≡ Menu

Fewer Married Women Having Children

Screen shot 2012-01-31 at 4.37.16 PMYesterday, on a day that I had four hours of childcare help, I still spent roughly an hour or so potty-training my 2-year-old, changed a few diapers, managed two terrible temper tantrums, did several loads of laundry, cleaned up countless messes, and stepped on no fewer than three legos. And according to a new study fewer women than ever will experience this unique kind of… joy. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University found that “the percentage of married women ages 40 to 44 who had no biological children and no other kids in the household, such as adopted children or stepkids, reached 6% in the period from 2006 to 2010, [which is] a small but statistically significant jump since 1988, when only 4.5% of married women had no kids.”

Whether by choice or infertility, more American women than ever are reaching their 40s without having kids. While the vast majority of those women remain unmarried, the slight increase in married women who remain childfree suggests an evolving view of marriage. It’s becoming less and less about child-rearing and co-parenting…and seemingly more about — get this! — love and companionship . Crazy talk, I know!

“There’s a resistance to parenthood being the default after marriage,” Childless by Choice Project director Laura S. Scott said. “People are questioning it in ways that they didn’t perhaps 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.”

A Pew Research Center survey three years ago found that “a shrinking percentage of American adults said children were very important to a successful marriage.”

“We’ve moved away from the idea that the sole or even the primary purpose of marriage is to produce offspring,” said Debra Mollen, associate professor of psychology at Texas Woman’s University. Instead, “we want someone to share our lives with.”

Interestingly, additional studies from the Pew Research Center and the journal Demography show that “parents now spend more time and money on their children than they did decades ago” (I believe that!), suggesting that parenthood has become a more intense job — an intensity and challenge that some couples simply decide is not for them.

Another study, conducted last year, found that more Americans agree now than they did in the 90s that “having children interferes too much with the freedom of parents.”

Are people getting more ambitious and finding less time and focus for raising kids? Is the evolving role of women both in the workforce and at home changing their views on parenthood and making it more socially acceptable to remain childfree? Are women simply marrying later in life when their fertility has dropped significantly and it’s much more difficult for them to conceive naturally? Based on pure social observation, I’d say “yes” to all the above.

Still, choosing not to become a mother is still the exception. “Despite the demands of parenthood, the vast majority of Americans — 90% — either have children or want to have them, a recent Gallup poll showed.” And many couples who remain child free either by choice or inability to conceive, often complain of a remaining stigma.

They aren’t, however, complaining of endless diaper-changing or the skyrocketing cost of childcare…

[via LA Times]

Comments on this entry are closed.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 1:15 pm

I completely agree with this study. To me the primary purpose of being married is to share your life with someone. Although I would never have kids without being married. So many thoughts and not enough time to share them all. All I have to say is that I love that studies like this are happening and people are talking about this. Fascinating.

mandalee mandalee December 10, 2013, 1:29 pm

Yes! I also think the primary purpose of being married to share my life with someone. I’ve been married for two years and I have *no* desire to have children yet. They are eventually in the plan, but my career and our current goals are much more important for the time being. I guess when I got married, I never saw having children as a defining moment in the future of my marriage. I just view it as one of those things I will most likely do along the way, like more of a branch on the tree than the tree itself. I have a few friends who threw away their birth control the minute they got married and while I understand that viewpoint, I just can not relate. To me, marriage doesn’t always equals babies.

I’ve seen the strain children put on marriage firsthand as a nanny and a preschool teacher and I’ll admit that it plays a huge role in my not prioritizing being a mother over everything else. I’ve seen marriages dissolve, women lose their identity, spouses become more parents than partners, and it’s well…frightening. I’ve seen people get it right, but the gamble of the stress and possible drawbacks is making me wait until I’m absolutely sure my life and my relationship is ready for that big of a shakeup.

avatar SasLinna December 10, 2013, 1:32 pm

I agree it can be scary to see how parenthood affects people. What gets me is how different it is for different people: Some of the new parents I know seem pretty happy and stable, others really kind of broken. And I couldn’t always have guessed who would be which way. It’s definitely something that’s been on my mind now that I know more people with kids.

mandalee mandalee December 10, 2013, 2:47 pm

Yes, you summed it up perfectly. I could not have predicted, knowing some of the couples pre-children, where they would have ended up on the happy parent- stressed/broken parent scale. This one married couple I knew had this amazing, rock solid relationship and were so excited for children, had a kid, and they became these extremely bitter, angry people. I would have never in a million years anticipated that. I’m sure they might get over the hump eventually, but the unpredictability is scary.

avatar Banana December 10, 2013, 4:24 pm

Sometimes I wonder if it has something to do with expectations. Sometimes you think the couples who were most excited to have kids would be the happiest parents, but they’re not. Because they spent so much time imagining what their lives with kids would be like, planning it out meticulously, making resolutions and strategies before the kids even arrived, and then as often happens in life, reality surprised them. Maybe their perfectly-laid plans fell through or their hopes and expectations were totally different; maybe they glamorized parenthood too much; maybe they just weren’t prepared for the hard parts. But that’s my theory, anyway, on how the most parenthood-eager people can sometimes turn out to be the “broken” (stress-wise) parents.

avatar Sara December 10, 2013, 3:16 pm

This – who will flourish and who will not flourish after having a kid is so unpredictable. Sometimes, I want a kid – I want to have (some of) the life experiences a kid brings. But other times I don’t want anything to change re: my relationship with my spouse. I mean, I really, really like “us” right now, and sometimes I’m afraid of jeopardizing “us.”

avatar Banana December 10, 2013, 4:26 pm

I think we’re often afraid to talk about this, but I’ve heard that one of the toughest parts of having a kid is realizing you’re no longer your spouse’s #1. The kids will be #1, even if you have a strong partnership together and you still have that great foundation of love and shared experiences. You used to be each other’s exclusively. Now you have to “share” your spouse with another life-directing love.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 1:33 pm

A BRANCH OF THE TREE AND NOT THE TREE ITSELF! YES. Kids are not the end goal of marriage.

avatar TECH December 10, 2013, 1:19 pm

I think it’s really great when people know themselves well enough to know they don’t want kids. End of story.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 1:21 pm

On the other spectrum of that it makes me really sad when people know they really really want to have kids and for whatever reason can’t. :/ Whether that’s because they are single, unable to conceive, finances aren’t right, whatever.

avatar TECH December 10, 2013, 1:29 pm

I think it’s sadder. Because it’s relatively easy to not have kids. When you want kids and can’t have them — it’s not easy.

Jess Jess December 10, 2013, 1:23 pm

Related topic. My husband and I talk a lot about the prospect of having only one child. We feel like we won’t REALLY know until we become parents but we think we might want just one. Recently, we’ve seen some books and articles from parents of one-child speaking out about the stigma and pressure of having just one. I really had no idea that was a thing.

I’m curious if you encounter a lot of nosy questions, Wendy, about giving Jackson a sibling. People seem to think its a crime to deprive the child of a brother or sister. I tend to think people place too much emphasis on the sibling relationship. For one, many siblings fight terribly as kids. And that’s to say nothing of the many estranged or neutral relationships of adulthood. I have 2 siblings. One is close to me and the other might as well have been born on another planet. Also, there’s a whole country, a very LARGE country, where almost all families have one child (China, you guessed it). And one could argue that they seem to be doing pretty well over there (if the economy is any indicator).

I know you have spoken about having just one before, Wendy. Could be an interesting topic for the future.

Dear Wendy Wendy December 10, 2013, 1:24 pm

I think I’ll write about this for tomorrow.

avatar TECH December 10, 2013, 1:33 pm

This is somewhat off topic — but it relates to the one child rule in China. Because there was such an emphasis on having one child who was a boy, and baby girls were either killed or given up, there is a huge number of young single men in China who cannot find a partner. I guess there were some kind of protests recently. I don’t know a whole lot about it. But I find it interesting.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 1:58 pm

any time there is selective gender anything, the natural order of things gets all fucked up. but, this points much more to backwards values then anything else…

also, apparently, usually when a population is under stress, more girls are produced. how cool is that?

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 3:00 pm
katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:13 pm

ha, that was funny! and interesting. i love when interesting things are written with humor…

have they explored the possibility that the females are being exposed to the sperm in utero? that makes the most sense to me…

Dear Wendy Wendy December 10, 2013, 1:46 pm

The short version, in case I don’t get around to writing a longer version, is that I don’t feel much pressure to have a second child — at least not here in NYC where 1-child families are much more common, and I don’t feel pressured by family or friends. Well, Jackson’s babysitter/nanny is always telling me it’s time to give him a sibling but that’s only because she likes working for us and a second kid would likely give her another 2-4 years of employment! Other than that, no one really cares. I mean, I’m sure my parents would like another grandchild, but they never say anything about it. Drew would very much like a second child but I know he is content with just one. He has told me the decision is mine to make. And slowly, I am coming around to the idea of another baby — not just for everyone else, but for me too. I want to wait at least six more months (before trying to get pregnant) because I think a 3 1/2 year spread is a good one, and I have zero interest in having two children in diapers (oh, God, please no twins). But I also want to be wrapped up before 40. I’m 37 now. Ideally, I’d get pregnant around my 38th bday and have my second and final baby before my 39th bday. But, we shall see…

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 1:50 pm

This is me jumping for joy at the idea of you having another one but not at all pressuring you! 🙂

This makes me think of my amazing mother who had two 2 yr olds (my twin brothers) and two newborns (my twin sisters) at the SAME FUCKING time – and at a time before disposable diapers existed.

Sorry for cussing but there was no other way to describe what must have been hell for my mother – 4 kids under 3.

Dear Wendy Wendy December 10, 2013, 2:09 pm

As my friend’s t-shirt proclaims: “Oh KALE No!”

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 5:20 pm

i need that shirt.

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 2:24 pm

AP, your mother is a saint for being able to get through that. And Wendy the thought of you having another mini-wendy-drew is really exciting!

avatar scattol December 10, 2013, 4:34 pm

I think siblings are overall a win in the long run. I was told 2 years was the best gap because they are close enough to each other to play with each other. And the 2nd is more work but not that much more, certainly nowhere near the amount extra work the first one is. Especially when they play with each other.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:48 pm

my friend is all on top of having another baby. the first was an accident, and obviously i dont know fully but it doesnt seem like they are really secure, but she wants to try soon for the second because she wants them to be like 2 years apart. and then she is like, i mean you and your sister are 4 years- didnt that bother you? and im like … nope, never actually. it was just my life, i dunno.

having another baby to the detriment of the household just to have a “perfect” age gap… eh. i dunno….

avatar scattol December 10, 2013, 5:51 pm

The theory is that they are close enough in age that they have the same interest and will naturally play on the same thing. It actually works out AFAIK .

What really throws a household is the first born. The second one is a lot more seemless and having 2 in diapers at the same times also means you will be done with diapers sooner, something to keep in mind.

Roxy_84 Roxy_84 December 10, 2013, 4:51 pm

“Oh, God, please no twins” — hahaha…this happened to my friend! She and her husband waffled for ages on whether they wanted another child, or whether one was enough. They finally decided they did want another when their daughter was about 4. Surprise! Twins!

avatar Morgan December 10, 2013, 5:38 pm

My sister and I are just under 4 years apart and it’s a great gap! Close enough to enjoy playing together once she was like 2 or 3 (and close enough to enjoy the same activities on vacation!) but far enough that we were only in school together in elementary school, we were never competing for friends (or boys!) and we were never really in direct competition even when we did the same activities.
It was a great gap!

Miel Miel December 10, 2013, 1:47 pm

Does somebody know the average number of children per women in the US ? I would be so curious to know that. Usually that indice is not near two (it’s way below) in first world countries. Which then baffles me because it means that the norm is to have either no kid or to have just one, not to have “two-three-four”.

Miel Miel December 10, 2013, 2:14 pm

I googled it myself and it’s 2.06. This is so high !! I would have never guessed. Canada is 1.59.

avatar csp December 10, 2013, 3:19 pm

But when I was growing up, it was 2.3 kids so that is a significant drop.

avatar Christy December 10, 2013, 2:18 pm

The CIA World Factbook has the average at 2.06 children/woman in the US. Germany’s at 1.42, France is at 2.02, Spain’s at 1.48. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2127.html

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 2:39 pm

Librarian answer FTW.

avatar Christy December 10, 2013, 6:52 pm

I love you. (Banana too.)

avatar Banana December 10, 2013, 3:19 pm

Stats are sexy!

othy othy December 11, 2013, 10:48 am

Does this mean that statisticians are sexy too? 🙂

Jess Jess December 11, 2013, 10:00 am

I don’t know if anyone is still following these comments today. I am seriously 1.5 days behind on everything this week.

But I wanted to add that France’s high birth rate is the result of a really interesting process. It used to be one of the lowest in Europe and politicians/society was panicked about it (I won’t pussy foot around it –it’s a race-based fear that north Africans will outpopulate the “original” white French). In any case, they started surveying women about why they had one or none. The results were overwhelming –women wanted more children but didn’t feel they could afford them or juggle careers. France put all kinds of childcare support into their requirements for employee coverage. Better maternity leave, subsidized childcare, etc. That high birthrate is a direct result of the social benefits the country put in place.

Oh, I found an article:

findingtheearth findingtheearth December 10, 2013, 2:14 pm

I have only one child. I am not married, and have no plans for it or relationships any time soon, but I really don’t want to have additional children. I did not have a good birthing experience, and feel that for my own health, another child is not a good thing.

I would be okay with marrying someone with children.

I have a couple of friends who only have one child. They are pretty content with it. I myself am an only child, and it has its ups and downs.

BriarRose BriarRose December 10, 2013, 3:02 pm

It’s totally a thing in the southern town where I spent the first 8 years of daughter’s life. I was asked basically non-stop when I was having another, and when she was old enough, people started asking her directly if she wanted a sibling. Lots of family pressure too, plus lots of stereotypes from just about anyone you can imagine (friends, co-workers, randoms at the grocery store) about only children. I haven’t found any of them to be true. My daughter is basically like an oldest child. Not the least bit selfish, self-involved, snobby, or anything (I can certainly see her faults, but those are not them!).

We’re currently living in a more progressive city and no one has said anything to us here. That might be because she’s 9 though and people have given up trying.

A good article on the topic: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2002530,00.html

avatar HmC December 10, 2013, 3:58 pm

Oh I love that article! Nothing like some good information and common sense. Also if I have a biological kid I’m almost certain I only want one.

Jess Jess December 10, 2013, 8:19 pm

Sorry for posting and then ghosting (get it?! haha). But thanks for the input Wendy. I guess I am curious about how many people have a 2nd child because they always knew they wanted a second child vs how many people have a 2nd child because of the joy of having their first.

I think we only want one but I can see myself being the type to pine over the loss of the baby days. At the same time, I find the thought of just one is comforting right now when we are struggling so hard to GET just one. The thought of having to do it all over again and at a later age (I’m also 37) is scary to me. I may decide to do it later but for now, one seems like an attainable goal 🙂

Dear Wendy Wendy December 10, 2013, 8:57 pm

I think one is a wonderful number. I have taken so long to decide for sure that I want two because one is so perfect. A have a lot of the same worries about having two that I did about having a first baby. But I know how much joy Jackson has brought us and I imagine that same joy times two and its hard not to want to see what that would feel like. But I can also imagine it always being just the three of us and that feeling totally perfect.

BriarRose BriarRose December 11, 2013, 8:44 am

I actually thought I wanted 3-4 kids, then had 1 and was like “nope”! But I had a very difficult delivery which I still have problems due to, had a child who didn’t sleep through the night consistently until she was 4, and was not in a happy marriage, so I’m sure all that contributed.

avatar Ladybug December 11, 2013, 10:52 am

I’m nowhere close to being a parent, let alone thinking about how many kids I might want, but I am an only child. I haven’t encountered a stigma per se, but there does seem to be an assumption that if people wanted to be parents in the first place, they must have wanted more than one child. When people find out that I’m an only child, they often ask me why. In my parents’ case there were medical issues that convinced them it was a good idea to stop with one, but it’s always struck me as a bit strange that people assume that there must be a specific reason and a story behind it. My dad’s an only as well, and he always said the best two responses were “Well, my parents just didn’t see any reason to try again since they produced perfection the first time” or “Yeah, after my parents saw what they had on their hands in me, they were afraid to go near each other again.”

Kate Kate December 10, 2013, 1:25 pm

WOW, I had no idea the percentage of married women who don’t have kids is so low, and that the percentage of Americans who have kids or want them is so high. I knew I was in a minority but I thought it was a larger minority, like at least 20% . I still don’t think I want kids and I’m getting to the end of my 30s.

avatar SasLinna December 10, 2013, 1:29 pm

Me too, I’m always surprised when I see how high the percentage of people with kids is. I think it’s because about half the people in my social circle don’t have them – or only have them in their mid-thirties – so my perception of this is super skewed.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 1:37 pm

I was surprised too. I also think having kids is contagious. Like once your friends start doing it, and you see that their lives don’t stop, you find it more manageable. Whereas if you have bad parent role models, like parents that are 24/7 stressed and complain about their lives all the time, your eggs shrivel up and die.

Also the more educated you are the less likely you are to have kids, which is also crazy interesting to me. *huge generalization warning* It’s interesting to me because normally the more education you have the higher income you earn and therefore the more resources you have to throw at childrearing.

Miel Miel December 10, 2013, 1:56 pm

I saw the statistic about “the more educated the less children” and the stronger correlation is about the education of the mother (not as much for the education of the father). My interpretation is : the more the mom is educated, the smaller are the chances of having 5-6 babies by accident just because you don’t understand the reproductive system. Also, the more the mom is educated, the more likely for her to be studying later (like still be in college until the mid-20s) then spending some years focused on a career, and then by 33-34 years old she starts having kids, but again it’s less likely for her to have 5-6. It will be more like 1-2 (I know, this is one case at the end of the spectrum. Plenty of women decide to start a family at 22 just as they get out of college). On the opposite side, a girl that drops out of high school because she got pregnant at 15 has more opportunities to have a larger family because she begins her “adult” life out of school much more earlier, and she has decades of fertility left to have more kids if she wants.

Nookie Nookie December 11, 2013, 7:35 am

Could it also have something to do with with the fact that women have to take a career break when they have children? They might have different priorities if they’re well educated and not want to take the break that might make them lose out on their careers.

GatorGirl GatorGirl December 10, 2013, 1:56 pm

I find the education/income vs birthrate gap interesting too. I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation, but it definitely is backwards from my brains logic.

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 1:57 pm

I think there’s a lot that goes into the education/low birth-rate equation. Like people who are more educated might have parents who are more educated who also waited to have kids vs teen moms having babies that turn into teen moms (it’s a cycle, etc…). If you’re more educated you presumably had access to better info about birth control. You’re surrounded by other people who are waiting to have kids. There are socio-economic (and racial) trends towards not using birth control at ALL. There’s a lot more shame/stigma associated with having a kid outside of wedlock, etc….

avatar jlyfsh December 10, 2013, 2:00 pm

oh my gosh like the show i’m pregnant and my teen is too. not that i watched back to back episodes of that today or anything. every single ‘teen’ was a child of a teen mom.

GatorGirl GatorGirl December 10, 2013, 2:04 pm

Teen pregnancy really is a cycle. GGuy and I where both born to teen mom’s, who had teen mom’s, who had teen moms. Both of our mom’s have sisters who where also teen mom’s, and now their children are reproducing (my cousin was 21 when she had her baby so not technically a teen but still on the younger swing of things and unmarried and dropped out of college because of it). GGuy and I where both determined to end the cycle with our generation.

avatar RangerChic December 10, 2013, 4:02 pm

I am determined to end the cycle…my parents were teen parents and I was a teen mom. (though I did go to college after I had my first daughter and did get a bachelors degree) I have an 18 and 13 yo (girls). I’ve talked to both of them extensively about birth control, having sex or choosing to not have sex, etc. So far so good. My oldest actually moved to Germany to be a Au pair for a while since she didn’t know what she wanted to do when she “grows up”.

Interesting is I have two sisters and both were teen moms but my brother was not a teen dad.

GatorGirl GatorGirl December 10, 2013, 1:44 pm

I’m totally in the camp of “marriage is for companionship/life partnership” not just to make kids. I want to have kids, I think they will add value to our relationship, but if it doesn’t happen it’s okay too.

(Also I’m having an f-ing terrible day. UGHHHHHHHH.)

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 1:47 pm

I WANT A BABY SO BAD! That’s it, I’m just going to do it alone.

avatar jlyfsh December 10, 2013, 2:00 pm

do it!

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 2:22 pm

If you have the financial resources and family/friend support (because you need SUPPORT) I would do it. I know I want kids, and if my fiance died or divorced me or what have you, I’d probably still try for a kid in my 30s. People say being a single mom can be the hardest thing you go through, but I think with the right support and financial set-up you’ll be OK. You can probably even find a support group or listserv or something for people who women who chose single-parenthood (on purpose). Plus, you get to pick out a sperm donor. That’s probably fun, right?

avatar bethany December 10, 2013, 2:39 pm

Slight tangent, but my husband has a weird mole thing on his head (he’s getting it looked at tomorrow), and ever since he told me about it, I’ve been crazy thinking that he’s going to die, and how I HAVE to get pregnant before he dies, because I want his babies. Is that weird?

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 2:59 pm

I would have the exact same thought. Good news is, he most likely ISNT going to die.

avatar bethany December 10, 2013, 3:31 pm

He’d better not, or I will be SO PISSED. He had this thing on his head for a month before he told me about it. And he was going to wait another month to go to the Dr, since he already had an appointment scheduled for January. Had his brother not gotten melanoma at the age of 25, I might not be so concerned about this, but this mole looked WRONG in every way… He’s going to the Dr tomorrow, thank God.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 6:06 pm

you can actually harvest sperm post-death. it happens, wives will get doctors to harvest it and then get pregnant from it. i *think* its now illegal in the UK without consent? that is the biggest issue with it- you have to have explicit consent to harvest sperm after death, and i remember hearing a story in the UK that they finally were like “ok, no, were not just going to believe the wife that “he really wanted kids with me” anymore” so its now illegal. i dont know what the laws are here in the us, but i saw one of those “untold stories of the ER” where a wife was trying to get the doctor to do it *if* her husband died, but then the mother came to the hospital too and called her a gold digger and revealed that the husband/son and wife had a pre-nup that said she got NOTHING unless there was a child. and drama ensued, obviously. haha

Fabelle Fabelle December 10, 2013, 3:10 pm

Yeah AP do it, I feel like picking out a donor would be SO FUN. I’m on the fence about children (I used to be all, “hell no” but then I became more open), but the most interesting part to me is the genetics factor, weirdly?

avatar Banana December 10, 2013, 4:33 pm

Fab I’m glad you mentioned that (you used to be hell no but now you’re more open) because it also seems like people feel like they have to be pro- kids or not, and that’s just a static trait. For some people, it is pretty clear-cut (some people I know just are kids people; others are just never going to be kids people) but I think it’s perfectly natural to go through phases in our lives where our opinions on whether we want kids change. I’m actually going in the opposite direction — I used to really look forward to having kids. I still want them someday (not until my 30s) but seeing my SIL take care of my newborn nephew was an eye-opener, hahaha. It really made me think long and hard about whether I’m willing to go through that. I know I want to be a nurturer and a positive force in people’s lives, but I’m also okay with the fact that I can’t predict the future, and I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about how I would be happy being an awesome auntie and maybe even a mentor or foster mom, if I don’t get the chance to have my own kids one day. And a big part of me is really okay with that.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:45 pm

yea, going along this, i think a lot of people assume that i will have kids because i genuinely like the kids in my life? like i was so excited to take care of my friends 1 month old (over a long weekend visit) or like, when we visit jakes nieces ill let them parade me around the house showing me pointless stuff, and their mom is always like “katie you dont have to do that if you dont want to” but its fun! but… i dont think i want to be a parent. i like kids, i guess i would call myself pro-kid… but i dont want to be a parent.

avatar ktfran December 10, 2013, 2:01 pm

When I was a little girl, I wanted the career, the husband, the 2.5 kids and the family dog. Now that I’m older, all I really want is a life partner. As others have said, someone to share my life with. I think I would make a great mom and I love kids, but the older I become, the less likely it looks that it will happen. And I decided years ago that I’ll be ok with however my life works out. I also think it will work out the way it’s suppose to.

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 2:55 pm

Haha, I’m totally the opposite way. When I was little, and even a teenager I was like “I WANT TO BE A DOCTOR. NO TIME FOR LOVE. NO TIME FOR CHILDREN.” I never played house in the context of “a family”. I made food for me, yo.

Now that I’m reaching the beginning of my career I’m like, “Hmm, yeah I want the whole shebang.” Hopefully I can pull it off somehow. But I also don’t think I would be devastated if for some reason I couldn’t have children.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 2:03 pm

aw, that link at the bottom- what a great trip down memory lane! haha…. that was the selfish vs selfless -ness of parenthood, why people who tell childless women “you’ll see” arent actually wrong or bad at all, and how adoption is never bad or immoral in the usa.

haha, seriously, go read it again…

Portia Portia December 10, 2013, 3:14 pm

Man, I just followed that link too and totally wandered off into commentland…

avatar csp December 10, 2013, 3:50 pm

This might come off as a little dark but I am terrified of being this statistic. My husband and I married at 25 and wanted a few years to be us. We started trying when I was 30. Over 2 years later and fertility treatment. I only have two miscarriages to show for it. I have a large fibroid tumor (not cancer). I am facing the very fact that I waited too long. If I had started trying at 26 the tumor wouldn’t be there. I think that as a culture, there has been a shift to have a life and a career before family. But no one tells you that if you wait too long that you might miss your chance. We are still trying but the main question isn’t if I can get pregnant but if I can stay pregnant.

avatar rachel December 10, 2013, 3:54 pm

Sorry to hear that csp 🙁 Hope everything works out for you!

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 4:04 pm

🙁 This is one of my (many) fears!! And (along with a multitude of other personal reasons that don’t apply to anyone else) this is part of the reason why I decided that if I am going to pump out some human larvae I would like to do it relatively early (26). Which, really is not that early but it’s pretty much unheard of if you are have a high level of education. Again, this is dependent on the right situation and the right person. But, I think everyone needs to figure out what they want and then figure out the smartest way to achieve that.

PS so sorry, my fallopian tubes are crossed for you! (haha, funny?)

avatar csp December 10, 2013, 5:31 pm

I like that your tubes are crossed. That seems like a lot of effort 🙂 The thing is, I loved my late 20s. we traveled and had a good time. If I end up not being able to have a baby, then I will always regret it. If I do then I won’t. I wish we had timers that we just knew how much time was left.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 5:59 pm

i really hope you dont come to regret those times. who is to say that if you would have tried then, it would have happened? no one can say that. even if you didnt have the tumor, maybe there would have been some other problem. no one ever knows.

we cant perfectly plan our lives, and not everyone gets that they think they want out of life. be happy that you had those years that you love, despite the problems now.

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 4:14 pm

I’m really sorry to hear that, csp. My brother (an obstetrician-gynecologist-oncologist) says the same thing. Culturally things are changing, but biologically things are as they have been and it’s harder to get pregnant later in life (certainly not impossible) but not as easy as, say, when you’re in your early 20s. I hate it when he reminds me of that. Which he does, a lot. But back to you: I’m hoping good things come!

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:16 pm

arent things, biologically, getting earlier? like not “as they have been” but earlier puberty, earlier menopause, ect?

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 4:21 pm

oh i dunno. the point i intended to make was more that while culturally we’re making babies later, biologically we’re not changing for making babies later, without commentary about staying the same v. earlier changes biologically. i misspoke.

p.s. you,to the time out chair you go.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:28 pm

haha, no, no, i know what you meant, and its correct. but is the early puberty/menopause actually happening? i mean i feel like ive read stuff about it, and people are freaking out about hormones in milk, bla bla bla… but its is true?

you have a ob/gyno brother. you should know this stuff!

Fabelle Fabelle December 10, 2013, 4:34 pm

I’ve never heard of menopause getting earlier, & that scares me, sort of? even though I’m not sure I want children?

Is it genetic? Or does it correlate with when you got your first period? Like, I got mine at 12 & a half, which was the “average” at the time, so does that mean I will become menopausal at the “average” age as well? Or, like, my mom became menopausal right around 50 (is that late?) so will I likely not become menopausal until then?

(Obviously you don’t know these answers haha but I find this all pretty interesting)

avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 4:50 pm

I think it mostly depends on your mom. I think 50-55 is “normal” but perimenopause shows up a few years before that.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 6:05 pm

DUDE. My mom went through it at 42. So if it starts earlier these days I probably should have started trying for a baby like yesterday.

Addie Pray Addie Pray December 10, 2013, 4:39 pm

well considering his concern for me is my advancing age and not whether i’ll start puberty earlier, he likes to talk to me about the risks of having babies late. he can be such an asshole that one.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:49 pm

psh come on you dont just talk to your brother about average puberty ages and trends in america? wow. BO-RING.


avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 4:25 pm

Puberty is earlier but only VERY slightly (like say .25 or .5 years in girls). Anecdotally people think its like 2-3 yrs earlier, but scientifically when you look at the numbers its not. Puberty is getting earlier specifically in hispanic and black populations, but they think a lot of early puberty is caused by childhood obesity (fat cells hold estrogen—estrogen=puberty in girls).

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 4:32 pm

I’ve heard it’s increased nutrition in general, but obesity also makes sense. I mean from a very basic perspective: you only cycle when you have enough food/energy to carry a baby to term.

avatar csp December 10, 2013, 5:34 pm

Thanks Addie. Honestly, my best friend was so worried after all the stuff I went through and started trying and got pregnant the first month. Two of my sorority sisters married each other and have a baby together. For every person like me, there are 10 that are just fine.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana December 10, 2013, 4:36 pm

This is so scary to me and pretty much on par with my family history (Mom and then older sister). Idk if your dr. has looked at this but it only happened after my sister (between ages 27-29) had had multiple miscarriages and undergone many fertility treatments it was discovered that her uterus was slightly misshapen which was leading her to have miscarriages. She was able to have a surgery to correct this and when she underwent her next round of fertility treatments, ended up carrying twins to term! So maybe something to look in to? I just wonder if its not the most common thing a gyn will jump to since it took them so long to figure out this was a factor in my sister’s multiple miscarriages.

avatar csp December 10, 2013, 5:23 pm

thanks for the thoughts. They are testing me like crazy. I had blood work 17 times last month. They don’t know what is wrong. They just keep testing. I will look into that though. Who knows what they will find.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:19 pm

so who remembers the time cover about being childless? this just reminds me of that.

i have nothing interesting to add, except i am going to denver tomorrow and i finally fixed my phone’s sound problem! yay

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 4:36 pm

FACK! We haven’t fixed our Denver meet up yet have we? I want to see you! I live 3 blocks from the uptown tavern, so if you don’t have plans on Saturday we should meet up and go there or margs – which is like a block from my house.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 4:42 pm

well yes its planned for saturday! you said you were boarding….

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 6:05 pm

Well I’m a dum dum and thought you were talking about LAST Saturday.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 6:08 pm

haha… does this mean you are in for saturday!!??

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 6:14 pm

Possibly! I have to run 15 miles in the morning but I should have some free time between 3 and 5. Small time frame I know, I’m annoying.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 6:15 pm

If that time doesn’t work I could make it 2-5. Let me know when I become so annoying you don’t even want to bother seeing me at all.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 6:18 pm

2 or 3 to 5 sounds wonderful! thats happy hour time anyway right? thats what i suggested for the meetup. ill update it.

avatar ktfran December 10, 2013, 5:32 pm

say hello to the kid for me. . . .

katie katie December 10, 2013, 5:55 pm

sad trombone….

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 10, 2013, 6:06 pm

Is this your way of giving us permission to invite him to our meet-up?

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 4:27 pm


Okay, for those of you who like statistics. Also I can trying to find a study that shows how the age at first birth compares between different education levels (ie, what is the average age at first birth for those with high school, college, professional/graduate level educations). I am hoping it is buried in here.

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 4:44 pm

” Notably, though, a third of adults who have three or more children (33%) say two is ideal (and an additional 2% say one is ideal).”


avatar kerrycontrary December 10, 2013, 4:51 pm

hahah I heard that most people say going from 1 to 2 isn’t a big deal, but going from 2 to 3 changes everything cause then you are out-numbered.

avatar Banana December 10, 2013, 5:02 pm

LOL! Though everyone I know who grew up in a family of 4+ kids says they plan on having fewer themselves. They said that even as kids they noticed the difference, because in bigger families the older ones wind up semi-raising the younger ones. And I have at least one friend who just thinks his family couldn’t handle the financial strain and it was really obvious to him as a kid, and he doesn’t want to do that to his kids.

And as we all know, anecdotes are data! 😉

Miel Miel December 10, 2013, 5:50 pm

I will counter your anecdote with another anecdote. All the people I know who grew up in a familiy with 4+ kids want large family too, because that’s all they know. One of my friend grew up in a family of 5 kids(so seven with the parents) and she thinks being three around a table for dinner is being lonely.

katie katie December 10, 2013, 6:09 pm

my mom actually told me that when i was thinking of getting another cat.

so there, parents. another parent compared kids to pets. whatever.

avatar AliceInDairyland December 10, 2013, 4:55 pm


Okay this is from Sweden, but still interesting… Look at Graph 2 and 3.

avatar lets_be_honest December 11, 2013, 9:20 am

Bummed I missed this.

Anyway, I have 5 siblings and LOVE it, but only have 1 kid and am done and perfectly happy that way and I think she is too. Having siblings is seriously awesome no matter what the age gap. I have one that is almost an irish twin, and another that is only a couple years older than my own daughter and I’d say I’m equally close to siblings of all ages, even the ones that I “raised” because I was older. At the same time, I think there is something so nice about being an only child.

Re: deciding to have a 2nd–anyone ever worry that the 2nd will be harder or you won’t like them as much as the 1st? I feel like there is such a bond with your first and I was always fearful (very likely irrationally) that it wouldn’t be the same with a 2nd or it would take away from the 1st. I wonder if this played into anyone else deciding to only have 1.