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Don’t want kids? That’s okay!

Lize Hartley, the bright and beautiful entrepreneur behind Plasta, shared some thoughts on why she doesn’t want children, the stigma that still runs strong and how it is okay to dream differently.

∇  You decided to not have children. Was it something you always felt strongly about or is it an opinion that formed, as you got older?

Looking back, I was never maternal. When my peers were comfortable holding babies or playing with them, even when we were very young and my friends were playing with baby dolls – I was never interested (to put it mildly). I think in high school I supposed I would have kids some day, but it was such a distant thing, such an intangible concept, and I think I only figured I would have kids because that’s what everyone did. And then one day, some time after school, I realized that actually, not everyone has to have kids and that it wasn’t something I wanted for my life. So it’s an opinion that solidified as I got older, but looking back I think it wasn’t something I ever truly wanted.

∇  It must not be easy explaining yourself constantly in a “pronatalist” world? Do you get mixed reactions?

Saying I don’t want children is very rarely met with understanding or acceptance. I’m either challenged on my decision as though I’m some sort of alien being to which the person in front of me simply cannot relate, or I’m told I’ll change my mind, as though women are pre-programmed robots with no ability to make decisions about their own lives and bodies, who all just want the same thing. “You’ll change your mind” is my least favourite response. I find it deeply insulting – I don’t presume to know someone else’s mind, so I don’t understand why people can’t just accept someone’s decision and move on without dictating to them what they will and will not do in their own futures. But every now and then I do have people who just accept my decision – I’m always taken aback when that happens!

∇  Why do you think people often have a negative reaction to women that don’t want to pro-create?

Change scares people – simple. Up until now having children was seen as the thing women did, end of story. It was their role, their purpose, and their success – raising the perfect family at home while men were the breadwinners. That is changing, as women have more and more opportunities outside of just raising children at home, and that, like most change, isn’t going to happen without pushback. I also think that women (and men) are told their entire lives that they will have children someday, to the point where all of them accept that, whether it’s what they truly want or not. So to meet someone who doesn’t subscribe to that generally accepted life path is baffling to people, I guess like anything “different” is.

 ∇  People tend to confuse the topic. “Women that decide to not have children don’t like children…” what are your thoughts on that?

Actually, most of the women I know who don’t want children really, really love kids, they just don’t want their own. I can see why people would assume that not wanting children equates to not liking children, but in my experience that is rarely true. I can tell you, however, that if you plan on telling people you don’t like children you should prepare to be chased out of the village with pitchforks!

∇   Many women (especially millennial) are not too interested in having kids. Why do you think that is and why do you think some are still scared to admit it?

I think we’re less interested because it’s no longer our one and only option, firstly. We’re considering a life without children for the first time, and looking at what that lifestyle might look like in terms of finances, career opportunities, travel, etc.

I also think we shouldn’t underestimate the effect of the cost of having children in this day and age. Millennials are doing the maths and realizing that housing, schooling (not to mention college or university), and the many other costs of having children may mean that it isn’t financially feasible to have it all, and making the decision not to have children based (at least partially) on that.I think that the decision is also impacted by the fact that we are aware of global over-population and the extreme impact that has on the environment, and thinking twice about whether or not we want children badly enough to add to that. We know we don’t need more people, so we’re less biologically driven to procreate. As for why we’re scared of admitting it: I think we fear the inevitable backlash. But more than that, I think women are often deemed worthy only if they have babies, the perfect family, the white picket fence, and 2.5 Labradors or whatever. We celebrate engagements and weddings and births and, while those are things worth celebrating, we don’t place the same worth on other things. I’ve never been to a “Promotion Shower” or had a themed night on the town to celebrate someone’s decision not to get married. So the second a woman chooses not to get married and have kids, her worth is instantly, infinitely less in society’s eyes, and no one wants to face that.

∇  You are a successful entrepreneur and free-thinker. Who is your spirit animal and inspiration?

I don’t like to use the term “spirit animal” as I understand it to be a sacred concept belonging to a culture that I’m not a part of, so I prefer to use “Patronus”. Karl Lagerfeld is my Patronus – not only because of his infinitely quotable remarks, but because he has been hugely successful in his career. He is a creative visionary, an artist, and I admire the fact that he is still working as hard as he does at age 83. I think that he has found true meaning and passion in what he does, and to be able to monetise that level of passion as successfully as he has is surely the dream.

 ∇  You are happily married. Do you have suggestions on how to discuss the “ I don’t want kids” topic with your partner? How did your conversations go?

It’s something that absolutely must be discussed before you decide to commit to one another seriously – whether that is getting married, moving in together, or whatever the next step is for you and your partner. Discuss it open and honestly, and don’t think you can “trap” someone and then change their mind. It’s not fair on either of you, and it probably won’t work.

 ∇  Sometimes it feels like we are all stuck in a video game. Find a partner. Get married. Level up to parenthood. What is the next level for Lize?

Right now I’m pretty career-focused and I’m embarking on an exciting new project. I’d like to grow my art collection and buy a horse, but other than that the next level is just to continue moving onward and upward as best I can.

 ∇  What is the perfect Sunday morning?

Waking up in Paris… Without children!

∇  Finish the sentence … My life can be anything I want it to be.

** All images via Lize’s Instagram account

You can visit the PLASTA website HERE and watch this video via CNN HERE

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