Even though I, myself, have always wanted children, I really admire and respect y’all who are choosing to remain child-free because honestly? Having a kid isn’t something you should do unless you are really, truly sure that you can handle the responsibility of taking care of an actual living person and helping them reach their full potential. And not everyone can do that, which is totally fine. If you have other plans for your life that don’t involve shaping it around a small human, you’re not going to be doing the hypothetical small human any favors by begrudgingly abandoning those plans.
Also, those of you who shit on child-free people, let me ask you this. Are you aware of how selfish you’re being? Do you know how difficult it is for a kid to grow up in a house with people who don’t want them? Because I do, and it’s fucking hell.
Let the people who want to have and take care of children do so. Let the ones who don’t, make their own choices.
It’s not really children, per se. Granted, I’m not fond of them being around, I don’t want one in my house or very often in my immediate presence, and I especially don’t like it if I have to watch one that can’t even talk coherently let alone understand what I’m saying, but all this is because I have no patience and no strong maternal instincts to speak of.
If I’m out in public somewhere and a child looks at me, I will smile at it. If I see a video or gif of a child doing something adorable, I might coo and share it. I don’t actively go out of my way to upset children or even discuss them with most people.
But I hate with all my being the culture that surrounds the concept of children.
There’s an overwhelming societal expectation of a beuterused person that they must not only have children (usually multiple), but that they must desperately want children, often to the exclusion of all else. It’s tied very much into the notion that everyone is supposed to get married and promptly produce offspring and put themselves neatly into heteronormative traditional gender roles so as to be a good adult and a “productive member of society.” Indeed, the mere presence of breasts and a presumed uterus is indicative that a person’s worth is whether or not they reproduce.
And it’s this idea that infests every conversation about health or future or family. It’s this concept that makes those of us who do not want children (especially biologically) have to constantly brace ourselves for potential arguments when we talk about any of these things.
It’s the reason I had to switch doctors when my first one kept insisting that “the ideal” was for me to “remain a virgin until marriage and then marry a virgin before having children.” It’s the reason people with vaginas require checkups for “reproductive health” to make sure everything is “functioning correctly for reproduction” instead of just to make sure things don’t hurt/aren’t infected/need attention. It’s the reason we see language used like “baby-making” for het sex with no stated reproductive intent, why the term “biological clock” is still exclusively used in regards to reproduction, and why there is an over-emphasis on pregnancy and reproduction language in sex (“baby goo,” “baby batter,” “gonna make a baby in you,” etc.). It’s why there’s still so much debate over who gets a say in pregnancy, why pregnancy is still terrifyingly often referred to as a punishment or as a means to control the beuterused. It’s the reason why family, friends, and even strangers feel completely within their rights to ask you about your reproductive plans, to make you justify all of your life choices to them at a moment’s notice, to question your thoughts and beliefs as if they know you better than you do yourself.
It’s the reason why the questions are so intensive when someone asks for lasting birth control. It’s the reasons why we are told over and over the rate of regret, the success stories of people who changed their minds, the horror stories of those who didn’t. It’s the reason why, when you state that you have a “phobia of pregnancy” in the hope that it will make people stop asking you without making you explain yourself or justify your feelings for the umpteenth time, the only advice you get is, “Well, that needs to be fixed before anything else.”
It’s the reason why “because I don’t want children” isn’t enough. It’s the reason why adoption is never seen as an option because “you’ll want some of your own someday.” It’s the reason why people put such value on “extending the family line” and “continuing the family name.”
It’s the reason I have to say I hate children for people to stop questioning me. It’s the reason I have to monitor my conversations with certain people because they’ll say, “Ah, see, you DO like kids!!” It’s the reason parts of my dysphoria kick in hard when I see the sort of things mentioned above. Because, unless something happens to remove or damage a uterus, it is not only expected, but demanded of you to know why you’re refusing “the most precious gift on Earth,” “your womanly duty,” “the greatest love you’ll ever know,” and so forth.
It’s the reason why “I hate children” is rolled off my tongue more and more until finally people just stop talking.
But I don’t hate children.
I hate the culture of children.
I hate the misogyny that surrounds pregnancy.
Most of all, I hate the people who perpetuate this culture, who deny someone else the right to say they don’t want to be part of it, who threaten to make them part of it.
But, you know, it’s so much easier to just say I hate children.
“Maybe if you were less cynical, you’d see why it’s normal to want to be a parent.”
Maybe if you were less gullible, you’d realise that raising children is a multi-billion-dollar industry that bombards us every single day of our lives with a single, pounding, relentless message: “Parenthood is normal.”
Which means that when adulthood rolls around, huge numbers of people proceed without thinking towards parenthood.
It’s normal, right? It’s just what you do. Grow up, get married, have kids. Easy as one, two, three.
And we spend our lives going methodically to work, earning money to buy all the things that the parenting industry says will help us succeed at the life path it’s cunningly nudged us onto. Then we unconsciously encourage our own kids to do as we have done, make the choices we’ve made - because it reassures us that we’ve ‘done right’. In fact, the parenting industry has a vested interest in making us desire that coveted promotion to Grandparent. Because then we can keep buying clothes and toys and family holidays from them.
There are corporations in this world more powerful than religions ever were.
And their entire continued existence depends upon us reaching parenthood without realising it’s a choice.
When you’re a little girl, they sell your parents a doll - by suggesting to them it will make you smile like the little girl in the catalogue smiles. Your parents want to be the kind of good, loving parents that they see in the cereal adverts, so you probably get quite a few dolls over the years. You and your dolly grow up, watching films and reading stories together that start with a girl all on her own and end with a happy heterosexual wedding.
Meanwhile, your brother grows up with a very different role model: Man The Hunter. Man The Provider. He’s taught to judge his worth on earning money that a lady will transform into smiling children for him.
Magazines, adverts, news articles, film plots, urban legends… so much of the media we consume everyday encourages us towards parenthood as our ultimate goal. We are urged to concern ourselves with producing and protecting a family - but why? Why does every advert want us to think parenthood is not just an attractive option, but the only option?
The parenting industry would very much like £230,000 from us. And to get it, they need us to believe that parenthood is the only path to fulfillment. They start telling us from a very young age. Then, by the time we reach adulthood, we’re so convinced of parenthood being normal that we don’t even ask, “Shall I have children?” We just… do. The parenting industry has done such a good job on us that we don’t realise we were ever influenced at all.
And so the cycle continues.
If you still think I’m a cynical old goat, consider that a child costs roughly £11,000 a year to raise.
If you’d convinced most of the population to give you £11,000 a year, every year - sometimes £22,000, or even £33,000 - would you have a strong interest in making sure people don’t ask whether they have to or not?
Why is “because I know I’d beat them” not an acceptable answer to why I don’t want kids?
I don’t have patience for things that are sticky and destructive and scream like parrots if they’re chained up to me 24/7. I would lose it eventually and kick one across the room. I could not guarantee a safe environment for a child.