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Sabrina Militello, suburban London native who loves life and adores children, doesn’t want any of her own. In fact, she and her husband have made a steadfast decision: they will not have kids. They are staunch members of the “Childfree by Choice” movement, an unofficial movement that aims to normalize the desire not to have children.
In this article, Sabrina tells her story of choosing to remain childfree by choice. There are 3 points you should keep in mind as you read.
- From childhood forward, Sabrina thought she’d become a mother
- She and her husband thoroughly considered their decision, both individually, and as a couple. They discussed it at length.
- Both Sabrina and her husband love kids, their nieces and nephews, and their godchildren
Why are these points important? They help to dispel some common misconceptions about couples who are childfree by choice. Specifically, these myths.
- People who choose to be childfree hate children. FALSE! In fact, most don’t.
- Being childfree by choice is a rash decision. FALSE! No matter how much you want to tell them otherwise, they probably won’t change their minds or regret their choice when they’re older. In fact, research shows that most women who choose to be childfree are confident in their decisions.
A History of Loving Children
I remember the day my mum brought my youngest brother home like it was yesterday. It was the last day of school, and I was soooooo excited to get home to meet my new baby brother!
He was perfect: wrinkly and tiny with so. much. hair! I was in awe of him, and I remember this thought: “I can’t wait to be a mum!”
I was only nine-years-old.
My choice to be childfree has been met with a lot of surprise from those nearest and dearest to me. I think their surprise is because I had always talked about motherhood and been excited for that phase of my life.
Things Change: Becoming Childfree by Choice
Despite loving children my whole life, a lot of things have changed between 1991, when my brother was born, and 2015, when my husband and I finally set our decision in stone. We both silently knew we wanted to be childfree for years, but this is when we said it aloud.
Childhood Impacts Adulthood
I hate to be that cliché person who blames their life circumstances on their childhood, but hey… this is my story, and I’m going to tell it!
I had a very tumultuous relationship with my mother growing up. We were a single-parent household with 3 children living on government benefits in the suburbs of London, England.
Looking back, I can now appreciate that my mum was just trying to survive and make ends meet. But that does not dismiss the fact that she did not provide a nurturing, loving environment. This was the beginning of my desire to be childfree.
In my mid-twenties, s**t really hit the fan. My mum and I did not speak for almost 2 years. In fact, I moved across an ocean during that time and we still had no contact—it was that bad.
So, I made a conscious decision that I never wanted to be that mother.
I never wanted to raise my kids the way I was raised, but I was afraid.
I was afraid that, since I had no experience of motherhood, if I ever did become a mother, I would default to what I knew.
And I vowed that that was never going to happen. The decision to be childfree by choice began to make the most sense.
A Leap . . . Across An Ocean
I mentioned that I moved across an ocean, right? Well, my husband and I have been together since we were seventeen-years-old!
I know, right?
So, where he goes, I go! He was offered an amazing career opportunity in America. So off we went.
We were twenty-eight, had been married a year, and had no savings.
We would be barely breaking even in the current housing market if we sold up.
Regardless, we decided to jump and build our wings on the way down.
Off to the good ol’ US of A we went!
Our decision to move to America was truly when the seeds of being a childfree couple began to bloom.
Opportunity, New Interests, and the Ability to be “Selfish”
The decision to move to the U.S. opened up an array of experiences and opportunities that were not available in our previous lives.
For the first time, we could travel, play, and live a life I had never even known to dream of: a life of FREEDOM!
And we became really selfish people – but not in the negative way that our culture defines selfishness. Rather, we became selfish with our time together.
We loved sleeping in and booking a ticket to fly halfway around the world a few days before we left. We enjoyed having the space (and money) to cultivate our passions.
[Note from Katy: I hate the word “selfish.” It’s gotten such a bad rap. I’ll write about that someday. But here’s the deal—if being selfish means putting one’s own needs above others’, then I’m all for it. If more individuals felt fulfilled, I think we as a society would be better. We could fill ourselves and then let our joy overflow and spread to others. The world needs more of that. Let’s stop dissing “selfish.” Now back to Sabrina.)
Travel Became Our Newest Love
We LOVE to travel! Exploring the world and diving headfirst into other cultures is an antidote to our ignorance as flawed human beings, so it really is our favourite thing to do.
We love having the freedom to pick up and go whenever we want, not tied to any school year calendars and/or restrictions based on the needs of others.
“Selfish?” Perhaps. But it’s an important part of the lifestyle we have worked hard to have. So… #sorrynotsorry! And being childfree by choice allows us this freedom.
Katy, also an avid traveler, has written about the difficulty of traveling with children. And she has admitted to me that, one reason she began traveling with Jack when he was young was to feel like she had a part of her pre-baby life back. Travel is something we know a baby changes, but we were not willing to make that change.
And the longer we lived our traveling life—all while I was repairing my relationship with my mum and we were settling into a new country—the longer we wanted to ALWAYS live that life.
A Discussion: Should We Choose to Be Childfree?
And so the conversations between husband and wife began…
We talked. A LOT. A lot a lot a lot!
And we simply decided that we did not want to have children. The lifestyle we wanted was to be childfree by choice.
Now, listen… in the 12 years of our relationship before this time, we had talked often about being parents, and we even had names picked out! We never imagined choosing to be childfree.
We said we wanted one of our own (to have a mini ‘us’ running around). Then, we were going to adopt one, maybe two, more.
We had a 10 year plan, as it were. (My husband is an engineer, there is always a plan).
But through many, many conversations (usually enjoyed with a glass of vino and deep gratitude for the ability to freely sit and enjoy each other’s company), that plan changed.
We Desired Freedom
The longer we spent enjoying the freedom to cultivate our love of traveling, and the more we dove into our work, the more we discovered what more could be possible for our lives as we found individual success in our fields.
And the less the reality of parenthood seemed to make sense for us. The more sense it began to make to remain childfree by choice.
We have worked really hard to be in positions in our respective careers where opportunities are abundant.
My husband’s job has taken us from home in London to new homes in Houston, Boston, and soon-to-be New York. Sprinkled in there have been months spent living as locals in Dubai and Singapore.
And who knows what the future holds!
The path I have carved out for myself allows me to work with my coaching clients and consulting and mentorship partners from any location. So, we LITERALLY have zero ties to any one place, beyond my husband’s job and friends we have made along the way.
To some, that may sound like the worst lifestyle ever, but to us—2 kids who grew up in dodgy parts of England—it’s a lifestyle that drives our purpose and fuels our passions.
And it is one I don’t think we could have (at least not in the same way) if we had children. So we choose to be childfree, and to live life in a way that drives us.
I cannot tell you how THANKFUL I am that, through those many conversations over the course of numerous years, the finer points of that 10-year-plan changed for us both!
I can’t even imagine if we had ended up on different pages on this issue of whether or not to have children, considering how deeply ingrained in us these priorities now are.
A Childfree Choice Doesn’t Erase Love for Children
Just because we have chosen to be childfree doesn’t mean we don’t love children.
We LOVE children! (Me more than my husband.)
We have nieces and nephews that we adore. We regularly fly back to the UK to spend time with our families, and we Facetime the kids every single week so that the little ones can have the opportunity to know us as they grow up.
Also, we’re both Godparents.
And I DIE at commercials with the cutest kiddos doing cutest kiddo things!
You get the picture… we are not a ‘Childfree By Choice’ couple who made that decision because we somehow have this deep-rooted dislike of children and those who choose to be parents. I’ve met those people and… well, it’s not always cute.
Childfree Is A Lifestyle Choice
Our choice was simply a lifestyle choice. One that we have no shame, doubt, or regret over.
I sometimes get whimsical about experiences we will never get to have. Beautiful, mind-blowing maternal experiences, if being an Aunt is anything to judge them by, such as the wonder of watching your OWN child grow and change.
I can’t even fathom this because I am LEGIT obsessed with my nieces and nephews!
But the whimsy is fleeting. In the end, I still choose to remain childfree.
What lasts is the vision we have for the kind of lifestyle we want to lead, and kids just aren’t a part of that vision.
I heard this quotation once:
“When faced with a life-changing choice, you either live with the regret of saying yes or the regret of saying no. Which regret CAN you live with?”
This really stuck with me even though we don’t regret our choice at all.
But I would rather regret not having children than regret having children.
You feel me?
This post was written by Sabrina Militello, with editorial work by Sarah Creel. Sabrina is the badass owner of Inspire Elite Fitness, and she’s also a card-carrying member of the Childfree By Choice movement, which is also called “voluntary childlessness” (not really, but she is very invested!).
Like This Post?
Check out our similar posts that explore being childfree, making conscious choices about children, and address the simple but tough question, “What makes a mother, anyway?” Katy would argue that Sabrina is a mother–a bonus mother of the best kind, who gets to love deeply and roam free!
- “What Are Mothers Made Of?” by Katy Huie Harrison
- “The Apathy of Fertility” by Sarah Creel
- “Tough as A Mother: What Does that Even Mean?” by Katy Huie Harrison
- “An Ambivalent Mother’s Journey to Motherhood” by Brittany Cantrell
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.