(Editor's note: Below is an excerpt from a feature that appeared in Cosmo.ph. For the full article, please click here.)
I have been waiting for something like this to come out in Philippine media for the longest time, but nothing has satisfied my thirst for validation and belongingness so far. This is a conversation that needs to be started, because it's a reality many Pinays face: People judge us for choosing to be child-free. We are called selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed, and frankly, abnormal. And so I posted a callout on social media, asking friends if they want to open up about their decision not to have kids.
Eight brave women got in touch with me. Read our stories here.
Please describe that moment you knew you didn’t want kids. What was the biggest factor that influenced your decision?
Charlene: When I was 26, I wanted to get married to have a child. All of that changed after I got married and saw other couples who have children. Having a realistic viewpoint on bearing and raising a child also helped me paint a clear picture of what I’ll be going through. Can I handle it all? Do I have the means, the urge, and the commitment to go through all that?
Three years have passed since I got married at 26, and I still haven’t gotten an answer to all of those questions. My health is also one the biggest factors that I considered because I easily get sick. My husband doesn’t want my health to get compromised should I bear a child. He doesn’t want to share my attention with another person as well. My husband and I enjoy interacting with other people’s children, but having one of our own is completely not our priority, considering all the financial and health problems we’ll go through.
We assessed our current lifestyle, our freedom to go out, do what we want in our own time, etc., and we both agreed that we are completely happy and content with what we have right now, just the two of us against the world.
Crisha: I can't recall any particular moment when I knew that I didn't want kids. The idea snowballed from many moments observing my friends with their kids, and hearing their stories of struggle. And somehow even assurances that the rewards far exceed the sacrifices aren't enough to convince me yet.
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Ella: My father died early, leaving my mother to raise three children as a single parent. Seeing how difficult it was for my mom to transition from being a housewife to a breadwinner made me think then how it would have been easier if she didn't have kids.
Then in college, I had a chance to go on several international exchange programs in highly developed countries where couples choose to have one or no children at all in order to enjoy a high quality of living. This exposure reinforced my decision not to have kids.
Grace: I always thought I’d have kids because that seemed like the normal thing to do. You grow up, get a job, find a man to marry, then you have children. I still remember being asked at 13 years old if I wanted a son or a daughter in the future. I even picked out names for my future babies! It wasn’t until college that I realized that I had a choice; I didn’t need to follow this strictly laid-out path.
A few days before my college graduation, I started making a list of what I wanted to be/do after school. The long list included things such as: traveling the world, finding a job I loved, writing a novel, finding the perfect partner to settle down with, and so on. After writing the 100 item list, I noticed that nowhere in that list did I mention kids in any way, shape, or form. There wasn’t really a specific deciding factor for me.
Jacinda: I was firm with my decision of not wanting to have kids very early on in my teens. This decision came about from being heavily influenced by Western Media (magazines, books, movies, and TV shows)—most significantly by Sex and the City. This show not only served as my sex ed but it gave me the option to lead my life as I wanted to. I was exposed to a world where women lived their lives as they chose and lived it without any shame or guilt
Jenny: It was never just one moment. Ever since moving outside of Asia a few years ago, I slowly became conscious of life path options I never thought was available to me growing up. I never questioned it either because I had always believed that life naturally progressed that way, just because. I am now very aware that the influences of society, tradition, and religion are very strong, and it wasn’t until I stepped outside of my bubble did I realize that concepts that once belonged in foreign movies done by "others" did not have to be. Biggest factor: moving outside of the Philippines.
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Jillian: My mother quit working soon after I was born (I am the youngest of three girls), and dedicated her life to taking care of the family. I am fully aware of the sacrifices she had to make to be the amazing mother I know her to be, and part of it was giving up her career and focusing on her husband and her three daughters. She didn’t have to make that choice, but she did, and I admire her for that. I know quitting her career was the best solution she knew she could take care of us the way she wants to, and every day I am thankful I have such a selfless mother.
But I know I cannot be as selfless and dedicated as she is. I cannot pick up my child from school every day as she did. I cannot cook dinner, manage the household, and maintain a thriving career. One thing would suffer, and for me, I know it would be my children. I would resent them for robbing me of my personal time, and then I’d feel guilty, and then I’d hate myself. My marriage would probably fall apart, because I would be unhappy. I am the type of person who wants to do an amazing job at least 80% of the time. The 20% that is mediocre, I still have to learn not to beat up myself about. So instead of having kids, I’d rather not—and I am content coming to terms with that. On the plus side, I have five nieces and two nephews plus more disposable income, so yay, I get to spoil them and be the best aunt ever!
Is this something you and your partner decided on?
Charlene: Definitely yes, we both decided on it. We never had an argument, only discussions about what-if scenarios, like if I get complications during pregnancy or during delivery, if we can’t afford a good school or we’re not good enough to be responsible parents for our kid. We were still boyfriend-girlfriend, 11 years into our relationship, at the time I asked him if he would still accept me if I decide not to have any children. He said he’d rather go bother other people’s kids than raise his own.
Grace: We both entered the relationship knowing that we didn’t want to have kids. The topic came up very early when we first started dating. Since we were both on the same page, it never became a problem. We also lived together for a year before getting married, and that reinforced our decision even further.
Jillian: Definitely. I told him I didn’t want kids, and although at first we thought we wanted them, after a decade of being in a relationship we realized it was not for us. We call ourselves P.A.N.K.s and P.U.N.K.s—Professional Aunt, No Kids and Professional Uncle, No Kids. And yes, these are real terms, coined by Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie!
Vanessa: I met my boyfriend a year after coming home from the US. I was open about my life perspectives in our casual conversations prior to us deciding to date each other. He tried to get to know me and understand where I was coming from. I’m lucky that I have a man who really sees me as a partner he wants to be with vs. seeing me as a partner to be the mother of his future kids (I'm not saying that all guys who end up with someone just look
UP NEXT: What's the most offensive reaction you've received after telling someone you don't want to become a mother?