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11 Millennial Pinays Explain Why They Don't Want Kids

Have you chosen to be child-free? You are not alone!
PHOTO: (LEFT) Talia Ruiz, (RIGHT) Caloy Encluna

Go to school. Graduate. Get a job. Get married. Have kids.

For most people, that's the standard life span. But for a lot of young Filipinos, that's not the case anymore! Some people want to live together instead of getting married. And others just don't want kids.

If you told your parents you didn't want kids, like, ever, do you think they'd freak out?

"Motherhood is the best thing ever!" says your ka-barkada. 

"Hindi ka ba naiinggit 'dun sa anak ng pinsan mo?" your well-meaning ninang might say.

 And you're like, "Uhm, no."

 So we spoke to 11 Pinays about that *touchy * "Yes, I'm sure I don't want kids" conversation.

Jewel U. Angeles

31, "freelancer for everything," in a relationship and co-habiting


How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I tell them straight up. "Nah. I really don't want children of my own." Sometimes with a shrug. If you tell them matter-of-factly (and in a certain dismissive kind of way), they tend to not push it.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

I realize now I'm super lucky to be surrounded mostly by people who aren't quick to judge. But then again, I have yet to tell my extended family. [I think] they've simply assumed I'm going to have kids one day, and I kind of understand, because their generation was different from ours. I haven't had the chance to share my decision with them, and I get nervous thinking about the time that I will have to! But I'm armed with words and patience, and hopefully they will continue to be the cool titos and titas I know them to be.

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

If they want that, that's cool. Some people do. But also, some people just don't. And if anyone calls you selfish for not wanting kids, you can always tell them: If they want a baby, then they can go make one for themselves.

I cannot emphasize enough how huge a responsibility raising a human being is. It’s your body! And it's not just nine months of a tiny human in you. It's the rest of your life!


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Aissa Ereñeta

36, International Development Professional, married



Continue reading below ↓

How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I love kids; I work with kids; I adore my nieces and nephews and godchildren. But I don't feel an intense need to have any kids of my own.

I'm not at a point in my life where I can "have it all," and I am not willing to sacrifice all the stuff I currently have that give me great fulfillment and joy. I'm still waiting for the "right" time, but maybe it won't ever be the right time, and I'm okay with that.

This conversation never goes over well. I shouldn't have to defend my life choices to anyone, but I do. People always ask if my husband is okay with that [decision], and I tell them we wouldn't have gotten married if he felt strongly about having kids and I didn't.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

It's mainly the accumulation of micro-aggressions that wears me down. It's emotionally taxing to be constantly judged for my life choices, and to be made to feel selfish because I’m unwilling to sacrifice everything for motherhood.

I think the worst thing I've been told is that I'm a disappointment to my parents. That one bothers me the most, because I'm afraid that on some level it might be true. I know that my parents would love to be grandparents, and it makes me sad that I'm depriving them of that joy. But they are super supportive of me, and have told me that it's entirely my and my husband's decision. They leap to my defense whenever people criticize me for not having children.

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

First, it usually come from a place of love and concern, so keep that in mind to dull the edge.

Second, try to talk about it openly to normalize it. It seems inconceivable to most, that bearing children is not our ultimate aspiration as a woman. But that's because there aren't a lot of women out there challenging this norm. It's not easy, but we need to make people understand that women are diverse and make different life choices. One choice is not necessarily better than the others. We need to show that are many ways to live a happy and fulfilling life as a woman.

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And lastly, live that life. Whatever it is that gives your life meaning and joy, pursue it.


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Talia Ruiz

22, geek, activist, IT salesperson, single



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I try to be discreet about it and just say "Kids just aren't my thing." But when I’m asked, I talk about how I'm not vain enough to think my genes or influence are so much better than everyone else's. I say how if ever I'd want to take care of a kid, it'd probably be as a mentor-sponsor. I might talk about the costs of [parenthood], and my overall unwillingness to be such a big influence on another human being.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

People constantly tell me, "You'll change your mind when you're older," as if my age has anything to do with my convictions. I've thought about the possibility of motherhood more thoroughly than most people have, and my well-thought out argument shouldn't be dismissed with "You're still young."

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Just remind people that your life is your own, and you respect them enough not to try to change their mind, [you deserve] that same level of respect. No matter how young you are, what you plan to do with your life shouldn’t be forced on you by other people. 

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Kalyn Lopena

32, quirky educator, single



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I tell people that I don't want children because, first of all, I haven't met the one I'd love to start a family with. Second, I'm focused on being excellent in the things that I love to do as a teacher, trainer, poet, writer, and stage performer. Having kids would mean changes in the karmic and creative order of my little universe.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

That in actively choosing not to have kids, I will not be able to fulfill my purpose as a woman, and that I will never feel "complete," whatever that means!

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Always go back to the reasons why you don't want to have kids in the first place. You are empowered to make better choices depending on your biological and psychological needs. Don't second-guess your womanly power!

Continue reading below ↓


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Ginny Palma

28, writer, single



How do you explain to people that you don’t want children?

I tell them that, while I love kids and I'd been happy helping my parents take care of my brothers, having a child of my own has never been an aspiration. I'm not vehemently opposed to the idea, but I have a different vision for myself, and raising a family is simply not part of that.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

What I hate the most is when people say it's only because I don't know any better, and that they can't wait for the day when I do have my own kid, so I can finally eat my words and realize they've been right all along. It's infuriating because, first, it dismisses my present agency as an adult. Second, it trivializes the complexities involved when a person changes their mind about such a serious matter.

Lastly, you want me to get pregnant so you can feel smug about it?? These people sound like they're more concerned about their own pride than my life, or that of any child's!

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Don't ever let the pressure get in the way of your ability to make your own decisions, at whatever point in your life. In the words of my mother, "Basta masaya ka, 'yon ang mahalaga."

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PJ Punla

Turning 35 soon, queer Filipina writer and advocate for mental health issues, separated

How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

When I was still married, I talked to my then-husband about having kids. I had to say that I was mainly indifferent to the whole topic: I couldn't see myself being pregnant, much less a mother, or some kind of "good" mother. He was less than understanding, but at that point we were willing to put it on hold in case I changed my mind.

Now, I tell people that, first of all, I’m not in any form of relationship in which pregnancy is a possibility. Second, I’m dealing with mental health issues. Third, I think I would rather try to settle down for myself and be completely stable before having a kid. And it doesn’t have to be childbirth. There is still the option of adopting.

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What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

[That I'm] being selfish and, paradoxically, a coward. I don't know why being painfully aware of one's personal issues makes one selfish. As for being a coward, it's true that I'm scared, but at least I'm willing to talk it through, and I'm willing to change my point of view.

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

People who are capable of giving birth are of different opinions on the topic of having or not having kids. If those reasons feel true to you, then do your best to stand by those reasons. Whatever your reasons for not having kids, please believe that they are valid reasons. And do not think that you're alone in this.

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Denice De Guzman

32, "I stage pop-up events, and I work as an assistant managing editor," single



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I usually joke about it. I tell people that I don't want an alien in my tummy. I say that, after having my gall bladder taken out, I don't ever want another surgery. Or that I'm selfish, so I don't want to have to take care of another being for the rest of my life.

If it's serious talk though, I say that I write, and my stories are my children. I don't need to spawn just to get taken care of in my old age, or to execute my unfulfilled potential.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

Usually people say that I will change my mind eventually, that it's only because I'm single now, so I can't imagine myself with kids. The one that hurt the most was being told that I cannot ever understand what it's like to be a parent, so I won't know how to love, and that I'm selfish because I don't want to take care of another person for the rest of my life. Oh, and that [I don't want kids] because I'm "not wife material."

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Some people cannot seem to understand that women are not baby-making machines. If it's older people, shrug and smile, knowing that it reflects more on them than on you. If it's people you can brush off, or people who can take your humor, just say, "Sorry, I'm already using my uterus to keep my beer belly in shape" or "I've already promised my firstborn to the devil."

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Patricia Malay

37, PR director, single



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I say I don't want children right this minute, but I'm not sure how I'll feel in the future. For now, knowing what my life is like and what I know myself to be capable of, I don't feel I can be the kind of mother I'd like to be.

I grew up with a mom who was working all the time. While I was grateful for her sacrifices, I always wished for a mom who had more time with me and my siblings.

Until I feel I'm in a position to give that, I don't see becoming a mom in the cards for me.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

A lot of people dismiss the decision as a temporary phase, that I'll get over it. Thankfully I haven't encountered anyone outright mean or unkind. But I think when people make assumptions that it's not a well-thought-out decision, that it's a fleeting thing, that can be hurtful too. 

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

I think the decision to have or not have children is a deeply personal one. We shouldn't bear children simply because we can, biologically. Motherhood, from what I've seen, is probably the hardest job on the planet. I think few women go into it knowing exactly what it will take, or even what kind of mother they want to be. It's absolutely alright to take your time, to decide no now and change your mind later or even never. It is your body and it's your life and no one else should be able to tell you what to do with that.

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Jamila R. Nedjadi

34, Spiritual Coach and Tarot Reader, married


How do you explain to people that you don’t want children?

I've known since I was 14 years old that I didn't want to have children. Every time I tried to imagine myself having children, raising someone from infancy to their teens and beyond, it just didn't make sense to me.

When I was younger, I spent most of my time addressing the weirdest reasons from absolute strangers who seemed incredibly invested in my ovaries and what I was going to do with them. Not using them was akin to not being a complete woman, or not knowing any better.

I stopped trying to explain when I hit my 30s. I realized that, at the end of the day, these people weren't talking to me personally. Their reality is made up of pieces that are supposed to fit in a certain way, and my choices did not fit in with that. Having my choices make sense to them was not my problem nor my responsibility.

So nowadays I joke, and talk about how I have three furry children in the form of cats (for whom I will not have to pay college tuition!), then change the topic.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

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I think the worst came from my mother. To her credit, she rarely brings it up anymore. But every so often, if someone asks why I don't have children, she'll say, "It's because she's selfish, when you have children you can't be selfish."

It used to hurt a lot when she said it, and it hurt because I wondered if it were true. Was I selfish? But no, I always did my best to be loving and supportive to the people in my life. And over the years, taking an honest look at my life, my lifestyle, and my marriage, I realized that I just couldn't see myself as being a mother.

Perhaps when we put ourselves first, it's easy for the world to call us "selfish." But by putting myself first, I can honestly say that there are many ways to be a woman, aside from being a mother.

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Be kind to yourself. Know that when people criticize you, even if they're talking from a place of love and concern, your lifestyle is not their business. Don't engage if you don't want to. You're smart enough to know when a conversation is not worth your peace of mind or sanity! You know, that Tita you see once every 10 years, asking you about when you're going to have children... Do you really need to have this conversation with her? Does she really care?

But if you do want to engage, if you feel that this can be a meaningful conversation, then go for it. The best way to deal with criticism is to ask them questions. If they ask, "Don't you feel like you're missing out on being a complete woman if you don't have kids?" I ask, "Do you feel like you're missing out on having a complete life, now that most of it will be dedicated to raising and rearing your child?"

If the other person stays in the conversation, that can be an awesome way to exchange ideas and get to know one another. If they opt out, that's fine! You've given them enough food for thought on the matter to mull over.


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Rain Santos-Ocampo

31, Corporate Hippie, "my relationship status is classy and fabulous"



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

I usually say that I have a lot of goals in life, and that admittedly I'm still very selfish. It's difficult to think of children when your heart isn't open to putting a child first [before yourself].

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What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

That I'll grow old and die alone with no one to care for me. Some people seem to think that children are there to take care of the elderly. Or they say I'll be missing a stage in my life that could be very fulfilling.

What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Stay true to what you believe and feel. No one else can make decisions for you but yourself. It's your life to live and not theirs. The last thing you want is someone else dictating your life based on their opinions, and it's spiraling out of control because of societal pressure.

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Eileen C. Ang

39, Editor, Writer, Teacher, Single



How do you explain to people that you don't want children?

If it comes up in conversation, I usually say something like, "Being a parent is something that you should really want. I love kids, but I just don't feel the need to have my own children."

I truly believe that having kids is something that you should 100% want, because parenthood is crazy-hard. Also, being a parent means you're a parent forever. Just because your babies are all grown up doesn't mean you stop parenting them. So if you're not all in, why do it?

I think I explain my choice pretty well, but some people still insist that I'll change my mind once I meet "the one," or if I get married. I love being the Cool Tita. I enjoy taking kids to fun outings or just hanging out with them, but I'm always happy to return them to their parents. While I'm thankful to have the company of these wonderful kids, I love my child-free life and I don't regret that choice.

What's the meanest or most hurtful thing people have said to you about not wanting children?

After finding out that I was single and had no family of my own, a guy told me point-blank, "You don't have kids? You must be so unfulfilled!" I was outraged that this man felt completely entitled to judge the quality of my life, without even knowing anything about it apart from my lack of children. Honestly, I wanted to punch his face! Instead I just smiled and said tightly, "I'm happy with my life, thank you very much." I don't know how I managed to restrain myself in that situation!

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What advice would you offer to other women about dealing with the criticism about not wanting kids?

Own it! Be unapologetic about your choice. And unless you want to, you don't have to defend or explain why you don't want to have kids, especially to people who don't have a place or say in your life. If you can, try to adopt a Zen-like attitude to others' nosiness. Parenthood is a societal norm, so even if we're in the 21st century, being open about not wanting kids still attracts scrutiny and judgment. What matters most is that you're totally behind your decision, and there's a certain kind of peace that comes with that.

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