Making the Decision Not to Have Children

The decision not to have children is a growing option in today's world. It's usually due to socioeconomic factors or informed pessimism.
Making the Decision Not to Have Children
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 30 January, 2022

Choosing whether or not to have children is completely a matter of personal choice. Neither decision is right or wrong.  After all, a child completely changes each member of a couple as well as their relationship together. For this reason, it’s a matter that only each person/couple can decide for themselves. Furthermore, they should always give it a great deal of thought and not allow themselves to be pressured in any way.

It should always be remembered that the decision not to have children is reversible, while the decision to have them isn’t. Indeed, a child can’t be erased from reality, no matter how much the parents decide to distance themselves from them or turn their backs on them. Therefore, it’s always more difficult to make the decision to bring a new life into the world.

A child provides feelings that no other bond arouses so deeply. They’re also a lifelong commitment if you intend to be good parents. Nevertheless, not everyone feels ready for such deep experiences with another human being so, for them, the decision not to have children is the right one.

“Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child anymore than anyone with vocal chords has to be an opera singer.”

-Gloria Steinem-

Couple talking in the living room

The decision not to have children is perfectly acceptable

Until recently, there was a strong taboo centred around the decision of not to have children. In the case of men, it tended to be associated with disability. While women were seen as selfish or extremely cold.

Today, although the number of couples who have children continues to be higher, the number of those who decide not to have them is also increasing. In fact, there’s now a great deal more freedom surrounding these kinds of decisions. Because it’s no longer considered that procreation is an obligation in the life of every ‘normal’ person.

As we mentioned earlier, the choice of whether to not to have children is a personal one. However, some people may take the decision not to have them because they don’t want to bring a child into a world with increasingly hostile conditions. In addition, overpopulation intends to make us, as a species, to lean toward the options that best guarantee our survival.

Economical reasons

One of the motivations behind making the decision not to have children is the economic situation of the individual/couple. Research suggests that those who are most resistant to procreation are men from the most disadvantaged classes and women from the middle and upper classes who are professionally successful.

In both of the above cases, the central factor in the decision is based on economic conditions. In the first instance, it’s because the financial circumstances of the men don’t allow them to meet the commitments that having a child implies. For example, basic aspects like food or education. On the other hand, in the case of the women, it’s because their careers are absorbing and rewarding enough to the extent of there being no room for anything else in their lives.

However, it’s striking that low-income women aren’t as reticent about having children as those from the wealthier classes. Probably, for them, a child replaces the satisfaction they don’t find in their economic activities. Furthermore, perhaps they don’t feel that a child represents such a big change to their lives, hence will not be so demanding.

couple talking

Pessimism

The decision not to have children is also extremely typical of those who view the future pessimistically. This isn’t necessarily a neurotic response to reality. It’s often due to an objective assessment of many factors that weigh on humanity today. As a matter of fact, there are so many latent threats in today’s world that it’s rather difficult to look to the future with hope.

One of the indicators that a society sees the future in a positive way is the increase in births. This has happened in many countries after their reconstruction. For example, after the Second World War, there was the famous baby boom. Those were times when a new dawn could be seen on the horizon, and people were willing to bet on the future.

However, today, almost the opposite is happening. The news tells us about crises, deterioration, and decadence. We navigate, on a daily basis, a sea of uncertainty, and negative changes continually take us by surprise. In fact, the world today is the ideal breeding ground for reasonable pessimism.

Nevertheless, the most important factor in the decision not to have children is a deep and healthy reflection. The same goes for those who decide to start a family. Because children must always be the fruit of desire, of a decision taken with both the head and the heart.

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My Partner Doesn’t Want to Have Children: What Can I Do?
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My Partner Doesn’t Want to Have Children: What Can I Do?

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  • Alizade, A. M. (1998). El deseo de no tener hijos. In La mujer sola: ensayo sobre la dama andante en Occidente (pp. 177-179).
  • Urquidi, V. (2005). Perspectiva de la población mundial. Estudios demográficos y urbanos, 20(1), 9-21. http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0186-72102005000100009

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.