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Saying no to having kids

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(Graphic by Brett Ferrin)

Since the dawn of time, it seems society has perceived women as being good for only one thing. No, I’m not talking about making sammiches. I’m talking about having children.

Living in Utah, there’s a lot of pressure for young women to get married and have children. The emphasis on family, while admirable, can lead to a great deal of stress on women who cannot perform the task of having children or those who flat out refuse to.

A common reason among these women is the issue with the world’s overpopulation.

I read a bit of Joe Hardin and his ‘Lifeboat Ethics’ essay about how the Earth cannot sustain more people,” Standard Examiner’s music reporter, Raychel Johnson said about her perspective on choosing not to have children. “Even if everyone adheres to the ‘replace only yourself’ rule, the Earth will become overpopulated in a matter of a hundred years or so.” 

Another woman who wishes to remain anonymous, due to her family’s lack of acceptance of her choice, gave her own reasons why she chose not to have children.

“There’s no need for me to have children. The world is already overpopulated. We’re depleting our world’s resources, and slowly killing our planet because of this. We drive various species to extinction, and our ignorance is boundless.”

Other women simply cannot stand children. They don’t feel the love and connection to children as some women do. Does that make them any less human? Some men can’t stand children, so why is all right for these men to not have an affinity for fatherhood, but women cannot feel the same about motherhood?

My own personal reason is that there are enough unwanted children in the world. There are children who need homes and love and instead are experiencing the harsh environment of this world alone.

We adopted our daughter when she was 10 years old. I have watched her grow and see so much of myself in her, that I know I do not need to have my own children to feel fulfilled. Plus, I got to skip all the potty training and late nights that mothers of small children often complain about.

While some people believe the complaining is why women are “opting” out of motherhood, I believe it’s the result of something else.

A little over 50 years ago, the ideal woman was June Cleaver, the perfect housewife who cooked dinner and raised beautiful children while her husband went off to work to make the money.

Historically, women have spent their time devoted to bearing children. We’ve not been allowed to dream of anything else. We’ve been told that this is all we are truly good for. However, times are changing. Women are becoming more and more independent and educated.

Forbes reported in 2012 that the female-to-male ratio has shifted to a higher female ratio since the mid 1970s. The gap between how many females over males are entering college is gradually increasing each year.

Women are becoming more educated, independent and realize that having children isn’t the only way they can lead fulfilling lives.

It’s not because we’re selfish. It is because for once women have a choice. No matter what that choice is, to have children or not to have children, it is ours and we should relish in the freedom of it. We should respect one another’s choices and not think less of any woman for doing what they feel is right for them.

Johnson, I believe, summed it up the best when she said, “I respect women who choose to sacrifice their time and needs for their children. My mom did. It’s just not for me and I shouldn’t be disrespected for that decision.”

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