There are a few relationship dealbreakers that you really, really can’t compromise on – and whether or not to have children is probably the biggest one.
There’s no middle ground. A child either comes into the world or it does not. It’s a personal choice while simultaneously being one that you have to make with another human being (most of the time!) and the pressure on women to have kids remains… well. Out of whack.
Women are still expected to trudge down the aisle, pop out some kids, and spend their lives defined as a wife and mother. NO disrespect meant for anyone who loves that life, that’s an absolutely wonderful life that can be deeply fulfilling. The problem lies in the idea that every woman should want that version of life for themselves.
In a recent TikTok that went viral, the_mrs_sallee wanted to know if women wanted to have kids, if their answer to that question might change, and whether they will regret not having kids if they decide not to have them.
“If you are in your forties and up, and a woman, or a woman with a partner who has gone their entire life childless (on purpose), please tell me what your life is like now. I have been told multiple times by family members, family friends, and sometimes friends, that once I get older and I can’t have kids anymore, or I choose not to have kids, I’ll either be jealous that I’m not having kids, or that I’ll lose out on something, or that I’ll be older and I’ll be sad because I don’t have children around me.
“I need to know from someone who I envision myself being later on in life… Do you feel like you lost out, or are you confident and happy with your choice?”
Another woman on TikTok, Jackie Dives, responded. Jackie has become pretty well known for her child-free content, specifically for her videos about being a child-free professional photographer. She began to share her life after a long relationship ended over the choice to have kids or not.
Jackie explained her entire thought process:
“I often get s**t on TikTok for saying ‘This is how a child-free person does XYZ,’ or ‘This is a day in the life of a child-free person.'”
“People are like, ‘Why do you need to put in there that you’re child-free? What difference does it make?”
“The reason I do that is because I want women like the person who I’m stitching (Maelen) to see what a life without children can look like.”
“I’m 39, and I’m child-free, and my experience of being child-free [started] when my partner decided that he wanted to have children. We’d been together for five years, and he actually left our relationship. So I had to decide [and be] very sure that I was willing to let my partner go in exchange for living a child-free life.”
“I really loved my partner a lot, and a lot of people were telling me that it was crazy to let him go and not just have a baby with him. But I knew in my heart and in my gut that I didn’t want to be a parent.”
“After we separated, it was really hard for me to visualize what my life would look like. I could see what my life would look like if he and I had stayed together. I would be with him, and we’d have a house, a baby, a family, great in-laws, and a white picket fence, the whole thing.”
“But because we are never shown examples in media or pop culture about what it looks like to be a woman who doesn’t have children, I had no idea what my life would look like if I didn’t go down the path that everyone expected me to go down.”
“It felt really lonely and strange, and I had to go seek out other women who had also made that choice. So that’s why I always say in my videos, ‘This is what a day in the life of a child-free artist looks like,’ because I want women who don’t want to have kids to have an example of what your life can look like.”