You don’t want children? How could you!
You don’t want children? How could you!

Choosing to have kids or not is a significant life choice that many of us think about. As with any big life choice, the decision will include both positives and negatives, as well as lead us to different life experiences. Naturally, we are all different individuals, with different beliefs, goals and values, and we can only make this decision for ourselves. But unfortunately, it is still common for people to face criticism for making the choice not to have children. Whether you want kids or not, is totally up to you. But if you are facing criticism, what are some of the ways you can cope with this? In this blog you will find a few tips that might help you.

Judgement

Being judged for not wanting children is particularly true for women. In the past, social value and identity were closely linked to motherhood and children. The worst of these days are mostly behind us, and fortunately the empowerment of women has taken steps in the right direction. Sadly, further steps do need to be taken and many women still have to face the repercussions of our history in the form of criticism, judgement and biases. This is evident because recent research has even shown that some college students still view those without kids as less fulfilled or immoral.

A falling birth rate

Despite this, the choice not to have kids is becoming increasingly popular and birth rates are falling. Since 2008 the birthrate in the US has fallen by 20%, and in the Netherlands around 12% of women are child free by choice! There are many valid motives for making this choice, ranging from wanting to focus on a career, fear of losing their freedom, the increased costs of having a child, to climate change, overpopulation or the social pressure involved in being a mother or father. Motives might vary but the principle remains the same, this is a choice that you make for yourself and your own wellbeing. You shouldn’t have to explain or justify your decision to anyone!

How to deal with criticism

So, whatever your choice and the reasons behind it, here some tips that can hopefully help you face criticism and remain strong as an individual.

Remain calm

When we feel attacked we can start to feel tense and go into defense mode, this makes it hard for us to listen and take in what the other is saying. In moments like this you can try to take deep long breaths, this is an effective way to calm ourselves down. When we are angry we tend to take short, quick breaths, by doing the opposite we tell our body and brain to calm down. When you have more time you can try a longer breathing exercise or progressive muscle relaxation.

Avoid trying to convince them

When we face criticism it is natural to become defensive and want to explain ourselves. The more we try to convince the other, the more defensive we begin to sound. Instead of trying to convince you can politely explain that it is your own choice. You should not have to justify the reason for your personal choice.

If you would like to express yourself, save your opinion and points for a later moment where you are more likely to be understood and heard and not come across as defensive.

Remind yourself of the reasons you made this decision

Take time to reflect and write down the reasons you made this choice as well as the values you hold in high regard. This will give you confidence to handle the criticism without doubting your own decision and self worth. People may try to make you feel lesser or wrong, but if you know the principles you stand by, they can only try.

Connect with others

Realizing you’re not alone in your experience and your choices can be a relief. Surround yourself with those who understand you or have made a similar choice themselves. Getting support and empathy can help you put the criticism behind you.

Help

Making significant life choices can be very difficult, and criticism and prejudice on those choices can make it even harder. If you are struggling and need support, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Would you like to know more about (online) help via NiceDay? Click here for more information.

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Martijn Thomas

Hi, I am Martijn, psychologist at NiceDay. In my spare time I like to produce music, exercise and hangout with friends.

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