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.

62 Comments

John P

2

John P commented…

JAJA, I presume that by going "childless", you are not intending to be chaste at the same time. This means you will be using birth control. So as a Christian, you are planning on killing your killing your baby in the womb from the time of its inception. Forgive me for being harsh with you, but frankness is demanded when a baby's life is concerned. Christ died for our sins. Can we do any less for our baby? Physical death, no, but death to our past-times of the flesh and self. JaJa, believe me please, while children demand all you have and more, the blessings that flow from our sacrifice to that little child will be with you for eternity.

NIKKI

10

NIKKI replied to John P's comment

Your comment suggests that this woman plans to always have unprotected sex, which is wrong of you to assume despite your good intentions.

Sonali Kumar

1

Sonali Kumar replied to NIKKI's comment

Birth control doesn't kill anything. It prevents conception before it happens. But even so, Nikki is right; you shouldn't presume anything about whether she's having sex or not. She could be using NFP as well.

William Clark

2

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

20

Daniel replied to William Clark's comment

Also just plain celibacy.

Ria

6

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

10

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

1

Michael Kilpatrick commented…

I don't agree with the premise-

Read Gen 1:28 and take it literally

Read 2 Tim 3 to understand

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