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'I Don't Want Kids,' Period

*That's a firm decision. Why, then, do friends, relatives and even the dentist reject it?

May 03, 1997|DENISE CASTAON | Denise Castaon is a junior at USC, majoring in journalism and political science. 'I'm seen as selfish for wanting a life free of the responsibilities that come with having children. I don't care.'

I don't want kids.

This statement shocks people. First, they repeat my statement as though they haven't heard correctly. "You don't want kids? Really?" Then the questions start:

"Why not? What's wrong with having kids?" They sound as though I have offended them personally. Next, they analyze me: "You must be going through a phase or something."

Their final line utterly rejects my position: "Oh, you don't mean it. You're only 21. You'll have kids someday."

No, I really don't want children, I don't care for them much and they certainly don't care for me. I must admit there is one exception. I am a godmother, a nia, and Cameron, my goddaughter, is almost 2. I love her, not just because she is very bright, makes funny faces and yells "Nia!" at the top of her lungs whenever she sees me, but also because I can hand her back to her parents once I am through chasing after her.

My experience with Cameron is the only good one I've ever had with children. Once, in high school, I was photographing a soccer game for the yearbook. My friend, Claudia, standing behind me, started to laugh hysterically. I turned to ask her what was the matter. As she wiped tears from her eyes and fanned her red face, she stammered, "That little girl just stuck her tongue out at you!"

She erupted into laughter again. I didn't even know who the child was. I couldn't have done anything to provoke her because my back was to her.

Other kids have started to cry when they looked at me. I hadn't done anything to them, and I certainly hadn't been mean to them. They simply pick up some "anti-motherly vibe" that alerts them to cry or run away.

Some adults may have a hard time accepting the fact that I never want children because they don't pick up those same vibes. Some even see me as a mother figure. My roommates, in fact the entire floor of my building freshman year, called me "Mommy." I cooked, I mended, I nagged, I mothered. I admit it. But that does not make me willing to produce a couple of kids.

The other reason people don't take me seriously has to do with traditional gender roles. Young men often say they never want kids and no one objects. But we women are the breeders. People assume a young woman will not only have kids, but will long for them. I have never had anyone say, "Well, it's your choice not to have kids."

At the dentist, during a painful procedure my dentist saw me wincing and said "Oh, you should get used to it, you'll have to go through labor one day." Although I had sharp instruments in my mouth and a numb tongue, I replied, "I thon't wanth thids." He laughed at me and said, "Well you'll have to get a lifetime's supply of birth control."

I'm seen as selfish for wanting a life free of the responsibilities that come with having children. I don't care. I want a career in journalism. I know that will mean working long hours and working late translates into missing family dinners, soccer games and school plays.

Both of my parents worked. I, an only child, stayed with relatives during the day instead of going to day care. I was able to play with my cousins, but at 5 what you really want is to be with your mom and dad. I'd sit at the window waiting to catch a glimpse of my mom's car pulling into the driveway. She was always late. I don't want to put a child though that.

I'm asked "What if your husband wants kids?" I will certainly settle that point before we are married. My current boyfriend does not want to be a father, yet even he sees me having at least one child. A "'90s woman" has to do it all--a career, kids, a successful marriage.

So, I am constantly giving reasons for not wanting kids. I should not have to. The world's population will keep increasing exponentially despite my decision. No one will miss my contribution of 2.5 children.

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