to chime in.

This author's perspective is VERY sad. And this is a Christian-based magazine? There are men and women than come to this site and read this magazine for support and help walking a Godly path in their lives...this isn't the way to show Christ's love...by trying to justify selfishness.

There are countless people out there (Christian and non-Christian) that actually want to have children but can't. How do you think they would feel about you "opting out"? I feel that as a Christian making up your mind that you don't want kids is slapping the God you supposedly trust with your entire life in the face. If you trust Him in all other aspects of your life why can't you trust Him in this? Maybe some women are better that others at being a mother (or have the "gift" or "instinct".) So what? Some Christians are better at sharing their faith than others and that doesn't mean God wants them to just stop trying or decide they just aren't going to do it because they don't feel they are cut out for it. Try your best and count on the strength o of the Lord! Stepping out of our comfort zones is a way we get a chance to GROW in our faith with God. And having children is a way as a Christian you can do just that. Step out of your comfort zone...go out on a limb...TRUST God! Children are a blessing...even in this twisted world that teaches us to be so selfish and self-centered. It changes the lives of the parents to their core...in such a positive way.

If you are physically able, deciding not to have children as a Christian is selfish. Plain and simple.

Joel Staves


Joel Staves replied to Joe Maluso's comment

It's really not your job to police what other ppl are doing regarding parenthood plans. Not having kids is not an indicator that one does not trust god. Yes, children are a blessing but they are not for everybody. Unless YOU have to raise them, why do you care? Would it not be better to just not have kids than to have them and then treat them like dirt or neglect them? I find it funny that those who go on these tirades about children being a blessing and a gift are the ones who look the most miserable and exhausted when you see them. I don't hate kids, however when I encounter ppl w/ your mindset, I make a conscious effort to say the meanest thing possible to emphasize my point that I DO NOT plan to (and nor am I obligated to) make a baby. I'd never bring a baby into this sick sad world.

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