There’s a lot of things on my bucket list. Go to Paris. Jump out of a plane. Actually finish a game of monopoly. One thing I’ve never felt particularly inclined to do, however, is to have children.
This is not to say I won’t have kids, but it isn’t to say I will either. If it happens, I like to think I would be a good, supportive parent. On the other hand, I wouldn’t consider my life incomplete if I die childless. Of course, any parent says their children are the most important things in their lives, and quite right, but I’m not the type of person who’ll be defined by my childbearing capabilities either. Yes, I can have kids, but I can do a lot of other things too.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, supposedly more and more people – women, in particular – are deciding to not have children.
In less developed parts of the world, poorer families often have lots of children. This is down to many factors, such as more potential income for the family, a lack of contraception, and a high death rate in children. As countries develop, families tend to get smaller. But that’s not the whole picture. In fact, I’m not really focussing on the less developed world here. Less people want kids in the USA. The number of children being born in the UK is at a 10-year low. It’s happening everywhere. And why’s that?
Lots of us are putting our careers first. Why settle down when you’re building momentum in your dream job and loving every minute of it? Your sole purpose is not to produce the next generation, and you aren’t selfish for wanting to work at your own life goals before having to worry about anyone else’s.
That’s not to say that a child means the be-all and end-all your working life. Serena Williams, Beyoncé – they’re getting on with their careers despite being mothers. A child isn’t a nail in your work-life coffin, but it’s still a completely acceptable, mature reason to put off having kids due to career aspirations.
This links to the fact that, while less people are having children, more people are also having them later in life. 2017 marked the first year that more women were having babies in their thirties than their twenties in the USA. We aren’t living in some Neanderthal society that knocks the ladies up as soon as they hit puberty. There’s other things to get on with in life too.
I know a handful of people who have had children at a young age, and this isn’t to say that they made bad decisions at all. One of my closest friends got pregnant in her teens, and she’s an incredible mum. That’s what she’s good at, and while she is great at many other things, she is 100% mum material. And that’s the thing – if it suits you, it suits you. But if parenthood isn’t for you, it’s not a necessity either. It’s all about choice.
The other day, I was watching a video about nuclear war (I know, what a way to spend my time). It discussed the friction between Trump and North Korea and Russia and… well, the whole world it seems. As the narrator described a doomsday version of the world, only one nuclear missile away from reality, the future suddenly looked pretty scary. My friend sighed before saying, thank God I don’t want kids.
I wouldn’t say anyone should not start a family simply because they’re scared for the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen anyway – not for certain, at least. But there is a valid point here. And this applies to other things too. What does your future look like financially? How is your mental health? If you’re not completely ready, then there’s no shame in saying that. And if you never are, that’s okay too.