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These 4 Latinas Opted Out of Motherhood and Here’s What They Want You To Know

Deciding whether to have children or not is an entirely personal decision, but it is also one that can feel more collective in Latinx communities. Society places a premium on women having children — have you heard of the “motherhood mandate“? — and equates having children as central to being a woman. In Latinx communities, with our cultures’ love and appreciation for mothers and family values, this pressure can feel even more pronounced than in other cultures.

While motherhood is celebrated and family is central across Latinx communities, the topic of opting out of motherhood is one that’s rarely addressed. For some Latinas, deciding to have children is an easy decision. For others, the decision to be child-free may be just as simple. 

We asked four remarkable Latinas who have decided not to have children to share their experiences with opting out of motherhood, along with advice for others who may be considering the decision. Their responses reflect powerful insights and generous wisdom. 

Diandra Mezta

I asked Diandra Mezta, a graduate student, her reasons for not wanting to have children and she listed them in this order: 

1) I have zero desire 

2) I am bothered by the ethical implications of having a child in a world that is quite visibly affected by climate change, and 

3) I do not want to give up the freedom I have to live my life on my terms.

Are you happy with the decision? 

For the most part, yes. There are days when I think, “What if?” and I imagine what my children would be like. I sometimes feel a sense of guilt for not wanting children when my husband has been honest about wanting them. To his credit, he’s said that if the choice is between living with me but without children, or having children, the choice will always be me. 

What’s your advice for others weighing the decision of whether to have children?

Don’t beat yourself up. You cannot take on the responsibility of a child for other people, it should be something you want. More importantly, a child should be loved and wanted, not an obligation. Know that you are not alone; many people are choosing not to have children, for many different reasons–you don’t owe anyone an explanation. 

What’s your advice for those facing negative responses from the Latinx community when deciding to opt out of motherhood? 

Don’t apologize. Our culture is still underpinned by outdated patriarchal norms forced on us by the Church and colonizers. The people who are telling you that you are wrong are drinking the Kool-Aid; don’t sip along with them. When you’re asked about having children, flip the question around: Why is it someone else’s business? Ask the person, “What if I can’t have children and it’s painful for me to discuss?” Reflect that energy back at them. 

Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with mitú readers?

For most of my life, I had always imagined that someday I would have kids, and here I am: with none. I kept waiting to feel that pull to have a child and the feeling never came. If someone finds that they don’t desire children, but often feel the same way I did, that’s completely normal. You don’t have to be a parent to be part of the process. We can love, nurture and support the children in our lives, we don’t need to bear them ourselves. I’m thrilled to be the cool tía!

Felicia Lozada

In my research, I also talked to Felicia Lozada, Executive Assistant to the COO of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, who shared some personal experiences on how trauma and fear can play a role in this decision too.

How has your background influenced your decision?

I’m 32, Mexican/White, [and I grew] up in a predominantly Mexican American culture on the border. I am a first-generation college graduate. I began really having hesitations about becoming a parent in my mid-20s. My mom was a single mother and had me at 21. We were poor, she didn’t make great life decisions, and I ended up being the parent of the family, being her emotional and financial support. 

How was your process of deciding not to have children?

My decision is trifold. The main reason is I’ve raised people almost my entire life and never got to just be a person, and I know I’ll pour everything into raising a kid and de-prioritize myself again. Secondly, I grew up with trauma and am scared to be a bad mom. This fear has really diminished over time but was the primary reason I started thinking about this. Lastly, this world is not one that is a positive inheritance and I don’t want to subject another human to a deteriorating climate and US functions. 

Yamily Habib

My third interviewee, Yamily Habib, Editorial Director for NGL Collective, insisted on how different this choice might feel for every single person considering this decision, and how helpful it could be to ask for help when considering making a big change in your life.

How was your process of deciding not to have children? 

Actually, becoming a mother was never in my plans. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision as it was a natural process. While many women of my generation had their lives as mothers planned from a very young age, I was thinking of other things, like having a farm to take care of adopted animals. If you think about it, it’s a different maternal instinct. 

Are you happy with the decision? 

Absolutely. 

Do you have any advice for others weighing the decision of whether to have children?

I think this is a very personal decision. Whatever my experience, no one is in a position to tell others how they should approach such personal issues. That said, in my experience, it is always best to go to therapy and try to understand the true root of our decisions. A well-thought-out decision will always yield better results than an impulsive act. 

What would be your advice for those facing negative responses from the Latinx community? 

I am really not the type of person who gives room for others to have or not have reactions to their personal decisions. The only thing I felt at some point was condescension from people who had been parents and assured me that “the time will come when you feel the need to have children. It’s inevitable.” That time never came. 

Any words of wisdom you’d like our readers to consider?

[I]n my experience, trying to do things for the right reasons always brings fewer regrets. When those reasons are not thought through, too often, the decision comes from the need to satisfy timely needs with the wrong things (or people).

Yvette Gonzalez

My last interview with talent and human resources professional Yvette Gonzalez, shed some light on how important it is for many who struggle with mental health and trauma to put themselves first before making any decision.

How was your process of deciding not to have children? 

Growing up, motherhood seemed more of a burden than a joy. I have played a caretaker role my whole life, starting when I was quite young. Even though my decision is rooted in childhood trauma and difficulties with my mental health. I am happy that the decision is mine and I have the ability to focus my time on nurturing and caring for myself. I am healing my inner niña. 

Are you happy with the decision?

In my early 20s, I was conflicted and indecisive between yes and no. Now in my 30s, it’s a definite no for me and I am happy to have come to that decision.

Do you have any advice for others weighing the decision of whether to have children?

Taking care of others is hard, and it’s a lot of work. Check in with yourself and really question your decision. Ultimately, the decision is yours. You should listen to your heart, mind, and body.  

Motherhood comes in many forms whether it’s being a Tia or a dog mom. Either way, motherhood is not for everyone, and that is ok.

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