Should you stay childfree?
One of the major purposes of The American Spinster blog is to encourage women to start thinking more critically about why they want to have that ‘traditional‘ life of marriage and children. Far too many people in the US have children because they’ve been raised to believe it’s a natural milestone. Like turning 21, moving out, or getting gray hair. Parenthood is something that’s simply… assumed.
But it’s clear that not everyone is cut out to be a parent. And even those who would make good parents someday may still need to wait until the appropriate time. So here’s a list of the top 10 reasons you should not have a baby right now.
10. You’ve only recently gotten ‘baby fever.’
This is a life-changing decision that really needs to sit with you for a while before you commit to it. Chances are that waiting a year won’t affect your fertility, and will allow you to make all of the changes in your life that such a transformative decision requires. If it’s something you truly want, you’ll still want it in a year. If it’s a strong but passing impulse, you won’t have created another human on a fleeting urge.
9. You don’t have an innate desire to have a child, but you’re 34 and time’s a-wasting.
Being a parent isn’t just a full-time job, it’s a vocation. You need to be called to become the caretaker of another human being, every hour of every day of the next 18+ years. Do not have a child because you’ve internalized the idea that it’s just the next natural step in your life.
8. You haven’t thought past the baby stage.
Like a puppy or a baby bunny, it’s going to grow up – over the next couple of decades. Unless you’re just as passionate about having a 12 year old, a 14 year old, a 16 year old, and a 23 year old, you should probably consider getting your baby fix by babysitting or working at a daycare.
7. You get bored with your pets after a few months, or resent pets that require significant attention.
Don’t expect this to be different with a human. If you really want to have a child, but you know you dislike being a caretaker, pause. Before committing to motherhood, take the time to learn how to truly love caring for someone else at any time of the day or night. If you get to the point when you’re not angry about being woken in the middle of the night by a sick, elderly dog, go for it.
6. You like being in control of your life.
I’m not making a joke, here. Having a child means sacrificing your own wants (even the little tiny ones) for the wants and needs of another, all the time, for at least 18 years. And not just occasionally or in a way that makes you look like a stylish, martyr mom – but consistently, and in ways no one will ever know about. Think very seriously about everything you enjoy right now and how willing you are to give them up when you have a baby.
5. You can’t afford to provide basic life essentials for your baby.
I’m not talking about private school, ballet lessons, or a pony. Do you or you and your partner earn enough to provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter for another person? I often hear, “That’s not a good reason not to have a child. You shouldn’t have to deny yourself because of finances.” It’s true that in a perfect world anyone could have a baby regardless of how much money they have. But that’s not the case in the world we live in. It is not loving to create a child that you can’t provide for. It’s straight-up selfish.
4. You don’t like kids, but you’re sure it’ll be different when they’re your own.
It won’t. If you don’t like kids, don’t devote the next two or more decades of your life to them. Click here to read about what it’s like to dislike your own child, and here to learn why some mothers don’t like their kids.
3. You’re worried about being alone in your old age.
Listen, for the $245,000.00 that it’ll cost you to raise that child to the age of 18 (we’re not including college here), you could hire the very best, most loving and compassionate caretaker in the entire world. Why spend a ridiculous amount of money raising a child in the hope that it’ll be able to spare you a monthly pittance in your final years? Save half of the money that you would spend raising a child, and you’ll be set for life.
And if you believe that the only way you can guarantee that you won’t be lonely when you get older is to bind another human to you through filial obligation, work on some self love. I’m being 100% sincere; you are not so unlovable that you have any legitimate reason to fear that you’ll end up alone if you don’t have a child.
2. You’re in a bad relationship.
Please, never have a baby to ‘save’ a relationship. Aside from being totally ineffective, this is truly one of the most self-centered and unloving reasons to have a baby. And if you aren’t in a place where you are physically and emotionally safe, do not bring a baby into that situation.
(If you are in an abusive relationship, please visit this website for help.)
1. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re really not over your own childhood.
Like everything on this list, this doesn’t apply to everyone. There are people who endured horrific abuse as children who have gone on to be truly wonderful parents. But if you aren’t sure that you won’t pass on the same bad treatment you received to your children, wait.
Work through your past. Find a good counselor you feel comfortable with. Find a support group of others who had similar childhood experiences. People pass on abuse to their children simply because they haven’t learned healthy ways to interact, and haven’t worked through their own past (which will come up again and again and again when you’re raising a kid).
A good rule of thumb is this: if you catch yourself talking to a pet (or yourself) they way an abuser talked to you, you’re not ready yet. That doesn’t mean you never will be, but now is not the time.
What brought you here today? Have you been on the fence about having kids, or were you looking for some reassurance that you’re making the right choice by staying childfree? Let me know in the comments below.
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