“Yes, I don’t want children”

Published: June 4, 2012

They say she is selfish because she is depriving her (unborn) children of their place in the world.

At forty, Faiza Abbas has been married for 15 years. The pitiful looks she receives started a couple of years after her first wedding anniversary. Initially, they were accompanied with encouraging and humble words like: 

Oh, it’s only been three years, you’ll have kids soon enough, I’m sure.

Don’t worry, there’s still time, you’re still young.

About these remarks, Faiza states with a laugh:

I used to think these aunties were more worried about my childless situation than I was! I didn’t really care for children, personally. At the beginning of my marriage, my career was just starting to take off and I didn’t want to be saddled down with a child at such a time. I suppose the fact that I wasn’t having any was a welcome relief.

But her mother-in-law wasn’t a patient woman and asked every time she visited her:

Something must be wrong with you. Why don’t you see a doctor?”

“I was very lucky that my husband was very supportive at that time,” remembers Faiza.

“But I grew tired of his mother’s constant tirades and we decided to see a doctor.”

It turned out, that the problem lay with her husband; he could never father a child.

Faiza and her husband decided to keep this news a secret because her husband was terrified of what ‘people would say’ if they ever found out about his infertility. He didn’t want to be emasculated.  So, as supportive and kind as he was, he allowed his wife to take the blame for their childlessness.

They decided not to tell anyone that they had already sought medical help, and people were left free to assume whatever they liked.

Soon, her mother-in-law was convinced that Faiza was ”barren’ and decided she wanted her son to marry again; he did his best to fend off her match-making efforts.

Its been 11 years since the day they found out about his infertility, and to this day he hasn’t whispered a word about the truth.

Faiza, however, thinks that their situation is a blessing in disguise. She works as a principal and senior teacher trainer at an educational institution and doesn’t have time for children. In honest and straight words, she doesn’t want a child.

“My lifestyle is pretty well organised,” she says.

“I have to travel quite often for training sessions and a child would have made this very difficult for me. I like children, but I don’t want the responsibility of one and I don’t have the time or place for it in my life.”

Nasreen Bilal shares Faiza’s ideas.

“The first question from any new acquaintance is always about children,” she says.

“When I tell them I don’t have any, their faces always show a certain sympathy for me. This quickly changes to dislike or disdain when I tell them I decided not to have children.”

Her relatives whisper about how “westernised” her thinking is; they say she is selfish because she is depriving her (unborn) children of their place in the world. According to them, she is also depriving her husband of an heir to his name – a child to further his family’s name after he dies.

“Why do I have to cater to their notions of what a woman is supposed to be?” Faiza asks.

“I’m told that a woman is not complete until she is a mother. I say that is a nonsensical contention. My decision to not have a child stems from my inability to handle one. Why should I cave in to their emotional blackmail when I know I am incapable of taking care of a child?”

Women have always had to bear the brunt of society’s culturally set notions of what a woman should be. Most women accept defeat because they cannot fight; because their husbands believe in the same notions; because they don’t have the courage to go against the tide.

They get tired of the pitiful looks for not having normal lives. But has anyone given any thought to the fact that what they consider “normal” may hold different definition in someone else’s life?

“I like children,” Nasreen echoes Faiza’s words. “But only as long as I can hand them back to their mothers.”

It’s just the way they have decided to live their lives. If childless people can accept your noisy, bratty kids as part of your life, why can’t you accept their organised peaceful lives without children the same way?

I know a lot of people who should never have become parents; people who are unable to provide for their army of little ones at home; mothers who teach their kids that stealing and lying are good things; fathers who do not hesitate in beating up their wives in front of their children and those who have an assembly line of daughters in the hopes for a son to take on their legacy.

The psychological effects of bad parenting are there for everyone to see, so what’s wrong with deciding not to create an incomplete human being?

Would you rather raise a liar, a thief or an adulterer or not raise a child at all?

It is our responsibility to provide a good quality of life to children we decide to have. It is a responsibility one cannot delegate or neglect either.

We should have the choice of deciding whether or not we should take up such a responsibility based on our lifestyle and circumstances, not based on what the society or culture dictates.

Follow Rabab on Twitter @RababKhan


Rabab Khan

A writer, editor and social media goddess in training, who tweets @RababKhan

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hala

    loved this,
    so refreshing
    people should be allowed to live their lives however they wantRecommend

  • Ali Ahsan

    the day our society stops regarding women simply as roti-makers and baby-bearers, will be a good day for humanity.Recommend

  • http://thedabbabrigade.wordpress.com RiffyR

    No, it’s actually the first two comments to the blog that are more refreshing!Recommend

  • Sadaf Baig


  • Danish Ali

    I fully support these ladies.I do not have any wish of childern, i am 28 and unmarried.i wanted to marry an infertile woman or a woman who have no wish of childern because i had so many mental shocks by my father at very early age.my father never lover loved me nor my brother.He send a divorse stamp paper on 11 october 1992.the divorce papper was written on 4 october but in december 1992,he claimed that it was fake and were sent by his sister and brother,he came to our house and burnt that divorce paper and promised that he will take legale action against them,a promise that he never fullfilled.Anyway he started to live with us again,but in 1996,he said that he actually sent that divorse paper.Soon After that cofession,he left the home and married in 1998.in 2009,we asked him to give us a copy of that divorse paper .he gave us a copy of divorse paper but guess what?it was written on 3rd febrary 1991.it was revealed that he divorce my mother a year and half earlier in complete secracy,during that period he had complete sextiual relations with my mother.Now you can say that my father raped my mother in the name of marriage.And the most sad part is that my mother had been raped by a friend of my uncle’s(Mamoo)friend long before she married my father,so you can imagine how painfull this is to her that her so called husband raped her in the name of marriage.and recently i met a beautiful woman who told me that her husband divorce her six times ,three by written and three verbally,but her mother,father and two brother forced her to live with her husband and said that if you want to live with us,you would have to abandon your childern as we would not keep them .A painfull condition which she can’t accept.So you can understand that why i do not want childern.Because i could not imagine it that this thing can happen to my daughter or grand daughter. Recommend

  • DontWantBabies

    I feel for Faiza – I’m in my early thirties and don’t want children. They’re cute and cuddly and fun; for a short period of time!
    I’m very much into my career, my family, my better half, my nieces and nephews, traveling – but I want my life to be mine. I’ve seen my parents (specifically mom) sacrifice their lives for us. Give up things that I don’t want to give up.
    Right now, I go home and do what I want. I see who I want when I want to; I eat what I like whenever I like. I go on impromptu vacations, I don’t need to worry about expense because I do well for myself, have an awesome job, my own house and am financially secure, but I also know how expensive it is to have a child in this day and age.
    There are many reasons I don’t want children – and the truth is, it is my body and the choice is my partners and mine. I’ve had massive arguments with people who insist your life isn’t complete until you have children. Well you know what? Your’s may not be but mine is.
    I don’t have children, don’t want children, and don’t believe I need them to feel complete. I am a happy successful woman who doesn’t need a child. Is that so wrong?
    What’s hilarious is that if you don’t have a child you’re ostracized. You have only one child, you’re ostracized. You have too many children you’re ostracized. You adopt, you’re ostracized. So you know what? I’m going to be ostracized on my own terms. My own CHILDFREE terms ;) Recommend

  • http://rattletattle.blogspot.com/ Mehreen

    If only more people would think like this! Alas, the religious and societal restrictions will never let that be the case! Kudos to the ones who break free!Recommend

  • http://shoaibtaimur.com shobz

    Great post Rabab. It’s a pity our society puts so much pressure on couples to procreate. Kudos to women who resist pressure and do as they please. Recommend

  • Vish

    Only those who truly love children will decide not to have them. Considering what children go through and what they will in future, what’s the point of bringing them into this world to suffer.Recommend

  • Sonia

    How I wish I could be as strong as these women. I am 30+ and trying to concieve these days because everyone around me believes that I should have one. Every month that I dont conceive is a month of joy to me! But alas one day I will see a positive pregnancy test. How I wish I was infertile… hopefully I amRecommend

  • Rahat

    Its amazing how the author resorted to creative writing, came up with a story and all the people are so in love with whatever she wrote. If you dont want to have a child and want to live the life your way stop telling me all this. simpleRecommend

  • A.S

    Pakistan will be blessed because of this article and this act of generosity and kindness towards humankind and the entire world.

    Focus on making love NOT on making babies. Focus on quality NOT on quantity.

    Pakistan will prosper and everyone will become beautiful and wealthy if you are good and kind.

    Unfortunately our neighbors have the highest fertility rate and the greatest poverty and they refuse to take measures like China to curtail their exploding population growth. Recommend

  • http://www.righteousgeek.com Juan P

    Smart women. Great article, Rabab; there are a lot of children the world could do without. Sadly, there will always be those blind to logic and reason. Keep up the good work; we might yet change this!Recommend

  • SaQiB

    typical one-side-of-the-picture story………..truly motivated by the liberal mafia’s agenda rather than the real cause……………………………………..Recommend

  • roadkashehzada

    to clarify, i respect people choice, but this debate is drifting to be an anti-child forum.
    i ve a new born son. my wife and i woke up at 1 last night because of him, and slept at 4am. my neck is strained due to sleeping on recliner while carrying my son. i had to come to office at 9 and will leave at 8pm today.my wife couldnt cook her food properly yesterday and ate bread and milk …..

    but u know wht….
    my son has started smiling, i ve his little sun glasses next to my speedometer in my car which make me a responsible driver.i love shopping for him. we r happy because we r parents at “right” time. i ll go home, take him from my wife to give her sometime for herself, have dinner and sleep early to wake up at 1am again. thats my life. just wanted to share as so many “dont want kids” people were sharing merits of not having kids.Recommend

  • Another woman’s perspective

    I wonder if these strong standpoints will wither as we age and realize that our needs and priorities are different. I am a strong proponent for adoption over having your own children. I shudder at the thought of growing old and becoming physically dependent. I have gone through a stage in my life where I thought the institution of family was inherently flawed until I reached a certain age and looked around.
    Deciding against having children because your schedule does not permit you to accommodate another dependent is something I still have not formed a strong opinion about. I am going to blaze the trail for my friends and my family by choosing to adopt a child instead of trying to conceive one. Maybe I will leave the world a better place and help out a deprived child with limited life choices.
    I think the question we need to ask ourselves is: is this standpoint prone to change as we age and if we believe the institution of family serves as an essential support structure towards the end of our lives.Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Zaid Hamid

    You MUST have them.. lost of lots of them,….

    This way our population will increase…we won’t have to go out peacefully converting others…

    Also,.. we can go to un-Islamic western country and have lots of benefits .. the more, teh better…Recommend

  • Teen

    Well, i am just 19 and i already hate kids. i would never want to have one unless i am fully prepared to take the responsibility which could be like 15 + years.. i will marry but WILL NEVER WANT TO HAVE KIDS.Recommend

  • Vigilant

    i would love to have children…….Recommend

  • Sadaf Baig

    @Rahat So its okay for eveyone to tell others to have kids, but if someone doesn’t want to have em they should just keep it to themselves? Wake up and look around. If more people THOUGHT before having children we might have better nation. Recommend

  • leila rage

    Our society needs to stop labelling and ridiculing men who can’t father children. We need to stop ridiculing and labelling women who can’t bear children as “barren”. We need to STOP interfering in other people’s lives and learn to mind our own business. If someone doesn’t want children, why should OTHER people butt in? And also, there is more to marriage than just reproducing a brood of several kids.Recommend

  • The four paragraphs before the last one are quite offensive and should have been edited out. When it comes to bearing children, we, as the article says, “should take up such a responsibility based on our lifestyle and circumstances, not based on what the society or culture dictates”. But essentializing a human being by saying that it is better to not be born at all than to end up “a liar, a thief or an adulterer” is morally repugnant. People’s moral failings don’t detract from their inherent potential as human beings. Bad parenting is not enough reason to call a person’s whole existence into question. It would have been better if the author had just stuck to her incipient feminism and made straight-forward arguments. Recommend

  • Hasan Abidi

    @ Sonia.

    Sonia, I guess Albert Einstein had u in mind wen he said, ” it takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction”…..

    Sp dont just wish to b strong, but b one…..For that to happen, u wd hv to work at it……cultivate it within ur personality…learn to stand for urself……and last but not the least, lead ur life the way u deem best. After all its ur life, and NOBODY, but YOU, ought to b in the driving seat.

    Its time u call the shots……………..bcoz its ur call Sonia

    Wishing u ( and all the vulnerable women of this patriarchal and hypocrite society) the very best in life ahead.

    [email protected]Recommend

  • Parvez

    The choice has to be left to the individual. Recommend

  • Excuses

    Everybody is under the illusion that the person in question has a choice of having kids or not.well she doesn’t ! Cause of her husband. So now she comforts herself by actually stating she didn’t want kids.how absurd? If she didn’t she wouldn’t have visited the doc. U have kids for your own sake not for your typical mother in laws or society’s sake. Nobody in their right mind decides not to have kids cause its the hardest thing and kids are the loveliest and greatest blessing of Allah. Those who fear they will parent bad kids if they had some what if your parents had thought the same or why don’t you stop living yourself cause you don’t know who you might turn into! Recommend

  • zabaida

    @Danish Ali:
    I am same age as you , i have 4 sisters all younger and married. my family also has an aseembly line of daughters . Recommend

  • Hafeez

    I can understand and really appreciate the freedom of choice to women, but at the same time this freedom is extended to women who want to have children and relish being called a mom. So its better not to ridicule the ones who care more about raising a child than having a career.Recommend

  • Ash

    My wife and I Moved to London from Pakistan in 1978 the year of our marriage and have lived here since.It wasn’t till 1981 when my wife had finally conceived and was expecting,but at 3 months she miscarried.It was for a number of reasons.We found out that my wife was infertile and decided to adopt.My daughter is now 21 and is graduating fro Manchester university from an audiology degree. When i held her for the first time in my arms it was the best thing that had ever happened to me and my wife and I are so happy to have her in our lives

    Of course nobody should be forced or pressured into having a child and I do acknowledge that this is a problem with Pakistani people ,but i just dont want young people to fear children because there are some day when you come back from work tired exhausted and you want to give up and you take one look at your child and you feel the energy to live on because of their innocent smile
    God blessRecommend

  • Just Curious


    Why you hate kids? Did you have a bad childhood? There are advantages of having kids when young. Young people are more energetic.Taking care of 2-3 kids may be a piece of cake Urges and desires are strong. Babies can help bond husband and wife.Kids keep the mind busy, no time to get depressed. Life without kids can become boring and send people looking for more love. Just my thpughts.Recommend

  • Just Curious

    @Danish Ali:
    Seems like you had a real bad childhood. Your dad should have loved you, instead he terrorized the whole family.

    One thing I know you will never treat your kids like that. No one knows what will happen to their kids. or grandkids. Recommend

  • Nayab

    Such a breather to read a thoroughly written and exceptionally justified article on a topic I’m sure not many Pakistani’s are willing to come face to face with, kudos!Recommend

  • Nayab

    And to add more weight to your argument, increasing population for the mere sake of society’s baseless, ridiculous ideals and expectations is equivalent to polluting the Earth and our already vulnerable nation with rampant with naive, illiterates. Re: poverty stricken man with a sickly fetish for raising and ruining a 100 lives http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH5QTcNMkI4 Recommend

  • Just Curious

    Author: “The psychological effects of bad parenting are there for everyone to see, so what’s wrong with deciding not to create an incomplete human being?

    Would you rather raise a liar, a thief or an adulterer or not raise a child at all?”

    You are assuming that people know if they are going to raise a liar, a thief or an adulterer.
    If every one wants to create a complete human being, no one will have any kids.

    How can one raise an adulterer?

    You also assume people who don’t want to raise kids are theifs, lairs and adulterers and will be bad parents.Only thiefs, lairs, adulterers will raise theifs, lair, adulterers Why can’t these parents do good parenting. There is ton’s of free help on internet itself for people to do good parenting.Recommend

  • Just Curious

    “Only those who truly love children will decide not to have them.”

    You mean people who don’t love children should have children only. That means eventually we will have bad people every where?

    Do you think your parents love you?Recommend

  • Just Curious

    @Another woman’s perspective:
    “I think the question we need to ask ourselves is: is this standpoint prone to change as we age and if we believe the institution of family serves as an essential support structure towards the end of our lives.”

    If economic conditions improve, essential support structure weakens, most people end up in old age homes which is not bad
    In Western countries governments support poor people in their old age.Recommend

  • Just Curious

    @Ali Ahsan:
    Rent a womb is becoming multi billion dollars business. Doctors can just implant a fertalized ovum into another woman’s (surrogate mom) womb who can deliver the baby.
    There are sperm banks where one can go to get sperms, no need for a husband or in case husband has low sperm count or defective sperms.Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    good article.Recommend

  • Truth_Prevails

    Its ruefully surprising about the people chanting slogans against having kids and quoting Einstein. How did you guys including Mr. Einstein come to this world? Surely through the same process you are advocating against! By the way Mr. Einstein was married thrice and had three kids. Faiza’s story is understandable but instead of crying ‘grapes are sour’, her sacrifice in protecting her husband’s so called ego and hurting her self-respect over the years should be comended and thats it. Recommend

  • Hala

    No one is chanting slogans against having kids
    people who want kids and feel like they will do a good job raising them should certainly have them. but why should everybody?Recommend

  • sanam durrani

    what a great relief to know that someone out there thinks like i do…ive been married for almost 2 years now….most of my friends have children..and the so called norms of this society directly or indirectly at times suggest that i should start my family too…i mean what kind of notion is this…if i dont have a child i dont have a family? Affection for children just doesnt come to me naturally…yes i have nephews and nieces and i love them all dearly …but personally i dont think im ready or capable to look after a baby…then comes the age factor…”oh you’re nearing 30″ is what most people say…i mean so what…i wish this society would live and let live and realize that deciding not to have a baby is strictly a personal matter between a husband and a wife and we have our reasons for it that i dont think i need to tell the world about…because the ‘people’ would never shut up…if i have a baby today next they’ll say “oh your kid needs a brother/sister when are you planning to have a second one?”Recommend

  • rubab21

    Great article! Echoes the sentiment of many women in Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://pakistani-edu.blogspot.com/2012/01/please-dont-make-your-child-arfa-kareem.html Usman Shahid

    Don’t say grapes are sour and don’t lose hope. Keep praying to Allah. Inshallah Allah will bless you and many others with his blessing (children). AmeenRecommend

  • @GalileoGabi

    A good article and pretty balanced as well… We can see lot of such cases where wives are blamed of infertility. On the other hand, there are men in society who are courageous enough to announce their blame. Few very close to me do so…
    This is social issue and our 90% population is not educated enough to understand the causes. Or probably they do not want to learn this as they have a default scapegoat. Recommend

  • Teen

    Ohh no no i had a great childhood. why i hate kids? because i have never seen a single couple with kids who are happy.. i would never want to be in a relationship only because of kids.
    i know i am young i should not have such opinions yet! but i can’t help but notice the difference of love between couples with and without kids.

  • Faraz

    The article is certainly unorthodox. But I’m surprised to view the comments – the author reflects the feelings of many, especially females. Recommend

  • Farhan Shahid Khan

    The author knows that this story will sell on tribune where mostly westernized readers exist. The reaction of readers of vernacular press would be different. Western culture stems from individualism so individual decision is held superior to collective requirement unlike our collectivist culture where individuals have to bend to collective wish. The demand to have kids is a relic of our collectivist tribal past where tribe’s manpower was of ultimate importance. But we should be cognizant of this fact that no culture is overall superior to the other one (Working across cultures by John Hooker). So once we get westernized, we only swap ours for a new culture with its own pros and cons. It would not be a progress (as mistakenly believed) but just a swap. We will only be trading off one set of problems with another.Recommend

  • Sheen

    well for a naive like me can these outspoken women from their experience tell what’s the most effective birth control method ?Recommend

  • Just Curious

    “difference of love between couples with and without kids.”In a way you see a couple more loving before they have kids? If a couple is loving, having kids will not change them. Every one thinks other people are happier. then him/her.Recommend

  • Erica

    @Danish Ali:
    Hey, I’m a 28 yr old female who doesn’t want any kids and my parents are furious…my dad told me “it’s something women are supposed to do and it’s unnatural for a woman not to want children,” but I don’t want the responsibility of raising children, especially in this day and age..Recommend

  • Just Curious

    @A.S: “Unfortunately our neighbors have the highest fertility rate and the greatest poverty and they refuse to take measures like China to curtail their exploding population growth.”

    You are misleading every one into believing India has hightest fertility rate.


  • Vikram

    If you are serious do some research on Internet. An IUD copper device may be good for long term birth control. As long it is in, it will keep sperms from reaching their destination. I am not a woman.Recommend

  • DontWantBabies

    Just wanted to add that just because I don’t want children doesn’t mean I don’t want others not to have them! I want everyone around me to have lots of babies so I can enjoy them. I understand why others need/want to have children and I find it wonderful. I respect those who chose to have children because they will be sacrificing so much and creating a life.

    I just don’t want that for myself.

    Not because I’m ‘ westernized ‘ – and not because it’s ‘cool’. It’s just because by now in my life I finally know what and who I am, what I want from my life for myself – and I completely understand the consequences of not having children. I also know, that in the future if I change my mind, it’s not ‘ too late ‘ – adoption is a wonderful thing and there are plenty of mother-less children out there in need of adoption.

    Why is it that when a woman says she doesn’t want a child she’s accused of being Westernized? Selfish? A lesbian? Infertile?

    And when a man can’t have a child, he has to blame a woman?

    Just shows the small mindedness of the people who make these judgements.

    I for one am loud, proud and childfree. Recommend

  • DontWantBabies

    Birth control is an individual choice – aside from the standard birth control pills, condoms and IUD’s there is also Depo provera, Femplant and other such options. Your best bet is to pay a visit to your gynecologist so she/he can recommend what is best for you! Recommend

  • from singapore

    Given your target audience on this platform, I doubt these people will raise kids to become liars, thieves or adulterers intentionally. Of course there is no guarantee that whoever you raise will be a perfectly morally upright human being. While there is a chance that your kid goes awry despite your best efforts, the only thing you can do is to try your best. I’m pretty sure there are good kids from bad families too. While I respect your decision to live your own life, your argument that fear of bad parenting discouraging people from having kids is unfortunately unsound.Recommend