Contributed by Tanya S.
When I was 5 years old, I had a baby doll and remember distinctly wanting to have children. After all they were so much fun—they were smaller than me and I could tell them what to do. I would be the grown-up. However, the views of a five year old change as you age.
When I was 10 years old, I remember being in my grandmother’s kitchen and asking my cousin if she wanted to have children. “Of course I do.” To which I whispered, “I don’t want to have children when I grow up.” My cousin insisted, “You have to, everyone does.”
As I got older this decision did not change, I expressed it in high school, where I received lots of negative feedback—not from the students, but from teachers and parents. “You are being selfish.” “Who will care for you when you are old?” “You’ll change your mind.”
Many of my good friends could not wait to have children. When they talked about being moms or dads, they were happy and excited. I never felt this kind of passion which helped confirm I didn’t want children. I didn’t think of it as selfishness; rather it was being honest with myself and realizing that having children ‘just because’ would be the ultimate act of selfishness on my part.
Now I am almost 40 and my feelings are the same—I have no interest in being a mother. I still hear the same counter-arguments from time to time, but they have lessened. I used to be the only one I knew who felt this way. Now, I encounter many men and women who do not want to have children. Many of them had always thought that way but were too afraid of what people would say if they admitted it. So, instead of having to go through being hassled for their views, they kept it to themselves—preferring to hide their true feelings.
This, or any other authentic feeling, is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, hiding our feelings about something as important as having a child is extremely harmful to relationships in the long run. I know several people who wound up breaking off their serious, long-term relationships when they finally admitted that having children was not a part of their plan. Instead of admitting this from the beginning, they hid it and ended up hurting themselves as well as their partners—a pain that could have been avoided by being honest from the outset. This is just one more reason to be true to yourself and your beliefs. It might be difficult at first, but, in the long run, it leads to living an authentic life and having healthy relationships in the process.