Why shouldn't people have children?

: “Child-free” instead of “childless”: women tell why they live without children

“When the right person comes, you will want children too. Who will take care of you when you are old? You are a real woman only with a child. ”Anna * hears such sentences again and again when she tells other people that she does not want to have children. The 29-year-old decided early on to live child-free. Children play no role in the planning of their lives and that of their friends. But for many people that doesn't seem acceptable. They do not want to admit that a woman consciously renounces children. The worst thing for Anna is not being taken seriously. “You don't trust me to be able to make a decision. When I say, at almost 30 years old, that I don't want children, people assume that I don't know what's good for me. But when an 18-year-old says she wants to have children later, surprisingly, she is not too young to make that decision, ”says the social worker.

Bea from Saarland knows that. The 26-year-old clinical coder has also decided against having children and prefers to live with two cats instead. For her life planning she is ridiculed by others or her opinion is not accepted. “Many cannot understand that I want to stay child-free,” says Bea. Any conversation about it feels uncomfortable for her. In the social networks she is even dubbed as heartless, insane or abnormal. “It's still a taboo not to want children,” she says.

But why is it like that? There is a social expectation of women to bring children into the world. The woman is thus reduced to her body, says Verena Brunschweiger, grammar school teacher and author of the book "Child-free instead of childless: A manifesto". Many were successfully persuaded that there was a so-called "biological clock", she says, "but it is just a patriarchal construct that is perfidiously used to put women under pressure". Verena Brunschweiger consciously chooses the term child-free instead of childless, because child-free people are people who have decided against their own reproduction for rational reasons.

Different reasons

Child-free women are generally regarded as selfish, but in their opinion the opposite is the case: "By doing without children myself, I help those who are already there and the whole environment," she says. The author from Regensburg argues that having children is bad for the environment. In her book she quotes various studies that prove this. A child causes almost 60 tons of CO each year2 that this environmental pollution can be saved. A study from Oregon confirms that two children is actually one too many for parents. "One child less is by far the greatest individually possible contribution to environmental protection that one can make," says Brunschweiger. Other environmentally conscious behavior doesn't help nearly as much. Recycling would only produce 0.2 tonnes of CO2 save on. Those who do not have a child are protecting the earth as best as possible. “In this respect, something would be gained if you had only one instead of two children. And yes, also and especially in Germany, because a German child uses up the resources of 30 African children, ”says Brunschweiger, who also lives in an environmentally conscious way and does not eat meat, does not fly and hardly drives a car.

Why women live child-free can have very different reasons. Anna simply never wanted to have children. She works in child and youth welfare and looks after young people between the ages of 17 and 21 in her job - but she never felt the need to have children of her own. “I don't think babies and children are stupid, but I can't empathize with them very well. Somehow I lack this mother gene, I don't think it's cute either, ”says Anna.

Bea has a similar experience. “I can't do anything with children. They don't trigger any emotions in me. Animals are much more dear to my heart than children, ”says the young woman who volunteers for animal welfare.

German mother cult

Although family planning is a very personal matter, women are asked about it again and again, even by complete strangers. “That is very intrusive. People don't mean it badly, but why does this question have to be asked with this self-image at all. People don't know whether they might tear open wounds because the woman might have lost a child or cannot have children, ”says journalist and blogger Asmona Iesha Logan. With her, the question of having children no longer arises; she has decided against it for physical reasons. For 20 years, fibroids on the uterus put a heavy strain on her life and health. She suffered from pain, circulatory problems, anemia, irregular bleeding and had two operations. In May 2014, she made the decision to have her uterus removed - and thus never be able to become a mother. "This operation is now like my second birthday," says the 45-year-old. About her decision to live without children, she has published the very personal text “Child-free and having fun” on her blog “BeautyDelicious”.

“We have a mother cult in Germany. It is assumed that as a woman you want to have children. Children can be an asset, but you don't have to define yourself about them, ”says Logan. Men, on the other hand, are rarely asked about their child planning.

With men it doesn't matter how they behave and decide, says Verena Brunschweiger: “Women, on the other hand, are judged much more by their body: If this body has given birth to children, it complies with porn standards and so on. That's corrosive! "

Verena Brunschweiger has been heavily criticized for the theses in her book. "I hope that the lady, as a teacher, showed more empathy for her students than these unspeakable statements would lead to fear," said Heinz-Peter Meidinger, the chairman of the German Teachers' Association. Especially in the social networks, she hate her statements against her. There are comments to read like “Life after brain death is possible, she is the best example!”, “This woman should be developed backwards and aborted”, “Your parents should have thought and acted that way back then. Then we would have been spared your disgusting presence. ”In principle, she is not interested in headwinds, says Brunschweiger. Otherwise she would not have published the book.

“It's a very emotional topic,” says Asmona Iesha Logan. When she published her text about her child-free life, she also got a lot of bad comments, but also a lot of positive feedback for her courage. In addition to all the nasty comments, Verena Brunschweiger also received a lot of praise and approval: "These women are enthusiastic and infinitely grateful that someone finally breaks a lance for them!"

Anna and Bea are one of them. The two women are happy when the topic reaches a broader public so that they too do not have to constantly explain themselves in the future. “I often feel pushed into a corner. From all sides I am persuaded that one day I will have a child after all, ”says Bea. Above all, she keeps hearing the argument that she would otherwise be alone in old age. “But I can't have a child just so that I'm not alone later,” she says. Anna is often appalled when, as a child-free woman, she is downright wished that she would later be lonely.

But there is also that: mothers who would have preferred not to have children and who regret being a mother. Regretting Motherhood is the name of this movement, which became known in 2015 through an Israeli study. The tenor was that the social idea of ​​what the greatest happiness is for a woman does not always correspond to the experiences and feelings of women themselves.

For example, that without children they feel “much more free and spontaneous” like Asmona Iesha Logan. Or have more money available and not have to expose your body to the risks and pains of pregnancy like Anna did.

Anna says: “There is not only one way to be happy. People should learn that. ”It will take some time before child-free women are accepted in society. “We should raise girls so that they can have children, but not have to,” says Asmona Iesha Logan.

* Name changed by the editor.