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Celebrities who don’t want kids: why won’t anyone believe them?

By Allix Denham 

There’s a strange denial that comes over people when you say you don’t want children. It’s as if they can’t get their heads around the concept, and are convinced you must be deceiving yourself. If you’re in a couple, it’s even worse. One of you has got to be lying, and it’s only a matter of time before your relationship falls apart as a result.

Take actress and film maker Jennifer Westfeldt, who lived with Mad Men star Jon Hamm for eighteen years, with neither wanting children. “I kept feeling like I’d wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven’t,” she said in a 2012 interview. “And we have a pretty great life together. The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it.”

Following their split last year, rumours abounded that Hamm’s since had a change of heart, and now does want a family. Never mind that he’s claimed, on numerous occasion, that he’d make a terrible father. Discussion forums, although largely supportive towards Westfeldt, were full of speculation that he will be married with a baby within a couple of years.

His future, the thinking seems to go, will be happy and fulfilled, while she’ll be left empty and alone. Never mind that she’s a successful filmmaker in her own right who doubtless gets immense fulfilment out of her work. Never mind that her writing and creativity might be more than enough for her. Without the hot guy and kids, she’s apparently the loser.

Then there’s Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who got so fed up with people refusing to believe they didn’t want children, they adopted a puppy and called it Kid. “I named him Kid because there have been rumours forever, when are you and Portia gonna have a kid?” explained Ellen. “So now I can say we have a Kid. So it can just stop.”

Her irritation is clear. Yet the couple have faced persistent tabloid rumours that their marriage is in trouble because, despite her constant denials, Portia does want a baby.

Are such stories invented by journalists on a quiet week? Because Portia seemed pretty clear when she spoke about it in 2011: “There comes some pressure in your mid-30s, and you think, am I going to have kids so I don’t miss out on something that other people really seem to love? Or is it that I really genuinely want to do this with my whole heart? I didn’t feel that my response was ‘yes’ to the latter. You have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did.”

So why do so many refuse to believe these people? They’re smart, successful and have clearly given the matter much thought. They’re more than capable of knowing their own minds, and making their own decisions.

Isn’t it time everyone just accepted them?

Allix Denham is a writer currently based in France. She and her partner have no children, but entertain the neighbour’s cat on a regular basis.

Photograph: Starfrenzy/Bigstock.com

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