I am quickly approaching 30 and I am now in the age range where it is expected of me to have kids. For the record, I have never wanted kids. I have known this since I was 7-years old, when I had a panicked thought that as a woman I had to have kids.

I grew up and realized I didn’t have to do anything. Kids are a choice, not a requirement.

So for many years, I have told people that I don’t want kids, and I got the requisite, “Oh, just wait ‘til you’re 30! You’ll change your mind.” I am practically there and I have to say that in my life I have never wavered once — not even a bit.

I have already disappointed my family and my partner’s family (of course, this is a choice we agree on) — all of which is exacerbated by the fact that my partner and I are both only children. It’s the end of the line and the onus is on me. But guilt is not a reason to have a kid.

Being of an age where most people want kids, and me continuing to realize that I (still) don’t, I am starting to look into permanent options to remain childfree. It’s kind of scary and awesome, but it sure does make my decision final, which seems to make other people uncomfortable.

I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions about me and assumptions around being childfree. Here are 4 common misconceptions about being childfree by choice:

I hate children

This is absolutely, completely not true. I have worked in education for most of my adult life, working as an afterschool program manager, and teaching artist. I love working with children for many reasons. They are so malleable and have fantastic energy. Teaching theater to elementary school students has been one of my favorite jobs — young kids don’t have an ego about them, they are curious, inquisitive and passionate. I have often said, I’ve learned far more from working with kids than I have from teaching them. I don’t want kids of my own, because I feel like I have many of them all over the country. I think this assumption is unfair and just shows how difficult it is for some people to comprehend that a woman could willingly not want to have kids, yet still like them. Because there must be something wrong, right?

I’m immature

People often think that I’m just “immature” and I’ll “grow out of it” “when I’m ready.” Not wanting to have kids has nothing to do with maturity and everything to do with knowing myself really really well. As we know plenty of people of all maturity and experience levels have kids.

I had a bad childhood

Nope. Sorry to put the kibosh on this one, but I didn’t have a terrible, traumatic childhood that made me swear off having kids forever. My parents were normal, loving, and kind. I was a pretty normal kid — I played outside (do kids still do that anymore?), watched TV, and had a wild imagination as an only child. Nothing about my childhood has affected my decision and I think it’s unfair to assume that people have to be severely hurt or traumatized to not want kids.

I must be a lonely, raging single feminist who hates men

Lonely? Nope. Raging? Only sometimes. Feminist? Check. By the way, being a feminist doesn’t mean you hate men, in case you are following the INSANE women against feminism movement. I am in a happy, committed relationship and we both knew before we were together that we didn’t want kids. Because if one person wanted kids and the other didn’t, wouldn’t that be a deal breaker (it should be!)?

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no reward or adulation for not having kids. No one says, “Great job! You can’t afford them anyways, you are making the right decision!”

Nobody says, “Thanks for not bringing an unwanted child into the world.”

Why? Because we are judged. It is an unconventional choice and many people can’t handle it. Just because I don’t want kids, doesn’t make me disapprove of your decision to have them.

I don’t judge any of my friends for having or wanting kids, so I ask for the same respect.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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52 responses to “Misconceptions About Being Childfree by Choice”

  1. Morgaine says:

    Very well put, Melanie! I do want to have kids but I would never think less of anyone who doesn’t. It is most definitely a personal choice and decision.
    Morgaine recently posted…Weekly Spending: Sep 1-7My Profile

  2. Growing up in a very family-oriented church, I’ve seen a lot of these types of judgments made about people who don’t want to have kids. I’m positive I’ve made some of them myself. But as I’ve grown older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve realized that if there is a God, one of the gifts He’s given us is the right to choose how to live our lives. And if someone wants to pass judgment on that, that’s their problem.

  3. Erin says:

    Love this, lady 🙂 Whether you want to birth children yourself, have them in an alternative way (like adoption or surrogacy), or not have them at all shouldn’t be up to anyone else. And it’s pretty strange that it’s acceptable in our society to essentially ask strangers questions about their mating habits.

    As Steve and I consider adoption in our 30s as opposed to having our own children, we’ve started doing research on adoption guidelines. Do you know that some countries only allow you to adopt if you have a doctor’s verification that you’re infertile?! Like that’s the only reason to adopt! I have no idea what our fertility status is, but we’re leaning away from physically having children for other reasons. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the uteri of women … family, friends, strangers, and even governments!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks! It’s so weird we care about other people’s mating habits! That is crazy — you need to verify you are infertile?! There are plenty of kids that need homes, I don’t know why that’s an issue. I think adopting is so admirable.

  4. I also love this. I, too, am an only child, and I already know my mom is a little disappointed. I’m a bit younger, so I’m sure the questions will come after marriage, and I’m not looking forward to it. In the meantime, I am the slightest bit on the fence, but most days I lean toward no. It’s such an important decision I want to have a few more years to think it over. I’m very thankful my boyfriend is on the same page, as that’s definitely a deal breaker (and has been for me).
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…Frugal Meal #3: Waffles!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      The only child thing puts on a lot of pressure! If you are even the slightest bit on the fence, you can give yourself time. It is such an important decision and it’s so important for couples to be on the same page.

  5. Isabella says:

    Good thoughts, Melanie. We have four children and three grandchildren, and for us, well, we love it. Hubby and I were young parents with lots of love and energy.

    Now, our two daughters are married with children, but our sons are still single, and I do not anticipate they will have children. At first, I was disappointed because it has been such a joy and blessing for us. But now I know that no one can transfer his/her idea of happiness onto another. Everyone should live their own life!

    • Melanie says:

      I can imagine you being an awesome, loving mom Isabella. I think that was the hardest part for our parents — realizing that we don’t share the same desire, and that they need to let us be happy doing our own thing, even if it is different from what they want.

  6. Aldo @MDN says:

    You go and do you gurl! I never wanted kids, but I have changed my mind now that I’m 33. You might change your mind or you might not, but either way do what makes you happy and don’t worry about the rest.

  7. I feel much the same way, but since I’m only 23 people say “you’ll change your mind, you’re young. You haven’t found the right guy yet, etc, etc, etc”. Ugh! Whatever let them think what they will, I just decided to ignore them.
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  8. I decided to wear the “I don’t want kids and I’m totally fine with it” t-shirt for years now and I at times still hear about it that I must regret the decision and I’m 38! I have a step-son through DH and that is already plenty enough for me. I respect those who have children so I don’t understand why can’t I get the same level of respect at times.

  9. Michelle says:

    I wish more people would be self-aware enough NOT to have children if they don’t want them. It is a life long commitment to do well.

    I’ve known children of people who didn’t want children and the children KNEW that’s how their parents felt. How do you think it made those children feel?

    Not everyone needs to have kids. Period, end of story.
    Michelle recently posted…Five of The Most Compelling Blog Posts That I’ve Read Since 2012-2014My Profile

  10. Isabelle says:

    Totally agree with everything you said but I would add one more thing. There is also the situation where people pity you because they think that you CAN’T have children. I’m 45 and I get that look all the time when people ask if I have children. I just answer ‘no’ and then there is the LOOK! And then I have to say (well, I don’t have to say anything but they look so uncomfortable that I do) ‘that’s ok, I didn’t want children!’.

  11. Meghan says:

    I’m so glad that my brothers have both had kids because my mother stopped bugging me about it. I’ve never wanted kids either.

    Though to be fair, I don’t always love other people’s kids either.

  12. PREACH. Love seeing other wonderful women standing up and refusing to take the negative nonsense others throw at people who make the choice to be child-free.

    Not everyone wants kids. Not everyone needs kids. Either way, it’s a personal decision that couples need to make for themselves. I think your loved ones should be proud of you for understanding yourself well enough to know that children just aren’t something you want or need in your life to be happy and fulfilled.
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    • Melanie says:

      YES! I’m excited to be childfree and pursue other adventures. It’s definitely a personal decision and I wish people would stop interjecting their opinions or thoughts on me based on what they THINK I should do.

  13. Kirsten says:

    I was the same as you at 7 – did.not.want.kids. I eventually changed my mind (which we are all allowed to do, no matter which side of the coin you are on). Have kids is really hard. It’s really expensive. And it’s a huge committment. I really wish people would stop assuming that it’s everyone’s dream!

    • Melanie says:

      Yes, we are all allowed to change our minds, too! Having kids is NOT everyone’s dream. I just want people to realize that I respect them if that is their dream, but it is not mine.

  14. I think it’s great when people own the fact that they don’t want kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, and to be perfectly honest, there are many that have them that probably shouldn’t either.

    My husband and daughter are examples of people who only like their own kids and we laugh about this because they begrudgingly agree it’s true. Even my MIL recognized this trait in them! Me, I love all kids and am actually more tolerant of other kids rather than my own. High expectations maybe?

    The only thing I wonder about a bit is when you’re older it would be nice to have kids and family around you. If you have siblings, it can be in the form of nieces and nephews, however in your case this is not possible. My Mom and Dad befriended a childless older couple when they were first starting their family and included them in Christmas afternoon get-togethers etc. We called them Auntie and Uncle and it wasn’t for years that I found out the true relationship. What I found was a bit sad though was the circumstances when she died and Mum traveled to the funeral six hours away by bus (they had moved out of town long ago and Dad didn’t go because he was working and basically their relationship and become just a Christmas card one). My ‘uncle’ clung to Mum in the front row of the service like she was his best and only friend. I guess he was happy that she made the trip, but even Mum said it seemed strange that it appeared she was the closest person to him after all those years. So my message to you, my dear Melanie, is to nurture those relationships so you will have lots of friends around when you need them, if that’s what you want, of course. xo
    debs @ debt debs recently posted…Six Month Blogiversary!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      It’s funny how some people don’t like any kids but their own, lol. I would love to get adopted when I’m older! I do worry about loneliness, and what will happen when our parents go? It will be just us. So yes, I will cherish our friendships and hope to get adopted. I think I would make a really great adoptive grandmother or auntie 🙂

  15. Tre says:

    It’s unfortunate that you have to deal with that. Why do we assume that everyone woman must have children? Like it is our only purpose in life?

    • Melanie says:

      Unfortunately, some people think that’s what women were made for. Giving birth. I feel so lucky to be born in this era where I can freely think differently 🙂

  16. I LOVE this post!! Although I personally want kids, I am a true feminist at heart, and really appreciate this stance and think it needs to be talked about more if for no other reason than for other people to stop assuming all women want to procreate. Great job on this one!!
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  17. I have a kid and I can tell you that it is not always the be all and end all. I tip my hat to anyone who is as self aware as you to understand that it is not the best choice for you for a number of reasons. I wish there were more self aware people out there.
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  18. Athena says:

    I think people are so funny when it comes to whether others have children or not. When I was younger, I HATED KIDS! With a passion, I was probably the most anti social child ever. Like, seriously, I’d rather be by myself playing Barbies than hang out when I was younger. And then my first job was working with children and I still work with children. Up until last year, I didn’t want to have children. And then, after realizing I did want children, I decided I didn’t want them with my current partner and left. I didn’t want to raise children with an alcoholic.
    Now I’m dating a wonderful man who is Jewish while I am Christian and now I have to decide if they will be raised Jewish, which is a totally different subject but something I’m totally willing to embrace fully.
    People change their minds and it happens but sometimes you don’t and that’s okay too. And it’s way better to not have children then do it and become resentful. Kuddos to you.
    Athena recently posted…Dating Myself – My Quest To Enjoy Alone TimeMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      That’s so funny that you hated kids, Athena. I think sometimes being with the right person can change things for some people — it’s good you left that bf and have a better partner now! I am sure if you go down that path, you would decide what religion you’d raise the child with. It’s very sad to see some people who resent their children or see them as burdens — I would never want to do that.

  19. Ms. LoL says:

    I’ve never wanted kids at all. After my ex and I had been together for several years, the pressure was really ON for reproduction, but I always enjoyed shoving it in their faces with a nice “I thought you disapproved of having children out of wed-lock?” lol Maybe around 40 I’ll decide to adopt an older child, but I have so much LIVING to do before that!

  20. I feel you, especially on the only children part! I feel like a lot of the childfree community has siblings, and usually nieces/nephews, and it leaves us only children out of the conversation. I freak out occasionally about never having nieces or nephews to see grow up and spoil, plus having to handle my parents’ aging by myself, but I know it would be extra hard if I had children I didn’t want to stress me out more.
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  21. NZ Muse says:

    Well you are not alone – you have plenty of good company i the blog world!

    My husband wants kids and I lean towards wanting them. If my partner did not want kids, that wouldn’t have been a dealbreaker for me and we would probably be a childless couple.
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  22. Z says:

    I wouldn’t sweat it if someone asks you if you want children. Deep down inside, those people just think that you are a good person and think that you would make a great parent. I can tell you that I wouldn’t ask a person I knew that wasn’t fit for parenting that they should have (more) children. So take it more as a compliment, and ultimately understand that it is your choice to make.

  23. Liz says:

    I like what you say here Melanie. I think it’s always best just to be true to yourself. I understand how hard it is to go against the grain sometimes. I didn’t want to change my name when I got married. I couldn’t believe the reactions I got. People looked at me like I had three arms or something.

  24. Well said! I’ve never understood why people feel like it’s their place or their business to share their opinions about why people should have kids. It’s a little bit horrifying to me. Yesterday night several co-workers were taking bets on who would be the next woman in the office to have a baby. One of them suggested a co-worker and then said, “but she’ll want to do it the ‘right’ way and get married first” they then turned to me and said I “might be next”. I guess A-I’m going to have kids and B-I’m OK with doing it the “wrong” way and not get married first. Thanks co-workers for not making me feel super awkward!
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  25. I have fought this battle for a while. I never wanted kids, my boyfriend has wanted kids since before he could walk. I think I may have “grown out of the stage” of not wanting them, but I’m still not 100% sure. It’s not immature, selfish or showing that you yourself had a bad childhood. It’s a lifestyle choice.
    Megan @ Megan And Eggs recently posted…Weekend Update: A Day Date with my BestieMy Profile

  26. Alexis says:

    Growing up, I was under the impression you had to have kids. Of course, once high school rolled around I knew it was a choice and my choice was to not have kids. Working at a summer camp with kids 24/7 confirmed my choice. It surprises people when I do say I don’t want kids. I’m a teacher and I love kids!! I just don’t want them. I have heard a number of things about individuals who don’t want kids including the above and that people not wanting kids are selfish and are vain. Sigh.
    Alexis recently posted…Goals Update for AugustMy Profile

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