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My choice not to have kids doesn’t define me or my faith.
By Kailyn Hill
Let’s look back at 1982. My mom was my age, 24, had been married for five years, and had her third kid on the way. Jump forward to November of 2017: I am approaching graduation with no desire to ever have kids of my own. Right now, my desire is for people to stop looking at me as though I just said I like to kill puppies in my free time, after they hear of my desire to remain childless.
“How can you not want children?”
“You’re young, you have no idea what you’ll want a few years from now.”
“Oh, you’ll change your mind.”
“You have a lot of years left to decide that, you don’t need to make that decision now.”
“But you would be such a good mom!”
These are just some the responses I get from both classmates and people outside of Bethel, and I have a problem with that. I have a problem with the negative responses and the assumptions that are made about my reasons without first asking me, and I have a problem with the people who assume that because I’m young, I can’t possibly know myself that well and will change my mind someday.
I believe with all my heart that children are a gift from God, as it says in the Psalms, and I think that pregnancy and childbirth are as near to an everyday miracle as we can get. The fact that I can grow and give life to another human is awe-inspiring to me, and just because I don’t want one myself doesn’t mean that I don’t value every conceived child as truly precious.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the reactions I’ve received from people, and why I seem to get more negative responses from Christians, and I’ve come to a hypothesis. Somewhere along the line, not wanting children became aligned with not valuing children or life from the point of conception. This is not true for me, and I am vehemently against abortion, because I believe that God spends time carefully designing each child and intends for it to exist, no matter the situation it is conceived in. Everyone has a purpose, and you can’t watch your sister go through two miscarriages without seeing a fetus as more than a bunch of cells, no matter how many weeks into the pregnancy it is.
I have a problem with the people who assume that because I’m young, I can’t possibly know myself that well and will change my mind someday.
My mom made choices that aligned with what she wanted out of life, and I have never thought that she made the wrong choice. When my siblings and I were growing up, my parents made it work financially for her to stay home with all of us, and that gave me a childhood that I will always look back on fondly. I am making choices that align with what I want out of life, and more importantly than that, I am making choices that I feel align with the gifts and desires I’ve been given by the one who created me this way.
It’s not as though I don’t like kids. In addition to babysitting frequently, I’m also an aunt to five intelligent and beautiful nieces and a bright stud of a nephew, and being an aunt to them is one of the most fulfilling things to ever happen to me. I love all the kids I spend time with, they teach me more about life than I could ever teach them. Auntie is my favorite title, but it’s enough for me.
Many women go to Bethel, both intentionally and unintentionally, to get an M.R.S. Degree. I don’t think it’s wrong for women to want a family early in life, but I am frustrated with the assumption that we all want that. I may not have entered Bethel with the goal of finding a spouse with whom I could have cute little babies with, but marriage is still something I want out of life, and I am fortunate to have found someone with the same feelings about parenthood. Telling a boyfriend that I most likely don’t want to have kids is never an easy conversation, because wanting or not wanting children can be a huge deal-breaker.
I want to pay off my debt, I want to be able to travel to see my family that lives internationally, and I want to be best friends with my future husband, going on adventures, even if those adventures happen through Marvel movies on a Tuesday night. I want to work for a non-profit, using my skills to make a difference in the world, and I want to foster senior dogs and give them glorious golden years. I also want to be the aunt my nieces and nephew know they can always count on for advice, a sober cab or a shoulder to cry on.
I’m not being selfish when I say I don’t want to have kids, I’m just making an educated decision not to because my kid would deserve my undivided attention, and I’m not sure I’m cut out to be that kind of mom.
I think our society is still uncomfortable with women who are confident in themselves and know what they want, especially at a place like Bethel, but I’m graduating in December with a solid idea of where I think my life is meant to go. Yes, I might change my mind about having kids someday, but I also might not, and that’s OK.