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Sunday 9 October 2011

Shelly Horton on why she has chosen to not have children

Have you read the piece by Shelly Horton in today's Sun-Herald on choosing to not have children?

You should.

Here's why.

It teaches an important lesson about being respectful of someone's choices.

Here is what Shelly said about not wanting to have children:

"I'm 38 years old and I've never felt clucky. I have never fantasised about having a baby in my arms or raising a child. I don't like holding other people's babies. In fact, I hardly notice them. They are just not part of my life. I love my life the way it is. Yet my decision is written off as ''selfish''.

I hate the word ''selfish''. When Perth obstetrician Barry Walters called older mothers selfish last week I felt hot with rage. I don't want to be a mother but I will defend their rights loudly and clearly."

Read the rest of the piece here:


Shelly's article is the perfect example of a balanced opinion piece: looking at both sides of the argument, while voicing - and backing up - your own view.

That requires a certain amount of getting really personal, exposing yourself somewhat. And that opens people to judge and criticise and attack (after several pieces for opinion site 'The Punch', I know what I'm talking about. And often, the backlash and personal attacks ain't fun).

I hope people don't do that to Shelly because frankly, it takes guts to express your opinion. Especially when it's centres around anything to do with kids. Again, been there. Thick skin required.

Here is my take on the whole 'older mums are selfish' debate generated this week, which I wrote for the brilliant new online site 'JustB':

Thing is, whatever life choice someone has made, you never how they got there until you know their story. And why does needing to know their story have to be a prerequisite to not being nasty to someone, anyway?

I am always, always harping on about respecting somebody's choice. This article is a perfect example of that.

What I love about Shelly's piece is that she recognises that she is in fact not being selfish by choosing to not have children.

How crappy would it be for a child to know you had them because they were the next thing on your to do list, that you procreated out of some sort of societal obligation?

Shelly's last line is wonderfully moving:

"I feel like I have to apologise for my choice. Reassure people I don't lack compassion. I give to charity, I donate blood, I've offered to donate my eggs to a girlfriend and I'm in the process of creating a mentoring group for young female journalists. It upsets me that my choice seems to disappoint people. I don't want people to think I'm selfish. I'd just like my choice to be respected."

Well said there, sister.


  1. Once again Jose, you're spot on !
    It's all about a person's right to choose. We would all be up in arms if she'd had a child and abused it... Get real people, there will always in life be those who desire kids and can't have them and they have as much right to that desire as those who CHOOSE not to. Shelly shouldn't have to give her reasons - that's invasive and not necessary (or at least to most fair minded people !). I'm not a large fan of Julia Gillard, but look at the flak she's copped in the last decade over her choice not to have children. While ever it's a free world we will have free choice. If you wish to be respected for your choices, give that same respect to others for theirs.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Leah! That's all I am saying: respect other people's choice. Whether you had your child at 38 or 42 or don't want children, that's not only your choice, it's your business. Nobody can ever understand how you got there, and why.

    I love you comment: "If you wish to be respected for your choices, give that same respect to others for theirs."

    Never a truer word spoken... x

  3. brilliant. well done for posting it too.

    funny how she gets called selfish for not wanting children
    and others call the older mothers selfish for starting so late
    im with the crew who accept that want you want is best! x

  4. Completely agree with you!

    How about accepting each others' life choices?

    I am sure when we chose them there was a lot of soul-searching, and it was right for us at the time.

    It is our responsibility alone to live by what we have chosen.