Monday, September 10, 2012

No kids, thank you

Recently I was interviewed by Esther Lewis of the Cape Argus about my decision not to breed. For those of you who've asked, I've reproduced the piece here. If you're in the same boat as me, I'd love for you to leave a comment on my blog. 

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GIVING birth to a child is something most women will do in their lifetime. But one Cape Town woman says it’s just not for her. Nerine Dorman, 34, married Thomas Dorman when she was 22. At the time, she thought she would wait until she was 28 to have children.

When the time came, she thought perhaps she’d be ready at 30. Thirty rolled around and still, she wasn’t ready. At this point, neither she nor her husband wanted children.

One of three children, Dorman was a “total surprise” when her mother discovered she was pregnant with her at 42. Her brother and sister have children, so there’s no pressure on Dorman to produce grandchildren.
“My mother kept telling me not to have children. She encouraged me to explore my music, writing and to travel,” she says.

Dorman works in the advertising industry, and writes and edits books. She also assists her husband who is a filmmaker and photographer. On weekends, the couple often leave at the crack of dawn for film shoots or other projects in remote locations, and return in the early hours of the next day.

She describes their lives as very chaotic, and adding a child into the mix would not work. Many parents argue that people who choose not to have children are “missing out”. “We sometimes discuss it. I do sometimes worry that I’m missing out. But people with children are also missing out,” says Dorman.
Watching her friends who have children, she sees what they go through. And it’s not for her. Many of her friends do not have time to do what they love any more, they don’t have time for themselves. After a hard day’s work, she loves being able to go home and enjoy down-time, writing or editing books.

While the sight of newborn, cuddly babies may be enough to rouse maternal instincts, it leaves Dorman feeling “weird”. Many friends her age are raising children, but the fact that she has no interest in doing so herself, has not had any effect on her friendships.

Her friends’ children adore her. She also has a three-year-old godson. “If anything happens to his mom, I’m fully prepared to take him in.”

One of the motivators for her not having children is the fact that she’s not in the financial position to provide that which she was given by her parents. She is adamant her choice is the right one. “It’s a difficult one, but I stand by my opinion that I’m not missing out.” – ESTHER LEWIS


  1. As a parent, I find it bizarre to assume that everyone else would want to or should have to be a parent also. I question the line in the article that says most women will give birth -- that may be true when taking into account all the women in the world (would still like to see a statistic or percentage on that) but that would still ignore the fact that for any adult in a democracy, having children should be a choice.
    I love my kids and I don't regret having them. Life would be different without them. But for all the extra time I would surely have (not to mention sleep) I would never trade with anyone, just as I expect anyone who's decided not to have kids wouldn't want to trade their lives with a parent's. Have kids, don't have kids -- your choice should only have weight in your life and your partner's, not be the subject for anyone else to tell you which choice is right!

  2. I'm with you all the way, Nerine. My sister had a baby at 18 and I saw what she went through and decided I didn't want kids. I married at 22 and said, "Maybe after five years". Five years later I thought, okay, now might be okay, until my ex-husband decided that not only would I need to at least work part time, preferably ful-time, but he would only be willing to give the baby a bath and bring him out for ice cream once in a while. I would need to do everything else. Needless to say I didn't have that child and I ended up divorced a year later. Since then I've been in one other relationship and he definitely did not want kids and I never felt the biological clock ticking. I've never really felt it. I enjoy being around my friends' kids, especially as they get older, but I've seen what they need to do to keep everything going and the sacrifices they make and I want to write all the time, travel to foreign lands and just be able to breathe without worrying about diapers, homework, affording college, etc. Maybe this make me selfish, but I prefer to think of it as I understand myself and what I want. Do I think I missing out? Not really. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like, but never in a way that makes me want to give up what I've got now. I think many women these days are putting off childbirth until they are older and then getting to the now or never point and realizing, hey, I've made it this long without kids, why start now? :)

  3. Amen, Nerine. I see people with kids and I do not get that gushy feeling. It annoys me to no end how many comments I get (negative ones) about my decision not to breed. My partner and I both agree that we'd prefer to live the life we choose rather than the life that people think we should have. For us, that means no children. He wants a successful medical practice and I want to write and edit. Both of us want the freedom to do what we want without a second thought for a little one.

  4. I'm an odd one. I reckon I sit on the fence here. On the one hand, I knew 'instinctively' that I wanted children but at the same time, the thought terrified me. I married at 21 and put it off until I was 30. My husband and I met while travelling and it has always been important to me to be able to maintain my way of life and a child was never going to change that. I've never been able to relate to children and babies to me are just blobs with eyes, who are unpredictable. When my baby arrived, I was happy that I had produced a child but I suffered from postnatal anxiety and depression. I'm fine now and Michael (3) and I are very close (the older he gets, the more I can relate to him) and I love him dearly but I struggle with the label/identity of 'mother'. It conflicts with my need for independence. So I understand people who chose not to have children and sometimes I envy them. What I don't envy are people who have 3 or more children. The thought horrifies me. Breeding is definitely not for everyone. I'm lucky in that I've made it work and I have a good balance now.

  5. I'm a happy mother, but I think one of the worst mistakes society makes is trying to pressure people who don't want children into having children. When a parent is resentful because he or she was pressured into having a child, chances are they're going to be less than a good parent to that child. There's enough people in this world - we don't really need to work hard on reproducing. So let those who actually want kids have kids. Let those who don't want kids make that choice without interference.

  6. I'm 42 and have never wanted children, and neither has my husband. One factor we have in common is that we are both the eldest of three children, with the same gap - 2 years and 11 years - between us and our younger siblings, so we both grew up with an idea of how much work babies are.

    I possess no maternal instincts. Children are like vampires, sucking you of time, energy and cash. I have accepted the fact that other people see something desirable in them. I will never understand why.

  7. I'm in my thirties, have never wanted children, and hopefully soon will be having a hysterectomy to cure a painful disease I have been suffering with for far too long. Only people who genuinely want children for what they are should have them. A child isn't a commodity or an insurance policy for old age, or something one should do just to have an experience because other people say so, it's an individual with its own needs and life, and breeding one for any other reason is incredibly disrespectful to it as a person.

  8. At the age of 24, people around me (normally those older than me and especially my mother) try to convince me that 'I will change my mind in five or ten years!' when they hear about me and my long-time boyfriend's decision to remain childless.
    In fact, his very staunch Catholic father is putting a lot of pressure on us to get married and have children because he wants grandchildren!

    The other response is normally 'what kind of harpy ARE you?!', to which I usually reply something along the lines of 'my uterus and I have decided that we are not ready to stop drinking for nine months yet'.

    In all honesty, in our so-called enlightened society I struggle to understand why friends and family can't and won't simply accept the decision of those who do not want to have children. It's not like we made the decision overnight.