If you know me, you’d know that I don’t like kids… at all. No shame to anyone who does, they just really aren’t for me. I never thought much of my disdain for small children; I thought it was perfectly valid that I would never have any. Until I started being told it wasn’t.
Some of my friends agree, saying they like kids, but couldn’t have any. Some say they want to adopt. But most of the time people, especially older people, look at me in disbelief. I know what they are thinking, because I have thought the same things before. What’s the point of life without furthering our species by having children? Won’t life get so boring when you’re old with no kids to take care of? I brush these questions off when they come from my own inhibitions, but when they come from others, it’s a lot harder to ignore.
For centuries, women have been viewed as inherently maternal, no matter what their feelings are regarding children. The expectation is for women to have kids, take care of them and view them as their duty or purpose: a majorly outdated viewpoint, but still present in modern society. This misogynistic concept is the root of so many women feeling obligated to have children and then ending up unhappy. This is detrimental to the mother, as well as the child, as it often results in neglect and resentment towards them.
Along with the emotional effects, the financial aspect of being a parent is no small obstacle. The U.S. birth rate has been steadily declining since 2008, the same year as the recession, according to the New York Times. December of 2020 saw a 7.66% decline in the birth rate from the previous year. This could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic causing high unemployment rates. The birth rate has fallen 19% since 2007, just before the decline beginning during the recession.
Being a parent, more specifically a mother, is a huge financial responsibility. Medical care through pregnancy and birth is a massive expense, and the recurring medical fees for the child after it’s born rack up to unbelievable numbers. Fundamentally, children require a home, clothes, diapers and food. The prices of these items add up very quickly. They will need child care, if the parent works during the day, racking up an average monthly price of $935 in Kansas, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). As they grow, they will need clothes and shoes, a large expense due to a child’s rapid growth for years. The parent needs to account for a college education, public in state school costing $9,687 per year, according to U.S. News. A child is an enormous financial decision that not every adult can be expected to make.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have kids. I believe that everyone should make the life decisions that would fulfill them the most and make them the happiest. Which is exactly why I believe not everyone should have kids. This expectation placed on people, especially women, to have a family needs to end before more people are made into parents when they don’t want to be and before more children are born to unloving parents.