They have decided not to have children: “I know I will not be fulfilled”

Many women now claim their non-desire for children. (© Yakobchuk Olena / AdobeStock)

8 billion people on Earth in November 2022. This number makes you dizzy and it’s not over: the world’s population will actually increase sharply in a few months. However, fertility decreases in our western countries, and more and more people are making up their minds do not want children.

A choice that is still misunderstood by part of the population. “It has always been natural for me not to want to be a mother. We always ask ‘why?’, To those who say they do not want children. But we never ask those who want to know what their reasons are, ”says Juliette

This feeling of not wanting to be a mother, the young woman has always felt it. And recently realized that she was not the only one. A study by INED (Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques) published in 2010 shows that 6.3% of men and 4.3% of women do not want to have children.

Invest elsewhere

Juliette is 24 years old. PhD student in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), in gender studies, she would never have a child and claims it completely. For her it is a huge investment to be a parent, and her attitude is clear: she prefers to devote herself to other projects that suit her better, and in particular to her work.

“My thesis already takes a lot of time, I prefer engage in matters that are close to my heart, and not owe my life to another human being ”, schemes the young woman. Not always understood, her reasoning may seem individualistic in the eyes of others, and Juliette is well aware of that.

Although I respect their choices, on the contrary, I find that it is the others who are selfish to wish for children when one sees the world we live in.

Juliet, 24 years oldPhD student


Fear of the future, the planet in danger, mental strain motherhood, other aspirations … There are often many reasons why some young people between the ages of 18 and 30 express their desire not to become parents.

However, there should be no particular reason to reveal in the light of children’s non-desire, if not the pure fact that one does not want to. And Bettina Zourli tries to explain, contacted by

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She is the originator of the Instagram account @jeneveuxpasdenfants, which brings together a community of 38,000 subscribers interested in this topic. The idea of ​​the content creator is to inform his community without taboo on this topic, but also many others, related to children’s non-wish: contraception, feminism and societal injunctions in general.

“In 2019, I turned 30, I was in a relationship with a man, I got married. And I realized that was where I started. check all the fields as society understands and that the next logical step was to have a child ”, explains this French woman living in Brussels.

I had never thought about it, because I never wanted a child, it was not even a question mark. But at that point, people started commenting on motherhood.

Bettina Zourli

“Social pressure” to be a parent

The INED study also highlights this social pressure to have children “Intervening” at all ages, and all the more so in those with “full fertility,” that is, between 25 and 35 years of age, when voluntary infertility is particularly low. »

Bettina then recorded the many sentences she heard around her and published an essay, Child-free: I do not want children. “I told myself it was not possible that I was the only one who meant it,” she confides.

Either we did not talk about it, or there was no room for this theme.

Bettina ZourliCreating the account @jeneveuxpasdenfants

The 30-year-old who has a desire for dissemination and pedagogy, and then decides to create his Instagram account. “I realized that many women were in my testimony,” she recalls. And many are the ones who thank her for this account.

They tell me they felt less alone, better understood.

Bettina ZourliCreating the account @jeneveuxpasdenfants

“It’s not my life project”

Camille, 23, also knows she does not want to be a mother, and she says it simply: having a child is not his life project. “My personal satisfaction goes through other things than a childhood project. And I know I will not be happy if I have one. »

She also encounters sometimes misunderstanding when she explains her choice. “They say it’s a selfish choice when it has no bearing on others. It’s part of my personal life,” the young woman said.

But at the same time, I have come to understand that it is up to everyone. Because the female body is now a political issue, an issue that is acquired everywhere.


The female body, a political object …

Bettina Zourli explains, however, that if there are so many taboos and misunderstandings surrounding this election, “it is good because there are so many political, social and economic issues behind having children. Pronatalist policies and family goals have always permeated our society until recent years.

In 1938, a decree established “family benefits independent of wages and businesses. It also sets out principles that will stand: progressive allocation by family sizepaid regardless of her income and at a uniform rate ”, remembers the website

So in 1939, the French Family and Birth Act established a policy with clearly stated birth and family goals. The Vichy regime, established in 1940, will also pursue this goal. ” The woman [sont] accused of having forgotten their ‘natural role’ as national producers, mothers and wives “, we read in the work Vichy and Christophe Capuano’s family.

… And a sociological construction

Camille, a law student in Strasbourg, turns the question upside down and believes that having a child should be a conscious choice. “It has been internalized for a woman to want to be a mother : people are not even aware that they can choose to have one or not “, she explains.

As soon as we approach 30 years, presto, we necessarily ask ourselves the question, while maternal instinct is merely a sociological and historical construction, it is not necessarily innate. But it became the natural course of events.

CamilleLaw students

The INED report also highlights this sociological construction : “At a young age, the desire to start a family is already very strong: we only very rarely plan to be childless,” the INED report notes.

This injunction is accompanied by representations of “good” parenting: having a partner and being in a stable couple, planning births at the “right” age and at the “right” time, within the framework of a marriage project, a set of norms which results in a desire to “be a family” widely shared by the people of France.

INED report

No need to give

Author and content creator Bettina Zourli repeats it: There should be no rational reason to argue to explain this choice. “We have no reason to give,” the young woman insists.

It is as normal and natural to wish for a child as it is to not wish for one.

Bettina ZourliCreating the account @jeneveuxpasdenfants

But there are still common causes. “Some people who have a strong ecological sensitivity explain that they do not want to expose their children to climate change, ”adds the French woman who lives in Belgium. There is also an economic side “Many people cannot afford to support a child. »

A strong feminist commitment

Last explanation: a strong feminist commitment that is often found among those who do not want children. “A child in a heterosexual household is the door opens for the accentuation of inequalitiessay the couple and at work “, the author continues.

One view is shared by Juliette: “I am quite pessimistic by nature, and when I see friends around me who have grown up with parents who were not able to raise them well, I tell myself that people are not necessarily able to take care of each other. »

As a woman, the PhD student also does not want to bear the psychological burden that is borne by mothers. Understand the fact of having to think continuously about everything that represents the organization of the family and the children. A job that often concerns mothers.

Contraception problem

Camille confirmed her choice by choosing an unusual method of contraception: have your pipes tiedat the age of 21. A 2001 law on sterilization for contraceptive purposes indicates that any adult can be sterilize after making the request and four months after the obligatory consultation with a doctor, to receive information.

Because after several years of taking hormonal contraception, which gives her side effects or hurts (her implant was badly placed), she starts thinking of an alternative solution and gets the idea of ​​sterilization. A decision sometimes a little understood, for few take the leap at this age.

And we have some information on this subject while it is a contraceptive that exists.

Camille Law students

For the young woman, getting her pipes tied little “obstacle course : you must find a general practitioner who agrees to perform the sterilization on a young person. And the doctors’ reactions could have been violent or infantilizing when I expressed this request, ”she says.

But Camille was sure of her decision, which she carefully considered. “And yet I heard some criticism that it e.g. was the comfort solution. Because in the end, as women, we are very much assigned to motherhood … ”

Reconsider the couple

In addition to the question of the body, the fact that one does not want a child also questions the couple’s vision. “We often have a very limited view of a family, with children, a dog, a house. We often think that the achievement for a couple is to have a child, but that is not the case, ”Camille continues.

And Bettina Zourli adds: “Today, in a capitalist world, the couple, as we know it, is not compatible with parenthood. We must reshape our world. »

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