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Getting Personal: “Children Aren’t for Me”

Today’s guest essay is from anonymous writer, “Nancy Isaacson.”

I’m not a bad, evil, soul-less person. I’m not heartless. I’m not strange, or bitter. I’m not unnatural. I am just like any other warm-blooded, passionate, loving, happy, fulfilled, slightly eccentric 30-year-old woman. Except I don’t want children.

Apparently, broader society finds it impossible to reconcile these things: a “normal” woman in a stable, long-term, heterosexual relationship who chooses to be childless.

But there is nothing wrong with me or my life. I have a job I like, hobbies, friends I adore, and parents and a brother I’m absolutely nuts about. I’m in a warm, stable, live-in, long-term relationship with a wonderful man who also does not want to have children. We intend to marry in a few years and have a long, full, exciting life together that does not include strollers and Lamaze classes or diapers and preschool or teenagers and college tuitions. I applaud and admire those who are procreating – I think giving life and raising a child is a wonderful, noble thing that requires endless love and troves of patience. I think people who do it well are incredible. But that doesn’t mean that it’s for me.

It’s been difficult voicing this fundamental part of who I am to family and friends. It was hardest telling my parents that they won’t be getting grandchildren from me, especially since they just told me that they love me, support me in whatever I do, and wanted to remind me that my life is mine to live, not theirs (I mentioned I was nuts about my parents, right?). They defend me to their friends and family who judge… and oh, how they judge…

I’ve been told that I’ll change my mind because, well, what woman doesn’t want a child? I’ve been scolded by aunts and uncles saying I’m a selfish daughter because I’m not giving my parents grandchildren. I was asked by a (now former) close friend “what my parents did to me that was so horrible I wouldn’t want children?” This man has three beautiful kids who are his world, and he can’t fathom that my boyfriend and I will have “anything to hold our relationship together if we don’t have kids” and he thinks that my “life will be empty.” I’ve been told that I’ll always be judged as cold and career-focused if I don’t have a child. I’ve been reminded that I’ll end up in a home when I’m old, because I’ll have no one to take care of me. I’ve been asked why I care about getting married since my marriage won’t “count” and we won’t be a “real” family. I’ve been told that as a successful, smart, educated, good person, it’s my “duty to society” to procreate. Perhaps the most painful is those people who have insinuated that I am less of a woman, less of a person, because I lack the biological imperative to have a child.

At 30, my friends are only just starting to have babies. Life is certainly about to change — I know that years from now when all (most?) of my friends are raising children that there is a good chance we will have less in common and may grow apart. They won’t have the time for a girls’ trip to Napa, or a couples’ cruise to the Greek Isles. I won’t have children to attend play-dates or “family events” with. I won’t be able to participate in conversations about diaper genies, bugaboo strollers, colic, the best preschools, college funds, or how to have the sex talk with an adolescent. I fully expect that my parents will travel more to see my brother when he has children, and that it will be his kids who dominate family events for years to come. But I also know that even on days when I am questioning this decision, that I’ve thought it through, discussed it with my partner, and together we’ve made the best decision for us.

Perhaps I’ll change my mind. Perhaps I’ll only want kids after it’s too late and I’ll look back on these days and wonder how I could have been so wrong about my choices. But regardless of my life years from now, I know that it will be full – of love, friends, interesting work, good food and exotic travel. I know that children, or a lack thereof, will never define me.

There are many people out there who will judge and pity me, I know — who will think less of me because of my choices — but to them I can only say: “This is the path I’ve chosen in life and I’m excited about where it’s headed.”

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iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:07 pm

This really resonated with me. I too have been told that it is “selfish” of me not to want to have kids. I have mentioned this before but my husband and I have decided that IF (a big if) we have kids we will be adopting them. I just can’t fathom how the choice not to have kids is selfish. I consider it “going green”.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:22 pm

I’m the same way. IF (again that’s a HUGE if) I have kids, they will be older kids who are adopted. I don’t understand how it’s selfish not to have or want kids, biological or not.

avatar honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 3:59 pm

I hate it when people claim its selfish not to have kids. Isn’t it more selfish to have kids just because people keep bothering you about it, even if you don’t want to have them?

avatar Gwen February 1, 2012, 2:07 pm

I also do not want kids and for the most part people are okay with it. My MIL tries to insinuate that I somehow “tricked” my husband into getting married, even though this is something I have brought up shortly after I start seeing anyone, and I have lost a few good guys because they did want kids. I sometimes wonder about getting old and who will be there for us, but then there is no guarantee that if we had kids they would be there for us (although I would like to think we would be kick ass parents). I think it has helped that we have naturally fallen into a group of friends who are either older and had kids (and glad to be empty nesters) or 2. Don’t want kids.

avatar Daisy February 1, 2012, 2:13 pm

Thank you for writing this. I am on the verge of my 30th birthday, and my amazing live-in boyfriend and I have no desire or plans to have children at any point in the future. Fortunately, both our sets of parents have grand-children from older siblings and have been supportive and non-judgmental. That said, friends, acquaintances and – most often – total strangers can be almost cruel about our decision. What upsets me the most is when other women tell me dismissively, “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” As if this random person could possibly understand – and then just write off! – the multitude of complex reasons that have led to my extremely personal decision regarding having children!

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:15 pm

I think they’re probably just saying that because they’ve seen it happen to so many people. Its not that uncommon to not want kids and then change your mind as you age. I don’t see that as cruel of anyone to say.

becboo84 BecBoo84 February 1, 2012, 2:19 pm

Agreed, especially since the writer herself acknowledges that changing her mind in the future is a possibility, although it could depend on the context/tone of these comments.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:24 pm

It might not be cruel, but it’s certainly dismissive of a person’s feelings and especially strangers don’t know their situation so given certain circumstances saying that a person would change their mind could definitely be cruel.

avatar Daisy February 1, 2012, 2:25 pm

I of course realize that many people change their minds on this issue, and I’ve even relaxed somewhat from the “never ever ever!” views I had several years ago. At this point in my life I know that if I did get pregnant, my boyfriend and I would raise the baby and be the best parents we are capable of being. I’ve just never been a “I want to be a mommy” person.

What bothers me so much about the people who tell me “Oh, you’ll change your mind” is that they’re just completely dismissing a decision I’ve come to through significant thought and the conscious decision that it’s best not to pass on several possibly genetic diseases that run in my family, etc. Yes, I realize no one is trying to offend me and they probably just don’t know how to react to a fairly uncommon opinion. It’s just this notion that no sane woman could possibly not want children that gets me going. In any case, I am glad to see I’m not alone.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 2:26 pm

Happened to me.. I never wanted kids until I met my current SO… Hell, I could have written this when I was 30.. It used to drive me nuts when my child and marriage obsessed friends would imply that I was lying to myself when I said that. The only thing I can say now, is that the problem with that is there is no way to know how you would feel about parenthood unless you are actually there, and also, for a woman it is a pretty finite decision. Once you get past the “childbearing” years, you cannot go back and change your mind…

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm

You may not be able to have a biological child, but you could adopt a child.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:30 pm

Well, not really though. There is this thing called adoption that people always are dismissive about too.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 2:41 pm

Adoption is far from an easy process.. It’s very expensive, and the older you get, the further down the line you end up. So no, it is not a “guarantee”, and no, you cannot just “always adopt”.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

True, but it’s still a possibility. No one said it was a guarantee. It’s just an option.

avatar iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 3:00 pm

This is true if you are trying to adopt an infant. If you are a foster parent, depending on where you live, it is far easier.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:42 pm

Such a great thing to be dismissive of, you know, saving a child’s life and giving them a better world. ughhhh

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

Seriously! I don’t even know if I for sure will ever adopt but for some reason I feel like I have to stand up for it. Like it’s never even brought into the discussion about ‘should we or should we not have kids’. There are so many kids even in the U.S. that are in foster care that have never had a loving, stable environment. It makes me so sad.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 3:05 pm

Ideally, I would love to adopt a child… My SO doesn’t though. He is afraid that he won’t be able to treat the adopted and biological kids the same way..
I, on the other hand, am afraid that I might fail the adopted kid.. The biological one was my choice, and he is “stuck” with me for a mother. But there is always a chance that if it weren’t for me, the adopted one could have ended up with a “better, richer, smarter, more nurturing” mother…

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 3:10 pm

Weird, when I was little I was always jealous of adopted kids because there was no way that they were in their family by accident, their parents went out of their way to find them. Kids born to biological families (as we see from letters all the time here) aren’t always wanted and definitely aren’t always born into great loving environments.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo February 1, 2012, 4:25 pm

Here’s the deal. My mom is adopted. Both her parents were killed when she was five, and she was adopted by family members that she had never met before. Her adopted parents loved her and provided for her the best way they knew how (my grandmother calls my mom her “pearl of great price” because lost her own mother and sister when she received custody of my mom), and they have not treated me any differently as their granddaughter.

If you are thinking about adopting, I would strongly encourage you to do it. Your last sentence bothers me- yes, that child could have possibly gone to a wealthier/happier/smarter family, but the fact that you have chosen to love and provide for a child is MORE than enough, and they will never begrudge you for that. My mother was not adopted by wealthy people- my grandfather hung drywall and my grandmother worked at a shirt factory. But you know what? They gave my mother a home when she was a scared little girl with no one to turn to. They fed her. They tucked her in at night. They loved her. And that’s what good adoptive parents do. They love.

If you have the capacity to love a child, then adopting is for you. Plain and simple.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:31 pm

beautiful. thanks for sharing.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:37 pm

Oh, I am definitely for it. I don’t think I can convince my SO though.. For some reason he has got that fear in him that I do not really understand. I can only speak for myself, but for me a child is a child is a child… I don’t know how to explain it.. But I totally understand step-moms that say that just because the child isn’t biologically theirs, doesn’t mean they can’t love him the same way.. My SO, is not so sure. And I don’t think that adoption is a good thing to be pressured into.

call-me-hobo call-me-hobo February 1, 2012, 4:54 pm

I get that. Has he ever had any experience with adoption/nonbiological family relations? I’m confident that I want to adopt (given my mom’s story), but my boyfriend is very nervous about adoption for the same reasons that yours is. I think it is a guy thing?

You are totally right about the pressuring thing. Have you ever considered fostering? It’s something that you can do as a single person, as long as you meet your state’s guidelines.

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm

It’s just dismissive, and it can make you feel like your choice is not valid. When someone says they WANT kids I’m not like, ‘”UGH! Why??” or “Oh, that’s just a phase. Your biological clock will stop ticking eventually.”

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:30 pm

I wish I could like this so many times!!!

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:45 pm

HA! Great comment and good point.
I guess I seemed to be defending the idea that its cruel, but you’re right, its definately dismissive, even if its not meant to be dismissive in a bad way (as opposed to a good way?!?).

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 3:48 pm

Yeah, I agree – I don’t think most people mean for it to sound malicious or cruel.

avatar MsMisery February 2, 2012, 1:03 pm

I’ve said that, CatsMeow (only to people who know me, though). I try to lure them to the Dark Side. So far no luck.

avatar Erica February 1, 2012, 2:38 pm

I am one of the people who changed my mind. Throughout college I was convinced I wouldn’t want kids. But now that I’ve been with my boyfriend for years, talked about it, and seen other babies born into our families, I feel like it’s eventually going to happen for us. I used to feel so underwhelmed by the idea of kids. (But I was also disappointed that I didn’t want them. I wanted to want them.) Now I’m finally feeling the “want” which is what all of the women in my life said would happen. As I get older, I’m wanting kids more and more.

Basically, I’m saying women probably say you’ll change your mind because a LOT of women do. Survey 100 college age girls and ask if they want kids. Most will tell you no. But wait a few years and ask the same group of women again, and they’ll tell you “yes, I definitely want kids!” It’s just a part of maturing. So don’t take offense when people generalize, because those generalizations can be justified. Maybe not in your instance (so explain yourself to them if it matters so much to you), but in most.

avatar Katie December 19, 2012, 3:06 am

It has nothing to do with maturity, and to say that it is is both insulting and wrong. It is a change, that is for sure, but the decision to have children is not a ‘mature’ one. Many people change their minds about having children because they realize, at 30, they haven’t met their own goals and think that their life will be happy or more fulfilled with children. They think that they will feel more accomplished if they are able to raise children. That is not a mature decision, it is just a change in decision. I don’t take offense to people thinking that I may change my mind – it’s annoying, and repetitive, but I can realize that most people find it hard to face the reality that not everyone is going to choose their path. I do, however, take offense at someone believing that my lack of want for children has anything to do with maturity rather than the fact that I simply don’t want the same things you do in life.

avatar Betty Boop February 1, 2012, 2:47 pm

It’s not cruel, but it is an incredibly condescending, rude and presumptuous thing to say. I’m a woman in my 30’s, not a 15 year old idiot (and I think most of us were idiots at 15) proclaiming I know everything. I cannot have children but I generally tell people I will not be having children because it’s easier than fielding unbelievably personal questions about why I can’t. So I’m stuck in a shitty situation where people either dismiss my feelings as invalid when I say I’m not having children or having people be too pushy and demand to know intimate details about my health and my body. I can deal when it’s friends or family, but when it’s a complete stranger? They can fuck right off.

avatar honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 4:01 pm

I agree. I actually did change my mind. I’m still young but I never thought I’d want kids. And then I decided if I ever did have the need to have children, I’d like to adopt. But once I got to know my husband and his 2 kids, I changed my mind. I’d still prefer to adopt, but his legal issues prevent that (or at least make it VERY hard) in our state, so we are looking at artificial insemination (due to his vasectomy that he got during his previous marriage and my infertility issues).

avatar Flanagan.er February 2, 2012, 11:17 am

But if you were a 16 year old girl and you said “I want two kids, a boy and a girl, and I’m going to name them Jessica and Mark”, would anyone ever wave their hand at you and say “oh, you’ll change your mind someday” ? Because I’ve never seen that happen. Yet somehow, questioning the choices of a 30 isn’t insulting.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:27 pm

I hate that comment too. It feels like someone pinching your cheek and patting you on the head. Like, oh, you’ll feel differently once you mature. Silly little girl. As if there is no valid reasons to not have kids.

avatar MsBorgia February 1, 2012, 3:49 pm

My mom always used to say that: “Oh, you feel differently when they’re your own kids.” Great, but what if I still don’t want kids after I have them? Kind of too late then. (Although I noticed since she got divorced she’s been less adamant about insisting that I’ll want to marry and have kids someday…)

I broke up with my first boyfriend because I told him I didn’t want children and he really did. He would always say, “But you might change your mind someday,” and I didn’t want to be in a relationship where the other person was waiting around for me to change my mind.

I would make a kick-ass aunt though :)

avatar 6napkinburger February 3, 2012, 8:51 am

Just to be fair, I think A (your) mother who says “it’s different when its your own kids” isn’t necessarily off-base or dismissive. I was talking to my mom about how I’m clearly not ready to have kids because, quite frankly, I can’t understand why anyone would want a son (especially the 7 year old variety). They drive me nuts and I just don’t get it. She was like, “kids like that drive me nuts too. But its different when its your own kids. They aren’t as annoying as other people’s kids and the same thing that would drive you nuts with others seems cute. When you’re ready, if you have a son, you’ll feel differently.” This coming from a loving caring mother (albeit a yeller and a bit heavy handed with the guilt thing, though not about us having children) who (privately) refers to screaming hordes of children as “those little things.”

So I think there is some merit to those comments from (your) mother. (I think its super annoying from strangers), that are not dismissive or condescending to a person’s life decisions. If you say “I don’t want kids because I truly love my life as is, etc.” then it isn’t as apt. But if you say “I don’t want kids because I can’t understand how people don’t want to throttle their children for asking “why” 17 times in a row” it is totally appropriate and coming from experience, rather than judgment.

Budj Budj February 1, 2012, 2:15 pm

I really enjoy the comment of people worried about who will take care of them when they are old.

avatar Taylor February 1, 2012, 2:17 pm

The money saved from not having kids would likely provide some pretty awesome care options.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm

Ha!

Budj Budj February 1, 2012, 2:36 pm

Yep – legal transaction to have someone feed you and wipe your ass? Or feel guilty making your kids do it? I prefer the former.

Budj Budj February 1, 2012, 2:36 pm

meant to say fiscal.

Budj Budj February 1, 2012, 2:40 pm

or maybe financial? I get grammatically dumber by the day…

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

My mom, who is 55, has stated several times that she can’t wait to live in an old people house. She can have friends her age and go to happy hours and not have to deal with her own lawn. She said it’s the old people version of living in the dorms, and she can’t wait. When I was 16 I worked in an assisted living place, and I think they get a really bad rap. Those places are kind of sweet.

avatar bethany February 1, 2012, 2:59 pm

Assisted Living and those Retirement Communities can be pretty awesome. The one my grandfather was in was like college for old people. The sucky part is when you’re too old/sick for that and you get stuck in a nursing home :( I’m hoping to “fall down the stairs” and die before I get to that part.

avatar iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 4:21 pm

Fun fact: STD rates are way up in retirement communities.

Budj Budj February 1, 2012, 4:32 pm

haha – that is exactly how i feel! If my grandmother didn’t destroy her body with booze she would be having a hell of a time in her old person’s home…college take 2! With more gross hooking up….ew…

avatar bethany February 1, 2012, 2:57 pm

True that, and a lot of kick ass vacations, too!

avatar honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 4:02 pm

Especially since in our society, many people don’t take in their parents anyway.

becboo84 BecBoo84 February 1, 2012, 2:15 pm

It is very interesting/strange to me that there is so much disgust with women who don’t want to have children. I was the first of my friends to have kids, so, of course, I haven’t experienced it myself, but I’ve never, at least to the best of my recollection, been in a situation where that has taken place either. I can understand why it would be difficult for one’s parents to accept that they’re never going to have grandchildren, especially if you’re an only child, but it is mind blowing to me that other people really care.

Kate B. Kate B. February 1, 2012, 2:16 pm

Man, can I relate to this. I have been told I’m selfish, unfulfilled and my mother’s friends assumed I was gay. My mother sadly infomed me that there was no need for me to buy a house because I wasn’t going to need it. My brother is the golden child who will carry on the family name. (2 kids and counting.) But I don’t regret it for one minute.

avatar Buzzelbee February 1, 2012, 2:17 pm

Wow, I didn’t realize how defensive I am about this topic until I read this. I do not want kids and thankfully my parents are OK with it. My MIL apperantly has some bitterness but I think at this point has come to accept it. What I can’t believe are all of the friends who think it’s ok to ask when I’m going to start having kids. Sure I have been married for over 3 years but having such people as the woman who washes my hair at the salon and my husband’s coworkers ask has made me defensive. I am happy for others who have children and it brings them so much joy, but I can say right now that is not something I want and why do other people get to have an opinion on something so personal that doesn’t affect them.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:21 pm

I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this, and I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t even had a chance to be in your position since I had a child very early in life, but…I really think maybe there is a little over-sensitivity on ‘your’ part thinking that people are cruel and/or actually truly judging you. Maybe I think this because I just don’t see how someone could honestly judge someone because they don’t want a kid. IDK. Whatever it is, in my experince of just overhearing conversations like this between say an aunt or grandma and a young woman like you who says they don’t want kids, I think its more of just teasing than an actual cruelness behind their words.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:23 pm

For the generation or two before ours, the norm was having kids after getting married. Heck, that was the whole reason behind getting married back then. For people in those generations, that’s just the obvious question for a married 30something I think. Maybe thoughtless? OK. Cruel? Come on.

avatar silver_dragon_girl February 1, 2012, 2:29 pm

I don’t think it is cruel, but it does come across as very condescending. “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll change your mind,” is a very firm statement, and it basically tells the person, “you don’t know what you’re talking about but I do.” It’s rude because usually people come to the “no kids” decision after a lot of thinking and introspection, simply because it IS the societal norm.

If you were getting into conversations about food once every few weeks, and people kept asking what your favorite kind of sushi was, and you always said, “Oh, I don’t care for sushi,” and everyone just kept on saying, “Oh, you’ll change your mind,” wouldn’t you get irritated?

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 2:39 pm

YES! I do get irritated because I *don’t* like sushi. But everyone that knows this still nags me to try it and that it will change my life. Blech.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

It is condescending. And I agree with what you’re saying. But there is a big difference between intentional rudeness and asking when you are having another jokingly-sorta. I’m sure its irritating hearing it too often, but this is one of those things you need to learn to brush off your shoulders and know they don’t mean harm in saying it imo.

avatar silver_dragon_girl February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm

But see, even that rubs me the wrong way…”you need to learn to brush off your shoulders and know they don’t mean harm in saying it.”

Why don’t they just not say it and mind their own business then?

I’m not trying to attack you, lbh, I know you didn’t mean it like that, it just bugged me in the larger context of this discussion.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:19 pm

No, I hear you. No offense taken.
I just think its one of those things, right or wrong. I would think the best way to deal with it, rather than having your feelings hurt, is to make a joke of it. Say something absurd in response, like I’ve always thought kids belonged in cages until they reach 18 or I would only have a kid to make it be my servant, so its in everyone’s best interest I dont have any. That would shut them up :)

avatar silver_dragon_girl February 1, 2012, 3:37 pm

I agree, and it’s definitely better to let it go than let it fester.

And, seriously, if I had a kid I would be tempted to dress him up in a suit and teach him to tend bar, so it’s probably better I don’t ;)

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:39 pm

Best day of motherhood to date-the day she learned to open the fridge and fetch me a beer! I kid, I kid.

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 3:44 pm

my mom says it was the day my sister and i learned to drive and started being her chauffeur ;)

avatar Sarah February 1, 2012, 3:46 pm

Ever since my boyfriend and I watched an episode of Mad Men when Don Draper’s daughter fixes him a drink, he has been trying to hint that if we ever had kids we should teach them how to make an old fashioned, lol.

avatar iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 3:56 pm

Don Draper makes my ovaries ignite. Is that weird? YEEEEEEEEEE Season premier 1 month!!

avatar Sarah February 1, 2012, 4:00 pm

I LOVE HIM TOO. I love real Jon Hamm more but, there’s this part of me that just wants to take Don Draper to bed and beat the hell out of him (you know what I’m talking about). I’m soooooo excited for the new season! I saw studio lot shots of January Jones in a FAT SUIT. What??

avatar iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 4:21 pm

WHAT?!?! January Jones is my fashion role model. They can’t make her fat!! And Sally is my all time favorite kid ever. I have this weird relationship with Don Draper, where I literally can love him, and then hate him. There is no in between with my feelings about him. I just started watching all the seasons again since there was such a big break because I don’t want to miss any details and it’s stressful sometimes. Like him and the teacher? UGH. I HATED the teacher. And I hated him for liking the teacher and helping out her brother. When he thought he was going to go away for a weekend with her and Betty was home and the stupid mistress had to wait in the car like a jackass I was so excited.

avatar MsMisery February 2, 2012, 1:10 pm

That’s the thing, though, LBH. Some of us have come up with some pretty clever retorts to these “innocent comments.” They don’t stop. In fact, when I joke about it, then people FORCE me to get serious because they believe even more that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve actually thought about typing and printing up a list for people who ask why I am not having kids. If they really wanna know, they’re gonna get the full brunt.

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 1:23 pm

It really is so absurd to me that people would not stop after one comment and your answer. Weird.
I guess my whole point here was that IMO you should try to not take it as an insult. Although after reading these comments, it seems everyone does. I’m big on the whole ‘they mean well’ thing, so maybe that’s why I feel this way.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 2, 2012, 1:33 pm

I get that, but IMO if they meant well they wouldn’t needle and needle and needle you about it.

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 1:36 pm

But do you believe their whole purpose in discussing it with you is to make you feel like shit? Of course not. I’d be more inclined to think they have no idea that you are actually taking offense to it.

avatar jlyfsh February 2, 2012, 1:38 pm

i think it’s the way they approach you about it. like i mentioned below my husband’s family acts like i’m broken because i don’t want kids and am keeping my husband from having kids. even when he tells them he doesn’t want them either. some people might not be doing it to make you feel like shit, but others definitely come across that way.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 2, 2012, 1:41 pm

Some don’t, but when you tell then you don’t want kids, explain it and ask to move on and they won’t leave it alone… There’s no excuse for that.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 2, 2012, 1:43 pm

Stupid phone… Anyways. Also when they tell you that you are less of a women how are you supposed to take that besides as an insult

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 1:45 pm

Jly, clearly would seem like they ARE doing this cruelly to you. I hope your horrible situation is just an exception to my belief and that in most cases, its not like that.

bagge72 bagge72 February 1, 2012, 3:39 pm

This happens to me all of the time with the food thing, because I don’t like a whole lot of things, so now I just tell people that I’m allergic to it! That gets people to leave me a lone. So maybe girls can say they are allergic to penis, or to baby’s under a certain age so they can’t have kids.

avatar oppositeofzen February 1, 2012, 6:27 pm

Well, there are allergies to semen.

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 2:31 pm

I don’t know my husband’s Grandmother, Aunt, and sister ask me if it is my fault we don’t have kids yet all the time. No matter how many times my husband insists that he also does not want kids, everyone thinks I’m some sort of weirdo who is keeping him from having them. When he was the one who brought it up!

avatar Kristen February 1, 2012, 2:40 pm

Oh my gosh. How do you even respond to that??

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 2:42 pm

i give them the evil eye and eat chocolate (since this usually happens at family functions like Christmas and birthdays, etc).

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

Now THAT is highly offensive in my opinion.

avatar Gwen February 2, 2012, 6:37 am

Yep that’s what my MIL does! I honestly don’t know how to respond and usually end up in shocked silence. Luckily we only see her a few times a year (which is also my fault according to her).

avatar Kristen February 1, 2012, 2:38 pm

I would agree that most people who make those kinds of inconsiderate comments don’t do it to be intentionally hurtful. They just assume that’s the natural order of things, so they butt into your life to try to find out “when” it’s going to happen. There’s got to be some sort of sarcastic reply that will make them see what an obnoxious statement they just made!

My cousin and his wife have been married for three years and have repeatedly said they are waiting to have kids for several more years. Despite this, my aunt (his mom) bought them a baby onesie for Christmas because she’s just so sure they need to have a baby right now so she can be a grandma. How crazy is this??

avatar MissDre February 1, 2012, 2:47 pm

My mom decorated “the baby’s room” in her new house even though I’m not even engaged and my brother and his wife are certainly NOT trying to have kids anytime soon… My sister-in-law asked her, “Do you even know anybody with kids young enough to play with the stuff in there?” My mom’s response is that it’s her way of asking the Universe for a grandchild.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:57 pm

That is the creepiest thing I have ever heard. Sometimes when parents try to hard to push their kids to have kids it gets to this awkward stage where you’re afraid they are going to sneak into your bedroom at night and make sure you are boning the right way.

It reminds me of that Friends episode at the hospital where Chandler and Monica have sex in a coat closet because they are trying to get pregnant and Monica’s dad catches them and proceeds to tell them that it helps if the woman has an orgasm. Blech.

avatar MissDre February 1, 2012, 3:03 pm

You wanna know the funny part? A few weeks ago I came home from a baby shower and I was blabbing about how when I’m pregnant I want my baby shower to be this, this and that, and my mom’s like “Oh shut up, you’re not even close to being pregnant, why are you talking about this?” and she actually sounded like she’s beyond annoyed with me.

And I’m like “HA! That’s right, I’m not even close to being pregnant, so why are you decorating the grandbaby’s room?”

avatar evanscr05 February 1, 2012, 5:59 pm

Even though my husband and I have repeatedly told our families it will NOT happen until we’re 31 just or 32, and the reasons why, it didn’t stop both of our mothers from coming up to us, arm in arm, at our wedding reception and telling us to go upstairs and get started. Talk about uncomfortable…

avatar Kristen February 2, 2012, 3:11 pm

Whoa. I cannot even imagine.

avatar TheGirl February 1, 2012, 2:55 pm

Have to disagree. I’ve had many people tell me I am selfish for not wanting to have kids. There is no way you can tell me that someone who is calling me selfish isn’t being judgmental.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 3:17 pm

Agreed and I don’t understand what’s selfish about not wanting kids.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 3:32 pm

I don’t think it is selfish not to have kids, but I do think that having kids is one of the most selfless things you could do (if not the most selfless).

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 3:40 pm

You could throw yourself on a granade to save others. You could give up your entire life (job, family, friends) to do humanitarian work in a third world country. (One of my best friends did this last week) So, no. In my opinion, while it’s a very rewarding job, it’s not the most selfless thing you could do. The world isn’t always a better place because you brought your child into it. (Not “you” personally, Flake, just in general)

avatar iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 3:46 pm

Booyah!! I have never been able to articulate why it irks me when people say that having kids is such a selfless thing to do, but you hit it out of the park! Plus it’s kind of contradictory to say that it’s selfless to have kids – but you have them because you want them. Isn’t that selfish?

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 3:57 pm

One of the reasons I had them was that yes I definitely wanted them. But then again, you do humanitarian work because you want to as well, no? Another reason is that I think that giving someone else a chance to live and to experience everything life has to offer is a pretty good reason to have kids.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 3:53 pm

But that’s kind of it.. Once you have a kid, in most cases, that is what you commit to… You commit to putting the life of an other person ahead of yours. Always. And while doing humanitarian work is extremely admirable, it is not selfless in the same sense as having a kid.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 3:57 pm

I want you to actually write out what good you think you are doing for the world by having a kid.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:05 pm

Not the world, but you are putting someone else entirely before yourself. Thats what’s selfless. Selfless doesn’t equal beneficial to the world.

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 4:18 pm

See, THAT’S what irks me. No, you’re not. You still have to eat and sleep. You still want to go to dinner and see a movie. Have sex and eat ice cream at midnight. Being selfless would mean having to drop a lot of these things. You sacrifice A LOT being a parent. I know I have, but we do it because we love our kids and want the best for them, at least that’s why I do it. I go to work everyday to provide for them, but it’s also so I can go watch the movies I want when they come out.

I think people are getting “sacrifice” and “selfless” confused…? Maybe?

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:24 pm

I personally (and I truly don’t mean to sound as bitchy as I might here) only work to provide for my kid. I don’t work so I can treat myself to nice things(added bonus I guess?) I was a total loser before I had her. She’s probably the only reason I am actually alive at this point. So for me, I really do feel like I have become selfless. I do not think of myself really. I think and do for her.I know I sound like an asshole right now and Maybe I’m kidding myself, but that’s at least how I *feel* I am when it comes to parenting-selfless.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:38 pm

I’ve thought about how I could’ve conveyed my thoughts better without sounding like I did. Here’s what I came up with–I know that I would have no purpose to live if something happened to my daughter and I would immediatley end my life. That confirms to me that I am raising her selflessly.

avatar meg February 1, 2012, 10:27 pm

But… she gives your life purpose. How is that selfless? That reason is completely and utterly a benefit for you…?

avatar meg February 1, 2012, 10:31 pm

I’ve read this so many times and I feel like it’s a crazy riddle I can’t figure out.

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 9:30 am

I’m not really sure what you can’t wrap your head around here. She is the only reason I live. I am living for someone else’s life to be better. I’d say that’s pretty selfless.

“having little or no concern with oneself” is the definition of selfless. Not really sure how me only living for someone else is anything but.

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 9:33 am

Another thing that people seem to be glossing over here is how many kids are not planned. How could I have selfishly decided to have a baby when it was an unplanned pregnancy? I decided to keep her and give up my own life so she could enjoy hers and be raised well.

avatar Something More February 2, 2012, 9:53 am

So, if (god forbid) anything happened to her, you would just kill yourself? Literally kill yourself. You have NOTHING else to live for. Family, friends…life? The ONLY joy you get from ANYTHING in this world is directly centered around your kid? I think that’s a bit (OK – SUPER) extreme. I mean, I live for my kids, too. I wake up everyday and my “main” purpose in life is to provide for them and make sure they have what they need, etc. But if anything ever happened to them, I mean… I would feel like dying, like there would be nothing to live for but that’s just not true. I have other things to live for. My boyfriend who loves me dearly. My family. Sisters to see graduate from high school. A niece and nephew to spoil rotten and send back to my sister. A brother to see graduate from culinary school. My mother, grandpa, grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins who would be devastated if I just killed myself. Hell, who would take care of my puppy?

So, to say you would literally kill yourself if anything happened to your kid is… disturbing to me and certainly not healthy.

avatar lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 10:29 am

If something ever happened to my only child, no, I do not think I would be able to survive that. She is the reason I wake up every morning. Without her, I would have nothing worth living for in my mind.
I never said I didn’t get joy out of anything else in my life. Of course I do. But the idea of living my life without my only child is not something I could imagine doing.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:08 pm

That is a strange thing to say… What good did your parents did for the world by having you???

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 4:17 pm

Point proven! Nothing. The world is no different or better because I am in it, and to think different is ridiculous. Its fine to say you want to have kids and have them and say it is the greatest thing you have ever done in your life.

But your whole attitude that you are giving this great gift to the world is what bugs the crap out of me. It’s this holier than thou attitude. You know what i’m doing for the world? Not procreating. There’s a shit ton of unwanted kids out there that need homes, and further the overpopulation is a whole different argument that we don’t need to get into.

So I will respect your decision to have kids – but don’t act like you’re doing the world some big favor. I’m not going to “thank you for your service”. You wanted kids, and you have them. End of discussion.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:19 pm

Did you see my comment above?

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 4:23 pm

Yes, I just didn’t respond to it because I agree with you on that point :) It is selfless in the sense that once you have a kid your whole world revolves arounnd them. But I don’t like that the flip side of that is that people who dont’ have kids are selfish. Does that make sense?

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:28 pm

Totally. I don’t understand how it can be selfish to NOT have kids. I’d go into more depth, but it seems covered elsewhere on here. Makes no sense.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:30 pm

“I don’t think it is selfish not to have kids”

That is exactly what I said above.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:29 pm

??? You don’t want kids, that is absolutely fine by me.

And your comment is not respectful of my choice at all.

And the only “gift” i am giving is to my child a chance to live and experience life and to hopefully enjoy it. And even that is not exactly right.

And where did I say that I am doing ANYONE a favour?

And holy crap, a “thank you” from a stranger on the Internet is the last thing I want.

avatar iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 4:46 pm

“And while doing humanitarian work is extremely admirable, it is not selfless in the same sense as having a kid”

It is this sentence I take issue with. Humanitarian work is selfless because you are giving up your whole life (in the example above) to go live in a third world country and help out people there who are less fortunate than thesmelves. Having a kid is not selfless. You might have to act selfless while you are raising them – but the act itself is not selfless. You are having kids because you want them. You are giving yourself a gift essentially – and that is not selfless. You have to make many sacrifices as a parent and do many selfless things, but I am offended that you would equate having a kid as giving back to the world in the same way humanitarian work is.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:51 pm

I just said that it is not selfless in the same way as having kids. That is not equating one with another. And look above for LBH’s posts to see how having a child can be selfless.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:52 pm

FY-you just don’t get it cuz your not a parent.
Amiright?! Sorry, sorry. I had to! Don’t yell at me! I’m kidding!

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 4:53 pm

No no no no. The choices you have to make once you are a parent are often selfless. The act of having a child is not.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:57 pm

And what about disabled kids? If that isn’t selfless, then I don’t know what is. And like LBH said, pretty much everything we do as parents is for our kids. We go to work every day so that they can have a future. Even the “date nights” are there to help to stay sane and to be the best parents we can be.
Again, doing the humanitarian work is admirable and selfless. But I am sure that those people get something back. Be it a sense of personal accomplishment or satisfaction, or just knowing that you are making the world a better place, you do get as much as you give.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 5:01 pm

I guess it depends on the person then. When I had a kid it wasn’t so that I will have someone to take care of me when I am old.
Maybe I am just naive that way, but I think that life is worth living, and I am very happy to be here, and I just figured giving someone else a chance at a happy life is a pretty cool thing to do.

iwannatalktosampson iwanntalktosampson February 1, 2012, 5:08 pm

You’re missing the point. Even if you are taking care of a disabled child, that is a selfless thing to do. (Well unless it’s your kid, then you’re just being a parent). I’ll break it down:

I am NOT saying that parents don’t make many selfless decisions, they do. Once you have a kid your whole life revolves around them.

I AM saying that having a kid is not a selfless act. The act of making the decision that you yourself want to have a child, and chasing that dream or goal, is not selfless. You are doing something you want – for yourself.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 5:56 pm

Look, I will say it again. I had a kid So that HE gets to enjoy live. I understand that people have children for all kinds of reasons, to try and save a relationship, to not be alone now or when they get old. Having a kid is not a guarantee any of those things will not happen.
I can only speak for myself, but I had him So that he can enjoy life. Not me, he. All I am trying to do is give him the best chance. He is a separate being, an individual who happens to bring a lot actually happiness to my life. There was never a guarantee that I would enjoy raising him, but luckily for me, I do. In my opinion, having kids is selfless.

Anyhow, I don’t think we will come

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 6:02 pm

Stupid phone…. anyhow I don’t think that we will come to an agreement on this one, and I hate typing on my phone, but this has been an interesting conversation, and have great evening:)

rainbow rainbow February 1, 2012, 5:03 pm

I feel you, IWTTS. Most of my friends who had children are very respectful of my choosing to be single and childless and spoil myself for a few years more before I decide to go there, but there is this one couple I can’t really stand anymore. Ever since they had their little girl you can’t really talk about anything fun you did, because they will start pouting and ranting about how it must be so easy to be me, and how they can’t really take that kind of holiday, because it would be expensive / dangerous for the baby, or how they can’t party whenever they feel like it anymore, and how their life is so fucking hard now and I don’t understand how it is like to have responsibilities, and how much they would like to be able to do all the fun things ‘privileged’ childless people like me do. And it’s really annoying, because they’re acting like they didn’t decide to go there. And I never talk to them in the same way, saying how it’s so hard to be alone, and it must be so nice to have a gorgeous, healthy, planned baby girl to give you lots of drooly kisses and someone to share your bed with at night and all the sunday family breakfasts and stuff. They decided to do it and it turned out great, now why am I supposed to act like I’m sorry they don’t have my life? I get it, mine’s easier. But I kept it that way, and they procreated intentionally. I don’t get why I’m supposed to apologize for having fun.

avatar Flake February 2, 2012, 10:32 am

Maybe, maybe not. I am sure that your existence has made the world of difference to your parents, friends and family.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 4:09 pm

That is a strange thing to say… What good did your parents do for the world by having you???

avatar Phoenix February 2, 2012, 12:26 am

I have to agree with Something More, rewarding, yes, selfless no. You chose, for yourself, to bring a child into the world. More often than not because you feel it will be rewarding for you and the other people involved. The unconceived child didn’t have some unfulfilled dream that would never be realized if you didn’t become their parent. People have babies for themselves, not for the child.
I am 44 and I never “changed my mind” about having a child. I have absolutely no regrets. I know I would have been a really good parent if I had chosen that route, but I didn’t. I was never the person who couldn’t wait to be a mom. I am a good aunt and a good playmate to some of my friends kids, and I am completely fulfilled with no children of my own.
I am a successful business owner. A loving and kind partner to my boyfriend of many years. A fabulous volunteer educator. A great friend. Even a person my parents are very proud to call their daughter. I contribute much, even without any children to call my own.
I spent my entire thirties answering a billion questions about why I wasn’t planning to have kids. It was definitely a waste of my time. I learned to ask them, “what made you decide to have children?”. It gave us things to talk about besides the general prejudices against women who don’t have kids of their own.

avatar TheGirl February 1, 2012, 3:51 pm

I think there are plenty of people who have children for selfish, thoughtless reasons, though. Like, to save their marriage, to trap a guy who’s not that into them, to get their family to stop bugging them about having children, or just because its what they are ‘supposed’ to do, not because its what they want to.

avatar meg February 1, 2012, 10:09 pm

Yes, by having children, there is much sacrifice, work, and nurturing, but this in no way makes the decision to reproduce “selfless.” The crux of the issue for me is the decision to create a life that wasn’t there before. People have babies to fulfill a psychological or emotional or genetic need. It is not for the unborn child’s benefit that they are brought into the world, but for the parents’.

I love children. I cannot in good conscience create one, with the state of the country, and the world at large, as it currently seems destined. My offspring would likely have to live in a world dominated by fear, greed, insecurity, and insanity. I do see adoption as a powerful alternative, as this can drastically improve the quality of life of a child that was already delivered to this world. In my mind, this is the true unselfish realization of parenthood.

avatar Vathena February 2, 2012, 11:55 am

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, but what the heck. Love this comment – agreed that parents (good ones) sacrifice many personal freedoms that childless people don’t. In this sense, by putting their kids’ needs first, they are being “selfless”. However – bio nerd alert – having a child and putting one’s resources into raising that child is, in genetic terms, extremely selfish. A parent’s instinct is there to give their offspring – their GENES – a competitive advantage. That is why we spend money and time to keep our kids healthy, send them to the best schools, teach them manners. We have to make sure they make it to functional adulthood and find a suitable mate to continue our genetic legacy. This is why, if your kid collides with another kid on the playground and both fall down and start crying, a parent will run to his/her kid first. Yeah, you love your kid more, of course. But it’s hard-wired to keep *your own* genes, in the form of your offspring, intact. So, biologically speaking, it’s much more selfless NOT to have children. And adoption would be considered a form of altruism – devoting one’s resources to bringing up the genetic material of others. (And all of this helps to explain the judgmental dismay of parents upon learning they won’t be grandparents.) :-)

avatar Katie December 19, 2012, 3:20 am

Calling parenting selfless is like saying that someone who stuck a child in front of a bus before rescuing it is selfless. You made a decision that you knew would take up the greater part of your time, energy, and resources for the next two decades (which I’m assuming is what most people consider the selfless part). How is that selfless? It’s not like our population is dwindling, it’s not like you did the world some huge favor by procreating and now have to spend the next quarter of your life selflessly raising these children. If we were all faced with a choice when we hit 25 to either take in a starving child off the street or not, those who chose to would be considered selfless. I just don’t get how deciding to conjure up another human and then taking care of it is considered selfless.

avatar Splash February 2, 2012, 2:14 pm

It definitely is not always thoughtlessness. When I was in the military I had a discussion with my boss. He asked if I wanted kids (he had 2). I said no, I’ve never really known what someone really DOES with kids and that I’ve never really been interested. His response was to say, “Well then what’s your purpose in life if not to have kids??? Besides, who is going to take care of you when you get old?”

Even my boyfriend, 40, who “doesn’t know if he wants kids or not” says “If you don’t want kids…so we get married and THEN what?” Like for some reason it isn’t enough to just enjoy your time with your partner. There is a sense that a family is not really a family or fulfilling if kids are not part of the equation. =(

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 2:22 pm

I’m 30 and have always been in the NEVER-WANT-KIDS camp (until recently…. I’ve been reconsidering, but I’m still on the fence), so I’m all-too-familiar with the insensitive reactions of others. My mom gets sad because she wants to be a grandma, my grandma tells me I’m going to die alone, and my friends act like it’s a phase that I’ll grow out of or something. I especially hate the “Oh, you’ll change your mind” responses as they just dismiss my feelings that took a LONG TIME to be able to come to terms with in the midst of all the pressure from friends, family, and society in general.

avatar Daisy February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm

Right on!

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 2:27 pm

I definitely understand where you are coming from in this article. it’s so hard to explain to people you don’t want children. My husband’s family thinks we should be pregnant by now and even though we say we’ve decided not have kids, they continue to ask us, so when are you going to start trying? Which makes me mad anyway, because trying implies when are you going to start having unprotected sex. And do you really want to know the answer to that? Maybe next time I’ll say, well Granny we’re thinking tomorrow night sounds good!

I also get a lot of blank looks from my friends who are new Moms when I insist that I don’t want to be a Mother. I understand how wonderful it must be to have a child, but it’s just not something I want. I think they also think that me holding their kid is going to change my mind. Like maybe if they force them on me I’ll suddenly decide Motherhood is for me. And really when I hold their kids all I see is a cute baby I’m glad I can give back.

I’m thankful to have so many ‘nieces’ and ‘nephews’ to spoil and love on. But, at the end of the day that’s all my husband and I want. To be a great Aunt and Uncle. And to be a great ‘Mom’ and “Dad’ to our two extremely spoiled dogs.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:36 pm

Maybe its as simple as comparing it to trying new foods. I know this sounds silly, but my brother LOVES shrimp. Like its the greatest thing that ever happened to him. Every time we go out to eat together, he tries to force it on me. He loves it so much and wants me to experience his absolute enjoyment of it. The thought of putting shrimp in my mouth makes me gag. Maybe if I just tried it, I would see how great it is and realize I too love it.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:37 pm

Submitted too early. My point was I don’t think my brother’s an asshole, or insensitive or disregarding my opinion, etc. He justs wants me to enjoy something as much as he does.

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 2:41 pm

True, but you can’t “try” kids once and not have it again. They are a little more concrete than that :)

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 2:46 pm

i get that, but after awhile it does start to become insensitive to keep pushing it. if i tell you i don’t want kids, don’t keep telling my i’ll change my mind. and every time we discuss it don’t pass me your kid and tell me just hold them you’ll see! i also get the feeling from some of them that they want me to change my mind and be like oh my gosh, you were so right! you knew all along just what *I* wanted out of life!

i mean like Something More said, it’s a lot more involved than trying a new food. Which also annoys me because I hate onions and I will also never be willing to try those, but that’s a different story.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:02 pm

To the 3 people who seemed to think I thought food was the same as childrearing, really?? (in my best Seth Myers voice).
I guess the only way I can relate to this is people telling me I should have another kid and saying things like don’t you want your kid to have a sibling, blah, blah, blah. I’ve never been offended by that. They mean well. They ignore me when I say I don’t want any more, but I don’t think they are cruel. Even my best friend jokes about me having one in 2013 because she plans of having another then. She knows I won’t but its a ‘cant hurt to try’ thing for her I think.

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm

“Maybe its as simple as comparing it to trying new foods.”

LOL – We were just going by what you wrote.

PS – I heart Seth Meyers.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:21 pm

OK, OK, you’re right. But I mean comparing, not equating. I would hope everyone knows I don’t think children and shrimp are all that similar. Then again, we’ve all read crazier things on here, so I guess that old saying ‘when you assume…’ is true!

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 2:58 pm

Is your brother Forest Gump?

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:03 pm

Comment of the day!

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 4:00 pm

No, he’s Bubba :)

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 2:45 pm

You try shrimp once and if you don’t like it you never have to have it again… You can’t do that with kids.

avatar rachel February 1, 2012, 7:11 pm

Shrimp is gross. Don’t do it.

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 2:49 pm

“I understand how wonderful it must be to have a child”

PLEASE do not take this a wrong way, but you don’t, unless you have kids.

That is another personal pet peeve of mine, when people who have no kids, and have no desire to have kids, tell me how to raise mine and that they know how it feels to have another person depend on you for survival. Or the ones that compare having kids with having pets…

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

Well for one thing I definitely do not tell them how to raise their kids. And I meant that I understand it must be a wonderful thing, but it’s not a wonderful thing I want. I obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, because I’m not one. I enjoy being an Aunt and that’s it. And yeah I know having a pet isn’t like having a kid, we always joke about it, but believe me I know I couldn’t lock my kid in a crate when I went to work and just leave it with some food and water!

avatar Flake February 1, 2012, 2:58 pm

Sorry, that came out more personal then it should have been.. I guess the lesson is “live and let live” type of thing..

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 3:02 pm

i didn’t take it personally just felt like I should clarify what i was trying to say and i meant to add a ‘;)’ to the end of the last sentence!

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:57 pm

Agreed.
And just in case you aren’t sure Jellyfish, its pretty frowned upon to put you’re unborn kid that you probably don’t realize you want in a crate all day :D

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 3:00 pm

That’s unfair. I have plenty of nieces and nephews and friends with children and I see how much their parents love them (most of the time). I don’t understand physics but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate The Big Bang Theory. We who don’t have children may not fully understand the depths of being a parent, but we get the gist of it.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:06 pm

Like it or not, you can’t entirely relate or understand it until you live it yourself. That’s just the way it is. Curious if Wendy would agree.
And don’t tell me having a dog is just like it (although your dog is very cute!). That’s gotta be my number one pet peeve. No pun intended :)

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 3:16 pm

That’s why I said we get the gist of it. I know I don’t entirely understand but I see the experiences of my siblings and friends.

avatar jlyfsh February 1, 2012, 3:19 pm

I think what I was trying to get across with that (not trying to speak for landygirl here) is that I can appreciate it that it’s an amazing/wonderful thing to be a parent. And I feel like some of my friends try to push it on me because they think I can’t even begin to comprehend how wonderful it is, so I must need to be reminded all the time. And that’s not the case I appreciate that it’s an amazing experience it’s just not one that I want to have. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I think at least that’s what I was trying to say when I said I understood. I feel like the word appreciate might be better there? I don’t know, I feel like I can’t find the right word to use. Because I know I won’t actually understand unless I was a parent.

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 4:41 pm

p.s, my dog is smart, like really smart, like Harvard smart.

avatar Mel February 1, 2012, 2:32 pm

I love the first sentence. It reminded me of this:

http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/2229332_460s.jpg

Crochet.Ninja Michelle.Lea February 1, 2012, 2:32 pm

I grew up assuming that one day I would have children. Then I got married, and realized that I could not have children with this person, no matter how much I loved him at the time. We went our separate ways, and I found my fiancé. He has 3 children from 2 separate marriages. He stated from the beginning that he did not want any more kids, for various reasons, and I agreed that perhaps having children was not right for us. I have grown to love his children very very much. I have moments when I’m jealous of missed first moments, things that I cannot control, because they are not fully mine. I have emotional moments when I wish I had one of my own. But I also realize that these moments are fleeting, and I do not want to be a full time mom. Once the moment has passed, I’m grateful for my quiet, mostly adult house and freedom, while still cherishing my weekends with the little ones.

My family did push for awhile, wondering ‘why’, and ‘you’ll regret it’ etc etc. That has cooled down immensely, and even if they don’t understand it, they have accepted it. Will I have regrets about it one day? Maybe. But in this life, I think it’s the right decision for me.

avatar Something More February 1, 2012, 2:35 pm

Who wrote this because it doesn’t seem like Wendy did but it doesn’t have a guest writer intro like the others.

Anyway – I can’t really relate to the writer as I do have two girls of my own. They are getting older (11, 13) but when they were younger, I figured I’d have time to give them more siblings. When my boyfriend and I started dating almost a few years ago, the subject was brought up and he said he didn’t want kids. He doesn’t mind his girlfriend having kids already, but he doesn’t want his own. He doesn’t want to deal with crying and diapers and such. I don’t blame him. And up until then I thought I would probably have more kids. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea of NOT having more was appealing. I will be 39 when my youngest graduates. And I’ll be DONE! Well, for all intents and purposes. I’ve told my mom not to expect any more from me. She was disappointed, but I do have 5 brothers and sisters (one with 2 of her own already) that she can fall back on :)

I applaud you fortaking a stand on what YOU want in your own life. You shouldn’t be “bullied” into having kids.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm

“Done” at 39 also!

Interesting thing you brought up, the concept of being bullied into having kids. Dangerous!

avatar Betty Boop February 1, 2012, 4:20 pm

Bullying! Thank you for putting the word in my head because that’s what the constant questions about why I don’t want to have kids feels like! Seriously. I get how people would think the occasional questions isn’t a bit deal, but the real problem comes in when you take in to account how many people are asking the questions. Mom, Dad, siblings, aunt, uncles, friends with kids, friends trying to have kids, the husband/boyfriend’s mom and dad, his siblings, his extended family, people who know you been together a while, people who see you at work all the time and think they know you… The issue I take with the “brush it off” stance is that it fosters the idea that it’s okay to question my life choices. It can be just as bad as women attacking mothers who do or don’t breastfeed. It calls into question my worth as a woman and defines me solely upon whether or not I choose to follow a biological imperative. Does anyone have the right to assume I am so foolish as to make life decisions lightly? Is it okay to tell me I don’t know myself by insisting I’ll change my mind if I do x, y or z? Cruelty isn’t always intentional, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay when it’s accidental. People need to learn to think before they speak and treat others with respect and kindness.

avatar MissDre February 1, 2012, 2:40 pm

This is interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject over the last few days since I started reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and seeing things through his mother Eva’s eyes.

I certainly don’t judge you, or think there’s something wrong with you. Mostly I just don’t understand. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about since I started the book, and I’ve been racking my brains really, truly trying to understand Eva. And I’m really struggling to comprehend.

I guess because I want children so much. I’ve always wanted kids, even since I was just a toddler myself. Why? Gender stereotypes? Instinct? I don’t know. I just know that I want babies so much, everything about it… I can’t wait for the excitement when we start trying, I can’t wait to find out that I’m pregnant and feel my baby inside of me. I can’t wait to hold my new baby and fall in love with him/her, read him/her stories, bandage scraped knees, do all the things that my mom did with me. I feel like this is one of my biggest goals in life… to be a mom. So it’s been really hard for me to understand why someone wouldn’t….

That being said, I definitely don’t think badly about anyone who doesn’t want kids. I don’t get it, but it’s not my life to try to figure out and that person’s choice doesn’t affect my own life. So I don’t understand why somebody would be so offended by another person’s choice.

avatar Kristen February 1, 2012, 2:43 pm

Your third paragraph describes me to a T. It’s a built-in need that I’ve always had, too.

Kate B. Kate B. February 1, 2012, 3:02 pm

And for me, I never had that urge, so wanting kids is something I don’t understand. But, it’s everyone’s personal choice. I certainly don’t think less of people who have kids. They are huge responsibility and I applaud anyone who is willing to take it on.

avatar Kristen February 1, 2012, 4:26 pm

I absolutely agree that it’s everyone’s personal choice. And I understand that just like I want kids with every fiber of my being, many people *don’t* want kids with every fiber of theirs. Both are valid choices!

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 2:54 pm

I’m on the flip side, I don’t understand wanting to have a baby so badly it hurts. C’est la vie I suppose.

avatar MJ February 1, 2012, 2:55 pm

Thanks for this. I’ve always wanted kids myself, and I’m am completely baffled by people who don’t. (I don’t judge anyone, and I definitely don’t comment on other people’s choices. I just literally don’t understand.)

avatar painted_lady February 1, 2012, 3:07 pm

I’m definitely on the other side of the fence. I was actually so relieved that someone found words to voice all of my fears and distaste toward having a child, there were some segments of it where I got all emotional. I wish I could explain what I mean better, but it was like someone reached inside my brain and put words to all of these feelings I’d had for most of my life that being a mom wasn’t for me. I couldn’t ever quite voice it in a way that felt like the full truth, and Lionel Shriver did it beautifully.

avatar MJ February 1, 2012, 2:41 pm

This article could have been written by me. My husband and I are in our 30s, run a successful business, are happily married and financially secure and have absolutely zero plans to have children. Ever. It’s something we discussed before we moved in together 10 years ago and it’s something we discussed again a couple of years ago when we hit 30. We like our lives the way they are, we enjoy each other, our jobs and traveling, and, frankly, a life of diaper changing, homework and child-raising just doesn’t appeal to either of us. And that’s okay. It really is.

But, oh my god, the number of people who have told me I’m selfish because I don’t want to have children. Seriously? No. It’s not selfish not to have children. It’s selfish to have a child because you’re afraid of being alone or to have someone to take care of you when you are old or because you and your husband aren’t a “family” or you want to stay together and think a kid will do it – all of which are reasons that my friends have had children. A child is a person, not a built-in best friend, an old-age safety net or the glue that will hold a struggling family together. I fully appreciate that some people want to experience bringing life into this world and raising a child and I hope that everyone who wants to do that has the opportunity to do so. We just don’t.

And, I’m not going to change my mind. Neither is my husband. We’ve never wanted to have children. I do find it insulting when people suggest that I, as a 30-something grown woman, am so out of touch with my feelings, thoughts, wants and desires that I would just wake up one day and change my mind about something so fundamental as whether or not to bring a life into this world. Trust me, it’s something we’ve both thought about and talked about. We’re not interested.

I don’t go up to friends – or random people – ask them why they have children and then harp on them when they respond. I certainly don’t tell people who have children or want to have them that some day they’ll change their minds. I really wish people would afford me the same courtesy.

avatar MISS MJ February 1, 2012, 3:19 pm

Oops! Looks like there’s another “MJ.” I’ll differentiate myself – the above was by “MISS MJ”

avatar MJ February 1, 2012, 3:38 pm

Haha, thanks!

avatar Marcie February 1, 2012, 3:25 pm

I feel exactly the same way! I won’t say I’m not going to change my mind, but children are not what my husband and I want right now. Things are great between us and we like the way our life together is now. Luckily for me, I haven’t had anyone tell me I’m selfish, but I feel sorry for the person who does! They will most certainly will get a piece of my mind. My mil has started saying little things here and there, but I don’t believe it’s my place to tell her we don’t want children. My husband needs to tell her. Currently, we get to do whatever we want, travel when and where we want, buy what we want. We get to contribute to our nephew’s future college education, and that feels really good.

LadyinPurpleNotRed LadyinPurpleNotRed February 1, 2012, 3:30 pm

That was so eloquently said. Nice job!

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 4:08 pm

YES! The “selfish” thing. I think far more people HAVE children for selfish reasons. And for someone who really does NOT want to be a parent, or is ill-equipped to be a parent for whatever reason, it’s actually very, very NOT selfish to refrain from having kids.

avatar Blitzen February 2, 2012, 11:20 am

This. I am shocked by some of the comments people make, as if somehow my choice to not have children is somehow invalidating theirs. Some people take it as a personal insult. I have no idea how.

avatar SJL February 3, 2012, 10:13 am

I also share your feelings. I’m a 30 something, and have been married for almost 10 years. At first and for along time I always thought that I would have children. However, after my husband and I went through 3 deployments we decided that we would not have children, for various reasons (all of which are nobody’s business but our own). It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I was discussing with a friend about how frustrating it was to be constantly bombarded with questions (bullying) about why I didn’t have children, that she told me “it’s ok if you don’t want children.” This was the first time ANYONE has ever said anything like this to me before. I went home that day and cried, because someone took the time to understand instead of judging my family choices.

avatar MissDre February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

And I just have to say that this is a perfect lead up to February’s book club choice! Don’t want to spoil the book but a few of the comments here are close enough to be quotes from the book!

avatar bethany February 1, 2012, 3:07 pm

I can’t wait to start talking about that book!!! I finished it a week ago and am still thinking about it!

landygirl landygirl February 1, 2012, 2:52 pm

I was never in the position to have children when I was younger and now my ovaries are pretty much over and done with the idea. I don’t feel like my life is any worse off for not having kids. I think at some point in my 30s I did decide that I wasn’t interested in having any children.

I have plenty of nieces and nephews and while most are teens and adults now, when I babysat I was perfectly happy to give them back to their parents when my job was finished. I watched my young (8 months at the time) niece back in August and it was only 2 hours but boy was I happy when her parents came home. Babies are a lot of work.

I’m perfectly happy with my husband and doggie family unit. No one should be made to feel guilty because they don’t meet someone else’s expectations. Talk to the hand, baby.

avatar GertietheDino February 1, 2012, 2:54 pm

I knew I had found the person who I would spend my life with when he brought up the kids discussion when we first started dating (“why even go further if we aren’t in the same boat”). To be proactive and pragmatic enough to discuss this early on (we will not be having any…our siblings and friends can have all the unprotected sex they want) was what let me know he was the one for me.

avatar Sarah February 1, 2012, 3:00 pm

I enjoyed this post so much. I think way more attention should be paid to the “How much is peer pressure and social conformity part of my decision process to have a child?” before the “should I or shouldn’t I have kids” question.

I really have no idea if I want kids, but I am starting to realize how much pressure I’ve been under from my religious family to feel as though I need to have them to have a meaningful life. Its funny because just the other day my sister announced she’s going to have a baby on facebook (I’m gonna be an aunt, squeee!) and out of the woodwork, all these religious b*tches in our family commented and made me want to pull my eye balls out.

They wrote things like “There is no greater joy than motherhood!” and “Once you have kids, you’ll really understand what love is!” and I so wanted to HULK SMASH my screen because the insinuation from these people since the day I was born is that you’re only as good and lovable as the last kid you birthed. That I can’t possibly know what love is until I have a kid and until then the life I’ll be living will be as dull and pointless as my empty womb.

avatar iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm

Smug parent types ugggggghhhhh. Take some screencaps and send it in to stfuparents. Congratulations on the aunt thing, though! That’s exciting!

avatar MissDre February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm

LoL. This reminds me of when my Grandparents shipped me off to bible camp as a teenager. It was torture for me, because I’m not Christian and I made that known because I tried to skip bible study on a daily basis. Then my camp counselor gave me a bible that she’d written it, saying “I hope you will see what inspires us in our meaningful lives!” and I wanted to punch her in the face. So, my life is meaningless, is it?

avatar silver_dragon_girl February 1, 2012, 3:42 pm

Ugh. That’s awful. It’s like a billboard in my home state: Accept Jesus into your life…or regret it FOREVER!!!!!

Seriously.

avatar iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 4:17 pm

I dunno, I love to see those “JESUS” yard signs because I always think, “What? He’s running for office? Sure, I’d vote for him. I need to know his stance on the economy, though.”

http://www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog/frugal-cafe-blogzone/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/jesus-sign.jpg

avatar bethany February 1, 2012, 3:10 pm

One of my aunts once made a comment to me about how a marriage isn’t “real in the eyes of the lord” until you have kids- meanwhile she said this in front of my other aunt who doesn’t have any kids (I’m pretty sure it’s because they can’t). How rude is that?

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:25 pm

Jeez, maybe I was wrong all along about how people actually are cruel about this topic.
In defending people who say it “sweetly” or jokingly, I really was not taking into consideration that someone would truly discredit your marriage without kids. Damn.

avatar MISS MJ February 1, 2012, 3:46 pm

Oh, they do. Often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a version of what’s the point of being married if you don’t have children?

My MIL has grandchildren (my husband’s brother’s kids) and last year at Christmas she had a few too many and went on a diatribe about how people who don’t want to have kids are just fundamentally selfish, awful people and that my husband and I were going to be alone when we got old and that kids are the point of life and so on and so on. Much tongue biting was done by me. And wine drinking.

It’s amazing what people feel totally comfortable saying when they find out you choose to not have kids.

Caris Caris February 1, 2012, 10:32 pm

I don’t think I would have managed to bite my tongue !

avatar Splash February 2, 2012, 2:40 pm

My boyfriend has said almost that exact thing…and he doesn’t even know if he wants kids himself! But when people think “family” they think 2 parents, 2.5 kids and a dog. Not a couple enjoying themselves together.

avatar Sarah February 1, 2012, 3:38 pm

Oh my god, that is the meanest thing….

Yeah the religious element to the peer pressure thing can be so nasty. Some of my cousins link to this articles that talk about how selfish women without kids are and how they’re too ignorant and narcissistic to understand how beautiful it is to give your life up to your children.

One article just went on and on about how childless women look at her when she goes out in public with her children and scold her with their eyes. I want so badly to just comment once and be like “Yeah, nobody cares that you have kids when you walk around in public. You either have nightmare kids that scream like banshees to get out attention or its all in your head.” I mean really, what does she think we do when we see her with kids? Whisper to each other, “Oh look, there goes another one of those women having children for her Christ. *HISSSSSSSS*”?

Caris Caris February 1, 2012, 10:34 pm

lol

So many kids scream like banshees :S

avatar Lamp February 1, 2012, 3:04 pm

Thank you.

I feel like people never even consider the downsides of motherhood and children. There are some serious downsides!

1. Your kid could grow up to be a murderer or child molester. Just sayin.
2. You never have any free time, money, or moments without anxiety and worry.
3. Your body goes straight to hell.
4. You are actively contributing to overpopulation.

Also, fun fact, 49 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. So most children are surprises / accidents anyway. Whoopee!

avatar savannah February 1, 2012, 3:20 pm

So for the idea that this writer is talking about to work you actually need to respect both choices, to have kids and to not. Just because judgement coming from one side rather than the other is rare doesn’t make it right either.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:28 pm

This is pretty obnoxious. Also, not that I think it needs to be said, but I still have money, moments without anxiety, free time and (luckily?) a kid who has yet to commit murder.
Fun idea-if you’re worried about overpopulation. Nope. I’m biting my tongue. GRRRR.

avatar lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:28 pm

Oh, and my body looks the same way it did in high school.

avatar iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 4:19 pm

I was with you until this part. Now you’re just getting smug!

(To disclaim: This is an amirite comment :P)

JK JK February 1, 2012, 4:41 pm

Feel the same as you, my body is the same as it was pre-kids (and my youngest is only 9 months old), we´re actually doing better financially now than before kids, and I donpt see my girls growing up to be murderers.
I hate when people feel the need to put down the people that decide/believe different than they do, just to justify their own decisions.

avatar MJ February 1, 2012, 3:43 pm

I agree there are downsides, but your list is pretty far-off.

1. Your kid could grow up to cure cancer. Just sayin’
2. Spending time and money on raising some people who contribute to society in a positive way? Yes, please. And having something/someone TO worry about because you love them that much? Not really a negative.
3. I know tons of people for whom this is not the case.
4. Worry about overpopulation is valid, but there are enough Americans that choose not to have kids (see this thread!) that I’m not worried particularly worried about having one or two kids. Access to reliable birth control in countries where women are having many more children than they want would help a lot more.

katie katie February 1, 2012, 8:42 pm

guys, i think that Lamp was pointing out the potential downsides to being a mother, while the article writer was mentioning a lot of things that people tell her as being upsides….

katie katie February 1, 2012, 8:44 pm

oh, by the way, i got an avatar thingy or whatever its called. thats my kitty Zoe. she’s crazy.

avatar Lamp February 1, 2012, 11:42 pm

Yes, Katie, you understand me.

I’m not saying all of these things apply to everyone all the time. That obviously isn’t true. I’m saying these are things that happen to SOME parents SOME of the time. But they are risks every potential parents should be aware of. If he/she considers these downsides and accepts them, have at it! But I feel like the American, pro-motherhood culture doesn’t encourage a critical examination of the pros and cons of parenting. It largely emphasizes the pros.

And the fact that so many pregnancies are unplanned means that people are not being responsible with reproduction. I think we can all agree we should encourage responsible boning.

The author of this post took a very pro-family, pro-parenting, positive spin on the entire issue. And that’s probably the more mature way to look at it, but not everybody has to feel that way.

katie katie February 1, 2012, 11:52 pm

yea…. i feel like people talk about parenthood like its all cupcakes and butterflies, especially while planning/thinking about it and then after parenthood happens, people only talk about how they *gave up their life* for their kids/ how unhappy they are..

maybe if people did look more at a kind of pro/con list and made and informed decision about what they are actually getting themselves into, there wouldnt be so much of the omg you will love being a mother and then the ones that feel that they marytered themselves for their kids.

like to me, it seems that its on opposite ends of the spectrum, while it should all be included in decision making. having kids should involve just as much heavy thinking and decision making then any other life changing event.