In Switzerland, according to the Federal Statistical Office, 9% of women and men between 20 and 29 years old do not want to have children. The reasons given are: an obstacle to a professional career, ecology, fear of an uncertain future or simply the desire for a different lifestyle. Is having children a guarantee for happiness and fulfillment? Of course not, but it is a decision that, sometimes, is difficult to understand and accept because it is not part of the classic family pattern. For the first time at MotherStories, we interviewed a 35-year-old woman who assumes that she doesn’t want children. You may be surprised by this story. Maybe you’ll think it doesn’t belong on our website. However, this #womanstory proves that there is no “typical” model of a happy life. There are as many women as there are stories, as many moms as there are motherhoods, and it is this diversity that is interesting and enriching. Today, in all transparency and kindness, we tell you the story of Jasmina.
Jasmina, can you introduce yourself ? I am 35 years old and was born in Geneva. My professional life took me to Paris 10 years ago in the fashion industry before I moved to management and marketing in cosmetic brands. Today, I am lucky enough to work part-time and take advantage of this to educate myself on subjects that interest me such as mindfulness, meditation and aromatherapy. Otherwise, I have been in a relationship for 2 and a half years and before that I had a long relationship of 16 years.
Since when you knew with absolute certainty that you won’t have children ? I don’t know if you can call it a certainty. I think I have always had a broad vision of what it means to be a parent, in the sense that, for me, it is above all to offer a framework that allows the child to blossom and to transmit values. In this definition, we may not have this role only with our biological children but with children around us.
What are your reasons ?
I am rather worried about climate change and the weak actions that we (governments, citizens and companies) are putting in place. I think that I have a form of anxiety in front of this very uncertain future and, thus, I do not feel serene to contribute to a demography, which unfortunately contributes to exhaust the nature and its ecosystems.
As a child, did you plan to be a mother ? Did you ever feel the maternal instinct or the famous biological clock going off ?
Oh yes, I did! As a child I saw myself as a mother. I even saw myself as a young mother because my mother had me at 22. Of course, I am still a woman who has a cycle, hormonal variations that go with it, and all the biology that is specific to us, and I have felt the desire to have children in my life. My decision is, above all, rational and ecological. If we lived in another time or in a radically different context, I think I would have wanted to have children to pass on our family traditions, our stories, our passions, our “possessions” … but today, in the context that we know, I make the choice to share this with people who are not necessarily biologically related to me.
Do you and your partner agree on this topic ? How did you approach it? If he wanted it, would it be a reason to break up ?
He agrees with me, he is firmer on this point and does not project himself as a future parent, not having the desire or the need. I am less radical in my position, even if we perfectly share the ecological reasons of this choice. And, we are both open to the idea of adopting later if a big change in our lives makes one of us feel the need to be a parent or, why not? offer an emergency home for teenagers in need. It is clear that, in this case, a discussion will be necessary and that the situation, the desires, and the needs of each one of us, will have to be shared before a decision is taken.
How do you see yourself in 30 years ? Doesn’t the loneliness of growing old without children frighten you ? Not leaving a trace, a legacy ?
In 30 years, I can imagine myself running an agritourism-type guest house where I would welcome people with whom I share the same values and passions for cooking, nature, handmade products… In short, I would have a large family of all ages around me. This is already the case today since I make friends with people who would be the age of my parents as well as with people much younger than me. I don’t think of children as “a trace”, that would be very possessive and would deny their individuality. I see myself living my life to the fullest and bequeathing my “possessions” to people who have meant something to me and with whom I have shared precious moments.
What is the reaction of the people around you regarding your choice ?
To be honest, I feel a kind of anxiety, a fear that I am missing out on something wonderful.
If you were to get pregnant by accident, would that change your mind ?
It would certainly make me change my mind because I can’t imagine aborting a child that would be the fruit of my love. On the other hand, it would be our only child and it would be very important for me to make her/him grow up in the respect of nature and to make her/him aware of the ecological reality we have to face while trying not to pass my anguish to her/him.
There is not one way of fulfilled life but as many possibilities as there are people.
Do you think that having a child and giving birth is an aim or a condition to be a fulfilled woman ?
I think that to be a fulfilled person, we must, above all, be well with ourselves. It goes without saying that for me the purpose of a fulfilled life is not to find a partner or to have children. I hope that my story can contribute to make visible another reality of a fulfilled life.
Do you think that society is forcing women to have children ?
I don’t know if we are pushed into it and I wouldn’t dare say that people who have children do it without thinking. But I do think that we have grown up with a model of the heterosexual married couple, with dad working and mom putting her career on hold, with the house (and the credit that goes with it), the car and the kids… a lot of my friends are from this family pattern and we have accepted it as the model to follow but there are as many realities as there are people. It seems important to me that platforms like yours make visible this plurality of different happy life scenarios.
As for me, I am blossoming and in a relationship, but we are not in a hurry to live under the same roof or to get married and we do not wish to have children. We have a lot of common projects that make the richness of our relationship, but it is less conventional and maybe more abstract for people who have reproduced a more classical pattern (starting with the generation that preceded us).
Do you have children (godchildren, nieces, children of friends, etc.) around you with whom you like to spend time and for whom you invest yourself ?
Yes, I have several children around me with whom I like to share moments. I love to do crafts, gardening, cooking so I always have ideas of activities to do with them.
“Is it your turn soon ?, At your age you should freeze your eggs, You’ll regret it … “
What inappropriate question are you often asked ?
“Is it your turn soon?”, “At your age you should freeze your eggs”, “You’ll regret it” … Although I find these remarks inappropriate, I always try to remember that they start from a caring intention.
What advice would you give to women who do not wish to have children but do not dare to assume it ?
More than to women who do not wish to have children, I would like to invite all the people who read this article to contribute to making visible the plurality of fulfilled lives that we lead, with or without children, in a relationship or not, etc… these realities are not binary but infinite and all equally “valid”. There is not one way of “fulfilled life” but as many possibilities as there are people.
Jasmina, what is the best thing we can wish you today, for tomorrow ?
Pour demain, je nous souhaite une société plus ouverte et bienveillante, consciente de la force que représentent nos différences.