Q&A, cont…

☆ September 28, 2012

This is really personal, but it’s a question I grapple with: How did you make the decision not to have children?

I don’t know if this will help at all, because it never felt like a “decision” to me ~
I have never wanted to have kids.  And my role models and saviors growing up were women without children and I saw how the labels so commonly applied to childfree women (selfish, unfulfilled) in NO way applied to them. I saw how much they contributed to the world around them and those ridiculous labels have never affected my psyche or made me question my choice.

Anyone else want to share their experience/decision in the comment section?

Comments

157 Responses to “Q&A, cont…”

  1. Ellen
    September 28th, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

    I’ve always felt the same way. Recently, I had a hysterectomy, and some friends told me I might be depressed afterwards. It was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done, and I feel GREAT about it. I could never picture myself having a child, and stayed with that instinct all my life (I’m 48 now).

  2. malita
    September 28th, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    I just turned 36, and when most women discuss having children with me they wonder if I’m lonely or unfulfilled. They say things like “you won’t have anyone to take care of you when you’re old”. But having children isn’t a guarantee to any of that – you can have children and be lonely, you can have children and still be unfulfilled and you can end up old and your children either not around to take care of you or they decide to not take care of you – depressing I know but it’s true. If I decide to have children it won’t be to keep me from being lonely or unfulfilled and it won’t be a way to secure my lifestyle when I’m old – that’s putting a lot of crazy pressure on another human being.

  3. Mina
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    I also never wanted kids. I was so glad when I got to the age where people stopped asking me when I was going to have them, and telling me I’d change my mind someday.

    This was a very interesting article I recently read that may be of interest for this topic. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/not-wanting-kids-is-entirely-normal/262367/

  4. Diana
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    I knew very early in my adult life I didn’t want children. I had spent virtually all my free time from 12 – 21 either babysitting or filling in for someone’s role as mother. I soon learned being a parent just wouldn’t/didn’t jell well with me…and I knew I would be miserable at it. Instead, I make an excellent Auntie Mame, and my “nieces and nephews” have valued that ‘other adult unit, non-parent’ opinion/adviser role as an unquestioned part of their lives, and value their time with me. And I with them. I respect people’s choices, and fortunately…my friends respect and applaud mine.

  5. Ms. Pants
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

    I was about 8 years old the first time I said I didn’t want kids. Everyone said “You’ll change your mind.” I asked a doctor if I could get my tubes tied or be sterilised via Essure instead of continuing to take birth control. He said I might change my mind. (Do abortion doctors ever refuse abortions based on this?)

    In short, I find most people don’t believe women who say they don’t want kids. I’ve never wanted children. I find the idea of being pregnant to be absolutely repugnant and always have. (Fine for y’all–I just don’t wanna play host to a squirmy alien, okay?) Plus, the genes on each side of my family do not need to be regenerated–there’s a shitload of crazy on both sides that doesn’t need to be perpetuated. These are what prompted my decisions. Don’t want em. Ew pregnancy. No more crazy from me.

    …People still told me I would change my mind so I went and got box cancer. Okay, no, I didn’t seek out to get box cancer, but it did happen and in the happening, they took my ute and then nuked my ovaries so there’s no longer any chance of me ever getting pregnant. I still randomly celebrate this. More often than not having cancer anymore, actually.

    I believe that for some people, it’s not even really a question; the desire to be a parent just isn’t present. (A coworker just told me I could adopt about 10 seconds ago. I DO NOT WANT KIDS!!!)

    Personally, I always thought it would be better to regret NOT having children than to have them and regret THAT.

  6. hello haha narf
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    i’m 41 years old. back in 2000 i was unmarried, in a committed relationship, when the doctors told me the reason i was in the hospital with a blood clot of six inches is because i have a genetic mutation that makes my blood want to clot. i always assumed bearing children would be in my future, so when i was told that it would not be a smart idea unless i wanted to die or have a challenged child (the blood thinners to get me through a pregnancy have a high rate of birth defects). i sobbed off and on for a good part of one day, then something clicked that i don’t NEED children (or a husband or anyone, for that matter) to be a whole and happy person. i accepted that i am enough to make a difference in this world and giving birth doesn’t make me a whole. acceptance gifted me the freedom to be happy and realize that i actually really love being childfree. and i get to be the cool aunt or the cool cousin; i get to have incredible kids of my friends tell me that i am the favorite friend of their parents. all the fun!

    i hope that your asker of this question knows that regardless of their decision they are enough. in whatever choice they make, it is up to them to make themselves happy. giving birth makes women mothers, but wanting to do the job will make them moms.

  7. Connie
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    I knew from a very early age I did not want children. I am 49 now and have never regretted that decision. (And now completely through menopause, so don’t even have to think about it any more).

    I love my cousins and nieces and nephews. I just never wanted to be tied down.

  8. Erica
    September 28th, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

    I have always known I didn’t want kids. I came home from preschool at age 3 and told my mom I “divorced my husband” because he wanted me to have babies. I am now 35 and have no kids, no plans to have kids, and no desire and am loving my life. There’s new research emerging that there may be a “motherhood gene.” I’m guessing mine doesn’t work! I do research on pregnancy and birth because I am fascinated by women who do have babies but I know it is not for me and I have met quite a few women who figured out it was not for them after they had kids.

  9. Panther
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    It is interesting. I ALWAYS wanted children. My goal was to be a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. By my 20’s I was actively trying. Two miscarriages later, it was confirmed that the chances of carrying to term were about equal with being hit by lighting while being mauled by a polar bear.

    A few years later I had my tubes tied – I couldn’t face another miscarriage.

    I’m 45. I cannot be happier that I never had children. My life took some turns I’d never have expected, and the burden of children would have prevented most of them.

    Life works out well sometimes.

  10. Tib
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    I find it interesting that all the commenters up until my comment have been childless and we’ve yet to hear from the pro-breeders (who are usually breeders themselves), because they do tend to be very vocal about others who decide not to breed. Anyways…

    I never really thought myself keen on having children, although I love them, I love babies, and they way they smell, I love waddling toddlers and their absurd speech and pointing at everything. But I never really thought that was for me.

    When I was 18 I got pregnant. I was lucky enough to be in a supportive relationship and we decided to have an abortion. I know to this day 20 years later it was one of the smartest choices I ever made.

    Two years later in a different relationship I got pregnant again. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but circumstances were different and I kept the child. Many a person doubted my ability to have a child and be a good parent. My mom tried to get me to live with her (once things were clearly over with the father) and said she would raise the child – I declined her offer.

    It wasn’t something I set out to do, but I worked really hard and I think I can honestly say I have done a good job. My child is immensely loved by many people. I have gone to great lengths to surround her with “aunts” and “uncles”, mentors and family, because I knew that me not wanting to do this was not her fault, and it was my responsibility to make sure that she had the guidance and love she would need to be a good and decent person in this world.

    When I was 30 I was getting ready to marry someone who had been around since my daughter was one. He didn’t want babies of his own, and he was happy enough to be dad to my daughter. I asked my gyny for the fifth time in as many years to approve a tubal ligation. He finally relented. Turning my factory into a playground (as one friend suggested) gave me and my little family so much freedom. To not have the fear looming. We aren’t dirt poor, but we aren’t rich either, another child would have been a burden, and I don’t know that I could have mustered up the same strength to be a good parent a second time around.

    Long and winded, but I think I have a perspective not many do.

    Your children are your words, the cows, the cats, Charlie, and Chloe. They are all a gift, not that a physical reproduction of you wouldn’t be a a gift to the world; but the world might not shine as bright without those other things.

  11. Tib
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    PS. That child is almost 18 and the light she brings into this world is amazing. And she does NOT want children, just a mini-pig.

  12. Jen
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

    I’m a 40yr old and have never has had any desire to have kids nor be married. I was the mother to my incubator (no one deserves to be called a mother to someone that they abuse mentally and physically for over 18yrs) as a child and like Diana above, babysat from the time I was 11 to 24. Even had my own nanny biz for a bit.

    Pretty much helped raise 2 kids from the time they were babies to 12 and 11. Was there so much that the girls called me Mom even when asked not too. I love kids but partial fear of treating them like my mother treated me (even though not possible)combined with thought of pregnancy (ew), pretty much being a parent as a child (and teen and young adult), giving up my life (that is what you do when you have kids) and not really wanting to be tied to anyone for life was enough to say nope not going to.

    Now at 40 I have no desire nor any regrets. I get out my strong maternal instincts out on my animals and some of the kids in my life. If I really wanted kids I would adopt.

    Do wish that people would keep their nose out of it as it is no one’s business if someone chooses to have kids or not and they get so offended when that is said to them. As many above has stated do not need that to feel complete.

  13. Hemma
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    yeeeh it’s great to be in the company of like-minded women. Huzzah! I have been pitied, called crazy, called irresponsible(duh?? whaaat?) and selfish(excuse me!) for not wanting children. Do I regret it? 99.99% of the time , not but there are occasional times when I see the togetherness of friends and their kids that I think it would be fun. But then there are many complications to these relationships, too and all in all it was a wise decision for me.
    And while we are talking about it. Can we/the media please stop glorifying these outrageous multiple children families? Puleaze: 19 children and counting? Whaat? Octomom? THE biggest issue we have re the environment is overpopulation. Bar none.

  14. Mick
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    My wife knew from an early age that she did not want kids.

    I gave her a vasectomy for our 11th wedding anniversary.

  15. Rogier
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    I never wanted any children. Had a vasectomy when I was 29… Was very clear with every woman that I ever met later in life. If you still want kids, move on I am the wrong guy..

  16. Sarah
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    Hello,

    I’ve wrestled with this question back and forth. I was lucky to be brought up in a family that was supportive of me doing whatever made me happy. Have kids/don’t have kids they love me no matter what.

    I think the decision can be hard on both sides. For me my career has been a huge part of my life and trying to figure out how to make it all work is on my mind all the time.

    I think the thing that bothers me more is anyone who judges on either side of the debate. The term “breeders” – really? Doesn’t this sound dumb! I have friends who never want to have kids – great I love you and wish you all great things! I have friends that do want to have kids – great I love you and wish you all great things! Your decision is exactly that – YOURS .

    It hurts that women feel that they have to justify not having children or that I would be looked down on for thinking about having them. Do what makes you happy!!!

  17. Rogier
    September 28th, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    Some see having 5 kids as an achievement. I think its selfish and primitive to want that much offspring. Having lots off kids was needed when were a primitive tribe. Hoping that some would survive to take care off you later. Hmm lets see 47% should fend from themselves. Guess we should start breeding fast….

  18. Amy
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    When our young niece once asked me when her uncle and I were going to have children, my mother spoke up and said, “Not everyone can be an Aunt Amy”. I loved her for that.

  19. Marg
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    I wanted kids, had two of them but have always thought that I shouldn’t have as I don’t think I was a good mother. They are both wonderful people in spite of me but I think next time around I’ll pass on the procreation process.

  20. Bethany
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    I’m 28 and I’ve never wanted children either. No one has ever told me I’m selfish for not wanting them or that my life will be unfulfilling and meaningless, though I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some people were thinking that. I used to hear dismissive “oh you’ll change your mind” remarks when the subject came up, and it drove me nuts. It’s so disrespectful to presume to tell someone else what they’ll want, as if she isn’t the person most intimately familiar with her own mind. Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve been getting more positive responses to my reasons for remaining child-free (I prefer that moniker over “childless,” which seems to imply that I’m missing something):

    Although I’m steadily improving, patience has never been my strong suit, and that’s something of which I’d need heaps and heaps if I had a child. Seems like many of my peers crave someone/something to take care of; I don’t get nearly the same volume of those mother hen instincts, and the ones I do get are easily inflicted on my husband when he doesn’t feel well. Raising kids is expensive and stressful and recent studies appear to indicate that, despite all the dewy-eyed “I’m so in love with my children and they’re the best part of my life” sentiments new moms and dads often spout, parenthood actually reduces one’s sense of satisfaction with life. Plus, my own parents cursed me when I was little–“someday you’re gonna have a kid who’s JUST LIKE YOU.” D:

    Luckily, I don’t get much flak from family. My mom has accepted that I have no desire to reproduce, and agrees that if I don’t actually want kids, it would be a bad idea to have them. My husband’s mom is raising a 5-year-old and 1-year-old twins and his sister has a baby on the way, so no pressure from them, and his dad and stepmom are just now enjoying their empty nest.

    My dad is having a much harder time with it and rarely misses an opportunity to “encourage” me. I tell him that I haven’t taken any permanent steps to inhibit my ability to reproduce just in case I change my mind, and if I do decide I want kids, he’ll be the first (well, probably third, behind Husband and Mom) to know.

  21. Lisa
    September 28th, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

    That is just the perfect answer.
    If it feels like an actual *decision* you have to make, then you probably SHOULD have children, because the subject obviously matters to you.

    Me? I’m 38 now and I couldn’t care less. Have never had a serious thought about it; I feel it in my bones that I don’t want to be a mother. (A nurturing friend, lover, aunt, sister, yes. But not a mom).
    The only time this subject has EVER been on my mind for more then five minutes is when other people harrassed me about it, and I felt that I should show at least SOME doubt, lest they see me as ‘less of a human/woman’.
    But your answer is a lot better, and shorter. It’s not even a question. You just know. :-)

  22. sherewin
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    What an interesting discussion! I’m glad I asked the question. It’s great to hear that “It never felt like a decision” for you Shreve. That’s really interesting because, unlike you, it definitely feels like a choice/decision to me. I’m also surprised by how many people on here have commented that they just always knew that they did not want to be mothers. (And one(?) who knew that she always wanted to be a mothers. I don’t meet many women (or men) who seem to really wrestle with the choice in the way that I do. I definitely know that I would like to experience pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding, but bringing another person into this world is something about which I am infinitely curious, and also infinitely uncertain.

  23. andrea
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

    You clearly have a cheering section here but that’s what comments tend to be about. I was hoping to see a little debate! Anyway, I think what one commenter said about there being a parenting gene is right on. I was one who thought I didn’t want kids and my friends were the same way. Even now most of my friends, often in long-tern committed relationships, have chosen to remain childless. There’s none of this “I didn’t want to be tied down” excuse-making and rationalization, and as a result of their positive attitude and lack of defensiveness few of them have had others challenge their decision. They understand that it’s just not in their psychological makeup to want kids and are glad to have lived in a time where they could make that decision based on free will (though I concede that they’re also lucky to live in a very forward-thinking urban area). I DID choose to have kids, wouldn’t have had it any other way, but don’t feel the need to defend my position any more than my friends do. But for those who cite negative economic/personal satisfaction/lifestyle etc. statistics as reasons not to have kids, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Those of us who wanted our children are certainly not driven by anything rational. It’s something far more powerful, not really a choice, and needs as much respect as a person’s decision to not have kids.

  24. Jenn
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    I’m 27 & never wanted kids. To be honest I never even really cared for them. At 22 I learnt I was pregnant & couldn’t fathom the thought of an abortion.
    My daughter is now 4. I do my best as a parent & plan to have 1 more child. There are times I can’t help but wonder how different my life would be had I not became pregnant. I think I would be much more adventurous. When I look at my child I do realize I could not live one day without her though.

  25. shreve
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    A ~ Debate? Over what? Whether having kids or not having kids is better? Gross. That most comments are from childfree men and women probably has to do with the fact that it IS generally less accepted and here is a place to share thoughts and experiences without judgement. Lets keep it that way.

  26. Trina
    September 28th, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

    Let see, me I never wanted to get married or have kids, I decided all that when I was 7. It just wasn’t for me. Plus my mom ran an in home daycare so that may have something to do with it. It changed when I got married when I was 25, I found my soul mate and part of me craved to have a little one that was part of each of us. But it wasn’t meant to be. After 14 years together and and 5 of those trying to no success I have decided it is not to be but that was fine. We have each other, our furkids and I have more kids around that I can ever imagine seeing that I work in a daycare (somethings never change)I am Aunt Trina to many that are blood and none blood related and I am content with that. Plus we love our toys. We love to travel and we ride our motorcycle if we had kids that would not be able to do those things. The kids would have to come first and we have decided we are too selfish for that we like it the way it is now.
    Besides somebody had to be the fun aunt!

  27. Lesley
    September 28th, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

    A woman’s destiny, which is strongly tied to biology, should be her own. I knew from an early age that I didn’t want children. I did not have children and I have no regrets. But society has other ideas. I have never felt my choice was respected. It seems inconceivable that a woman might not have maternal instincts. There must be something wrong with me. I have always – and from a very young age – not understood why girls and women aren’t viewed as people in their own right. We’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go.

  28. Losech
    September 28th, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    Once-upon-a-time-ago, I wanted 100 kids and a school bus to drive them around in. I cannot remember how old I was, but I have since gone completely in the opposite direction. I’m 23 and I’ve only had one “real” relationship (that was a complete mistake) but I have learned a lot since the 100-kids-in-a-bus days.
    I helped raise my three youngest siblings and a newborn that my mother cared for for the first three months of his life. I used to baby sit a lot, I’ve got good experience with kids. But I really do not like children at all.
    The whole thought of pregnancy repulses me, and I honestly have very little if any tolerance for babies. That right there is a recipe for disaster.

    I’ve gotten it all, the “You’ll change your mind!” and “You are young!” crap, but I know for sure that I will never change my mind on this one.
    There are things that I’d like to do with MY life, and kids just do not fit into that space anywhere. Sure, call me selfish if you want, but if you knew two licks about me, you’d know that adding a kid to the mix would be a very bad idea.

    If you want to have kids, go ahead, that is your choice and I cannot tell you what to do, nor would I even try. But don’t you dare attempt to push them on me. I don’t want ’em, and forcing your opinion on me will just get you shoved out.
    I’m quite bitter about this topic, if you can’t tell. I am sick of people, especially relatives, telling me what I should and shouldn’t do or think or anything else under the sun.

  29. Marsha
    September 28th, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

    I can’t believe people are still asking you that question. Such a personal and irrelevant one! Not sure what difference it makes. I, too, never wanted children, from an early age. Eventually, people stop asking. Always thought of myself as more Aunt material than Mother.

  30. Birdy
    September 28th, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    I am 28. I have been married for just under four months – to my partner of 12 years. At this time, I have not yet fully made up my mind. A revelation about hindsight bias and parenting really shook me up last year….

    But then I realized:

    No matter my choice, hindsight bias would skew my opinion of things. As a flesh and blood being with an animal brain, I would always view my choice as the best. Even if I made a bad choice I would see my acknowledgement and acceptance as the best possible outcome…

    And so, at this moment and for the last several months I have decided to pursue biological success.

    At least, I’ll start in a year when I get my master’s in conservation biology (irony? Perhaps!). Besides, my husband says we are the most awesome people he knows. Our children will rock a world – even if it is their own!

    What does irk me are people who lord their choices over others such as the mother of three who is four years younger than I. Or the couple celebrating their decade anniversary who have no children (but an absurd amount of dogs). The caliber of one’s character need not be measured in this way.

    I am also irked by individuals who try WAY TOO HARD to have children when adoption is a much better option. A coworker put her life and the lives of her children on the line twice to have children. Her vagina has collapsed. Total hysterectomy. Prolapsed rectum. Vascular system destroyed by blood clots. Massive hormonal treatments that have increased her risk for breast cancer beyond measure. Not to mention her two sons inherited her blood disorder that led to many of these symptoms. Oh, and the near to $100k(US) she dished out for all of this.

    Seems simpler and more honest to adopt… but while I am irked I will not judge! It is not my place and she does love her sons just as the three children and the multitude of canines are loved!

    Wow, rant. Sorry. :X

  31. Tonna Bear
    September 28th, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

    It was never really an option. Mentally I was never designed for children. It’s not an instinct I possess. And now physically, its advised against. My childhood has a lot to do with it as well I’m sure. A ” the buck stops here” mentality. My kids will continue to have feathers and fur. Beside, babies scare me I’m always afraid when someone hands one to me its head will pop off like a doll, and go rolling away.

  32. Brooke
    September 28th, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    I agree with most of the sentiments shared above — everyone should be respected for knowing themselves, and for making the decision that will work best for them. I don’t understand the negativity directed at those who choose not to have children, nor the negativity directed at those who choose to do so (is calling us “breeders” really necessary?)

    I never liked children (and still don’t care all that much about other people’s children). But I always knew I wanted to be a mom, and I enjoy being a mother way more than I thought I would. I have 18 mo old twins, so I definitely have my moments where I want to tear my hair out, but more often I am pleasantly surprised by how fun they are. Almost makes me want to have more! :)

    That said, I was lucky enough to have them at a time in my life when I really really wanted a baby. There are plenty of times in my life when I didn’t want a child (at that time) and I’m eternally grateful that I never had an unwanted pregnancy or child.

  33. Dana
    September 28th, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

    I was always undecided. When I was younger never really wanted kids and always thought I would make a horrible mother. I got pregnant at 17 and ended up miscarring. At 19, I got married and my husband and I figured we would let nature takes its course. I got pregnant 3 years later and again miscarried. This one upset him tremendously and a doctor decided to prefer tests on me. After a round of tests, the doc said it was very unlikely I would ever carry a baby to term (I don’t remember all the terminology he used. My husband and I decided we were fine with being childless and if we ever had the urge to want one, we would adopt, but we would concentrate on our careers and buy a house with a mortgage payment that would cause us to eat hot dogs and mac and cheese if we weren’t careful. We bought the house in May of 97 and in October of 97, I found out I was pregnant again. Thinking, ok…here we go again, I figured within a month I would lose it, however it stuck. To make a long story short I ended up having three kids, now ages 14,11, and 9. I love my kids, but could NEVER do it again. I am counting the years till they are adults and I won’t have to be responsible for them. I have now gotten to where I can’t stand human babies. I know that sounds cold, but I can’t. When we go to out to eat and there is a baby crying, I feel like I am going crazy. I just want to shout to shut the thing up. My kids are now old enough that we don’t have to worry about them drinking draino or burning down the house, so life has gotten easier, but I know for sure that I would not have the patience to do it again.

  34. -s-
    September 28th, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    I figured by my late teens I probably wouldn’t have kids. Late 30s now and really no intention. This baffled/s a lot of people because I love kids, am really good with them, am a huge nurturer, and just seem to fall into the whole role with ease. And they are easy for me. OK, trying at times, but it is a stressor that doesn’t spin me about. But I just don’t have an urge to be a mom. Aunt, nanny, caregiver, sure. Heck, I get mother’s day gifts and cards from some kids whose lives I’ve been a part of. But capital-M-Mom? I suppose if someone I loved really wanted/had kids, I’d embrace it through whatever means, but there is no internal drive for it.

    I’m curious about what it’d be like to be pregnant (YOU GROW A DISPOSABLE ORGAN! …in addition to a person) but not something I’m going to do for shits and giggles. The only regret I entertained was my parents not getting to be the awesome grandparents they would be. And then my brother and SIL had a couple boys, and my parents are the awesomest grandparents.

    I’ve been lucky enough to witness the birth of a friend’s last kid-as the chaperon for her first- and it was so fascinating. Funniest part? After telling me how awful the labor was, had it been her first, it’ve been her only, &etc, she turns to me and perkily says “So when are you gonna have a baby? You totally should!” Even the OB laughed.

  35. Maggie
    September 28th, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    I’m 28, married and I’m going to be different here, and say I DO want kids, absolutely, positively YES.
    I am waiting for old car accident injuries to fully heal as best they can, and a lawsuit to be settled, and then… babies! My husband and I can’t wait. I feel that maternal instinct in a really strong way.
    But my brother and his wife probably won’t have kids. He says he thinks he wants to have them slightly more than his wife, but neither of them are really enthused about it. He’s 35 and just started med school. Um, not really any time to have kids anyway. And that’s totally cool with me! He can be the cool uncle to my kids, just as he was the cool big brother to me. And I think that’s awesome.
    I do think he would be an exceptional dad, but I totally accept and respect his (and his wife’s) decision to not have a family. The way some people lay on the guilt if you don’t want to have kids just baffles me.
    My dad suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of my grandparents, so I strongly believe that if you’re not absolutely SURE and EXCITED to have kids, you shouldn’t! It will likely make you or them very unhappy.
    And while I am super excited to get pregnant and raise our little ones, and play with them and teach them and help them to grow up to be the best people they can be, hopefully with values that will help make the world a better place… I stand firm on only having two.
    On a planet that is overpopulated, I think it’s irresponsible to have more children the the number of us. My husband and I = 2 people. Therefore we will only create two more people to come after us.
    So I am totally fine with some people’s decision to not have kids, just as I am with people who do choose to have them! It’s not like the world NEEDS more people.
    And I don’t want kids to fulfill me, make me happy or take care of me when I’m old. In fact I hope my kids DON’T have to take care of me when I’m old! I want to teach them and help them to live the life they want and to go off into the world. And I can’t wait :)

  36. SDC
    September 28th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    I elected not to have any children and my husband’s parents do think I’m selfish. I don’t really blame them, my husband is an only child. My parents are already grandparents so they are fine with my decision. I’ve thought about leaving so that my husband could find someone else to have a family with. He says he’s okay with us as is, but I do feel, well, a little selfish. And that decision wasn’t made without some regret. I love being an aunt to my siblings children as well as to the kids of my close friends. All other children I’m indifferent to. My apologies if that offends anyone, it isn’t intended to. My reasons for not having kids are complex and I don’t want to delve deeply into them publicly, but I have given this some thought and I am choosing to live with that choice.

  37. Ava
    September 28th, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    Interesting, the different perspectives. I’m another one for whom not having children wasn’t a decision, just knowledge. I literally never, even as a child myself, ever imagined myself as a mother. It’s a fine and wonderful thing that other people do. I just don’t share the desire, and never have. And that’s fine and wonderful too.

    It hasn’t always been easy to bear the intrusive, outside pressure with patience though.

    I have a real blind spot with the “genetic legacy” argument. I genuinely don’t get the belief that children somehow convey a kind of immortality. It doesn’t make sense to me emotionally or logically. There’s nothing all that spectacular or unique in my genetic soup. And for all the deep bonding people put into their children, I don’t know many who think twice about themselves as continuations of their parents. I don’t GET it. Blind spot, nonstandard wiring, biochemical hiccup or just free form weirdness; it is, so I accept it.

    Most of all, I know I wouldn’t have been the best kind of mother. Kids should be *wanted*. I’m patient and nurturing but motherhood? No. It’s expressed other ways in my life and be damned if that’s inadequate or not enough.

    I’ve never regretted not having children. Mine’s a full, interesting, happy life. It wouldn’t suit many or probably even most. Which is okay, because it doesn’t have to.

  38. Joyce
    September 28th, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    When I was in my 20s, I wanted children – lots of children. But, I knew I didn’t want to be a single mom. I was raised by a single mom. She did the best she could, but I always knew it wasn’t for me. If I was going to have children, I needed a strong partner, who would be a involved, caring dad.

    After several bad relationships, I found my self in my late 30s, single and childless. I had a choice to make. If I wanted children, then it would be as a single mom. I could afford it – I had a decent job and just bought a house. So, after months of considering my options, I decided to get a dog.

    I’m 48 now,(the dog is 10), and don’t regret my decision. I think if I were meant to be a mom, it would have happened. I’m not filled with remorse. I don’t feel like there’s a “hole” in my life that needs to be filled. My life fits me.

  39. Emma
    September 29th, 2012 @ 1:36 am

    I read through all of the comments and it was definitely was interesting…so many women with such a totally different perspective than I have. And, after reading, I wish I could apologize to all of the married friends I’ve had that I’ve asked when they were going to have kids, just assuming that they would.

    That being said, while I’m like several commenters in that I’ve babysat since I was 7-ish, and love babies, I’m going to have them. I absolutely long for it. I always have, and I’m lucky that while it scares both my husband and I, he’s also very supportive of that someday moment.

    We both understand that it isn’t going to be reality until one of us is no longer working because both of us had stay at home mothers. It’s not that I feel like I would be giving up my career, because the one I’m currently in (contracted to be in until 2018…ugh) has only ever been a temporary thing in my life, and I’ve had that idea for quite some time.

    That being said, by the time that we can start having kids, we’ll only have a few years to have our own biological children, so we’re not planning on more than one or two. What we are planning on is to adopt children from foster care. We’re not going to be sitting on a list for years hoping some pregnant mother gives us an infant. We’ll be taking some of the thousands of older children…teens, mostly based on who’s there. We’re looking to get at least one sibling group – because while it’s hard enough for a single child to get adopted past the age of 12, it’s exponentially harder for a sibling group of two through twelve kids to be adopted.

    That’s our goal, and our dream. It won’t all be butterflies pooping rainbows, and it’ll be tough to add several children to our house all at once, but we’re really passionate about adopting older children from foster care. Our friends might kill us if we didn’t have a few of our own (in a totally kidding manner) but we aren’t exactly going to try to make a whole football or basketball team on our own from scratch. We want that many kids someday (not all at the same time, but by adopting more unwanted older children as various ones move out of our house) but I don’t want to go through that many pregnancies for sure! Once or twice, maybe even three times if I turn out to be good at getting pregnant (ha!) but not for as many kids as we dream of helping.

  40. Veena
    September 29th, 2012 @ 3:43 am

    I think life is filled with ironies. Ever since I’ve been young, I’ve been a caretaker – a mothering figure. Be it my little sister or cousins. Everyone (family and friends) said I’d make a great mother one day. After a marriage that did not work out I set out to find myself and to be my own independent person. In so doing, I’m not sure any more that I want to have a child of my own. And I do think one of the reasons is that having a child would not fit in with the current lifestyle I lead. I still do grapple with it and you never know where life takes you. But, I know I’m not saddened that I’m not a mother. Plus I do have some furkids. :)

  41. Amy
    September 29th, 2012 @ 5:48 am

    I am a mother. I have always been, even before I had my son almost three years ago. I am meant to be mother, and I want two or three more kids, but my body doesn’t agree. We are in the process of adopting a second right now- my strong need to be a mother doesn’t mean the kids need to be biologically mine- and we are so excited!

    Having said that, I do not understand this “debate.” We should not argue over each others’ right/desire to have children! To each her own.

    I have two close friends who have each always said they do not want children. The people, over the years, who have judged them harshly on this, told them they are selfish for not wanting kids- it baffles me. Personally, I think that if you are someone who, in your heart, doesn’t want kids, it would be selfish to HAVE them.

    Either way, this world needs more love, more acceptance and less judgment.

  42. Deborah
    September 29th, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    Shreve, Can you share who your role models/saviors are /were and share a little about them, if they are persons we may not know?

  43. Flame
    September 29th, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    THANK YOU for answering this! I am also someone who has never wanted or had any desire to experience pregnancy. I have always known and my mother told me I started expressing my childfree-ness to everyone else when I was 15.

    I hate the fact that so many people say, “you’ll change your mind” or “it’s different when they are your own”. I realize that they are true for others, but they do not apply to me and it makes me upset when I have to defend my decision to others. I want to ask them, “Why did you WANT kids?” I honestly believe that a lot of people have them without really thinking it through and they aren’t ready for it. They think, “here’s a cute little baby and I want it” and never think that they will need to raise and mold this new human being, make them a respectable person that will go out into the world instead of one of the many douchebags the world seems to be churning out.

    The article that Mina posted is an excellent article and it’s something that I have seen in my own life. My friends that planned and have the kids they always wanted treat them so well and are actually parenting them. The ones that you either know are accidents or unwanted are treated much differently. It’s sad. I know of people on my CF email list that have parents that have told them they were never wanted or they ruined their lives… who does this?? I can’t imagine that feeling!!!

    I have been VERY fortunate to have family that understands my CF life and is accepting of it and loves me for who I am. I found my husband when we were 18 and I told him my stance and he was on board as well. I did go through a phase where I felt like a total outcast because of the way others treated me, but there are a lot of FB groups, email lists, etc… we have our own little group of CF people to support each other when the world doesn’t like your choice.

  44. Judy Renae
    September 29th, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    I am so glad you talked about this topic and invited comment. I too chose not to have children and have never regretted the decision. I am 52 years-old, have a wonderful social network of family and friends with many, many children. These dear people have never questioned my decision, I believe they haven’t because they see my love and joy of their children and simply “know” I didn’t need my own.

    I didn’t need my own children because I knew I have so much love to share with those people who are already here. In the early years of my marriage I became aware that the man I married grew up in a home that was not nurturing and loving in the way children need to be loved. Realizing this combined with my desire not to have children, I realized that in focusing on and ensuring his life with me is filled with kindness, gentleness, passionate love and nurture I could give to him what he did not have growing up. I made a difference for someone who was already here on the earth.

    On the other hand, I have two Alaskan Malamutes that I am fairly daft about… . Perhaps I will become a crazy old lady with too many dogs. :-)

  45. K.
    September 29th, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    Honestly, I think the question is kind of offensive. “Why don’t you have kids?” It’s based on the assumption that there’s only one way to live life, and everyone that doesn’t live according to some frankly dystopian notion of “one spouse, two kids, house with neatly trimmed lawn” is somehow “lesser.” The UK daily The Guardian awhile back posted some absolute nonsense by a clueless git extolling “50 signs that you’re an adult,” and of course having children was one of them. It’s all part of a preposterous idea that there is only one way to live life, one way to be happy.

    Screw that. It’s my life, and the only thing that will make me “lesser” is if I try to abide by someone else’s ridiculous ideas.

  46. K.
    September 29th, 2012 @ 8:40 am

    Also, I really hate kids.

    I have three cats. They are my family. Full stop.

  47. Josephine
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:13 am

    Me too, Shreve. Never felt the interest for kids. I played with wooden swords as a kid, not babydolls. Never wanted kids.

    I’m the sort who loves being the aunt. I get to play with them every now and then, spoil them a bit, AND SEND THEM HOME. I can be a safe place to come and ask questions or talk about stuff. I can be motherly without having to be a mother.

    Was never a question for me. Then I met and married an older man with two grown sons who I ADORE. Someday I’ll get to spoil grandbabies. Perfect. Just perfect.

  48. Katie H
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    This is one of the most beautiful, powerful posts and comment section I’ve read on this site. It is so amazing and refreshing to read through these comments and feel the honesty and power radiating off the computer screen. I feel so exceptionally proud of my gender!

  49. shreve
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    D (47) ~ they were/are people in my life, so, no, I doubt you know them and that’s also why I don’t feel right blogging about them ~ maybe I’ll come up with an appropriate way to share more down the road….

    EVERYONE ~ These comments…. so profound, every single one. Thanks.

  50. Evan
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:42 am

    Katie – well said!

  51. Keitha
    September 29th, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    I don’t think it’s selfish not to have children. I don’t understand that thinking at all.
    I wanted a lot of children, but it worked out that I was only able to have one and took a while for that to happen. What no one has mentioned is how fulfilling it is to have a child. I guess not for some folks, but I am always a little sad for them that they will never know that satisfaction of raising a child. I loved every minute of it. I guess I was one that was meant to be a mother.

  52. PGL
    September 29th, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    It has been interesting reading all the comments. I, too, have never wanted children since I was young. But my life is surrounded by family and friends who have always wanted children and some friends who never did, but due to circumstances did and they love having their kids. I have heard all the comments including “you’re so great with kids” or “you’re so maternal.” I’m 42 now. Never had the opportunity to even really explore the possibility of changing my mind. There was a couple years when everyone was having babies that I thought maybe. I do not have any regrets not having children. I pursued a childhood dream and made a career out of it. My life is full of family and friends and their kids. I’m an auntie to some very special kids. I have my kitties. It’ll be nice when I look old enough that people will stop telling me there is still time to have children. To each their own.

  53. rockrat
    September 29th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

    I like and respect this discussion because I like and respect this blog and the people who comment on it.

    My perspective on “pro-life” ideology is that it is funded by interests that want market growth and cheap labor, but don’t want to pay for public education, infrastructure, social security, or medicare.

    I have a two year old that gave me another perspective. I don’t shame him or guilt him and we’re always glad to see each other.

    Thank you.

  54. kay
    September 29th, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    I’ve never wanted children, and have never been in a situation where I felt pressure about it. Just a little sad sometimes that I couldn’t give my mom the happiness it would have given her.

    I admire anyone who finds love and connection and inspiration and truth and is comfortable in their own shoes, and I love to hear about how they do it – whether having children or not having them, or whether it’s just not even consequential.

  55. CeeBee
    September 29th, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    I married back when rocks were cooling and young married women were expected to be fruitful and multiply. Women had few choices in work and family (and most of us were gutless wonders who went with the established program). Not having children was a scandal or a pity. Obviously, this was before feminism and civil rights, so I dutifully had two children who are still the light of my life in my old age.

    But then, it turned out I married a guy who has Asperger’s syndrome (no one knew what that was back then), his father also had it, and our older son carries the gene and is autistic. Despite the speed bumps along the way, I managed to carve out an interesting life for myself in teaching, as a librarian and professional counselor, as a traditionally published writer, and as a rescuer of feral and stray cats.

    Do I want to rewind the tape and do things differently, not get married or at least not have children? Sometimes. If that could happen, I’d be single and have a mustang rescue ranch down the road from Shreve. I’m currently wheeling and dealing with God to have at least a small horse and cat rescue farm in the afterlife. Hope that works out.

  56. Anne
    September 29th, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

    37, no children. And no ticking biological clock. My husband tends to go back and forth on the issue though, which makes our lives more complicated. I´m pretty sure that he is not willing to deal with the day-to-day issues of childcare and since I am even less willing, having one would be deeply unfair to that child. My MIL dreams of grandchildren, my parents don´t care. Overall, it´s a complicated issue and I´m happy to read about everyone coming out to saying that they are happy and have no regrets with remaining childless 10 or 20 years down the road from where I am.

    Because I guess the one scary thing for me about opting out is that even if you are sure that you don´t want them NOW, how can you know that you won´t regret it when you are 65? On the other hand, you can´t have a child that you don´t want, practically, emotionally or economically, NOW on the assumption that you might want one when you´re 65….tricky.

  57. Gabrielle
    September 29th, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

    I think I always wanted an heir or two, and a fresh and absorbent mind to mentor, but never to go through the physical aspects of the procreative process, and childbirth in particular. For years I dreamed of adopting a foreign waif in need of love and shelter, but it never happened. I do like children, very much, and know what most tend to forget… they are us, before we grew to be who we are now.

  58. Lillian J.
    September 29th, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    Okay, I’ve been reading this blog for over a year and not commenting for the same reason I stand in corners at parties, I like to observe and experience, but I have a minor issue with rejection. Yet, I’m going to break my own rule.

    This whole thread is fascinating to me. I’m 20 years old, the youngest of six, and I’m one of two of us who’s always said I would have children. Three of the five girls have said point-blank that there are no kids in their future, and there was never any talk of selfishness or them changing their mind. As much as the parents would enjoy grandchildren (they’ve got one granddaughter right now, and she’s got more energy than the six of us ever had) they always expected us to make our own decisions about family.

    So, to make a short story long, I’ve never understood where the stigma against people not wanting children comes from. The same way I’ve always felt that I would love to raise and nurture a child, my sisters A. and C. have said that they’d rather peel paint. They dote on our niece, but want no munchkins themselves, and why should they? I sincerely can’t put my reasons for wanting to be a mother into words. It’s a feeling I’ve always had, and it may very well change as I get older. I don’t believe it will, but who knows? And when you get down to it, even I don’t need children to be happy. I can be happy on my own. The little monsters would be people to share the happiness and experience with, not the catalyst for it.

  59. Suzy
    September 29th, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I saw all my friends having kids and watched as their dreams and goals took a back seat to the child. I knew that was not a life for me. I wanted to live my life, not the lives of children, because that’s the sacrifice you invariably have to make. On a lighter note, I’ve saved a SHIT TON of money not having kids!!

  60. sara
    September 29th, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    Ms. Pants said:
    I was about 8 years old the first time I said I didn’t want kids. Everyone said “You’ll change your mind.” I asked a doctor if I could get my tubes tied or be sterilised via Essure instead of continuing to take birth control. He said I might change my mind. (Do abortion doctors ever refuse abortions based on this?)
    _______________________________________________

    I swear you must be my long lost sister because I had the same feelings early in my life and like you tried to get my tubes tied in my 20’s and was told the same thing. My decision came mainly because of my childhood. While I was not abused, or mistreated in any way I never felt loved from my adopted parents and was afraid I would pass this along to any kids I might have. I also must admit I just don’t like kids. Love babies but don’t like children. Once they start to talk I lose interest.

  61. Amy II
    September 29th, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    I have 5 older sisters and have been changing diapers since I was ten (I was the baby). I love the children in my family, and in general I would say I like cute, well-behaned kids. But in general, I’m not a fan of modern parenting and the results. I opted out, but I think it’s because of my fulfillment from a wonderful family and incredible sisters that are amazing mothers.
    I was fiftteen the first time I saw an actual birth, and I knew then that it was not for me. Possibly due to the placenta delivery- that nearly did me in. I saw my sisters’ exhaustion and sleep deprivation and commitment to those little creatures, and knew I was meant for the role of AUNT. And I’m the best around (so I’m told)! :) I also have that disease where, if you’re at a party or a public place and there’s kids around- they gravitate to me. I don’t know what it is but they are like moths to my flame! Makes me crazy.
    I haven’t ever had anyone question my choice, and I look quite young for my age so I still get asked… but I live in a very liberal city and there’s a great many women like me. I think everyone needs to respect the choices we make as humans. My belief falls in line with Zero Growth and personal responsibility. I know what I can handle. But I bite my tongue when I meet someone that is 30 and on her 4th kid with 2 different fathers, no job, never worked, milking the child support train. To each their own. She has to live with her mess. Although it does conjure that opening sequence from Idiocracy in my mind.
    I’m dating someone now who’s had a vasectomy ( yay!), but he also has 3 kids. It’s a struggle to get my head around it, as it is something I never wanted. One day at a time…. that’s all we can do.
    Sorry this is such a ramble! Just nice to see some many like minded people.

  62. DFM
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    Keitha said: What no one has mentioned is how fulfilling it is to have a child. I guess not for some folks, but I am always a little sad for them that they will never know that satisfaction of raising a child.

    Keitha ~ Don’t feel sad for me. I HAVE full satisfaction in my life, re: the current topic of discussion–in my case, the satisfaction of *not* having to deal with children because I don’t want them, and don’t want to be around them. My life is in no way unfulfilled because I don’t have children. If I took the route of being a raising a child, I would *lose* my satisfaction with my life. I won’t presume to speak for the other childfree/childless out there, but don’t feel sad for me! I’m perfectly fine without kids in my life. :)

  63. Jme
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    I am one of those who always wanted kids, for as long as I can remember, I even planned out when I was going to have them.. What I didn’t imagine was when I actually had them. My first came 3 months before I turned 21, my second 2 months before 23 and finally my 3 3 months after I turned 25. Although it wasn’t the best time, it seemed to work out and I wouldn’t change it for the world, when my youngest is off in College or University I’ll be 42 and enjoying life more than I ever could at the age of 21.

  64. Rhea
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    This is such a personal decision except when it comes to woman having children they neglect or abuse etc. in which case it becomes society’s problem. With that said, Shreve I’m so glad you posted that having a “debate” over this would be “gross.” I thought the very same thing when I read that. There shouldn’t be a debate. To each their own.

    I always knew I would have kids. I thought I’d have 4, 2 of each so they would each know what it’s like to have a brother and a sister as I only had 2 sisters growing up. I had 2 boys who are now in their 20’s. I don’t know if subconsciously I wanted kids to be a better parent than my own who were emotionally neglectful and distant but I do know that it was very healing for that young girl within me to give my boys what I never had.

    I have always told them to live their own lives and when I am old I am not going to be a burden to them. Some people of course would disagree that being older shouldn’t be a burden but until this country is able to take care of older people properly by providing proper housing with caregiving, well then, it is a burden. These clinical 2+ beds nursing homes are a travesty.

    I applaud any woman who stands firm in her decision or knowledge either way.

  65. Rhea
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

    P.S. Two of the greatest things I ever heard my sons say were that:
    1) he had “such a happy childhood.” (the oldest who is 28)

    2) when asked how he turned out to be such a good kid he replied “Because of my parents” (the youngest who is 25)

    And we didn’t have any money because I stayed home to raise my kids.

  66. Lisa J,
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

    I’m 41 and I will not have children. I am of the mind that you shouldy reall have the desire to be a mother.

    Oh sure, I wonder sometimes what I may be missing but it’s killed every time I hear a baby scream in the store. I’m cured!

    I love kids when they’re some elses. And the only reason it would be different if it was my kid, is because then I wouldn’t have a choice.

    No thank you! Not for me…

  67. Jenny
    September 29th, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

    Interesting thread going on here….some of comments surprise me. I have been following this site for 3 years and rarely if ever post.
    But….I guess I felt the need to share.

    I am 42 years old and new from early on that kiddos were not for me. All my girlfriends would play with dolls and pick their top children’s names…I would pick names for my pets! Kids are great, awesome, incredible, fascintating…they happen to adore me and I them. Small people are really cool ~ but, I just wasn’t wired to create one. I love being cool auntie jenny, wouldn’t give it up for the world.
    What is interesting is how many people insisted my thoughts would change. But they haven’t. These are the same folks who insist that I will one day get married…but I haven’t. I have however been in a relationship with the same awesome guy for 20 years next month…without getting married. I have outlasted the majority of my friends in relationships.
    So, the motto for me….Don’t fix what ain’t broke!
    Rock on Shreve

  68. Lori
    September 29th, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    Funny, I don’t remember ever getting pestered or questioned over my happy existence as a single woman with no kids, and I’m 55 now, old enough to have come of age in the days when women were expected to marry and have kids as a mindless matter of course. I did get pestered, questioned, and was prohibited for wanting to wear pants to school instead of the ridiculously mandated short skirt and knee socks for the long walk to school in the cold Chicago winter – that was my childhood experience of the world before anyone ever heard of “women’s lib” – but oddly for the time, nobody ever bothered me about not wanting to have kids. Maybe because by the time I was old enough for it to be an issue, it was the late 70’s, and the women’s movement (and the “counter-culture”) had made such a vast difference in attitudes and awareness that people actually accepted the notion that not everybody has to live the same kind of life. I do think that my mom was kind of shocked when I told her, at about the age of 8, that I did not want to be a mom when I grew up, but she never pestered me about it.

    As so many others here have said, it was never a decision for me. I just always knew that I did not want children. Having kids is all-consuming, at least at first (if not forever – moms, speak up – you never stop being a mom and worrying about your kids, do you? – I ask with all the respect in the world), and it’s always seemed supremely logical to me that if you don’t want kids with a passion to equal their inevitable demands on your life, you absolutely shouldn’t have them.

    Plus, as a happy adopted child of wonderful loving parents, I knew that the world is full of parentless children in heartbreaking need of families. I knew that if for some unforseen reason I changed my mind when I was older, I would adopt, as my dear parents had done for me. So I unplugged that biologocal clock before I was even old enough to have one.

    As it turned out, I never changed my mind, and I never regretted my life path. There are plenty of mistakes in my life that I do regret, but not having children is not one of them.

  69. Katie
    September 29th, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    Funny enough, when I was younger I really wanted to have kids. Like, scads of them.

    But then I got married, slowly got older, and realized that the older I got the more my biological clock began to run backwards. At 35 I knew I didn’t want kids, and wanted to get my tubes tied, but my gyno made me wait two more years before he did the procedure.

    I have zero, and I mean ZERO regrets over remaining child-free. I don’t feel grumpy, or selfish, or any of the things those that choose my way of life are supposed to feel. I just feel…FREE. And I love it.

  70. Martha
    September 29th, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    I married when I was in my early 20s the first time. Got pregnant quickly. Miscarried just as quick. Moved away from family and soon found myself pregnant again. Had another miscarriage. After that I was done. Done with that marriage. Done with marriage in general. Then.. I met my current, and last! husband. An obg told me that I would have “trouble” getting and staying pregnant. We went and celebrated. I was more than ok not having a baby. I will admit to being a selfish bitch. Then I found out that the doctors dont know everything. My daughter is now going to be 10. My pregnancy was heinous. There is no way I would ever do that again. My husband agreed and got the big V.

    Would I trade my daughter? Nope. The kid is funny, smart, caring and loving. I am glad I had her. I get still get grief over only having ONE kid. I am 42. And not willing to risk having a kid with disabilities. Raising a healthy/normal/perfect kid is hard enough.
    Plus I can afford to give her what she needs, without needing help from the gov. Kids are not for everyone.

  71. Karen
    September 29th, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    I never think about it until someone else asks. That’s how I know.

  72. PatH
    September 29th, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Interesting subject to put out there. For me it was not something I declared out-loud even when family would ask, “when will you get married again and have a family…”. I married at 19, we were great partners, compatible, but I never felt a desire for children. We separated before I was 30 and in hindsight having a child would not have kept us together. Several years later, I discovered my mother had taken the synthetic estrogen hormone DES which has health implications for the daughters and their pregnancy. So I also had a deep inner concern about having children thereafter but didn’t feel called to take the chance.

    I opened to friendships with artists and therapists who were interested in exploring the inner world. In a group discussion on creativity and spirituality with women writers and artists, the topic of children came up and one woman artist shared her great need to create with art as her outlet. Another woman shared having children was also a creative outlet. But for the artist, having children would be going against her inner experience as she did not have the “calling” for a family. She realized she would have to give up her creative life and sensed she would not have been a good mother and felt the world needed more good mothers not reluctant ones.

    I have friends who are great moms and who are extremely creative in their own way. I guess I’m boiling it down to how we create in our life and how we create our own life.

    I met a woodworker/carpenter in the eighties who was offered an ancient Redwood tree about to fall into the river from erosion after severe winter storms. The owner of the land offered the tree if he would make him a table, bench and chairs. The artist told me that after making the redwood table set, he began to create another table from the raw wood, cutting, sculpting, sanding, rubbing and watching it turn into a piece of art where he had the realization (as a man) of the beauty and ultimate power of woman creating a child within her body over time and giving it birth into the world. He made me think about what I was creating in my life. I’m sitting at that table now as I write.

    I became more aware of my creative callings and followed them as well as listened to the thoughts, should I have children? As the women artists and therapists shared by not following our natural instincts we create dis-ease within living opposite our nature. So there is no debate for me which side is right or better, the question is which is the best choice for the person from within? By following the wisdom to ask what is my truth I don’t spend time looking in the rear view mirror.

    I’m now 57 and I find joy and insight from following Daily Coyote. I love the renegade independent nature of Shreve and Charlie, following a wild coyote living with a farmily and his caretaker living a creative life that touches us through pictures, experiences and a few hints of what life is like in Wyoming.

    Even though I’m much older, I’ve decided to leave the University earlier than planned, give up that higher pension I would receive in five years because I have this inner calling to relocate to the desert, and to the unknown just curious about what I’ll create. It’s funny how the creative act of another can stimulate ones own creative spark…

  73. Kristi
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    I was 19 when i got pregnant (back when they didn’t tell u that birth control and antibiotics don’t mix) I’m now 37 and my 17 yr old son is Fucking amazing (I’ll f’bomb for ya Shreve)

    I’ve been married to the most wonderful man for 12 yrs. We discussed the option of having more kids- both of us said “nope, we’re good”.

    He made an appt. Then drove himself to and from his vasectomy. Yep- that’s the man I’m keeping forever! (no, i’m not a bitch, I was out of town attending a class- of course I would’ve driven him)

    I never wanted chldren….BUT i couldn’t imagine my life without the one I have. He’s taught me so many things that have made my life better.

    My son rolls his eyes at the thought of having kids….since he’s driving now he says there’s more than enough traffic out there already.

    Smart boy.

    I do get baby fever from time to time. My co-workers say it’s my age. Who knows?

    I foster dogs instead. Getting them acclimated to living inside and out, housebreaking, obedience, nurturing them, giving them affection, etc….there’s not much difference in raising them and kids!

    I catch a LOT of crap for this analogy.

  74. Cristy
    September 29th, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    This comments section is filled with lots of great information. Thank you for posting!

    For someone who is grappling with the decision whether to live childfree, especially after struggling with infertility, I really recommend the book “Sweet Grapes.” Another good one is “Two is enough” (http://www.childlessbychoiceproject.com/Childless_by_choice_book.html)

  75. karen
    September 29th, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    I never wanted to be a mom but I have always had a strong desire to be a grandmother. For a while, I entertained the notion that I’d marry a guy with grown kids and that I’d get to grandmother them. That never happened.

    But what DID happen is that everywhere I’ve gone, I have made fabulous friendships with other people’s children. Right now, I have four kids (two each from two families) who are over at my house all the time. We call my place “The Love House,” and our rule is that we can do just about anything together as long as we’re loving. (I saw the Lord of the Flies possibilities early on and naming my place was my pre-emptive move.)

    There are so few opportunities for kids to be in meaningful, safe relationships with adults who aren’t a parent or a teacher. I like thinking that my friendships with kids will serve them well, and give them a sense of themselves apart from being someone’s child or student. As for me, I have so many wonderful memories to look back on and the certain knowledge that as I grow old these now-little friends will be part of my life even when I can’t race across the lawn anymore.

  76. Maegan
    September 29th, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

    This is an interesting topic, and I’ve found it fascinating to hear why people have or have decided not to have children.

    I agree that it’s a very personal choice, and not one I would ever try to push on someone. The only thing that bothers me is when people insist on having children they can’t provide for, or abuse their children. If you want to have 19 kids and can provide for all of them, more power to you. If you want no children at all, more power to you.

    I’m one of the ones who does not want children. I am 27. I had my tubes tied when I was 26. I had a doctor that merely suggested I wait until 30, and a gyn who was more than happy–enthusiastic even–to provide me with all the information on essure and provide the procedure. I do not regret it in the least, and truly doubt I ever will. And as others have said, I can always adopt.

    My poor husband got treated to the awkward question of whether or not he would ever want children if I died and he remarried. He said it was a possibility if he met a woman who really wanted them, so I told him I would go in for the procedure since I wouldn’t want to take that possibility away from him.

    I’ve been fortunate that anyone I have ever told has not tried to guilt me. I’ve had people be surprised, but no one has ever called me selfish, unfulfilled, or any of that other nonsense. I can understand why someone would think that I’ve made the wrong decision–since it is such a profound experience for so many people to raise children–so I remind myself of that whenever I get someone who can’t believe I’d remove that opportunity from the table.

    Whenever anyone asks me when I plan on having kids I just smile and say “never” and accept whatever they have to say–you’re young, you’ll change your mind, there’s time yet–with a smile and a shrug.

  77. Liz
    September 29th, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    I am 34 and have 3 kids–4, 2 and 3 months. I had always felt ambivalent about having kids, wasn’t sure if i really wanted them. Ultimately my husband and I decided it felt right for us. We did not plan any of them, the spacing just worked out that way. I did get my tubes tied after having baby #3 though, I am certain I don’t want any more. I am trying to really drink in all the cuddly newborn stuff since this is my last.

    One thing I miss is being able to dote on my dogs. The kids demand virtually all of my time and attention.

  78. Miranda
    September 29th, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

    I always wanted 4 kids (I’m an only child), got married and we had one and a couple years later I wanted to do it again and he refused. He was missing the daddy gene! He worked long hours 6 days a week even if he didn’t need to so it was a lot like being a single mom. Later I got pregnant (that foam birth control back then didn’t work well) and he said he’d leave us and wouldn’t love it so I had an abortion which devastated me. We eventually divorced. I didn’t expect to marry again so I gave a lot of thought to having a sibling for my daughter but finances wouldn’t allow it so I had a tubal ligation. Oh that I had listened to my heart.

    My daughter and her boyfriend died in 1998 from carbon monoxide from a defective gas wall heater in his apt. It was a long couple of years to deal with that. When I finally felt real again I fostered cats and adopted a few and volunteered with a rescue group. One day I went to a class and met a lady who talked about being a mentor.

    I called the agency, went for an interview, took the training and got matched with an 11 1/2 year old girl in foster care. We go on 2 or 3 outings a month. She’s a big part of my life. She turns 15 in a couple of days and I adore her and being a mentor. I had so much love to give after my daughter began her journey on the other side and being a mentor gave me a place to focus it. I get to do the fun stuff but I don’t have to worry about dental appts and dating. She’s going into guardianship soon which means we will be able to take off for a weekend (Disneyland here we come!) and we’re both excited about that. I don’t like other peoples kids and I can’t stand babies, mine was fine, others no. So as I travel into my sunset years and know I won’t be a grandmother, I do have my part-time kid and I’m happy with that and my 5 cats!

  79. Lisa
    September 30th, 2012 @ 6:27 am

    First of all, to convey intend: I’m typing this with a smile on my face, not a frown.
    Then:

    Keitha, when you say;
    “What no one has mentioned is how fulfilling it is to have a child. I guess not for some folks, but I am always a little sad for them that they will never know that satisfaction of raising a child.” that is a very good example of the type of (most of the time) well-meant comments that child-free ladies have to deal with. I know that the feeling that you are expressing comes from a good place, but depending on who says it, it can be VERY condesending. (think mother-in-law, lol)

    Because what you said basically implies that the life of the person you’re saying it to isn’t fulfilling. To put it in perspective: Would you say that Shreve’s life isn’t fulfilling? Or even claim that you have the authority to judge that? To say that it makes you sad that others are not like you, is really a judgement on them, while you have no idea what is going on inside of them. How would you feel if I told you that I was SAD that you chose to have a baby, because life without them is SO wonderful and satisfying? That I’m sad for you, because you are who you are? That it fills me with sadness that you have a kid whom you love? It doesn’t sound so nice then, right? Just turn it around and you’ll see why these types of comments can become harrassment or condesending quite quickly.

    Also: I understand that your comment was full of good will, so I’m not ‘debating’ it. I’m just trying to explain to you why some women might be offended if you make these type of comments to them. Maybe you will understand them better now. :-)

  80. Hawk
    September 30th, 2012 @ 7:30 am

    I have a kid. He was kind of “on purpose” in that my husband and I had agreed we wanted one child. But we hadn’t expected to have our child until we’d been married a couple of years. Well, it didn’t happen that way, heh.

    Having a child has been, mostly, a hell of a lot of work. There have been moments when I’ve been very happy that I have my son. There have been moments when I have wondered why I ever wanted such a pain in the neck, stubborn, etc etc.

    Fulfilling? Eh, not really. Mostly I’ve felt horribly unequal to the task. I meet with his teachers and the first thing I tell them is: “I don’t read the parenting books which are full of crap, but I also am aware that I might not entirely know what I’m doing. So if you see something here that’s completely wrong headed, let me know.” And that’s pretty much my attitude about having kids.

    My sister just went through a period where she was asking herself this same question – kids or no kids? I talked with her, because our mom certainly wasn’t going to be any help (her comment on the matter was “if you have kids, you get the hell out of my house, because I’m not helping you with them.” Thanks, Ma.)

    Basically, I listened, because that’s what she needed. Hardest thing ever, because I’m a rotten listener. I don’t just sympathize, I tend to want to go out and FIX THE PROBLEM! And it’s taken me 35 years to figure out, you can’t fix every problem, and sometimes your friends don’t WANT you to fix anything, they just want to be heard.

    Anyway.

    She finally wound down and asked me what I’d do in her position. So, here’s my opinion for you guys to chew over, too.

    I think that if you want kids, great – but plan for them, because you’re going to be stuck with them for eighteen years or better. Don’t have a kid if you think it’s for you. Kids are not medication, they are not a fix for anything in your life, and they are not going to do anything other than demand your time and attention for at least five of those eighteen years. They can’t help it, they have to be that way to survive, they are hard wired to be needy. If you don’t think you can hack changing nasty diapers and enduring nights full of crying baby with an attack of colic, don’t have kids. If you are delighted at the thought of nurturing this helpless creature until it reaches that magical point where it becomes a tiny being – great!

    I wasn’t as ready for parenthood as I wanted to be; but my son is 13, and he’s not psychotic or damaged or emotionally abused. I don’t chalk that up to anything spectacular. But I do give myself credit that I didn’t spoil him with too much kindness, and I haven’t fallen into the trap of doing just what my mother did raising me. I have worked hard at reining in my bad temper and short patience. Every day is another round of this effort.

    Do I love my son? Well, duh. Do I think my life would be less if I had not had my son? Besides thinking that it’s kind of a moot point, I don’t think my life would be “less” without him. It would be different. It would have had different drama at different times; it might have been more boring. I might have gotten more things accomplished for myself than I have. I might not have put things like a performing career on a shelf, if I hadn’t had my son.

    But it didn’t happen that way. And you know what? I’m alive, he’s alive, and we’re learning things about life and the world right alongside each other. He’s entering puberty. THERE’s a scary ride. And I have **no idea** what I’m doing, and I know I’m going to have to find a way to handle sex education, since my state doesn’t believe it’s necessary to teach this to kids in school.

    That’s what keeps me up at night, not “should he have kids when he gets older?”

  81. Olivia
    September 30th, 2012 @ 8:15 am

    I knew I wanted to have children from a young age. Just always pictured my life with two children in it. I now have those children and it feels right and good to me.

    A friend of mine has always known she doesn’t want children. She’s 34 and is quite happy to be “Auntie” to her friends’ children.

    Another friend of mine, who is 35 now, thought she might want children someday but she has experienced obstacles such as a the need for a career change and further education, to being left by her fiance two weeks before their wedding, that have led her to decide that she probably won’t have children. (She doesn’t want to do it alone or be 40 with a baby.)

  82. Sal
    September 30th, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    Hawk- the lower 1/2 of your post is my story- right down to the puberty (13 this last March). He wasn’t planned, in fact we were actively preventing pregnancy (antibiotics screw that up, come to find out) and as I am a special ed teacher I wanted to be able to leave the drama behind every day at 3. I have awesome nieces and nephews and great friends with great kids- that was more than enough. Well- he’s here, he’s beyond awesome- in spite of or maybe because we lost his Dad to hard living when our son was 2 weeks shy of his 5th birthday. Single mom/widow/special ed teacher. I would happily have lived without either of the first two life events- and would never have felt my life unfulfilled. Basic biology dictated otherwise but it was an easy move to have my tubes tied when my son was 2. It’s damned hard work raising a stubborn, stubborn boy and I had no interest or desire to ride the diaper carousel again. So he’s an only and we’re all probably a lot better off for that being how things turned out.

  83. Sydney
    September 30th, 2012 @ 9:19 am

    It just didn’t happen – the time or guy was wrong. When I got to be in my early-mid 30s, I realized that it was getting to a time when it wouldn’t be a decision.

    I didn’t have a strong urge to have kids, but I didn’t want to make the decision by not making a decision. So I went to a half dozen women without kids who were past childbearing age.

    I asked them questions: Did you want kids? Did you decide not to have kids? Do you wish you’d had kids?

    And their answers informed me. I would probably be fine without kids, I would have a full life, and I would not spend the rest of my life regretting something.

    Plus, a teen girl asked (anonymously) for my advice on how she could ask her favorite teacher to adopt her out of foster care.

    I realized that older foster kids are frequently not adopted because people who would be otherwise willing have young children and feel like these children *might* pose a risk to their kids. And I understood that by not having kids, I was opening the door to possibly adopting older foster kids.

    Together, those things made my decision pretty easy. I’m 40 now, and as of yet have no regrets. I don’t think I will.

  84. kay
    September 30th, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    I am so moved by everyone’s stories. This blog is great!

  85. Tanya
    September 30th, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

    I feel sad, sometimes, when I find out that people I respect and admire don’t want to have children, but it’s not a judgement. I just wish these amazing people would raise other amazing human beings.

  86. Barbara R
    September 30th, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Tanya, Please, start at the beginning of the comments to this blog post read ALL of them. It will be well worth your time. Amazing people can have amazing effects on young lives without birthing them. The comments here represent a fascinating spectrum of views and experiences to a deeply personal question.

  87. Amy
    September 30th, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    I also long struggled with the decision about whether or not I really wanted children. In my 20s I just never had a burning desire. I have a horse and a dog and always enjoyed being a Mom to my animals, but wasn’t even sure about wanting human babies.

    It wasn’t until the last year, after losing a family member to cancer and realizing how short life is, that I made the decision that it is something I wanted to do. And I’m now pregnant. It’s early, but I’m excited.

    So I totally understand those that struggle with the decision, and I actually envy those that seem to know, without a doubt, what they want. I think that society tells us having kids is one of those things we’re supposed to do, like getting married and buying a house and everything else. But it isn’t for everyone. And not wanting to have children isn’t a selfish thing, it is actually a very selfless thing.

    Random but somewhat related – the biggest thing that scares me about having a kid? Knowing I’m going to have to deal with other parents.

  88. LisaB
    September 30th, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    This is very interesting – it’s quite rare to find a comment section this full of childfree people, and free of judgement too! I’m like most other commenters – never wanted kids and am happy without them. I’m 34, with my partner of 15 years and we love our lives. The most important thing is to do what works for you (with a dash of practical reality).

    Interestingly for me – my partner wasn’t anti-kids like I was. He never gave it much thought, assumed he would have kids. Then he met me and started down my path. A few years ago he contemplated all this – to make sure he would be happy with me and without kids. Fortunately he decided pretty quickly that we’d be fine. When someone asked him about kids recently, he said that he knew even if we had/adopted a kid that I wouldn’t want to stay home with it (he’s right) and when he sat down to think about it, he didn’t want to do that either… he realized neither of us wanted to be a full time parent. The interesting part being that his previous slight interest in kids was contingent on someone else doing the bulk of the work, he just didn’t realize it at the time!

  89. BethK
    September 30th, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    I just gave birth to my first child three weeks ago. I am 30, which is young in my family but “old” in my husband’s family to have kids. In his family it is odd to not have kids by 25, but in my family more women than not chose to not get married, not have kids, or chose a life partner/ long-time “friend with benefits” rather than the traditional marriage and kids route. So for me it was almost odd to choose to have a child based on my family’s precedent.
    I also have many friends who have decided to not have kids, and I totally support them in their decision; my only regret is that they are all super awesome people and it’s too bad their genes aren’t getting passed on. However their wisdom and humor and compassion will all be passed on to my daughter as they stay involved in my daughter and my lives, and I am extremely grateful for their friendship and support as I venture into motherhood, even if they aren’t officially “mothers” themselves.

  90. jewels
    September 30th, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

    Shreve, thank you so much for wording it so perfectly! I’ve never nor will I ever have a desire to have children. Between my job as a mechanic & my boyfriend being in the military, we’ve both agreed that it’s not something we have a need to do. I know I’m not wording it as well as you, but thank you:).

  91. Penny
    September 30th, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

    I’m a mom. As a previous commenter mentioned, I’ve always been a Mom… not so much to other people, but when our oldest daughter arrived, it was as though she’d always been here with us. She’s only four, but I can’t remember not having this love in my life. I didn’t always want kids, and even when the pregnancy test was positive, my first instinct was “Crap! My life is going to change and I like what I have right now!” It turns out that as a family of four, we are every bit as happy as we were as a family of two (if a bit more tired).

    So much of my life has not gone as I imagined or dreamed it would, but when I look at my girls, I’m so happy this is the direction it’s moving. I feel so fortunate to get to watch these special people grow and learn and to experience all the joy and pain that goes along with that. Being a parent isn’t for everyone. I actually understood this even better after becoming a parent myself.

    The world needs all kinds of folks. It is such a shame that people are still judged and feel judged about things that are just a part of who they are… especially when it causes no harm to anyone else. Much love to all of you!

  92. Kara Ann Sinclair
    September 30th, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

    I never wanted children.My sister always did.I got pregers at 28.Now I’m a single mom.My sister & her husband can’t have childern.Very interesting what life gives you.I love my son and could not even begin to imagine life without him.But I in no way judge people who know they do not want kids.I know because I was once there.To each his own…..

  93. GD
    October 1st, 2012 @ 4:33 am

    WHen I was 16 I knew I didn’t want children. All my high school girlfriends were saying, “I want a boy and a girl!” I was saying, “I want a dog and a cat!” :) I am now 46 with no children. I have absolutely no regrets and I made the perfect decision for myself. If a woman doesn’t have children by choice, they think you HATE kids. But that is not true. Kids create a particular lifestyle etc. I, personally, don’t find them appealing: drool, diapers, breaking everything in your house, stealing money out of your purse and becoming teenagers! LOL! No thanks! Yep, I hear, “Who is gonna take care of you when you get older?” My answer is “I will!”. Having children for that purpose is incredibly selfish and cruel. 1) They may not be able to afford to. 2) They may not live anywhere near you. 3) They may not like you!!!

    If you want children, be sure it is for the right reason…it should be the most unselfish act ever because it is about giving and loving unconditionally. If someone does not want children, please be respectful of their choice as they know themselves much better than you do. Besides, they can take a nap whenever they want to! ;)

  94. GD
    October 1st, 2012 @ 4:34 am

    P.S. Penny, thank you for your last paragraph!

  95. Bekkie
    October 1st, 2012 @ 7:43 am

    My husband and I are both in agreement that we do not want children. He has sever asthma and if he didn’t have his medicine everyday he would not be able to live. I grew up with asthma and I grew out of it. But as an adult I continue to get bronchitis every year and need medicine periodically. It would be selfish of us to bring a child into this world knowing full well that there is a high risk this child would require medicine for his/her entire life.

    And if we decided we needed children down the line we could adopt because there are plenty of children in this world that need a home that are living right now. Why would I have to breed?

  96. Meg
    October 1st, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    Shreve,
    Thank you so much for writing this post, lately I have been going through a really hard time. I have always known I did not want children, like you said it wasn’t even a decision. However I find many people don’t understand this and express that it is selfish of me to feel this way, which can be hurtful. I am 28 and I always get the line “Oh well you’ll change your mind” which can be so frustrating. My Mom constantly hints that it’s time that I started my ‘family’. She doesn’t realize that I have my family, my husband and I are happy; we have our dog Charlie and our cat Emma and a beautiful life together. I love the freedom of being able to wake up in the morning and putter around in my garden or go to the Farmer’s Market to find treasures.

    I understand a person’s want for children, and I can see how happy they are and that is amazing and wonderful for them. However for me and my life, my happiness comes from a different place. Thanks again for writing this post, to hear someone as strong and talented as yourself say it really is awesome.

  97. ChrisP
    October 1st, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    I helped raise a step-daughter, never had “kids of my own”. I put that in quotes since it is a BS point of view. Step-child or biological, the commitment is the same, and I’m glad I did it.

    That said, I can easily understand why people don’t have kids. Children take over your life in just about every sense, but I don’t think they are necessary for a complete life. They are just one path through life.

    To whoever asked the original question: if you don’t want kids, don’t have them. It is impossible to experience everything in life – pick the path that is right for you and dive in.

  98. Nathalie
    October 1st, 2012 @ 9:18 am

    I have never felt the need to have children, nor do I regret my choices. When I had my tubes tied a few years ago I felt even freer knowing I didn’t have to worry about it ever again. People have told me I’m selfish for this, but I disagree and look at it as being realistic about my choices. What’s for some, is not for all.

  99. Leisa
    October 1st, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    I don’t think anyone should have to defend having kids or not having kids.

  100. Dana
    October 1st, 2012 @ 9:34 am

    Although I have already commented, I wanted to add to it. I have children, and know for a fact that I couldn’t do it again. I love my children to death, but I want my freedom back. Animals are so much easier to care for. For one, our dogs are content to go outside and don’t grip if they are out there all day. They don’t require expensive toys. Their food is cheaper then the children’s and they don’t require me to do laundry everyday. If they don’t get a bath, I don’t have to listen to anyone grip about it. No matter what they are always happy to see me and aren’t asking me to buy them this or that.
    On a side note, I do feel for people who want children, but can’t have them. My husband’s oldest sister decided years ago that she did not want children and is content not to have any. She ended up having a complete hystorectomy. His other sister however had a still born child about 19 years ago and has always wanted children, but the doctors told her it was impossible. She now has a chance to get custody of step daughter’s child and is looking forward to being mom/grandmom. I just know that I don’t have the patience to deal with babies anymore and could not do it again. I am counting the years till my children are adults (8 1/2 more!) and I can have my freedom back.

  101. Chris
    October 1st, 2012 @ 10:27 am

    I was in the same situation of not wanting kids…My husband and I have been together for 12 years and were completely happy, fulfilled and complete in every way. 2 Years ago we secretly confessed that we had changed our minds about wanting kids and now thought we should do it. It took us about a year and a half trying (which after what seemed like an eternity), and now we’re currently expecting our first child in January.

    What upset me the most was people prying into our decision about whether we were or weren’t planning to have children. Even after we began trying we never told anyone – in case it wasn’t in the stars for us. We used to get the “when are you having kids?” “Why don’t you want kids?” all the time. Now we get “I thought you guys didn’t want kids?” “We told you you’d change your minds” Which is equally as annoying and invasive.

    I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business what someone’s reproductive decisions or choices are. This is your personal business – if you don’t want kids, don’t have them, in fact when I was there, I thought I was being “responsible” in a sense. If you do – then best of luck and I hope it’s everything you’d like it to be – for us, we hope it’ll be fun, and only add to the happiness and completeness we already had – knowing full well that it might actually suck pretty bad at times as well ;o)

    I feel that asking people about their decision to reproduce or not is on the same level of asking someone how much money they make. It’s kind of inappropriate.

  102. hello haha narf
    October 1st, 2012 @ 10:54 am

    shreve,
    you have wonderful folks who comment on this post and so many others. is there any way to have a “subscribe to comments” checkbox added to this site or is that something that you are against for reasons of your own?

  103. GD
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    ChrisP – beautifully stated.

  104. Taryn
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:13 am

    I have really enjoyed all the comments!

    I am 53 and child-free. I pretty much always knew that’s how it would turn out. I just about threw a party when I was no longer of child-bearing age! (Well, if it weren’t for some of the pesky menopausal symptoms ;-) ) It was never a decision for me either. If I had ever had a kid, it would have been to make someone else happy, but certainly not to make myself happy. My parents were gone early in my adulthood, so no quilt/pressure from that angle. And my sister had 3 kids, very cute, but if ever I got an inkling in my 20s/30s, they scared it right the hell out of me! Since my life is not yet over, I can’t say for sure there will be no regrets, but for now it’s still the best path for me!

  105. Karyn
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:19 am

    when I was 16 I wanted to be an architect and have 4 kids. When I was 20 I thought I didn’t want kids, my dad was fine with this (my mother had already passed away). I married at 22 and didn’t think about kids. Under the heading of ‘maybe someday’. My mother-in-law (my then-husband was her only child) said it was my choice and never pressured me, even tho I knew she’d like grandkids.

    At 30, we decided we wanted to start a family, and I was so excited, I REALLY REALLY wanted kids. (And I think you should feel this way or you’re just not ready or will never be ready to have them). We had four [sons] in 5 years – all planned. Life was crazy/insane and I loved it (mostly). They are now all nearly grown (some still at home in college). My husband decided he needed something different after 30 years, so now I am single and nearly child free, and I’m going out and doing things, having adventures and enjoying things I might have done in my 20s if I’d not had kids.

    I am so glad I did even tho you never stop being a mother. But friends would talk about having/not having kids and I’d say ‘Its a very personal choice. If you aren’t ABSOLUTELY SURE , then don’t’ It is a lifetime commitment, and you need to be totally bought in to make it thru. If you aren’t sure, you aren’t ready and may never be. And that’s just fine! I have friends who I am pleased never had kids, and on some level I envy them at times. But it is a totally individual choice. Both paths have their trials and rewards!

  106. shreve
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    hhn ~ I don’t know how to do that!

  107. Beth Goldie (aka EweMama)
    October 1st, 2012 @ 11:30 am

    I also never wanted children, as I thought I was way too impatient to be a good mother. I have several nieces and nephews, and now one of them is a grandfather himself so I have a nearly five-year-old great-grand-nephew to fuss over on the rare time I drive up to New England. Now that I am nearing 70 I worry about having no one to support me if I need help once I am REALLY old. A very selfish reason for now wanting to have had kids. I might have adopted an older child back when I was working but the situation never came up.

    Now, may I start a different topic? What is it with the need for a huge wedding and all the trimmings? I have never wed but if I had the chance back then I also wanted a very small wedding and a HUGE RECEPTION / PARTY. Why do so many people spend so much money on a wedding? My ideal wedding is the one done by “Larry the Cable Guy” and his fiancee. They were married on a dock, wearing T-shirts and cutoffs. Can’t get much simpler than that.
    I would appreciate comments on the “need” for a big wedding and a very expensive wedding gown – if Shreve permits it. No harm in asking – lol.

  108. Lisa D.
    October 1st, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    I have always wanted kids. It was my dream to be a stay at home Mom but life happens and things don’t always work out how you think they should. I had several long term relationships that didn’t work out…and that was ok. When I turned 35 2 years ago, I was starting to try to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Then I met my husband, my soulmate (as cheesy as that sounds) It’s amazing how life turns out sometimes. A child of my own still isn’t in the cards, but I’m ok with that. He has 2 awesome children, a 9yo girl and a 14yo boy that have totally welcomed me in. They still have their Mom and luckily all of us get along great. She doesn’t mind sharing. I get to go to school events, help with homework, be a part of their lives from here on out. I will still someday get to be a grandparent and I am SO looking forward to that. I call them my “insta-family”…just add Lisa :) So…I am totally lucky with the way my life has ended up. I get the family and future I’ve always wanted and I didn’t have to go through a pregnancy, change a million diapers or be sleep deprived…lol. Occasionally, I will see a cute little baby and it will tweak those maternal wants but it passes. That is when I look forward to be a grandma the most :)

  109. Amy L.
    October 1st, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    One word: horses.

    I bought my first on fo my 28th birthday and realized I would not be happy again if I lived without them. Horses and children did not seem compatible (easily, that is) to me, so…no kiddos.

  110. Kathy W
    October 1st, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    I’m 50 and childless. I’m ok with that, although I sometimes have a pang or two, not regret but perhaps that feeling of wanting a great sportscar and knowing it’s outside your price range–or playing the lottery and knowing exactly what you’d do with the 32 million dollars..but then not winning.

    I wanted to have children. Was engaged in college to my HS sweetheart and that relationship soured and ended. I spent 6 years working on my degree and career and spent time working on ME. I dated, but nothing serious. When I turned 30, I had some serious female health issues. If I wanted to have children, I would need medical assistance in getting there. I was surprisingly ok with that. My desire to have kids had waned as I pursued other interests in my life. I found myself too lazy and cheap to be a single mom…I never wanted that burden!

    I met my husband when I was 37 and he already had 3 children from a previous marriage. When he proposed to me (in front of my parents and his kids) I said yes, and turned to his three kids and said “welcome to my family” and the oldest, then 11, said to me “no, welcome to our family.” I think that sums up how lucky I found myself. I’ve been blessed to have a loving relationship with three great stepkids and helped them continue a relationship with their Dad.

    In a way, I got the best of both worlds.

  111. Dana
    October 1st, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    @BG
    I don’t see the need for elaborate weddings. Sometimes I feel the more elaborate the wedding the more it is destined to fail. My wedding was a short ceremony (well, short till the pastor adding to it) in my in-laws back yard under two huge maple trees. We didn’t have a photographer or need a rehearsal or anything. Our dogs carried the rings in pouches around their necks. My mother in law made me a simple dress. My husband wore his Class A uniform. My maid of honor wore her prom dress and his best man wore slack and a dress shirt. Our reception was pot luck style with a cake from the local grocer. We took a weekend “honeymoon” in Pittsburgh and had a blast. It was memorable to me, and 18 years later, we are still together.
    Huge weddings seem like a waste of money. I like to see creative weddings though. To me, making it memorable is more important then the dress, color of flowers, or the food served at the reception.

  112. z
    October 1st, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

    i feel like the choice was taken away from me.my upbringing was so damaging the fear of not being sound enough to raise a child makes me push away thoughts of them.part of me aches to be able to do it.i really think i would have made a good mom.i look at my mother though and think what a mistake she made having me,i couldnt take the chance my child would go through anything close to what i did.i dont know what it would bring out in me,and genetically the cards would be stacked against it.i never had a mother really,i never got to be around other kids,i have no healthy experiences to draw on.it just wouldnt be fair to take the chance,no matter how badly i want it.my own mother told me i was a waste of life because id never had kids.i know better but i cant tell you how much better i feel after reading every ones stories.i cant really articulate my feeling very well,ive been reading all the comments and its very moving.its encouraging to see so many people who never regretted not having children.as i get older ive been getting more and more worried that i would change my mind but it would be too late.i think not having children is the best decision for me though and i would rather live with regret than have a child who doesnt get the best possible life.

  113. LJ
    October 1st, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    No kidding — I recently googled “don’t want children, is there something wrong with me?”

    I did this because someone had told me how sad they were for me, since I did not have any.

    Even when I was little, I didn’t want them. I enjoy their laughter, unconditional love and amazing outlook they have on life, just know it’s not for me.

    I have four huskies and they keep me plenty busy. The adventures I’ve had with them, learning how to bikejor, skijor and now mushing have been more than fulfilling.
    For me, the woods and dogs have always been what I have craved.

    Kuddos to you Shreve for posting this and Best wishes to all with Child or Child-free! Find your happiness ;-)))

  114. Candi
    October 1st, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I appreciate your honesty and your directness and the honesty of others here. I am 32 years old and have been married to my wonderful, supportive husband since I was 23. We don’t feel the need to have children and often people say, “Well, who will take care of you when you get old?” I don’t know… But even if we had children, that answer would be the same. I feel that isn’t a good reason to have children. I have a 2 1/2 year old god-son and a coming 2 year old nephew and love them to bits, but at the end of the day – they go home. And that’s a good thing. Something in my make-up is different, and something in the make-up of the ladies in my riding group is the same way. I don’t think I’m missing anything, that we are missing anything. We’re different and our hearts have expanded to include horse children and cat children and dog children and friends. It’s nice to hear that there are other people out there that agree that we’re different, but not “less.”

  115. Beth Goldie (aka EweMama)
    October 1st, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

    Thank you, Dana! That sounds like an ideal wedding to me. (Now I am wondering – since you mentioned a honeymoon in Pittsburgh – if you live in western PA as I do … lol) You can always leave a comment on our website if you do.

  116. Pat D.
    October 1st, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    I have never had much interest in being a mother. I didn’t care much for dolls, preferring stuffed animals and toy horses.

    I think at some point as a young woman I felt I wouldn’t be a good mother, so I didn’t aim for that as a goal.

    I have felt a little guilt about that decision in regards to my own mother, who probably would have liked more grandchildren, but my brother had had two children, so that was taken care of, I suppose.

    Now in my late fifties, I’m happy with my decision. Have to be– too late now! :-)

  117. Kate
    October 1st, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    Wow, I am IMMENSELY grateful for this post today! I have always felt that motherhood was a calling: and my internal phone never rang. I knew from grade school age that I absolutely did NOT want children. I married a man who also had zero desire to be a parent. However, we are not opposed to children. We adore babies, toddlers and younger kids tend to baffle us a bit, and teens are just hilariously awesome handfuls.

    On the other hand, I am an only child. My mother has had a very difficult time coming to terms with never being a grandmother. I hear it in her voice when she talks about her friends’ grandbabies and I feel a simmering guilt for not having a mothering bone in my body. I’ve struggled over the years with feeling “broken” internally, but my husband assures me that we are not broken.

    We have made the right choice for us and are very very happy with our family as it is. Our family of two. :)

  118. Theresa Szpila
    October 1st, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    For Ann # 56 – Don’t worry about a change of mind at 65. I am now 65 and I still feel the same as I did at age 6: no kids, no way, no how, for a variety of reasons: I didn’t want any; the very thought of pregnancy and delivery was terrifying; I never felt I would be a good mother (no patience, no interest); I sure didn’t think the world needed any more of my familiy’s genes; my mom grew up without a father (hers died when she was 12); I grew up without a father (mine left us when I was 8); my mom grew up in poverty; I grew up in poverty; I had no intention of bringing another human being into this world to continue the cycle.

    I grew up in a time when girls were supposed to get married and have kids. I took a lot of flack from family and strangers about my not settling down and having a family. But not from my mom, who accepted early on that the only grandchildren she would ever have would be cats and dogs.

    I married in my late 40’s, after I’d already had a hysterectomy (I recommend them highly). My husband is also an only child raised in poverty by a single mom after his dad walked out on them, and we both feel the same about not wanting children, and for pretty much the same reasons.

    For Hawk #80 – Thanks for going into all that. What most people need, and never get, before having children, is a strong dose of reality to counter the raging hormones and mother nature’s hard-wired programming to procreate. This is very similar to the speech I tend to give people who are in love with the idea of buying/adoping a puppy. Please don’t anyone take offence at that – babies and puppies really do need all you can give them, and thensome. I’d rather people didn’t have either than give in to impulse and end up neglecting them.

    For Beth # 107 – I don’t get the “big” (read: expensive) wedding, either. Mine was two witnesses in front of the county clerk and a small dinner hosted by a friend. And I wore a white top/pants set that, while a bit flowy, was also immensely comfortable. The waste of money on huge celebrations of any kind just baffle me. Perhaps that’s a left-over of my impoverished childhood. In my view, the money spent on these over-the-top events would be better spent on buying a house, especially in today’s economy, and/or saved for the inevitable rainy day.

    As for having children so there will be someone to take care of you in your old age, well, I find that notion odious, but from what I’ve seen lately, it is more likely that children, with their own children in tow, will move back “home” to have their parents take care of and support them.

    Thanks, Shreve, for opening this up for discussion. And thanks, everyone for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It’s all been very edifying!

  119. Keitha
    October 1st, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    For Lisa, I expressed my feeling because that’s what this topic is about.
    IF someone ASKED my opinion I would say, I found motherhood very fulfilling. To me it doesn’t necessarily follow that life wasn’t great before, or that anyone’s life is not fulfilling as it is. It’s just a comment on my experience. I would never in a million years say in person to someone NOT wanting children, that I feel sad for them. I only expressed that here because that is the topic of this conversation.

  120. Dana
    October 1st, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    @BG
    I was born and raised in Western PA..about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, but have lived in Georgia for the last 17 years. I miss PA!

  121. PatH
    October 1st, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

    Pat D. – that is interesting. Even when given a doll I never played with it either and it broke my mothers heart since she sewed the clothes. I wanted a real horse and dog or was out exploring nature. Still don’t have the horse but I’m working on it!

  122. Amy
    October 1st, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    @BG – I’m not sure what people are setting out to prove with huge, expensive weddings either. That being said, I had more than a backyard wedding but less than a huge bash. We chose to have our wedding at a catering hall, mostly out of necessity since we hit 100 people on the guest list with just (not so distant) extended family only. We were conflicted…neither of us really had the urge to be the center of attention, but we wanted to give our families a wedding at the same time. We just wanted to be married. Event planning is a part of my job, so I had experience putting events together, so we went ahead and planned a conservative event. The thing that got me most about it, was how much work it was on that day. Making sure you visit every table and thank people for coming and taking pictures, etc. Neither my husband nor I really enjoyed ourselves and we didn’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time with anyone at the party.

    That being said, I’m glad we did it. Everyone we spoke to had a great time. We still were able to have a wedding that was what we wanted (a short ceremony, surrounded by family and friends and good food). It was just exhausting.

    But yeah, I’m not sure how people can go out and blow $50k and up on a wedding, for just one day. My husband and I were pretty adamant about wanting to not be broke when we were done and be able to go buy a house, etc. And I’m glad we did.

  123. Deborah
    October 1st, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

    Shreve,
    Understood about the privacy of your personal saviours/ mentors! I don’t mean to pry, it’s just interesting to hear about how other people live their lives and how they inspire. I totally get your resistance to my query.

  124. Alyssa
    October 1st, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

    I’m fascinated by everyone’s comments. I’m undecided on kids. I’m 26, and my boyfriend is 28. We’ve had the conversation over and over and we’re both undecided. We have a dog together and she is our world. It may be a problem for us in the future, but why worry about it now? Discussing it ad nauseum won’t make me suddenly realize yay or nay.

  125. Amanda
    October 1st, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

    Wow, what an interesting and personal topic.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my experience. I chose when I wanted to have a child, and circumstances being right, my son is now nearly 13 and an absolute delight to have around. I never got questioned as to why I chose to have a child, but I have received a lot of questions as to when I was going to have another. People didn’t seem to understand that I was content just having one child, and I’d imagine that’s the same sort of pressure women who decide not to have any children receive.

    In my opinion, it’s purely a personal choice, and no one should have to justify their reasons. People choosing not to have children are no more selfish than people who choose to have 19 children. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and I’m sure that everyone believes they are doing the right thing for them at the time.

    I have no regrets having had my child, and I have no regrets not having a second child. I personally think that you will know if you want, or do not want children, and no one else can make that decision for you.

  126. Betann
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 7:57 am

    This thread has been such a gift. Like so many here, I knew from young girlhood that I didn’t want children. I constantly “checked in” with the balance between my desire and the “shoulds” that even beloved friends communicated to me directly and indirectly.I found that no matter how hard I listened, no clock was ticking.In fact, I am pretty sure that my spirit was telling me something important: that my body wasn’t going to cooperate anyway. In other words, this decision reflects every facet of my humanity, mind, body, and, soul, completely and utterly individual, and not a commentary on anyone else’s path, chosen or not.But it’s always sustaining to be reminded that I am neither alone nor an outcast from the human family, and I am thankful for every single comment here.

  127. Theresa Szpila
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    To Pat H. and Pat D. – I’d forgotten all about dolls; probably because I never played with them.

    I remember one Christmas when I was convinced that the big box without a top (just flimsy giftwrap) held the puppy I had been begging for. No one knows how crushed I was when I pulled the paper back and saw a doll. I never even took the doll out of the box and never, ever looked at it again. If it didn’t have four legs and fur, I had no interest in it.

    Of course, the kid I was then also saw nothing unreasonable about having a hippo living in the bathtub, either. I couldn’t understand why my mom kept saying, “No.”

    Since then, I’ve had many, many cats and dogs. Still waiting on the horse(s), but that may be a very long wait. I’ve given up on the hippo idea.

  128. Joanne
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:26 am

    I’m 42 and have chosen not to have children. But growing up, I thought I’d have 3 by the time I was 30 because my aunts both had 3 kids (I’m the oldest of all my cousins) and I was experienced with taking care of the kids–but I realize now that I didn’t actually enjoy much of that; I was just good at it.

    I find as I get older that I don’t actually enjoy the company of children other than babies up to about a year or eighteen months; as soon as they want me to play their games over and over and over again I get bored–fast. Then when they’re older and can hold a conversation with me, I get interested again, but for several years there (preschool, primary school), please…just go over there and play with your toys. No, I’m not the best “auntie” and my friends with kids have quietly figured that out, thankfully without judgment. They know that first and foremost I am their friend, not their children’s friend.

    And I’m also thankful that I’ve never had any judgment from my family (especially my mom, who remembers her own mother’s challenges raising 4 kids) or friends about choosing not to have kids. Since my brother has decided not to have kids either (so far), my parents are not going to be grandparents, but as they say, they’re so busy as it is anyway! I guess none of us feels the need for children to “fulfill” our lives.

    As a high school teacher though, it’s from my own young female students that I get some curiosity…they just aren’t used to having women talk about their child-free state, I guess! (I let them know that I don’t have kids when I introduce myself, and some have asked me why). There aren’t very many child-free role models for adolescents and I am open about it without being inappropriately personal. So many young girls have social expectations of college, marriage, home and babies laid out before them that anyone who does it differently (I’m not married either, but do have a partner) is very intriguing. I was influenced by my own role models (my aunts) and I hope I can show my students that there are other ways to be in the world that are equally valid.

  129. C Lo
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:54 am

    I’m disappointed with the snotty comments about those who chose to have children. But not surprised.

    I didn’t want kids either…until I had them. I had my first kid by accident when I was 23. I thought I didn’t want kids either. Then I had her and realized I wanted MORE! So I did.

    Ones feelings and thoughts about this sort of thing when they were six, IMHO, are not really of consequence. I knew when I was 6 I wanted to be a veterinarian. I knew when I was 9 I wanted to be a school teacher. And really career choices are much less serious that choices about reproduction and relationships. With all due respect…..I don’t think it matters much when you “knew” when you were 6. Our choices as adults are not validated by a childs life view.

    I know plenty of women who don’t want kids. And I certainly don’t judge them…but I know from experience that sometimes that calling doesn’t come until the baby is in your arms. There simply is no way to tell how you’d react to a situation until you’re IN IT. And if you honestly can say you’d hate to be a mother and be a terrible one….if you honestly think you’d carry and birth a child and then chose to be terrible to it…..really? You think that little of yourself??? I know myself plenty. And I know life enough to know “never say never” and “you don’t know till you’ve walked in those shoes”.

    And I think what is often left out of this discussion is the impact that men play. I’m 36. And I have far too many friends who “knew” in their twenties they didn’t want kids (just like I “knew”)….and they fell in love with men who didn’t want kids. And over time they changed their minds but now they are partnered with men who didn’t and they are unhappy and feel like they missed something. I know far more women my age and older who are scrambling to figure out how to have a kid later in life than I know friends who are happy with their choice to be childless.

    There is definitely a segment of women who are not meant for motherhood. But I have to wonder if most childfree women are not meant for it….or just don’t really know.

    Oh….and if you want respect for YOUR reproductive choices, have respect for mine. I am not a breeder, I am not selfish, and my vagina (and Michelle Duggars, for that matter) is not a damn clown car. Thanks.

  130. Siobhan
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    I absolutely didn’t want children when I got married. My husband agreed with me. We also heard “you’ll change your mind” — and actually, we did. About 10 years later we decided we wanted at least one. Except … we couldn’t. Don’t know why. Didn’t have the money to do the thousands of dollars worth of tests and really, we thought it was probably God’s way of telling us we were right the first time and being parents wasn’t our bag. I have the occasional twinge of regret, but then I think how much kids cost and how hard I have to work to barely make ends meet the way it is. I couldn’t provide for kids the way I’d want to, and that would be far more difficult to deal with than the occasional twinge of regret or “what if.” I have a demanding job and a short temper and those what-if kids are undoubtedly better off not getting stuck with me for a mom.

  131. Jean
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    As an only child who was raised by older parents, I always knew I would never have children. Have always had my dogs, married a man when I was in my late 30’s, he had been married and had his kids, he didn’t want anymore, which was just fine with me.

  132. Deborah Lee
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    “Debate? Over what? Whether having kids or not having kids is better? Gross. That most comments are from childfree men and women probably has to do with the fact that it IS generally less accepted and here is a place to share thoughts and experiences without judgement. Lets keep it that way.”
    I’m not afraid to debate, but I’m with you …. It’s better with people just sharing their experience whether as a parent or not. No need for defending their choice …. It’s personal …. All good.
    I’m just glad for the chance to honestly air the other side that has gotten too much flack …. Never wanted kids, respect the people who do …. Love nurturing … we’re all different …

  133. Deborah Lee
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

    To C Lo:
    “I know plenty of women who don’t want kids. And I certainly don’t judge them…but I know from experience that sometimes that calling doesn’t come until the baby is in your arms. There simply is no way to tell how you’d react to a situation until you’re IN IT. ….. You think that little of yourself??? I know myself plenty. And I know life enough to know “never say never” and “you don’t know till you’ve walked in those shoes”.”
    I fully respect your choice, and those I know that have had children. Far fewer have respected mine. Your comments about “thinking that little of your self” seems to presume a lot and respect little ….
    I did not notice the snotty commments, from either side … but I haven’t read through them all. My family legacy is full of people who were sure of being able to do things differently …. Nothing about respecting myself little, but respecting my own wishes and choices enough … Apparently, my biology agreed with it because I have never been on hormonal birth control and have never been pregnant … Partly choice, partly the biological lottery … Most importantly, I am happy, as you seem to be … which makes me happy whether or not you are able to see my perspective ….

  134. Deborah Lee
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

    Z – I like your candid comments.
    “i couldnt take the chance my child would go through anything close to what i did.i dont know what it would bring out in me,and genetically the cards would be stacked against it.”
    Plenty members of my extended family have perpetuated the family legacy, though some have found material success … I’m not really sure about how emotionally healthy and happy their children are …
    My decision has been partly related to yours … I felt unwanted for the longest time even before my Mom told me of her regret for having kids. I wouldn’t want children to go through what my sister and I have … especially to end up with no family support … no mother or sister, to speak of.
    I’m happy with my choice, for similar and different reasons than you …
    I respect your reasoning, since several in my family have chosen to break the negative family legacy by not having children … a cousin pointed this out to me ….
    I’m also grateful to have this discussion … I helped to raise my sister, by necessity, so I had enough of a “parenting” experience for me personally. I never even wanted puppies and kittens because I’d already experienced more than my share of responsibility (in a variety of ways in my family)….
    Now, I’m happy to nurture my bf’s relationships with his adult children … It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds with grandchildren … Each individual in a family is important … so is authenticity, to me.
    You seem to show plenty of authencity … congratulations on what you have seemed to accomplished in that department despite your family legacy ….

  135. Deborah Lee
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    Tanya,
    Just like Barbara R’s comments, it’s possible for “amazing people [to] … raise other amazing human beings.” without having them as their own ….
    I appreciate your commments.
    Probably others feel the same way … a misguided friend of mine made a similar comment years ago.
    Fortunately, my bf is grateful for the support I give him in raising his amazing kids! As someone who grew up in a multi-generational family despite being mutiple generations Canadian of mixed European-Native American descent, the support of an extended “family” is underestimated by far too many ….

  136. Rhea
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    Reading these posts is fascinating but am I the only one who thinks they are evolving into more judgemental and angry vents? There is no right or wrong way to live your life – it’s YOUR life, how you choose to live it is the correct way for YOU.

    The only person I want to comment on is Miranda (#78) just to say how very sorry I am that you lost your child. I don’t know you but you have my deepest sympathies. Thank you for sharing.

  137. Laura
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

    I never wanted children, but love other people’s kids and respect everyone’s right to live their life the way they choose. I told my future ex-husband that I didn’t want kids–he was in total agreement. But then he changed his mind, and thought I would. I didn’t. He left, after getting his girlfriend pregnant, and now he has the child he wanted. It was hard at the time, but so many years later-what it means is that I am living the life I chose, I have wonderful family, friends and dog of my dreams, and I am so very happy :)

  138. GD
    October 3rd, 2012 @ 4:36 am

    C Lo – I read all of the comments here and sadly, I found only yours to be snotty and aggressive. I think the many many of the comments here are heartfelt and FINALLY a place to put it down in writing and say it. I chose not to have children and am now in my late 40’s with ZERO regret. I have had a lifetime of “those questions”. I too never played with dolls but sure loved my stuffed animals.

    Like Rhea, some people’s comments touched my heart. All of the comments made me want to cry (in a good purging way) cuz they were soooo much like my life.

    No, dear, not everyone makes good parents even if they want to be. If they did, we wouldn’t have orphanages and abandoned children in this world. Like Laura, my ex now has two kids….but he said, “Now I am really stuck!” It wasn’t the bowl of cherries he thought it would be. He wanted to be “cool daddy” but not do any of the work or take any of the responsibility. That is who and how he is in all areas of life.

    We walk the life God has in store for us. Yes we make choices and hopefully we don’t live to regret any of them. I know that I made the right choice for me and I have a wonderful life and am VERY happy.

  139. Meg
    October 3rd, 2012 @ 7:26 am

    GD- I completely agree with you, I found C Lo’s comments to be very rude and not understanding at all. I posted my story on here earlier, I do not want children either and I am very happy to hear everyone’s stories it’s very comforting.

  140. Kristi
    October 3rd, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    what a great question- this has been some fantastic reading!
    thanks for permitting the Q&A sheve!

  141. Theresa Szpila
    October 4th, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    C Lo, since I am obviously one of the people whose comments have disturbed you, please be assured that was not my intent. I was merely speaking from my own life experience.

    Yes, I’ve known since I was 6 that I wouldn’t have children, and, no, I have never changed my mind.

    And yes, I have given many people my speech against impulsively adding infants of any species to their lives. Impulses, once indulged in, can have dire consequences.

    As you say, you don’t know me. Therefore, you also don’t know what kind of, or how many, traumas I suffered in my young life. I won’t go into them here, but they made me who I am. As for thinking “so little” of myself – no, not at all; it’s KNOWING myself too well.

    Had I grown up in your family, or under very different circumstances, I may have grown up to be a different person. I think not, but I’m open to the possibility. In such a case, I may have wanted children. We’ll never know.

    If it seemed as though I were disparaging parenthood, please know that I was not. I take it that you are a good, loving, nurturing parent, and that the other parents you know also fit into your category. Sadly, not all parents are like you.

    I’ve known too many kids who did not have good parents. I’ve known too many people have children without giving the reality of raising them a second thought. Some of them have turned out to be great parents; some of them learned, too late, that they really were not suited to the task at hand. In the latter cases, it was the children who suffered.

    No child should come into this worls unwanted, unloved, unsupported with no one to turn to.

  142. Leigh
    October 4th, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

    I just spent the better part of my evening reading the post and subsequent comments. Excellent food for thought!

    I guess I’m more “middle of the road” – I grew up assuming I would be a mom. It’s just what girls do. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I realized I didn’t have to have kids, and the strong desire just wasn’t there. I suppose if I had met the right man who absolutely wanted kids, I may have obliged, but that’s not really starting parenthood on the right foot, is it? I also enjoy my career and don’t really believe in working mothers (sorry, I know that’s offensive, but don’t understand having a baby and then dropping it off at daycare with strangers for 12 hours a day)

    I grew up in a blue collar Midwestern town – girls graduate high school, get married and get pregnant. I know far too many women who had kids because it’s the next logical step in life and they are miserable!

    To the child-free commenters who’ve never been judged or pressured – lucky you! On a Christmas Eve not too long ago, my mom and sister cornered me to tell me about the “miracle of life” – I shit you not, they were practically crying at what a blessing having a child can be. I’ve since started spending Christmases someplace tropical :) My mom has gotten over it, but still probably thinks I’m gay.

  143. Lisa
    October 5th, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    I don’t think I ever “decided” not to have children – it was just not a priority for me. I have always liked the freedom of doing what I want, when I want and enjoying MY life. I have 2 nieces and a nephew and I adore them. I have always been the fun Aunt who spoils them and takes them places their parents either won’t or couldn’t afford.

    The only way I can explain it to people is that I’m missing the “mom gene”. I don’t think I ever had it – I just knew that I had no overwhelming desire to have children. I have my animals, many friends and am very happy with my life.

  144. Lisa J,
    October 5th, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    I found all answers, including my own, to be very enlightening. Some heartwarming, some funny, some sad, some just straight and to the point. I do not see any judgments here, except one. Everyone kept their answers to personal experience, even if those experiences involved someone else.

    Thank you for sharing and letting me know it’s OK NOT to want children; that I am not a pariah, that I am not crazy, that I am making the best choice for myself, and that I still am entitled to be called a woman.

  145. Isabel
    October 6th, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    Well, interesting topic. I’m really into freedom and so for me decisions are only any good for the moment I make them. I really wanted a child 18 years ago and had one, raised him pretty much by myself and he’s awesome. He’s getting ready to fly on his own. Got pregnant again no long ago but didn’t want to be mum at that time so I wasn’t.

    I keep alive the freedom to change and choose as I see fit. Be a mum, not be a mum doesn’t define me. Loving my life and caring for those I share it with does.

  146. Sheila
    October 7th, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    I have been reading all the very heartfelt comments regarding the question having children or not, and also some not so understanding of our right to choose depending on our particular destinies. My thoughts and decision about having children was complicated. I never wanted to raise kids, due to living in fear of being like my mother, who didn’t know how to be a mother at best, and abusive at worst! I had no interest even in being married until my late 30’s because I didn’t want to have children. Then met a guy who is my husband of 20 years this year, and then thought harder about kids, but it wasn’t to be. My life is rich beyond what I hoped. And, I do not mean monetarily. I am a counselor and work with women who have been abused as children and help them realize their potential, if they desire, to be mothers and great mothers at that, or not if that is their choice. It is all absolutely about our choice and in the meantime, I get to spoil my nieces and nephews with love and gifts! What more can you ask for?

  147. CA
    October 8th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    Thanks again Shreve, for providing this forum. And thanks again to all of the people who’ve shared their perspective here. I want to add mine to the spectrum, because I’m stuck smack in the middle, and I’m always one to speak up for the gray areas.

    I’m not sure when I first started saying I wouldn’t marry or have kids, but once I did, boy was I loud about it. I wasn’t judging anyone else’s choices, I just felt a strong need to explain that what was so necessary to my peers really wasn’t to me. Mostly, I was resisting what seemed like an unthinking process of ticking boxes – get educated (check), get a good job (check), marry a man (check), get a mortgage (check), a dog (check), a kid… Where was the room for authenticity? For the unpredictability, and messiness, and joyful spontaneity of life? Where was the true creativity and the room to live for other goals? THAT was what I needed, not a marriage or a child. So I decided I wouldn’t have them.

    Add in that the (very) few people whose marriages and child-raising I admired had personalities 100% opposite from mine, and my math came out to: NO.

    And then in my early thirties I met a guy who made the math come out differently, maybe.

    All of a sudden, I wasn’t imagining having a child alone, or in the abstract. I’d be doing it with him, and that feels like a really wonderful, meaningful adventure. He’s always assumed he’d have kids, and it’s a big part of the future he’s excited about. So in some ways his his presence in my life and his enthusiasm have opened up a path I never expected.

    But a large part of me is stuck spinning circles. Do I respect my earlier certainty? Do I respect the advice that feels so wise: “As long as having children remains a choice – don’t.” Even if it means giving up this relationship which in all other respects is a joy and a gift? Or do I take the leap into the unknown and unexpected, even though this time the choice affects not just me, but another human being?

    I don’t expect answers here. Those will come from my own work, and time. But just as I love hearing the stories of women who KNEW one way or the other, I wanted to speak up for those of us who DON’T.

  148. Katherine
    October 8th, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    I read through all #147 comments before reading the one that resonated with me. Thanks CA for representing the grey area with your comment about those who aren’t sure. I especially appreciated this:

    “Or do I take the leap into the unknown and unexpected, even though this time the choice affects not just me, but another human being?”

    I have been thinking about this A LOT. I am not sure I want kids, but I don’t think that is a reason to not have them (a contrary opinion, I know). Having a kid is a risk, a gamble, a roll of the dice.

    People say, “You have to be absolutely, 100% sure or you shouldn’t do it.” But how can anyone be sure when you can’t predict the future? There are some absolutely shitty, worst-case kid-having scenarios (ex. severely disabled, requiring constant care for the rest of their life and yours). Or even if you have a perfect baby, maybe it turns out you don’t prefer sleepless nights and diapers and worry. These people who are 100% sure, are they thinking about how it can utterly change your life for the worse?

    I do not have a strong maternal instinct. I also do not have a strong NON-maternal instinct (if that makes sense). I am making the decision on whether or not to have kids by answering two questions:

    1. Can I do it?
    Do I have the finances, family/friend support, and emotional make-up to successfully raise and love a happy, healthy human being? To be a caretaker for 18+ years? Can’t be totally sure (again, predicting the future), but, yeah, I think I do. I think I’ve got the stuff and would be an excellent mom. [95% sure]

    2. Do I want to do it?
    Do I think I will be happier in my life with or without kids? For me, the answer is happier with kids. You only get one life, and motherhood is something I want to experience. What’s it like to grow another human being inside you? What’s this child-mother bond all about? I don’t CRAVE children but I am curious. [60% sure]

    As for the risk of worst-case kid-having scenarios . . . I acknowledge the possibilty and it terrifies me. [40% sure, mostly because I optimistically and naively think, “Oh, that wouldn’t happen to me.”]

    I’m writing this post because according to the people who say you have to be 100% certain, I shouldn’t have kids. And the truth is, I am not sure if my somewhat emotionless approach to making this decision is right. Are my reasons good enough? This is a massive decision, maybe the most important decision I will make in my life, and as CA said, this choice affects not just me, but another human being.

    Weighting the considerations equally, I am 65% certain I want to have kids. Let’s say I do . . . is that ok?

  149. Victoria
    October 10th, 2012 @ 7:16 am

    I knew I didn’t want kids when I was 7 years old. Babysitting was just a job to me, unlike the other girls in my neighborhood that pretended the kids were theirs. That just ooked me out.

    I got the Essure procedure when I was 35. I’ve never had any doubts or second thoughts. My mom treated it as a betrayal to her and my dad. I told her to adopt a kid if she wanted one so badly.

    I adore kids. I love being an aunt. I also love having privacy, the ability to be spontaneous and the freedom to just take care of myself.

    A friend of mine with the same mindset recently commented that “childless” is a bad term. It insinuates that you’re missing something. She instead uses “child-free.” I like that.

    Nothing is more annoying than a person with children grilling me about my decision to not have kids, or criticizing me for that choice. I would certainly never criticize *their* choices. It’s a very personal decision, and it does not mean that I’m flawed, horrible, selfish, or without any nurturing qualities.

    Whatever decision you make, kids or no, you make it knowing that you are 100% on board. And if you do have them; love them, love them, love them.

  150. The M Half
    October 10th, 2012 @ 8:26 am

    I’ve always known I didn’t want kids. I asked my doctor at 18 what my options were and his response was birth control pills. Okay, sure, I understood that at the time I was very young and I might change my mind.

    I asked again at 23. Then I got married and my husband had a vasectomy. YAY!

    I explored my own thoughts about this topic a few months ago here: http://themhalf.blogspot.com/2012/06/family-planning-choices.html

    One thing that post, and the comments, made me realize is that I have been judgmental of people who choose to have a lot of children, or to have children in their early 20s or even late teens. Just as I don’t want anyone else mouthing off about my choices, I really shouldn’t be mouthing off about theirs.

    This has taken me from “keep your opinions to yourself” to truly accepting the decisions of others. Well, it’s taken me on that road anyway. I do believe there are some people who are irresponsible about having children, and that affects me and my life in the future of this world.

    But that’s too much thinking for a Wednesday morning.

    I love the community of people who comment here.

  151. C Lo
    October 10th, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    It’s telling that the insult “breeder” can be tossed around and yet no one sees that as rude and insulting. But when a “breeder” dares respond?

    What if we took that out of our vocabulary when referring to other women???

    Theresa-
    You said:
    “No child should come into this world unwanted, unloved, unsupported with no one to turn to.”

    I was that child. I fully FULLY understand, maybe more so than many people, that some women should NEVER be mothers. I get it. I lived it.

    Sorry to those I offended. That wasn’t the intent. It was just observations. I think it’s worth thinking about.

  152. Theresa Szpila
    October 11th, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    For # 148 – Katherine

    I can’t really help you make a decision either way, but I can tell you that you have given this more thought than most people do. I think your approach, of really thinking through what will be required of you, is a much better indicator of future success as a mother than being 100% certain you want to be one. Measuring your strengths and weaknesses dispassionately combined with your emotional feelings about children and motherhood will serve you well, whichever way you decide.

    For # 151 – C Lo

    I dislike the term “breeder” as much as you do when it is used to describe the having of children; in that context I find it extremely disrespectful. To me, the term breeder should only be used to refer to someone who professionally breeds livestock, horses, dogs, etc.

    As for your being “that child,” then we have more in common than you suppose, though I delt with other issues as well. In your case, you were obviously able to surmount many obstacles to become a good parent yourself, and I give you a great deal of credit for that. I just didn’t have it in me, and I knew that.

  153. Christina
    October 23rd, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

    I personally didn’t think that I ever wanted children. I thought I might change my mind if I ever married, but so far, that hasn’t happened. Then, when I was 37, I found out there was a growth on my right ovary and I selected to have a hysterectomy. Then, turns out that was ovarian cancer. Well, I’m still here 8 years later and I really don’t feel sad that I am childless and will never be able to have one. Who knows, I could’ve been a terrible mother.

  154. Stephanie
    November 1st, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    Wow–I’m pleasantly stunned. Thank you all. I was always bored when my girlfrinds would talk about “what their wedding would be like” and having lots of babies. I’ve gotton the “You’ll change your mind when you find the right person” (I love my husband very much). I remember the expectation involved when we announced that we were getting married–“When’s the wedding? What are your colors? And can we expect a little one soon?” So we eloped. Now, (I’m 38) I get “You should pass those good genes on while you still can.” I feel that there are enough people having enough babies in this world. I wish more men and women would have public talks like this very one. Has the subject of overpopulation come up yet in this thread? Because I have to admit, I think I was an environmentalist when I was 6 (smile), and this mattered to me, even at a young age. I thought that if I ever got the urge to raise a child, I would adopt.

  155. Kate
    December 16th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    In high school I asked my Dad if he really wanted grandchildren. He answered after a pause, “they’re a lot of work.” I took that to mean I never had to have children (I hate nausea as in before the birth and was terrified of possible pain not to mention 20 years of worries plus). I did marry, we agreed no children, after awhile I knew he was not nice enough to be father of my child, that I would not approve of his upbringing rules. But mostly, I always adopted cats and dogs, there are many adoptable kids out there, that seemed the way to go..after all, I had teenage acne, I was a nervous nelly…why duplicate these bad traits? I have never looked back. I met a guy who understood and one day he even mentioned we could adopt! I was so happy he said that!….I ended up spending 12 years caregiving many important people and that was my legacy. And now everything is about cats and dogs if I can help it, now that at age 49 I got my wake up cancer call. I’m 5 years in remission and reading whatever I can about the other side and spirituality, and hope to live long enough to make a difference and take care of the cats and dogs I have acquired. And as much as I cared for my family and contributed my “all”, not one of the remaining family members want to give me the time of day. What an eye opener. Cats and dogs would NEVER treat me like that.

  156. Kate
    December 16th, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

    Immediate family I mean. Thank GOD for 2nd cousins!

  157. boundforglory
    February 21st, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    I LOVE not having children. A choice, I too, made long ago not to do.

    When people ask me during small talk if I have kids; I say “no, it’s a choice not to have them”. That always puts any further questions to rest and people smile (espcially those with kids) and make a positive comment about my choice. So, in my experience regarding this topic, my choice has ALWAYS been met in a positive, non intrusive way.

    For those that choose not to have children, kudos! There are SO many people having multiple children, balancing that out is crucial for all earthly dwellers.

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