Hello, my name is Sarah and I really don’t want kids. I’m getting to the age where a lot of my friends have baby fever, and even if they aren’t considering children just yet, they’re excited about the prospect of being a parent down the road. But as for me, I’m not interested in having kids ever, and I’ve always felt this way. Does this make me totally unusual or abnormal? Sometimes, I wonder. But I just don’t feel like parenthood is part of my calling in this world.
Thankfully, I’m not alone, according to the therapists I spoke to for this story. It’s completely OK not to want children, despite the pressures society sometimes puts on us to feel otherwise. Listen to your instincts! “If your gut is screaming ‘no’ even when everything around you (your partner, your parents, society) are saying yes, do yourself a favor and listen,” says Rachel Zar, AMFT, relationship and sex therapist. “Being honest with yourself and with your partner … is the best way to make an authentic and intentional decision.” There are several signs to pay attention to that might signal you’re not interested in having kids. Here are three of the major ones.
YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR LIFE EXACTLY AS IT IS.
“If having your life turned upside down for another person does not feel worth it, it [parenthood] may not be for you,” says Nicole Richardson, LPC. Having kids is a huge change in so many ways, and if you don’t see that happening, you may not want to take that step. If your career is thriving, your relationships are thriving, and you really don’t want to shift things around, it might not make sense to bring kids into the equation.
YOU FEEL A STRONGER PULL TOWARD OTHER PASSIONS.
Got other things in your life that feel like a priority? You do you! “If you experience a pull to focus your life energy in other ways, such as career path, social relationships, traveling the world, or life with your partner, and don’t see children as a piece of that picture, you must give yourself permission to want that life and know that it’s OK,” says Liz Higgins, MS, LMFT. Higgins notes that sometimes people feel judgment from others about their decision not to have kids, simply because other people may not understand it. But you have to trust yourself and do what feels right for you.
YOU ONLY WANT KIDS BECAUSE YOU FEEL PRESSURE FROM OTHERS.
I could say this a million times, but your life is up to you! There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to do something to live up to other people’s expectations. “If you know in your heart of hearts that you don’t need children in order to feel fulfilled in life, or if you believe that you contribute to the world and gain satisfaction in other ways, then don’t rush or force yourself into parenthood because you think it’s the next step you’re supposed to take,” Higgins advises. “Don’t succumb to pressure from friends or family if you know there’s a voice inside leading you to another path.” No one know you better than yourself, so do what feels best for you and your life.
Whether or not you choose to have kids, there are so many ways to feel fulfilled and contribute positively to the world around you. For me, I know that writing is what I love more than anything, and I want to keep space open to help others through my words. For you, maybe it’s travel, or career, or even prioritizing a relationship with your partner! You don’t have a make a decision right now, and that’s totally okay, but just know that you are whole and complete no matter what you decide. Trust your gut!