A Jewish Matchmaker’s Guide to Busting the “Selfish” Myth
Most of us have grown up around certain societal expectations: graduate high school, go to college, get a job, get married, and start building a family. A lifestyle that deviates from this prescribed pattern is judged to be “unconventional”. And once a couple is married the inevitable question from family and friends is, “When are you going to have children?” For most, it’s the obvious next step because not having children only seems acceptable if there is a biological reason for not having them; society is less understanding if the decision is not a forced one.
That’s all well and good for some of us, but what if you don’t really want to have children? What if that so-called motherly (or fatherly) instinct seems to be not-so-instinctual with you?
So, you don’t want kids. Is something wrong with you? Should you have kids anyway? Are you so selfish and self-centered that you don’t want to devote any of your time to considering and caring for the needs of another human being?
The lack of desire for children is not about being selfish, although many will accuse you of it. In fact, having children when your focus is elsewhere is much more selfish than accepting the fact that having children of your own is simply not a priority for you.
Society likes to put people in boxes – it gives us a sense of reassurance when everyone is following a known paradigm – but people are individuals, with individual goals and preferences. We are not cookie-cutter replicas of one another.
The expectation that every woman and every man wants to have children is putting all of us into the box labeled “parent” – and this isn’t just the destiny of every human being.
There are many personal reasons why someone might decide not to have children. I have chosen NOT to provide a list of reasons in this article because reasons are not point. People like reasons; they like justifications. It lets us categorize and explain and “understand” something that is outside of our comfort zone or comprehension. But the truth is, personal decisions don’t need justification or validation. No one should have to “justify” their decision not to have children by providing others with a “reason”.
It is an individual choice, period.
If you have made the decision not to have children, be confident that you are the best judge of who you are and what you want out of life. Move forward on your path bathed in that confidence. This is your journey; everyone travels their own path. Accept the path of others and others will accept the path that you have chosen for yourself. No justification required.