6 Women on Why They Don't Want to Have Children

6 Women on Why They Don't Want to Have Children

From a very young age, some women are children inclined—they play with dolls, play pretend mummy, have names picked out for their kids and imagine themselves in that role. That was not me. I didn’t think much about having children, but at the same time, I don’t think I ever considered the possibility of not having a family with kids. And now, having prepared myself for it and fully certain—raising my son has to be the most beautiful thing. It’s such a privilege and an utmost honour.

In a recent conversation with a friend, a first time mum to a gorgeous toddler, she said and I paraphrase “I love this child so much—much more than I could ever imagine. But sometimes I wonder. Did I really want kids or is it something I did because society expects.”

In this feature, 6 women share why they’re pretty certain kids are not for them! And they answer some pressing questions. Is it selfish to not want kids? What happens to you in old age? What are the underlying reasons or fears? Will they take permanent avoidance measures? What if their partners want kids?

For names with an asterisk (*), real names have been changed to protect these women’s privacy.

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Lade, 22

On realising she didn’t want kids

I can't remember when exactly I decided I didn't want kids, but I'd say about five years ago. I love kids, I just decided I didn't want to be responsible for another human being for the rest of my life. Another reason is because I couldn't think of any reasons for wanting children except to dress them up in cute clothing and costumes and record all the cute things they do for social media, and so I can experience pregnancy and do a cute pregnancy shoot. And then the more selfish, “who will take care of me when I'm older.”

But no matter what anyone says—based on what I've read and seen—having children affects women's lives and work in ways that can build resentment. I want to be able to do things without worrying about whether I'm ruining my child's life by doing it. I just realised I couldn't think of any reasons why I'd want to have children. Maybe I'll change my mind in future, maybe I won't, but right now, I'm 100 percent sure I don't want children.

How her childhood influences her decision

I feel like in my short life, I’ve looked after more than enough children. Growing up, somehow, people were always leaving their kids with us, and eventually, just me, to look after for a few days, a week, two weeks, intermittently. I call one of my cousins my first child because I practically took care of her for the first two years of her life. Now, I'd be happy to babysit only for a couple of hours, two days, or a week depending on the age of the child.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

I'm not worried about diaper changes and the day to day of taking care of babies—been there, done that. I've read too many pregnancy and labour horror stories and the things pregnancy does to your body. But the thing that concerns me the most is the responsibility of someone's entire life being dependent on you. Things could go wrong, or they could go right, and none of that is in your control. My greatest fear about having kids is ruining their lives.

Also, I think the world is mostly a terrible place and I don't want to bring someone else into it.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

I'm not averse to a hysterectomy. I've actually thought of doing it. But everyone says I'm too young to make such a decision, because what if I regret it? My thought is if I do it and later regret it, it's just something I'll have to live with. There are other ways to have children besides birthing them yourself.

If she found out she was pregnant…

I honestly don't know what I would do if I found out I was pregnant.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

If I change my mind about having kids, it probably won't be just because of a man. It'd be because something has changed in my thinking and I now feel differently about the topic. I also don't believe in the idea that there is one perfect person for you in the world so there's that.

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

Almost every reason I've heard for wanting to have children is selfish. Some of the reasons I don't want to have children are selfish. At the end of the day, they're both selfish decisions.

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

I'm not sure my dad knows. He'll probably think I need deliverance. My mum knows, but I don't think she entirely believes me.

On looking forward to other things in life

I think there's a lot to look forward to in life. There's friends, there's work. People have children and have great lives. People don't have children and have great lives. People have children and have lives that suck. People don't have children and have lives that suck. You're never really sure how your life will turn out.

If assured of the "perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

Probably not.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

I sometimes think about this, but having kids is no guarantee that they'd take care of you in old age. Even if they outlive you. On the flip side, what if they die before you? (you might say God forbid, but it happens). There are no guarantees in life.


Atoke, 37

On realising she didn’t want kids

I’ve never had that ooey cooey feeling!  How convinced am I on a scale of 1-10? 17!

There are a lot of children in the world already; I don’t need to add to the census.

How her childhood influences her decision

Oh yes! My childhood definitely does. I believe my parents should just have been missionaries. But they chose to be both parents and missionaries, which led to an emotional disconnect between them and their biological kids. I believe you can do good for the world without bringing children into the world.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

Children don’t remain babies forever and it’s not pregnancy or labour per se—there’s always adoption. But the whole thing about a whole human who did not ask to be here being my duty. What if I mess things up and they end up resenting me for the next 50 years?

It’s not a fear. I don’t see myself as anyone’s mom. I love taking care of people – young and old, but I don’t see myself as being responsible for training someone to be a whole person from infancy. Worry about you not drowning during swimming practice, worry about you not having developmental issues, worry about having to ensure you learn Yoruba even though we’re in Canada, worry about whether you’ll be bullied, worry about whether I’m making the right choices for you, worry about whether I’m doing all that’s right by you? Ah! It’s a bit much o.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

I will have a hysterectomy only if the doctors say something in the plumbing system is trying to kill me. I’m not ready to go into early menopause. So, yeah, if I’m having sex, the active step I’ll take is to ensure there is no dumping of spermatozoa inside my canal.

If she found out she was pregnant...

I won’t ‘find’ myself pregnant. I’m a serious advocate of “bag it up,” because a child is the best thing that can come out of unprotected sex. Herpes, Hepatitis B/C, HIV – all incurable. Anyway, where condoms and other forms of birth control fail, I’m pro-choice.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

This has come up a lot in my conversations with my friends and I’ve always told them that if I meet a man who absolutely wants kids and he’s willing to fully parent that child, I’m open to co-parenting. But that love must be stronger than what I don’t know. Because I’m 37, very independent, and jaded about men, life, and anything outside of my control. I don’t know that this will happen. If it does, c’est la vie.

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

This is a very difficult question to answer—not because I don’t have a view, but because I can’t speak for the entire world. I know that having children is a choice, and it is one to be made after full consideration. When the child gets here, they are your responsibility, and if you screw up, that’s it— you’ve ruined someone else’s life. Someone who didn’t ask to be born. A lot of times, there’s the social/cultural expectation to check having kids off a box, meanwhile you’re not in the mental, emotional, or financial state to even start a family. That’s where things are completely wrong.

It’s not selfish to not want kids, because at the end of the day, you have to be a full-formed and fully realized human being before you take that leap of procreation. You have to be selfish to an extent; self-care is important in life. If you’re “selflessly” having kids, who’s gonna take care of them? Next thing the child is incarcerated at 15 and you’re driving 45 miles to visit a child in prison. Biko, be selfish and don’t procreate.

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

We’ve not sat to have a meeting about it, so it’s not something that I’ve had a chance to hear their opinion. It really is immaterial. I live on a whole other continent from my family, so there’s really no contact that gives rise to undue pressure.

My friends and I are super close—they love me, and we have very judgement-free relationships. It has never come up. Plus I love their kids as mine and hope to be in their lives as they grow older. I’m going to be that super cool aunty who is rich, accomplished, and all that.

On her other life passions

Women; working hard to ensure that women are educated and empowered. To ensure rape and sexual assault is eradicated. I want to live a life where Nigerian women are free of psychological and socio-economic shackles. I want young girls to go to school, to be smart, and happy. To live free. I want to help women grow to their full potential and they don’t have to be related to me by blood. I don’t feel that intense need to replicate myself. Hell no. I want to write about women’s rights, to effect positive change for women —particularly victims of sexual assault. What’s more important than having children for me? A tribe of emancipated women!

If assured of the "perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

It’s not even about perfection. I have nieces and nephews that I absolutely adore. They’re enough for me. I don’t need a biological child to feel maternal or have an intense need to nurture.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

When I was growing up, my dad always used to say he didn’t expect us to take care of him in his old age. My parents have set up their lives to live as independently as possible; it’s doable. I’m not an accessory or a retirement plan for them, so I absolutely don’t worry that the absence of a child to take care of me will be an issue. On that I’m super confident. I’m working right now so I’ll have the money to afford any kind of extended health care. Also, I live in a country with a very good social welfare system for old people. I don’t need an offspring for that.


Ada*, 32

On realising she didn’t want kids

I have known for over 14 years that I was uncertain about children but the realisation has dawned on me in the past couple of years. On a scale of 1-10, I fluctuate between a 6 or 7. There are many reasons why I don’t want kids. First, my biological clock must be on mute, because I've never heard it ticking. I haven't got a problem with children and love my friends’ and family's kids. I have simply never been personally drawn to them—kids sort of scare me.

How her childhood influences her decision

When I was younger I imagined having children but not in much detail. It was rehearsed rhetoric and the perpetuation of an ideology that women are sold.  

Life experiences perhaps—but not my childhood— may have influenced my choice. I've suffered with depression at various points in life, plus had some terrible experiences and I would hate to bring a child into the world who could potentially feel the same as I have at certain points. If anything, my childhood was lovely, so sometimes I wonder if I could give that to a child.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

Failing a child. As a parent you can only do so much. What the world does to individuals, you have no control over. The prospect of pregnancy itself does not fill me with glee, but it's something women have been coping with since the beginning of time, so if I changed my mind and wanted a child, I'm sure I would cope. I never think about nappy changes or anything to do with the baby stages. The part I like is when children are old enough to communicate. Anything before that is filled with uncertainty for me.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

No. I think people are entitled to change their minds, and as long as I am not 100 percent certain of my decision, I would not take permanent action.

If she found out she was pregnant...

Honestly, I have no idea as my faith and personal beliefs conflict here. I would see how I feel if the situation arose and talk about it with my husband, but I do believe children are a blessing.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

I would have a child—unequivocally. Subconsciously I always dated men who loved children and couldn't wait to be fathers. I think I did it because I knew I didn't feel that way and I wanted to be "normal." The only man I've ever dated who feels like I do about kids, I married! So much for my subconscious.

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

I don't think it's selfish at all not to want kids, and in most cases, having kids is definitely for the parents gain. Some people don't want children for selfish reasons such as not wanting to consider another person’s feelings, disrupt their life, drain their finances or stretch their nerves. However, I think being insistent on having a child with your DNA, to pass on your legacy and look like you (those are some of the arguments I've heard for having a child) is pretty selfish and somewhat narcissistic. If someone’s reasons are to shape a young mind or give a child a beautiful life, I'd find that far less selfish and would also suggest adoption (in addition to having biological children).

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

I've only started talking about it recently—at least with my parents anyway. They were extremely shocked. I still don't think they've come to terms with it actually. They still think we will have children. Perhaps we'll change our minds but for now, we're fine being just the two of us. I don't speak to aunties and uncles about it because I know they won't understand (I'm West African). Some friends understand and feel the same while others don't get it at all. People should do whatever works for them.

On her other life passions

I look forward to leaving a legacy. Contrary to popular belief and the assertion of the woman who harassed me this week because I was honest and told her I'm not sure about children, children are not the only way to leave your mark on the world. I love helping people and want to impact the lives of others. I have lots of dreams and ideas I look forward to fulfilling with my husband while traveling the world.

People assume that the lack of a child must mean that something is missing from your life. When you're married and don't have children, they think something is wrong with you—which is both insensitive for those who are navigating fertility issues and insulting to those who have made a personal choice. Not everyone needs a child to validate (or enhance) their experience on earth. When discussing this topic, I never speak in absolutes because I am well aware that I could change my mind one day, but as I mentioned earlier, I am yet to hear my biological clock ticking so we shall wait and see.

If assured of the "perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

Yes, I would reconsider. If I knew we'd have a "perfect child" —and by perfect I mean sleeps through the night, hits all of the expected milestones, is super cute, has great manners, is as intelligent as my husband and creative as me, then sure! And that response is born of laziness and vanity, I suppose. That said, I think too many people have children as fashion accessories to parade on social media and I'm in no rush to jump on that bandwagon. But who knows how I'll feel if the time ever comes? I may change my mind and end up doing the same.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

I have no worries about who will care for us in old age. Do nuns and priests worry about such things? Or better still, would you ask someone unable to have children such a question?


Ebun, 23

On realising she didn’t want kids

It happened as I got older and wiser and my siblings increased from 1 to 3. On a scale of 1-10, my conviction is an 8. The whole process of childbirth, parenting, and the stress that comes with raising kids especially in this crazy world is just overwhelming. I can't stand whining kids either and once you have them you can't give them back.

How her childhood influences her decision

Having more siblings and being the first child came with its responsibilities. My mom also didn't want to have kids but ended up with 4, and as much as I love my siblings it's stressful having to cater for them.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

All of it really, but I think I'm more worried about raising them than pregnancy itself. Let's not even talk about things like postpartum depression as well.

My greatest fear is having a kid who wouldn't share that mother-child bond with me. Another thing I'm afraid of is having a kid with a disability. I don't know how parents do it but they deserve all the accolades.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

I wouldn't go as far as taking out my womb, but I would consider contraceptives and other options available.

If she found out she was pregnant...

If I ever found myself pregnant, I'd have the kid and try not to have another. Kids are indeed gifts from God.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

This is one thing I don't like to think about. We just might have to reach a compromise. Perhaps I'll have one kid and he has to be 100 percent available for them.

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

I don't think it's selfish at all. I'm contributing my quota to reduce the world's population. It's a personal choice and no one should be judged for that.

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

My mom is cool with the idea but she's doubtful that my future spouse will be cool with it. My friends think I'm crazy when I say this but it's what I want and hope to do.

On her other life passions

There are a thousand and one things I'd love to achieve asides earning the title of "mum." My spiritual life and creative side are two things of utmost importance to me. Marriage isn't even on my mind yet but it's on the list. Travelling, gaining exposure, building my brand, and living a meaningful life according to God's standards are some other things I consider more important.

If assured of the "perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

Hm, perfect child. Well if this existed, why not? My workload would definitely be reduced and I wouldn't mind having two or more depending on the economic situation.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

This doesn't bother me. I believe I'll be fine by God's grace. Kids shouldn't be a retirement plan for parents and I don't see having them as mostly for the parent's gain. I know older couples who don't have kids and are doing great. Even those who have kids don't have them around when they get old. So no worries here.


Niki, 25

On realising she didn’t want kids

Today, I'd say my desire to not have kids is a strong eight and a half out of ten, where for years it has been a strong ten. The change has come from considering fostering or adoption more than it stems from wanting to reproduce naturally.

I do not remember ever being enamoured with the idea of having kids—I only began thinking about it when I became aware of children in welfare systems. Understanding how much the system is not always able to support Black children has me considering perhaps being a form of support for at least one child in my lifetime.

How her childhood influences her decision

My parents only separated much later in life and I had a wonderful example of care in my mother so I don’t think this affected my wanting children.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

A part of me is afraid of the responsibility of bringing someone into this world and moulding them— making decisions you hope positively impact how they turn out, whilst also knowing that you cannot guarantee that serving love will mean creating someone who will live a life reflecting love.

There also is a diasporic issue I have begun to really think about in the last year. I had the privilege of growing up in Nigeria where for the most part, everyone looked like me and race and racism did not impact how I saw myself. Living now in the UK and thinking about raising kids here, I am conscious that I have no frame of reference for teaching children about being Black at a young age and I also do not have the desire to. In my ideal world, I'd want my child to be raised in a country where they aren't called a “minority” before they are called their own name but I know that I am not willing to make Nigeria home again so I am at a crossroads on this one.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

I have considered tying my tubes. Maybe in a few years when it won't be that much of a fight to get doctors to agree. Dating is on the back burner for me more because work takes precedence, so I am not having to face conversations around children with potential partners just as yet.

I used to be extremely pro-life. Now I cannot confidently say that so, I am choosing to practice celibacy.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

I am very upfront about the likelihood of my never wanting kids. I am also aware that people change, so making such a huge decision to keep someone who I think is “the one” wouldn’t be smart because my dream person, should accept me for who I am. 

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

I do not think it is selfish not to want children, as bringing someone into the world is a pretty permanent decision. It is one of the only decisions we make in life that we can never take back. You cannot un-bring a child into this world— so, no, it is not selfish not to want children.

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

Most people think I will change my mind, partly because I am very “motherly” to a lot of friends. But empathy does not a parent make.

On her other life passions

I want to spend my life writing and travelling for research. This is likely going to be a highly solitary journey. I also cannot wait to have my own space— “a room of my own,” but on a larger scale.

If assured of the “perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

The “perfect child” is a cute idea but still costs a great deal of time, money, and emotional labour. The “perfect child” deserves the perfect parent and that's too much pressure.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

I am currently building a wonderful community of friends I think will make life very interesting. It's useless to worry about old age because life is very unpredictable and having children doesn't mean having care in old age.


Jumoke*, 23

On realising she didn’t want kids

I realized I didn’t want kids about 3 or 4 years ago. Before then, it was always something I was indifferent about. The last time I remember wanting kids— just under the age of 14— I just “wanted” it because I thought of it as something I had to do.

Being raised Nigerian, we’re subconsciously trained to believe that life as women should be education –> marriage –> children. I think that’s why people, especially Africans/Nigerians find it so jarring when someone says they don’t want children.

I’m honestly at a 10, with regards to my conviction.

How her childhood influences her decision

My childhood didn’t play a role in this. I had a nice childhood; present parents who did their best to make me feel loved and wanted. In hindsight, I think my mother could’ve done without children. She’s very much an introvert, and she loved being by herself in the kitchen.

She’d shoo me away and just spend time by herself. She liked to read, and every now and again would tell us she needed “me-time” and wasn’t born for us (her kids) alone. Now, as an adult, I understand and respect her feelings completely.

What about having kids or raising children worries her

This is a funny question, because nothing about having kids “worries” me. I’m not afraid of pregnancy, childbirth, or diaper changes— I’ve changed a few diapers in my lifetime. For me, I want a life without that level of responsibility. Children are emotionally, physically, and financially demanding. It’s scary that in this 21st century, many people don’t think about any of those demands before having kids.

People still believe if you have children, God will take care of them for you. I love children; I think they’re adorable and can teach you patience, love, forgiveness, and many other great things. I just don’t think I need to have them to gain those benefits.

Children to me, are like that hairstyle you love on your friend, but would never do for yourself. I can be around babies, children, and even teenagers without being a parent. Frankly, I like the role of cool aunt more.

Would she have a hysterectomy or tie her tubes?

Birth control. I’m not repulsed by the thought of having children to the extent of discarding my reproductive organs. I appreciate having all my bodily organs, and wouldn’t put myself under general anaesthesia to avoid having kids.

I am concerned about finding birth control that works without too many mood side effects. Thankfully, I don’t care about certain side effects like your period never returning or fertility being permanently affected by birth control. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

If she found out she was pregnant...

I’d have the baby and I’m sure I’d love it and raise it the best way I can. It’s just not my first choice to have one.

What she wishes people understood

I’m not afraid of it. I just don’t want it. It’s so difficult for people to understand, but I don’t feel inadequate— I’m not scared of raising a child. I read parenting books for fun and I love discussing parenting techniques with my friends who have kids.

I just find the idea of having kids a massive inconvenience. I have friends who didn’t want kids and ended up with one “oops baby.” They love the kid to death, but still occasionally mention how much of an inconvenience it is, and the baby is still in the cute ages.

People need to understand— like every other life choice— people want kids or don’t. Some people want to go to university, others don’t. It’s the same. I don’t want the inconvenience of putting aside money for a college fund, or taking a sick baby to the ER.

I’m hypersensitive to noise and kids love screaming. I’ve babysat up to four kids at once—kids I know and ADORE— bathed, fed, clothed, and entertained them all and it was really cute and fun, but I was glad to go home to my quiet, clean house. My house without the screaming and sticky floors.

Of course, kids grow up, but I’ve also spent time with elementary school and secondary school kids and I haven’t met a single one I’d like to parent on a permanent basis. You can’t give kids back when they’re yours. You also can’t make them into what you want; you can guide them, but children come pre-loaded with many settings no parent can overturn.

What if her ideal partner (in every other way) wanted kids?

If a man wanted kids, he wouldn’t be my ideal man. I’ve turned down someone I really liked because we just weren’t on the same page. I don’t even pursue relationships with people who hint at wanting kids or hoping I’ll change my mind—it’s too important to me to have a spouse who’s on the same page.

On the idea that not having kids is “selfish”

I think it’s selfish either way. It’s selfish to want kids and selfish not to. People have children for themselves. It’s not some grand, selfless act to grow the population. It’s to see and hold the physical products of their love, or to have someone to care for them when they’re old.

I choose not to because I want a different kind of life. I’m not sorry about that.

How her parents and friends feel about her choice

Most of my friends don’t care. Many of them don’t have kids, and a few who have kids, think I’ve made a good choice, funny enough. A few friends have been initially shocked and then moved on with their lives.

I haven’t told my parents. I plan to ease them into it.

On her other life passions

Life. Growing spiritually, meeting people, falling in love, and building a relationship I’m proud of. Doing work I love and being able to pick up and go on any adventure whenever I can. I’m not even in a relationship yet, and my life is so full and satisfying, I barely have time to miss being in a relationship.

I think also in the last five years or so, seeing couples who’ve been married for ten, twenty, and even thirty years without kids live happy, exciting lives has solidified my views. Most people think a marriage without kids is “boring” – far from it! You just need new friends to see life differently (if you want to, of course).

If assured of the "perfect” child from childhood to adulthood, would she reconsider?

Nope. A perfect child still costs time and money. Nothing but an unexpected pregnancy would make me reconsider. Not in this world at least.

Worries about who will care for her in "old age"?

I plan to invest in an excellent pension plan, and I’m not afraid of assisted living facilities, if it comes down to it. My aunt has never been married and has no kids, but she has more people around her everyday than my mother does. So it always makes me chuckle when people think having kids equals a guaranteed caretaker in old age.

Children aren’t a foolproof pension plan. I’m grateful to all those who have squishy babies, because I love a good cuddle, but every day I come home to a quiet house from that ruckus, I thank God for the quiet.

It’s okay to want what you want, and for everyone who isn’t quite sure, that’s okay too. It’s okay to wake up at 35 and change your mind, but for goodness sake, let people live. I’ve started turning the question around to more people who ask me why I don’t want kids, so I’ll ask you if you’re reading— why do you want kids?

Half the time, they have no idea why.


There’s definitely some arguments on here—but whatever you think, I know it’s best to be sure of your choices and not end up miserable. There’s also a million other ways to leave a legacy or impact and I do believe that not everyone is cut out to have kids.

Where do you fall? Why or why not?

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