4 Women Share Their Perspective On Living Child-Free

These days, more women than ever are choosing not to have children. And yet it’s still not a decision which comes free of judgement – be it friends, family or society. Here, four women share why they’ve proactively decided to live child-free – plus, the advice they’d give others who feel the same.

Amy Lawrenson

Writer and beauty expert Amy Lawrenson – now in her mid 30s – knew she didn’t want children back when she herself was still a child. Over the years, she’s found plenty of support along the way – including her own partner of 14 years. Now back in the dating pool, she explains why her feelings haven’t changed…

 

The realisation I didn’t want children dawned on me when I was about 12 years old. I had friends who aspired to having a family, but I knew that just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m terrified of being pregnant and the idea of giving birth but, of course, it’s not just about that. Having children dramatically alters your life and for me, the idea of a life with children doesn’t seem rich enough in comparison to the life I have without them. I adore my friends’ children and enjoy seeing them grow up, but I don’t feel the need to experience it myself. Also, we live in a world that is so overpopulated – I don’t want to add more to the mix. 

I was in a relationship for 14 years with a man who didn’t want children. We broke up last year and, unfortunately, while app dating is already awful, not wanting children definitely limits the pool at my age. I put it clearly on my profile (if there is the option to tick that box) but if not, I tend to approach it in a conversation. Also, I try to date men who don’t want children or who already have kids and don’t want any more. 

My family has been very supportive. My dad worries I might regret my decision – he recently asked if I’d thought about freezing my eggs, but my mum is totally on board. I’ve been saying I don’t want children for so long, it just is what it is now. My friends know I love their kids, but they don’t try to persuade me to follow in their footsteps. Sometimes I think they’re confused because I’m quite good with their children, but overall, they’re supportive of my decision, too. 

Remember, this decision is only yours – and, possibly, your partner’s. No one else should have an opinion – pushy parents, friends who think it would be ‘fun’ if your kids all grew up together, etc. Having children changes your life completely, so it’s important to be sure of what you’re getting into. People say you can never be fully prepared for having children and I’m sure that’s true, but if you’re torn between a life with and a life without, then it’s important not to make a decision lightly.

Amy Crumpton

In her mid-30s, Amy Crumpton is the founder of Social Cactus, as well as a business and mindset coach. Alongside her fiancé and co-coach Chris Fawcett, she’s made it her mission to help women feel empowered and maximise their own potential. Here she explains why she and her partner are more than happy not to expand their family…

I’ve never been particularly interested in having children. When I was younger, I thought it was just something you did, but as I’ve grown up and realised we can all make our own choices, I’ve felt a lot more comfortable about not having them. Along the way, I’ve also met a lot of other like-minded women who feel the same, which has only added to my resolve.

The decision was never linked to my career – it was more of a lifestyle choice. I love my freedom and independence, and children just didn’t fit into that. For instance, Chris and I are spending the next three months in Spain, before coming back to the UK for Christmas and then having an extended break in Thailand – it’s the kind of life that just isn’t compatible with children. Having to consider childcare, schooling, and all the other things that come with parenthood doesn’t fit in with what we want to do – being able to be spontaneous is what makes us happy.

If I had any advice for other women, it would be this: stay true to what you want and don’t let outside influences sway your decision. Having children should be something you really want to do and it’s slowly becoming more common for more women not to go down that road. These days, you’re definitely not alone, so there’s no reason to feel like you have to follow the crowd. 

Catherine Baudino

Dating coach Catherine Baudino decided she didn’t want children when she was just 17 years old – she even asked her gynaecologist about the possibility of sterilisation in her 20s (he declined). Regardless, several decades later, she has zero regrets about her decision to live child free…

When my husband and I were first engaged, he revealed he’d had a reversible vasectomy. He asked me if I wanted to reverse it but I quickly said no – I was an international business woman and felt that having children was not a light decision.

Having children was a permanent commitment, and my lifestyle just wouldn’t accommodate it. To paraphrase a famous saying, we knew children weren’t just for Christmas. I also didn’t think I would make a good mother – I even turned down being a godparent! With the benefit of hindsight, I was probably influenced by my relationship with my own parents, too – if I’m honest, they were very dysfunctional and should probably have never had children. 

Fortunately, I’ve experienced almost zero judgement from others over the years. Besides, the only opinion that mattered to me was my husband’s – and he was happy with what we chose to do. What I would say, however, is that this is an extremely personal decision and one you should only make if you’re absolutely sure. Me? I enjoy my freedom too much. Plus, there are enough children on this planet without my husband and I adding to the count!

Melanie Andrew

After Melanie Andrew’s mental health suffered in her late 20s following an incredibly stressful period, with the support of her family, she made the decision not to have children. After retraining as a mental health worker, and now in her 40s, she doesn’t regret how things have turned out. Here, she explains why…

When I was younger, I envisaged having a large family – similar to my own, as I have three younger sisters. However, by my early to mid-thirties, I had changed my mind completely. I was under intense stress during my late 20s, whilst training to be a teacher and planning my wedding. I suffered from insomnia, which eventually led to a breakdown. I was sectioned twice, with two psychiatric hospital admissions, and my fiancé subsequently ended our relationship. In the end, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which meant I was unable to return to teaching, had to move back in with my parents and restart a new career from scratch in order to prioritise my mental health. I also learned I would be at high risk of relapsing if I were to become pregnant, as the medication I’m now on for the rest of my life isn’t safe during pregnancy. Also, having a baby potentially waking up repeatedly during the night could trigger me to become unwell again. I’m happy with my decision – I’ve since been able to stay mentally stable, build a career in the NHS and focus on my mental wellbeing, physical fitness, and have a full and vibrant social life. 

I’m not currently in a relationship. With future partners, I would always be completely honest and tell the truth about my experiences. I’m 44, so would probably struggle to conceive anyway now. I would, however, be happy to have a relationship with someone who already has children, as long as they don’t want to have more. That said, I’m lucky that I have a very supportive family where being single has never felt like a disadvantage – in fact, we see it as powerful these days – so I’m not in a huge rush to meet someone.

My family and friends have been fully supportive of my decision. My immediate family know how unwell I was all those years ago, so they’re happy that I’m able to work full-time and live a full life. Luckily, I have two amazing nephews and love being around my friends’ children, which is enough for me.  

We’re so lucky to live in a time when we can actively choose not to have children. Not being a mother doesn’t make any of us any less of a woman or any less able to make a valuable contribution to society. It’s a very personal and important decision for every woman to make, ideally without feeling under any pressure or influence from other people. You don’t have to justify your decision to anyone – even if people ask invasive questions or don’t understand your choices. 

Want some advice? Here clinical sexologist & relationship advisor Katie Lasson shares her tips for making, and sticking to, this decision…

 

Know your own reasons for not having children. 

Nature might have made females the ones who conceive and give birth, and arguably our bodies are built for it, so not having a child may cause mental or even physical effects – even if you consider yourself a strong person, it could end up affecting you in a particular way at some point. Your biological clock may even start ticking, which has the potential to trigger mood swings or outbursts – but if you accept it and acknowledge it, you will pass through this phase.

It’s only natural for your family and friends to have an opinion. 

If that opinion includes negative comments or expression of disappointment, it will be because there’s still this concept that it’s not ‘normal’ for most people – but remember, we all have our own definition of what normal is. Yours is just as valid.

Always be straight forward honest in discussing the topic. 

Offer some facts and explain your decision with a positive undertone – it’s also a good idea to thank them in advance for their understanding. If you are considering serious relationship, then it is good to talk about your plans and thoughts right at the start with a potential partner. Let them know your values, because no one wants to waste the other’s time. If things are casual and fun, there’s probably no need to have that conversation.

If you experience judgement, ask people to respect your decision. 

If that doesn’t work, then try to explain the reasons behind your decision. Remember, you can always change your mind, and it’s okay to feel differently in five years’ time. We grow and change constantly. If you’re confused, try to write down the reasons why you decided not to have a child and keep it for the future. Then, at a later date, go through the points again. Believe me, you’ll know if you still feel the same way almost immediately.

 

Find out more about Katie’s services here.

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