Editor's Note: Article updated on July 30, 2020. Some original ages and references were retained from the story published in 2016.
It's a reality many women face: People judge us for choosing to be child-free. They say we'll change our mind, or we'll regret our decision years from now, or my favorite: "Sayang naman genes mo!"And so I posted a callout on social media, asking friends if they want to open up about their decision not to have kids.
Eight brave women in their mid-twenties and early 30s got in touch with me. Read our stories here.
Please describe that moment you knew you didn’t want kids. What was the biggest factor that influenced your decision?
Charlene: When I was 26, I wanted to get married to have a child. All of that changed after I got married and saw other couples who have children. Having a realistic viewpoint on bearing and raising a child also helped me paint a clear picture of what I’ll be going through. Can I handle it all? Do I have the means, the urge, and the commitment to go through all that? I keep asking myself over and over, even until now. Three years have passed since I got married at 26, and I still haven’t gotten an answer to all of those questions. Some people told me that if I have the commitment and the urge to really want a child so badly, I’d do anything I can to have one. But I don’t. My health is also one of the biggest factors that I considered because I easily get sick. My husband, knowing that I get sick frequently, doesn’t want my health to get compromised should I bear a child. He doesn’t want to share my attention with another person as well. My husband and I enjoy interacting with other people’s children, but having one of our own is completely not our priority, considering all the financial and health problems we’ll be going through. We assessed our current lifestyle, our freedom to go out, do what we want in our own time, etc., and we both agreed that we are completely happy and content with what we have right now, just the two of us against the world.
Crisha: I can't recall any particular moment when I knew that I didn't want kids. The idea snowballed from many moments observing my friends with their kids, and hearing their stories of struggle. And somehow even assurances that the rewards far exceed the sacrifices aren't enough to convince me yet.
"[What's] also kind of funny is that people think that since we don’t want kids of our own, it means we hate kids in general! That, of course, is not true." - Grace
Ella: My father died early, leaving my mother to raise three children as a single parent. Seeing how difficult it was for my mom to transition from being a housewife to a breadwinner made me think then how it would have been easier if she didn't have kids.
Then in college, I had a chance to go on several international exchange programs in highly developed countries where couples choose to have one or no children at all in order to enjoy a high quality of living. This exposure reinforced my decision not to have kids.
Grace: I always thought I’d have kids because that seemed like the normal thing to do. You grow up, get a job, find a man to marry, then you have children. I still remember being asked at 13 years old if I wanted a son or a daughter in the future. I even picked out names for my future babies! It wasn’t until college that I realized that I had a choice and that I didn’t need to follow this strictly laid-out path. A few days before my college graduation, I started making a list of what I wanted to be/do after school. The long list included things such as: traveling the world, finding a job I loved, writing a novel, finding the perfect partner to settle down with, and so on. After writing the 100 item list, I noticed that nowhere in that list did I mention kids in any way, shape, or form. There wasn’t really a specific deciding factor for me. I just sort of realized one day that motherhood was never something that I wanted and it wasn’t something that I desired. I realized that the only time I ever considered or thought about it was when someone asked me questions like "So how many kids do you want?"
Jacinda: I was firm with my decision of not wanting to have kids very early on in my teens. This decision came about from being heavily influenced by Western Media (magazines, books, movies, and TV shows)—most significantly by Sex and the City. This show not only served as my sex ed but it gave me the option to lead my life as I wanted to. I was exposed to a world where women lived their lives as they chose and lived it without any shame or guilt.
Jenny: It was never just one moment. Ever since moving outside of Asia a few years ago, I slowly became conscious of life path options I never thought was available to me growing up. I never questioned it either because I had always believed that life naturally progressed that way, just because. I am now very aware that the influences of society, tradition, and religion are very strong, and it wasn’t until I stepped outside of my bubble did I realize that concepts that once belonged in foreign movies done by "others" did not have to be. The biggest factor: moving outside of the Philippines.
"...if [not having kids] is something that will cause grudges and eventually be used for a blame game later on, better to reevaluate being in that relationship." - Vanessa
Jillian: My mother quit working soon after I was born (I am the youngest of three girls), and dedicated her life to taking care of the family. I am fully aware of the sacrifices she had to make to be the amazing mother I know her to be, and part of it was giving up her career and focusing on her husband and her three daughters. She didn’t have to make that choice, but she did, and I admire her for that. I know quitting her career was the best solution she knew she could take care of us the way she wants to, and every day I am thankful I have such a selfless mother. But I know I cannot be as selfless and dedicated as she is. I cannot pick up my child from school every day as she did. I cannot cook dinner, manage the household, and maintain a thriving career. One thing would suffer, and for me, I know it would be my children. I would resent them for robbing me of my personal time, and then I’d feel guilty, and then I’d hate myself. My marriage would probably fall apart, because I would be unhappy. I am the type of person who wants to do an amazing job at least 80% of the time. The 20% that is mediocre, I still have to learn not to beat up myself about. So instead of having kids, I’d rather not—and I am content coming to terms with that. P.S. On the plus side, I have five nieces and two nephews plus more disposable income, so yay, I get to spoil them and be the best aunt ever!
Vanessa: I would say there would be three major life events that led me to my decision today:
I was 9 when my 10-month-old baby brother died from heart complications. From that day, I’ve always wondered, "What if that happens to me when I become a mother myself?" I didn't really dream of becoming a mother at that age, but suffice to say that event made such an impact in my life when it comes to (not) desiring motherhood.
Towards the end of high school, a good friend had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Although I tried to be as supportive as I can with her situation without seeming as if I’m meddling with her life choices, I witnessed her struggles—from not being able to go to the school she wanted for college to not being able to pursue dreams that would have been available opportunities for her had she not gotten pregnant. One piece of advice I will never forget from her: motherhood is a choice you can make for yourself and yes, there are options and ways to NOT get pregnant if pre-marital sex (or just sex in general) is something you choose to celebrate. P.S. She’s really happy that she chose to keep her baby and would always tell us that her son is her source of pride and joy.
I was 23 when I moved to the US for graduate school. My 3-year stint exposed me to varying points of view from people of different walks of life. They taught me how to be unapologetic for my choices, even if it meant going against the grain. I met women, single, married, in a committed relationship, in a casual relationship, just dating around—who were vocal and firm about living a childless life. Since then, I have come to accept that it is okay to not want children of your own. Doing so doesn't mean that I’m less of a woman, or a person at that; I just choose to celebrate my freedom to travel on a whim, go out on an unplanned date, work tirelessly for my career, and spend more time with people I choose to be with.
Ysabel: We (my boyfriend and I) suddenly found ourselves hanging out with a lot of kids. My friends started having babies (now toddlers), my brother has one, and my boyfriend and I babysat his nephews in America a lot when we visited. We enjoy playing with them, but seeing all the responsibility that comes with it made us realize it’s not for us. We also started hanging out with older couples who opted not to have children and saw ourselves more in them. We liked their lifestyle and wanted it for ourselves.
Would you opt to have kids if money were not a factor to be considered?
Charlene: Not really. We’d probably spend it on traveling, hobbies, and most especially on our health and well-being.
Crisha: If money weren't a factor and I could opt not to work and just take care of my kid/s, yes definitely.
Grace: I very much doubt that my husband and I would think differently even if we suddenly had a billion dollars. The fact that children are expensive wasn’t what kept us from starting a family in the first place. Plus, we now live in Finland which is one of the best countries in the world to be a mother. Here, healthcare is subsidized by the government, mothers get one year maternity leave, every mother gets a baby box that includes everything a baby would need, education from daycare to grad school is free, etc. So even with these benefits, we still prefer to remain a child-free couple.
Jenny: Not really.
Jillian: No. We'd spend the money on ourselves and our loved ones, and the causes we support.
Ysabel: Maybe, but the closest would be when we both turn 40. We’ll probably just adopt by then.
Just to clarify, you don’t want kids of your own—whether biological or adopted, correct?
Charlene: Yes. No kids, whether biological or adopted.
Crisha: Yes—for now.
Grace: That’s correct.
Vanessa: Yes—no kids, biological or otherwise. I’d rather be the favorite tita of my current and future pamangkins!
Ysabel: No, not really. Though I occasionally entertain the thought of adopting when I’m much older.
Is this something you and your partner decided on?
Charlene: Definitely yes, we both decided on it. We never had an argument, only discussions about what-if scenarios, like if I get complications during pregnancy or during delivery, if we can’t afford a good school or we’re not good enough to be responsible parents for our kid. We were still boyfriend-girlfriend, 11 years into our relationship, at the time I asked him if he would still accept me if I decide not to have any children. He said he’d rather go bother other people’s kids than raise his own.
Crisha: It's something my husband and I sort of agreed on.
Grace: We both entered the relationship knowing that we didn’t want to have kids. The topic came up very early when we first started dating. Since we were both on the same page, it never became a problem. We also lived together for a year before getting married, and that reinforced our decision even further.
"I’m not choosing my career over it, I’m just being myself." - Ysabel
During our first date he brought up kids since he has several nephews and nieces from his family. Although I felt a little uneasy with what he was going to say about my choice to be childless (because obviously I already liked him by then), he simply assured me that he sees me as a companion for life; that while he has not particularly decided on being childless, he will never force me to do something I don’t want to do. Being childless is not a deterrent for him to take our relationship seriously. I am lucky to be with someone who loves and accepts me for who and how I am.
Jacinda: When my relationship with my ex-boyfriend became more serious, I was upfront in telling him my decision of not wanting to have kids. He respected my decision because he, too, had no strong feelings towards becoming a father. Although, to be honest, I know he wasn't at that place in his life to have thought deeply about having kids.
Jenny: We both don’t want kids. It was never something we discussed at length as we haven’t been seeing each other long, but I’m more comfortable knowing we don’t have this roadblock to worry about if it gets to that point.
Jillian: Definitely. I told him I didn’t want kids, and although at first we thought we wanted them, after a decade of being in a relationship we realized it was not for us. We call ourselves P.A.N.K.s and P.U.N.K.s—Professional Aunt, No Kids and Professional Uncle, No Kids. And yes, these are real terms, coined by Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie!
Vanessa: I met my boyfriend a year after coming home from the US. I was open about my life perspectives in our casual conversations prior to us deciding to date each other. He tried to get to know me and understand where I was coming from; I’m lucky that I have a man who really sees me as a partner he wants to be with vs. seeing me as a partner to be the mother of his future kids (I'm not saying that all guys who end up with someone just look at their partners as a baby factory!).
Ysabel: Yes, we’re both on the same page. When we got together, we both thought we wanted children eventually, so we also came to the decision together after being exposed to kids and young parents. So no arguments there, we’re very lucky.
Do you think a couple should break up if they don’t agree on having kids or not?
Charlene: If a couple truly loves each other, having children or not should never be the reason for breaking up. Loving someone is unconditional, and yes, this includes whether or not someone is capable of having and raising kids.
Crisha: Yes, either convince the other to give in or compromise. Otherwise, just break up.
Ella: Yes. This is a big decision which can put a big strain on the relationship.
"Upon finding out that I wasn't too keen on having kids of my own, my tita INSISTED I must have kids just because it was the right thing to do." - Crisha
Grace: I think it depends. I think that first, you have to figure out as an individual if you want to have children or not. Then you have to decide whether or not it is a non-negotiable aspect for you. If it’s something that you need to have, then being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want the same thing will be difficult. This is especially true when it comes to having kids because it is the one decision you can never reverse.
Jacinda: No, but neither of the two should force their beliefs on each other.
Jenny: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s fair to convince people to change their minds when it comes to big decisions like this. I’m aware that change happens, but I would rather not.
Jillian: Yes. Ideally, your love for your partner and your desire to be companions for life should be stronger than your desire to have children. And if it isn't, you're clearly not meant for each other and should be with other people who will make you truly happy and complete.
Vanessa: Not for me to say because every couple is different. Dynamics vary. But in my opinion, if it is something that will cause grudges and eventually be used for a blame game later on, better to reevaluate being in that relationship.
Ysabel: Not necessarily right away. But they shouldn’t ignore it and leave it up to fate, either. I think it’s something that should be discussed thoroughly. Let’s say it’s a couple who got together in their older years and they’ve already made the decision on their own and want to prioritize that, then they should just break up or not get together at all. It’s all a matter of prioritizing. I can imagine some people might prioritize what their partner wants if their preference is to stay with that person over their decision on becoming a parent or not (and there’s nothing wrong with that either as long as they do so willingly). I mean, some of the best parents I know had unplanned pregnancies. Same banana. Adjust and compromise.
What’s the most offensive reaction you’ve received after telling someone you don’t want to become a mother?
Charlene: "You’ll change your mind." "Have a baby." "Having children or not is definitely not only your choice, it is also HIS (God)." "How about adoption?" "Who’s going to inherit my stuff?" "Having children is finding the connection you will never have with other people." "If you want to have a kid, you'll find a way. If you don't want to have a kid, you're always going to be coming up with excuses not to have one (expenses, time, etc.)." "Expenses are not the issue, it's the commitment." "Better make one before you get old, so that your children will grow up without the big age gap [between you]."
Crisha: Upon finding out that I wasn't too keen on having kids of my own, my tita INSISTED I must have kids just because it was the right thing to do.
Ella: Being told that I will regret my decision when I reach my non-child bearing years.
Grace: I’ve gotten used to people telling me that I will change my mind in the future. There’s also the usual "Sayang ang genes, puwedeng pag-artistahin" because I am married to a foreigner. They can be annoying but they’re easy to ignore. Although I hope our society can finally be in a place where this is a non-issue. One thing that made me angry and sad at the same time was when someone condescendingly told me that I will never know real love because I don’t have children. That one hurt a lot. I realize that a child’s love is special and different and I would never suggest otherwise, but it doesn’t mean that what my husband and I share is not real love.
Jacinda: I’d end up being alone, no man would want to be with me, or just the general "sayang."
"...just knowing that friends and family respect my decision is already a big deal to me." - Ella
Jenny: From two different people:
Ay bakit? Sayang naman!" As if my main role in life was to procreate.
"Hindi complete ang buhay mo. Bakit ka pa mag-aasawa? Hindi totoong family ‘yan." From someone who considers himself a modern thinker. I know he means well though.
Jillian: A pseudo-celebrity once told me, "Naku, bakla siguro asawa mo. Iiwanan ka niyan." I laughed it off to be professional, but in my head, he is..."the pus that infects the mucous...that cruds up the fungus...that feeds on the pond scum." THE NERVE. It was none of his business. Other things said to me by strangers, friends, and more pseudo-celebrities: “Maghahanap 'yan ng iba.” “Ano gagawin niyo pag tanda niyo?” “You are not a complete woman!”
Vanessa: I don’t recall any offensive reaction directed to me, but the most annoying one is "May pera naman kayo bakit ayaw mo mag-anak?" and ultimately, "Who will take care of you when you grow old?" Come on people, having children is not like an investment that you keep and nurture 'til they mature just so you can expect them to take care of you.
My parents always remind me that they work hard, despite the fact that I have already graduated from college and am able to fend for myself, to ensure that they can cover for themselves as much as they can. This is something that I will always be grateful for because not all those who decide to have children have the same mindset.
Ysabel: Thankfully, the worst I’ve encountered was confusion. They just didn’t get why I didn’t want to have kids. At a certain point though, I’d just use money and travel as a cop-out excuse when I’m not in the mood to explain. Though I’ve encountered someone once, who directed the insult at someone else, implying that this certain couple is shallow for wanting to spend their money on partying and whatnot rather than kids. I was pretty angered by it, especially since overpopulation is a real problem, and really, being a parent doesn’t make you better than anyone. It just puts you in a different situation.
Why do you think Philippine society is so quick to judge women who proactively choose not to have children?
Ella: Philippine society is such a family-oriented and centered society to the point that deciding not to have kids seems sacrilegious.
Charlene: It is part of Filipino culture to have big families. Filipinos are used to having a lot of relatives around for company, through good and bad times. Filipinos are also mostly Roman Catholic, a religion that believes in "go forth and multiply" regardless of your financial and health capacity because having children is God’s gift. We went to a marriage seminar at a ministry as it was a requirement before getting married in the Church; the lectors were vehemently against birth control and family planning because this is against God’s will to "go forth and multiply." Catholic Filipinos believe if a woman decides to put her financial and health well-being first before having children, she is rejecting God’s gift. They only see women as baby-makers and homemakers first, only sometimes as a human being with other needs besides reproduction.
"Love and care can come from many different sources and not just offspring." - Jenny
Crisha: I think it's because we are a largely Catholic/Christian society and the teaching is that what comes after marriage is procreation and not following this norm is deemed to be against the Church's teachings.
Grace: I think the main reason is that our culture is so centered on family that it’s hard to wrap our minds around the idea of couples who choose not to build a family. We are so sociable that the thought of someone who does not actively want to surround themselves with even more family is strange. It’s kind of crazy because if you have kids, no one will question your decision. But the moment you say that you don’t have kids, people automatically think that there is something wrong. They ask "Why?" or "How come?" and seem to think that it warrants an explanation. I also think that our society puts mothers up on a high pedestal, which is not bad, but it also means putting unrealistic expectations on women who think that motherhood is the only thing that makes women important. Our worth as women is not supposed to be tied to our uterus.
Jacinda: The Philippines is so deeply misogynistic that I believe it stems from the majority not having access to resources that would at the very least open up their minds. Or if they do have the resources, they shut these ideas out because it goes against the culture. The Philippine media reinforces this mentality. Women here are portrayed as attachments to men, never as a single unit that can stand alone. We (women) are brought up to believe in creating a false sense of independence and identity but, in truth, what society expects of us is to fulfill roles that were chosen for us: to become a wife and mother.
Jenny: In the same way Filipinos generally judge people for being atheists, or wanting to live with significant others before marriage, or being with people of the same sex, or identifying as the gender you weren’t assigned to at birth—we tend to be averse to what we don’t consider the norm. We’re a very community-oriented society that does not celebrate individualism in the same way other societies do, but find strength in numbers. And when someone deviates from certain norms, there is a sense of superiority over the minorities, at least from how I interpret things.
Another theory is that they tie motherhood to a sense of accomplishment and meaning that they cannot wrap their heads around people who draw accomplishment and meaning from things other than motherhood. They impose their own beliefs on others, which I think is unnecessary, and borderline offensive. I do not believe they aim to offend though.
Jillian: It's a matter of exposing yourself to more possibilities and realities. We've seen (and rewarded) the typical get-married-have-kids path so much that it's what we have convinced ourselves to WANT. And so people cannot comprehend why others would rather not be moms. Judging comes from not understanding—how can we embrace something we do not understand? This is why I want to publish a piece like this on Cosmo.ph—to open up readers' minds, and show them that it's okay to be any woman you want to be.
Vanessa: I don’t know if or how much religion has had a great influence on the notion that women’s contribution to society is to help keep the population rate afloat. LOL. It would be interesting to know how close this POV is with Spanish culture considering they have ingrained so many traditions and beliefs that shape our culture today.
"You don't have to justify yourself to anyone if you decide not to have children. Don't listen to people who say that you'll be missing something." - Charlene
Ysabel: Because women aren’t valued as much and are expected to act a certain way. If you’re not a mother, you’re useless. If you don’t have kids, you’re not a complete family. It’s also the way the church pushes procreation as the only reason for sex, I think.
What did your family and friends say about your decision?
Charlene: Basically all the offensive stuff I shared earlier. Yes, those were copy-pasted responses from friends and relatives on Facebook. And some subtle verbal responses during family gatherings.
Crisha: From my family, none. From my friends, the reactions range from respect to disbelief.
Ella: My mother agrees that it is easier to enjoy life without kids. Other siblings do not want to have kids as well.
Grace: Thankfully, my family was and still is very supportive. They still sometimes have those "sayang naman" moments, but ultimately, they understand and respect our decision. The same goes with my husband’s family. Our friends, on the other hand, fall into two categories: supportive and unsupportive. Some of our friends who are new parents still insist that we are missing out and that we would change our minds because parenting is the "best thing ever." They can’t seem to accept that other people just have different ideas of fulfillment and happiness.
Jacinda: A part of me thinks they’re not taking me seriously, that they think this is all a phase, that once I get older I’d want to have kids. But I’ve been very vocal about my decision to my mother most especially and at least I know she listens to me and is trying to understand where I’m coming from.
Jenny: My mother is hopeful I will change my mind. Some friends just look at me strangely. I’m sure some of them feel sorry for me. Others try to argue with me. Friends from other cultures are respectful.
Jillian: Complete acceptance and support from my family and my husband's family. I am lucky. As for friends? The ones who already have kids usually try to convince me otherwise. Then there are gems who just fully support me. Others, I've let go of because they made me feel judged and misunderstood.
Vanessa: My parents would just listen, but advised me to be careful in expressing these POVs; not everyone may understand or TRY to understand.
Ysabel: My parents are okay with it. But that’s also because they’ve been okay with all of my decisions in life—my college, course, moving out, etc. They’re very supportive and open-minded. I think my friends weren’t surprised so they barely said anything.
Did you ever doubt your decision to be child-free?
Charlene: Not really, considering I always ask myself, "Why should I have a child?" I just like to imagine scenarios where I do have a child and my doubts on being childless just disappear.
Crisha: I still doubt my decision.
Grace: Yes and I still do sometimes. When we hear countless stories from our friends about the joys of having kids, sometimes we start to wonder if we made the wrong decision. It’s that FOMO kind of vibe. But the doubt doesn’t last very long. Sometimes we joke with each other that maybe a kid would be beneficial to us in certain situations. Like a few weeks ago, we went to watch Disney on Ice and we were practically the only ones there who had no kids! It was pretty funny. Sometimes there are doubts when we think about our future and how we’d end up growing old alone. But we don’t think that having kids just for the sole purpose of creating a caregiver is a good thing.
Jacinda: Yes, when women swear becoming a mother is "The best thing in the world." I can’t help but feel that I may be missing out on that kind of happiness—that my life is not as complete and fulfilling as theirs.
Jenny: Yes. I’m an open-minded person, and that includes constantly questioning whether I want kids or not. I wouldn’t be too crushed if by age 40, my mind changes and I’d suddenly want kids.
Jillian: Yes, but it's more of curiosity than actual doubt. Like, when I see a cute dress and imagine my hypothetical daughter wearing it. Is she going to inherit my curls? Is she going to be a drummer like my husband? Is she going to like her cousins and give joy to my parents? It's purely vanity, then I kill the idea as soon as I realize I'd be raising a teenager in a couple of years.
Ysabel: Sometimes I do when I imagine myself in my 70s. I imagine it would be nice to have conversations with my kid when they’re older and have their own lives. I just can’t really imagine myself raising one though. I always joke that I’ll just adopt a 17-year-old when I’m 60.
What’s the biggest misconception about women who don’t want kids?
Ella: That they're selfish and vain.
Charlene: We are rejecting God’s gift. We are not committed. We are selfish.
Crisha: That they're self-centered.
Grace: Oh wow. There are tons! The first one that’s also kind of funny is that people think that since we don’t want kids of our own, it means we hate kids in general! That, of course, is not true. We like kids. We love our nieces and nephews. We babysit and take them out to movies and concerts. We love being the cool aunt and uncle! So I hope people stop thinking that we want a childless world. Another big misconception is that people think that we are unfulfilled and that deep, deep, DEEP down, we are really unhappy. Also, that we are too selfish to let go of our child-free lifestyle and that we do not like taking care of others. I don’t see what’s selfish about being responsible and knowing what you want.
Jacinda: They’re selfish, unloving, and cold-hearted people.
Jenny: That they are selfish, and that it’s wrong to be that selfish.
Jillian: That they judge parents and hate kids. I LOVE kids and I am completely in awe of how mothers and fathers manage to do every single thing they do.
Vanessa: That we’re cold-hearted and selfish.
"I don’t have many friends who share the same sentiments as I do. This makes it hard for me to open up to them." - Jacinda
That it’s because we want to focus on our careers and that we don’t want to spend our money on kids. First of all, I know tons of successful career women who are awesome moms the same way I know a lot of horrible and judgmental mothers who are homemakers. I trust that I can be a good mother if I end up having a kid (even by accident, which is the only way I see myself being a mom) but I just don’t want that life. That’s it. It just really doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not choosing my career over it, I’m just being myself.
Is there ANYTHING that would change your mind about being child-free?
Charlene: Maybe if I get to have an Immaculate Conception. ;) Then definitely, I cannot reject God’s gift.
Crisha: There are many things that could change my mind—the most convincing being the prospect of growing old alone.
Ella: Being assured of longtime financial security that will allow us as parents to provide high quality of living for our child/ren.
Grace: I don’t think there’s anything, really. Right now, I do not foresee any situation that would make me change my mind and actively try to have a baby. Although I do not want to say 100% that a child will never be in our lives. Things happen. Maybe we’ll be in a position where we have to take in a relative. Or maybe there’s a child in need somewhere that we could give a good home to. We are not planning to be in those situations, of course, but should the situation find us, we wouldn’t automatically say no.
Jacinda: If I were the last woman on Earth and I needed to save the human race. Lol. But kidding aside, if I see it in my future.
Jenny: Yes, I can’t pinpoint what the cause would be, but in the same way we can spend hundreds of years believing in certain scientific theories before they’re debunked, I’m open to it being knocked from my belief system. At the moment, I don’t want kids, and I can’t imagine changing my mind in the near future.
Jillian: If I had to take care of my niece or nephew, I would. Or if I accidentally get pregnant despite being proactive about preventing it.
Vanessa: None at the moment.
Ysabel: If I got to know a kid well and started caring for him and he doesn’t have parents, maybe then I’d consider adopting. But I’m pretty set for now.
What’s the nicest compliment you’ve received about your decision?
Charlene: "The choice is between you two and only you two. Don't give in to other people's pressure." "It all depends on the person, and I respect their decision if they don't want to have children." "It's your choice and major responsibility not to be taken for granted. Besides, you can be joyful with each other with or without having children." "Don't force yourself to adhere to the norms of others. This is your own life, your own path. Carve it out yourselves and stick to what is normal for the two of you." And probably the best one yet: "You don't have to justify yourself to anyone if you decide not to have children. Don't listen to people who say that you'll be missing something."
Crisha: Agreement. It feels nice when someone has the same views.
Ella: Not a compliment but just knowing that friends and family respect my decision is already a big deal to me.
Grace: I’m not sure if it’s a compliment exactly, but they were really nice words to hear from my dad. He said that it’s nice to see that we are putting our marriage first and that we seem to have a clear idea of what we want. He also said that the only opinion that matters when it comes to having a baby is mine and that no one should dictate or judge the decisions I make for my body.
Jacinda: "Having kids is a choice, not an obligation."
Jenny: No compliments. I always feel relieved though when I meet fellow child-free people.
Vanessa: That it’s a brave decision to have.
Ysabel: None so far…though my other friend who had her tubes tied bought me a shot once.
Have you ever felt alone and judged because of your choice not to become a mother?
Charlene: Not really, but I probably wasn’t paying attention because I’m too busy attending to my husband and having fun with people who don’t judge me for my personal decisions.
Crisha: Alone, not really. Judged, yes.
Ella: Yes at work. Most co-workers are not so open-minded having less international exposure compared to me.
Grace: I haven’t really felt alone because I have my husband. We keep each other company and although we’ve only been married for 3 and 1/2 years, we have a really good marriage. Sometimes I do feel judged because there are people who think that I am not capable of thinking of anyone but myself or that I don’t know compassion because I have never gone through parenthood. There are also some friends who belittle your hardships and accomplishments because they feel that they can never match the joy and suffering of raising kids. Sometimes it feels like you are in a competition, trying to see which one is better at life. But all you really want is to be accepted and not be judged.
Jacinda: Yes, because I don’t have many friends who share the same sentiments as I do. This makes it hard for me to open up to them.
Jillian: Judged, yes. Alone? Not anymore, because I got to know the eight other women here!
Vanessa: Surprisingly, no. There are a lot of women even here at home who are leaning towards becoming childless, but married!
Ysabel: Not really, but that’s also because I think I’m surrounded by very open-minded people. I’m also around people who have made the decision themselves so it’s not really a new concept to anyone.
Let me ask the stereotypical question everyone always asks: "What happens when you get older and you don’t have kids?"
Charlene: My husband and I will become old, frail, and get Alzheimer’s, but still happy in each other’s company. We’ll still have all the time in the world to ourselves. We’d probably enjoy seeing our nephew and nieces win at life and we’d be their cheering squad. If we need to have someone to look after us, we’d probably hire a caregiver because we’d never want to bother the lives of our younger relatives just to take care of us. If we have any inheritance to give, it’ll most likely go to the caregiver, our nephew and nieces, and to charity.
Crisha: Then I spend more time with my siblings and their respective families. Again there is always the scary thought that you have no children/grandchildren who will make sure you are taken care of when you're old and cannot support yourself.
Ella: I would tell them that there is no guarantee that your kids will take care of you when you grow older.
"...people cannot comprehend why others would rather not be moms. Judging comes from not understanding—how can we embrace something we do not understand?" - Jillian
Grace: We don’t really know the answer to that one. My husband and I will probably grow old together, travel the world until we can’t walk anymore, and retire near the beach or at a fancy retirement home with other people our age. We don’t have any specific plans, but what we do know is that we will not have kids just so we can have someone taking care of us when we’re old and grey.
Jacinda: I get older just like everyone else but without kids.
Jenny: I think the underlying question here is—what happens when you get older and don’t have younger, stronger people to care for you when/if your future spouse goes before you, and you have no one around you? Will you be lonely?
I don’t view my potential offspring as an extension of myself, nor is that person in any way obligated to care for me when I get older. Love and care can come from many different sources and not just offspring, and I live my life today surrounding myself with the kind of support and love borne out of conscious mutual choices, and not just by design.
Jillian: Beauty queen answer: When I'm old, I want to look back and take pride in all the things I was able to do for myself and the people I love. >I will be grey with lots of laugh lines from enjoying the company of my family and friends, knowing I made a choice that made me happy.
The no-B.S.-answer: Like everyone else, I'll also get sick and die, but I'll hopefully have lots of money for my health care because my husband and I didn't have to spend it on raising kids.
Vanessa: The voice inside me will say: none of your business. The voice I will express will say: be happy. I will choose to be happy. Isn’t everything in this life a series of choices, anyway?
Ysabel: My boyfriend and I will just be good to our nephews and nieces and be their favorites along with our cats and dogs. LOL. But honestly, I do worry about that, too. I think an upside to having kids is you build something with your partner that outlives the both of you. But then I think that’s also why we work extra hard on our friendships and relationships with our family members.
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