Love, Life Stories

I don’t want kids, so why do some “happy parents” keep attacking my decision?

It has nothing to do with you - get over it.

Sigh. Another day, another preachy think piece about “Millennials Are Horrible Because of Insert-Bullshit-Reason-Here.”

In case you missed it, Elizabeth Broadbent over at Scary Mommy recently wrote a piece about why “millennials need to stop whining” and start having kids. Yeah.

In her essay, Broadbent goes through the supposed reasons millennial women don’t want to procreate and supposedly debugs them.

[bctt tweet=”I just want to (gently) remind some of you happy parents out there that it is not your problem if I don’t want kids. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Jaya Saxena of The Daily Dot already did a great job of addressing Broadbent’s points, some of which are valid (there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, you just have to do the best you can and hope they only bring you up in therapy once in a while), but many of which are not (in what universe would anyone argue that kids aren’t all that expensive?!). Saxena also brings up the excellent point that much of the time people who don’t want kids bring up reasons like not wanting to contribute to overpopulation, fear of pregnancy, or lack of financial resources as stand-ins for that indefinable, inexplicable truth: Some people just don’t want kids.

[bctt tweet=” Another day, another think piece about millennials.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I recommend reading both Broadbent’s piece and Saxena’s response in full, but I think there’s something different we need to focus on after they’ve done their work. We spend so much time writing essays and responses to essays on why it’s not okay to pressure women into becoming mothers (it isn’t) and why we as a culture need to place a lot more value on the work it takes to be a parent (we do), but why is it that people get so worked up about other people’s choices?

Why do you care?

[bctt tweet=”Why do you care who is or isn’t having a baby?” username=”wearethetempest”]

Of course, a lot of it has to do with gendered expectations of what women should do or should want, and there are also cultural norms. But having kids is such a deep and meaningful life-changing experience for those who choose to do it, I feel a certain amount of anxiety in essays like Broadbent’s.

The anxiety that if they don’t save the rest of us from our misguided hipster lifestyles then we’ll be less whole.

A kind of anxiety that, yes, is tied up in gender and cultural norms, but goes further than that.

Depending on whose op-ed you’re reading, we millennials are doing and/or not doing a lot of things that are going to break down the very fabric of society. There’s a lot to be said about that, but seeing as older generations have been horrified by younger ones since the beginning of time I’m not all that inclined to get riled up about it. The world didn’t end when kids got their own individual slates at school.

Nothing exploded when those crazy kids stopped riding horses and started driving cars.

Humanity will survive Twitter.

But there’s something worse than the condescension in some people’s attitudes towards those of us who don’t want kids. A lot of the responses I get from people when I tell them I don’t want to ever have kids aren’t high and mighty at all, they’re just sad. Really, truly sad for me because I’m choosing to opt out of something that has meant so much to them on so many levels.

I’m not going to compare something like grad school or adopting a pet to parenthood as a similarly challenging but overall rewarding experience because I don’t feel like getting attacked on social media.

[bctt tweet=”It’s not your problem if I don’t want kids.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Neither am I going to bring up the number of people who regret having kids because Lord knows that experience deserves its own essay.

I just want to (gently) remind some of you happy parents out there that it is not your problem if I don’t want kids. If I’m making up excuses that aren’t really a problem in real life?

Not your problem.

If there’s some deep seated thing I need to work out in therapy that’s holding me back?

Not your problem.

If I’m a self-centered narcissistic young’un who can’t rip my eyes off my own selfies for long enough to pick out a paint color for the nursery?

Not your problem.

But let’s take it a step further. If I don’t see the enormous undertaking of having kids to be worth the trouble for me, personally? That’s not a problem for anyone, even you. If I do actually change my mind one day? You don’t get to be smug about it.

If I just don’t want kids, really and truly, in a genuine way that is just one of the many things that make up who I am? Even if the idea of that being possible confuses and scares you….it’s not your problem.

So don’t worry about it.

  • Chelsea Ennen

    Chelsea Ennen is a New York City-based writer and recovering academic with an MA in contemporary literature, theory, and culture from King's College London. Her nonfiction writing has been published on The Mary Sue, HelloGiggles and The Female Gaze, and her dissertation on postfeminism versus third wave feminism in contemporary pop culture was accepted for presentation at the 2016 Indiana University of Pennsylvania English Graduate Organization Inter-Disciplinary Conference. She is the fiction editor of the Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal and a novelist who would very much like to pet your dog, please.