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.”
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 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.
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?
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.
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!
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 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 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.
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.
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 February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm
You may not be able to have a biological child, but you could adopt a child.
iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:30 pm
Well, not really though. There is this thing called adoption that people always are dismissive about too.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:31 pm
beautiful. thanks for sharing.
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 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 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 February 1, 2012, 2:30 pm
I wish I could like this so many times!!!
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 February 1, 2012, 3:48 pm
Yeah, I agree – I don’t think most people mean for it to sound malicious or cruel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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 🙂
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 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.
Taylor February 1, 2012, 2:17 pm
The money saved from not having kids would likely provide some pretty awesome care options.
iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm
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 February 1, 2012, 2:36 pm
meant to say fiscal.
Budj February 1, 2012, 2:40 pm
or maybe financial? I get grammatically dumber by the day…
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.
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.
iseeshiny February 1, 2012, 4:21 pm
Fun fact: STD rates are way up in retirement communities.
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…
bethany February 1, 2012, 2:57 pm
True that, and a lot of kick ass vacations, too!
honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 4:02 pm
Especially since in our society, many people don’t take in their parents anyway.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 😉
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.
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 😉
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.
iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 3:56 pm
Don Draper makes my ovaries ignite. Is that weird? YEEEEEEEEEE Season premier 1 month!!
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??
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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
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 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.
oppositeofzen February 1, 2012, 6:27 pm
Well, there are allergies to semen.
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!
Kristen February 1, 2012, 2:40 pm
Oh my gosh. How do you even respond to that??
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).
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:46 pm
Now THAT is highly offensive in my opinion.
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).
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??
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 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.
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?”
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…
Kristen February 2, 2012, 3:11 pm
Whoa. I cannot even imagine.
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 February 1, 2012, 3:17 pm
Agreed and I don’t understand what’s selfish about not wanting kids.
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).
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)
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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…?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:19 pm
Did you see my comment above?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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???
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.
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.
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.
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.) 🙂
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.
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 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.
Daisy February 1, 2012, 2:28 pm
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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 February 1, 2012, 2:58 pm
Is your brother Forest Gump?
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:03 pm
Comment of the day!
CatsMeow February 1, 2012, 4:00 pm
No, he’s Bubba 🙂
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.
rachel February 1, 2012, 7:11 pm
Shrimp is gross. Don’t do it.
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…
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!
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..
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!
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 2:57 pm
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 😀
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.
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 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.
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 February 1, 2012, 4:41 pm
p.s, my dog is smart, like really smart, like Harvard smart.
Mel February 1, 2012, 2:32 pm
I love the first sentence. It reminded me of this:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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”
MJ February 1, 2012, 3:38 pm
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 February 1, 2012, 3:30 pm
That was so eloquently said. Nice job!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!!!!!
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.”
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?
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.
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 February 1, 2012, 10:32 pm
I don’t think I would have managed to bite my tongue !
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.
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 February 1, 2012, 10:34 pm
So many kids scream like banshees :S
Lamp February 1, 2012, 3:04 pm
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!
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.
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.
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:28 pm
Oh, and my body looks the same way it did in high school.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
joanna February 1, 2012, 3:05 pm
I’ve never been an “Oh i can’t wait to be a mommy!” type. My aunt was the same way til she hit 40 and got married and had a couple kids all at once. Right now her kids are 10 and 12 and my mom is loving this chance to be the aunt who spoils them rotten. So now that my sister and I are grown, she’s not expecting grandchildren (at least not yet) because she’s busy with her nephews.
So I’ve said that I don’t want kids and I discussed this early on in the relationship with my boyfriend. He doesn’t want kids either. He’ll most likely have a few nieces and nephews to take care of him when he gets old and he’s fine with that. We’ll hopefully get married sometime in the future, but I am in no rush for it.
CottonTheCuteDog February 1, 2012, 3:08 pm
who wrote this? Obviously not Wendy….
Pufendorf February 1, 2012, 3:09 pm
I’ll confess to be a “since the first day reader of dear Wendy”, but this is the first time I’ve commented (please be gentle!). Anyway, I commiserate entirely, especially with regards to the “you’ll change your mind one day” comments. I’m in my mid 30s and have never had a desire for children; when I married some 10 years ago, my husband and I had talked and agreed on this point, even though my own parents (as well as his) were consistently inquiring about our “plans”. In fact, one Christmas, my mother questioned me outright, “Why can’t you just be normal?” in the context of her realizing that I was serious about not having children.
As it turned out, a couple of years back, it turned out that my husband was the one who thought I would change my mind about kids as I got older. Not surprisingly, we’re divorced now, since he really did want children in the long wrong. And I very much didn’t.
Not sure why I share this, except to say I undestand the feelings… Now, back to lurker-land.
fast eddie February 1, 2012, 3:14 pm
When I was 30 and just out of my first marriage I got clipped because I envisioned parenthood as being a handicap to prosperity. Given my finances and my general attitude about children at the time it was a wise decision. Now that I’m old enough to be a grandfather I have some regret but there are plenty of friends kids that let me spoil them and I’m free of limitations for travel etc.
None of us should live up or down to anyone eases expectations about this and we who are childless must endure the wrath of those that THINK they know better. We have a lot of friends who are also childless and some that envy us for being unencumbered. Let those who try to influence you speak their mind and be prepared with some non-hostel comebacks.
There are far too many people in the world already and it’s assured that the population will keep growing. Hopefully your siblings and friends will let you enjoy their kids who will enjoy the extra attention.
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 3:30 pm
I was looking forward to your input since I know you’ve mentioned this topic before. Great perspective.
fast eddie February 1, 2012, 5:03 pm
Thank you and may I add that the issue that lingers is who to leave our estate to. We don’t have any family left so friends and charities are going to benefit when the time comes. Our plan is do die broke and deeply in debt thus no problems. We’ve got our work cut out for us and we’ll do our best. We’re leaving for Costa Rica in 4 weeks. It’s a tough life but we’ll manage.
silver_dragon_girl February 1, 2012, 5:07 pm
I volunteer to inherit some stuff. Just sayin’. 😉
fast eddie February 1, 2012, 8:39 pm
Your in for a bit of a wait, but I’ll put you done. LOL
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 5:10 pm
LOVE IT! My brother spent a month in CR and hasn’t stopped raving about it since.
and if I may add a touch of totally unsolicited advice, do die broke or leave an exact amount to charities, not a percentage. I deal with that mess on a daily basis.
fast eddie February 1, 2012, 8:54 pm
Thanks for the advise Lets, actually we have 100% joint rights of survivor clauses and if I’m the last one it’s specified pretty well. The one cause I’d provide for is our local animal shelters, they’re near and dear to me and I’ll likely endow them before expiring.
Iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 9:34 pm
Ah I like you even more. I start crying everytime that ‘in the arms of an angel’ by Sarah Mcl(I can’t spell her last name).
fast eddie February 2, 2012, 12:40 am
Her last name’s McLachlan and that’s among the more difficult movies for me to watch. My crush on Meg Ryan isn’t a secret and when she dies at the end of the story it touches me in places that are still tender from the loss of a lover long ago.
Pinky February 1, 2012, 4:28 pm
I always enjoy your posts. Furthermore, I applaud you for deciding to get clipped. I know several men who don’t want children and won’t take responsibility for it it. Two of them have had surprises. One of the two turned out to be a deadbeat dad and lost most of his friends over it. The other one stepped up to the plate and makes the best of it.
BriarRose February 1, 2012, 3:20 pm
Hey, if it makes those who are childless by choice feel a teeny, tiny bit better, I get a lot of grief for my decision to have “only” one child. No one can wrap their head around why I wouldn’t want another child (although like the author, I never say never lest those words get thrown back in my face someday). Seems you can never keep the masses, or the families, happy. Do what works for you, and certainly don’t have another child, or a child at all, just to make someone else happy!
Vathena February 1, 2012, 3:59 pm
Hah – I was going to say the same thing. I’ve found this discussion so fascinating! I have always been pretty ambivalent about having a baby. I’m actually a little jealous of people who know for certain what they want (though it’s usually no guarantee you’ll get it!) Having gotten hitched to a man I know would be a great dad, I’m now in the “maybe we’ll give it a shot” camp. (He’s on board.) But we decided that if we have a child, it will be an only. This is mostly for space/financial considerations – the cost of living is very high in our area. (Though if we were surprised by twins, I guess we’d just have to make do!) And we’ve decided that we will not resort to medical intervention in order to have a child – we would be sad, but satisfied that it’s not meant to happen for us, and instead play with all of our nieces and nephews and friends’ kids. I’m very fortunate that my friends and family are non-judgmental and mostly don’t even ask these questions, though I’ve gotten a bit of “only ONE?!” and “if you want a baby, why wouldn’t you do everything you could to have one?!” I love the idea of adopting, but the experience of a family member in adopting an older girl from foster care was a bit of a grim lesson in how difficult it can be. (Side note: I think parenting would be awesome, but the whole idea of pregnancy freaks me out a little. There’s something IN there! So weird!!)
Firegirl32 February 1, 2012, 4:03 pm
Oh I so agree! I have only one. Plan on keeping that way and my mom keeps telling me that I HAVE to have more. ALL she has is 3 grandsons. She NEEDS a grandaughter. Ugh. It gets seriously irritating. It is a very personal decision for *anyone* to make. I just wish everyone would mind their own damn business… Sorry. Didn’t realize my mom was pissing me off that much. 🙂
Vathena February 1, 2012, 4:21 pm
Oh yeah, ’cause you are definitely gonna have a girl next time, FOR SURE, your mom just KNOWS that if you have one more, it will absolutely be a girl. And it will be an adorable girly girl who likes frilly dresses and tea parties (the good kind). Definitely not a girl who wants short hair and overalls, and to play with a toy dump truck. And definitely not a special-needs child or anything like that. Because babies are all about living up to every expectation placed on them, pre-conception. That’s totally how it works. Amiright or amiright?!
Firegirl32 February 2, 2012, 10:58 am
LOVE THIS! I may just use that next time she’s inevitably brings it up… Thanks! 🙂
Flake February 1, 2012, 5:10 pm
I have a friend that has three little boys now. When she had only two, she went to the fortune teller and was told “when,where, how and in what position” to conceive the next one to make sure that it’s a girl… Didn’t really work out. But at least she stopped crying over the fact that she only has boys.
Flanagan.er February 2, 2012, 11:43 am
As an adult only child, I just want to refute all the comments you surely get about needing to have another. I wasn’t lonely growing up, I’m not a spoiled brat, and I’ve been socialized perfectly well.
Yep February 1, 2012, 3:36 pm
I think I understand where both types of people are coming from. Birthing and raising a kid is a whole lot of work. Sometimes it’s a thankless job. It’s hard and expensive and takes over your whole life. But then, I also see how happy children can make the people around them. They’re like little rays of light. They can make you instantly happy just being there. I can see all the reasons for not having them but having one in the future is something I would never say no to. I don’t know if any exotic trip, or quiet clean home or wine drenched evening can compare to the life changing and enriching experience of having a child. Also, I’m pretty sure exotic trips, quiet clean homes and wine drenched nights can still be had with kids, just less frequently and with more planning…
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, who cares if someone asks you the question. Just tell them you rather not and get over it. Hehehe.
Megan_A_Mess February 1, 2012, 3:38 pm
This could have been written about me (or even by me, but I don’t possess the eloquence in which you wrote it in). I love, love, love this. A year and a half ago, my fiance and I were living across the US from our families, and had realized that we had a major difference of opinion about having children. Namely, that he wanted to have a family, and I didn’t. After pretty much getting berated by his family, and feeling like I was going to be forced to have children, we broke up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain myself about my choice, because most people (women AND men) would look at me like I had three heads when I said I didn’t want kids.
I get the “You’ll change your mind” comment almost every time. And, just like you, dear writer, I might. Another good one is “You have to have at least ONE.” Oh really? Where in life’s little hand book does it say that? (besides the Bible?) I’ve also gotten a lot of the Biblical/biological flack too … And mostly my response to those comments are “So you would feel the same/ask the same question to a woman who God/biology has decided not to bless/let have a child?” Just because I can drive a car, does that mean I should? Just because I can go out and shave my head and dye my scalp purple, does that mean I should? Just because I can pro-create, for the sake of pro-creating, does that I mean I should? To me, no. It doesn’t.
I do get a lot of flack from my mom, as well as strangers/friends/co-workers. My favorite comment from her so far has been “Well why would you ever get married then?” I guess I just can’t get married because, oh, I don’t know, I LOVE THEM? I also have a brother, but he’s already fixed himself, so I know part of it is her being bitter because she won’t have grandchildren.
So, do I ever think about it? Yes, I do. Especially with my boyfriend now. He’d be a great dad. I see him with his nieces and nephew and it melts my heart, and I can hear my ovaries quake. But does that send me bolting to the bedroom to try? No. Not at all. I ALSO know that, for me, personally, I don’t want to have children because I am too busy taking care of my parents. I’ve taken care of my mom (and when she was still alive, my grandma) since I was about 18 (I just turned 27) It was mostly around the house, cooking, cleaning, laundry, just like if I had a child. Now, it’s moved into the stage where I need to help her pay bills as well. (I could go so much deeper into this, but I don’t need to air my dirty laundry on teh interwebz!) Basically it all boils down to her being dependent on me for so many things, big and small, that I usually have to put her first, before myself. Just like I’ve been told (most) parents do for their children. Furthermore, my dad is an alcoholic, who sometimes likes to go on three days benders, and not answer his phone. He was also never there for me and my brother, and we’re definitely the mature ones in our relationship with him.
@MissDre – I can totally understand what you mean here. And I am so glad that you can express your difference of opinion/stance in such a way that isn’t hurtful or demeaning. So thank you for that. But just like how you’ve always wanted kids, it’s EXACTLY the opposite for me. Everything you’ve thought/dreamed about? I never have. That’s usually the best way I can describe it to people. I just say, “In all of the roles that I have ever imagined myself, a mother has not been one.” Furthermore, for me, I don’t feel like I have to have children, (or a child) to be fulfilled in my life. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But, just like you, I have NEVER, EVER criticized anyone for WANTING or HAVING children. So why should they be so demeaning and hurtful about my decision to NOT have children? That’s why I sometimes get so defense about my decision (and hope that I haven’t come off that way here.)
brendapie February 1, 2012, 3:44 pm
I am fortunate that my parents have never pressured to me to get married or have children. They are understanding that it isn’t something I desire and respect my decision. I know my mother could care less but I do know my dad would love to be a grandfather someday. My father is the only sibling in his family, out of 9, to not have a grandchild so I know it bothers him a bit and while some may call my decision selfish, I really have no qualms about it.
I struggle to understand the carnal desire for motherhood that so many women have. Having a child just seems so strange to me. The idea of having something growing inside me is weird, I find C-sections terrifying, and the thought of cleaning up after a child (diapers and all) grosses me out. Whenever I’ve held a baby I’ve felt uncomfortable, when I hear babies cry I cringe and bite my tongue, and the only thing that remotely interests me about having a young child is the thought of having a living doll to dress up in cute pastel clothes (like those super cute Stella McCartney clothes for GAP). I know motherhood is so much more than that but I just have absolutely no desire for it.
It’s hard to explain but it’s like I have an OFF-switch inside of me that has yet (and may never be) switched to the ON-I-want-to-be-a-mother-someday mode. I do sometimes look at families when I’m out in public and experience a weird feeling washing over me, like I know I’m supposed to want that and I do feel like something is wrong with me. I think it’s just knowing what society’s expectations are and not being aligned with that makes me an outsider. And I know I had such a wonderful childhood because of the love and support my parents showed me, that I know I could be a wonderful mother.
Maybe I’ll change my mind someday. But if that happens, it will be my decision and not because my family or society has certain expectations of me. Right now I’m just going to be the best owner I can be to my three dogs and support my parents the best way I can.
mf February 1, 2012, 4:51 pm
“I struggle to understand the carnal desire for motherhood that so many women have.”
Seriously, the idea of pregnancy and giving birth sounds like the worst fate imaginable to me. And like you, I’m not at all interested in kids.
I’ve also wondered if there’s something wrong with me. Sometimes it seems like EVERYONE wants kids, so why don’t I? So anyway, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
AKchic_ February 1, 2012, 3:48 pm
When I was younger, I didn’t want kids. Honestly, I’m not the typical kind of parent. My kids weren’t really planned. I wouldn’t change the fact that they are here, don’t get me wrong, and I love ’em to pieces – but I do understand where people are coming from when they say that they do not want kids.
For those who don’t want any of their own, good on you. Enjoy OP kids (Other People’s) if you’d like. Or, avoid kids like the snot-covered, booger-eating, mess-making, noise-machines that they can be. Whatever your personal camp is – that’s fine. Just please don’t feel that you need to tell us with kids how to raise our kids. I won’t judge you, so long as you don’t judge me.
Flake February 1, 2012, 4:03 pm
Also, just going to throw this out there… I do not want to marry the father of my children. For some reason that always surprises people… And I get the same comments, we are not a “real” family, my kids are “illegitimate” (welcome to 21st century people!), he will just wake up one day and leave me… Sorry for getting off-topic, but I feel better now….
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:08 pm
LOVE the idea that he can leave if you’re not married, as though he can’t if you are?!?! WTF
AKchic_ February 1, 2012, 5:19 pm
No shit. The stupid questions we get as parents of children from “outside the marriage”. The top ones are:
1) Will he adopt your other kids? I’ve spoken with other females about this, and it doesn’t matter if they split custody 50/50, or if they have visitation only, or if they are the sole custodian of their child, they ALWAYS get that question if they remarry, as if that is the only redeeming factor in a marriage after having a child prior to the relationship.
2) You’re sure he’s “the one”, right? “The one” is so cliche. We aren’t in a fairytale folks and none of us are princesses looking for our prince charming.
3) You two aren’t planning on any of your own, are you, I mean, you already have X number already… Look – you never ask a woman her reproductive plans unless you are paying the bill. It’s none of your damned business unless it directly affects you. Being nosy doesn’t directly affect you (your bottom line, your housing situation, etc), so STFU already.
4) Does he know about ? Look, if someone is actually MARRYING a person with kid(s), they know that there are a few things that have happened in life. In fact, the majority of couples actually TALK about their life experiences. Just because you find something that happened to be shameful doesn’t mean that the person it happened to does. Butt out.
Foots February 1, 2012, 4:07 pm
I want another & can’t have one. Anyone else in the same boat?
honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 4:14 pm
Yes and no. Want one but can’t have one without fertility treatments. But like I described below, I never thought I’d want them at all.
AKchic_ February 1, 2012, 5:24 pm
Not really. I have four (and had been told since I was a month old that I couldn’t have ANY at all). We’ve discussed the idea of having a 5th, but honestly, I really doubt my body could handle it. To say that my body has taken a lot of abuse in my 28 years is an understatement.
Tracey February 1, 2012, 5:28 pm
Would you ever consider adopting? A child can be yours without you creating it.
Renee February 2, 2012, 12:22 pm
Only if you’re willing to deal with bio-family. Most parents won’t term rights unless there is some form of openess, plus siblings would want a relation.
A child is never really yours, they grow up.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 12:40 pm
What? You realize closed adoptions exist and happen often, rght?
Renee February 2, 2012, 1:44 pm
Yeah, in its worst form it’s baby selling.
I realize that sounds awful, but that is what I see it as.
I know older adoptees and birth moms, and despite being pro-life I dislike adoptions that serve adults who want a baby no strings attach
Heck, even children of sperm donors search, they find out sooner or later and childshould live a lie.
Flake February 2, 2012, 1:48 pm
I actually think you may have a point. I think that no one should profit financially in an adoption process.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 1:55 pm
The birth moms don’t profit. They get their medical bills paid for… What the adoptive mom would spend anyway if it was her pregnant. I am seriously freaked the fuck out by your opinion. Do you know how many people can’t have children for one reason or another? Closed adoption is generally more healthy for the child.
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:02 pm
OK let me clarify that. There are surrogates, that again in my opinion, should not profit, but have their expenses paid. The birth mother that is giving up the child for adoption should not profit, but have her expenses paid. The lawyers, the adoption agencies should not profit. The parents should not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to be able to adopt a child.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 2:14 pm
So the lawyers should work for free? Adoption agencies should be non profit? I would love to volunteer my time, but that’s not reality. People can’t always work for free. They should be compensated for their work. How is that buying a baby?
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:25 pm
In my opinion it should be regulated and paid for by government.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 2:36 pm
It is regulated… Hence why it costs so much. And no thanks on the government. The only thing the government is good at running is the military.
Renee February 2, 2012, 1:49 pm
Children shouldn’t live a lie.
Some parents can’t care for their children, and legally they need parents. I get that.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 1:51 pm
Did you seriously just equate closed adoptions to baby selling. Please tell me that not what you meant. My head just exploded. If so I’m going to pretend people like you don’t exist because that kind of ignorance is disturbing at best. Head. Is. Exploding.
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:06 pm
In closed adoption you have no idea where that baby came from. Child trafficking is alive all over the world. In Eastern Europe babies get stolen all the time so that the “rich couple” may have the baby they “ordered”. Do not kid yourself if you think that the adoption is such a simple and straightforward process.
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:13 pm
Poor women get paid to abandon or sell their children, or simply pressured to surrender them to orphanages.
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 2:14 pm
She said “in its worst form,” not “every single one.” Your poor head will be fine.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 2:19 pm
I don’t know exactly where you live but in the US babies aren’t bought. That would be illegal. To suggest otherwise is disgusting, especially when brought up as a reason not to adopt. I’m sorry it’s ridiculous to be pro life and discourage adoption.
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 2:23 pm
You’re absolutely right. Nothing disgusting or illegal ever happens in the US. (When did pro lifeyness come into it? Also, I’m not discouraging adoption. I’m just taking issue with the way you’re speaking in sweeping gereralizations and hyperbole.)
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 2:40 pm
As opposed to you whose speaking in the most rare exceptions? There is about as much chance of buying a baby that was stolen from it’s mother as dying in a plane crash. Especially when you take into consideration that most babies in the US are adopted domestically. You might have a blood diamond too but that doesn’t stop anyone from buying engagement rings. Adoption is a good thing and should be encouraged.
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:45 pm
Just go on craigslist.. you might get disillusioned though. Everything is for sale in country that is driven by consumerism.
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 2:50 pm
People die in plane crashes? I’ve flown plenty of times and that’s never happened to me. My head just exploded. If so I’m going to pretend people like you don’t exist because that kind of ignorance is disturbing at best. Head. Is. Exploding.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 2:36 pm
As a pro-lifer, I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to take this opportunity to just say WTF to this whole conversation.
iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 2:43 pm
I was hoping someone else would notice the shenanigans going on right now. I thought I was going crazy for a second.
Flake February 2, 2012, 2:42 pm
The same way that thousands of women, girls and boys aren’t sold to brothels every year… Just consider yourself lucky that you still that way..
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 2:45 pm
All I’m saying is that if what you take issue with is the logical inconsistencies of being pro-life and anti-adoption, cool. Talk about that. If you take issue with the idea that Renee seems to think that adopted children are “living a lie” through closed adoption, cool, talk about it.
What you’re doing, though, is attacking her stated opinion on the idea that there are a lot of shady people out there (even here in the good ol’ US of A!) who are willing to take advantage of unfortunate couples who are so eager to have a child they will spend large amounts of money (tens of thousands of dollars) for inflated “adoption fees” and that closed adoptions in particular are prime opportunities for this sort of exploitation. That is perhaps the only thing she’s said that can be backed up with facts but that’s the part that makes your head explode? Suggesting that is disgusting? Please.
katie February 2, 2012, 8:32 pm
does anyone here listen to Your Time with Kim? its a radio show. well this one month, she took on a charity that was preventing child trafficking. children are trafficked all over the world, including the USA, for all kinds of sick reasons. not only “fake” adoptions, but for sex explotation also.
its nice to think of adopting as a loving thing, which it can be, but there literally are children all over the world who are abused, neglected, sold for money, stolen, and generally hurt in the name of adoption. its not all rainbows and butterflies.
iseeshiny February 3, 2012, 12:21 pm
Oh! On the sex trafficking thing, did you see the news story about the nuns in Ohio? (Fighting sex trafficking, not being a part of it.)
It’s just a little blurb, but it was on my google news feed this morning and this made me think of that.
savannah February 2, 2012, 6:05 pm
If you are interested on the subject there is extensive work being done on this very issue in the national and international human rights communities. here’s just one example from a 5 second search on google scholar
If you wanted to I’d also look into why Guatemala and Ethiopia closed their international adoption programs.
Look into it or dont but holding onto the idea that the US doesn’t do things that are illegal is just naive.
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 8:12 pm
No, savannah! You can’t let anyone see this – we want to encourage people to adopt. You can’t buy a child here in the US, and implying otherwise is disgusting!
For reals, though, that is a heck of a link.
JK February 2, 2012, 8:32 pm
Holy crap. For my emotional well-being I had to stop reading.
iseeshiny February 2, 2012, 2:16 pm
Renee February 2, 2012, 2:53 pm
No. I’m not ignorant of the situation.
Children are human beings and they have rights, including the right to their identity and rights to their relatives.
I believe in keeping ALL CHILDREN SAFE, that means if parents are unable to raise and nurture their child then someone else should be raising them. I do NOT believe in keeping children in unsafe and unloving homes.
I’m also a firm believer in kin care, that yes biological relatives if deemed able to should be consider as potential legal parents.
Sometimes there is no kin available, maybe grandparents aren’t physically able to, I believe in a adoption in which biological grandparents can have a relationship with their grandchild even if biological parents can not. I believe individuals have rights to know who their biological family is.
Renee February 2, 2012, 2:56 pm
Quoting myself here….
“I believe in a adoption” in which biological grandparents can have a relationship with their grandchild even if biological parents can not. I believe individuals have rights to know who their biological family is.
Renee February 2, 2012, 4:22 pm
And to add sometimes an entire bio family are unable to raise a child, due to mental health, drugs, and long term abuse and neglect.
At some point in time as an adult, the child has a right to know.
Sorry for any misinterpretation on my part.
jlyfsh February 2, 2012, 1:59 pm
i’m sorry but there are countless reasons people adopt. some people are physically unable to have children and adopt (and countless others) it’s not about having a baby no strings attached. it’s about providing a home to a child that would otherwise not have one.
i’ve known people to adopt and no one benefited financially. there were fees paid by the adoptive parents along the way. but, those were fees dealing with the legal side of adoption.
honeybeenicki February 1, 2012, 4:10 pm
Thank you for sharing this and bringing out all of the other women who do not want to have kids. It is interesting to see how many people have gone through the judgement of having to defend their decision.
When I was younger and most of the way through college I was adamant I didn’t want kids. I decided if I ever got the urge to have kids, I’d prefer to adopt. That has since become a desire to actually have biological children (it would still be adopt, but like I mentioned above, there are legal issues preventing that) but I know I could live without ever having them. I faced a lot of judgement and “oh you’ll change your mind” type stuff and always just brushed it off. When I was told I am likely infertile or will have a very rough time conceiving, it didn’t really bother me since it wasn’t in my plans. Now that we are thinking about it, it kinda sucks but I can get around that.
I guess I didn’t see as much judgement as many people – I didn’t have any pressure from anyone really. My mom was a little disappointed, but thats about it. My mother-in-law actually told me (about a year into my husband and I dating) that he and I SHOULDN’T have kids. That I should just be happy with the 2 he has. We weren’t even discussing kids at the time so I don’t know where that came from. (She hasn’t ever really treated me like part of the family because I’m not his ex-wife.)
What I don’t understand is why anyone thinks they have a say or a right to judge in anyone’s decision to have or not have children. It just doesn’t make sense.
Nutella February 1, 2012, 4:26 pm
This is a hot topic for me as well. I’m 33 and I got “fixed” at 28 because I knew I never wanted kids. My mom paid what my insurance wouldn’t cover for the procedure. I had already ended one relationship because that boyfriend wanted kids and I told him it wasn’t going to happen. I hate that condescending tone strangers give when they say that all too common line “you’ll change your mind” or “when you meet the right man”. That’s when I smile and tell them I’m fixed so there is no way and change the subject. I’m just glad that although I’m an only child my mom is very supportive of this decision and often thanks me for not making her a grandmother. Interestingly, my mom gets more heat than I do when she has to “explain” to people that I’m just not interested in procreating.
lets_be_honest February 1, 2012, 4:35 pm
Yea, but your mom named you after a delicious spreadable treat, so she was already awesome to begin with. Your real name *is* Nutella, right? 😉
Nutella February 1, 2012, 4:40 pm
You are correct about that! Used that name because I was snacking on some when I created my login. A spoon and Nutella is good for that afternoon chocolate craving! Also one of my favorite pictures of me as a kid is me eating a nutella sandwich and the nutella is ALL OVER my face and hands, it’s quite funny.
MissDre February 1, 2012, 4:51 pm
Threadjack… (sorta…) random question…. how come my mom teases my boyfriend and tells him to hurry up and make her a grandma, yet when I skipped a period and was wondering if I should take a pregnancy test, she was all mad at me for “being stupid” and was asking if I would have an abortion and looking all terrified when I said no, we would keep it…? What the hell?
Kristen February 1, 2012, 4:52 pm
Apparently her version of “hurrying up” means “hurry up and get married so THEN I can be a grandma,” haha. This is pretty much my mom, too. She wants to be a grandma really badly, but she’d be super upset if I wasn’t married first.
JK February 1, 2012, 4:51 pm
I truly believe that people are never content to mind their own business:
When I was single, when was I going to get a BF?
When I met my husband, when were we getting married?
Then, when were we going to have kids?
After our first, when were we giving her a sibling?
Now we have 2 girls, are we going to try for a boy?
FireStar February 1, 2012, 7:28 pm
I wonder what they ask in the retirement homes…
JK February 2, 2012, 6:25 am
Probably who´s next? 🙂
Tracey February 1, 2012, 5:22 pm
Thank you for writing this. I decided when I was 20 that I didn’t want children and heard all the arguments, nagging, and (in some cases) flat out verbal attacks you listed. It was hard watching my mom tear up and ask, “Was it something I did? Maybe the way I raised you?” (No, it wasn’t.) It was infuriating to hear potential suitors say, “All women want children…are you sure you aren’t gay?” (No, I’m not, and thank you for showing me your narrow-minded viewpoints before we got seriously involved.) It was exhausting to hear friends tell me I was making the biggest mistake of my life…usually after regaling me with stories about the troubles they were having raising their kids, or worse, the problems they were having with ex-spouses/partners involving the children. (Life is full of mistakes. The trick is to learn how to live with, work through, and triumph over them. Making a decision that you feel is right for you is never a mistake.)
Some of my friends have told me that deciding to be child free is “selfish.” They’re absolutely right. After careful consideration and planning, this decision was what is best for me, and it’s no more selfish than attempting to guilt trip a woman who’s made such a personal decision – one that requires a lot of thought, self-awareness, and consideration – into changing her mind just because that decision makes you uncomfortable.
If you’re a woman who’s decided not to have kids, stay strong in your decision. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not a bad person. You have to do what is best for you and your life. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
If you know and love a woman who’s decided not to have kids, honor that decision. It’s not your place to change her mind, or make her feel bad/guilty/uncomfortable/less than a woman about her choice.
Nutella February 1, 2012, 5:30 pm
Somthing that you reminded me of that I’ve said to numerous people when they ask why I don’t want kids and the topic of my childhood comes up is that, I feel like I had a fantastic childhood and I don’t feel any need to relive, or “re-do” any part of it thru my own child. When I said that to my mother she was flattered because she realized she did a good job raising me.
landygirl February 1, 2012, 5:59 pm
As always a well thought post from you, Tracey.
Not to be snarky, but the fact of the matter is that some people that have children have no business being parents. I just read Hax Philes and they had a letter from a grandmother whose daughter married at 18, got knocked up and divorced the dad two weeks after giving birth to a son.
Her current husband had her 12 year old son locked away in a mental institution because he didn’t want to deal with him. Apparently after he was in for a short time it was discovered that there was some abuse of the son by the stepfather. The man is controlling of his wife and his own children, to the point of lunacy.
The boy now lives with his grandparents and the mother sees him for a few hours a month and thinks that is sufficient. Its instances like these that lead me to question humanity.
redessa February 1, 2012, 8:19 pm
Well, speaking as someone with a whole pile of children – and I would have happily had more (my husband was the one who was done) – I firmly believe that people who don’t want children should not have them!
Do I think you’re missing out on something? Sure I do. (You could also say I’m missing out on being able to travel or have an awesome, all-consuming career or basic freedom.) But you know, if someone’s going to regret the decision of whether or not to have children, I’d rather they regret not having them, than to have brought a child into this world unwanted. Now, I do think most people, even when experiencing an unexpected pregnancy will, in fact, love their child and do their best as parents. But why take the chance? If, for whatever reason, you (no one specific, just people in general) don’t feel like you want children, I’m all for you deciding to remain child free.
If none of my children choose to have kids – well, if NONE of them do I might just question my own mothering skills. But if one of them doesn’t want children, I might be dissappointed but I don’t happen to think their reproductive choices are any of my business to be pestering them about. I’ve gotten it from the other side “Are these ALL yours?” “You know how to prevent that, right?” (and yes, my own father said that last one to me). But it’s just such a personal thing, no one, besides your spouse/SO has any right giving you unsolicited opinions or advice about how to create, or not create, your family.
Firegirl32 February 2, 2012, 11:19 am
Perfect. Just perfect. I agree 100%
Anna February 1, 2012, 8:45 pm
Thanks for this! I respect other women’s decision to not procreate and don’t think it is anyone’s “duty” to pop out a kid. Personally, I definitely want kids someday but I am firmly committed to being married first. I’m about to turn 28 in less than a month and lately, for the first time in my life, it seems everyone I meet asks how many kids I have. When I say “none” they are baffled and say “Well don’t you want some?” Um yeah, in my own time!!! And also none of your business.
Something More February 1, 2012, 9:20 pm
I would reply, “Why, you want to be there when it happens?”
rainbow February 2, 2012, 3:51 pm
“Well, don’t you want some?”
“Sure! are you suggesting we make one? Rawrrr”
Something More February 1, 2012, 9:06 pm
I’d like to add one more thing…
One of my best friends has decided not to have kids. She just doesn’t want them. Her husband DID want some for awhile, but he changed his mind about it and now they plan on a kid-free life. Her hubby is a Naval officer and they live in military housing (which if you’ve never lived in it, it is almost THE worst place to live. Most military wives are the worst, yo!) She gets asked ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. when they are going to have kids that now she just says she can’t have kids and leaves it at that. That usually puts people intheir place with some embaressment. I don’t blame her.
katie February 1, 2012, 9:19 pm
what is it with military people getting married young and having babies young? i have noticed that trend just in a small sample of the people i know from high school! i dont know what contributes to it….
Iwannatalktosampson February 1, 2012, 10:27 pm
Because the military pays you more for how many dependants you have. So to a 22 year old why not get married and pop out some kids? Cha-ching!
katie February 1, 2012, 11:46 pm
oh thats so wrong…
BriarRose February 2, 2012, 8:37 am
The military doesn’t pay more per kid. You get extra housing allowance if you have one dependent or 20. So if you have a wife or kid, you get more than a single solider. And by more, I mean about $200/month. That’s the only difference.
Ivy February 2, 2012, 8:58 am
Thank you, I was just about to post that. And at least where I’m at, most of the wives here have babies because they’re bored. I’m overseas in a non-English speaking country so it’s impossible to get a job off-base unless you learn the language, which it seems like no one here is willing to do. It’s even harder to get a job on-base because there’s a hiring freeze for budgetary reasons. So basically the military has moved all of these women away from friends and family to the middle of nowhere in a country whose language they can’t speak and ensured they remain unemployed. Everyone here is like, “Well, if I have to put my life on hold for the next 2-4 years, I guess it’s time to make a baby!” I’m not even putting words in anyone’s mouth, I have been told this be at least 15 people.
Iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 11:00 am
That is disturbing to me. Having a kid to save you from boredom. Lovely.
Valerie February 1, 2012, 9:10 pm
This post really resonated with me because it seems that no matter what decisions we make, we’re going to get judged by people who do it differently. Whether it be kids/no kids; have kids early/wait; have one kid/have multiple kids; be a working parent/stay at home; breastfeed/formula feed/how long to breastfeed; etc….SOMEONE is always going to have an opinion and there will always be people out there who think that THEIR way is the BEST way.
I’m 27, and although we’d like kids someday, my husband and I are in absolutely no hurry to start a family. Also, I will never ever be a stay at home mom because it’s just not for me. These are OUR choices, and that doesn’t make them better or worse than anyone else’s choices. I hang out with a support group for significant others of medical residents and many of the women in the group who have children are young mothers and are stay at home moms, and I know that I’ve definitely felt judged by some of these women for my choices, because I’m wanting to do it “differently.” I’ve definitely heard them talking about “women who THINK they can have it all,” in other words have a family AND a career and how it’s not possible and at some point you have to choose, and I’m like REALLY? Who are you to say what I can and can’t/should and shouldn’t do?
Anyway, it just seems that sometimes, no matter what decision you make, someone is going to judge you for it.
LANY February 1, 2012, 9:35 pm
You can absolutely be an amazing mother and work — my mom is a surgeon, and worked her tail off when I was younger… she wasn’t always around when I wanted her to be, missed a lot of events in my life, but by the time I got to college I valued and appreciated all the things that I learned from her, and the role model that she was for me. She wasn’t a cuddly, cookie baking mother — but she was a *#$!ing SURGEON, and I am so incredibly proud to have her as a mom.
I love your point about always being judged… I wrote the essay above, and that didn’t even cross my mind… Makes me remember that just as I want people to not judge me for my choices, I don’t get to judge anyone else for theirs – as easy as it may sometimes be…
Valerie February 1, 2012, 10:10 pm
Thank you for writing this essay and thank you for the wonderful comment about your mom. I grew up with a stay at home mother (and so did my husband), so I don’t have any personal experience with a working mom. It’s so nice to hear first hand that you can do it all and still be an amazing mother.
It’s definitely easy to get caught up in judging others–I know I’ve caught myself doing it. When I see all these people my age having babies, I think to myself, “UGH who would want to be having kids right now?!” And then I have to catch myself, because just because I don’t want to have kids right now, doesn’t mean that everyone else doesn’t want to be having kids right now! Not being judgmental is definitely easier said than done sometimes. 🙂
KKZ February 3, 2012, 2:16 pm
You’re so right, it’s possible can be an amazing mother and work – but part of my decision to not plan on kids is that I really want to go far in my career, and it takes a special kind of person (I believe) to really carry off the Working Mom thing, especially if Dad isn’t staying home to help with the child-rearing. I personally don’t feel up to the challenge, I’d rather stay focused on my career instead of trying to split myself down the middle. I have nothing but admiration for the Superwomen who can do it all, though.
katie February 1, 2012, 9:17 pm
i also have no idea if i will ever have kids…. i just know that im not ready in any way to have them anytime in the near future.
i said this somewhere else on here, but just last week one of the guys i work with actually said “thats a terrible thing to say!” when i told him i didnt want kids. i was so surprised. i didnt even know what to say back to him…
i just know that as of right now, i dont ever want kids. im open to the possibility that it may change, but as of now, thats what it is. thankfully, im not married yet, so there isnt any questions about why i havent had any yet, but i have to say that I am not looking forward to my future if thats what i have to look forward to. especially because my boyfriend’s family is super traditional, and just the fact that my boyfriend and I want to walk down the aisle together might be too much for them to accept…. i cant even imagine the terrible things they will say. yikes.
one thing that i think is funny is that when i first met my boyfriend in college, he wanted to be a dad at 25 so he could be a “young dad”. we moved in together after college and he almost immediately went from wanting kids way young to not wanting them at all after he figured out what the “real world” was like, so to speak. im glad that me and him think the same way. and lucky for us, just this year there have been a bunch of baby additions into our lives! so i get to be the cool aunt, and i am very much happy with that. -also, maybe that is why i feel indifferent about kids, because i was never around them when i was younger/growing up? i dunno…
painted_lady February 1, 2012, 10:06 pm
I LOVED this, and then all the voices chiming in to say they don’t want kids, either. I feel so much less alone! I have to say, the vast majority of my friends are very supportive of that decision. Painted_dude has offered to get snipped, and we decided between the two of us to hold off for a couple of years, partly because we are open to the possibility of our minds changing, and partly because he has no health insurance and mine BLOWS. My family, however…well, certain members are less supportive.
My mom, primarily, is the worst. She’s slightly narcissistic, and she kept asking me what she’d done in my childhood that was so awful I was scared off having kids. I asked her finally why she thinks she takes center stage for every major decision in my life. Although, to be perfectly honest, part of it is that I never want to risk having a kid like my brother. He may someday be a really great guy, but I can’t remember a stage in his life where his default mood was fundamentally unpleasant. He’s not Kevin Katchadourian, but I don’t like him, and while we all love him because he’s family, I don’t think my parents like him most of the time. And as ambivalent as I am about having my own kids, why would I risk having a kid I don’t even like?
A few of my aunts and my mother’s friends have gotten really pushy about it. That’s where I hear the “You’ll change your mind,” or “I can’t imagine that there’s any role in life more fulfilling,” and I’ve gotten sort of emphatic, both out of that natural desire to defend my stance because it’s like those awful evangelicals who think I woke up one morning and decided to be an agnostic just to be difficult, like it’s some teenage phase I’m going through, and then out of sheer indignance because, I’m sorry, did I ASK your opinion on my uterus?!?! And my mom has told me to be less “abrasive” about it, like it’s something we shouldn’t talk about in mixed company, like I’m some moody adolescent who says offensive things to get attention. That, I think, hurts most of all, that she seems embarrassed that I’ve made a good decision that works for me after a LOT of soul-searching. Although, really recently, after many long and slightly drunken conversations on our trip to Europe this summer (yay French wine!!!), she finally did admit that she sees where I’m coming from – not that I wouldn’t be a good mom, but why it wouldn’t make me happy. Maybe she’ll eventually stop finding me embarrassing :/
I do find it interesting that so many people use the argument that I might regret it one day when it’s too late. I think there are so many big decisions that I could regret and on some level do regret, just the path not taken and all that, and if you get caught up in the myriad decisions you might regret, you’ll be so frozen with fear of making the wrong choice you won’t make any choices at all and just let life happen to you. And in that same vein, I know so many parents who set other life goals aside to have kids. They’re worth it, of course, for most, but why is it that the assumption is that the regret of not having kids is greater than the regret of not writing the great American novel or being the next Jasper Johns, or traveling to Thailand, or hell, just spending more weekend mornings in bed talking with my someday husband? I might regret it one day, but in that same way I regret not having taken guitar lessons or sticking with ballet. Either of those things might have changed my life for the better, too.
One last thing in this entirely too long post: I have a good friend who’s been married for about five years. She’s 28, and she’s started getting grilled about when she’s having kids, just like every coupled up late-20s woman gets, and she’s got fertility problems. Several issues altogether, in fact. While its mildly annoying for me to hear, that question now makes me want to punch people on her behalf. She gets grilled the same way I do, and while I can roll my eyes at the presumption that every woman MUST want kids, she’s getting the third degree and being made to feel like a failure at the one thing she wants more than anything.
I think for her sake, I might answer those questions with, “I’m not planning on having any. But if I were undergoing fertility treatments that question would have hurt a lot. So next time, could you maybe keep that question to yourself, if you don’t mind.”
bethany February 2, 2012, 10:07 am
I think for her sake, I might answer those questions with, “I’m not planning on having any. But if I were undergoing fertility treatments that question would have hurt a lot. So next time, could you maybe keep that question to yourself, if you don’t mind.” <—I think this is a very classy way to handle it.
A lot of people struggle with fertility issues and cover it up by saying they dont' want kids. I'ts bad enough for those of us who really don't want kids, but to desperately want them and not be able to have them must be heartbreaking. People could use a reminder to be a little more thoughtful when questioning people's decisions.
Married by Elvis February 1, 2012, 10:27 pm
I simply cannot understand the audacity of people who treat people like the poster this way. It just infuriates me. People need to mind their own business. I have one child and we are one and done. We love our daughter, but that’s the right decision for our family. The relentless hounding I’ve gotten about when we are going to have another is just maddening. It’s mostly people I work with and I know they aren’t trying to be nosy or rude so I keep my mouth shut, but Jeez! I’ve been told I’m selfish for not giving my daughter a sibling because she’ll be alone in having to care for us when we get old. You know what? I have a brother and he’s a jerk who won’t speak to my father and barely speaks to my mother. Even if he tried (and he won’t), I will never, ever let him anywhere near our parents’ care when they get to that point. Suppose I had another child and that child had special needs? Then I’ve saddled my daughter with care of a sibling for the rest of her life. There are no guarantees in life and you make the best decisions you can based on what’s right for you and your family. Sometimes you find you might have done it differently if you could do it over, but that’s a part of life.
It never even occurs to me to ask other people about things like that – not family, co-workers or friends – unless they bring it up first. It’s just too personal. For all these people know, maybe the pregnancy I had wasn’t planned and I’m just dealing with it. Maybe we’ve been trying and can’t get pregnant again. Maybe the stress of the first child, especially in the toddler years, almost ended my marriage and another child would have been more than our marriage could take.
I love my kid more than anything, but parenthood is hard. The hardest thing ever. I admire the hell out of anyone who knows its not for him or her and admits it. I even admire the people who later change their minds. Nothing wrong with that. But, I want to smack the people who tell them they will change their minds. So condescending!
Lindsay February 1, 2012, 10:28 pm
I appreciate this essay. I’m one of those people who, at the moment, does not plan on having children. Of course, I may change my mind, but I don’t think it’s other people’s place to use that for their own purposes of argument. I think that it’s a lot easier to decide whether you want children or not once you have a significant other whom you plan to be with for the long term. (Now, before you freak out, I am not in a long-term relationship, and I’m not saying that single women know less about what they want. Just that I think it’ll be my final moment of truth.) I just mean that when you can clearly look at the person you’d actually be raising children with, it’s easier to know more about what your life would be like as a mom.
Anyway, I like hearing from other women who don’t want children and who aren’t ashamed by that and who have fulfilled lives anyway.
Miss V February 1, 2012, 11:54 pm
While kids are adorable & always light up a room, I never had the desire to have my own. There are a few reasons likely contributing to that decision. My Mom died when I was 7 & she was 42, my Dad died when I was 21 & he was 57 & even the step monster who cut ties died when she was 54. I would end up dead by age 50 obsessively worrying if I had a kid. Many others I know who’ve lost their parents young also never had kids. We are, however, the coolest aunts & uncles, kids LOVE us! In fact, I never needed to have any since my brother had them all for both me & my other childless sister. He has 6. He was 17 when he had his first, and babysitting my nephews and my niece (the other sister’s 1) next to a river with no fence taught me very early how huge a responsibility it is.
The second reason? I have YET to meet a man I’d want to have any long term ties to. Hell, my ex fiancé, the only guy I’d ever lived with, was like having a teenager, a bad one lol. He actually has 5 (last time I ran into him). But based on how he acted & how we all act during our teen years, yeah um no thanks, I’ll pass on that part.
The final reason is well I can barely afford myself on my salary, so I can only imagine how I’d manage if I were responsible for another. Kudos to all of you single parents out there!
As far as the judgey assholes who get all self righteous about the fact that they’ve procreated & cop the superior ‘tude, FUCK them. They’ve got issues. I did point out to a different ex that he isn’t better than me cuz he had kids, in fact he was the fucking dumbass who did not practice safe sex as a teen & accidently knocked someone up. Yes, sometimes you just have to say the harsh truths about someone out loud to their face. It sure stops the unsolicited opinions!
Megan_A_Mess February 2, 2012, 3:28 pm
“As far as the judgey assholes who get all self righteous about the fact that they’ve procreated & cop the superior ‘tude, FUCK them. They’ve got issues.”
I love you for this. That is all <3
JK February 2, 2012, 4:14 pm
I´d say the same thing goes both ways though, I don´t judge people for not having kids, they shouldn´t judge me for having them (as long as I take good care of them).
Megan_A_Mess February 2, 2012, 7:51 pm
Oh, I agree with you on that, too. Like I said in my original comment, I would never judge someone on wanting to/actually having kids, so that’s why I sometimes get so defensive. I just liked her view point 😀
Leelah February 2, 2012, 12:06 am
Another long time reader, rare poster.
I am 41 years old, and I have known since I was a child that I didn’t want to have children. I’ve heard every argument against this ever: you’ll change your mind, you’re going to miss out, you’ll be lonely in your old age, you would be such a good mother, but you’re a TEACHER, you love kids. It’s best to just accept that all of these are possibilities. LOTS of people change their mind, and I even accepted that as a possibility when I got married. I didn’t know whether or not my hormones would go crazy when I hit 35. As it turns out, they didn’t, and I ended up divorced when my ex changed HIS mind.
I do love kids. I work with them every day at an age when they are AT THEIR WORST, and I still love them. I have two nephews and a baby niece that I see all the time. I moved to be close to them. I’m going on a family vacation to Hawaii with them. I’m staying in a room with the three year old and the nearly two year old. Really, I get all the fun of having kids, but I get to sleep late whenever I want, and I am happy with that!
And I still don’t want kids. I have no regrets.
Renee February 2, 2012, 8:43 am
“but you’re a TEACHER, you love kids. ”
As someone with children, it drives me nuts when people suggest that I become a teacher. I don’t like OTHER peoples children. In fact I read many mommy blogs and I want to vomit. Seriously some of that stuff is complete BS. But I love my children, and they know it. I’m there for them and they trust me.
painted_lady February 2, 2012, 11:28 am
I HATE HEARING THAT!!!! It’s completely irritating – it would be like someone saying you should TOTALLY be a chauffeur because you drive to work everyday. Or a racecar driver. I LOVE my students, but I have no desire to have one of them at home with me.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 11:34 am
Tell em you only like them from 8am to 2pm and then you turn into a child hater 🙂
painted_lady February 2, 2012, 11:44 am
Actually, my standard response is that my favorite about my students is that they go home at the end of the day. I actually tell my students that when they ask if I have kids. They find it hilarious.
And 8-2??? I wish. Try 7:30-6
ele4phant February 2, 2012, 4:34 pm
Haha, I’m not an educator, but my mother was.
One thing that would piss her off (and to an extent me because I observed it my entire childhood) was that people assumed teachers had the sweet life. Waltz in at nine, waltz out the minute the last bell rang at three, get your summers off. Quite the contrary. Yes she got the summers off, but man she earned them.
She’d be at school at least an hour before students showed up, would have lunch duty so she’d never really get a mid-day break, would work well past the end of school, would usually bring work home, went in on weekends (and heck, she would still go in for a few weeks after school ended for summer and again a few weeks before it started back up). And this was to say nothing of the extra “volunteer” responsibilities she had, like advising multiple student clubs, chaperoning dances, serving as look-out for people smuggling in snacks into the gym during games.
She worked pretty much constantly nine months out of the year.
Wendy February 2, 2012, 4:40 pm
My mom is a career middle school English teacher (someone’s gotta do it…). She would agree with this, I’m sure.
Budj February 2, 2012, 4:56 pm
My Mom is a teacher too and her schedule sounds very similar to your Mom’s. haha…she says there are the bad ones that do what everyone thinks every teacher does – but the good ones are putting in a lot of hours.
ele4phant February 2, 2012, 5:31 pm
Haha, yeah. There was one (just one in an entire high school) teacher at my mom’s school that adhered strictly to his contract, came in a half hour before school, left on the dot a half hour extra and did not work after hours. Not a minute more than he was contractually obligated.
However, he was thought of pretty poorly by all of his peers. Its just not possible to do a good job within the time your contract stipulates. If you want to do your job well (and most do, why would you take a demanding, relatively low paying position that routinely gets spat on by people who have NO IDEA what its like, if you didn’t love it?) there will be work done after hours.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 5:06 pm
I didn’t mean to insult you by saying that. I have always assumed the “good” teachers have spent all night doing some of their work. I just meant that you are only WITH the children from morning til 2ish when school lets out. I guess you do the after school program too.
fast eddie February 2, 2012, 12:24 am
I choose to eliminate the ability to make babies because my first wife had a 2 year old from a prior relationship when we got married. Very shortly after the wedding our relationship headed south and it bottomed out in less then 2 years. The kid was pretty normal but he amplified our problems. It was a turning point in my life and I resolved to not have that as a threat to my emotional survival.
This was a deal breaker for several potential relationships in the years that followed. All the women that I was in contact with already had children or wanted some very badly. It got to the point that sex and companionship wasn’t worth the rejection that came from the standard that I’d set for myself. I choose to be celibate for 7 years.
I went sailing for a few months to Mexico and back. During that time I resolved to find someone and make it work no matter what it took. Luckily I encountered an old friend upon my return. She was about a year out of a bad relationship, childless and past the baby years. 23 years later we’re still together and happy to be so. Life is good but from time to time we wish we’d gotten together sooner and had a couple of rug apes. I most likely would have been a lousy father but I’d be a fantastic grandfather.
Renee February 2, 2012, 8:35 am
I learned my lesson early about asking questions.
I was about nine or ten and I would always bother my neighbor who was unmarried without children and had a career at the local utility company. I asked one day while she was gardening, why she didn’t have a husband. She response….
“I do have a husband, I just keep him locked up in the basement.”
Yeah… lesson learned.
In regards to elder care, I do think it is important to always have a younger family member to be your advocate as one ages. As families are smaller, not only will we may not have children, but also our siblings. That means there may not be any nieces or nephews also. Even though we may not be the direct care giver to our parents, aunts, and uncles, many of times we’re the one coordinating what has to be done on their behalf, the initial one to step in and get them services.
Budj February 2, 2012, 11:07 am
After thinking about this a bit I wonder if the reason some people are often so judgemental about other people’s choices in this area is that they feel they need to justify their own choices?
painted_lady February 2, 2012, 11:38 am
I’ve ALWAYS thought that. Like if you even acknowledge someone else’s point of view as valid, then you have to think about it, and deep down you’re worried that if you think about it too much, you’ll realize you chose poorly for yourself.
MsMisery February 2, 2012, 12:49 pm
I think people are judgmental when they’ve never THOUGHT about their life choices. They just followed the Life Script ™. “I have to go to college, meet the Man Of My Dreams, get married, have 2.3 kids, etc.” Did you ever think if YOU really want to do those things or you just grew up being told that’s what everyone does? And when confronted with someone not doing one or more of them, you recoil in horror?
Iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 12:51 pm
I have ALWAYS thought that about this debate for some reason. Some women will try to convince me that I want kids while they have throw up all over them and the child is screaming and they have circles under their eyes. I wonder if they are trying to convince me in an effort to convince themselves they are happy.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 12:56 pm
Haha. That’s funny and sad all at the same time.
Iwannatalktosampson February 2, 2012, 1:15 pm
It’s probably not true, but it just seems like a weird time to try to convince me that they LOVE their lives. It’s like when people brag about how successful and great they are – if they feel the need to brag about it they probably aren’t, you know? Does that make sense? I don’t know I just always find the people that are the most honest about it (like Wendy – you take the good with the bad) the most convincing that they really are happy. Whereas the people that act like they shit rainbows everyday just make me feel like they are trying to convince themselves more than trying to convince me.
In summary – don’t be mad at me LBH!!
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 1:33 pm
Haha, not mad at all! I really enjoyed the discussions yesterday.
And I 100% agree about what you’re saying here. Wendy’s honesty about the good and the bad are unfortunately not common.
Lili February 2, 2012, 4:15 pm
Agreed! I also like taking things in context and the context when you are SO OVER THE TOP in your ‘happiness’ is that its a show. When things are really going well, most people don’t feel a need to show off because they are so caught up in their own happiness.
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 4:51 pm
This made me think of facebook. How people will post their undying love for their SO. Seems fake.
Lili February 2, 2012, 5:10 pm
Facebook is the WORST! And I say that today after having read a check in+ comment on my ex’s page left by his new girl. Its sad because its totally something I would have done had there been ‘check ins’ at that stage of our relationship. I did smirk a little knowing how much he hated said activity when we did it four years ago. I’m petty aren’t I. Sigh. Oh well. At least tonight’s swanky cocktails night with the girls!
lets_be_honest February 2, 2012, 5:14 pm
Aww. Its this kind of behavior that you know is wrong (looking at an ex’s facebook) but you can’t help it sometimes. Try to stop, you will only get upset. You’re already a step in the right direction by ending this by saying girls night! Have fun 🙂
Lili February 2, 2012, 5:21 pm
Thanks LBH! I forgot to mention-the bartender at this bar is MIGHTY cute too 😉
Flake February 2, 2012, 1:42 pm
I think you just don’t understand that you can be tired, have throw up on you, and a screaming kid beside you, and STILL be happy….(also a disclaimer: not you personally IWTTS).
Leroy February 2, 2012, 9:01 pm
I do think that some of that is over compensation, or maybe a form of stockholm syndrome 😉
Because of the few parents I know who are very judgmental of childless men and women, they are consistently people whose lives and identities are dominated by their role as a parent. Typically they don’t have much else to define themselves by, or at least nothing they’re proud of. And that’s not to say every parent who promotes parenthood is guilty of this, but in my experience, the ones who demean childless people as being selfish and immature tend to be.
D February 2, 2012, 11:20 am
I say I am not having kids because I know I am selfish…at least I realize it and don’t put kids through it. My parents already have 8 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. My sister is the only one that still thinks I should be having a kid. My fiance agrees that our lifestyle would have to change more than we want it to and I am in my mid-thirties and he is leaving his mid into his upper 30’s now. Just not something I have ever desired….which confuses people, b/c I LOVE kids, I just love being able to return them.
Budj February 2, 2012, 11:25 am
I LOVE kids, I just love being able to return them.
haha – my feelings in a nut shell…less emphasis on the LOVE though…but I may change my mind on that portion when I become an Uncle.
MsMisery February 2, 2012, 12:46 pm
That’s me, too. Selfish. People always tell me they think I’d be a good mom. I’m like really? I don’t think that. I was an only child and never had ANY experience with little kids…. ever. They’re like little aliens to me. I’d rather buy booze than diapers. Hell, I’d rather have SURGERY than to go a baby shower. I already know that if I’D be better off with no child, then the child probably would, too!
Firegirl32 February 2, 2012, 11:33 am
Best. Story Ever. When I was pregnant, my SIL bought me that terrible handbook for having children…I can’t remember exactly what it was called…but anyway – she went through and crossed out what she didn’t think that we should do and wrote HER OWN advice in the margins. Highlighted passages that I “was required” to read. Know where she is now? In and out of treatment for anorexia and alcoholism – and her two kids get shipped from family member to family member. Thannkfully I was so appalled by her gift I never read it. Another reason I think people should mind their own damn business! 🙂
jlyfsh February 2, 2012, 11:38 am
haha when my best friend found out she was expecting she got 12 books on being a new mother in the first week! 12! our other friend and i got her a massage and this hilarious card i wish i had bought more of about things people say to new mothers. we told her the massage was for the neck pain she was going to have after reading all 12 of those books 😉
Allison February 2, 2012, 11:37 am
I don’t want kids either, will someone take mine? 🙂
Firegirl32 February 2, 2012, 12:05 pm
Depends. Do they know how to fix drinks and pour wine? 😛
MsMisery February 2, 2012, 12:42 pm
I don’t want kids either, and I almost could have written this article (people seem to have all the same stuff to say to us child-free women). The difference between the author and me is that I am single, which makes me even MORE Discovery-Channel-worthy. Now I just need to “find the ‘right man.'” Nevermind that I am single by choice, and if by some cosmic LOL, I did end up in a relationship, any man who wanted kids would be the “wrong” man. I am just lucky that MOST of my family and friends know me well enough to know and accept (if not understand) my choices. Though I am not really sure how much of it is choice- most people I know that have kids have always wanted them and have always known they were going to have them (kinda like people have always known their orientation). I’ve always known the opposite.
LizB February 2, 2012, 2:05 pm
I am about 90% sure I don’t want children. It could change if I meet a guy that I could see myself having kids with. That’s hasn’t happened yet. The main issue for me is that I’d rather regret not having kids than regret having them. Most people would say nobody regrets having kids, but I think that does happen.
kerrycontrary February 2, 2012, 7:20 pm
I think strangers asking people if they want kids/are going to have kids is rude to begin with. My sister is in her mid-thirties and married for 4-5 years, even we (as in my family) don’t ask if her and her husband want kids. What if they do but they are having problems or something? either way its no ones business.
Sue Jones February 2, 2012, 7:23 pm
My first BF always knew he did not want to have kids and offered at age 20 to have a vasectomy. I wasn’t sure and I told him to wait. Well he never did end up having any. I did but not until it was almost too late and I love parenting, but in my 20’s I would have made a lousy parent. Interestingly enough, NONE of my 3 other significant relationships (before my husband) ever went on to have kids (not sure what that said about me that I kept choosing these sorts of men)…. my husband came with one already so at the least I knew I would be part of a family once I got with him and then we had one together. I think I really wanted that.
I sincerely believe that if you do not want kids, then you should not have them. Not everyone makes a good parent, and if you do not want them in the first place, odds are that you would not enjoy parenting. Plus there is a lot more financial planning that really should take place in order to afford college and your own retirement, etc.
a_y February 2, 2012, 10:02 pm
Long time reader, first time commenter. I also do not want kids. I met a great guy from an online dating site a few months ago. We recently broke up when he confessed his impregnation fantasies to me!!! I am still wondering how he missed the “doesn’t want kids” part of my profile…
KKZ February 3, 2012, 1:37 pm
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this. I’ve actually been meaning to write something similar.
My husband and I are 24. We were high school sweethearts got married when he was 22 and I was 21. And at first everyone kept saying Oh no, you go ahead and WAIT to have kids, you’re too young! etc. etc. But I knew the time would come when we’d get badgered about “starting a family.” Luckily, his brother and his cousins who have also recently married are busy popping out babies, the heat is off us for now.
And you know what, for the first couple years of our marriage, we were both assuming that kids would be part of the plan down the line. Being ready financially was a big concern, and we were (and still are) FAR from that, so we didn’t give it a lot of serious thought. Over the past few years I had started thinking about that plan and while I wasn’t against the idea of having kids someday, it started dawning on me that I also didn’t have a pressing need or desire to be a mother. And the more I thought about it, the closer I came to the conclusion that I would be happy even if we never had children. But I was still under the understanding that my husband was planning on kids, and since I still wasn’t against the idea persay, I didn’t bring it up with him.
Then one day last fall we were walking through a park near a playground where kids were playing hide-and-seek, being silly like kids are. And we laughed and smiled and went “Ah, children. Someday.” And then my husband said “Yeah, or maybe not.” I was surprised, and then instantly relieved. We talked about it a little more and realized that we were both on the same page: that our plan for our future doesn’t have to include kids, and that’s OK by both of us. I was so relieved, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: We’re NOT having kids!
It’s not CHILDREN that are the problem with me. It’s the thought of being a parent. Not only does part of it scare me sh*tless, it also just doesn’t sound very appealing to me personally. I don’t think I’m cut out for it – and no, that doesn’t make me feel like less of a woman. We love the lives we’re living now, and for us, having kids is just not worth giving up all of our freedom to chase after what we want, devote attention to our careers, and spend our money on ourselves. Not now, maybe not ever.
Now, we haven’t broken the news to our families yet. Our close friends know, but the most indication we’ve given our parents is correcting them when they say “when you have kids” to “IF we have kids.” I admit, we mostly do that to test their reaction, and so far they’ve kind of waved it off. There hasn’t really been a good opportunity to say “Hey, by the way, we’re pretty sure we’re not interested in having kids…at all.” (There are so many cute and clever ways to announce a pregnancy to family, but not many models for the opposite conversation.)
But I do fear all of the comments you mentioned here, people thinking we’re selfish, or that we’re too young to know what we want, that I’m less of a woman somehow, that we’ll be unfulfilled without the traditional family, etc. etc. I do occasionally have the worry that growing old together, just the two of us, might affect our relationship in ways I can’t foresee. I do worry that we’ll drift from our friends if and when they start having children. And sometimes I do feel selfish. “I don’t wanna have kids so I can spend all my money on myself” does sound like a selfish attitude. But overall, I’m coming to terms with the notion that I’m not OBLIGATED, nor have I ever been, to have children. And it does NOT make me less of a woman.
Again…thank you for writing this. So nice to see my own thoughts and feelings reflected in others.
natasiarose February 4, 2012, 9:54 am
I think this is becoming more and more common. I’m really surprised by some of the comments on this thread. If the author wants to enjoy a child free life, that’s her choice. It doesn’t affect anyone else.
Ravage Maladie February 8, 2012, 5:53 pm
No one will read this, but THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK you, writer of the original article and all the commenters!
I’m 30, have been together with my boyfriend for 10 years and I’ve have never wanted kids (luckily my man’s on board with that). It’s virtually impossible to find positive role models for this stance in (my) real life. At best I get awkward respect and wonder, at worst I get shameless prying and the confrontational approach: “Why not? What are you afraid of??” I only know of one older woman who never had kids and truly has never wanted them. Everybody else has them, is in the process of having them, wants them or has wants them but is having trouble conceiving.
I read this all the way through with a breath of relief and a smile on my face. I’M NOT ALONE:)
Renate September 25, 2017, 1:36 am
Dear Wendy, having children or not, it is entirely your decision. I will not judge or criticise you. I am raising two beautiful children so I will not criticise you at all. With my two little people I know how difficult it is, my life has changed completely. Things I used to do no longer possible and I feel life is in standstill at the moment especially with a 3yr-old and my second, 9 months old. But it is my decision and I wouldn’t expect from you to criticise it.
Wendy my love, I can only encourage you that all hard times will pass by even though that is my prayer presently. Life without children feels so empty later in life. I have worked with the elderly when I was in the care field, 99% of my clients thought they made the biggest mistake of their lives. Only if you’re that 1% which we can’t predict, can we?
I can’t talk for your partner as we don’t know what the future upholds, but I pray he all last between you both that neither of you will regret this joint decision.
Again, I will not criticise because children are long-term commitment, and it is very hard especially if you want to be a good parent and want to make them feel they’re meant to be part of your world.
Dear Wendy September 25, 2017, 5:49 am
This essay was written by a guest columnist not me, Wendy. I, myself, have two kids and as much as I love them, I would never encourage someone who didn’t want children to have them. Kids are an enormous amount of work. A complete and 100% lifestyle change. And you can have full and happy lives without the. Considering that you didn’t even notice that this was written by a guest columnist, despite it clearly stating that in the first paragraph, I hesitate to trust that you clearly understood 100% of your elderly clients about their biggest mistake in life. Even if you had, and they were of sound mind and totally regretted not having kids, they can’t know what having children would have been like any more than someone who did have kids could know what life without them would have been life.
You were right with your first inclination: having kids may have been your de visions, but don’t expect it from everyone or criticize different choices.