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10 Things That Helped Me Decide if I Want to Have Children or Not

by in Culture & Lifestyle on 18th February, 2022

This is one of the first generations that has been able to intentionally choose if they want to have children or not at such a mass scale, as contraception, careers and choice collide, this can make it hard to know if you want to have children or is it that you may just not want to have them now. This against the loud ticking of societal expectations of women and biological pressure is very real. This can then be compounded for women who have known fertility issues through diagnoses like PCOS.

Part of the difficulty of this decision making is that your current self is making a decision for your future self based on what you think the future will be and feel like. It can feel daunting and scary to explore not having children as an option as there are societal pressures on women, however, I think we all owe it to ourselves to decide, so here are 10 things that helped me come to a decision. 

1. Read ‘The Best, Most Awful Job: Twenty Writers Talk Honestly About Motherhood

This is a great book that doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of motherhood. The essays are short and insightful, you can get through it in an evening with a renewed perspective on the best and awful bits of motherhood. Much of the book touches on the “infuriating slog” of motherhood. And in a way, it helps the decision making, too often women are expected to grin and bear, because they may feel if they are honest about the realities of hating elements of motherhood, they may look like a bad mother. I particularly loved Saima Mir’s piece titled ‘Maternal Rage’ which explored what she describes as the “drudgery” of motherhood and how it can leave you feeling enraged and invisible.

If anything this book reaffirmed to me that the fears I held about motherhood and what it would mean for me on an emotional and personal level, hold true. At the very least, if I was going into this, I needed to be aware of what it is so I can be as best prepared as I could be.

2. Understand that motherhood is not a singular experience

Motherhood can be exclusively portrayed as a self-sacrificial struggle and this is too often a normalised narrative. Follow women on social media who show the diversity of what motherhood experience can look like including how it doesn’t just have to be a sheer struggle with no help.

On Twitter, Brittany Bright went viral for sharing how a doula helps her and her husband overnight. She explained that after her first child she realised the need to have help with her second child and her TikTok shares a day in her life and tips. 

Muslim women like Saltanat and Nilo Mea on Instagram also show how they ensured they took 40 days rest after giving birth to took care of themselves and their baby. 

Stories like these go a long way to normalising rest and rejuvenation for women. Find ease in motherhood through these examples.

3. Weigh up the positives and negatives

Not only does this VOX article make for a great read on this topic, it also lists a series of exercises developed by an expert that can give you more clarity and help you to arrive at a decision that’s right for you. Some of the exercises include…

The decision exercise:

  • “Make the decision of yes to having/raising a baby and live with that decision for five days. During that time, write daily about how you feel about the decision you are pretending to have made. Don’t bargain with the decision. The more you can buy into having made the decision, the more information you’ll receive about yourself.”
  • “Make the decision to live a child-free life for five days. During that time, write daily about how you feel about the decision you are pretending to have made. Don’t bargain with the decision. The more you can trick your mind into the decision being made, the more information you’ll receive about yourself.”

The gut exercise:

  • Make a list of three decisions that you’ve made because you knew in your gut it was the right decision for you. Write a few sentences on each one describing the sensation of how good it felt to have made them. This is the sensation you deserve to experience when you’re deciding “yes” to parenthood or “yes” to a child-free life.”

The desire vs. decision exercise:

  • “Create separation between desire and decision by putting the decision to the sidelines until clarity of your desire is known. To do this, make a list of all your fears related to this decision. Then list all the specifics, or externals, in your life that you can’t stop thinking about (age, health, career, relationship status, etc.) Then put these two lists in an envelope and put that envelope out of sight. Do not look at it or entertain anything in it until you have clarity of your desire, and you know why you want what you want. The why is important, not because you owe anyone an explanation but because you need to know what is driving your desire from the inside out so that you can be honest with yourself.”

4. Be very clear with your partner (if you have one) about your expectations and timelines

A married Muslim woman having a child is almost taken as a given. I explained very clearly to my partner that this is a decision I would be exploring. This can be difficult for your partner but I asked that in this time he does not try to “persuade” me, I needed to be able to come to a decision without feeling pressured or compelled. I did not feel it would be fair to either party to embark on a decision only one party wants, especially one with such huge and far-reaching ramifications. 

You owe it to yourself, your partner and your potential child to ensure you are giving this decision space. In my case, I also put the option of a divorce on the table as it would feel unfair for one party to want a child and not have one and vice versa.

5. Study examples of women in Islamic History 

You will actually find there are quite a few examples of Muslims who didn’t have children including some of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ wives. For me, this showed that embarking on motherhood is a choice and being a mother is not the only way to be a God-fearing Muslim woman.

I also spoke to an Aalimah about this matter and really came to understand that choosing is not sinful.

6. Be realistic about how motherhood will impact other aspects of your life, especially your career

In this article, author Jessica Grose explores why high-achieving women are not meeting career goals. She comes to a sobering conclusion: “It’s not because they’re ‘opting out’ of the workforce when they have kids, but because they’re allowing their partners’ careers to take precedence over their own.”

This article showed me the sheer importance of ensuring that the person you are with is nurturing, caring and supportive of your ambitions and respectful of these ambitions. If you are embarking on finding a partner I cannot stress enough how important this is. All of these conversations were made easier because of my partner. 

This also put into perspective for me that the models of motherhood that I took issue with are often women whose partners have very little input into day-to-day and week-to-week care of children. This may work for others however I was clear that this setup would not work for me should I want to have children, which led me to my next point.

7. Talk to your partner about a marriage maternity package

If what is holding you back from having children is fears about the role of motherhood in your life, try and explore these to the fullest extent. One of my fears was being lumped with kids 24/7 and not having time or breathing room for anything else. I figured that I needed to speak with my partner about the “logistics of parenting” to see if these fears would be alleviated. I did this by talking to my husband about what I expected from our “marriage maternity package. This is very specific to our marriage and what we felt we were able to afford in the form of ease. For example:

  • Being given money monthly in the time I am taking off work on top of my maternity as I would also have to take on less work in this time which affects my income. The financial implications should not fall disproportionately on me.
  • How long I would like to take time off work and how I would spend it.
  • How long he could take off for paternity leave and what it would mean for our responsibilities.
  • Being clear on how much childcare and other services we expect to be able to utilise week to week and how.
  • Being clear on how we expect to co-parent and how it to avoid it being heavily skewed to one caregiver.
  • Being able to be flexible with each other’s careers and understanding that there may be times when one person is having to do more than the other, but also agreeing that we wouldn’t like for this to be the norm and talking through how we can ensure a balance.
  • Understanding what approach we would take if both of us needed some time away from the child(ren) at the same time.

If you don’t have a partner, it’s still worth having this conversation early on with any potentials and being clear about what your expectations are from the very beginning.

8. Seek a diversity of views on motherhood, especially from Muslim women

Here are some great articles to explore that represent a variety of different views on motherhood:

“This fear of judgment inhibits Muslim mothers from even talking openly and freely about the difficulties of motherhood, let alone expressing any kind of regret. And it prevents Muslim women who do not have maternal feelings and who have, therefore, chosen not to have children, or who would choose not to have children, to be open about their decision for fear of being considered ‘unnatural.’”

“Rather than making du’a for a sister that she have more children, it is better to make du’a for her that Allah grant her what is best for her, and the patience and strength to face her current challenges with greater emaan.”

“Somewhere along the way we conflated motherhood as the only route to Allah to the point where I have found myself googling if it is haram to not have kids, just to double-check.”

9. Ask for advice, but make your own choice

While we are encouraged to seek advice in Islam, it’s important to remember that any decision you make is unique to you and your circumstances and no one can persuade you into it, especially not with a decision as consequential as having children. You have to find your own way. Everyones fitrah, context, wants, needs and disposition is different on these matters. You have to be compelled by your own reason, granted for some people it is just a very strong desire and they don’t feel the need to go beyond this. However, if in the course of seeking advice, some of the answers you hear raise a question mark for you, it is definitely worth exploring these doubts further. 

10. Go to therapy 

After doing all of the above steps, I decided to go to a therapist. I found that it really helped me to explore my doubts, fears and feelings as well as thoughts I had repressed that were subconsciously informing my decisions. Something that my therapist said that I found to be helpful was that the feeling of ambivalence towards motherhood isn’t something that is wholly abnormal. I resonated with this in the context of my career; I love my career, but sometimes I hate it too or it feels like it is the root of why I am having a hard time at a given moment, but the more years I have stuck to it, the better I have come to understand and deal with that ambivalence. Me pursuing my career is rooted in inspiration and love. The bad parts are the temporary bits that I find myself getting more and more resilient at enduring. 

There are so many resources out there to help you make this decision, but the most important thing is to take your time and give it space. It’s never too early to start thinking about the big decision of whether or not you want children. If this is a question that has been on your mind, I hope these tips and resources will help answer some of those questions for you! And if you decide that it is something you desire for yourself, at least you can go into it with your eyes wide open and clear about the fears, how to deal with them and what you want for yourself. 

Amaliah Anonymous

Amaliah Anonymous

This piece was written by a member of the Amaliah community. If you would like to contribute anonymously, drop us an email us on