Married with Children. Not.

Cute baby, adorable baby

Ever since a blogger by the name of Amy Glass wrote a post called ‘I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry,’ the internet has been buzzing with responses and judgement. If you haven’t read the post, Amy essentially equates feminism with forgoing marriage and children in order to travel, build a career, and do your own thing. And her sanctimonious post has made the rest of us (who don’t want to get married or have children) public targets for criticism and judgement.

Because we know that Amy Glass truly speaks for ALL of us.

The decisions to enter into marriage and parenthood are extremely personal choices that should be free of judgment. However, my choice to pass on marriage and children has left me vulnerable to countless judgments and assumptions.

I am living in sin.  I am devoid of any ability to fully commit to one person. I am too afraid to enter into marriage. And I am selfish for not procreating.

In actuality, I do believe in commitment, but I do not believe you need a paper to validate it. I encourage those who desire marriage to enjoy the celebration of their love in a ceremony and reception. I will even attend and wish you well, but that path is just not for me.

Now, being selfish for choosing not to have children is a concept that honestly baffles me. Aren’t both choices selfish?

I decided not to have children because I want a little bit more freedom in my life. I have various goals that I am striving towards and an incurable case of wanderlust making a childless life the best option for me. And yes, that is a choice I have made selfishly in order to create the life that I want to live.

But isn’t choosing to have children a selfish choice, as well? Don’t people decide to have children because they want to be parents? They want a family. And they want to develop a lifetime of memories with their spouse and children. Just like I am selfishly creating a life that is suitable for me and my desires, they are selfishly creating theirs. And that’s alright; we must do what makes us happy.

However, according to Sarah Larson, who wrote I Think People Without Kids Have Empty Lives And I’m Not Sorry About It in response to Amy Glass, I am also living a life devoid of meaning. While she doesn’t think that people are “bad or wrong for not having kids,” she does feel “tremendously sad for them.”

Great. So now I’m selfish, going to hell, and my life is worth pitying.

Apparently, I am missing out on the “unique experience of getting to learn so much about what it means to be human, what it means to love, what it means to truly commit to someone, and the incredibly liberating, tragically indescribable perspective that comes from creating another person.”

Basically, if I become a parent, I will learn the secret of life and humanity.

Sarah believes we can still be happy without children because we are so “adaptable” as humans. Well, Sarah, we can still be happy without children (if we chose this) because we are living the lives that we want. We do not need your pity or assumptions about the lack of greatness in our lives. Just as you do not need ours. It’s dangerous to assume that what one person perceives as “living a great life” is identical to someone else’s perception of greatness. We all have different desires, needs, and perceptions.

Amy Glass only serves to add to the extremely fallible assumptions surrounding this topic by judging women who choose to be wives and mothers. She maintains that it is no big feat or accomplishment because “anybody can do it.” Actually, there are LGBT people all over the world who are fighting for their right to celebrate their love by entering into the union of marriage. And there are countless couples visiting fertility clinics and adoption agencies in order to fulfill their dreams of being parents. So no, not everybody can do it.

Feminism is about women’s rights. We have the right to choose what path is best for us without having to endure pressure and judgment. You have the right to choose marriage, procreation, or both. And I have the right not to. This shouldn’t make us enemies attempting to slash the validity of each other’s lives through the harshness of words. Instead of vilifying each other, we should be celebrating our ability to fashion a life that we are happy and proud to live. We should encourage each other and respect the difficulty and greatness in both lifestyles.

Have any of you chosen to forgo marriage, children, or both? What experiences have you encountered?

  • I hadn’t read either of those articles so thanks for linking up!

    It’s a pretty interesting debate and I think what it comes down to, like you’ve pointed out, is what works best for the individual (or couple).

    • You’re welcome! I think it’s interesting to see different sides of the issue, but ultimately it’s a very personal decision. Thanks for reading, Emily! 🙂

  • kathy @ vodka and soda

    in my opinion, you will be judged no matter what you decide. i have a kid and married yet i’m called ‘selfish’ because i only have 1 child and will not have anymore.

    then there are those who have multiple kids and are called irresponsible because it’s not fair to the other kids who don’t have the parents’ full attention.

    so, you’re selfish if you don’t have kids or have one kid or have multiple kids. WHICH ONE IS IT, HIGH AND MIGHTY ASSHOLES OF THE WORLD?!

    to all of those who pass judgement on others for their choices yet have never walked in their shoes or know what things are like behind closed doors, i say GO SUCK A FAT ONE.

    • I agree people will ALWAYS judge. And that’s just crazy! People need to realize that all decisions are okay – to have children, not to have children, to only have 1, or to have many. Since when is there an EXACT amount of children that you are supposed to have? And if you aren’t living my life, why do you care if I procreate? 🙂

  • Meeeee!

    Well said. If people want to have kids, they should have them. If people don’t want kids, they should not have them. There are too many people in this world who have kids they don’t want – people who are honest enough to admit it and forgo parenthood are doing the right thing.

    And you’re right, having kids because you want them is just as “selfish” as not having kids because you don’t want them. Maybe some day we will all learn to get along and not judge one another for making different choices, eh? : )

    • Thanks! I hope that one day we can all learn to support different choices instead of merely assigning them as the wrong choice.

  • i think everyone is entitled to their own life and own wants, for her to judge others is just ridiculous. she needs to take a step back and have a look see in the mirror! i dont have kids and that doesn’t make us bad people! great post!

  • Thanks for finding me so that I could find you! You wrote a great post, and I couldn’t agree more.
    All the judging from both sides is so damaging: I wish people would try to be more accepting of others. It seems that people like to force their idea of what is right onto others so they feel their lifestyle is validated. Maybe deep down they are insecure? Either way, it is sad.
    If you are interested in more blogs about childfree living, Mariah from http://www.foodboozeandbaggage.com/ compiled a list: http://www.foodboozeandbaggage.com/2014/01/24/want-more-on-being-childfree/

    • That’s a great point. Perhaps, it is stemming from a sense of insecurity. Or perhaps they feel the need to “fix” all the wrong doers. Either way, it’s just not right. And thanks for the list of blogs! I will definitely check them out. 😀

  • I have written about not having kids out of choice.

    I get annoyed at the way of thinking that one must make a mini carbon copy of themselves in order to live a fulfilled life. I respect people who have children responsibly and when they are ready. However I find people that do not consider travel, working on a career, and spending time with my partner a “complete” life. It’s so engrained in society that ive must procreate to be normal.

    Wonderfully written post, and good point that extreme, disrespectful views on either sides way if thinking does no good.

    • Thanks! And I completely agree. Society has basically instilled a strong belief that ALL women (and men) should want to procreate. It is our ‘duty’ and our lives are not complete until we have done this. No, we are perfectly capable of living complete and full lives without procreating (if we choose).

  • As someone who’s spent the last 10 years desperately wanting kids then being ambivalent about it in cycles (which is still ongoing, aarrggh) I’m aware that each person’s choice is right – for them. I think the problem starts when someone suggests everyone else lives the same way as them or else they’re wrong. I say live and let live.

    • Hah! Yes, I know many people who have gone back and forth on the idea of kids. It’s a deeply personal choice that should be respected. 🙂 And let’s ‘live and let live!’

  • You already know my thoughts and feelings on the matter of children, but I do not judge others for their opinions. As for marriage, Mr R is my rock, as I am for him, he has supported me through difficult times as I have done for him. We would have done this without marriage, but we just felt like it was what we wanted to do. It hasn’t held either of us back in our plans, and neither would not being married. I think people make personal decisions for the right reasons, and they’re noone elses to judge.

    • I think it’s amazing that Mr. R is your rock, as I’m sure you are for him. It’s so nice to find someone that you can depend on, laugh with, and share your life with. And I agree everyone makes decisions based off of what is right for them and should not be judged. 🙂

  • I haven’t read the articles in question but I can guess at what they say and it comes down to the old damned if you and damned if you don’t! Me personally I am married with one child but that is my personal choice and what is right for me may not be right for someone else. I don’t hold with the attitude that as a woman you automatically want or feel the need to have children or that by not having them you are missing out.
    Deciding to have children means that your life changes forever and you have to be sure that it is the right decision and only you know what is right for you.
    Before we judge others maybe we should look at our own lives first and lay them open for judgement after all none of us are perfect! x

    • I love your attitude, Nikki! We aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t act like we are by judging others. 🙂

  • I couldn´t agree more with you! I´ve chosen a life without husband and kids. My best friend is a wife and mother and I couldn´t be happier for her ´cause that´s what she wanted, but I know it´s not the life for me.
    I´m tired of people calling me selfish for not wanting kids. I don´t have much maternal instinct or care much for kids. Wouldn´t it be more selfish to have a kid then? So many people that shouldn´t be parents are having children anyway just because…
    Feminism is about being able to choose the life we want, not about deciding what everybody shoud do according to our own point of view.

    • Good for you for choosing what is right for you! That’s what feminism is all about. My best friends also want families. One of them wants tons of kids and I completely support her, but it’s still not the right choice for me. So I say forget all the people who are calling you selfish and live your life the way you want. 🙂

  • “I do believe in commitment, but I do not believe you need a paper to validate it.” Agree! “But isn’t choosing to have children a selfish choice, as well? Don’t people decide to have children because they want to be parents?” 100% YES! “It’s dangerous to assume that what one person perceives as ‘living a great life’ is identical to someone else’s perception of greatness.” Seriously, no wiser words spoken! Love this post and agree with so much 🙂 Why on earth people think they have the right to judge your own personal, individual life choices is beyond me! x

    • Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 I appreciate your opinions and hope that people will also stop asking you about kids. We should really think up something witty and jaw dropping to respond with. Something like, “I’m waiting for these fertility drugs to kick in so that I can be the next Octomom.” or “My friend and I have a bet to see who can hold out the longest. Right now it’s a tie.”

  • Hi Lynsey! Stumbled across this post just today! I see Miriam kindly shared by page with you already but just wanted to let you know if you are interested at all, I’m happy to add you 🙂
    I’m on the married side with the no kid plan but there was a time when I thought that I would maybe never get married. You should do what is best for you and what fits your life. People 100% should mind their own business.

    • Hi Mariah! I’m so glad you found this post! 🙂 And I would love to be added to your list. I think it’s such a great idea to compile a list of bloggers without children. People seem to assume that having kids is just what we’re supposed to do, but you’re right. We have to do what is best for our lives. 🙂 I’ll be making sure to stay in touch with you and your blog! 😀

  • Jennifer

    Really appreciate your article! I am not childless by choice, but I certainly do NOT need to be pitied by someone who thinks my life is empty. I would have loved a child, but have found a very rich life with a spouse who is my soulmate, parents to whom I am close, and patients to whom I am committed. Volunteer work, sports, church, gardening, my dog and time with terrific friends rounds everything out. There are so many way to leave a positive footprint on the world and the community. Parenting is one way, for sure! But there are countless other ways.

    • I’m so glad that you enjoyed the article. And you make such a great point; there are so many ways to leave your mark on the world. There are so many other connections to be made with people, fur babies, and the community, while also nourishing a career or life goals. I’m so happy that you have built a rich life filled with all the people and things that you love. 🙂

  • I’m childless by choice (but it’s possible I would be childless even if it wasn’t by choice), and always get those comments “oh but you’ll change your mind when it’s your own kid” or “oh but it’s so special and you’re missing out” yada yada.
    I think this article has an important point: that none of us should pass judgment whether it’s pro or con having kids. I respect anyone who chooses to have children and I’m happy for them if that’s what they want. But I also want my own choices to be respected.

    • You are exactly right, Susanne! We should be happy for the lives people create, whether that be with or without children. And those of us who choose not to have children should still have our decisions respected and acknowledged instead of dismissed as a phase or some grand mistake we’ll regret. It’s simply a different path in life. I’m glad that you were able to choose your own path. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!