I Feel Guilty for Not Wanting Children

I feel like I owe an explanation for not wanting children. That I have to tell people that I’m not some monster who hates all kids.
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Lindsey Smith
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I feel like I owe an explanation for not wanting children. That I have to tell people that I’m not some monster who hates all kids.

I don’t want children. 

Right off the bat, I feel like I owe an explanation. That I have to tell people that just because I don’t want children, I’m not some monster who hates all kids. 

I often find myself saying things like, “But…you see, I love kids! Really, I do! Let me show you a photo roll on my phone of my friends’ kids and how much fun we are having.”

I really do love watching my friends’ kids explore and grow. I love knowing that there is hope in children, in new generations. And I am always in awe of their childlike wonder. I’m just simply not interested in a child of my own.

Growing up, I never aspired to have a family. I enjoyed playing teacher and going on adventures with my American Girl doll, Addy. My favorite movie was Mulan and I dreamed of saving the world in my own special way. Even when I got married, I envisioned my husband and I contributing to the world in many ways, but it never involved children.

At age 2 1/2, I was already getting down to business.

At age 2 1/2, I was already getting down to business.

Now, I find myself being asked when I am going to have children and start a family. When we adopted our dog, everyone said, “A baby next!” As time goes on, a subject that I never once thought much about, motherhood, is something that I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about.

Because this is still a taboo subject, I think a lot of us don’t realize or take into consideration the amount of guilt many of those who choose to not have children experience on a daily basis.

Here are just a few examples:

1. I feel guilty for having a perfectly working uterus. 

So many of my friends continue to struggle with getting pregnant. I see how badly they want children and how their desire to be a mom is so strong. When I see this, it breaks my heart. Here I am, capable of getting pregnant, and wasting it. It makes me sad even writing this.

2. I worry that I won’t fit in with my friends as we get older because I don’t “get it.” 

I have experienced this some already. Once you become a mom, you join a new club, rightfully so. However, that usually leaves those without children left in the dark because we just “don’t get it.” 

I often feel like I do “get it,” which is part of my decision not to have children. 

I don’t understand your life exactly, but I understand enough to recognize that the energy that goes into having and caring for a child is energy that I would like to put into other things. I understand my friends’ struggles even though I am not personally experiencing them. I can sympathize.

3. I have guilt that I am denying my lineage. 

There will be no Lindsey Smith gene pool circulating the Earth to continue providing humanity with my cells and my ridiculous good looks. (OK, maybe just the cells.) 

Selfishly, I do want my lineage to continue and I do want to see what that baby would look like or who they’d grow up to be. But to me, wanting solely to pass on your lineage and see what he/she looks like is not grounds enough to have a child. But, here I am feeling guilty that family won’t get to see their lineage move forward either.

I have a cute family. My cousins will keep the lineage going, right?

I have a cute family. My cousins will keep the lineage going, right?

4. I have guilt that people will assume I am selfish. 

I truly believe people were born to create—whether it’s creating new life, new art, a book, or something that puts you outside of yourself and is an expression of you. Some people have the desire to create children. I have the desire to create art.

However, in our society, people don’t see creating babies and books as the same, and many think it's selfish to put a book before a child. In reality, I am just creating what feels right to me. For you, it may be babies. For me, it’s books. For someone else, it could be creating the cure for cancer. For others, it could be a mix of things.

Feeing grateful for all my book babies on the table. Very proud of them!

Feeing grateful for all my book babies on the table. Very proud of them!

With all of these feelings, I have still not convinced myself to have children, but I have decided that I want to be involved with kids in other ways whether it be mentoring, coaching or even babysitting. Because at the end of the day, I do love kids and I have the desire to help them grow and flourish, even if I don’t give birth to them.

I hope that other women will support me in my creative endeavors, as I support all women who choose to create children. I may not want to answer to “Mom,” but “Aunt Lindsey” sounds pretty great.