This topic is something I feel passionately about, so excuse me if I come off as blunt. It is intended.
This past week my husband and I went to dinner at Chili’s with some friends. When we were leaving, I snapped a few photos of our friends with Hurricane Annadelle. Annadelle knows our friends as “Aunt Misty” and “Uncle Shane”, as we have made sure to refer to them in those terms since she was born. It is our intention for her to grow up knowing them as family, as they have proven to be as valuable as family in times of need.
Once I posted the photos to my Facebook page and tagged the both of them, along came the comments of, “When are you going to have your own child?”
Shane and Misty have been very vocal about the fact that they never want kids. As someone who spent an endless amount of time (and money) at a fertility clinic before welcoming in my bundle of joy, I will admit I had a difficult time understanding the logic behind their resolution. I simply couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to hold a blob of cells that formed into some massive example of exactly why procreation is so damn spectacular.
After much thought and reflection, I’m here to school you on why that is completely and perfectly 100% okay, not only for Shane and Misty but for every single couple that opts to live child-free to do just that.
1. They are child-free, not childless.
Understand this: living without a child does not mean your life is worthless. Many influential women who have made a significant mark on American history chose not to have children.
Take Condoleezza Rice, for example, who chose to say this about childlessness: “I won’t have kids [laughs] but I may still get married. But I would have lived a very fulfilled life if I had gotten married and had kids, too. But I’m very religious and I at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they’re supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you’ve been given.”
Other famous women without children include Sally Ride, who was the first woman (and known LGBT person) in space. She held bachelor’s degrees in physics and English, and a Ph.D. in physics, and directed the California Space Institute at the University of California in San Diego. Ride was also committed to expanding scientific education. She wrote five children’s science books and started her own company to inspire women and girls to pursue scientific careers.
Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman in Congress, became the first black woman to make a bid for the presidency in 1972. Her groundbreaking career made her a powerful figure in American history, as she served seven terms in Congress and helped to establish the Congressional Black Caucus.
Still think childless women live meaningless lives? Think again.
2. It’s not your life to live.
Although you may want your favorite couple to welcome in a little one, you have to understand that you can’t live vicariously through them. Your life is yours to live as you choose. Whether it be spending your days traveling or pushing a nine pound baby out of your lady parts, the decision is yours to make and yours only.
A growing number of Americans are choosing to live child-free. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, in 2014, 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 had never had children. This represents the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau started tracking that data in 1976.
3. Your opinion doesn’t really matter.
There, I said it. The truth is that your opinion doesn’t really matter when it comes to the decisions someone else makes in their own life. Would you be so opinionated if someone chose not to adopt a dog? What about the decision to have ten children? Ask yourself why you care so much about a couple’s decision to live without an heir if you don’t care about equally life-changing decisions.
I know you may think you know what is best for your loved ones, but sometimes you really don’t.
4. Don’t get it twisted- childlessness doesn’t equal non-nurturing.
The absolute very last thing you should assume about a childless couple is that they are cold-hearted, non-nurturing individuals. Would you describe a couple who hasn’t had kids, but plans on it, as non-nurturing? Of course not! People who choose not to have kids have just a big of a heart as parents, often projecting that love and attention on their spouse or other loved ones. Most humans instinctively have a strong need for affection and are naturally nurturing or socialized to do so.
While I am thankful for the ability and means to have Hurricane Annadelle, I won’t throw stones at my friends and family who choose not to have kids. In the end, another person’s childless life doesn’t affect you. Period.