I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind | Christen Reighter

I don’t want children — stop telling me I’ll change my mind | Christen Reighter


I recognized the roles
that were placed on me very early. One persistent concept that I observed — existing in our language, in our media — was that women are not only
supposed to have children, they are supposed to want to. This existed everywhere. It existed in the ways
that adults spoke to me when they posed questions
in the context of “when.” “When you get married …” “When you have kids …” And these future musings
were always presented to me like part of this American dream, but it always felt to me
like someone else’s dream. You see, a value that I have
always understood about myself was that I never wanted children. And as a kid, when I would try
to explain this, this disconnect between
their roles and my values, they often laughed in the way that adults do
at the absurdities of children. And they would tell me knowingly, “You’ll change your mind.” And people have been saying
things like that to me my whole life. Otherwise polite conversation
can turn intrusive fast. “Does your husband know?” (Laughter) “Do your parents know?” (Laughter) “Don’t you want a family?” “Don’t you want to leave anything behind?” And the primary buzzword
when discussing childlessness, “That’s selfish.” There are countless reasons
a woman may have for choosing to abstain from motherhood, the majority of them
not self-prioritizing. But it is still socially acceptable
to publicly vilify women as such, because none of these reasons
have made it into the social narrative. When I was little and learning
about the inevitability of maternity, it was never explained to me the commonness of these factors
that women consider, like the risk of passing on
hereditary illness, the danger of having to stop
life-saving medication for the duration of your pregnancy, concern about overpopulation, your access to resources, and the fact that there are
415,000 children in the foster-care system
in the United States at any given time. Reasons like these, many more, and the fact that I don’t like to leave
things of this magnitude to chance, all informed my decision to become surgically sterilized. I began my research eagerly. I wanted to fully understand all that was going to come
with undergoing a tubal ligation, which is just another word
for getting your tubes tied. I wanted to know approval to aftermath, satisfaction rates, risks, statistics. And at first, I was empowered. You see, the way the narrative
has always been taught to me, I would have thought that women
who didn’t want children were so rare, and then I learned
one in five American women won’t be having a biological child — some by choice, some by chance. (Applause) But I was not alone. But the more I read,
the more disheartened I became. I read women’s stories, trying desperately to get this procedure. I learned how common it was
for women to exhaust their finances appealing to dozens of ob-gyns
over many years, only to be turned down so many times, often with such blatant disrespect
that they just gave up. Women reported that medical practitioners
were often condescending and dismissive of their motivations, being told things like, “Come back when you’re married
with a child.” But women who did have children,
who went to go get this procedure, were told they were too young, or they didn’t have enough children, which is very interesting, because the legal requirements in my state
for getting this kind of surgery were, “Be at least 21 years old,” “appear of sound mind,
acting of your own accord,” and “have a 30-day waiting period.” And I was perplexed that I could meet
all of these legal requirements and still have to face a battle
in the exam room for my bodily autonomy. And it was daunting, but I was determined. I remember I dressed so professionally
to that first appointment. (Laughter) I sat up straight. I spoke clearly. I wanted to give that doctor
every piece of evidence that I was not the date
of birth in that file. And I made sure to mention things like, “I just got my bachelor’s degree and I’m applying
to these doctoral programs, I’m going to study these things.” And “my long-term partner
has this kind of business,” and “I’ve done research
on this for months. I understand everything
about it, all the risks.” Because I needed the doctor to know
that this was not a whim, not reactionary, not your 20-something
looking to go out and party without fear of getting knocked up … (Laughter) that this supported something
integral to who I was. And I understand informed consent, so I fully expected to be reeducated
on how it all worked, but … At one point, the information being
given to me started to feel agenda’d, interlaced with bias
and inflated statistics. The questions began to feel interrogative. At first they were asking me questions that seemed to understand
my situation better, and then it seemed like they were
asking questions to try to trip me up. I felt like I was on the witness stand,
being cross-examined. The doctor asked me about my partner. “How does he or she
feel about all of this?” “Well, I’ve been with
the same man for five years, and he fully supports any decision
I make for my body.” And he said, “Well,
what happens in the future, if you change partners? What happens when that person
wants children?” And I didn’t quite know
how to react to that, because what I was hearing was this doctor tell me that I’m supposed
to disregard everything I believe if a partner demands children. So I told him not to worry about that. My stance on childbearing
has always been first date conversation. (Laughter) (Cheering) (Laughter) He then asks me to consider how “in 20 years, you could really
come to regret this” … as though I hadn’t. I told him, “OK, if I wake up one day and realize, you know, I wish I’d made a different
decision back then, the truth is, I’d only removed
a single path to parenthood. I never needed biology
to form family anyway.” (Applause) And I would much rather
deal with that any day than deal with one day waking up, realize I’d had a child that I didn’t really want
or was prepared to care for. Because one of these affects only me. The other affects a child, their development, their well-being — (Applause) and human beings
are not to be gambled with. He then tells me why no one
was going to approve this procedure, certainly not he, because of a concept
called medical paternalism, which allows him,
as my well-informed provider, to make decisions for me … based on his perception
of my best interest, regardless of what I,
as the patient, want or believe. He takes this opportunity to step out and discuss my case
with my potential surgeon, and through the door, I hear him
describe me as a little girl. I was so offended. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to explicitly explain
to each one of these providers how they were treating me, that it was belittling and sexist, and I didn’t have to take it. But I did take it. I swallowed every sharp word in my throat, clenched my jaw, and instead answered each one of their condescending
questions and statements. I had come here looking
for objectivity and support and instead I felt dismissed and silenced, and I hated myself for it. I hated that I was letting people
disrespect me repeatedly. But this was my one shot. That was one of multiple consultations
that I had to go to. At one point, I had seen five or six
medical professionals in the same hour. The door to the exam room
felt more like the door to a clown car. There’s my primary, there’s his colleague, the director, OK. It felt like I was asking them
to infect me with smallpox instead of, I don’t know,
obtain birth control. But I didn’t waver, and I was persistent, and I eventually convinced one of them
to allow the procedure. And even as I am in the room,
signing the consent forms and getting the hormone shots
and tying up loose ends … my doctor is shaking
his head in disapproval. “You’ll change your mind.” I never really understood how strongly this society
clings to this role until I went through this. I experienced firsthand, repeatedly, how people, be it medical providers, colleagues, strangers, were literally unable
to separate me being a woman from me being a mother. And I’ve always believed
that having children was an extension of womanhood,
not the definition. I believe that a woman’s value should never be determined
by whether or not she has a child, because that strips her
of her entire identity as an adult unto herself. Women have this amazing ability
to create life, but when we say that that is her purpose, that says that her entire existence
is a means to an end. It’s so easy to forget the roles
that society places on us are so much more than mere titles. What about the weight
that comes with them, the pressure to conform
to these standards … the fear associated with questioning them, and the desires that we
cast aside to accept them? There are many paths
to happiness and fulfillment. They all look very different, but I believe that every one is paved with the right
to self-determination. I want women to know that your choice
to embrace or forego motherhood is not in any way tied
to your worthiness or identity as spouses, as adults, or as women … and there absolutely is
a choice behind maternity, and it is yours and yours alone. Thank you. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. I’m 19.. and yes i know im too “young to think about this kind of things” so they always say “you think like this now but you will change your mind” but I know what I want and how i feel abt wanting children and the answer is no i never wanted them and never will, that doesnt mean im a mean person or a i hate children… I feel like having permanent birth control when I’m older to just shut them up and let me live my life the way i want it. Your decisions are yours and mine is mine.

  2. This helped alot. My parents are very traditional despite them denying it. Now I know I shouldnt have to justify my right to do what I want with my body. It's a sad truth that I have to, but it's some how empowering to know that any reason I feel is justified in my decision to not want children.

  3. I understand her point of view and completely get the notion of not having kids, but reality is different. Maybe she's one of those women who never got to regret her decision to become sterile, many others come to regret it. If I was her I would get a different type of birth control, just to keep my opinions open. But what do I know…I'm just a sexist man, right?

  4. I am sick and tired of situations like this… even if I am still young, right now in this moment I don't see myself having children. I don't. And in a very short amount of time I am not prepared to change my mind. It is that simple. I have other concerns and aspects of life that are more important to me right now and since I am a person who has extreme difficulties with adapting to certain changes, I don't believe I will change my aspects anytime soon. Yes we can make fun of what I would look like a mother but this will, at least for now, stay only in our imagination.

  5. Is it so hard to just use contraception that is not permanently damaging? Of course doctors would be condesending, people change their mind for all sorts of things all the time. Me now, is nothing like me 10 years ago. Of course you have to fight for your decisions if they have such irreversable implications.

  6. I misread this and thought it said “I don’t want my children,” as if she already had kids and was giving them up. 😂. I completely agree with what she is actually saying.

  7. Mom: you become very twisted if you don't have a child. Its unatural and abnormal not to want one.

    Me: become twisted? What am I a pretzel?

  8. I'm not only getting "you'll change your mind" but I'm also getting (constantly) "Hush! You shouldn't say such thing!"

  9. Can y’all stop pressuring women who don’t want kids into having kids?! They make horrible mothers. Some women just don’t need to be having kids.

  10. I've learned many things from being the oldest of four. That being that I don't want kids because I don't want the responsibility of caring for a human child. It just seems like I could do many other things rather than caring for a kid. I also don't think that I'm mentally capable to care for a child either because when I babysit my siblings I get a huge anxiety attack. Whenever I share this with my mom she says "Really? That makes me sad. You're too young to know that! (I'm a 15 year old boy)

  11. “You’ll change your mind.”

    I’ve heard that from so many relatives.

    I won’t change my mind.
    You can’t make me change my mind.
    I don’t even want a partner.
    You won’t ever change my mind.

    so deal with it

  12. I’m her I had a old lady while working the election polls constantly saying I’ll change my mind and I don’t know what I’m talking about I’m like this is MY body. And my mother respects my choice.

  13. I hate that sentence. “Don’t you want a legacy to leave behind” um no I won’t care when I’m gone I’ve left my mark and that’s what matters I actually get more anxiety knowing I’d let kids behind

  14. Don’t get why people get mad personality I would like a kid in the future but I completely understand why someone would not want a kid tbh

  15. To finally come to the realization that I could choose to not venture into motherhood was the most alleviating experience of my life!

  16. For real.. to have children in today's world is just asking for them to be corrupted or molested.. Too many sickos.

  17. I love this I’ve always told my mom I don’t want kids and she always gets so mad. This might sound selfish but I’d rather spend thousands on animals that need a home then a million on a kid that I won’t enjoy having

  18. I don't know how many times do people have to be told to STOP TELLING WOMEN WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR BODIES !!!!!!!

  19. I love this so so much! Right now my parents are trying to tell me I’ll change my mind, but I don’t want to bring a child into a world like this. We have enough people in the world!

  20. I used to say i don't want children i want to adopt…But i change my mind i had my first baby girl at 21…7 yrs ago and now i have 3 children ages 7,6 and 4 year old..i had my tubes burn and cut 3 years ago I'm happy with 3 children 2 girl's and 1 boy 🙏👨‍👧‍👧👩‍👦…True you can't force somebody to have children if they don't want too…

  21. I am fully in support of your decision. I myself have one daughter and I’m very blessed but I have always said that if you don’t want children you should not by any means have them. As you said there are so many in the foster care system and so many undocumented cases of child abuse and neglect that go on every day is happening. I can see why he wouldn’t want to bring a child into this world

  22. The way she communicates, moves, and her relentless pausing is so annoying, but I agree with all the points made.

  23. I’m 15 right now, and a few months ago I made the decision that I would adopt IF I ever wanted children. Everyone around me says that I’ll “change my mind” or my step dad will say he wants grandchildren. I’m also worried about how my future partner will feel. However, I’ve decided it is MY decision and mine only. If I can’t find anyone who excepts my choice then I’m just fine being alone.

  24. I had no idea Tubal Ligation was such a huge deal to people and practitioners. It's polarizing how close-cut it is to the reaction of abortion. We need to ask people who are against abortion how they feel about Tubal Ligation just so they can be backed into a corner without the "child murderer" argument to clutch onto.

  25. Amen!! I am 52 years old and don't have any, don't want any!! There are plenty of people on this planet , And you are not selfish you are generous because to have a significantly lower carbon footprint.

  26. I didn't think I could have kids because of previous medical issues, but it happened (took two years, but it happened!). If it never happened, I would have been fine with that. After I had my son, I wanted to get my tubes tied. I was 26 and I found a doctor who would do it. I did however have to go to 2 separate appointments and listen to him say a lot of what this woman is saying. He even went as far as to say, "What if your partner and son die in a car accident?" Like, Jesus. In the end, he did it tho! 7 years later – still the best the decision I ever made!

  27. I am amazed by the fact that this video popped up in my recommended since I always had to struggle with people who tell me that I'm egoistic, selfish and heartless for saying that I don't want to have children in future. I'd rather be childless than being a mother, who makes her children feel like they are a burden and that I had to give up so much for them although they were my own choice. And these women I am talking about are everywhere. You will always see them complaining about their children and how annoying they are. And by the way how can I be selfish about something that doesn't even exist yet ? Why do parents act is if they did a favor to their children by giving birth to them ? If you would leave the choice to an unborn child it would rather not be born in this ruthless, brutal and evil world. And you gotta be honest: it really is easier without children, less stressful and a lot more beneficial. But at the end it is all a question of perspective. Because I never judge anyone for having children, because I am sure they love to have them, but don't judge me for not wanting to have them because I do have my valid reasons and you can't hide yourself from the truth by being a hypocrite 🤷‍♀️

  28. I’m almost 17 and I’m on the fence about kids. I don’t want kids because I hate children but part of me does because everyone says it’ll be different when it’s your child. I’ve always said I don’t want children even from the age of 5 years old and everyone but my closest friends say you’ll change your mind. Why do people think they have the right to tell people that they should have children and that they’re wrong if they don’t want kids. It’s said that 1 in 4 women regret having children for various reasons and I don’t want to be put it that position where I will regret bringing a child into this world because I don’t want to not because of the climate etc but because I as a person do NOT want children children have NOT been a part of my life plan since I was a child myself. If doctors are so certain that people will « change their minds » why is this service on offer?!

  29. I am thirthy and i want a child, but i don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend, nor husband or wife. And i run my own company (extremely small one), but i am still busy with work. After some time i think, until i am 40 i will let that choice open, maybe my life changes, but i am also okay, when i stay single and unmarried. I can't force love, nor a child and i don't want to force it, i will see, if it will happen, it's all in the hand of destiny or god or whatever.

  30. Women have a natural instinct to want children. To choose not to bear children is alright…. But majority of women who don't want children find themselves becoming so lonely, so they adopt. It honestly is selfish in my opinion because so many women want children, and want a family so desperately.

  31. Is good to have children… Is also good to not want to have them. Pressure is toxic. Do what you feel is ok with your life. Nobody helps to raise your children so you decide if you want then or not.

  32. Why do the doctors react like that? Is it because of religion or are they afraid that they will get sued then the woman changes their mind? There has to be a reason. I don't buy that they care about their patients that much.

  33. Why some people gotta force someone who does not want a child to change your mind? It's not like they're gonna lose anything if they didn't wanna have children or gain anything if they did… aside for their parents not going to have granchildrens ofc. why dot hey have to try and meddle in other people's lives and control how they want to live their lives?

  34. So true… So true.. can't agree more .. even if u are not married.. they say seriously u don't want children?😮

  35. No society in the world would exist without procreation. That's pretty much the only reason why men are attracted to-, value- and put up with women.

    If a woman doesn't want to ever have any children, she's rejecting her entire biological imperative.

    It is therefore no wonder that those doctors were so against that speaker's wish of self-mutilation.

    It's like having a man come into a hospital, demanding his hands to be cut off 'because being able to work and to take care of oneself doesn't define manhood'.

    Both instances are almost equally shortsighted, crazy sounding and anti-social in nature.

  36. If you want kids or not .. it's Ur choice.. Ur parter doesn't want or not it's his or her choice.. whether you want to support it partner or not it's your choice.. whether Ur partner want to support u are not it's his or her choice.. pretty complicated you know..when the matter is distributed

  37. PREACH IT GIRL!! I dont want to have kids, because I am terrified of childbirth, and whenever i get asked by my mom, and I tell her, she always says "You're gonna change your mind" and she laughs when I tell her, and it pisses me off. Never let anyone tell your future besides you.

  38. I agree with you totally I'm 60 years old of male and still don't have no children due to choice it was a big deal 20000 years ago to have a baby but There's 7 billion people and Rising I didn't want to bring kids into the world that's going to starve to death because of too many people

  39. Anyone with a serious mental illness should understand the desire to prevent another human from having to go through that type of suffering. I can't imagine bringing a child into this world who may have my life experience. No, no, and no.

  40. Im 17 y.o and have ambitions for my future and none of them contain having a child, each time i imagine myself having a child it sends chills down my spine by the fact that i have to bear this responsibility that i cant or want to handle and waste my life and futures precious time that i only get to experience once on something i dont even want, when i tell this to my family im met with "ur still too young for this discussion" and the typical "ull change" and belittle me for it, especially when im living in a society where not getting married or living alone in a house as a woman is a shame.

  41. Over population is a myth. We can grow hamburgers in a month, veg's in 1/3 the time it takes naturally, and throw out enough food to feed the world. I stopped listening a 2:46 as she is delusional. And to all those worried about GMO's and modern medical practices just remember that our life expectancy is longer than it has ever been.

  42. I thought that motherhood was pushed on to women so we wouldn’t dominate the workforce and to control us as well. There’s a lot of working women who become stay-at-home-moms and out of the workforce. Control, we won’t go anywhere without our children and will stay through the abuse(verbal/physical).

  43. I am so sick of people who tell me I have to have children because I am married. I have a significant health problem that I don’t want given to children. Because I put the needs of a child before my own “selfish” desire to have a child not caring about the consequences of having a child with a severe health problem like I have. That and I know I am looked down on for not having kids by certain people in my life.

  44. My son has chose to not be a parent and I respect that across all boards. I will never be Grandma. I do not want grandkids. I don't feel like being a mom a second time.

  45. With my mental health issues (especially depression), I won’t have kids. First because I don’t want to pass that on. Secondly, I won’t have the motivation, energy or the mental stability to take care of a child. Honestly I’d just be mentally incapable and unprepared to raise a child 🙁

  46. selfishness is adding to the population for no other reason other than that anyone can. reduce co2 emissions? how about STOP BREEDING INCESSANTLY?

    im responsible enough to know i am too irresponsible to raise a kid fulltime. stick to babysitting.

    this world is insane and only getting worse. who wants to bring a life into this BS? THATS selfish. i want a baby! not… we need a baby. i WANT a baby. no. i want LOTS of babies!

    too many humans. too many kids in foster care or worse… orphanages.

    the concept of IVF is sickening when theres people starving, people homeless, and all our flora and fauna being destroyed at an ever incressing rate. thats nature's way of saying STOP BREEDING. enough! too many humans!

  47. I don't want kids because I can barely take care of myself how do you expect me to be responsible for another being??

  48. That’s what all families say like this it’s not like a cool upgrade it’s a big responsibility dreams should be taken seriously this world is already populated enough it’s not selfish and motherhood does not make a woman we can still be happy without a partner or kids

  49. I never ever ever wanted kids.
    I don't dislike them.
    I just never wanted my own.
    And I have never regretted that decision .

  50. My mother wants to get sterilized for her health because nothing else will work, but the doctor just says try this and this, you might want more children, when she already has 2. I just told her that the next time she goes to say, I don’t but if that changes there is always adoption.

  51. The more I try to explain it the more people look at me like I am afraid of it or sure to change my mind or something. I am sitting there literally trying to understand why anyone would rationally want kids.

  52. I don't ever want to have kids cause I don't want to make another soul get tortured by indoctrination, 15 years of school, and 25-30 years of a job, only to realize that it was all so that you could perpetuate the cycle of birth-innocence-realization-despair-death.

  53. THANK YOU for saying this. I'm basically only 2 minutes in but yooo. How many times I have heard "wait ten years and you'll change your mind about it"
    I think it has been 17 years that I've first heard this. I have never changed my mind about it and don't think I ever will. Is it really selfish of me? People were always having this face of disbelief when I said I dont want any. Have always wondered what goes on in their heads that moment. Me here always shrugged "hm. Guess I'm not normal then" and carried on with my life.

  54. I'm childfree and I dislike people who ask "What if your partner wants kids" Why is that even a question? I could never date someone who wanted children

  55. Is it worth it having a ridiculous talk about such an insignificant topic? Who cares if she had kids or not? 😏

  56. Having children is a very personal choice to make. I know that one day, after I get my career and have done all of my travelling and the things I want to do, I would love to get married and have a baby. That is my choice, and whether if women want to get pregnant or not, it's no one else's place to make a narrow judgement. As long as people are satisfied with the decisions they are making for themselves, no problem 😎

  57. I'm not even fifteen yet and I never want to have biological children. Sure, you might be super proud of yourself once you have them, but like…
    I just don't like it. I don't like anything about it. I would definitely adopt, that would be nice, but I just can't ever imagining having to take care of another part of me…also I may or may not be bi/les/asexual so…im not sure if it has something to do with that. I just feel pressured to have children later in life, sorry gran but…if anything at the least you're gonna have to deal with an adopted grandchild. AIN'T NOBODY STOPPIN' ME!

  58. You belong to the state, the state will change your mind for you if the figures show that more children are needed.

  59. Splendidly said. I would make a great dad but I don't want kids. My choice. Your choice. Religion gives you no choice. You either fit whichever religious path you're not even on or you're a woman. Condescending megalomaniacs will always rule!

  60. If a doctor talked to me like that I'd tell him to piss off, fire him on the spot as my doctor and go find a female obgyn. How dare he call her a little girl. He needs a good kick in the gnads to discover his inner falsetto.

  61. That happened to my husband too. I had been on bc for years and he wanted me to stop taking them. We talked about the fact that he just didn't want kids. If I wanted kids, we could have them, but don't have them for him. When he went to the urology clinic, he was basically told he was too young to have the surgery. What happens when you're older and want kids. He said if I don't want them now, I'm not going to want them when I'm older. He wound up going to another clinic, and I got off bc

  62. Because a man's want to have children is more important than a woman's opinion and want of her body that will be impacted from pregnancy.

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