Woman Constantly Asked Why She Doesn't Have Kids at 38 Responds — and Her Answer Goes Viral (Exclusive)

"My sisters have been raising kids since they were young. They wondered, 'What is a day like for you?' " Stacey Mellinger tells PEOPLE

<p>staceyivana/TikTok</p> Stacey Mellinger


Stacey Mellinger

A 38-year-old woman is going viral after posting a video to TikTok in which she answers a question she gets all too frequently: What's it like not having kids?

Stacey Mellinger tells PEOPLE that, over the years, she's gotten "a lot" of questions and comments from people wondering what she does all day, being that she doesn't have children.

"Even my own family would ask me, 'What do you do?' My sisters have been raising kids since they were young. They wondered, 'What is a day like for you?' " Mellinger, 38, says.

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While talking to a co-worker recently, Mellinger was discussing how often she gets asked about her lack of children, and "something clicked."

"I thought, 'I should sit down and talk about this,' " she adds.

So, she did. Setting up her phone in front of her while she ate dinner, Mellinger spoke for nearly five minutes about, "What it's like being 38 with no kids."

Within 24 hours, the video had hit a million views. Now at 3 million views and climbing, the video has triggered an outpouring of positive comments from those who, like Mellinger, lead very full lives without children.

"I got a lot of women saying, 'Thank you for sharing this. I can relate. I'm older without kids and I'm so happy,' " Mellinger says. "There's this idea that if you choose not to have kids, then you must be broken. But I am an extremely caring, empathetic person and I have a very full life."

As she explains in the video, Mellinger often gets "one of two reactions" when she tells people that she is 38 and has no kids by choice: "The first one I would say is probably the more positive reaction. People saying things like, 'Oh my gosh, I bet you save a lot of money, and you get to sleep in' ... and then you get the other side of people saying, 'Well, how do you find purpose in life?' and 'Who's going to take care of you when you get old?' "

Mellinger, who is married and whose husband also has no children, goes on to say that she "probably" does save money as a result of not having kids, but spends it on other things — like traveling. She adds that she "could" sleep in, on the days she isn't working her full-time job, but typically never sleeps in past 7 a.m.

Addressing the more negative comments and questions she receives, Mellinger says in the video that she has plenty of purpose in life, and doesn't worry about needing children to take care of her when she's older.

"Well, Karen, just because you have children doesn't mean they are going to outlive you," Mellinger notes in the video. "And it also doesn't mean they're going to stick around to take care of you ... I wouldn't want to stop [a child] from living their life, and I definitely wouldn't expect them to take care of me when I get old."

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Since posting the video, Mellinger says the response has been overwhelmingly positive — though she notes that she has gotten some negative comments from "both men and women" — some of which, unsurprisingly, has little to do with the content in the video at all.

"A lot of it is people telling me I'm going to get lonely when I'm old, but I even got comments about my gray hair. I do have gray hair and I grayed early. And I have no shame about it, though people expect me to. And when I don't, it's almost like it makes them mad," she says. "Men with gray hair are seen as silver foxes and so good-looking — and then us women, we're thought of as hags."

Mellinger is quick to point out that she doesn't blame anyone for asking her what life with no kids is like, telling PEOPLE: "For me personally, I don't mind the questions. As long as they're tasteful and genuine. I understand that we all want to know what it's like on the other side."

Still, she adds, "I think there are certain things you just don't say because they could be hurtful. And I always think you should never do things just for other people's approval."

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