As a parent, I can tell you there are countless reasons not to have kids


Anyone who is planning on having a baby should consider the reasons not to (Picture: Sarah Whiteley)

‘What if they have a fear of dogs?’

‘Loss of freedom’

As Lorella Palmer, a 22-year-old from London, listed her reasons for not wanting kids on TikTok, I found myself nodding along. 

To be honest, I’m surprised she only got to 10 – there are millions of reasons to decide not to reproduce. Millions! 

So many people assume that it is just another milestone in life to be reached, achieved and ticked off, rather than giving the matter of procreation serious thought and deciding whether becoming a parent is something that is right for them personally.

Because despite some of Lorella’s reasons being tongue in cheek, it doesn’t make them any less valid.  

She says in her video, when referring to her first reason, ‘No takesies backsies’: ‘What if after 10 years of having a child I wake up one day thinking, “Do you know what, I’ve tried this, I’ve tested this, it’s just not for me?”‘ And she’s completely right. Never mind 18 years, children are a lifelong commitment.

Obviously as they become adults, children become more independent and less reliant. But at 38, I still call my parents regularly for emotional advice and practical help – and everything in between. I’d be devastated if they weren’t still there for me. They are the two people you should be able to rely upon for unconditional love and support, no matter what your age.

Lorella also lists the fact that while mums are just expected to be good parents, dads are rewarded for their efforts, the fact that she’d have to do school runs and make packed lunches for 16 years, and the worry of whether her kids would be afraid of dogs. 

All completely justified, in my opinion. 

She also cites the loss of freedom, the fact that children get so sick, the housing crisis preventing her from being able to afford to buy somewhere to live, the fact that she doesn’t share food, and that she doesn’t want to add to the struggling health and education system. 

Oh, and the minor matter of the pain of childbirth. 

While some of these are more serious than others and the whole video can be dismissed as a twenty-something girl being glib, as a mum of two, they all resonate with me. 

Immy and T love Bluey

Of course, for every reason not to have a child, there are dozens more to have one (Picture: Sarah Whiteley)

I fretted for the whole nine months of my pregnancy about whether me and my pathetic pain threshold would be up to pushing a full-term baby out of my vagina (in the end, I never found out, as I wound up having two C-sections).

And my two children, Theo, four, and Immy, two, are both terrified of dogs and it is a nightmare. Whenever we go to a friend’s house, the first question they both ask is whether that person has a dog. Once we stopped to speak to someone on the street and Theo was so scared by a passing pooch, he jumped out into the road.  

And of course, these reasons are just the tip of the iceberg.

Recently, I’ve been so scared by the heatwave and the environmental crisis, worrying about whether it was responsible to bring two children into such a damaged world.

Then there is the complete lack of space – physical, emotional and mental. I’d never heard of the phrase ‘touched out’ before I had children and I felt it before I could define it. The oppression of having another body on you constantly. And, when they’re older, throwing themselves on you, sleeping on you, randomly trying to pick your nose… it’s exhausting.

You don’t have a minute to yourself when they’re around. And even when they’re at nursery or their grandparent’s house, you still have to be prepared to drop everything if they have a temperature or get a rash or throw up – things that happen far more often than you’d ever realise.

No more last-minute trips to the cinema with your partner – and even well-planned-out ones are a rarity. I remember someone telling me this before I gave birth, and it wasn’t until I had Theo that I realised just how true it was. You don’t realise just how long cinema trips are – or how late they run – making you feel guilty for imposing on grandparents or friends, or the cost of a babysitter turning it into an extortionate night out.

Even now, I wonder if we’ve done the right thing by having children. I have nightmares about what would happen to Theo and Immy if something happened to me and my husband, Tom and the impact that trauma would have. 

Or, worse still, I wonder if I’d be able to cope if anything happened to them. I’ve followed the Archie Battersbee story through tears, wondering how on earth his poor mother is going to get out of bed every morning after what she has been through.

Yes, of course, for every reason not to have a child, there are dozens more to have one. The love you experienced, both for and from them, the intensity of that relationship that is like no other. 

And I’m obviously very thankful that I was able to even have my two beautiful children, with infertility impacting so many.

But while, at 22, Lorella has many years to potentially change her mind, I’m still so glad she’s put these reasons out there.

Because anyone who is planning on having a baby should consider the reasons not to.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

Share your views in the comments below.


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