To be a parent or not: that’s the question


To most people, having children is an obviousness. Especially when you’re in a stable or long relationship, you’re being expected to take it to the next level. And while getting married is no longer considered as the standard, things are a little bit different when it comes to having children. Because surely you’ll have or want some once you found your partner. Or not? Suryani finds out if it’s still a taboo to be consiously childless or not.

At one point in life, the question about having children arises. You and your partner probably already talked about it a few times. And often on numerous occasions, family and friends are trying to find out your plans in this regard. Even when talking to other people, the issue about children or your desire to have some is quickly being raised.

My own personal experience

Having to not want children myself for a very long time, I noticed that society sometimes struggles a bit. Especially when you say that you don’t have or want children. People find it peculiar or they want to persuade you to have some. Even people who claim to understand and say that that’s a decision every couple has to make for themselves. At that moment they sometimes still express their remarks or ask questions like: ‘Don’t you think it will enhance your relationship?’. Or, of course: ‘Don’t you think you will regret it later?’.

Why is that? Why is it that having children seems to be a must-have for so many people. Because it’s always been this way? Or maybe because people find their children to be such an enrichment to their life? It can be the reason that they can’t understand that you don’t want that too. It’s probably a bit of both. Also, if you look at it in a more biological kind of way. Then you will notice that finding your partner to procreate and maintain the human species, is one of the main reasons why we are here.

However, some people don’t let all of those reasons affect them and they make the conscious decision to stay childless.

Interviews and testimonials

Rutger (44)

“Almost right from the start of our relationship, my wife made it clear that she didn’t really have maternal feelings. But that could maybe still change with time passing by. To me, that wasn’t really an issue. Although I really like kids and love spending time with my nephews and nieces, it wasn’t a must-have for me. I was equally fine with the fact of whether my wife wanted to have children or not. So we found each other in an agreement there pretty fast.

Nevertheless, there was some pressure because at that time nor my sister or brother had children either. Luckily they never pushed us but I knew that my parents really loved to have grandchildren. But even with this in mind we just wanted to build our life so we both worked a lot. We also still took into consideration that the maternal feelings of my wife would come but they didn’t. A factor that also played along with is that we always had a lot of cats which we consider to be our babies. To them we can give our affection to so that need was also being fulfilled.

So it was more a decision that we made unconsciously and where time caught up on us a little bit up until the point where it was too late but also the acknowledgment that our life was good as it was and that we were happy. If we would have had children at that moment our lives would have changed in such a drastic way and we weren’t ready for that.

I’m pretty sure we won’t regret our choice later but, every now and then, I think about the future and I must admit that it scares me a little bit to know that one day we will end up alone without children to come and visit us. However, that should never be a reason to have kids and I firmly believe that once you’ve made a decision, you need to stop looking back and just move forwards. 

Jessica (41)

“The reason why we don’t have children is actually a combination of a few things. My parents had a divorce when I was younger and it made me really doubt love. I didn’t want my kid to have to go through that. I also didn’t really have any maternal feelings. But I was open to the fact that this could still change with time. For my partner it also wasn’t something he really wanted so whatever I decided, was fine with him.

On top of that, there was a medical issue: a few years ago they found some malignant cells on my cervix. There was a cyst that needed to be removed. After the procedure, the doctor told us that we might have to start thinking if we wanted to have kids or not because there was a chance that the cyst would come back. At that time, I didn’t really felt ready to think about that matter. However, after a year, the cyst had come back and the same doctor raised the kids-issue again. He was very persistent but I really didn’t like the fact that I was being pressured to take such an important decision in such a short time.

In the spur of the moment, I decided that I didn’t want to have kids. I told my partner that if he did want children he needed to go and find another partner. I  was feeling very emotional at the time and it really rattled my partner but it did give us an opportunity to really think about it and talk things through. Luckily, he still felt the same way as he did before.

Meanwhile, there was also a lot going in the news like the terroristic attack on our airport. This made me think even more that bringing a child up this world maybe wasn’t something that I really wanted. When also my mother said that she could understand this, I realized that I could make this my decision without having to worry about hurting anyone else’s feelings.

I don’t think we will ever regret our decision. In the past, there have been some kids with whom I had this special click and when they came and hug me, I started wondering how my children would look like and I fantasize about how it could be. But that feeling was never strong enough to change my mind.

Although I never had a negative experience I do notice that people are a little bit startled once they hear that I don’t have children and sometimes the conversation runs dry but then I always mention that I have a dog and then it usually stops being awkward.

Karen (39)

“When I was 25 years, I decided that I didn’t want to have children. This was way before I had met my partner. During my relationship  I never questioned my decision, and for him it wasn’t a problem either since he already has 2 grown-up kids,. The fact that he is older than me made me realize all the more that my choice to not have children is the right one. However, if I did want to have children, he would have given me his full support.

I’m very fond of my freedom. When you have children you have to plan a lot more things in advance and you need more structure. It is a bit more difficult to have a spontaneous drink or go to a nice restaurant. Those unplanned moments are often the ones I enjoy the most. I just really enjoy doing things together as a couple. With kids, your priority lies more on the family as a whole rather than it does on your partner. You also have less time for yourself, because the kids come first.

I notice that for many working women, their children have priority over their job. Even if this is only temporary, I like to get the most out of my job now and not within 20 years, when my best years are over.

Many people ask me if I’m not afraid to be alone when I’m old. That doesn’t scare me because so much can happen in the meantime: maybe you lost contact with your children or they live abroad. On top of that, I don’t like to depend on others, even if they are your own children.

Luckily, everybody in my family knew I didn’t want kids. So they supported me for 100% and they never pushed us. I wouldn’t appreciate that either because I don’t think other people have the right to push you in one direction or another. I try to not let others influence me in every decision that I make. 

Where I work there are several women who consciously don’t have children and are very happy with that. Or who think the same as I do.Other than that, I don’t really get a lot of reactions. I feel like, as soon as people know that I don’t have children, they’ll avoid the subject. As if they assume that they have to be careful because I might not be able to have children.

I haven’t regretted my decision yet. And frankly, I’m even more convinced of my choice now that my sister recently gave birth to a twin. I have a beautiful godchild and I am super happy about that. I love to see my nieces and have a lot of fun with them, but I am happy that I can keep my life as it is now.

So is being consciously childless still a taboo? Although times are changing and more and more people are getting rid of traditions or don’t want any children because of reasons of overpopulation and environmental issues, it is still a matter that raises a lot of questions and sometimes eyebrows. It can even lead to severe discussions because of the fact that some people feel so strongly about having children.

If you have any experiences or thoughts, feel free to share them with us in the comments or through Social Media by tagging @BlogzineBE or #BlogzineBE.

This article has been written by @SURYANI SIX

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