The reasons why many modern women don’t want children.

Monica S
9 min readDec 22, 2023

Ever since I was young, I never had a strong desire to be a mother. I still don’t. Whilst I would never rule out having kids completely and I wouldn’t go as far as having my tubes tied, I’m leaning more towards not having them than having them. I would only have kids under certain conditions including having enough money to go through IVF (my brother was born with a very rare brain tumor and as a consequence is severely disabled- I don’t want to have a severely disabled child that will suffer), to have an elective caesarean, post-natal cosmetic surgical procedures if needed, and to hire help for the child so I can work and enjoy some freedom. These may seem unreasonable to many people, but perhaps you will understand my reasons as you read on. Research shows that more and more women are choosing not to have children and I’m not surprised. Here are the reasons why women are choosing not to have kids.

1. We are expected to give up our freedom and identity.

In society, mothers are still expected to sacrifice far more than fathers. Women are still expected to be the primary caregiver and do the large bulk of the childcare. It seems that once women become mothers, the person that they were before having kids goes out of the window and their lives revolve only around the kids. It’s expected that mothers are constantly with their children and are made to feel guilty for wanting to have an identity and time outside of motherhood which leads to my next point.

2. Mothers are judged harshly.

No wonder less women want to become mothers with all of the judgement out there. There are gross double standards between mothers and fathers. It’s acceptable for a father to go out with his friends and leave the kids at home with mum, but if a woman goes out with her friends or has time for herself, the Mommy Nazis express their horror that she can be without her child (even though the child is being cared for by a responsible adult) and that she’s so selfish. Women who don’t breastfeed are judged harshly and every single thing a mother does is scrutinized and criticized.

3. There’s so much pressure on mothers.

There’s so much pressure on women to be the perfect mothers and to know what they’re doing. The rhetoric that all women are born mothers and have maternal instincts is bull. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and each woman is different. Some take care to motherhood like ducks to water, but others struggle. There’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s also a huge amount of pressure to breastfeed and be a full time mother but yet work. There’s the pressure to “have it all”, which is extremely unrealistic. Fathers don’t have to grapple with the same work/parenthood balance.

4. Mothers always have to feel guilty.

If a mother wants to go to the gym or have a coffee with her friends, she’s made to feel guilty because she’s not spending time with her child. There’s no such thing as “dad guilt”. Women are made to feel guilty for working, whilst men don’t face the same guilt.

5. Mothers are expected to do everything by themselves and are stigmatized for having help.

Women who are open about their struggles with parenthood are shamed. I hear so many nasty comments saying something along the lines of, “stop complaining and get on with it! My mother had ten children and she raised us all by herself with no help!”

It almost seems like a competition. Women are shamed for having nannies when in the past it was perfectly normal for the wealthy. Even poorer people had more support from family and community. Plus kids had to grow up a lot quicker. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is true. Childrearing is a mammoth task for one person or even two; why not alleviate the stress? It’s still normal in certain communities and cultures for communities to help raise one another’s children. I think we definitely need something like that in western society especially as not everyone is blessed to have family nearby to help.

Nobody should ever be shamed for getting help. I had aupairs growing up and I never felt neglected or unloved by my parents. In fact, I loved having aupairs and saw them as the big sister I always wanted. There’s pressure for the child to bond only with the mother, when in fact just bonding with the mother is limiting as the child can form many meaningful and loving attachments. The more people to support, care and love your child the better.

Although things are changing, fathers are not encouraged to be as actively involved with childcare and being there for their child. It’s still seen as normal for a man to prioritize work over his children.

6. Society is not child-friendly.

Society makes it very difficult for people to have children especially because it’s so expensive. Childcare is extremely expensive and unaffordable as is housing and rent. Many workplaces are still inflexible and make the work/parent balance extremely difficult. Many companies still prefer employees to come into the workplace than work from home. Workplaces don’t offer part-time and flexible opportunities for both fathers and mothers. In the UK fathers get a measly 2 week paternity leave. Paternity leave should be extended and include part-time work from home. There should be more models for equality for mums and dads including both having part-time or flexible non 9–5 positions.

7. Many women are told that the sole purpose of being a woman is being a mother.

For generations women have been told that their only ambitions in life should be being a wife and mother. Any other dreams and ambitions that don’t involve that are overlooked and not taken seriously. This narrative is still ever present in society. Childless women in the media like Jennifer Aniston are pitied and their childlessness is always talked about whilst childless men are left alone. Nobody discusses the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio is childless.

It’s always assumed that being a mother should be life’s greatest achievement. My mum’s ex-boyfriend asked her what her greatest achievement was and my mum said her career. My mum’s ex was shocked that having children wasn’t her greatest achievement in life. I didn’t feel at all offended, in fact I admire my mum for her talents and the things that she’s achieved professionally. Women are more than just mothers. My greatest achievement will always be publishing my very own novel. I hope I will go on to achieve many more great things, but motherhood won’t be one of them. Motherhood is just a process and milestone in life like marriage, not an achievement. Not seeing being a mother as an achievement doesn’t make you a bad person or bad mother.

8. Women’s bodies go through so much change and it’s not always positive.

Whilst some women love being pregnant, others have horrible and uncomfortable pregnancies. Then there’s not to mention childbirth. There’s still so much pressure for women to give birth naturally which can come with a lot of complications. Women who have caesareans are judged and are constantly told that it’s dangerous and unnecessary surgery. Giving birth naturally is dangerous too! Not only is the birth traumatic for mothers, if labour isn’t managed properly it can lead to more complications and sadly in some cases, the baby being deprived of oxygen and becoming severely disabled.

New mothers are often pressured to breastfeed which can often be a daunting and painful experience. In addition to that, her body may not return to how it was before. Whilst some women embrace their changing body, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect all women to feel the same. I would feel like my body is being defined by motherhood and that the previous version of myself is lost. I would feel bitter that having a child doesn’t change a man’s body, but it can change a woman’s. Of course not every woman’s body changes much and some go back to normal quickly, but some don’t. It may sound superficial to worry about your body, but for some women that change in body is scary and doesn’t make them feel themselves. It’s like breastfeeding; it’s like your body no longer belongs to you. It’s like a woman is a cow constantly on demand to produce milk and be there for when the child is hungry. I’m aware that there are women who love breastfeeding and the changes in their bodies and that’s great, but not every woman feels the same way.

9. The world is a scary place.

The world is damn scary and sometimes I think we live in such a cruel dog eat dog world. I don’t want to have kids only for them to suffer and struggle. Many women who don’t want children feel the same. Many worry about the future impact of climate change or radical conservative politics spreading through the West and which take away women’s rights. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be born into a world where she is valued by men, has basic rights such as the right to abortion, and equal rights to men. Although there has been progress in society, I sometimes fear that society is going backwards and regressing. Under the conversative government in Poland, many women were choosing not to have children due to abortion even in life saving situations being illegal and other rights being denied such as pre-natal checks and IVF.

There are also so many illnesses, diseases and rare conditions that can strike a child and that’s probably the scariest thing having your child be born with or acquire a terrible or terminal illness that will cause suffering and/or shorten their life.

10. Fear of having a child with the wrong man.

There are many men out there who think that having a child is a walk in the park and don’t consider a woman’s feelings and fears about having a child. They just say, “all women want to be mothers really”, and “you’ll be a born mother.” These are myths and a way to shirk responsibility. They’ll reason that it’s ok for them to do less childcare because it’s a “woman’s job.” They want the fun parts of being a dad, whilst leaving the hard work to the mums.

I know that not all men have these attitudes. I know men who are fantastic fathers and very hands on (my late father included), but unfortunately statistics still show that women end up doing most if the childcare. Men who will make good fathers are not easy to find. No woman wants a man-child with a traditional mindset that a woman’s sole purpose is to take care of her husband and children. We want men who really understand that having a child isn’t all fun and games, and that as women we require their support and fair share of the responsibilities, not just to be involved in play time.

Having children is a wonderful experience for many especially when they have a supportive partner, support of others, and enough financial resources. Unfortunately, not every mother enjoys being a mother and it’s becoming more and more common for mothers to express their dissatisfaction with motherhood. These stories really pinpoint the tough reality of motherhood along with societal views and expectations of motherhood. Perhaps if we reframed societal expectations of parenthood, created more opportunities for equal parenting, and offered more affordable help and support for parents, having a child wouldn’t feel so daunting and unappealing.

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Monica S

I love writing. I may be controversial but I'm not afraid to say it how it is.