Childfree by Choice: A Young Woman’s Rationale

From the Editor’s Desk 🦎


Two days ago, Michael spoke to University of Maryland Professor Dr. Melissa Kearney about new research showing a decline in global birthrates, a trend many find alarming. Global fertility rates have been declining since 1950 and are expected to continue plummeting through the end of the century, leading to significant demographic, economic, social, and geopolitical shifts. They also discussed why many women choose not to have children, citing reasons like career focus, affordability concerns, and climate change. I empathize with these notions, but my decision not to have kids encompasses a broader range of considerations.

As listeners called the show to weigh in, Michael expressed a desire to hear a younger woman’s perspective. So, I emailed him the list of reasons I keep in my notes app for why I personally choose not to have children. I hadn’t planned to share this publicly until he replied, asking me to call in. This list was not intended as a persuasive argument but a personal reflection to help me understand my decision, balancing emotional and logistical factors.

I am not anti-motherhood! I fully support and celebrate my friends who have started families and the immense joy it brings them. And I don’t dislike kids.

But I’ve always known, to a certain extent, that I would prefer to avoid having my own kids. This wasn’t a viral trend that I followed. However, online discussions, particularly on TikTok, have provided a sense of community and validation for my choice. Born in 1996, I stand at the intersection of Gen Z and Millennials, witnessing various perspectives.

While I am confident in my decision, I acknowledge the alternative reality where I could embrace being a parent, imagining the joy of seeing my partner as a father and raising a child together. Some stereotypes portray childfree women as lonely or self-absorbed, but for many young women, it’s a harsh realization that societal and economic factors make parenthood a challenging path. Coming to this conclusion can be as melancholy as it is liberating, especially for those who once envisioned having families but are forced to factor in a world that looks drastically different from what their parents experienced.

I ask that you consider these nuances when thinking about the younger generation. As I’ve said, this list is specific to me and meant to help me work through my own thought processes. Some of my reasons might seem selfish as they involve maintaining certain comforts – I acknowledge the areas where there is a certain level of privilege – but I value transparency in sharing my rationale. I hope this provides some insight into how other young women in my situation today might also be reflecting on this.


1. We have always been told that it is irresponsible to have children if you cannot afford it.

LendingTree reports that the average expense of raising a child from birth to age 18 is now $237,482, excluding higher education costs. Many in my demographic view this figure as unattainable, especially amid the current inflation. Basic needs have become unaffordable, and milestones like homeownership and weddings feel increasingly out of reach. Adding a child to the equation would exacerbate financial struggles.


2. There is too much uncertainty surrounding reproductive rights for me to risk my health by getting pregnant.

This concern might seem exaggerated, but the unexpected overturning of Roe v. Wade reaffirmed that anything can happen. Recent cases highlight the dangers: women have been denied life-saving care due to restrictive abortion laws, leading to severe health issues and even death. If I were to find myself in a state with such strict laws, I could be forced to sacrifice my safety to deliver a baby.


3. The state of the world is too uncertain for me to feel comfortable bringing another life into it.

You don’t have to be as plugged into the news as I am working for Michael; we’re all exposed to the horror of reality: war, famine, divisiveness, and governmental failure. While I always hope for a better tomorrow, I can’t rationally depend on it.


4. I don’t know that I can parent in a digital age that is evolving so rapidly.

This is where I need to drive home my immense respect for those raising kids today. My mom raised me through the early days of Instagram and Facebook, the transition from flip phones to smartphones, hearing me talk about YouTubers and Omegle… that must have been very strange for her. I certainly imagine that it’s far stranger for parents now.

Michael has explored the negative impact of technology and social media on youth in “The Mingle Project.” And the effects make me wonder: how do you encourage disconnection in a civilization that relies on connectivity to function? How would you coach a child through the trauma of having an embarrassing moment exploited digitally, possibly going viral? How do you address bullying when the bully could be a sea of online harassers? I’ve seen this happen countless times online and can’t fathom the emotional toll it takes on someone so young.


5.  I am fulfilled by the relationships I have in my life.

I’m very lucky to have a wide and caring support system.


6. If I ever had the funds, time, and desire to be a mother, I would rather adopt a life that is already here. 

It’s a such shame how expensive this is for people who are open to it. According to Family Care for Children & Youth, adoption costs range from $25,000 to $50,000 domestically and $30,000 to $80,000 internationally.


7. I may regret having children. I may regret choosing not to. It would be easier to cope with and accept the latter feeling.

Also, please stop reassuring childfree women that they’ll change their mind. Whether or not that’s true, it feels rude. You wouldn’t say that to a pregnant woman.


8. I have personal ambitions and goals in my life that having a child would conflict with.


9. I am aware of my own ego and pride. I would never want to inadvertently try to live vicariously through my child.

Even for people who strive to be fully accepting, I think it’s natural to have some idealized expectations of what your child will become.


10.  There is no guarantee that I will give birth to a healthy baby.

I feared expressing this concern publicly might make me seem shallow, but being honest about my limitations is crucial. If I became a mother, I would love my child unconditionally, but I don’t know if I could handle raising a child with intense special needs requiring lifelong care. I would do it, but I fear the responsibility and emotional toll might be beyond what I can realistically manage.


11. I fear the physical pain of childbirth.


12. I live in a free society where I have the right to choose not to have children.

I will never take that autonomy for granted.


13. I have a family history of certain illnesses that I risk passing onto a child.


14. I struggle with depression and anxiety, putting me at risk for postpartum depression and potential continued trauma during motherhood.


15. I am in an age-gap relationship.

My partner’s mutual desire not to have children had no influence on my own decision; I held this view long before we were together. However, if he felt differently, it would create a challenging situation for him, starting a family at an older age, and for the child, who would likely experience the early loss of a parent.


16. Motherhood is not an appealing lifestyle for me.

I deeply value the small privileges in my already high-stress life: sleep, time with friends, intimacy, going out, alone time, and occasional travel. Most of us are already financially strained, so I cannot take these privileges for granted. It would be foolish to believe I could maintain the life I want for myself while also raising a child.


17. I’m not going to have a child based on external pressures.

I know that I am a variable that is directly contributing to fertility rates dropping below the replacement level. I understand that the world is experiencing a demographic shift and that the population decline could have several long-term consequences. I don’t justify that as a call to action. While a good chunk of my list is personal, most of the reasons other childfree women share with me stem from systemic issues that could be mitigated with better parental support and government funding. These include the high cost of child-rearing, lack of affordable childcare, insufficient parental leave, and inadequate healthcare. Addressing these issues on a policy level would do more to stabilize population growth than individuals succumbing to societal pressure to have children.

But also women who feel pressured by their parents to give them them grandkids. I don’t, but I know it’s a lot of young couples that feel they have to factor that in.


18. Being childfree allows me to dedicate more time to caring for my loved ones in need of support. 


I hope that this list does not offend but provides some perspective on how some women in my situation may feel. Normally, I keep my political opinions private to remain neutral in my role as this website’s editor, but I’m appreciative that Michael thought this was worth sharing. His discussion with Dr. Kearney highlighted an alarming potential for future society. Ultimately, I hope more can be accomplished systematically to address these concerns, allowing women like myself to face fewer obstacles in their family planning.



Alice Herrick

Managing Editor of Follow me here.

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