Survey: women explain why they avoid having children

Is it OK to tell women they are wrong?
Are women today genuinely interested in marriage and children, or do they have other plans?

This article comes from the leftist Huffington Post.

They write:

The Huffington Post and YouGov asked 124 women why they choose to be childfree. Their motivations ranged from preferring their current lifestyles (64 percent) to prioritizing their careers (9 percent) — a.k.a. fairly universal things that have motivated men not to have children for centuries. To give insight into the complex, layered decisions women make, HuffPost asked childfree readers to discuss the reasons they have chosen not to have kids and gathered 270 responses here.

They grouped the responses into 5 categories:

  1. I want to prioritize my career
  2. I don’t like children
  3. I had a bad relationship with my parents
  4. I don’t want the financial responsibility
  5. I like my life as it is

And here are some of the ones that I thought were the most interesting, and pay attention to the ones that include fear-of-missing-out travel, which I blogged about before:

Category 1:

I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. My mother was a single mom my entire childhood, and I was there to see that struggle. Being a parent, for a woman, means for life. Being a parent, for men, seems to be something very different. I understand raising children is a big life change and I don’t want to sell myself short on my potential to become something more and maybe even create change. I am childfree because I want to travel, move, pursue my career wholly and be able to push myself to be an inspiration to other women. If a child comes into my life, it won’t be until I am happy and successful in my work life, and not until I am secure with my finances and a marriage. I don’t want to one day wake up as an old woman wishing I had waited to have children so I could live my own life first, make mistakes, learn new things and find myself. Today kids are not for me.

Category 2:

I’m nearly 47; my boyfriend (domestic partner) of 17 years is nearly 50. I’ve never been pregnant and have taken every precaution to remain childfree. I tolerate other people’s children when I have to. I’m happiest when there are NO children around. I definitely don’t want them in my home. I like my life as it is. My boyfriend and I are both scientists. We also raise snakes and spiders! We like to travel. We travel to ride roller coasters (members of ACE — American Coaster Enthusiasts) and to attend rock concerts. I am also a performer in a senior winter guard. My plate overfloweth! I see no reason to procreate. I would be unhappy. Why be unhappy?

Category 3:

I have a great relationship with my husband. We have the time and money to travel, and that gives us precious memories. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and maybe I’m scared to treat my children like that. I’m very happy with my decision. I have a great relationship with myself too.

Category 4:

My spouse and I have talked in depth about having children. However, we both decided that our desire to travel the world is a financial burden in itself. If we have kids, we will never have the means to travel, and at the end of our life, we would rather be 100 percent committed to fulfilling our own realistic dreams rather than only able to provide a subpar life for a child. Comes down to the fact we are selfish, but at least we recognize this and made the choice early enough to avoid damaging a kid

Category 5:

The thought of having to do kiddie crap every weekend makes me want to shoot myself. I like having the extra money to save for retirement and not worry about braces, summer camp or college tuition. I can travel on a moment’s notice. I can give my all to my job and not have to worry about daycare, sick days, or having to leave my co workers to pick up my slack. I’m the “cool aunt” to all my nieces and nephews. I have more time to do the things that make me happy and productive. My relationship with my guy is not strained due to the constant neediness of children. I don’t want to put my body through pregnancy and childbirth. I can give my dog all the attention he needs and deserves.

If I had to choose one comment to represent the entire survey, it would be this one:

The moment you have children, you’re life ceases to be about yourself. Kids always take priority and I feel like I can do more for this world than just generate offspring.

Or maybe this one:

I honestly feel too lazy. I haven’t achieved enough, and if I had a child I would “just be a mom,” which isn’t enough for me or what I want out of life.

I think this is the real reason why young, unmarried women choose not to prepare or plan for marriage and children . Marriage and children “some day” is like planning for your retirement by winning the lottery. Marriage and children “some day” is an excuse to signal to family and friends that you will eventually want the responsibility of a husband and kids, but that you are justified in being self-centered right now.

We need to move beyond a survey to quantify this, and this U.S. Census data does that:

Childless by choice, not because of men
Childless by choice, not because of men failing to “man up”

These quotations are very troubling if you are a young man who has been serious about obtaining STEM degrees, saving money by not traveling, and making a plan to have a marriage and family that will serve God. I am seeing real hostility in young, unmarried Christian women to the idea that marriage will impose responsibilities, expectations and obligations on them. And their parents, relatives, friends and co-workers are doing nothing to detect and counter this attitude. As Lindsay argued on this blog before, the marriage / children plan is an excellent way for Christians to make a difference. It will take a lot of work, but it makes much more of a difference for the kingdom than just doing whatever makes you feel happy.

A friend of mine named Bee commented on an early version of this post::

Sad to say this but many Christian voices are encouraging Christian women to travel, date around and delay marriage and childbirth. Here are several negative voices:

Mandy Hale is a Christian woman who is mid 30’s, never married and has wasted years in travel and bad relationships. She has a large twitter following. She promotes her travel oriented, feelings oriented lifestyle.

Christian counselor Stephen Arteburn tells of encouraging his daughter to travel and date around and not think about marriage until her late 20’s. Unfortunately, no one can flip a switch on their 28th birthday and quickly get married to a quality guy. Also, late marriage for women means having more than 1 or 2 children is risky.

[…]Bskillet81 found evangelical american princesses (EAP) obsessed with travel, entitlement, feelings, and personal fulfillment.

I just read some of Mandy’s quotes from GoodReads and she is certifiably nuts.

16 thoughts on “Survey: women explain why they avoid having children”

  1. “I am seeing real hostility in young, unmarried Christian women to the idea that marriage will impose responsibilities, expectations and obligations on them.”

    Right, and then all the ones who, in their late twenties, start feeling the desire to to “settle down” wonder why they can’t find any quality guys.

    “Christian counselor Stephen Arteburn tells of encouraging his daughter to travel and date around and not think about marriage until her late 20’s. Unfortunately, no one can flip a switch on their 28th birthday and quickly get married to a quality guy. Also, late marriage for women means having more than 1 or 2 children is risky.”

    Right. Another problem is that implicitly, for most people, waiting until their late twenties to try to find anyone to marry means a lot of sleeping around in the meantime. (In theory this should never be the case for Christians, but in practice obviously the boundaries are a lot more fuzzy. Christianity Today suggests, “Indeed, over 90 percent of American adults experience sexual intercourse before marrying. The percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower. In a nationally representative study of young adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church-going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort.” ) As far as I can tell, women who have gotten used to sleeping around are less likely to be able to be attracted to a guy who hasn’t been—they will tend to perceive him as less manly or not interested in them—which probably creates a Catch-22 for a lot of these women: The only guys they’re interested in or attracted to any more are the kind who won’t marry them, settle down, or start a family; and the guys who would are the ones they’re not attracted to.

    Meanwhile those elusive “good guys” may not be so attracted to them any more, either. Why marry an older woman who’s been sleeping around for years when there are plenty of younger, less (ahem) well-traveled women to choose from?

    Even if our culture is going to be totally secular and self-centered, it could at least be honest with women and let them know that their physical attractiveness is not a fixed quantity, but more like a precious radioactive isotope, which diminishes with every passing year. They can do with that information what they will, but our society could at least let them have the information.

    1. Great comment, Chillingworth, and spot on. I would say that even if the woman is less traveled and older, a lot of the value that a woman brings to a marriage is in her youth and beauty. That’s one of the reasons men will sign up for marriage. When I tell young women that they have more bargaining power when they are younger, they seem to be so blinded by their own desires and needs that they cannot even conceive of the idea that men may have different desires and priorities. One thing for sure, it is universal among young, unmarried women that marriage is not something worthwhile to start on early (so that you can work on it more). Maybe this is a view that results from failed sexual relationships and cohabitation, though. They are not in a hurry to get started on the marriage plan in order to build it into something with a man. They don’t want a lot of children, they don’t want to pool finances to save money, they don’t want to close down their travel and party options.

      1. “. . . they seem to be so blinded by their own desires and needs that they cannot even conceive of the idea that men may have different desires and priorities.”

        Another timeless truth, unfortunately! Men and women don’t understand each other. It’s difficult for one even to imagine how different the other is, and in what fundamental ways.

        1. Actually, we older men understand far more about Western women (and the younger men are learning about Western women at a much younger age) much more than either Western culture and society (and even the women themselves) give us men credit.
          The number of we Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) is steadily increasing each year. The number of men going to college is steadily dropping each year (which the feminists applaud, BTW) as men become increasingly aware that a man on today’s campuses is walking around with a bulls-eye on his back, the potential target of false accusations for any coed with a misandric axe to grind.
          Another man who refuses to marry is also another man who can’t be divorce-robbed of his property, his income, and the legal kidnapping of his children in a rigged game which is better avoided.

          1. Excellent comment! No, outstanding comment!

            My two boys (men) are MGTOW. I am not discouraging it one bit. I have told them they have to find a woman like their mom, and that pretty much eliminates most. However, if I could get them more involved with the young women in the pro-life movement, that would be a game changer.

          2. Pro-life is basically a shorthand for “If I get into trouble by choosing to be reckless, I would rather take responsibility for my choice and inconvenience myself, than hurt someone else”. That’s a pro-marriage attitude.

  2. As the mother of two beautiful Christian women, I have advised they avoid bringing anymore children into this world. It’s an evil place this world has become, and we should be reluctant to inflict it on any new innocent souls. If my girls want babies, they should adopt ones that someone else decided not to raise.

    1. Shimauma, I have thought as you do in regards to my four sons’ future families. However, children are the greatest blessing ever, and biological children are a direct gift from God that I do not feel we should reject. I pray for my sons, I teach them very well, and I make every change that I can make to create a better world for my children and grandchildren. When we give up and say that the world is too evil, in my mind we lessen the strength of God and what His people, working together for a common goal, can accomplish.

    2. Shimauma,

      The Bible does not teach that married women should substitute adoption for their own children.

      The Bible teaches that married women should try to have biological children. “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children…” and “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house,…”

      If a married woman has biological children and also adopts, that is a good work. Or, if a married couple is unable to conceive and adopts that is also a good work.

  3. I don’t know any women who deliberately does not want to have children. I know plenty who would love to have them, but the married ones can’t conceive, and the single ones are, well, single.

    I find that attitude so insufferably arrogant anyway. What makes females think they are so attractive that men will want them in the first place?

    I’d give anything to be married and have kids. But I was too unattractive when I was young, and now I’m too old.

  4. I understand you’re focusing on women here, but of the women who do “choose” (and I realize it’s not always a thoughtful choice) to have children, look at the percentage that end up being single mothers.

    I’m afraid Humanae Vitae (Sec. 17: Consequences of Artificial [Birth Control] Methods) got it right in 1968.

    Flaunting natural law doesn’t bring Holy fire raining from the skies, it brings social and cultural consequences. As a scientist, I think of it as moral fitness; and the culture that spawned the attitudes you describe is becoming extinct.

  5. Chastity is nice because it allows you to not kill unborn babies, spread diseases, and mistreat people of the opposite sex for your own amusement. It is never wrong. However, I think women and men should marry early if they can. Makes more sense to get started on marriage earlier, rather than later, so long as everyone is responsible, disciplined and committed-oriented.

  6. I’ll never regret marrying young and having children in my mid 20s. These feminists, on their death bed, will regret never starting a family. A career cannot keep you warm at night, neither can it comfort you in your dying days.

    When my children are grown I will be in my mid 40s and still able to travel if my husband and I desire.

    1. I had children early as well, and later (I have a precious 8 year old who is at this moment standing here with me and making up hilarious rhyming nicknames for our family) and agree so much that feminists will regret not starting a family! I have many examples of women who thought career, personal goals and other selfish ideals were of more importance than family… and now they are alone, the things they worked so hard for are fading and in some cases already gone, whereas my goals, my chosen blessings, are growing stronger and wiser every day and are the greatest joy and comfort I can imagine! I have four sons, and I tell them frequently that they are my treasures from God, because that is precisely what children are. And I pity with my whole heart all those people who do not see that until it is too late.

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