More and more people are making the decision to go childfree, or be voluntarily childless. With environmental, political, and economic crises taking over the world, the decision to bring life into existence does become quite a difficult -even scary- one. And if you are here reading this, then you are probably also suffering from the internal conflict of whether or not you should have children or remain childfree.
This inner conflict is usually the result of a dilemma between reasonably thinking that you don't want your kids to grow up in a broken world and feeling like you might regret the decision to not have them once it is too late.
While it would be impossible for us to make the decision for you, here are a few tips to help you on your journey to making that decision.
This is a life-changing decision that will impact you for the rest of your life, so don't rush into it. While it may seem like your time to decide is running out -and in certain cases it might be-, you should still take as much time as possible to understand yourself, your feelings, and your desires.
If you have external pressure to hurry up, like family members or partners rushing you, set strict boundaries and re-claim your authority over your decision. This one is yours to make and yours only.
This is a bit cliché, but hear us out. Sometimes, having all your thoughts in your head -no matter how organized your perceive them to be- can be doing you more harm than good. Get a pen and paper, draw a line in the middle of the paper, and on one side write the pros of having children and the cons of doing so. Repeat the same process for going childfree. Yes, they should be two separate lists.
Which list is longer when it comes to pros? Which list is longer when it comes to cons?
If you're still not a fan of list-making, take a few minutes somewhere quiet, sit down, and close your eyes: imagine what your life will be like 5, 10, and 15 years from now if you do end up having children. Tune into what your body is telling you; which emotions are stronger? anxiety? joy? It will usually be a mix of both, but try to sense which one overtakes the other.
Take a break for a couple of hours, or days if you need to, and then repeat the same exercise but imagining your life without children in 5, 10, and 15 years -How do you feel?
We would advise you to repeat these two exercises a couple of times and to tune in each time to which emotion grows stronger the more you do it.
Let's imagine, for a couple minutes, that all the external pressures to have children (such as societal expectation, natural instincts, family pressure, etc.) and to not have children (environmental crisis, over population, financial hardships, etc.) don't exist. It's hard, but try to detach yourself from it.
Now, ask yourself: what are your internal motivations to take either option? Are there any psychological wounds that are making you want or not want children? Do you simply not have any desire to be a parent or a caregiver? is it in your calling to be a parent or a caregiver?
We often pay more attention to external reasons and forget to tend to our inner ones. It's not selfish to want either path in life, as long as you give it the consideration it needs.
We are sadly often sold on an idolized idea of what having children is -and sometimes it's also a catastrophized depiction as well. Try to gear away from these highly demonized or overly glamorized tales of being a parent by seeking real people who are willing to tell their real experiences with parenting and caregiving, either through online communities or by simply asking people around you.
While their experience and life circumstances might not necessarily be exact same to yours, listening to multiple people and cross-checking multiple views might help you gain a better understanding of how you might react to certain things.
Always remember that not being able to decide or that the decision doesn't come easily to you doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. Quite the contrary, being mindful of your decisions and their impact and not taking anything for granted are big indicators that you might be on the right path to creating a life that fits you -and not what society expects of you.