I Don’t Want Kids And That’s Okay

Categories: Repro Rights
While re-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 10th time, I found myself particularly struck at a scene in which a character defends her choice to have an abortion, and not have children. She yelled at her husband, “There is no deeper reason… I don’t have a dark secret…. I just don’t want kids. People can not want kids. It’s a thing.” I grew frustrated watching her tv husband not understand, and ultimately reject, this idea and I could feel my own personal resentments from having similar conversations with people.

I’ve never wanted to have kids. While I endlessly admire people who raise children, this was never a path that I wanted for myself. I never felt any sadness over this; I never felt like I was missing something, until people made it seem like I was. I learned to compile a list of reasons for people who looked horrified when I drop into the conversation, “Oh, I don’t really want to have kids.” While my reasons make sense to me, every time I have to explain myself to a family friend, I can feel the irritation growing under my skin. I don’t owe anyone an explanation as to what I decide to do with my body.

“In what world does it make sense for a stranger to decide that yes, I should– I MUST– birth and raise a child?” 

No one should have to discuss, much less defend, their childbearing decisions with anyone. In what world does it make sense for a stranger to decide that yes, I should– I MUST– birth and raise a child? And sometimes, the judgement can feel even more overbearing when coming from a friend or family member. I can still hear my mother telling me that if I didn’t want a child, I could always give birth and give the kid to her to raise. She may have been joking, but the message was clear– it was expected that I would have her grandchildren.

Our society makes it feel like people, especially women, who don’t want children are broken. That we either will change our minds or there is something wrong with us to make us not want to use ‘our greatest gift– the gift of creating life.’ But (and let’s say it together now), people are not vessels! In a society where people, especially young women, are taught from a young age that our worth is intrinsically tied to our bodies, and that our bodies are meant to serve for the purposes of others, it is crucial that we combat this way of thinking. We should support the decisions that people make about their own bodies, whether that’s having children or not.

I was not put on this Earth to be an incubator. I have purpose beyond my womb, and me deciding to not have children doesn’t make me cold, broken, or stupid. Every person deserves to be able to make their own decisions about whether or not to have children. 

Ryder Smith is a junior at Hofstra University, where they currently study Women’s Studies and Journalism. They are a queer student organizer who advocates for a wide variety of causes, from reproductive freedom to anti war efforts.