Sam, a young US student with Greek-Italian origins, tells us the reasons behind her desire not to have children and she reflects upon how her choices are more or less welcomed within her friends and family circles and on a social level, highlighting the differences between US, Italy and Greece.
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SAM: « My name is Sam Calias, I’m from Boston, Massachusetts and I’m 21 years old.
I study Psychology and Italian at the Catholic University of America. I don’t particularly want children, ever really, that’s not something I’m super excited about, not something I’m thinking about right now or really in the future.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I know a lot of people always ask me “Oh, but why?”. I can’t just say “No” and leave it there. There must always be a reason for it.
People always say “You’ll want them later” and I’m like “Ok, but I don’t.” »
Q: « Is there a specific reason why you don’t want kids? »
SAM: « I think that big part is that it’s a lot of responsibility, and there’s a lot…like… Being a psych major and knowing what goes into, taking care of kids and what goes into it. I just don’t think that I’m well suited for it.
Q: « So it’s based on your own fears. »
SAM: « Yes, it’s my own issues with “why if I screw them up?” »
Q: « What do you think about other people regards to their inability to have children or their choice to not have them? »
SAM: « That’s totally up to you, if you want them, more power to you, if you don’t, awesome. I don’t have issues with it, but I do think that lot of other people do have questions or issues with it. They’re constantly want a reason
because it’s not necessarily the norm yet.
Personally, it’s entirely your choice, it’s a very personal decision.
You should make what’s best for you, not because someone said you should. »
Q: « Are there other people in your family who made a similar decision? »
SAM: « Yes, I have an aunt who doesn’t have any kids. I have a bunch of uncles who don’t have kids, never got married. For my family it’s pretty standard to choose your own life path to do whatever works best for you personally. »
Q: «If you can say something to a person who completely disagree with you, who thinks it’s mandatory to have children, what would you say to her? »
SAM: « It’s a good question. What would I say? “Why? Why do you think it matters so much that I have children? You can have as many kids as you want, but do I have to?”
There are plenty of other ways to be a parent. You can take care of other people’s kids, you can run an organisation. You can support other people,
you don’t necessarily have to have kids yourself. So there’s no…
I don’t think there’s a need to have children if you don’t want them,
because you can be a parent, a mother, a father in a different way. »
Q: « So you’re completely opposed to have children for yourself? Or is just something that you prefer not to do? »
SAM: « Just something I prefer not to do. If It happens, it happens, I’m trying not to. It’s something I would definitely be “I’d rather not”, but not strictly opposed. I think it’s definitely a bigger issue elsewhere. People can say no, we don’t really have a low birth rate, so it’s not like a political issue at this point, It’s more just what people are expected to do.
But it’s not as big of an issue as in Italy or elsewhere.
My family is from Greece, if you say “I don’t want kids” it’s a big issue. And I don’t see the same response the same reaction in United States.
“Childless” feels a lot like… there’s a loss, there’s something you should be doing that you’re not doing, almost like a crime in a way, whereas “childfree” is more… more like a decision, a choice rather than something that is expected.
“Childfree” is more… I guess has a nicer connotation. It’s more accepting and more open than the word “childless”.
I think in English not so much, but I feel that in Italian there isn’t really a word that capture it, that doesn’t have something negative, doesn’t mean something ugly or mean. While in English you can just say “a single woman”, “a woman not a mother”. But there’s nothing as heavily connotation in English as it is in Italian.
I have a lot friends that are in the same mindset as me like “I don’t think about kids, I don’t want them now.”
That’s a thing I’m gonna think later on. But I do have a lot friends, especially at this university, that truly believe as a woman you should have children.
That is one of your major point of existing is to have kids, to generate children. But generally I find it’s more open on this campus, people can say they don’t want them now or that they don’t want kids at all.
We can talk about it in a very civil way with both sides but on this campus you do get both.
My mom is a teacher, she’s a professor, she used to teach at childcare and kindergarten. She doesn’t really care how I feel about it, she just hopes I don’t become a crazy cat lady with twelve cats instead of kids. But she’s ok with it, and so is my dad. They don’t overly care either way. They think it’s my choice, my decision, my life and can do what I want.
I have a Greek grandmother and an Italian grandmother.
Both of them…well my Greek grandmother is really not ok with it. She’s really mad that I’m 21 and I’m not married, but I think it’s an her thing.
She wishes that I would want kids and have lots of grandkids but my Italian grandmother is happy to support me with whatever I want. »
Q: « If you can say one thing to your Greek grandmother who’s opposed to your views, what would you say to her? And what would you ask her? »
SAM: « I would say… I would ask her if it really makes me less than a person, less a woman If I don’t want kids. And I’d tell her… I’m all about trying to make my life where I want it to be. And I would really appreciate if you would support me in achieving what I want to achieve, whether or not it involves children, and making me happy. »