Like many magnificent millennial women, I do not have children. I made this decision consciously and quite frankly, happily. Whether you’re childless for now or childfree for good like me, I’m sure you’ve heard some pretty cringe-worthy questions about your lack of babies. These are the ones I hate the most:
“Do you have kids?” At first, this question doesn’t sound so bad, and that’s because it really isn’t. The problem is that when someone asks if you have children and you respond with a simple “no,” the conversation never seems to end there—and it really, really should.
“When are you going to settle down and start a family?” I’ve learned to brace myself after telling someone that I don’t have children. More often than not, the nosy neighbor or new co-worker will ask when I’m planning to fill this supposed void in my life with a bouncing bundle of joy. When am I planning on having kids? If you must know, never.
“Why don’t you like kids?” Whether you’re on the fence about having kids or adamantly childfree, some people will assume you don’t have children because you hate them. Oh, if only it were that simple. This question particularly bothers me as I work in early childhood education. Do you really think I would’ve picked that field if I hated children? Come on. If someone asks this question or assumes this about you, don’t feel like you need to start professing your love for babies. If they want to paint an image of you being a child-hater, that’s on them.
“Don’t you think you’ll regret it when you’re older?” People love worrying about your future, don’t they? I regret a lot of things in my life that nobody ever warned me about, like when I had hair so dark it looked blue and when I wore makeup that was a good three shades darker than my skin tone. The point is, you’re going to regret things whether or not people pester you about them. I don’t feel that I’ll regret my decision not to have children but then again, I thought my blue hair was cute. So… time is what tells, not people.
“Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” For some reason, people think having children is a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. However, there’s a fatal flaw in that thinking: a baby can’t agree to terms and conditions. Having kids doesn’t entitle you to free adult daycare once you’ve become elderly or ill. You want to have kids—kids don’t ask to be born. There is simply no guarantee that all adult children will care for their aging parents. Plus, I do have an amazing partner, so it’s not like I’m going to die alone.
“What do you do with all your free time?” It’s often assumed that women without children are less busy than their peers with children. It’s true that we’re not waking up every two hours to feed a baby and most of us don’t spend our evenings pushing kids on swings, but this doesn’t mean we have endless time. I do watch a whole lot of Netflix but I squeeze it in between working regular hours, running a side business, staying connected with my friends and family, and volunteering at least 10 hours a week. When a parent asks me this question, I can’t help but want to tell them my schedule and ask, “So, what do you do with all your free time?”
“What does your husband think?” Whether you’re married or dating, people will want to know what the special person in your life thinks about this novel idea. They’re so perplexed by the choice to be childfree that they think two people couldn’t possibly agree on this decision. This question is always offensive and I usually respond rather bluntly, “It was a joint decision.”
“What if your parents hadn’t had kids?” I’m sorry but this question is so dumb, and every time I’m asked this, my eyes seem to roll to the back of my head before I’m able to stop them. If my parents didn’t have kids then we wouldn’t be here having this totally ridiculous conversation. Good day!
“Isn’t that pretty selfish, though?” This is probably one of the most common questions asked to a woman without kids. It’s important to note that every personal decision is, to some extent, selfish. We all make decisions that we feel will be of most benefit to us as individuals. The choice to be childfree is no more selfish than motherhood. Actually, at times I wonder if it is substantially less selfish.
“Don’t you want a little version of yourself?” Uh, no. That’s such a weird reason to have kids. Seemingly level-headed women have asked me this question and it always throws me for a loop when it happens. I hate it to break it you guys but I’m not that great—at least not great enough to merit a clone. One Brittany is enough, thank you very much.
“Aren’t you worried about your life lacking purpose?” Before I became resolute in my choice to be childfree, this is something I worried about. I thought I had a certain amount of time to cram in everything I wanted to do—travel, write a book, move to a different state— before having kids. Once I removed the deadline, I didn’t feel nearly as rushed. In a sense, I have a new lease on life. I’m now looking forward to doing so many things I wouldn’t have possibly been able to do if I had kids. So, no, I’m not worried about my life lacking purpose—I quite love this childfree life of mine.
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