To have or not have children is a human right that everybody should be able to exercise without judgment or criticism. Some people are unable to have biological children, and some people choose not to have any for social, economic, environmental or other reasons.
Many adults and couples that do not have children live very fulfilling lives. However, in some societies there is still a stigma attached to being childfree, particularly in the case of childfree women. These are some of the most common questions encountered about making the decision to be childfree.
“Is Choosing Not to Have Children Selfish?”
Population Matters believes that everybody should have bodily and reproductive autonomy, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, and the right to choose if and when they want to have children. Most people spend a long time thinking carefully before making the decision not to have children, and just like people with children, childfree people do not owe anyone an explanation. The childfree choice is no more selfish than any other personal choice. In fact, many childfree people are motivated by entirely unselfish reasons, such as concern for the natural world, other people and future generations.
“People often say I am selfish by not having children, but I see it completely oppositely: those that are not having children are some of the least selfish people in society. We are thinking about future generations and the protection of all life (plants, animals, insects, forests).” – Olivia, Childfree
“Is it possible to change your mind?”
Plenty of people change their minds about whether or not they wish to have children. We cannot say with one hundred percent certainty what may happen in our future, however, we can make decisions that are right for us at the time. If you change your mind when it is too late for you to have your own children, you could consider alternative options, such as adoption or fostering.
“We are all connected – we are all humans at the end of the day, and if I chose to nurture and contribute to a child’s growth and development, I knew that I could always adopt.”
– Kate, Childfree
“Will choosing to be childfree save the planet?”
We need to focus both on having smaller families and reducing our consumption in order to limit our collective impact on the environment, resources and biodiversity, and ensure a decent quality of life for all. Choosing to have a small family or no children at all helps to lessen that impact, especially in high-income countries where our consumption levels are excessively high. Everybody should be empowered with the education and healthcare that they need to be able to make their own choices about their bodies, lives and environmental impact.
“While I absolutely love children, I decided not to have my own. Not having children is the biggest gift I can give to ensure the existence of wildlife and our beautiful planet Earth.”
– Asha, Childfree
“Can life still have purpose without children?”
Parenthood can be a wonderful thing, and Population Matters supports those women, and men, who choose to have children. However, many of those people that are able to exercise their right to choose, and decide to be childfree, find purpose outside of parenting and go on to have fulfilling and successful lives.
“I have a lot of free time and can pursue my passions and also volunteer at local grassroot charities (one in particular is helping homeless children stay safe & find jobs). My choice to love all is benefiting me and, I hope, benefiting my local community too.” – Kate, Childfree
“What if I feel under pressure to have children, and I’m undecided?”
We understand that in some countries and cultures, there is an expectation to have children, and larger families. The choice to have children should be entirely up to you and your partner, but with almost half of women in 57 low- to middle-income countries having no decision-making power over their health, contraceptive use and sex lives, there are still barriers that prevent this being possible. We encourage anybody who is able to do so to spend as much time as they need to make this decision, taking into account any personal, social, economical and environmental factors that need to be considered in their circumstances.
“The choice whether or not to have children should be yours.” – Katrina, Childfree
To find out more about choosing to be childfree, or to join a childfree community, visit:
Childfree-Net Providing resources and information for adults that have chosen to be childfree.
Gateway Women Uniting childfree and childless women.
NonParents A global community for people who either through personal circumstances or by choice, do not have children.
The Not Mom A blog that celebrates women that are childfree by choice.
To Kid or Not to Kid The website for the documentary “To Kid or Not to Kid” by award-winning director Maxine Trump.