Would it make you uncomfortable if someone said they didn’t particularly like children? Is it a taboo that leaves us recoiling in horror? I kind of think it is, even in this day and age. That even if a woman chooses not to have children, she still feels it necessary to follow up with the caveat “but I DO like them”, and even I’ve felt the need to say the same. Here, Molly shares her story about how hard it can be in life when your likes and dislikes can be quite polarising… As always, I’m so grateful for everyone’s commitment because it is such a personal subject to open up about. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.
I Am : Molly, 30s
Home Is: Boston
I Do: Assistant Project Manager in construction
I’d like to share my experiences as a 30 something childfree (by choice) single professional in America. The truth is, I don’t like kids and don’t have a maternal bone in my body. They take a tolerance and energy that I choose to focus elsewhere and I love the freedom to pursue the things that I am passionate about. That said, just like all people on this earth, we all sacrifice and struggle, with or without children – this is undeniable.
My stance on this means that dating in your mid 30s as a child free woman can be challenging. Most men 30 or older have children (whether or not they have a partner) and are invested and active in their childrens’ lives. Then there’s the group of men in their mid to late 30s who don’t have children, but want them.
And then there’s the illusive man who doesn’t have children and doesn’t want them, these are unicorns in the dating pool and come with their own set of challenges. You see, usually people like kids even if they don’t want them. “I spend a lot of time with my niece, she’s really cool!” proceeding to show me pictures of a kid I’ll never meet and that I don’t care about. And then the judgement comes: “Wait, you don’t like kids?” Pause with a slight frown… “How can you not like kids?” And another date bites the dust.
Typically society (and therefore we) regards not wanting kids as an inherently selfish choice, and IF that happens to be the case and translates into a selfish person (let’s face it, they do exist), it presents its own set of challenges. Selfishness in a long term relationship is a toxic trait. The one or two men I’ve met that share my disinterest in children and a lack of a desire for a traditional family, sadly have also exhibited a lack of interest in committing to anyone but themselves and their life as they know it.
People often assume that somehow not having children automatically makes life so much easier. And then they envy me due to their assumptions about my life. That I must have such an easy life – no responsibility! No sacrifice! How could I struggle at all?
When I state that I don’t have a husband or children, or worse: I don’t like kids, people get really quiet, as though suddenly we couldn’t possibly have anything in common. People tend to view me harshly, with judgement, and that typically makes it harder to make and keep friends.
Once you face the prospect of a future without children, you realise just how central they are to everything we do, especially here in the US. The world is filled with traditional families, dinners for 4 or 5, prepping for school, sports! Dance! College! Oh my! It’s all so consuming. No-one ever seems to understand that it just may not be your interest or your reality and that it’s totally ok to feel that way. Really, please keep your phone in your pocket, unless you’re showing me a picture of your dog or your garden or your love for food, hiking, traveling, – anything but your kids! Good grief, there is SO much more to all of us, as people, as individuals. Please don’t look at me like children are literally the only thing we can relate over.
Apparently, I have so much time. They can’t go on a date, they’d have to hire a sitter. They have to feed picky eaters every single night! They drown in laundry every weekend! Do I know how disgusting their 11 year old son’s socks are? I can’t fathom the horror. I don’t have to clean my house nearly as often, I must have SO MUCH TIME. I couldn’t possibly struggle financially, I have no expenses. Kids are so expensive you know? They outgrow all of their clothes and shoes, it costs so much money to ply them with school supplies and sports gear, all those doctor visits, and their entire life savings will be wiped out so these kids can go to college.
But my reality is I don’t have time right now. I work 12 hour days just to make ends meet, and on the weekends, I’m so exhausted I spend most of my time recovering. I barely survive on my single income, but I hope one day I’ll be financially comfortable. But they’re also right – I will never wash an 11 year old’s socks. I love to cook for myself, a non-picky and extremely appreciative me. Yes I can go on dates, day trips, solo trips to France if I wanted to. I don’t think it makes me selfish or spoiled, just interested in different things and I think that’s totally ok.
Sometimes I feel like asking these people to trade. I guarantee they’ll realise that my life is much, much more difficult than they imagine, because they never take the time to understand what it’s like, as though they’ve forgotten a life they had before children. As I said, being childfree and not really liking kids has made finding friends and partners incredibly difficult, by and large because of the conditioning we’ve all gone through.
I live alone and go months without being touched by another human being. All of the financial burdens and big decisions in my life I have to make solely by myself, without a friend or partner helping me to navigate. I know that stepping into their shoes would be more uncomfortable than I could fathom. I understand when they tell me children are exhausting, taxing, and difficult and I’ve never doubted it for one second. Yet they chose to have them in the way that I’ve chosen not to.
If I had just one wish, it would be that more people with children could afford me and others without children, the same understanding that we do in acknowledging how tough their life can be, and that being childfree doesn’t automatically mean we have an easy time of it. I don’t think people who choose not to have children are automatically selfish or less of a good person simply because we choose not to be parents. Rather, we are all doing our best to live the life that works for us.
Thank you so so much to Molly for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Molly’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.