16 women on why they’re choosing to not have kids.

Last week, Treasurer Jim Chambers said "it would be better if birth rates were higher" in Australia. 

Many people called the comment insensitive or questioned who he was addressing when he said it. Chambers acknowledged that it's expensive to have children, but it goes so much deeper than that. 

Since we got our first periods, women have been asked whether or not we want kids. 

Watch: 8 toxic things parents say to their children. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

If we say we don't want them, we're always met with the same question: Why not? (A question that people still don't see as insensitive or personal.)

If someone says that they do want kids, they are never met with the same question. Instead they're congratulated or met with comments like "you'll be a great parent".

This is because their decision to have children is still deemed as the correct decision. It's the decision that's the norm and makes people excited and comfortable. 

The Treasurer is right in saying that children are expensive but that's not the sole reason why women choose not to have them. 


So I asked 16 women why they're choosing or have chosen to not to have children. Here's what they had to say... 

Lisa, 40.

"I knew from my late teens that I didn't want children of my own. 

20 years ago, the shock and dismissive nature of saying this out loud was very apparent. My reasons encapsulate genetics (breast cancer and heart disease impacted my parent's and grandparent's quality of life). I also wanted a big life and didn't want to sacrifice my one shot at life in this world. 


I knew I'd regret the freedom being taken away if I were to have kids as I'd want to give them the things that I didn't have in my childhood. Trauma plays a big part in the childless life decision."

Sandy, 47.

"Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I was adamant that I didn't want kids. I was not in a relationship, I was obsessed with my career and I moved house a lot and travelled often. As I got older, I started to wonder what it would be like to have a kid on my own. My secret plan was to take a holiday and come home to begin a solo fertility journey and try to have a bub of my own. 

It felt like something I should do because I wasn't sure what to do after 40! I started to get healthy for the holiday and went to the doctor to discuss a medical issue. Long story short... I was diagnosed with cancer (endometrial) and had a full hysterectomy, radiotherapy and chemo. 

It was quite a year. Now it's six years since my cancer diagnosis and the kid I thought about is a four-legged fur baby who is spoiled rotten and supremely loved. I can't regret it, because I can't change it. I'm happy with my life and have grand plans for the future. I think it has worked out well for me. I often feel on the outside of society as someone who didn't follow a traditional path. There is no category for a 40-something single child-free person."


Olivia, 32.

"I don't want to be a parent and have never felt the urge to have kids. I'm an eldest daughter so I feel like I've done my time with prams, nappies, listening to kid's toys/TV shows/music, etc. My husband and I enjoy our relaxing weekends together."

Chris, 45.

"1. I didn’t meet the right partner to have children with. At one point I was in a relationship with a man who wanted children but on his terms. He didn’t want to be a full-time dad so I would have to take time out from my career. Plus, he wanted to move back to his hometown in suburban Canada to start a family. I didn’t want to be having babies in a city where I knew no one and had no support network (apart from his family). 

2. I froze some of my eggs and briefly considered doing IVF on my own. The cost rules this out, plus, I didn’t get many eggs during the retrieval process so I quit that option early. 

3. Weighing up the situation financially, I wanted to have more options for my retirement so choosing not to have kids made way more sense. I’m not tied down to the place where they live and I don’t need to keep working while they are in full-time study. 

4. I am worried about the future of this planet and the fact that there are already eight billion people on Earth means there’s absolutely no chance of our world running out of kids anytime soon." 

Jess, 36.

"While I love kids, I just don't have the maternal desire to have my own.


The thought of being pregnant fills me with no joy and I love my life, and what I do. It would be really hard to manage childcare and I'm also single so it would be on my own. 

Then, environmentally, overall the planet is way too populated, and with the way the climate is going, I don't want to put added pressure on the future. I would love to do temp/respite foster care at some point, but I would need a job with more structured hours first."

Natalie, 41.

"I don’t want children and they deserve to be wanted. There are too many children brought into this world whose parents have not actively chosen to have them and I think that is selfish and cruel. 

Nothing about having children appeals to me and my husband of 20 years feels the same. I’ve been criticised by so many people over the last 20 years for this choice. While it is acceptable now, it definitely was not when we made the decision. Women in particular take such offence at this decision that has nothing to do with them. "

Jen, 35.

"My husband and I tried for children for a little while and I ended up miscarrying. It was quite a traumatic experience and at first, I realised I didn't want to be pregnant — something about the way my body felt turned me right off. After that, we talked a lot about our lives, the cost of living and the way the world is right now and ultimately decided we didn't feel comfortable bringing a little human into the world the way everything is right now. 


We're open to our minds changing in the future, but right now we love spending time together, having the freedom to travel, adventure and not worry too much. That's not to suggest that children wouldn't bring a different kind of happiness, but I don't feel like it's something that I long for."

Jane, 45.

"Neither my husband nor I had a strong desire to have children, but I also always seemed to struggle in life. Getting up for school, uni and then work always seemed to be much harder for me than my peers and I could never figure out how I would handle having a baby. 

I then started my own business and decided that I couldn't run a business and have a baby. 

About five years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar, which explains my struggles and I need downtime, which I would not get if I was a mother. 

My best friend has four kids and I can be a support network for her which I could not be if I had my own kids."

Tess, 38.

"To be honest, I’ve never wanted to have kids in my life and I’m glad I made that decision early on. 

Could be the whole eldest sister looking after a brother 10 years younger? Could be the whole pregnancy sucks thing? Could be that I strongly dislike my mother and so never wanted to be one? 

I've done years of therapy but kids are something that have never been part of my life plans. Every time I start a serious relationship, I make it clear to my partner that if he ever got me pregnant, we would go in for an abortion."


Natasha, 42.

"I fall into a weird, middle category, where my decision wasn't a decision made in isolation, but a result of the rest of my life. I probably would have had kids if I'd met someone I wanted to have kids with, but I didn't. I was always okay with the possibility of having kids or not having kids, I wasn't bound to either decision. 

I feel I ended up 'deciding' not to have kids, because if I had really wanted them, I would have tried to do it on my own and I never felt strongly enough about motherhood."

Sarah, 31.

"I have just never been interested! I like having plenty of time to myself and don’t want the responsibility of looking after another human. 

I want to do whatever I want whenever I want and spend my money enjoying my life. I have never seen a parent and thought that their lifestyle looked appealing. Having children just seems to make everything harder and I don’t think I would cope very well. 

I also don’t like being around children for long periods of time."

Diana, 42.

"I had no desire to have them and I enjoy my lifestyle too much and want to be selfish and do what I want when I want without putting someone else’s needs first."

Alison, 32.

"I feel like it’s too late for me, when I was younger I thought I had to have kids because that’s just what you do. My goal is to see the world and have money which I don’t think I could do with a kid. I don’t want to live my life for someone else, give up work and give up my travels. 


I do worry I will regret not having children and that no one will look after me when I’m old, but I think regretting not having them is better than regretting having them. I have felt my biological clock ticking lately but once I look at it realistically, I don’t want to be a mum."

Eve, 44.

"I always wanted children but unfortunately I never met a man to have a serious relationship with and thus I was never able to try. 

I didn’t have the money to try and do it on my own and when I was young, I didn’t want to bring a child into the world where they would have a poor childhood and I couldn’t give them a comfortable life. 

The cost of housing is a massive consideration and I would have had to go back to work when parental leave ended (if my employer offered it) and I didn’t want to put a baby in childcare full-time as a two-month-old. 

Not having a child is very painful for me and no one knows this or they don’t really care. All my friends partnered up and had kids and I have just been left behind. I tried to keep up my friendships but when they keep saying "no", you realise they catch up altogether with their kids/partners and leave you out and, well, you get the message."

Jaime, 35.

"I've been estranged from my mother since I was seven years old and grew up saying that I don't want children. My father encouraged this mindset (perhaps to shield me from questioning the trauma of our family breakup). 


I told my long-term partner who doesn't want kids that I don't either. I'm getting old now and I hope I don't regret it, but I also don't have the option, emotional tools or confidence to question this right now."

Alex, 40.

"To me, the idea of having children is like someone asking me if I want a full-time CEO job on top of my current role. For someone with ADHD who struggles with day-to-day life and tasks, this is overwhelming for me. 

I’ve always wanted to want them and wanted to feel ‘normal’, but the desire has never kicked in for me. However, I do like the idea of being a ‘dad’. Not having to carry a child or be the traditional caregiver. My husband is the one who gets up in the night for our sweet dogs. To add to this, we either have family far away or passed away, so if we have kids, we would also be isolated without family support."

If you want more culture opinions by Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

The women in this article are known to Mamamia, but their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Feature image: Canva.

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