“When I first talked about my choice not to have children, people tried to silence me”

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Flash Pack ambassador Danni Duncan lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, with her husband, Alex, and their two cats, Stanley and Billie. As well as working as a full-time content creator, she leads open conversations about her decision not to have children via her growing Instagram community.

A couple of years ago I started to talk about the questions I was facing about whether or not to have kids (at that stage I was on the fence). I quickly realised it was a subject people were desperate to have a space to talk about. I was also on the receiving end of a lot of misunderstandings, misconceptions and projections on the topic. I wanted to use my platform and share my journey in a way that would shift the negative narrative.

The choice to not have children has always existed, but what’s new is how vocal we are now about it. I’m not the first person to decide not to have kids but I am one of the first to be upfront, honest and share my full experience. 

I was on the receiving end of a lot of misunderstanding

To begin with, I got a lot of negative pushback and people almost tried to silence me. But the more I’ve spoken about it, the more support I’ve received and the easier my mission has become. I get messages every single day from different people thanking me for my platform. 

For many, it’s the first time they’ve seen this decision modelled in such a positive way and it’s made them feel far more comfortable in who they are. It’s also raised awareness of how important having a choice is. Many people have messaged me saying they never truly considered not having kids as an option. It’s been a relief for them to know that it is.

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The DMs that have hit home the most are from people who’ve been made to feel shame, or that they’re doing something wrong, by choosing not to have children. Many women have felt alone in their choice; but realising there’s a whole community have given them a lot of freedom. Suddenly, there’s this sense of hope that they’re going to have beautiful futures. 

Being told that you’ll regret not having kids happens a lot, and it can feel so invalidating. It’s frustrating that people think they know what’s best for you – that they know you better than you do. As for being “difficult”, I’ve been made to feel that way constantly and I hate it. I hate that people have made my personal choice about them, when it never was. 

As women, we should never have to tone ourselves down

I’m often told I’m creating division but I refuse to be held responsible for other people’s feelings and responses to something that’s got nothing to do with them. Despite the negative portrayal of child-free people, the majority of us are very supportive of the mothers around us. A lot of us love being the aunty in their children’s lives. 

As women, we should never have to tone ourselves down, but I am made to feel that way regularly. I try my best not to let that get to me, and to continue doing what I know is helping a lot of others. 

 

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A post shared by Danni Duncan (@danni___duncan)

We live in a very pronatalist society; a society that constantly reinforces that all women should be mothers. We see it in the movies that we watch, the books that we read, and we hear it throughout conversations held in the media. To go against that is to go against what many of us believed to be true growing up.

I don’t think the pressure to have kids is the same for men. I rarely see articles written about “men not having kids anymore”; it’s always about women. I think a man saying they don’t want kids is somehow more readily accepted.

What my partner and I enjoy most from our life without kids is the time that we have

For my husband, Alex, and I, what we most enjoy from our life without kids is the time that we have. We’re not in any rush to get things done. We’re only just starting to travel in our 30s, and we have the time to be able to plan and save for that. 

I’ve also been able to take the risk of working for myself. I used to be a speech language therapist, a job that was far more consistent in terms of the income I made. I don’t think I would be able to take the leap to being a freelance content creator if we were planning on having kids. Children are expensive, and I wouldn’t earn enough for us to give them a good life. I’m really glad I get to keep doing a job I love, and have the time to invest in that.

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One of the biggest problems people without children face is the challenge of meeting and making friends with others who don’t have kids. There are so many ways to make mum friends, yet child-free people don’t have the same options. 

That’s why I decided to launch The Others Club. It’s a way to connect my online community in real life. I’ll be starting with events held here, in my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand. I hope, in time, to be able to roll these events out and have people host them in their own cities. I’d love to see more child-free people making friends with people similar to them.

Adult friendship is hard but I’m determined to make it easier

Despite being a fairly confident person, I’m a huge homebody and I find the small talk of meeting someone new draining and difficult. The only time I’ve put the effort into making new friends, they ended up announcing their pregnancies. So to be honest, I haven’t done it since.

Adult friendship is really hard but I’m determined to make it easier for our community. At our first The Others Club event, I’ve planned some ways in which to connect like-minded people in a natural way – I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes.

 

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A post shared by Danni Duncan (@danni___duncan)

To be frank, I don’t have time for surface-level friendships. For the most part, I actually enjoy being alone and doing things solo. So, if I’m sharing my time with someone, I want to know it’s going to be a really connected part of my day. 

We all have so much going on in our worlds – it’s really important to be able to have people to process that with. Being child-free isn’t always easy yet I love the conversations I get to share with people online. I can’t wait to recreate that chemistry in person, too. 

Danni Duncan is a Flash Pack ambassador and content creator dedicated to sharing open conversations around the decision not to have kids. Join her community on Instagram.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a 30 or 40-something like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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