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Monday, November 19, 2012

Motherhood Mondays: Would you ever decide to NOT have kids?

We talk a lot about babies, but what about making the choice not to have children? Would you consider that? Here, five readers reveal their fascinating reasons...

Even asking the question "Why don't you want kids?" makes a statement. "People are still expected to provide reasons not to have children, but no reasons are required to have them," wrote Christine Overall in the New York Times. "It's assumed that if individuals do not have children it is because they are infertile, too selfish or have just not yet gotten around to it. In any case, they owe their interlocutor an explanation. On the other hand, no one says to the proud parents of a newborn, Why did you choose to have that child? What are your reasons? The choice to procreate is not regarded as needing any thought or justification."

Funnily enough, my mom's husband—who, as a retired psychology professor, is unfailingly philosophical—turned to me one morning at breakfast when I was pregnant with Toby. "Why do you want to have a baby?" he asked me. "It's just like having a pet." After thinking about it, I laughed; he was kind of right. In the past, families may have needed kids to help work on the farm and that kind of thing, but for us there was no real reason to have a baby. I just wanted children in such a deep way that it felt separate from rational analysis.

But what if you don't feel that way? Many people don't—in fact, nearly one-in-five American women now ends her childbearing years without giving birth, up from one-in-ten in the 1970s, according to a 2010 Pew study. Of course some of those women may have wanted children and couldn't have them for whatever reason; but others simply chose not to.

Here, five wonderful readers spoke to me on the phone about why they've decided—definitively—not to have kids...

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Jean, 31, Portland, married
“I’d be the biggest basketcase mother.”


I get stressed out easily. When I was little, I was the kid who freaked out when my brother went to high school because I thought he’d start doing drugs! I get really anxious about people I care about. When I got older, I realized that the fewer people I get really attached to, the less anxious I get. I’ve loved my husband since I was 14, and when we finally got married I felt like I'd won the lottery. He’s the first person I’ve been truly attached to other than my parents and brother, and that brought on a whole new level of anxiousness. I realized how much that would get amplified if I had kids. I’d be an emotional wreck. If my kids went to school and got teased, I wouldn’t be able to handle that. I think about the teenage years; oh my gosh, I would probably die. I want to spare myself that.

It’s about knowing yourself well enough to know what is best and what you can handle. Right now we have a cat, and it’s perfect. In couple years, when we slow down, we get a dog. And they won’t turn on me and tell me they hate me when they’re 12.

When my friends had kids, I felt that emotional hormonal rush like, “Oh, I need to have a baby.” But the logical part of my brain was like, “No, you shouldn’t.” Still, I feel that twinge. It’s really hard because you do have to be honest. I love kids. I do want them. But I’ve chosen to not have them. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I had to look at myself honestly and think, oh my gosh, I would be the biggest basketcase mom. You want to make the decision from your good-choice-making brain, not the I-need-to-be-a-mama side of your brain.

It’s weird because if you say you don’t want to have kids, everyone assumes you’re selfish or not nurturing or not compassionate. For me, that that’s not the case. I still have that strong desire to nurture something. I tell my husband, I still need something to take care of. I need to get some chickens.

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Christina, 38, NYC, in a relationship
“I didn’t want to end up like my mom.”


I didn't have the happiest childhood with two parents who loved and respected each other, so the idea of having a husband and children was never one of my life goals. The women who fascinated me the most were the ones who never married and never had kids and got to travel everywhere and live life on their own terms. My mother said repeatedly that she ruined her life by getting married and having a child (thanks, Mom!).

As a single person, my mother worked for Pan Am and loved it. But then she got married and moved across the country. And my dad wasn’t exactly Husband Of The Year. So all of a sudden she’s stuck with an alcoholic philandering husband and a kid in the California suburbs. She would have been so much happier as a single career woman, versus a stay-at-home mom in the ’burbs.

If I’d grown up in a family where being married was the best thing that ever happened to them and having a child was the second best thing, I might feel differently. But I don’t know…I always knew I didn’t want to end up like my mom. The whole image of having a husband and a kid isn’t always rosy.

The women I looked up to were the ones who didn’t have to do the family thing. They were so well-traveled and glamorous. And they seemed happy even if other people looked down on them. People in my family would say, “Oh, there’s Aunt Connie, she’s the spinster.” But she seemed perfectly happy to me!

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Alexandra, 30, NYC, married
“I want to have a grown-up life.”


Growing up, you figure that you’re going to have kids. But one day in my early twenties, it kind of dawned on me: Who says I have to? What if I didn’t? I never had that overwhelming desire to have kids, like lots of women seem to.

When I met my husband, we fell madly in love, and we both admitted early on that we didn’t want children. People say you’ll regret it at Thanksgiving when you’re 50 and you’re not surrounded by family, but to be honest, I’d rather be sitting at Thanksgiving with my husband.

I like the idea of grown-up activities. It’s not like I have a specific hobby, I just really like the grown-up life. If I’m not going to recitals, that’s ok with me. I want to be married, not married with a child.

Still, I’m one of those people who gaze at every single baby photo on Facebook. It’s not that I hate children; that’s just not the life that I want. When my first really good friend had her baby, I cried out of sheer joy for her. But it actually strengthened my feelings about not wanting to have children because I felt overwhelming pride for her but no jealousy.

I read all these stories, like Moms Unite! And I kind of want to be like, Women Unite! I feel like I’m part of a minority. Why can’t we all help each other and be nice to each other? You don’t always have to identify yourself with a group. You can just be a person.

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Muriel, 26, Atlanta, in a relationship
“I have different priorities.”


Deciding not to have kids is tough to talk about. It’s like being a teenager and feeling self-conscious about your body. When you say, I don’t want kids, people look at you in a certain way. You think, oh my god, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I should have just smiled and nodded. You feel that same awkward teenage feeling, like my legs are too long, I’m too tall, I have acne.

I was on the fence for a while. My mom wanted grandkids, so I went back and forth… procreation, human beings, evolution...I thought about all of that. But in the end, it wasn’t right for me.

For some people, parenthood is their calling. I respect that. Whereas for other people, it’s not in their personality. Some people are meant to be artists, some people are meant to work in finance, some people are meant to be parents. And some people aren’t. You don’t want someone who is bad with numbers dealing with your IRA.

People say, what do you mean you don’t want to have kids? This is the pinnacle of your existence! This is what we’re here for! And I’m like, I’m sorry, it isn’t. My friends are like, when are you getting married and having kids? That’s when you’re an adult. But I’m like, no, I’m a homeowner, I have a good job, I travel, I have a car…I’m a grown-up!

Remember that Atlantic article about having it all? She defined "having it all" as having a job, marriage and kids. But in the end we’re all different people. Our “all” is not the same for everyone. My “all” might be, I want to travel and visit the entire continent of Asia. For you, it might be you want to have three kids, one boy and two girls. For another person, it might mean working for the Peace Corps for the next 15 years. We’re all different people, we all have different dreams, so it’s kind of sad that we’re all placed under the same umbrella.

I don’t have that feeling that I want to have babies. I have other priorities in my life. I have friends where even though their kid just pooped all over them, they’re like, this is the greatest joy I’ve ever had. But I’m not that person.

I first told my mom on my birthday, because I figured then she couldn’t yell at me. She was taken aback and sad at first, but really supportive once she heard my reasons.

If you decide not to have kids, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. We all have free will; we should all be able to make our decisions regardless of other people’s beliefs. You have the right to do whatever you need to do to chase your dreams and love your life.

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Cat, 30, Brooklyn, married
“I never had that maternal calling.”


My entire life, I knew that having kids wasn’t for me. I really think it comes down to human biology. Most people have an urge to create a copy of themselves. But I never felt that way.

It’s such a major life change. It’s not something that anyone should enter into flippantly. If you met a base jumper, they wouldn’t be like, come on, base jump! What do you have to lose? And having a kid, it’s at least 25 years of life, most of your money, potentially affects your body and relationship…for people who harass you about it, it doesn’t make sense.

When my brother had a kid, I was like, what will I do? I honestly don’t enjoy the company of children 90% of the time. But fortunately I had some really great aunts in my family, so I was like, I want to be a good aunt. Partially because my brother has really different political views, so I wanted to imprint mine on them as much as possible!

One day, my mom was like, are you sure? Are you really serious? I was like, Mom, I’ve thought about this a lot. Now she steps up and says, Catherine’s going to be the very best aunt.

When I met my husband, we talked about it early on. He feels the exact same way that I do. However, I’ve seen women who say no, no, no, but then they reach their thirties and they’re frantic to have a kid. So I told my husband that if my opinions ever started changing, we should have some talk-down speeches ready for me. And when my husband wanted to be a high-school teacher, I imagined him getting soft, so we made up some talk-down speeches for him, too, just in case! But we haven’t needed them.

More than anything, we’ve never felt a calling. There are three positions people should probably feel a calling for: any sort of religious leadership, teaching or childrearing. People shouldn’t do it because of expectations or because their parents did it. They’re such influential roles; no one should take those positions lightly.

********

Another reason to choose not to have children is financial. My friend Corrie took financial concerns into account when deciding whether or not to have a baby, and the New York Times just published an essay about opting out of parenthood with finances in mind.

What about you? Where do you fall on the scale? Were you born to be a mother? Do you definitely not want kids? Or somewhere in between? I'd love to hear your thoughts...and thank you to these wonderful women for bravely and honestly sharing their insights!

P.S. My friend Corrie's fascinating essay about trying to decide whether or not to have a baby.

(Top photo of Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn, who never had kids)

526 comments:

1 – 200 of 526   Newer›   Newest»
AVY said...

What I do no is that some people just shouldn't have children, or animals, or jobs.

/Avy

http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

Erika said...

Very interesting post! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it's sad that society feels the need to pressure women to have children. It should be a personal choice, and reading these women's differing views was very eye-opening. Thanks!

HayleyR said...

It is a very interesting question. Personally I can't imagine not having my daughter and one day I hope to have a houseful of kids. I do think it's sad though that society still pressures women/couples to have children. Xx

tablespoons said...

By the way, the picture is of Spencer Tracy, not Cary Grant!

Mary said...

Love this article. I have always felt the calling, but I think it's wonderful when people who do not want kids realize that they should not bring children into the world "just because."

P.S. The man in the picture with Katharine Hepburn is Spencer Tracy, not Cary Grant.

Lady Calgary said...

Such an interesting post! I have a friend who doesn't want kids, and it's perfect for her. I thought for a long time that it could go either way for me - then I fell in love with such an awesome dude and it's set in stone - kids for sure! Just not yet. :)

ale norris said...

i never wanted children when i was younger, so up until i was about 23 i made the decision that i would just travel the world instead. but then i met my husband, and suddenly it was like i HAD to have children! it was a really interesting thing for me to see/feel happen to myself. so we're still waiting a few years to have them, because we want it to just be "us" for a couple of years and get a lot of traveling done. but i can say that i absolutely understand men & women out there who decide that parenting isn't for them. i don't think it's selfish - they know themselves better than anyone else and know what they would or wouldn't be good at or want to do.
-ale

Belle on Heels said...

We definitely do want kids, but the financial aspect is why we haven't even started trying. We're newlyweds, both college-educated and employed, but we are still getting our footing. My husband has outrageous student loans, we have a car payment, and I don't feel like we have nearly enough in savings. I don't feel like I will be at a place where I'm comfortable with having kids until we're more financially stable.

That said, there are a TON of women I went to high school with, my age, who have multiple children and I know that their household income is significantly less than ours. I recognize that I also have expensive taste and I LIKE that the DINK status allows me to buy pretty shoes and go out for nice dinners. I'm not ready to give up that part of our life yet!

Sarah @ Two Blue Lemons said...

Thanks for sharing this side! I love to crawl into women's heads no matter what the subject and this is a great one.

Liz Daley said...

That's not Cary Grant, it's Spencer Tracy. ;-)

Janae @ Bring-Joy said...

I am a mother of 4 & quite young (29). I understand why these women don't want to have kids, & thank you Joanna, for sharing their stories.

Personally, I thank God every day for the opportunity to have my kids in my life. There are days that are really, really hard. But I can't imagine anything else being more fulfilling than what I am doing now. It's much more than changing diapers & wiping snotty noses. It's about being a part of the wonderful process called growing up. To be an integral, life-changing part of that, is well, humbling.

And I would respectfully disagree with your FIL in who says kids are just like pets. Some obvious differences that I'm sure, for a person as intelligent as he, would recognize.

Sarah said...

I totally relate to the "wanting a grown-up life" one. I love kids and I love all my friends' kids and my nieces and nephews, and I love to look at all the pictures of them at the zoo and at recitals and little league games...but I'm always THRILLED it's not me who has to go. My husband and I love to travel to all sorts of crazy, foreign places, and we love to eat at all sorts of different and unique restaurants, I just don't want to give that up to have a baby. But yay for everyone who does!

Pamela said...

Yes, that is definitely Spencer Tracy. Oops.

As to all the reasons ... everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, just as I am. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the belief that one is a basket case, ergo children are not in the cards. Or that the pursuit of a grown up life trumps the responsibility we have in leaving legacies of thoughtful, intelligent, and kind posterity (adoption is always an option for people who scream, "Overpopulation!")

I do, however, agree that one shouldn't procreate just for the sake of societal norms. It is a calling and thankfully, with overpopulation in mind -- lol, many people make the decision not to have children.

K. Britt said...

I really liked this post. I don't plan on having kids and luckily for me my immediate family is ok with that. I would like to add, though, that I'm pretty sure that it is Spencer Tracy in the picture.

Martina said...

I LOVE this post! I'm up there with most of these answers (mainly Jean and Alexandra). I guess when I was younger (I'm 27 now) I always thought having children was something one simply 'does' - no questions! And then it dawned on me that I actually have a choice! Ever since then, I thought about having children A LOT and I realized I'm 99% sure (never say never, right?) it's not for me. I love kids but I'm a very anxious person and, also, I completely agree with Cat's comment - 'there are three positions people should probably feel a calling for: any sort of religious leadership, teaching or childrearing'. I just don't seem to have that calling. What annoys me a bit is the fact that whenever I tell someone about my decision, their answer either seems to be a) ahh but you'll change your mind soon! b) uh... are you sure?? (basically they're freaked out). Anyway, whenever I see people who are not nice to their kids, it breaks my heart and I always think maybe they should have thought about their 'calling' a bit more too. Sorry if I'm not making much sense! :) xxx

utkate said...

Definitely don't want kids. I've been married for 3 years and my husband feels the same way - one day we were just talking about the future and both of us kind of said it at the same time...it's just not something either of us has ever desired. We get a LOT of pushback (I think this is especially true for me) from coworkers and acquaintances. People ask us relatively frequently when we plan to have children (I'm almost 30 + 3 years of marriage) and when we answer that we don't want to have kids there's almost always shock and then...my least favorite response..."Oh, you'll change your mind!" Don't think so, but thanks for being able to read my future! Fortunately our families and close friends have been really understanding - I think my mom is a little sad she won't get to be a grandparent, but from the beginning she has told me that if we don't want kids, we shouldn't have them.

Melanie Molloy said...

All perfectly legitimate reasons to not have children. Who are we to judge people's decisions? We live this life once and everyone has the right to live it exactly how they want to its full potential. I couldn't imagine a life without children, but respect those individuals who completely and totally enjoy their lives without feeling the need to have children because 'it is just what you do'...That's one of the worst reasons to Have children!

Lillian said...

Man, I'm so on the fence about this one. I love children, feel like I have a strong maternal instinct, and I have strong connections with many children in my life. But when I think about giving up a lot of my alone time, adult time, and not being able to afford things like travel and figuring out how to keep my job or move into a new field while caring for a new born, I stumble and think maybe I shouldn't have kids. I think this probably means I'm just not ready at this point. I guess time will tell! :)

kati said...

so fascinating!! i have my two kids and love them dearly, of course. but i am still jealous of my no-kid friends' lifestyles and even my one-kid friends' lifestyles! every choice has pros and cons.

Erin said...

This comment is like philosophical spam.

Jody Johnson said...

Interesting post. As someone who always thought they would have kids. . .and didn't. . .and now wonders why I DID want them, I can identify.

The truth is there are an equal amount of pros and cons to having/not having them. And why would anyone wish a child on someone who DOESN'T want them-no matter what the reason.

Kristin @ w/milk and sugar said...

I loved reading all these women's thoughts and reasons. I definitely have a very strong desire to be a mother someday, but I recognize that not everyone feels that way. I grew up with my mom telling me that people who never had children were selfish, but as I've grown up I've had to change my thinking and realize that there's so much more to it. We all have this one life (unless you believe otherwise) and how we choose to live it is a personal decision, and should not to be determined by others or society's norm.

kristen said...

i loved this post!!! loved loved loved it! i am a mother of 5 kids, and i am so happy to be a mom, but i have a daughter who is showing very little interest in having children. of course, at first, this completely broke my heart cause she's so cute and smart and i wanted her to pass on those incredible looks and brains, but she explained to me her reasons (she's very wise for her age) and then after reading the insights of these 5 women i am in tears! i get it now. so, if she still chooses not to bare children, i completely and utterly understand and accept it. she's my daughter, i'll love her always.

Jill Browning said...

My husband and I are stopping at one child (for various reasons), and I also identify with a lot of what these 5 ladies said. I'm starting to feel like "one child" is the new "no children"...

tamara said...

I'm 26 and rather sure I don't want to have children. I used to be more sure, but my long-time boyfriend has always wanted kids, and it's not something I'm totally opposed to--it would be a conversation to have when we're a little older. My views may change.

Erin said...

I've thought about not having kids. And I still have a ton of time to decide, but I think if I DO end up wanting to procreate, I'll stop at one. Or adopt. It's not the worst thing in the world to choose, but some women balk at the idea of not rearing kids.

Meadow said...

Interesting read. I'm on the fence but leaning towards having a kid. I too value having my time, space, adult things, money etc., but I think you can do it all. I admire women like you, Joanna, who juggle the work-baby-husband and make it look glamorous. I don't feel that crazy urge to procreate, but I think I would regret not having a kid. I don't have much experience around children but I do like them. And I know my guy would be a wonderful father.

Malia said...

So interesting. I was on the fence for a while about having children for a lot of the same reasons, but when it really came down to it I couldn't imagine not having them when I'm older. Of course now I'm pregnant and while I'm happy about having children, I have to say when people ask "Are you excited?" I feel a little like I'm over dramatizing how excited I really am (for their sake or maybe for mine so I don't feel like they are judging me for doing back flips or something).

heather jenkinson said...

That was brilliant. And it arrived in my life and an insanely good time. Thank you.

Erin and Cliff said...

Why is it "sad that society still pressures women/couples to have children?" A society is a living thing, all healthy living things strive to survive and thrive. If we do not procreate, what is going to happen to our society? - it will over generations soon disappear. So I think it is natural that a society encourage women/couples to have children. It shows that we are part of a healthy and thriving society!

Jessica D said...

Thank you for this post. I normally skip your blog on Mondays because I do not have children and don't think I ever want to (I say think because I'm really not sure). I am married and do feel the pressure to have children from my mother in law and co workers. It is if I am expected to have them. My husband and I have a very open dialogue about it, he wants kids, I'm on the fence leaning towards not. I am 30 and do feel like I need to make a decision already!
P.S. That is a picture of Spencer Tracy with Hepburn, not Cary Grant!

Carrie said...

I love your picture of my peeps! Tracy&Hepburn are wonderful together.

As far as the post is concerned, my husband and I want to have kids but financially we're really concerned about it. Daycare is SO expensive. We'll probably have kids but some days we wonder if we will be able to afford to.

newyorknonsense said...

I never can fully grasp those who don't want to have children. I understand the words people use behind the reasons, but I can never quite understand the absence of wanting to be a mom. That's all I've ever wanted in life. I just love kids. But, I guess it's true that those who don't feel this way can't quite grasp WHY I want those things. To each their own.

Katie said...

My parents were so bad I feared that I would be too emotionally unstable to be a good mom, kind of like the first person. But then a counselor told me she thought I would be a good mom because my super awareness of my feelings and actions would prevent me from being a bad parent. It does seem like some people wouldn't make good parents, and I'm impressed by those people who realize that about themselves.

J+H @ Beyond The Stoop said...

i also wonder how many women that "choose not to have children" freeze eggs for the "just in case". i certainly would!! maybe that day would come when you would get that "feeling" and nature says it's too late, but a surrogate would suffice...

colleen e. schaffer said...

On another note... I could be mistaken but I believe that image is of Spencer Tracy!

Rachel said...

My husband and I do not want kids at this time in our life. I don't feel like I have to take one side or another. I have never had that maternal instinct and therefore don't feel the need to have children. My husband is supportive and doesn't want kids either. We talk about it at least once a year and make sure we are both still on the same page. I'm not ruling it out entirely. In a few years when I'm in my 30s I may feel entirely different and be ready to be a mother.

In the meantime, though, I haven't felt the need to sit my mother and mother-in-law down to tell them the news. Frankly, it's none of their business and I know would disappoint them.

Some of my friends have children and I know it is such a blessing to them. I'm so happy for them. However, I have friends who felt like they had to have children because of society and they are terrible, unhappy parents. It's not fair to those children to impose some sort of society imagine.

KristyK said...

I was not born to be a mother, but my husband sooooo wants a baby. And I cannot deny him that opportunity (I love him too much). I told him I would take care of the baby as long as he took care of the toddler-teenage years. :)

Gray Skies said...

I've never wanted babies, but I've always wanted a family. I like the idea of being 60 and having all my kids and their spouses over for the holidays. But I have a disinterested attitude towards little children - I've never felt any kind of nurturing instinct towards a child, and the idea of being pregnant repulses me. In fact, I will probably get my tubes tied soon. But I do want a family, so I think eventually my husband and I will adopt children, and even though the first few years will probably not be great for me, I think eventually I'll be happy we did it.

Kelly said...

I am 23, about to be 24, and have known from a very early age, probably 12 years old, that I didn't want to have children. So many of the girls I went to high school with are now married with a child, have a child, or are engaged or/and pregnant. That is not for me. I always get the "well WHY do you not want to have children?" shoved at me, and it's quite frankly rude and backs me into the corner of feeling like I'm a shitty person for not wanting to procreate. I have always had a very low tolerance of children, and it seldom that I encounter a child that I can handle for any given amount of time before it effects my nerve levels. I simply do not wish to have children, it is not anyones choice but my own and I just wish others would accept that all women do not want children or feel the need to have a copy of themselves. Thanks for this post!

Sarah Tucker said...

Such a great post! I personally can't wait to have kids, but I do take finances into account. I am similar to @Bell On Heels in that my husband and I are both college educated, great jobs, but we just want to enjoy it being us for a couple more years and then consider where we are in life. Once you have a baby, there is no turning back and everything starts revolving around that tiny little person. Coming from someone who wants 4 kids...I am just not ready for a tiny person to take up my Saturday mornings and weekend getaways!

-Sarah {tuckerup.blogspot.com}

Court said...

Thanks for this post! I'm 29 and married, and have never felt that maternal instinct. On a vacation with my parents this year, I finally had a serious conversation with my mom about not wanting to have children. She's always pushed for grandkids, and I don't think she really took me seriously before when I said I didn't want kids. I was shocked when she asked, sincerely, if I didn't want kids because I thought that SHE regretted having kids. That isn't it at all- I know that she is happy with the sacrifices that she and my dad have made to raise two kids. It's just that I dont know if I would be ok with the same sacrifices. In the end, it does come down to finances to a degree- I have the luxury of being self employed, but we live in a modest condo. We travel a lot, but sacrifice other luxuries. If we had a child, we wouldn't be able to afford to travel or entertain as much as we do now. And for us, that's a deal breaker. Some people might call this selfish, but I'm with Muriel- it's all about what "having it all" means to me. On a side note- I have also always known that if I did decide to have kids, I wanted to adopt them. This creates its own set of financial barriers, and I like to look at those as a safe guard. If my biological clock kicks in one day, I'll be forced to prepare financially before ever adopting a child. It also eases some of the timing pressures that pregnancy create. If I wake up at 45, I've seen the world, and decide I want to be a mother, I can still do that!

Ellen Johnson said...

This is very interesting! My interest was piqued by Muriel's story, particularly when I read the teaser "I have different priorities." Because I think that is a key to the decision: priorities. I respect Muriel, and others like her, that recognize that having a child is a big deal and it needs to be a priority. If there are other things that are more important to you, that can (and should!) influence your decision.

Unlike Muriel and the other lovely ladies featured in this post, it's always been a priority in my life to have children, and moreover, to stay home with my children. And boy, do I get a lot of negative feedback about this decision! Lots of accusations that I must be unfulfilled, that I should go back to work one day, that I'm not contributing to society, that I should have a career. But why? Being a mother and raising my children fulfills me. This is how I contribute to society, this is my all, this is my "having everything."

Like Muriel said, we all have free will. We all choose our priorities and how we want to live our life. It's nice to see a respectful and intellectual dialogue about these different choices.

ElisabethSpace said...

Hot button issue time!! :)
As someone who thinks she doesn't want children (I'm 35, so I've thought on this quite a bit), I genuinely appreciate posts like this that help me realize there are plenty of other people like me who are willingly going down the road less traveled. To the women who have never had the experience of telling their parents, boyfriends, friends or coworkers this, it can definitely be difficult. So many people can't identify with this feeling and it can almost create a rift where there wasn't one before. Live and let live, friends.

Gabriella said...

I'm in my mid-twenties and I know quite a few women my age who say they don't want to have children. I think it's great that not having children by choice is becoming more widely accepted as a perfectly normal option. I admire the self-knowledge of people who realize parenthood is not for them -- that seems the opposite of selfish! To my mind, there are too many people who felt pressured into having children and never really wanted to -- the results can be terrible. It's one of life's truly inescapable commitments, so I think it's necessary to have the deep desire and the right temperament, among other things.

Jessica Valenti wrote about this in The Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/not-wanting-kids-is-entirely-normal/262367/

Vanessa said...

I LOVE this. What affirmation I feel from this article, the other womens' perspectives and your commenters. Just how some people and some couples couldn't FATHOM going through life as non-parents, the calling has never felt particularly laid upon me- to procreate that is.

My husband and I are capable of creating a baby (as far as we know), but feel a strong urge/desire/calling/need to foster and eventually adopt as opportunity presents itself. We've receieved plenty of questions about infertility. But in our minds we aren't sure why we'd ever create a baby to fulfill our need to parent when there are so many children who are parentless.

I too wish it were more common to ask, "why are you choosing to have children,"- even if the answer is simply, "because I have a deep maternal desire to be pregnant and have a baby," it somehow makes it seem more "fair" that the other side of the aisle have an answer to a question us non-procreators are asked on a regular basis!

Adriana said...

Oh the NY Times has an article similar to Cat's perspective on being a great aunt instead, but from a gay man's point of view.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/fashion/a-role-he-was-born-to-play.html?pagewanted=all

Adriana

Heather said...

Interesting post. I have to say, I think it is kind of sad to not want to have children out of fear of anxiety. I heard someone say once, that you shouldn't let fear make your decisions for you.
Also, I would love to hear from older women who decided not to have children. I wonder what they would say about their decision from more of a "hindsight" perspective.

Kayla @ Freckles in April said...

I've always known I wanted kids and for a long time was kind of confused by people who didn't. But now that I actually HAVE kids and realize how life changing they are, I totally understand people who don't want them. I adore being a mother but it's definitely not for everyone!

Hope said...

I'm 26, pre-married, and I am planning on having children with my boyfriend/future husband. I don't feel a visceral, all-consuming urge to have children, nor am I jealous of my friends that have children, I just think that if I have kids I won't regret it, and if I don't have kids then I might regret it. We have talked about starting to try in 2-3 years, but it also depends on where I am in my career at that point.

Kate said...

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn also never married, because he was a rather strict Catholic and so never divorced his first wife!

Lindsay said...

Oh, thank you so much for this post. I'm struggling with finding my way through this issue right now (I'm 31, married). Growing up, and even today, I feel like I'm surrounded by women who want to have kids, and I often feel like there's something wrong with me because I don't. Thank you for providing such awesome role models regarding this issue.

Mindy Day said...

I have always felt such a strong urge to have children, it is hard to even contemplate the notion of not wanting children. Perhaps this is why we want reasons, because we love ours so much.

That being said, no one likes being bookmarked as anything- we all so much more than just mothers or wives or managers.

heather said...

My husband and I made the choice not to have children before we got married. It has never been a strong desire for either of us. We have been blessed with supportive families that respect our choice and have never felt a pressure from them to conform to societal norms. I decided long ago that I would be the best aunt ever. I love my nieces and nephews fiercely, as if they were my own.

Becoming a parent is an awesome long term responsibility, one that I have never felt driven to. And about the whole, you'll be lonely when you are older... Being the best aunt ever has its rewards to. I have no doubt that my nieces and nephews will invite me to holiday dinners with their families and love on me until I am gone.

megan said...

I am a mother now but before I was never certain that I have a child. I totally understand not wanting to have a child. It changes your life entirely in good and bad ways however the good out ways the bad by a ton. Having a child is so much joy and so much stress. i would not trade this experience for anything. I am now in the position of deciding whether or not have another child. People always say you just can't have 1. Like I am ruining my son and spoiling and depreiving him at the same time. I am having a harder time deciding to have a second then I did deciding to have my son. One thing a one of the ladies said was the "moms united" bothered her. Once you become a parent there is just something that the non parent cannot understand. I have made stronger bonds with other parents then I have in my friendships before I was a parent. There is a certain understanding and support that comes from other

Angela said...

I commend these women for being so honest. I have two children but never wanted to get married and many would have much to say about that. However, It was my choice. I find it surprising or maybe I am being naive that if someone says 'I don't want children', that we as a society should feel the need to question or judge.

When children are mistreated and I am in no way, shape or form saying that any of these women would in anyway mistreat anyone, but one of the first things said is that they (the abuser) should never been allowed to have children or they don't deserve children. So when someone makes their choice and I stress again their choice, not to have children we should respect it and not question their personal decision.

Unknown said...

Society doesnt encourage women to have children. It makes a damn f*** pressure on us to have children. What about free will? If I dont want to have a kid I and dont think motherhood is for me I should have one just to help society to survive and thrive?!

riotdork said...

I grew up in a great family, both my parents were still in the picture, and my mom was phenomenal. But all the same, I've never seen myself as a mom, even when my friends started having kids in our early 20's. I've definitely softened to the idea (I used to be so terrified of the concept, that I was incredibly uncomfortable being around pregnant women, as though I could "catch" a baby!). Sometimes I wonder if this is just how my family works, since my parents didn't marry until their mid to late 20's, and didn't have my older brother until their early 30's. In reality, though, I've always believed that you can't be truly happy unless you're happy alone, so I see the choice to have a child as completely situational (for me, at least), and right now, my situation doesn't allow for the decision to have kids. If my situation changes and I find myself pregnant, I could see being happy about it, but I see no need to seek it out. For now, I'm going to hang out with my niece and be happy I can play dress up and pretend with her, but be relieved when I can hand her back to her parents at the end of the day.

Mandylynn said...

I'm an only child and never, ever, never, never wanted children.I was once engaged to a man who's last name rhymed with my first for 5 years (this wasn't the only reason the engagement was so long) Something just told me that things wouldn't be "right". We discussed the fact early on that neither of us wanted kids. At the time we met, I was 23 and he was 35. I guess secretly, he thought I would change my mind later, because at 40, suddenly, he felt this intense need to have a child or (gasp!) children. So, there it was - my out. We're still great friends and love one another. We have both married other people who (fingers crossed) share our opposing views. I'm actually glad you brought this topic up, because I've followed your blog for a few years and have noticed such an abundance of baby/child posts as your life has evolved to something new (the same with Naomi from Rockstar Diaries) I almost wish you would have two tabs, one for the baby-havers and one for those of us who just adore your views on the world, fashion, etc. Regardless, I'm still a huge fan.

Jules said...

I really love that the women commenting are so open and honest about their own experiences, thanks everyone! I am 25 and have recognized the general assumption that because I am a woman I SHOULD want to eventually have children. I'm not sure that I do or don't. What I do know is, I have a lot of love and energy to give to the world, and I wouldn't want having children to limit my ability to have a greater impact on society. Maybe it is possible to travel and dedicate myself to helping people in need AND also be a committed and focused parent. I just haven't figured out yet how I could balance all of those things. I do know that if our society were a little bit more gender balanced (longer maternity AND Paternity leave, more social services for mothers, etc) that it would probably be an easier decision for me. It seems like family structures in Europe are more commonly equal parenting situations whereas the families I see in the New York/ Tri-state area tend to have more separate earning/care taking roles. So, maybe if I move to Europe and find a guy who is willing to be an equally contributing parent/earner and the social structures are in place to help us out, I could have kids and also have the energy to contribute to society in a meaningful way!

Bethany T said...

My husband and I were just talking about this and the reasons why we choose to not have kids. For me the reasons to not have kids stacks up much more than any "need" to have children. The funny thing is, I like kids and even have the nickname "Mama Bear" with some of my friends. I don't think the choice TO have kids is questioned as nearly much as it should. They way I hear some people talk about having kids is often like having the latest accessory because society tells them they "should" have kids, just like they should buy a home, or have a car, or a 401K. Overpopulation is huge and there are so many kids who don't have a loving home that could have one. I personally feel that it would be much more selfless to become an adoptive parent or to become a mentor in a kids life because I am not related than if I were to have a child of my own. Mostly, I love being a fun and crazy aunt to my friend's kids, nephews and kids who may just need a positive adult role model in their life that is not mom or dad. Some say they are "called" to being a parent. If that is so, they I guess, I am "called" to be an aunt. My legacy is the work that I do and the number of lives I can help in some way. For those who have kids and stressed out, reach out to your childless friends for some relief, more than likely we are wondering what it is like to be in charge of a kid and would be more than happy to give you a much needed break.

Kate Harvey said...

To go with your logic instead of your heart is sometimes a good thing, but it sounds like deep down, Jean does want to be a mother, and her story breaks my heart. I think anxious women can make excellent mothers too!

Liron said...

Very interesting! I was totally born to be a mother and now have a gorgeous little girl but my sister knew from the get-go that she didn't want kids. She is the super-awesome aunt that loves music and plays guitar. She buys my daughter rock n' roll t-shirts and can't wait to start giving her guitar lessons but she has absolutely no desire to give up her carefree lifestyle for a child. It's funny how two women can have the same upbringing and yet view such a matter so differently.

sbt said...

My husband and I were just talking about this the other day, because he was saying that he couldn't understand how someone could say that she/he wouldn't want children. To me, it's the same way that I know that I never want a pet. I just don't. I'm not an animal person. And I respect people who know about themselves what they don't want or can't handle. It's very mature!!

Jessica M. said...

I have a frienemy who absolutely does not want to have children, she doesn't like them at all & constantly complains about "bad parents" she sees when she's at work. Where does she work, you ask? SHE OWNS A CHILDREN'S RESALE SHOP. And she hates kids...


On the other hand, my husband & I want a whole house full of kids. There was a time when we entertained the thought of not having any children, but we both saw adult children in our future when we'd daydream about growing old & gray together. Our first son was born last October, and I have seriously never been happier in my life. We used to go out to eat almost every night, laughing & talking with our friends for hours. Now we rarely leave the house, and when our son is asleep we look at his pictures. Babies are like drugs and we are straight up addicted.

Jennifer @ Belclaire House said...

So fascinating! As a fairly new mom (my son's 2) I feel like I'm finally doing what I'm meant to be doing. I feel like being a mom is my calling so I can't imagine not having kids. I encourage my friends who are onthe fence about it to have kids because I feel like it's the most beautiful, wonderful kind of love they will ever experience and I don't want them to miss out. That being said, I admire women who choose not to have children. As long as they are happy and content, who am I to judge. Everybody has different callings in life and sometimes that doesn't include children and that's ok.

vj said...

It would be nice to hear some views from older women (40+) who decided not to have children and how they view it.
Personally, I never thought about the 'me-time' I'm giving up by having a child. In my opinion, children open up your life in a totally different way, something you wouldn't experience if you don't have one.

hes said...

Thanks for this post!

I've always wanted to have kids. I think a huge part of that is the desire to create a family of my own. That being said, I completely understand and respect those who do not want children and are mature enough to come to that decision. My mother recently told my sister and me that she never wanted to have children, and suddenly, all those times where it seemed she resented us for existing made sense. I feel sorry for her, as I think societal norms had a lot to do with them (especially in the Philippines in the 1980s), but I also feel neglect at the confirmation of what I'd felt growing up from her. In that way, realizing you're not willing or able to meet the demands of having children and deciding not to have them is wholly unselfish.

Alison said...

I can certainly understand all the emotions of the women who don't want to have children and respect their choice not to. I've thought and experienced some of them myself! However, what if it was the best thing you'd do and you never did it? I would compare it somewhat to being invited to a high school prom, and not going because you thought you knew what it would be be like. And then never finding out that the prom was actually a royal ball.

Amy Powell said...

I'm an aunt, been married for almost 4 years, and am very happy with it that way.

maybe in a few years I'll want more. we'll see :)

Angry Asian said...

i think there's a distinct difference btwn wanting children and wanting to be a mother. i don't fall in either category. i am more than pleased to be a fantastic, doting aunt to my friends' kids.

Amanda Pantazis said...

Love this post! I just turned 32 and got married to my best friend in May, so the biological/ parental pressure is on, and no one can understand why my husband and I aren't racing into having kids. I was SUPER hormonal for about a year in my early 20's where I was baby obsessed (I was not the girl the frat guys liked to run into at the kegger), but since then I just haven't had any desire to have kids. I love kids between the ages of about 4 to 9- To me, those 5 years of fun aren't worth the other 13 of worry/ financial burden/ being on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Not to mention the whole idea of pregnancy freaks me the ef out- I don't see it as a magical experience at all. I see it as 9 months of being a walking science experiment that will end after I probably poop in front of a room full of strangers. Not. For. Me.

Elizabeth said...

My husband and I didn't want kids, either, but sometimes nature has other plans. When I got pregnant, we weighed the pros and cons and indeed had to come up with reasons why we should become parents. It was a very difficult time for us, after 10+ years of happy partnership, when we had to make the decision.

Our daughter arrived nine years ago and although she brought us such joy, the difficulties with our marriage didn't end. Our partnership ultimately ended in divorce when she was just a year old. He has since gotten remarried, to a woman who also didn't want children, and he sees his daughter three or four times a year.

Meantime, it took a long time for me to find a relationship situation that worked for me and my daughter. I was single for quite a while before I met a man with whom I had chemistry, who thought my kid was as wonderful as I do, but who didn't want children "of his own" (I can't have any more).

Everyone has to find their own path. I didn't want children, but I got one. My Gentleman always wanted kids with his ex-wife, but they never did. We found each other and we're a family.

gster said...

Personally, I want kids, but I find this refreshing and encouraging.
I was a nanny in NYC for years and I always found it disturbing that many times kids seemed like another "goal" to be checked off, or rung in some social ladder to scale. It made me firmly believe that having kids is not the "right" or "natural" choice for everyone.
Good for these women for knowing themselves! I think it's ridiculous and sad that it's still shameful or hard for people to talk about. We all need to work on supporting each other and the lives we choose.
~Gaia

Sara Sheehy said...

I feel no need to justify my childbearing decisions to anyone, but many are constantly asking for a justification. And when I give it, I get those "sad eyes" that say "you just don't know what you're missing." Sadly, this is completely acceptable in society, whereas I can't voice my opinion on what another person is missing in their life by choosing to have a child. "Shocking! Why would you question my choice to have a child?!"

My reasons aren't financial, moral (world population, etc), religious or societal. It's my husband and I making a choice about our future. The righteousness of the counter argument to this makes me skin crawl...and believe me, I've had many years of hearing it!

Gabriella said...

A society isn't a living thing in the sense that an animal is a living thing -- it's made up of rational component parts that can choose how they exert influence to promote their own interests. That influence ought to be used to support people who choose to have children, rather than pressure them to do so, as well as support those who don't and who are thus free to make different positive contributions to society. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," after all...More than that, there are already far too many children without homes in this world which I think is a more pressing concern than procreation ceasing.

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I have my moments when I'd like to have a child. But mostly my husband and I chose not to for health reasons. My mom was legally blind since I was 3 and totally blind since I was 13. It was a rare form of an auto immune disease that took her sight. They've since thought they've tied it to other auto immune disorders like RA, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome etc. There is RA on my dad's side of the family and it is looking like he may have lupus. There is also a history of depression and of diabetes and heart disease. My husband's family also has issues of RA and depression. Those are just not smart genetics to take a gamble on.

peopleandplacesandthings.com said...

Thank you for writing this! My husband and I have decided not to have kids for several reasons and the judgement from others is something else. I wrote a bit about judgement, in general, on the blog a few months ago... http://peopleandplacesandthings.com/2012/04/18/on-embracing-our-differences-an-open-letter/

Anni said...

I love this. I think that talking openly and honestly about the unpopular side of hot button issues is the only way to gain more empathy and understanding (and less of the assumption that there is one right way to do things.)

We're not sure yet if we want kids, and we're content to push off any strict decision for the next few years. However, I've noticed a lot of people feel the need to question reasons given - to say "that's ridiculous, I still have X, Y, and Z, and I have kids" or "won't you be unfulfilled?"

I get that that's an easy thing to jump to when you have kids, or have a strong calling towards having them, because you feel so strongly about that. But I hope those same people keep in mind that just because others feel differently doesn't mean that their feelings are less valid. We all play the pro/con game with reasons to have kids or not, and just because our answers are different doesn't mean they're wrong.

Cheryl Strayed wrote my favorite piece ever on having or not having kids:

http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/

Sam said...

Possibly one of my favourite entries, ever, Jo. This is a topic that is treated with such fragility. I've said since age 18 that I'm not having children. Granted, my opinion has been changing recently, but it's so refreshing to understand different viewpoints and reasons why not to have kids. It's something that should be appreciated more - a decision that is extremely brave and intelligent and thought out when it's the RIGHT decision for you.

Whenever I have said I don't want kids, I always have to make the joke, "oh I'm just too selfish to have them haha" which isn't actually funny but it usually eases the tension.

Thank you for being so open about this. It's a dialogue more women should have because I feel many people get bullied into having children and by that I mean they do it because they feel they have to. There are many arguments to consider and I feel they're accurately represented here.

Thanks, Jo!
Sam

Karen in CT said...

I LOVED babies when I was a child, in the worst way ... babysat constantly and charged double the hourly rate .. I am FABULOUS with kids, and adored fawning over my neice and nephew ... but at some point, I had done the baby/child thing so long, that I think my maternal instincts were met .. by 25 it was as if I had raised several kids, and I loved it.

I loved reading the answer from the woman who looked at all her single aunts, and said "I want to travel, I was to read, I was to drive my car wherever I want" ... I also love being alone.

I love childred but love doing what I want, when I want. Selfish, if you knew me that would be the last impression I would leave with you.

Thanks a bunch ... I've always said, "you are a great blogger."

Karen in CT

melanie said...

With the exception of Christina, these women are all still very young. My husband and I were married 10 years and were in the 'we aren't going to have children' group. Both our parents had given up hope of getting grandkids from us. At the 10 year mark we had a change of heart and now have a beautiful 1yr old daughter. I'm not saying that these women will be the same but it is possible to have the adult life and still have kids. Thanks for the post!

Brandy said...

I often think that my husband and I will wake up one day to find the decision was made for us by our procrastination. For the first eight years of our marriage I was too ill for children to be an option. Now that we could realistically be parents, we can't seem to decide to pull the trigger in either direction. We both enjoy other people's children greatly, especially our new nephew, but we are each also perfectly content in the company of the other, no additions necessary. Conversely, we acknowledge that a marriage that strong has the best hope of producing a healthy example for any children we may potentially have :). At 30 (which is deep into child bearing years in the American South culture we grew up in) we have faced the pressure, our families have now almost lost hope, and the decision is once again ours to be made in peace! Thanks for the stimulating discussion.

www.oneishungry.com

Micaela Trace said...

The biggest reason probably is my experiences from childhood. I may change my opinions when I do meet somebody I want to settle down with but for now. No for me

Anna said...

I've known since I was 16 that I don't want children, but because other people can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to, everyone always says to me, "You'll change your mind when you're older" or "I'll remind you of this when you're pregnant". It's really nice to see a different view on having children and it's interesting to see others' reasons for not wanting to become a mother - great post!

Rebeka said...

I love this. I completely relate with a lot of the things those women said. I don't want to have children; I love them, I just don't want them. It's not fair that I get asked "why" when people who seem completely unprepared to have a child get pregnant do not get asked the same thing.

Plus, this way I'm not adding to overpopulation of the world! Hooray!

M-J Obsessions said...

When people tells me why they don't want to have children, most of the reasons are immaturity in my opinion, they don't really have a good reason. But I do believe people should not be forced into doing something they don't want to do, or are not ready to do. So I respect those who decides not to have any children at their current life. But do not say never, never is a very strong word, you don't know what you will never eat tomorrow, so do not say you will never have kids. You can be 30 and choose not to have kids right now, but the choice to have kids are always there until you are no longer biologically able to, don't deny yourself of the choice by saying never.

I respect those who choose not to have kids at their given stage of life, and they don't need a reason, just their choice.

But I have kids not only because I love kids, they are extension of my life, they bring meaning to my life, what you sacrifice in cleaning up after dirty poops and fights in teenage years is unconditional love and respect if you raise your kids right.

Nothing else matters more. There is a reason the circle of life continues for thousands of years.

Moosmom said...

So true. We also have one child with no plans for more and are constantly being asked when we are having another, as if it's assumed that we would. I've started to just respond simply "no" and let the awkward silence sit there...

Carolanne said...

I like this post so much. In fact I find it relieving. I wanted kids for as long I could remember. I married at 28 alas, to the wrong person. I left when I was 33 and got to relive my 20s in my 30s which had essentially been lost to an all consuming relationship with a chronically ill man. I am now engaged and very happy to a man who is completely worth the wait. Part of getting to peaceful was accepting that I may find the right relationship wherein the other person doesn't want children, already has children or that together we could not have children. I turned 40 this year and I don't think that the ship has sailed, I just needed to let it go. I care for everything around me (cats, nieces, god-children) because it is an irrepressible urge. I know that I would make an excellent and caring mother and that the relationship I am in will not include children. I am occasionally saddened by this fact, but dealbreakers have already robbed me of too much happiness in this life. He and I have great ambition for the type of world we want to try and shape and now we have the sort of help we always needed.

Ms. Magpie said...

I've been talking about this a lot on my own blog. Since I met the right guy and got married, that urge to have a baby is completely overwhelming. It defies logic. I respect the decisions of these women, but I can't help feeling sad for them too. They could be missing out on something much bigger than careers or traveling.

Eleanor said...

Growing up my sister always wanted children. I felt indifferent. I figured if I got pregnant, great, if not, that would be okay too. As it turned out, my sister may not be able to have children. I had a very unplanned pregnancy. Through my experience of being a single mother, my sister has slowly and somewhat painfully come to see she probably doesn't want children after all. My little one is wonderful and I wouldn't change having a baby for the world, but it's difficult and I don't think she realized just how much work it involves until she saw me mothering.
I would never tell my mother this, but I don't think she should have had children. She is much too busy and interested in getting out and being involved in something all the time. I love my mom and she's been a good mom, but I was alone a lot as a child and really lacked the influence and protection that I wish my mom had provided for myself and my siblings. Because I'm the oldest, I took on a lot of parenting roles that I never should have been responsible for, which probably had a lot to do with my indifference about having a child of my own.
I strive to be a different kind of mom than my mother was. I want my child to enjoy and value emotional presence and to know I can be relied on without fear of criticism or judgement.
I admire women who are brave enough to say they don't want children. It is a commitment is so much more than the statement of wanting children. Unfortunately, I think many women don't see past the verbal commitment, which is why I believe a lot a lot of hurt exists in our society. Mothers aren't mothering because, in my mom's case, mothers are too busy do other things when their children need their presence.

Mallory Recor said...

I was the girl who had a million baby dolls, one of which (or more often than not, two of which) were attached to my hip at all times. If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was 5 and I would have told you "A Mom, a Cheerleader, a Dentist, and One of those ladies who cuts hair." (I'm an editor.)

Then in my late teens/early twenties, I went through a phase when I really didn't know if I would want kids. I really had NO CLUE. Maybe. Maybe not. But when I thought about not having kids, I wasn't heartbroken.

When I met my now husband I realized I really did want kids. I wanted to be a family, to see him be a father, to have a little human we were in charge of raising. Now that I'm pregnant, I could not be happier about starting this family.

The bigger question in our household is "How many kids?" And don't get me started on that.

I think it's a very personal choice and I really commend those who decide it's not for them. Instead of living a life they didn't really want and the child realizing this (similar to my situation as a child), they have the courage to stand up to the norms and say "No thanks. Not for me." I respect that.

Inez Janssen said...

What strikes me in this article (great subject!) is that the women interviewed all seem to feel a very strong need to defend (not just explain) their choice not to have children. I'm very curious to why that is. In my surroundings (in Amsterdam), I feel it's very much accepted and quite a common choice to not have children. Actually, I'm guessing in my group of friends and colleagues - ambitious, creative fun lovers in their early thirties who soak up life in the city - there might actually be just as much people not wanting kids than there are who do hope to have them. It's quite accepted that in 2012, people simply choose different lifestyles - often no questions asked. Is it a big city thing perhaps?

On a more personal note: I can relate to the women who choose not to have kids. I've always felt a strong wish to have children, yet for years I thought I could never be a good mom. Although I love her to death, my own mom was - due to severe mental illness - not the best role model, and it made me think I couldn't be either. Which was heartbreaking, because I really wanted to. Luckily, I've worked pass that and at this point in my life I strongely believe I can (someday) be a good mom who has a lot of love, care and patience to offer.

Inez Janssen said...

What strikes me in this article (great subject!) is that the women interviewed all seem to feel a very strong need to defend (not just explain) their choice not to have children. I'm very curious to why that is. In my surroundings (in Amsterdam), I feel it's very much accepted and quite a common choice to not have children. Actually, I'm guessing in my group of friends and colleagues - ambitious, creative fun lovers in their early thirties who soak up life in the city - there might actually be just as much people not wanting kids than there are who do hope to have them. It's quite accepted that in 2012, people simply choose different lifestyles - often no questions asked. Is it a big city thing perhaps?

On a more personal note: I can relate to the women who choose not to have kids. I've always felt a strong wish to have children, yet for years I thought I could never be a good mom. Although I love her to death, my own mom was - due to severe mental illness - not the best role model, and it made me think I couldn't be either. Which was heartbreaking, because I really wanted to. Luckily, I've worked pass that and at this point in my life I strongely believe I can (someday) be a good mom who has a lot of love, care and patience to offer.

amber said...

This is great. Growing up I was all Samantha from Sex in the City in refusing to bring something home I couldn't return- then I hit my 20's and got baby fever. Now that I'm married, we both gone back and forth on starting a family but the one constant is that we want to wait. Perhaps when the time is right, we'll make a wee one but otherwise, I am oddly okay with not having children. Honestly, our families seem to have stronger feelings about us having children than we do.

lauren. said...

i'm actually glad you posted this today, as i am just coming out of (another) failed month of trying to have a child. each failed month i have to remember i do/will have a life outside of children. we're only going to actively try for 6 or so more months because i don't want to put our lives on hold indefinitely for this.

it's always nice to have some perspective on it.

mo said...

Thanks for this interesting post. I agree with another commenter that it would be good to hear from a few women older than 38 as well - say a few older than 45 - that decided not to have kids, then the window closed for good. Did they have regrets? How do they feel now?

I'm 38. I'd love to have kids but the window is closing soon on that. (Adoption option aside.) After soo long of being single and thinking I would never find a great guy, I am finally SO happy to be one year into a great happy relationship, but not that close to marriage yet because we don't want to rush it because of how important it is to make sure you're both 100% ready to get married before you do. So... maybe I'll get married at age 40 if all goes well. So then I'll be facing the possibility that I might not be able to have them. And it has me feeling anxious... I wish I had a crystal ball to know what's ahead! But I try to remain happy with all that I have now and hopeful that whatever is meant to be is meant to be. If I'm meant to have a kid I will, and if I run out of time, it will be sad.. but I also know that I'll be okay and have a happy life and be a great aunt, etc.

Thanks again for writing about this.

the delicate place said...

i have made the choice not to be a mother and it baffles people. i have never had a maternal instinct and the thought of having a child was a complete life destroyer to me. i got anxious even thinking about the prospect of becoming pregnant! i get called selfish but it's only a small part of my reasoning besides being a career woman.

i am also trying to stop a dysfunctional cycle by not letting a hypothetical grandchild be influenced by in-laws. alternatively, i want my husband to be my #1 and travel the world together. it all comes down to priorities and having offspring was just not one for me!

http://www.thedelicateplace.com

SarahLinsey said...

What I find fascinating is the way that society as a whole pressures women (note: women, and not men)to have children ...but then miserably fails--at least, in N. America--to offer decent supports (eg. affordable child care) to allow women to thrive if they do become mothers. It's VERY crazy-making! So now women have to contend not only with the pressure to procreate, and the pressure to be "perfect" mothers, but on top of that, the pressure to also be drop-dead gorgeous, have all the right possessions (including the "perfect" spouse) AND the "perfect" career. No thanks.

mo said...

Thanks for your comment! I liked your perspective as I am in a somewhat similar situation.

Mardle Made said...

Is it written in my genetics to make the environmental decision not to have children?

I have always known, since very early childhood, that I was not going to have children. I have always known. It's not that I dislike children, I love my friends kids, but I have never needed to have my own. All of my life I have listened to people say 'but when you do' and I have to really impress upon them that I'm NEVER having children and it's my right to make that choice.

It got so bad in one job, a lady kept saying but when you do, but when you do and I have to say I let rip! She had 3 kids so I snapped back at her........'people like you should be greatful for people like me! You have three children....If we all did that how do you think we'd all fit into this little island we call Great Britain!' I wanted to shock her to make her feel guilty, not about her choice to have three children, that's her right, but about her constant disblelief that I could simply choose not too.

The more I pondered on that thought the more I wondered if that's why some of us are born without the 'need' to multiply.......is it for environmental reasons? I'm an Environment Officer and I wonder if it's simply in my genetic code not to have children?

Whatever it is, it's me and I love it. I'm lucky that my Husband feels the same way. And the best bit, we get to be the eccentric Aunty and Uncle to our friends kids, sharing in the fun and laughter of childhood antics without any of the responsibility.

I still get people saying......'but you'll change your mind' but I know that I will never change my mind, my genetics and life outlook tell me there is no need to have my own child when there are thousands out there that need a home. If I ever decided to raise a child I would adopt.

But that's just me, and that's the joy of life, everyone is different and we should cherrish these differences and each others right to be true to ones self.

Thanks for such a great post. It's a toppic that many wouldn't cover.

xx

www.mardlemade.com

Ashlae said...

Love this post, and other women's reasoning for not wanting to have children. I have no desire to have children. And I've been saying that for 6 years. Women constantly remind me how much I'm going to regret my decision - which I find to be incredibly insulting.

I'm selfish and like my life just the way it is - being able to travel the world, spend money on myself, and sleep peacefully at night without worrying about a feeding or a diaper change or if my kids are sneaking out of the house. Not to mention, the world is overpopulated - I understand having two to replace yourself, but anything more than that just seems selfish.

la. said...

@erin and cliff I believe our society across the earth IS thriving, and women choosing not to have children may actually HELP this. We are becoming so advanced that there are no longer huge threats to humanity, like the Black Plague. Dont misunderstand me, there is the threat of nuclear war, deadly viruses, and natural disasters. Of course there are. I mean that we quickly and easily recover when compared to earlier centuries. We are quickly reaching our max population that will be able to be supported naturally. I love children, and want them, and will try to have them. But, I dont think our society needs to encourage procreation necessarily, and we certainly do not need to make others feel guilty or ashamed for choosing something different.

Kerri Lynne said...

I'm pregnant with my first and when I called my mom to tell her that I was pregnant she was excited and calmly said, "I know you'll be the best Mom. You've been practicing on dolls and teddy bears since you could talk. You were made to be a mother." I've always wanted to be a mother, and never considered life any other way. The moment I first saw him on the ultrasound and felt his kicks, I knew I was right. And I can't wait to meet him in March.

But, I agree with each of the women you interviewed. We should celebrate all women and their choices. It's perfectly OK (even admirable!) to be able to say "I don't want to have children, and here's why..." No reason following is a bad one because it's your own. I completely support women living whatever life it is they feel their meant for. And I'm glad all of these women have considered their husbands and partners, too. It's so important to be on the same page.

msp said...

this was a really interesting post and being the age of 30, completely a topic that I have thought about. I would love to hear from a woman 40+ who has made the decision. Not to belittle any of these women but it would be interesting to hear if anyone a decade ahead of these women who also chose not to have a child has any insight or different thoughts. Just wondering!

Colby and Jessica said...

Very interesting! I can't imagine not having children. I truly feel like I was born to be a mother and have felt that way my whole life! I really think that is my calling in life! I love it! It makes me a little sad that people who choose not to have kids will not feel that insane bond with more than just a spouse. The more love the better, I think!

Leica said...

The ages of these women are pretty young. Why not interview a 40-something? These girls could easily change their minds in a few years and still have viable eggs! I know the "decisions" I make now as a nearly 30-year-old might not hold forever!

DreamCatcher said...

For me, it happened AFTER I had a child (a son whom I simply adore).
Why nobody tells you about the constant concern?
Why nobody warns you that after the birth your happiness/joy/laugh/cry is in the hands of a one-meter little guy??
Why nobody tells you that *THIS* never.f%#$&.ends? It doesn't matter if your child is 3, 13, 33, or 93...you are endlessly thinking of his well being.
And why do I feel so guilty having all these thoughts?
I do love my son and I can't imagine my world without him but...had I known the whole truth and nothing but the truth...I wouldn't have dared...
My sister claims that these thoughts come from me being a mother in my late 30's and that if I were younger I wouldn't overthink things.
And I think she may be right...

Alexa said...

i have always felt a deep yearn for motherhood; that said, whether or not it happens for me hinges on whether or not i meet the right person to have and raise them with.

i really love this post! so fascinating.

Cori Magee said...

I'm sorry for this long comment, but I just can't believe your post topic today. I'm 35 years old and currently contemplating having a child right now. If we decide to have a child, we plan on starting in January. My husband wants one. But I go back and forth lately...

My reasons for doubting whether I want a child are a combination of all the testimonials above (thank you for sharing ladies).
I have always thought I would have children, growing up in a small town where you were expected to marry and have kids. But all my life I've been torn (even before I knew what my career would be), not knowing how I would balance everything and "have it all". I love what Muriel pointed out, that “all” is different for everyone (just wish she was in my life 20 years ago). My mother chose a teaching career over interior design for the better schedule. When I was young, I understood. Now, I'm upset that she sold herself short AND more so that she told me about it. That's how I was raised, children and family are more important than anything.

Skip ahead 30 years... It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do, then right after design school our economy took a hit and I was let go. Unemployed for 3 years set my career back. On the bright side, I found the niche of design that I really love while unemployed. Nonetheless, the three years left me 35 and new to my career. I feel like I need to choose where to put my energy, a child or developing my career.

I am VERY much like Jean. I am extremely emotional. Plus, I've always had little issues like cysts and possibly endometriosis. My grandmother had a miscarriage right after she had my mother, making her unable to have any more children. But, since my grandmother was old-school and didn't discuss "women's issues" none of us know why. Simply put, I'm very much scared about the emotional AND the physical part of having a child.

I welcome any advice. I'm leaning toward having a child, just one, for two reasons. Since I have not always felt this way and we planned on having a child, I feel like I can’t take that away from my husband (although he respects whatever decision I make). But also because I think it might be something I regret later...
xo

LB said...

I have never wanted to have children. I'm 31 going on 32, and I assumed if I did want kids, that desire would come. I don't think babies are adorable like some women do, and I am fine with that. My boyfriend and I discussed not wanting to have kids early on, and we also both agreed that we'd be inclined to adopt a child if the urge did strike. There are too many kids without parents. My mom fostered and mentored kids after my sister and I were grown and it is tough, but can be rewarding.

Beyond just not having a maternal instinct (for kids, that is...I certainly take care of my man and my dog!) I think we are leaving the planet in horrible shape. The same way we think about financial resources in the long-term, we should think about the world we're bringing kids into. The next 100 years will see our comfortable lifestyles disappear. Why leave our children to that? Why burden the planet with more humans when we don't have enough resources for developing countries? Perhaps that's just one way I comfort myself when I think of society's push for babies, but I can't help it.

My friends' kids are cute. My niece is adorable and fun to watch when I visit my cousin. But for me? It's not something I want in my life full-time. My sister and I are both career driven and independent. I don't know if she wants kids - we don't even talk about it. The only guilt I feel is about not giving my mom a grandchild (and even worse, my boyfriend's mom, who is from the South). But it's our choice, and there are other grandchildren for them.

sumslay said...

I definitely don't want kids. For a few reasons, the main ones being 1) the primary responsibility is on me bc i'm a woman (not that men don't do their share, but it seems to me that the "mom" is still the one that does the lion's share, and gets the blame once they hit 13). It's shameful, but think about it, when's the last time you saw a kid misbehaving and thought, "where's that child's father!?" 2) I have a strand of crazy in the family. I've met some kids I actually like and thought, "If I could have a kid like that, I would have kids." I might get a weirdo though who is a disapointment though, amiright.

The truth is, if I really question it, it's probably not the right thing for me to do.

Like Christina, I grew up with a mom who never wanted children (but there was no choice then). She truly was a good mom who did the best she could, but she never got to have her own life. I do see people/friends on fb that I really admire because they were *meant* to be moms. That's definitely not the majority of parents I meet though.

Smith And Ratliff said...

Have you had a pet?

I think you sort of missed the point—you wouldn't just go out and blindly get a dog without considering the impact it might have on your family, who's going to walk it and feed it, or the cost of taking it to the vet. Unfortunately, people don't give the decision to have kids that same sort of consideration. Most people I know who have more than one child before they're 30 did not necessarily intend to do so. (Not saying this is the case with you.)

Lauren @ In Her Two Shoes said...

Terrific post, truly fascinating. I struggle occasionally with the rationale behind having kids. I know I want them, that my life would seem incomplete without them (I think), but ... why? Why create something that takes all of your money, free time, and autonomy? So we can raise little clones of ourselves? So we can have fun molding them and watching them grow? I know the rationale isn't really there -- but that innate, deep feeling. It is. Children really are something we just want on a "deeper level."

Olof Drofn Eggertsdottir said...

I have 5 siblings and couldn´t imagine not having all of those people in my life. I had to at least have 3 kids and I chose to because I think I will raise good people and better the human race. I also don´t want to grow old with out having children. I want grand children to love on and big family dinners on holidays. I also LOVE babies. I have a 8 week old and he is just so amazing and is my last child. I have 3 boys. They are amazing!

http://www.knittingwitholof.com/

Ashley@MarriedLane said...

Children are such a wonderful blessing that I just can't imagine not wanting them! one of the biggest things I hear people say is that they want to travel and can't with kids, but the way I see it, I'll have an empty nest someday and that is when I'll be seeing the world (and showing the photos to my grandkids!)

melreader said...


It is sad that society and many religions pressure women and couples to birth their own children. To paraphrase Keanu Reeves' character from Parenthood: "You need a license to buy a dog or drive a car. Hell you need a license to catch a fish. But any a@#-hole can be a father or a mother."

Also, overpopulation is a serious problem facing our polluted world, which most discussions about procreation conveniently overlook. It would be wonderful if people took that into consideration when deciding whether or not to have biological children. I'm tired of reality shows glorifying biological procreation (i.e. the Gosselins and the Duggars). There should be a reality show featuring people who are concerned about their ability to be good parents and the impact their procreation has on the environment - perhaps featuring people who pursue the path of adoption. There is no doubt that raising children can be one of the biggest joys and challenges in life, but in a world where millions of children are orphaned or abandoned and unwanted, it is ethically questionable to continue to glorify people like the Duggars.

Erica @ Acire Adventures said...

So interesting. I've always wanted to be a mom so even though it was scary when I had an oops at 19, I knew I could do it and by the time I was a few months in I was so excited. It's the best thing ever... for me. I think it's totally cool that some people don't have kids. One of my aunts decided not to because she has struggled with anxiety for years. She knew that she wouldn't fit the bill, but she and my uncle have some really close bonds with nieces and nephews. Parenting isn't always a walk in the park, so I think that if you know (or are pretty sure) you don't want it, then you should be true to yourself and not.

Amy said...

I'm a twenty-three year old in graduate school at a music conservatory. I'm pursuing a career that will potentially require lots of travel and not enough pay for the constant amount of work. I'm doing it because it's what I'm meant to do. It's my passion and what makes me feel like myself. I don't feel that way about being a mother and I never have. I've felt strongly this way since I was eighteen. I witnessed (by choice) my older sister go through natural child birth from the foot of the bed, and I couldn't recommend anything more highly to women of any age. Although beautiful, it is something that I don't think I could go through. Of course, it's possible that I might change my mind, but her situation also involved post partum psychosis that was extremely traumatic to watch. Her desire to have children was apparent from a very young age, and she is obsessed with babies. The thought of taking care of an infant terrifies me, but I would love every stage of being a parent that comes after. If I do choose to have a child, it will be many years from now, and I will not make the decision lightly. I think it's wonderful that I'm growing up in a time where I can choose these things. Thank you for discussing this topic, as it's one I think about often.

Sarah said...

I don't care if a woman doesn't want kids, but when I hear someone say that I feel a little sorry for them in the way you explained. That they will never experience the kind of love you have for your child. That is, IMO, much different than even a spouse.

Noelle McLaughlin said...

I think we're all a bit sensitive to what others think of us. Many single women who don't want kids seem to feel judged, but I know that moms with a lot of kids also feel judged. Take 3+ kids out anywhere and people stare at you like you're an irresponsible crazy person. Women who work feel judged for having a career and a family. Stay at home moms feel judged like they're archaic for wanting to be at home rather than work.

I'm not sure if we actually are all out there judging one another or if we're just imagining it, but I hope that we're all moving towards a place of understanding. Different situations work for different people and our desires for our lives are not all the same.

Jessica said...

I'm 29 and in a serious relationship. I've always said I don't want kids, but as I get older I've started to think about the awesome relationship I have with my mom... I would love to have that with my own kid someday. The idea of a "family unit" is cute to me, but I also feel pressure because I'm an only child and my mom's only chance to be a grandparent. I would hate to rob her of that.

But then I remember that I usually don't like other people's kids (depending on how well mannered they are, it's a big deal to me), I feel awkward holding babies, I can't even deal with my cat waking me up early for his breakfast. I'm just not ready to give up the carefree part of myself yet, I feel like I still have a lot of living to do... and honestly, the idea of being pregnant and giving birth terrifies me.

Who knows what the future holds, and I guess I still have some time to think about it... but right now in this moment, I'm saying having children is unlikely.

Sarah (adorenewyork.wordpress.com) said...

Love this post. It is very thought provoking. We decided to not have children a long time ago. We have those "awe- look how cute that baby is" moments but they are just moments. We knew very early on that children were not for us.
We have so many reasons not to have them and I hate when I have to justify my reasons to others. When I say I am not having kids..please don't ask. Unless, you are asking because you your self are thinking about it or your just curious..not because you want to try and change my mind or judge me.

Kristen said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this post. I'm pretty sure (80%?) that I'm one of these women who don't want to have kids and I really relate to the stories you shared (esp. Jean's and Muriel's). My reasoning is more of the opposite of Christina's: my mother always said raising children was the only thing she cared about, the whole reason she existed, and I just thought that was... sad. I'm a really nurturing and caring person but I just can't imagine feeling "fulfilled" by motherhood.

Ethaney said...

i can't wait for the day that my fiance and i are ready to have kids. i think life wouldn't be as fulfilling without them. i am not a very religious person but i think a baby is a damn miracle and i think it is the most beautiful thing anyone could ever do. however, just as admirable it is to bring a child into this world, i think it's just as admirable when women admit that they don't want children. i don't think there is anything wrong with that and i think it's brave to admit it. especially because this is a society that basically pairs women and children like peanut butter & jelly. i think it's really brave and awesome when women can stick a middle finger to societal expectations and say, 'i'm content not having children and i don't think there's anything wrong with me because of that.'

The Cashmere Pen said...

I love children; I'm the best Auntie, and I relish in my role as such. I've spent plenty of time hanging with my nieces, nephews & girlfriends on playgrounds, at kiddie activities & parties. I couldn't wait to get in my car and drive home to a calm & peaceful environment. But then they say it's different when they are your own kids. I wavered back & forth for a very long time on this subject. I made the ultimate decision not to have children because of the circumstances & reality of the world we live in. I feel like life is tough and this world is very unsettled, and becoming more so every day. What will this world be like in 5-10 years from now, and beyond? What kind of future will children have? I'm just not willing to take that chance. I have my own version of being a mom; there are so many kids who need love that don't have it, so I volunteer. I enjoy all of the special kiddies in my life; I love spoiling them them rotten...and then going to my peaceful home.

Megkathleen said...

For the longest time I never wanted to have kids. I had this vision in my head of what I wanted my life to be and it involved traveling and living in a beautiful loft in a big city and going to shows and out to dinner all the time. Soon after I graduated college I moved in with my sister and her family for a short time and she had just had my nephew. I fell in love with him and I realized that being a mother was a much different thing than I had ever envisioned to be. However, I knew that I couldn't have the kind of career I wanted and still be the mom I wanted to be and I would have to choose between the two. When I turned 28 I just knew that I wanted to be a mom. Much like you I couldn't explain it rationally if I tried. So now I'm pregnant and I couldn't be happier!

Kristen said...

Haha, I love your #1 reason. I've always thought I'd love being the "secondary parent" (like some dads) but not the "primary parent" (like most/all moms).

Desiree said...

Thank you so much for bringing this subject up. I feel very much like your friend Corinne, unable to decide what I want. It is so hard to talk about perhaps not wanting to have kids. It feels like this is a subject that is still very much tabu. It has helped me a lot to read about these women and their decisions in life. I have walked around feeling like a freak for not being able to decide on motherhood. Reading this is a great comfort to know that I am not a lone. That it is ok to choose not to have children and that I am not alone if I make that decision. Thank you again for writing about this difficult topic.

LB said...

To add another comment, I love this topic. So interesting! I love reading everyone's very real, honest opinions.

en annan said...

I'm 41 and at 30 I had absolutely no urges to have children. :-)
It all came together at 37 when I had travelled the world, worked in several countries and lived abroad for a number of years. My career was satisfying and there was this realisation that kids would complete my picture.

I realised I would not be hindered by having children and I would not be kept from doing any of the things I love doing. :-) I'm expecting my third now (this Wednesday!).

I wouldn't have been a great mother at 20, nor at 30. But I let myself have all the time I needed AND was fortunate enough to be able to have babies at 37. I'm not a perfect mom now, but I am so incredibly happy to have my boys (and the girl we're expecting now). If I had a chance to do over - I wouldn't change a thing. I needed those years to get to know myself, to develop and live life as I wanted to. I'm still living life as I want it to and I hope I will always do, so I can be the best mum to my abilities and hopefully transfer some of life's joy to my children. :-)

jasmine said...

This is really interesting!! Thank you for posting this. I just had a baby (who I REALLY wanted), but I've gotten similar challenging responses when I tell people that my husband and I only want one child. There seems to be a stigma against that too. It would be awesome if people would respect the choices of others and accept them as valid.

Chimmy said...

great post.

i want to have kids, but i'm 36 and still very single. there is a lot of pressure to hurry up and find a husband and start popping babies and now consideration of wether or not i will still want to pursue children alone or with a friend.

i can't clearly articulate where the desire comes from, maybe it's because i had such a wonderful childhood, great parents, siblings, cousins, the whole nine... it's an expectation in society... etc. but even when i think dig into my most selfish place, where i forget what society dictates, what my friends or family thing... i still really want children. they are so lovely and i just think it's such an amazing testament to the worlds ever unfolding story, i can't help but be a part of it. i'm scared, who wouldn't be. parenthood, which i don't have to tell many people here is daunting, but i'm hopeful and excited about it regardless. i think we learn a lot about ourselves from children. i'm an aunt to the most interesting little people who are growing up fast. they amaze me. they make me think about the world i want to them to know and they have filled in the gaps for a lot about the world i thought i knew...

anyhow, i'm hopeful and excited. i can't wait to be a mother some day. it helps that i'm pretty laid back... i'm not too concerned about the details of what will happen to travel or grown up living, etc. i think it's fine to choose what you want to do. nothing should force anyone into either side.and we shouldn't judge each other for wanting different things. i think you if you go for what you want that passion and desire is fulfilled in a very organic way that doesn't disrupt your life in a way that it wasn't already meant to be disrupted. will i travel less, maybe... maybe not. i don't know. my parents had four children and they left a little country in africa and hopped on a plane to america many moons ago. the life society had planned for them and that they knew and dreamed out changed completely and they've been playing it by ear for years. maybe they still are. it has been beautiful to see from an adult lens how their lives have unfolded. and it keeps me hopeful and excited.


Erika said...

most of the people i know who didn't want kids at 30 or even 35 turned the corner as they neared 40, and almost all have kids now. just sayin'...

R. said...

When I started reading this article I was really curious to read all the different testimonies from women that had decided to not have children and had learned to live and accept that decision. But then I was so put-off by the age range of these women.... 26-38?

I am 30, I really want to have kids, but just not yet. And a lot of my friends (same age) feel the same way.
It is just bizarre to read about two 26 that "firmly state" they decided not to have children - it never even crossed my mind to have a kid at that age... Nothing prevents them from changing their mind in a couple of months/years and I guess this was one of the reasons I was disappointed with the arguments too, I considered them to be a bit on the thin side...

Would love to read what older woman who made that decision have to say about it!

B.B.B.S. said...

Top photo of Spencer Tracy! with Katharine Hepburn

Jennie said...

I want kids. I'm LDS and I've grown up with that though. I'm 21, single, and I don't plan on getting married for a while. Ideally I'd like to get married around 22 or 23ish, but I wouldn't want to have kids until I was 27-29. And I want 3 tops. I know for the non-Mormon world, that's fairly normal to have kids at and quite a few kids, but not for my LDS community. I also want to have a career. I'm a good worker and I have the potential to make a lot of money. My job is something that I am good at and that I love. I also love having a nice paycheck.

Maybe my husband will stay home. Maybe we'll both work. I don't know, but I've got a good 8 years to figure that out.

Diane Wood said...

Some societies in North America do provide strong incentives/supports (philosophically right or wrong...) to have children. For example, daycare in Quebec and the maritimes in Canada can cost as low as $7/day, families get the longest maternity leave in the world at 50 weeks paid, and some regions will actually offer $ incentives in the form of a cheque or a tax break.

Mad Max and Family said...

Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing this and the different perspectives. I have two children, and I've always wanted kids ...it is just something I valued and wanted - a family. But I DO have girlfriends (not many) that never want kids. I don't judge them. I get it. I wish more people really did think about the reasons... too many chidlren (I'm a teacher!) aren't receiving the type of love and childhood all kids deserve.

-Tara

http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com

meresy_g said...

I am 42 and chose not to have children. And unlike most of you, at my age, its a little late for changing my mind. But I still feel that I made the right decision. My reasons:
I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and so did my husband and we kind of want that to end with us. Neither of us are sure that we would be awesome parents. Creating and shaping a new human being is an incredibly important undertaking and one that (in my opinion) too many take lightly.

My siblings were 7 and 8 years younger than I was and I got to play "little mother" to them.... so had years of responsibility for two small children. I didn't like it so much.

I have a very bad view of the future of this world and feel like I would have nagging guilt if I brought somebody into it on purpose.

I never had that over the top baby envy that many women go through. Baby's smell good to me, but my biological clock never went off I guess.

We simply do not have a good support system for children. It is just my husband and myself. No family members I would consider responsible for the care of a child (this sounds bitchy, but really, you have no idea).

Selfish reasons....I like taking vacations in the fall when everybody with kids is at home, back in school.

Clutter makes me anxious. I would nag a child incessantly about picking up after themselves. Also, the constant illness my friends with kids seem to have would piss me off. I would be wiping a child down constantly.

The thought of ten or more years of shuttling a child year-round to practices, matches, lessons, play dates, recitals etc. makes me angry. Like I would subtely punish the child for having to give up my evenings and weekends and otherwise "me" time.

Some of my friends reasons for having kids are questionable. I'm positive one spaced out her children to lengthen the time she would not have to work. One had two children so that there will always be at least one to take care of her. One had a child because she was afraid she would regret not having one.

Overall, I like my life. Occasionally I see cute babies and wonder 'what if', but for the most part, I'm very happy with the decision that I made.

Jamie said...

I deeply identify with these women. Each one of them. Because each of their reasons is my reason.

I've been married for two and a half years, to the man I'd never thought I'd be blessed enough to marry, and honestly, its BEAUTIFUL. Our marriage is supportive, joyful and the epitome of fun for both of us. And we have a ton of friends with kids. We have two nephews, whom we adore. But when we think of us having a kid... It just seems so far off. If it ever happens. And truthfully, people have some pretty rude things to say about that.

"If your parents hadn't had kids you wouldn't be here."
"Well if you can, you should. Because lots of people can't."
"You both have good jobs. Its what you do in your place."
And on, and on...

And honestly, we like to travel. And I like to stay up late and sleep in late. And I like going to a coffee house and just sitting for hours. Or going on long runs. I mean, I like spending time with my friends who have kids, but I like to be able to go home to my little sanctuary of a house and just rest. Without thinking about diapers that need changed and bath times.

Its hard to not feel guilty, especially when good friends of mine can't seem to get pregnant. But sheesh. It just stresses me out to think about.

Reluctant Overachiever said...

Thank you for posting this! i have so many thoughts but I'll just share a few. I think that the question, "Why DO you want to have kids?" should be asked more often. I have seen a few friends and family members have kids perhaps a bit too early and have felt a lot of stress or anger or resentment. I think the reason is that they had unrealistic expectations or wanted to have kids for the wrong reasons: Because it's the 'next step' after marriage. Because they feel pressured by friends and family. Because they live somewhere where there is nothing else to do. Because they want attention. In short, it's not a decision to take lightly and I applaud these women for knowing that they do not want kids and making the best decision for themselves. For myself, I've always known I've wanted children. I definitely feel that calling. When I met my husband, I knew I wanted to have his babies and I knew we would make great parents together (I'm a teacher, he's a psychologist: we love kids). We're in no hurry though :) We've only been married about 2 1/2 years. I've definitely gotten pressure from family members though or comments about how I'm approaching 30 and better start now. We'll know when the time is right though :)

openid said...

My boyfriend has an adorable nephew that I saw yesterday and, oh my gosh, seeing that little baby face gets my nesting instincts going. It's so embarrassing! And very unlike myself. But it turns me into this crazy lady that wants to buy tiny shoes! I can see how people catch the baby bug even though, logically, I don't want kids any time soon.

Emily said...

I am in a long-term relationship and at the age when everyone's first two questions are "When are you going to get married?" and "When are you going to have kids?" Most of my friends are married and many of them either have children or are pregnant now. I have always wanted to get married and have children; I know I will feel unfulfilled as a person if I never do. But, as I've gotten older, two realities about marriage and parenthood have troubled me. One is the commoditization of love and family that seems to dictate that a wedding is more a chance to show off one's taste in dresses and decor than a celebration of a commitment and that a baby is the next must-have accessory. The other is the exclusive-club-mentality in which marriage and parenthood are treated as closed societies whose codes cannot be known or understood until one is a member. I have had conversations with acquaintances and even close friends who have told me, some by implication and others outright, that my relationship will not be real, that I will not truly understand romantic relationships until I am married. Parent friends of mine have told me that anyone who is not a parent shouldn't be allowed to say that they are busy or tired. I'm sure I will never lose my desire to be married with children; I just never ever want to make anyone feel that their lives are somehow not fully actualized or their understanding of love rudimentary just because they have made different choices at different times.

Janet said...

This reminds me of a post I read on The Stork & The Beanstalk. I truthfully hadn't questioned it much until I came across that post and ever since then, the question of having kids or not has been floating through my brain. It seems like back in the day it wasn't so much of an option, it's just what woman did. In any case, it's all good food for thought. Thanks to these woman for sharing their stories. Here's the post from The Stork & The Beanstalk I mentioned: http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com/a-penny-for-your-thoughts/

the delicate place said...

good luck trying to do that when you are brittle with old age!

Anni said...

I noticed that too, Inez, and I love your comment. It sounds like you'll be an amazing mother.

I think, if you read some of the other commenters' statements, it reflects on how much of society in America (more so in rural and suburban areas, especially) still pushes women to be mothers. Just scrolling through I saw people who said all the same things I hear over and over again (and I'm just on the fence about kids) - things like, "any reason you give for not wanting kids is immature/selfish" or "I'm sad for you because you're missing out on a love deeper than you'll ever know" or "your life will be unfulfilled and missing a deeper purpose" etc, etc.

But you're right, as times change, hopefully we'll stop feeling the need to defend ourselves, regardless of which choice we make.

Desiree said...

I have one child, with another on the way. I had my daughter young and I never imagined having anymore kids. I actually dreamt about the days that I would spend doing "me" things after my daughter was grown. I would be older, wiser, more financially steady. Along the way, my husband and I decided to have at least one more child. We are still relatively young and I know that I will still be able to do those me things when my kids are grown. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't imagine how life would be without children. I love my child(ren) with all my heart but I can definitely see the flip side of what life would be without children.

the delicate place said...

same! my mother defined herself by having children and honestly there is nothing left of her now that we are grown. it's so sad!

the delicate place said...

yes. to everything you said!

madeline said...

Great topic, Joanna. You know, I have to say, when I got pregnant at 22 and just out of college, and decided to start a family with my boyfriend (now my husband), I felt like I did have to justify to people why I wanted to have a baby. Nobody understand why I would want to! Friends didn't necessarily congratulate my right away, either. So I can understand why it can be frustrating to have to defend your choices to people who really should be minding their own business. I'm so grateful women are able to make their own choices about family planning in this country.

Meadow said...

I agree with you. I'm a total basket case and still consider having a kid. I also like the grown up life, but I think you can have both.

Molly Taylor Croft said...

I was also a nanny and unfortunately saw first-hand many people in LA who should not have had kids simply because they didn't want to really spend any time with them at all. I used to say my one boss had her son to "complete their Christmas card." It broke my heart to be the one who heard all the kids' fun stories and sang with them on the way to school because I knew just how much those parents were missing out on. Kids can be amazing!

Personally, I have wanted kids since I was young...it was a longing deep within me to have them when the time was right. As I got up in my 20's and was still single, I considered adopting on my own but financially that would have been difficult. Then I met my now-husband, and we are having our first baby in February. Being pregnant has been incredible and unlike anything I have ever experienced. I'm excited to rock to sleep my own baby, to spend hours reading to my own baby, and to cuddle up with my own baby after so many years of loving and caring for others' babies. :)

It is an extremely personal decision to become a parent, and it's a life-long commitment. I feel the same way about dog ownership--personl choice. If you don't want to have kids, you should NOT have kids. If you don't think you want a dog for its lifetime, you should NOT get a dog. I want it all...and my two boxer boys will get their baby sister here in about 10 weeks.

Cara said...

What timing! I was just discussing this very concept and the reasons behind it with three girlfriends this weekend who are all on the fence about having children of their own. Great share!

kerry @ withmycamera.com said...

i want kids. i've always wanted them- ever since i was a little girl. unfortunately, due to unavoidable medical issues, i've had to give up my dream of kids. i'm not infertile or anything like that- i have degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease.

i started off with one herniated disc and currently have 4 and the discs in my spine will just keep getting worse with time. i am 36 years old and according to my doctors, i have the spine and joints of an 86 year old woman. i do physical therapy, i take meds & vitamins, i do everything in my power to do what i can to make the degeneration progress slower.

i've had to give up my dream of kids because i know that my body physically could not ever handle the strain of a pregnancy. my back hurts so much on a daily basis, that carrying a baby for 9 months would be impossible. of course there is always surrogacy and adoption but my back issues are so severe that i wouldn't even be able to hold/carry a baby, much less a toddler.

i can't even do daily chores like laundry or dishes- imagine caring for a child. it breaks my heart to know i will never be a mother, but i have no choice but to accept my fate. it is, what it is.

just wanted to share my side of the story...not having kids because it is technically "bad for my health."

The Cashmere Pen said...

Janet, Thank You for sharing The Stork & The Beanstalk: http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com/a-penny-for-your-thoughts/
I just read it! What glorious, brutal honesty.

kel.bow said...

My fiance and I have this conversation often. I want a child/children with all of my being, however we realize that there are many reasons we maybe should not. Obviously finances and life style come in to consideration, but we also worry about the state of the world our children will be raised/living in. It seems selfish to bring a child in to a world that seems to headed towards chaos. I know this has probably been a feeling many have had over the years after wars and economic collapses and things always seem to "rebuild" themselves. Also, think of how many unwanted children there are out there. In a world that is already over-populated, our choice will most likely be to adopt. Yes, I may feel as though I have missed out on the experience of pregnancy and birth, but the ultimate goal in having children for me is to be able to raise a happy, healthy, kind, strong, and open-minded person. Maybe my genetics will not be passed along, but my morals, love, and spirit hopefully will be.

Jessica, 22, England said...

Definitely born to be a mother, before I could even talk or walk I was pretending apparently! But 110% respect for those who don't feel the same. I feel like the whole abortion thing comes quite close to all of this too.

The whole idea that someone would be judged for being queazy about going through child birth and entering a lifelong contract to another human being is INSANE.

And Alexandra is totally right, WOMEN, not just mothers, unite!

Alison said...

I agree with this! I would love to hear from someone in their 50s or older who don't have children, and how that's impacted them. I'm 23, and in that position of assuming I'll have children but with no particular desire to have them at this time. I'll see how I feel in 7-10 years, I think.

Hannah said...

As an only child let me tell you, you are right. My parents had a fantastic life and I fit in well and could because I was just one. I am so much closer to my parents than any of my multi-sibling friends and love being an only child. Great decision!!

m.j.f. said...

good thing there's all kinds of people -- 'cause if all people were like you people, then there'd be no people

Jamie said...

Bahahahah that's a good one :)

I have to admit I could never understand why any woman wouldn't have a maternal calling. It's part of our biological instincts! I can't help but hear selfishness in each of these explanations. But then, it's not for me to understand. To each their own. I personally can't wait to have kids! We are trying right now and hopefully will have our first little one soon :) It's never been a question for either of us that we would have kids.

Alison said...

Au contraire, my mother is in her 50s and, with no kids in the house, gallivanting freely about the world just like Ashley mentioned. She's by no means "brittle with old age," and in fact has dubbed this decade "The 50s Club" and said that I won't understand how fun it is until I'm there myself.

Jamie said...

Sorry, after I posted I realized this was unclear - I was laughing at the original comment (children, animals, or jobs), which I found really funny!

Gudrun said...

I respect women's choices not to have children, but I think not having children just because your parents were bad at it is a poor reason to give up on having children. That let's your parent's bad decisions control your life. And some of the other reasons make it sound like becoming a mother means the end of your life and the end of your relationship with your husband. I don't think that's a good reason not to have children either. You can still travel and have an adult life with children. I don't agree with some of the reasons listed here, but I still respect these women's right not have children.

Sandra Lee said...

Oh man I loved this post. I can totally relate to the "haven't had the motherhood calling" bit. I have been on the fence for a while, and even still I'm not sure. I'm married, have a great husband and I just haven' had that "mommy bug" yet. I appreciate those strong women coming foward and sharing their thoughts.

Unknown said...

Apologies to repost the link for the hundredth time but the stork + beanstalk article just felt like I wrote it, I agree with her so much!
http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com/a-penny-for-your-thoughts/

Thanks for bringing up the topic! I don't want to have children, never have, and although there's time for me to change my mind (maybe I will, who knows?) I just find it so patronising when people just don't believe me ala 'when you get older...'
The older I get and the more children my friends have the less I want them. I just can't see the benefits.
The thing is, I don't like children, especially babies and toddlers, I just don't find them cute in any way. I'm really sorry but I just don't! The looks I get for saying that...

Anyway it's good to see there actually are other women that don't want children since I'm the only one of my friends and I do always have to defend (!) my choice.

m.j.f. said...

unfortunately, it's clear that not all parents are being "called" to raise children. if that were so, our world might be a little sweeter place to live.

instead, we have people having children just to get government or child support checks, we have people who have children just to exploit them, and we have people who have no earthly idea what they are thinking/doing when they decide to keep a baby.

the sad part about all of this is that the smart people who are actually pondering the question of "should i have a baby?" are the VERY ones we need to to be having children and passing their thoughtful genes on.

lastly -- as a single mother by choice -- i feel like i am an artist, a financial whiz, a chef, a psychologist, a nurse, and the list goes on and on. mothering isn't limiting me, it's helping me to grow as a human being. and oh, you can't get that "i just had a baby that i love more than anything on earth" feeling from a dog.

Hannah said...

As a 40 year old women who was raised in the perfect family setting and an only child, I have known I didn't want children for as long as I can remember. I have never had a milli-second thought of having children, it doesn't interest me.

Growing older it has been reinforced by the lifestyle I want to lead, my feelings of over-population and seeing the sarifices my friends make for their children. I understand these aren't seen as sacrififes if they are your own children.

It is great to read some of these comments where women are realizing it IS an option to have them or not and fantastic, rewarding, full lives can be had either way.

At 40, blissfully married, there still isn't a second when I regret my choice or want to change my mind. I believe you have to desperately want children to be a great parent and if you do, then go for it. I feel strongly for those that want but can't....I hope they are open minded to alternative options.

There is nothing worse than the "OH, you will change your mind when you get older" or even worse, "when you meet the right person". I truly appreciate my mom for supporting my choice from day 1 and my best friends for knowing how I feel and NEVER needing to ask me why.

It is nothing to do with being selfish, it is to do with knowing yourself and if you don't really want kids you shouldn't have them because you won't be a strong parent.

Thank you for this topic, I also don't normally read this blog on Mondays and avoid other blogs that are centered around children but this is a great topic to bring home it is a CHOICE!

Sandra Lee said...

I fell you Jamie! it's a stressful subject, especially when you're in the minority! I for one am still deciding, and it can be just as stressful.

Natalie said...

I find it interesting that women who make the decision not to have children are offended when their decision is described as "selfish". You are making the decision for you and you alone. Own that!

"I’d be an emotional wreck. If my kids went to school and got teased, I wouldn’t be able to handle that. I think about the teenage years; oh my gosh, I would probably die. I want to spare myself that."

"The women who fascinated me the most were the ones who never married and never had kids and got to travel everywhere and live life on their own terms."

"I like the idea of grown-up activities. It’s not like I have a specific hobby, I just really like the grown-up life. If I’m not going to recitals, that’s ok with me. I want to be married, not married with a child."

"I don’t have that feeling that I want to have babies. I have other priorities in my life."

"And having a kid, it’s at least 25 years of life, most of your money, potentially affects your body and relationship…"

Q said...

I think what's selfish is deciding to enter into something without questioning or understanding your own decisions and motives, especially when they involve lives of others, as having children does.

Unknown said...

Why does there need to be a (valid) reason? Wasn't this the point? It's great if you decide to have children but nobody is going to ask you to justify your choice so why can't it work the other way round?

Chloe Winstone said...

I'm so glad I read this post. At 19, I have no idea how I'll feel once I've finished with University and my life is ready for children but right now, I can't see children being part of my future plans. I've never felt the maternal instinct and even as a child, my baby toys were used as giants rather than actual babies I needed to care for/be a Mum for.

None of my friends/family can understand why I don't think I'd like children in the future and a lot just put it down to me being young. It's a shame that I can't have this opinion without it being disregarded for being a whimsical thought of a teenager.

I've never really had an example of a woman in my life who has grown older and not had children and I'm so glad you've shared this today. It's good to know that there really are women out there who have felt this way and who don't feel their lives are empty or less for not having children. I like knowing that although people have said they would hate to not have children, my choice is still valid and is still as important as theirs.

m.j.f. said...

there's nothing glamourous about it

sunflower seedz said...

Wow this is very informative. A topic iv often wondered about joanna.
I'm 25, in a relationship for the past 5 years and iv always know my whole life that I want to be a mom someday. My boyfriend has no opinion on it as yet, but that's cuz we are the same age and at 25, kids isn't on his priority list.
His sister who is married is dead sure she n her husband don't want children...and they have a turtle. Which iv often teased my bf and said that his nephew is a turtle. And yes, truely the thought of them being selfish has crossed my mind.
I have an older sister and she is also positive that she would never want to procreate, her reason being our parents terrible marriage and how it affected us growing up. Which honestly it did and that's her way of dealing with it.
But iv always said that iv learned from those mistakes our mom and dad made and will not go down that path while bringing up my own children.
Iv noticed that there's a small majority of ppl out there that can positively say that they want to experiance parenthood and I understand those ppl.
And then there's those that just think of it as a part of the circle of life, no opinion on it, no thoughts at all. But sure they will have kids if they have to. (I don't get what that means at all)
And there's those that know that children are a big no no.
Its wonderful to read some real reasons here. Its puts a stop to the prejudice the rest of us carry around.
Remember the scene in sex in the city movie where carrie and big tell that couple at the wedding that they have zilcho plans for kids, cuz they are enough for each other.

Heather said...

This is such an interesting discussion. I respect the opinions of the ladies that shared their stories and love that we have choices about our futures. I would only add that becoming a parent is a unique experience and one that is difficult if not impossible to fully comprehend until you have experienced it- so don't rule it out based simply on what you think parenthood is or what it looks like from the outside. I once heard a lovely quote that I think applies here..."There are two things that a woman will never regret - having a baby and going for a swim." I like this quote because I never feel like going for a swim - I don't want to get my hair wet, I don't want to wear a swim suit, I don't want to get the pool bag ready. But once I am in the water I absolutely love it. It is so relaxing and so fun. I never regret going for a swim. The same holds true for a baby. They seem like so much work (and they are), there are so many sacrifices required (true), but the joys of a baby and especially a child during the later, very rewarding years really does trump the bad stuff.

Freja said...

I think you meant Spencer Tracy!

Lauren said...

I've never wanted children, nor has my husband. We're 26 and have been married for a little over a year, and people have started asking us if we're planning to start a family. It's like, well, we already are a family, so...But my husband and I decided that if one of us ever changes their mind, the other will be supportive. I just can't make the decision at such a young age, and I want to leave the door open if I ever change my mind.

Also, some people think that choosing not to have children is selfish, but I actually think that in many cases it's quite selfless. What is far more selfish is having children (whether planned or unplanned) with no clear reason for doing so. I believe that people who choose not to have children generally think it through, while many (if not most) people who do have children don't put too much thought into it. They just do it because it's the way people do things.

Mrs. White said...

That's Spencer Tracy, not Cary Grant. Both charming but Cary Grant was a hottie. Spencer Tracy, not so much ;)

m.j.f. said...

a baby is the end product of sexual intercourse. if you are having sex with someone you love, a baby would be the natural next step progression.

if you are in love and having sex and perpetually saying *uck *you to nature by continuously using birth control, then i don't agree with that.
if you don't want kids, don't have sex ... otherwise it's not fair to the rest of us who are furthering the species with lots of love and hard work.

i am surprised other people on here are so agreeable. actually, wait, no i am not.

Kristian said...

I'm really enjoying reading most people's opinions on this. So I'm just going to add that the photo is of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn (who never married, but did have an on-and-off-again extra-maritial relationship. Tracy did have kids though.), not Cary Grant.

Lauren said...

Exactly, Unknown. The whole point of this is that we shouldn't have to come up with a "good reason" not to have children, just as women who do decide to have children are never expected to justify their choice.

Kangus said...

Thank you! I'm so glad someone else spotted that as well. Also, it would have been incredibly difficult for them to have children, considering the circumstances of their relationship and careers.

Gudrun said...

I feel I have had to justify my choice for having children to some people...like in my office for example. I don't have a child yet, but I'm pregnant with my first one. I think no matter what a woman chooses sometimes she feels the need to justify herself. I don't think that's right, but it happens. And I just think choosing not to have one because you don't want to turn out like your mother or not travel isn't the best idea...mostly because you can choose not to be like your mother or you can choose to travel with or without your kids. You're not trapped or destined to be anything. That's the great thing about living right now. You can make your own choices. Motherhood or not, you choose what your life is like. So limiting your life for any reason seems unnecessary.

Unknown said...

Haha, I love the analogy.
I also never feel like going for a swim but even once I'm in there I feel it's overrated :-)
Needless to say I don't want children because the prospect doesn't seem exciting to me at all!
But I think you are right, you never know before you've been there!

Ana, UK

Abbey said...

This is a great post. I find it interesting how varied people's reasons are for not wanting kids. I myself have not wanted kids and still don't as I move further into my thirties. I am lucky to live in a progressive place (San Francisco) where there is very little pressure from the community regarding this choice.
For me, one big reason I don't want to have kids is that I am a career nanny. First of all, I can't imagine going from working with kids all day to having kids at home. That would be too much! If I'd planned to be a mother I certainly would have found a different kind of job to settle into a long time ago so there wouldn't be that conflict when the time comes. But the thing is I absolutely adore all the families I've worked for, and I've been so blessed to see babies and kids grow over the years, loving them every step of the way. I'm so close to them that I feel whatever mother-instinct I have is totally satisfied by caring for these children who are totally my family despite that we don't share any DNA. Also, the rest of my time is completely mine. I truly have the best of both worlds.

Kristian said...

Also- Kudos to these women for coming on here and talking about their reasons, knowing that their decisions would be discussed and possibly ridiculed and be treated in a negative manner.

en annan said...

I know the feeling! I was always honest with me not liking babies or toddlers. I had a hard time pretending to at least cast an interested glance at "the new baby" brought in by colleagues, not to mention bringing up the correct amount of empathy to attempt to understand what children/babies/pregnancies ment to employees (REALLY tough).

Women are always expected to like babies somehow.

What I can say is that it changed when I had my first child. Being pregnant was a really cool "project", but meeting that new person was awesome (still is, even when he drives me mad from having his own free will and his own agenda).

Not saying that's a "truth" for anyone but me, but it did take me some time to grasp and it certainly took some time to get to the point where "making babies" seemed like a good idea.

Lauren said...

Calling these women's reasons (because they were not "arguments") for not having children "thin" kind of defeats the whole purpose of this post. Women who choose to have children are rarely if ever asked why they made their decision, yet women who choose not to have children are constantly questioned. The point was to share their thought process, not for them to have to justify themselves.

Mirela said...

Such interesting perspectives! Thanks for sharing all of these, my favorite (and most hilarious!) quote was from Jean (from PDX): "I tell my husband, I still need something to take care of. I need to get some chickens." Hahahaha!!! Love it.

Unknown said...

I feel completely the opposite!
I'm an only child and I would never have just one child just because I found being my parents only focus has meant a lot of pressure! Not in the sense that I felt like I have to 'achieve' something (my parents are super supportive and lovely) but that I pretty much hold my parents happiness in my hands, they are constantly worried about me, and only me!
Additionally I am on my one should my parent ever need care and not wanting children myself I feel really guilty not giving my mum any grandchildren.

It is of course your choice to have how many children you want, nobody should judge you for that!
I'm just saying being the only child is not always a positive experience, especially if you're family is generally small.

Maria

Casey said...

I really appreciate this post! It's nice to hear women speaking honestly and openly about a topic that can be so difficult to discuss because people (primarily other women) can be so quick to judge. I feel like that was the purpose of the write-up; to get us to think about the perspectives of others before imposing our opinions. But then I see others commenting right here that they think it's "sad" that some people don't want kids. Hmm.

I'm 30 and currently single. I'm not sure if kids are in the cards for me, but there's no doubt that I'm capable of having a fufilled life either way.

The Wild Fairy said...

This post is so emotive! I'm replying as an 'older' lady, just a smidge over 45, married for 20 years, no children by choice. Even happier now we don't have children to be truthful. We're both only children, both sets of parents gone a long time, no aunts, uncles, cousins, no family at all, which I think is vital when you do have children. Funnily enough, in my early twenties I worked as a nanny. I enjoyed my work, but even then I thought, I don't think I'll ever want children. Living in Ireland, *everything* is about family and children, so our social life is limited due to our childless situation. I do wonder is that just Ireland, or is it like that everywhere? Anyway, final note, childless and still happy and fulfilled. x

Marie Adamo said...

I don't understand the idea that not having kids is selfish. We do not NEED more people in the world and most people will procreate, so it is not as if someone who doesn't have kids is selfishly opting out of a duty. I know I eventually want to have kids when I am much much older, so I can experience as much as possible first, and then my reason for having children would be to experience more. Maybe this is a selfish reason? However, a friend of mine is probably the least selfish person I know- while a university student she volunteers, is a political activist and nurtures everyone she comes into contact with. She would be a fantastic mother and even she knows that. But she doesn't want kids. How is this selfish, when she is so selfless to everyone around her? Is it selfish to her child that does not exist? She would have to have a child and then be a bad mother for her to be selfish to it, wouldn't she? For those who say it is selfish to not have kids, I'm sorry you feel like you gave up so much to be a mother. I will wait until I feel like I WANT to be a mother and a good one, not when I feel obligated to fulfill some obscure duty.

Unknown said...

Thanks for that! I honestly don't know any girl (!) that doesn't like to smell every baby they see for about an hour!

And yes, if I ever decided to have babies I'm sure I'd like them, I think that's kind of a given, at least I hope so :-)

(sorry for the 'unknown' name, don't know why it comes up that way...Ana, Uk)

Gina said...

I have never wanted to have my own kids, and I'm still not convinced that I want to have any at all. Truly, I don't see the point to having children. Sure, some people need to if we want to continue the human race, but if I truly want to be a mom, adoption seems like a more noble option. There are babies, children and teenagers who already need homes. I, on the other hand, don't need to birth a child just for the experience or so that it will look like me.

Jo Jo said...

I like the *idea* of this post...but would really love to hear from someone a bit older. There's a lot of early and mid-thirties represented...which is just like me...still wrestling with teh kid question...I'd like to hear real perspectives from women in their late 40's/early 50's. Both about the decision they made not to have kids, and the life after the decision. What was the same, what was different, and most importantly that they would choose the same... something like that would help 30 year old gals like myself have non-kid having role models.

Julia Mallett said...

I agree with Ashley@marriedlane and Alison -my parents are in their mid 50s,and since my sister and i left home 10 years ago have been all over the world having the time of their lives - frequently with us joining them places for fun wine time! Now they are grandparents and can't get enough of that either.

No such thing as brittle old age for them!

Erin said...

I love this post for making it feel OK to be uncertain about children. I believe I will want children but when I try to imagine what that will look like, I honestly can't picture it. There is also a lot of pressure in the common claim that a new parent feels an instinctive love for being a parent once they meet the baby. I fear that I wouldn't feel that way immediately. What if I was resentful of the change to my life? And it is this fear that makes me certain that I'm not ready. While this is not a forever decision, it's nice to feel it's OK to wait or to never have kids if I my priorities don't change.

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