Women choosing not to have children aren’t a rare breed, with one in four deliberately making the choice to be child free despite living in a world that raises them to be mothers.
Tanya Williams, author of a Childfree Happily Ever After, said it’s all about choice. “Yet, there’s so much judgement around women not having children,” she said.
“Child free women experience dire warnings about a loveless barren future and living a life of regret. Women are expected to have kids or at least want to have kids. If you don’t have kids, you experience criticism, judgment for your choices, and a barrage of pity from mums who think nothing of saying you are not a real woman, you don’t know what real love is unless you have a child, you’ll change your mind, and you are missing out,” she said.
“When you tell people you choose not to have children, you’re met with a stunned silence and shock.
“Choosing to have a child is a big responsibility. The impact of not having one affects the woman and her partner. Having a child just because it is expected impacts the child and has a ripple effect on society.”
While researching her book, Tanya uncovered antidotes and facts revealing the cost of enforced motherhood and the insidious bullying that takes place when a woman reveals she chooses not to have a child.
“For many, it means giving up their careers, fantasies, travels and goals for a couple of decades all because of a societal expectation. For those who are forced into having children because of these expectations, they live with resentment, which impacts their relationship with their child and their partner …and most importantly, themselves,” she said.
“Over the past 100 years, women have been told they can do anything, be anyone they want … until they don’t want children. Being child free is an option and no one should be told they are less because they choose another path.
“Bullying is unacceptable amongst children and in the workplace, why is it acceptable to bully and pressure child free women to conform to what is considered normal and natural? Why do women need to be defined by motherhood?”
Tanya wrote Childfree Happily Ever After as a field guide and anthropological study into why women feel pressured to have kids after following a thread on the topic on social media.
“It was a very passionate and aggressive debate and it made me think why others have the right to tell people how to live their life. This so-called sisterhood can be brutal and the most judgmental are often other women. Almost every facet of being a woman is open for a barrage of negativity, if as a woman, you don’t conform to the norm,” she said.
“Woman choosing not to have children are no longer the minority. Up to 24% of Australian women are choosing to be child free. It is not a trend but a life choice. Women who are child free by choice are reshaping the world – child free travel, restaurants, new reproductive technologies, political reforms, even impacting industries like the pet industry as pets become the substitute child and they refuse to apologise for it.”