The childfree lifestyle: why some people choose not to have children

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Most people grow up thinking they have to have children at one point in life. After all, their parents did it, and so did their grandparents, and so on and so forth.  Everybody around seems to do it regardless of their life circumstances. It’s a given for most people that they will have children, one way or another.  But what if you actually had a choice in the matter?  The childfree lifestyle is one that intrigues and angers many people, often irrationally.  There many reasons why some people choose not to have children.

Tokophobia in women

A little known phobia, tokophobia is the fear of pregnancy and giving birth. I’d say it’s not exactly unfounded to be afraid of giving birth, as it’s a very serious, dangerous procedure.  Even in the 21st century, there are women that die in childbirth or as a result of pregnancy or birth complications. Women with tokophobia could technically adopt if they deeply wanted to have a child, but tokophobia is still a valid reason for leading a childfree lifestyle.

Simply not wanting to go through pregnancy is also a valid reason. Women shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own bodies for procreation if they don’t wish to.  Pregnancy itself changes the body of a woman drastically. You can be left with debilitating issues for the rest of your life after pregnancy and birth.  The most common physical issues after birth are incontinence, prolapse, nerve damage, scarring or tearing of the private parts and chronic back pain.  It doesn’t sound exactly fun to me.

History of mental health issues (or otherwise health issues)

It’s quite admirable if a person recognises this risk within themselves.  People with severe mental illness might opt out of having children if they deem themselves unable to care for a potential child.  They might also think of the possibility of passing down the illnesses, as some are genetically passed.  Some people battle endlessly with their demons, so it makes sense not to burden oneself with more stress and more responsibility.   It would be unfair to the child, as no one asks to be born.

Not enough resources

Some people may live comfortably by themselves, but have no extra resources to raise another human being. It’s completely understandable why people might not want to bring a child into less than ideal circumstances. They wouldn’t want them to suffer from not having their needs met.  One could also be struggling from day to day to survive.  Obviously, it’d be really unwise to bring a child into a situation like that.

Being career-driven

What if you work so many hours per week that you barely have any time for yourself? Some people make it their life goal to advance in society. It’s not an easy feat and you need to put in the hard work to actually succeed in most avenues of life. Children take up most of your time and it’s completely understandable why someone might put having children off or completely disregard the idea. The childfree lifestyle is perfect for this.

Simply disliking children

It’s well-known that it’s incredibly difficult to raise a child. If you don’t have the patience and the desire to take care of one, why would you have a child? There’s not much to say about this. If someone dislikes children, it’s better not to have them.  A child will always know if they are unwanted or disliked. It’s especially harmful coming from the child’s own parent(s).

Past trauma or abuse

Although you can work through trauma and abuse in therapy, some things never go away.  Some people argue that they can get over the trauma and give their children a better life than they had. But it’s not always that easy.  Triggers happen instantly and a single traumatic event is enough to scar a child for life. Even the best of therapists might struggle to help a person with deeply rooted issues stemming from abuse.  The cycle of abuse often happens unconsciously; as the abuser might swear up and down that they are not abusing anyone.

Ideology or principle

Following in Schopenhauer’s steps, one could remain childfree out of principle. Perhaps the idea of bringing a conscious being into the world distresses you. No one consents to being born, although it’s often presented as “the gift of life”. Is it really a gift, when the world mostly subjects beings to constant suffering of various kinds?  It’s a very difficult discussion, but some philosophers do talk about it. It’s worth considering the moral issue of having children, especially in certain environments.

These are some of the reasons why some people choose not to have children. The childfree lifestyle is quite controversial and it does anger some people.  Some argue that it’s your duty to procreate as a member of society. Others say that it’s completely unnatural to not have a strong desire to have children. Regardless of the counterarguments, it’s a deeply personal choice that isn’t taken lightly.  The most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day, it’s a choice whether to have children or not.  One should respect someone else’s choice regarding their own life, especially if they are ignorant about their reasoning behind it.  As described above, there are multiple reasons why someone might make this choice. They’re all valid and worthy of respect.

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