READER REPORT:

'I just don't like kids'

AMY OAKES
Last updated 11:30 10/12/2013

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Choosing not to have children

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It wasn't really until my previous boyfriend started to pressure me to settle down, marry and have children, that I realised that I never wanted to.

I'm turning 30 soon, I'm in a really happy relationship, I have an exciting, rewarding career, and a fun, exciting social life. I love my life just as it is.

My sister has two cute kids, and they're nice enough, but I don't enjoy being round them much. They are sticky, smelly and pretty annoying, as much as I love them - they are my niece and nephew after all. When they are older I'll enjoy being an aunty when I visit, but it's nice to walk away to my child-free life.

The benefits of being child-free are obvious. I don't need to list them here. People who have kids and people who don't have kids are 100 per cent aware of those things. What it comes down to is that many people assume that a person without children can never truly be satisfied, or can never truly experience life in a fulfilling sense.

I don't believe that is true.  That's like saying a person is not a complete, well-rounded individual unless they've backpacked round Europe. As fun as that might be, I'm still a well rounded, satisfied individual without having been to Europe, or having squeezed out some offspring.

Having kids is just a choice in life, but it's one of the biggest, most expensive, all-consuming choices a person (especially a woman) can make. As women we have to make that choice sooner rather than later, as our biological clocks tick away.

But once you have children you can't un-have them, no matter how much you might like to. A rash decision to get pregnant due to a fear of missing out, or a fear of running out of time, could be a mistake you secretly regret for the rest of your life.

Statistically I read that people with children are more likely to be depressed than people without. I also read that regretting one's children is quite common, but it's a feeling that is almost impossible to express to anyone in any circumstance, without seeming like a bad parent, or mortally offending your child.

I am thankful that I live in an age where I am able to have the choice to have or not have children. I am saddened to hear stories from my grandma's generation of despair with each pregnancy, of attempted abortions and suicides, due to constant unwanted pregnancies. Or from my mum's generation, feeling like they could have achieved so much more, become someone, not just someone's mum.

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Every parent loves their child, once they've had it, and would never take it back. I understand why people get so defensive of their choice to have had them. It's an unconditional love. But that doesn't preclude deep regrets.

I believe there is more to achieve in life than reproduction. If you want them, that's fine, I understand why and accept your choice. But when someone tells you they don't want children, don't act so surprised, don't try to change their mind, don't assume they are sad, lonely and bitter, or that they "just haven't found the right man yet". Don't treat me as defective or deluded.

I'm making a selfish decision, but that decision is carefully considered and informed, which is more than can be said of most pregnancies.


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