“I came to embrace childfree-ness over time.”

RJ, 45, USA

I envy people who have always known they wanted to be childfree; there’s a freedom in that, in and of itself. I came to embrace childfree-ness over time.

When I was young, I thought I wanted many children. It’s something I talked about with my cousins. I’ve always been sort of ‘maternal’ towards others, even if I was younger than them. It could’ve been the influence of growing up in a very traditional, religiously-inclined Latina family and learning it’s what was expected.

As I reached my late teens-early 20s, I started to process the abandonment I experienced by my biological father coupled with the realization of how challenging it was for my mother to raise me alone with little help. I realized I didn’t want to pass down the mental illness and emotional toxic illness that unfortunately runs in my family.

I had continuously dated men who showed they were not interested in true partnership and I did not want to raise a child alone. I inventoried the world around me and saw a lot I did not want to bring an innocent child into. I learned that chosen families exist and can be as beautiful and loving and provide a different source of love and sense of family. I learned to enjoy the freedom of living my daily life on my own time.

This is all to say, I didn’t always know I wanted to be childfree, I was slowly enlightened to it.

I still have moments of wondering what it will mean later in life. My mom passed away in 2020 and one of my siblings and I were largely her caretakers in the years leading up to her passing. Experiences like that inevitably make one think about their own time later in life. But if the only reason a person is having children is to be cared for later in life, I actually can’t fathom how selfish that is, even if it is a human inclination; we all want to be cared for.

I know that I was not meant to have children and I have no regrets. I also think it’s made me a better friend because you learn how to take care of your chosen family. I love my friends with kids but they use having children as excuses for being unsupportive and out of touch. And it still surprises me the ways in which people, including random strangers, feel like it’s ok to ask if I have children, why I don’t, and assure me, ‘I still have time’. The look of pity is really insulting.

I love that this community exists now and I hope it continues to expand. Mostly, it would be wonderful if people simply stopped judging and just embraced everyone’s choices.