• Thu, Dec 13 2012

If You Are On The Fence About Having Kids, I Say Stay Childless

Somehow, giving birth has made me an expert on childrearing and the satisfaction that it can potentially bring into your life. Clearly, I jest. I’m not an expert about anything – but if you heard the recurring question I get asked from friends contemplating procreation, you’d think I was. The question I am constantly being asked about motherhood is – is it worth it?

Maybe I get asked this question because I make a living divulging personal information and giving women advice they never asked for. Maybe it’s because a lot of my friends are professionals who have waited until later in their lives to have kids. Regardless, I think women are always pretty surprised when I give them my answer.

Nope. It’s probably not worth it. Whatever it is.

Being a mother is something I always knew was in the cards for me. It’s a role I always wanted for myself, for as long as I can remember. When we spent years having trouble conceiving, I remember thinking, this can’t be right. I’m supposed to be a mother. Why isn’t this happening? Frankly, I’ve never been that sure about anything else in my life. There is no logical explanation for it.

We waited until we were in our early 30s to even start trying, not knowing it would take five years to get a pregnancy to stick. I gave birth to my first child at 37 and will be giving birth to my second in May of this year. I will be 40. I realize it’s a late start, but I’ve never really done anything traditionally. I didn’t have children because I thought it was something that was “expected” of me. I did it because I really, really wanted to.

That’s why the advice I give to my friends is always a little unexpected. They see that I enjoy motherhood and expect me to say something along the lines of, it’s the greatest thing, ever! As soon as you give birth you will realize that this is your destiny! It’s worth every sacrifice you have to make, and then some!

Instead, I usually say, If you’re really not sure, maybe you shouldn’t. You have a pretty terrific life now, right?

Blank stares and confusion usually follow.

What’s wrong with having the freedom to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice, drink in the daytime, and devote endless hours to your profession or passions? What’s incomplete about building a life with a partner, or by yourself, and fully enjoying that life? I have a lot of single, childless friends in their 40s – and they’re happy. I also have a lot of miserable ones, but I don’t think inserting an infant into their lives would change that.

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  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you need to use it.

    can this be put on a t-shirt? I love this piece so much Maria, and agree with you 1000000%.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      Thanks! Maybe the t-shirts are the get-rich quick scheme we’re looking for!

    • Rosy

      ya it shud be a tag line

  • Venessa

    I so agree! And I think the same applies when you are thinking about a second kid. If you are on the fence and not really sure..maybe you are destined to be a one kid family/childless. At least that is why I have held off on having another kid. It is not like buying shoes where you are on the fence, but feel that after some time you might like it! It is a HUGE decision to bring a baby into the world and you need to be very very sure.

    I think of the ‘sacrifices’ a little differently though.. “It’s an endless series of sacrifices that you have to be really ready for.” — For me, if all the changes you have to make in your life once a baby comes look like a huge sacrifice, maybe you aren’t ready. I would look at it as compromises – an endless series of compromises that you have to be ready for.

    • Kai

      Compromise / sacrifice same thing.
      You do sacrifice free time, freedom, and many other things. Let’s not deny it. When you shouldn’t have kids is if you don’t feel totally ready to make those sacrifices for the benefits they will bring you.

  • Elizabeth

    Wow! I really appreciate seeing this. I’m a young, married woman who is currently on the fence about kids, so I get a lot of pressure. My spouse is currently in grad school and I’m working, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea for us. At least, not right now. The conservatively raised part of me feels guilty for not having children, and then the liberal part of me feels guilty for feeling guilty. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Every once in a while, it’s nice to hear “You know what? It’s your decision.” Thank you!

    • katydid0605

      Im glad this piece spoke to you. we had our third while my husband had just started graduate school, and it was HARD,. i adore my daughter to pieces, but if i could go back i’d wait until he was done with school. life is crazy and complicated as it is and pregnancy and a new baby only makes it more so

    • Kai

      Can you think about whether think kids are not right for you two, or whether you think they are not a good idea *right now* as separate things?
      If you want kids, though not right now, you can plan ahead and prepare your life for them down the line.
      If you think about it and realize that there isn’t going to be a situation in which you decide you’re ready for kids yet, and maybe they’re just not right for you two, then hopefully you can feel more confident in that thought and move forward.

  • meteor_echo

    As a childfree woman who never wanted to be a mother, I absolutely agree with you. Parenting is an incredible responsibility, and unless you truly want it and are ready to take it up, better don’t do it – it may bring horrible consequences. Don’t fix what’s not broken, either.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      Don’t fix what’s not broken – exactly.

  • Amanda

    Can I play devil’s advocate? I totally believe that people who KNOW they don’t want kids really shouldn’t have kids. If you want to be childfree, and you know that for certain, then don’t have kids.

    But if you’re on the fence… I don’t know, I kinda think you should have a baby. Of course, keep in mind timing and everything, but if you’re financially stable and you think, “Well, maybe” then maybe you should. I say this because you don’t wan to regret anything. You never regret having a child. But you can regret NOT having one. Having kids is extremely challenging, and they are a lot, a lot a LOT of work. And there are sacrifices, big ones, and there are a lot of tears for everyone involved. But they are a lot of work because they honestly do bring a lot of joy. Really. There’s a reason intelligent people go on to have not just one, but several kids. Because somewhere in there, they MUST be worth it. I can’t tell you exactly HOW they are worth it, because I think it’s different for everyone. For me, I derive so much joy from watching them learn and discover. But even beyond that, the love that I feel for them is truly life changing. I really didn’t understand devotion until I had my babies.

    Of course, if you don’t want kids, really, please, don’t have them. But if you’re on the fence, I think it’s important to hear all the sides, both the bad (and it can be so, so, so very hard) and the beautiful (because there ARE moments when you are so unbelievably happy that you can’t stand it). Just remember, you don’t want to regret anything.

    • Sara

      But you CAN regret having a child. Lots of people have children for the wrong reasons and then completely regret it. And the difference is that if you have a child, THEN find out that you weren’t prepared and regret it, you’re not the only one who’s affected. The child you brought into the world also has to deal with the consequences of your poor decision-making.
      This is one area where I really think you need to be totally sure before taking the plunge. There’s no going back, and the stakes are so high that if you’re not sure, I would advocate for holding off.

    • Kai

      You are thinking selfishly and without a full understanding of the issue.
      Maybe *you* would never regret having a child. I easily believe that. But people most definitely can regret having a child.
      What they can’t do is publicly admit to regret over having a child. Not ever admitting regret is a very different thing from not regretting. It’s one of the most taboo things still out there.
      But I assure you, people regret having a child. And worse, children regret that their parents had a child.
      I can assure you of this because I have spent many years working with these children. Both the children whose parents are completely unfit and should never have had kids and the ones who do love their children and do what they can, but clearly long for the life without and are not invested in their children the way a parent should be.Some parents just don’t care. some thought they’d be better. Some people always hated kids but assumed they’d magically feel different about their own. Some just weren’t sure, so had a baby because it was what was expected.

      So what if you regret not having kids later in life? If you get to that point and it’s too late to change your status, you can become a foster parent. You can volunteer with children. You can get involved with your community.
      But if you do have kids and it doesn’t work out so well, there’s no going back, and there’s another person to hurt.

      If you’re not sure about having kids, then for the sake of the potential children, don’t until you’re sure. Let your choices only hurt yourself.
      Having kids because you’re afraid you’ll regret not doing so is horrifically selfish.

    • Mikhari

      “Having kids because you’re afraid you’ll regret not doing so is horrifically selfish.”

      Highlighting that one sentence right there. Kind of reminds me of the “We’ll get Junior a gold fish to see if he’s responsible. If it goes belly up by the end of the week, oh well, he’s not ready” justifications I see around.

      Let’s have babies to figure out if parenthood is right for us! If it is, sweet! if not, there’s a wicker basket and a stream nearby.

    • meteor_echo

      NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE.

    • DINK08

      My current boss has told me straight up that she regrets having kids. She loves them and is a devoted mom, but in hindsight she wishes she hadn’t had them. Everyone told her that she’d feel different if she had one and then told her that two would be better and it isn’t.

    • ipsedixit010

      “I say this because you don’t wan to regret anything. You never regret having a child. But you can regret NOT having one.”

      Uh….what??

      People CAN regret having a child. Maybe YOU don’t, but many people do. Perhaps people don’t talk about it in public or even with friends because it’s not socially acceptable, but yes, there are some who regret having children. This is one of the reasons someone should be absolutely sure they want children before having them. Once they are here, there isn’t much you can do about it; and that’s a bigger regret than NOT having children.

      My husband’s friend is one of those who regrets having children. He loves them, but now would have preferred if they did have them. He’s one of those married, financially stable people you talked about above. They just thought it was the next logical step in their marriage and relationship. They didn’t really evaluate if they really wanted kids or not because it was just expected. Now they have kids they were ambivalent about and there’s not much they can do about it.

    • Smalls

      People absolutely can and do regret having children. It happens all the time. As Kai said, it’s just not socially acceptable to talk about it.

      The “you don’t want to regret anything” argument doesn’t give good reason to either have kids or not have kids. You can end up regretting either way. Have children because you have made the choice, eyes wide open as much as they can be, to create and raise a child, because you want to go on that journey. Don’t do it to avoid regret, or because you should, or because people tell you that it’s amazing and you think you should find out for yourself whether or not it is. Do it because you WANT kids.

    • Kai

      And if you’re not sure, then make the decision on behalf of the potential kids, instead of yourself. Only create them if you’re absolutely devoted to their existence.

    • Kassandra

      My father told me one day he regretted having me. Not children, just me. My mother told me that she loved me, and couldn’t imagine life without me, but my father told me straight up he wished I had never been born.

      Finding that out was extremely hard, and is one of the main reasons why I am hesitant to have children. When a child finds out they are a parent’s regret, it ruins their life. It took a lot for me to come to terms with it. It took a lot to accept that HE was the problem, not me. Saying that people should pop out kids because they might regret not having them is selfish.

      You can regret having kids, and that regret ruins more than just one person’s life. If one chooses not to have kids, and regrets it, they can adopt, foster or a myriad of other options.

    • meteor_echo

      Ow what the bloody hell. Excuse me, but your father sounds like an insensitive jerk.
      *hugs*

    • Tea

      You absolutely can regret it.

      Story Time: A friend of mine has confided in me that she does not actually love her son. She cares for him, she does the best she can to raise him, and she would never tell him that, but she dearly regrets having him and has almost no emotional bond with him. She doesn’t have a mental illness, she was just genuinely never suited to it. Now one of her greatest anxieties is that she didn’t let him be adopted younger, because she fears that now that he’s older, to be with a family who could really love him would still ruin his life. She’s in a hard spot, because she just has no attachment to her son, and is doing her best to still be a good mom to and raise him.

      Regretting having children, and especially not being fond of the ones you have is severely stigmatized, it’s not something people talk about. You never know who close to you may regret it.

    • katydid0605

      wow, very sad story

    • Tea

      Yeah, it’s a bad situation for all parties, and it wasn’t an easy thing for her to talk about.

  • Kai

    YES!
    This is my biggest point. no-one should ever try to convince anyone else to have kids. I’ve worked with the kids who come out of that. It’s not a good thing, even when they do what they can.
    If you really really want kids, please have them. Do right by them.
    But if you are anything less than passionately devoted to the thought of being a parent, skip over it.
    If you’re not sure, go with the default of not having kids. But not for your sake. for the sake of the kids! that’s what gets lost so often in the question of whether to procreate. You should not do it just because you’re afraid of missing out. You should consider whether to have kids from the perspective of the potential kids. If you are not completely determined to be a parent and devoted to it, then for the sake of the kids, don’t be.
    It is FAR better that a person regret not having kids than that a kid have parents who regret having kids (whether or not they’ll ever admit it).

    • El

      As the child of a “mother” who caved to pressure to have me and then resented the living hell out of raising me for 18 wretched years, THANK YOU. (And no, she wasn’t poor or a single mom or anything like that. She was married and educated and middle class. She just didn’t like being a mother. At all. Oh well – too bad for the kid!) I’m not sure there is any childhood experience worse than being raised by someone who regrets your existence. Y’all can trust me on that one. I know.

      Not sure you want kids? Your future child says THEN PLEASE DON’T HAVE ME.

    • Anonymous

      I’m really sorry to hear this El. Well I hope her negativity doesn’t affect your decision. Whichever path you choose don’t let her nastiness make you think you’ll be a bad parent or the opposite, that you’re a bad person for not wanting to cave to the pressure like she did.

    • tt

      same here!!! My mother never wanted me or my younger sister and would always tell us that. She rarely hugged us or said “I love you”. There were times she would simply ignore us as if we didn’t exist. As a child trying to get your mom’s attention and having her ignore you is pretty devastating. Unfortunately, not much has changed now that I’m an adult.

      Looking back I can see that she was depressed and stressed out – she was a young widow and was left with four kids under the age of 17. She only wanted 2 children but apparently my father wanted 4 – the one parent that wanted us ended up dying from cancer.

      Now this is pretty extreme but ANY hint that you didn’t want your child will be noticed and forever cherished in lovely memories.

      Just like EI says ” I’m not sure there is any childhood experience worse than being raised by someone who regrets your existence” is very true and the psychological ramifications later in life are challenging to put it mildly.
      FYI — I’m a 40 something female happily married and STILL unsure if I want kids because of this experience. I’m basically leaving it up to pure chance if it ever happens. getting pregnant in your 40′s is in itself a miracle then it was meant to be.

  • alice

    Hear, hear!

    There’s a lot of reasons to want children, and just as many to NOT want them. But for some reason, we’re made to feel guilty/selfish/evil for expressing the *advantages* to living childfree.

    And eyerolls all day long to my friends and family who actively *campaign* for me/anyone to make babies. “i’m so blessed, seriously, the role of motherhood is the most valuable role a woman can play, it has completely redefined me, it has reshaped my entire consciousness. my previous life seems like a joke. the truest satisfaction a human can feel is from gazing upon their babies.”

    GAG. i feel like telling some of these people “you must’ve been hella boring before you had kids”

    • Kai

      As a childfree person (and happy aunt) who has never desired motherhood, I understand that different people want different things out of life and others are fulfilled by parenthood.
      I don’t understand why so many parents are incapable of understanding that what fulfills them and changed their life might not be so great for other people.
      Few people assume that just because becoming a nurse fulfilled them, changed their life, and completes their days, that everyone needs to be a nurse. why can’t we understand different feelings about parenthood.

      And I like your last comment. :) I too feel that if you decide your life was nothing before you had a child, you’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have much much better childfree lives than you managed.

    • http://twitter.com/EnigmaBabylon Enigmatic Babylonian

      If some condescending git acts like they’re the authority on my life and tells me I need to get married, have kids, etc. I promptly never talk to them again. They’re lucky if I don’t headbutt them.

    • Rosy

      love yo reply…….ya they mus have been so fucken boring……..i am 32 and single plus no kids but i have millions of things to do

  • *That* Mom

    I know I’m going to sound like *that woman* but I’m really trying to phrase this the best I can…
    I don’t find motherhood hard. For me, becoming a mom was like finding my calling. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been as naturally good at anything as I am at being a mom (okay…maybe math). I definitely agree that it’s work, but it’s honestly less work than I’d expected it to be. My child’s starting school soon and it just seems like things keep getting easier and easier.
    Of course, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding parenting hard, nor do I think that parents who find it hard aren’t doing an amazing job with it. It’s just that, for me, personally, being a mom “clicked”.
    Again, not trying to hold myself up as some all-knowing super-mom. It’s just that, like some people seem to be born knowing how to swim, I think motherhood can be a natural skill.

    • Kai

      I don’t see anything wrong with your statement. Some people definitely have the aptitude to be a parent, and do it well. I think it’s awesome that parenting came pretty easily and goes well. That’s the best-case scenario as far as I can think it.

    • Kohoutek

      Of course there are going to be women who find motherhood to be natural and – well I hate to say “easy,” but you get my gist – because it’s right for you, and for other women like you, and not like me. And if I may borrow a phrase, “You are the kind of woman who should be having kids!” We should all find what “clicks” for us, and the kids will be all the happier for it.

  • Cassy

    I think that if you’re on the fence, you should definitely not have a child NOW. You should wait and see what you really want, because on the fence is just that…on the fence. You may decide one day that you do want to have a child, and just because you’ve been on the fence in the past doesn’t mean you should never decide to conceive in your future.
    I agree with most of the points in this piece, but I think there is always room for changing one’s mind as far as deciding to become a parent for the first time.

    • Kai

      Of course you can change your mind!

      If you later find yourself off the fence and wanting a child, go for it! But as long as you’re on the fence, hop down to the ‘comfortable with no children’ side until/unless you decide you really would like to be on the other.

  • meah

    You changed my mind! When my good friend asked me that question, and said she wasn’t sure, I treaded carefully and didn’t try to convince her, but inside, I was thinking, “I don’t want you to miss out on this amazing thing. It’s hard, but truly the best thing I’ve ever done, and because I love you, and know you would be a fabulous mother, I want you to feel this kind of love and joy, too!”.

    After reading your article, though, I see that I can’t assume motherhood would be the same for my friend. I will use your line. Thank you for this.

    • Kai

      I don’t see anything wrong with a happy parent explaining why they like having children and what it has brought them. there’s a solid difference between that and trying to convince them that it will also work the same for them.
      Heck, if it’s a good friend you really know well who is discussing with you, I don’t see anything wrong with talking about the reasons that you think parenthood might be good for your friend based on her specific personality, desires, and strengths. That again is different from just assuming that everyone wants what you want.

  • Kai

    Part of the reason parents can be so militant about parenthood is that people are really bad at truly understanding what-ifs.

    I absolutely believe that parents who say parenting is the best thing that ever happened to them are correct. And for some, they’ve always wanted to be parents, and their life would always be missing something without getting to raise children.

    But for others, even though they are happy parents, they might well have been happy nonparents too.

    But once you have kids, it’s hard to compare that to what your life might have been like if you hadn’t. It’s hard to look at the kids you love and also imagine being satisfied without them. But if you hadn’t had kids, you wouldn’t have had kids to miss.

    It’s pretty disallowed to say ‘I love my kids, but I would also have been content without them’ either, even if not quite as bad.

    I have a husband who I love very much, and who truly is one of the best things that happened to me. But before I met him, I was happily single, and wasn’t looking for anyone. I fully believe that if I hadn’t met him, I’d still be single and happy today. And yes, I am very glad to have him, and if I lost him I’d be devastated. But had I never met him, I wouldn’t miss him, and I think I would have been just fine and not feeling like I was missing out on anything.

    I think a lot parents have a hard time making that imagination. So yes, some people who aren’t sure really might be super happy if they had kids. But that doesn’t mean they won’t also be happy if they never do.

    • http://twitter.com/EnigmaBabylon Enigmatic Babylonian

      I always figured it was the same reason religious people and other neurotics tell you to join them: they want to inflict their bad decisions on the world and achieve some sense of accomplishment.

  • Daisy

    I think it needs to be pointed out that there are two kinds of “on the fence”: If you’re not sure about having kids because you don’t know if they’re right for you, or if they’ll fit into your life, or if you want them more than anything–then yeah, probably don’t have kids.

    But if you’re not sure about it because you don’t know if you’ll be a good parent, or if you’ll do things right for your kid, then I think it’s a little fuzzier. For some people, the answer should still be “no” or “not right now”–if you’re financially unstable, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, if you’re a meth addict–yeah, you probably won’t be able to raise a kid right. But for others, the fact that they are worrying about that, that their concern isn’t for how their own life will be affected but for their potential child’s, the fact that they want to do right by a kid… That’s probably the type of person who will be a great parent, because they care, and because they will always be trying their best.

    • Kai

      Caring and putting your child first is a necessary thing to be a good parent, but that’s not a sufficient condition on its own.

      If you think you maybe shouldn’t have kids because you’re not great with patience, can’t handle other people creating messes, have control issues, or just plain like your own space and your freedom, and that you might thus not be the best parent, then it’s excellent of you to have that self-awareness, and probably great of you to decide to be an involved uncle, or community volunteer or anything else, and forego parenthood.

      Remember, we’re not short on children existing, and there are piles of ways people can contribute to the future of a society without creating more people.
      There’s no need at all to convince people to have kids, and nothing wrong with people not having kids.
      If you’re in ANY boat other than ‘I cannot imagine my life without kids, I really want them, and my life is set up in such a way that I can feel confident I can be a good parent’, then just don’t have kids.
      Having kids should not be the default setting just because it’s biology.

    • Cristina

      ‘not great with patience, can’t handle other people creating messes, have control issues, or just plain like your own space and your freedom’

      you have just described me! i’ve been wondering about this issue for some time now and i’m incredibly grateful to the mothers who come out and tell it how it because seriously without honest people there will be millions of fucked up children because people like myself were never helped to understand that we would be terrible parents!

  • Ceunei

    I see lots of kids with twelve hour days in preschools and daycares. I wonder what their parents are thinking?
    That is the state of modern parenting.
    A Stay At Home Parent is considered a parasite.
    So, had I known our decision to have a child and afford a Stay At Home Parent would earn me the emnity and disgust of peers and potential employers…and a very low job status…as if I’m not doing a job at all?
    I’d have done it all almost the same. Waited until I found the man (took a decade or two)…practiced a lot…then be surprised when I wanted a baby with him….tell him…wait for him to catch up…marry, buy a house, then have the baby… The only thing different? We’d have skipped the house…

    All of my privacy and the alone time I once valued so highly, gone. I cannot simply take off for three days like I used to…Nothing is simple, anymore, and, I have a lovely little person who is modeling on me to boot…

    Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever done and I’ve done lots of jobs. In my case, as Stay At Home Parent, it is a job 24/7. In fact, when I wished for a job that would use all twenty years of my hard won paid job skills…the ony thing I forgot to wish for was pay to go with it…

    So, if anyone thinking parenting is easy or appreciated shouldn’t have a kid, yet, either.
    Our culture would do a heap better by its children if we were required to attend parenting classes, first.

    • meteor_echo

      Don’t call your kid(s) a job. They wouldn’t appreciate it, believe me.

    • Kai

      Oh come on. If my mother claimed that raising me and my siblings was anything other than hard work (though rewarding), I’d think she was pulling a line.

    • Sara610

      I agree with this. No, you don’t want to be constantly telling your kids who hard it is to raise them (unless you want to end up with some seriously resentful kids), but there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that parenthood is a job, and a hard one at that. It involves obligations and the requirement that we do things that we don’t always feel like doing.

      I think where the sensitivity comes from in the whole “SAHM vs. working mom” discussion (and I say this as a mom who happily works outside the home) is when people say that being a SAHM is a career equivalent to being a nurse/cook/doctor/teacher/therapist/whatever because SOME of the tasks associated with motherhood require (very) basic skills in many of these areas. “I took my kid’s temperature and put a BandAid on him, so I’m a nurse!” “I helped my kid with her spelling, so I’m a teacher!” “I made mac and cheese, so I’m a chef!”
      I think a lot of the frustration comes from the fact that the people who actually DO these jobs as their careers, and in some cases went to college and graduate school to hone their skills, feel that this rhetoric trivializes the actual level of training and skill required. And I can truly understand this, as I bristle every time I hear someone with no training or practical experience in my field compare themselves to a practitioner in that field by virtue of “being a mom”. No, it’s not the same thing, and by saying that it is, you’re insulting everyone who actually works extremely hard in that field.

      But just as it’s unfair to say that every mother is also a doctor/chef/teacher/counselor, it’s also unfair to say that SAHMs don’t do a “job”. It may be one they took on by choice (and most of us choose our jobs), and it may not come with a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean it’s not, by definition, a job.

    • meteor_echo

      See, I’ve seen many people specifically say that _their children_ are a job (as in, a mundane, tedious something they have to deal with from day to day). I find it baffling.
      However, raising children is hard WORK – not a job. There’s a difference between job and work.

    • Sara610

      I think we might differ in our definitions of “job” vs. “work”. Semantics aside, however, I agree with your point that parents who constantly complain about how hard it is to raise their kids, as though it’s some big, tedious thing that’s been foisted upon them and for which they deserve a daily medal with a cookie taped to the back, are ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that parenthood is hard, and in fact doing so is healthy. But if you’re constantly complaining about it and about your PARTICULAR children, outside of the periodic “Yeah, sometimes being a parent is hard”, there’s something wrong.

    • Kai

      Ah yes, If you are constantly complaining about how much it sucks to raise your kids, that’s a problem.
      Especially in this day and age where you’re doing it online in a format your kids are likely to see when they’re older…

    • alice

      haha amen. i cringe every time i see those stupid inspirational memes on facebook about “MOM = teacher, doctor, artist, chef, geologist, astronaut…”

      like everyone wants to be reduced to an amalgam of mediocre skills.

    • truthful nacho

      KIDS ARE A JOB

      Especially in the patriarchy.

    • Krista

      People act like they’re disgusted when really they are jealous that you get to stay with your child. Any job that is 24/7 is very difficult, yet people that don’t have kids (and some that do but work) don’t get what that’s like, they think it’s a piece of cake. I have friends with children and everyone of them has said at some point that they wished they didn’t have to work or could work less to be with their kids more, atleast until the kids were older. I don’t have children yet but I have been a nanny and babysitter and around kids and even worked in a daycare when I was 17. I’ve taken parenting classes too. If I have kids I’ll be ready for them. My mother was a stay at home mom with me and I’m so grateful for that. For those who can’t do that with their kids, then I say make sure you have quality time, that’s so important.

    • Ashley G

      But for mothers who work – aren’t they also doing a job 24/7? For some of those hours and days, yes, they are at an outside job. But the rest of the time, they are mothers with their children. Everyone with children is a 24/7 parents in some way.

  • whiteroses

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. Understand, I love my son with every fiber of my being. But parenthood is hard. Hard as hell, in fact. And if you’re not 20000% sure you want to do it, you shouldn’t.

    I’m lucky. I have a lot of help. Not just my husband, but my parents. But this is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I feel like I was born to be a mom. Being a mom has, in a lot of ways, filled a part of me that I never knew was missing, and it deepened my relationship with my husband to a massive degree. But I think about what my life would look like if none of those things were true (and for a lot of people they aren’t), and it seems irresponsible to me to hear anyone say that people should have babies for any other reason than that they want to. Overpopulation and everything else aside- nobody’s choices are anyone’s else’s business.

  • KatDuck

    Thank you. Excellent, excellent article. I think we, culturally, forget that there’s a lot of ways to be involved with the next generation whether we give birth or not. I have one friend who is AMAZING with children. So you’d think she’d be all about having her own. Nope. She’s completely devoted to being an awesome aunt, volunteer, and babysitter for her friends’ kids and, you know, those kids are so much better for that. She’s confessed that she enjoys kids but doesn’t enjoy a lot of the details of parenting so, for her, it’s the perfect solution. So if on the fence but like kids … there’s more than one option! And, with 7 billion people in the world and a lot of kids that need as much guidance and love as they can get, well, one of those options makes more sense than others, logically speaking.

    • Kim

      I am 37 so I am at the point where I have to poop or get off the proverbial biological pot so to speak. I got married last September and it is not working out real well. I thought I always wanted kids. I work in a school and I have a niece and a nephew that I spoil rotten and love to death. Loved this article because I’m really on the fence and I feel like I will be incomplete without kids but I also like my freedom. It is such a hard decision to make…

    • Kim

      I am 37 so I am at the point where I have to poop or get off the proverbial biological pot so to speak. I got married last September and it is not working out real well. I thought I always wanted kids. I work in a school and I have a niece and a nephew that I spoil rotten and love to death. Loved this article because I’m really on the fence and I feel like I will be incomplete without kids but I also like my freedom. It is such a hard decision to make…

  • http://twitter.com/Bare_Min_Mening Mia Duck

    I have/had a friend who got pregnant and then that was the only thing she would talk about, and how me and the others in our little group just had to get pregnant right now so our kids could grow up together and be best friends. And as time went by the others in the group did get pregnant until I was the only one left without a kid.

    Before I had tried to keep out of the discussion, but when my friend had all her focus on me I flat out told her that no, I had no interest in having children at this point in my life. We ended up in a screaming mach and haven’t talked since (which is kind of liberating since I don’t have to talk about babies everytime I see her just to be polite).

    • Mikhari

      A screaming match, seriously, over your unwillingness to pop out a playmate for her kid? Sheesh.

    • Mari

      Probably a good thing you guys aren’t friends anymore if she chucks a tantrum over you popping out kids to benefit HER. Sheesh, she sounds loopy!!

  • http://twitter.com/HorridBabyNames Horrid Baby Names

    How about a column showing the difference between childFREE and childLESS. They are two different terms with two different meanings. CF = never want kids. CL = want kids but none yet. I’m as tired of those terms being used as the same word as I am tired of the stupid names Jayden/Jaylen/Kayden/Kaylen/Kaydence

    • natasha

      Hilarious, I agree. Schapelle, Mercedes, Tyronne.., teneisha,

    • natasha

      I forgot Shayla, kayla,

    • Krista

      Madison, Taylor, Ava, Mason etc. it’s as bad as all the Jennifers, Jessicas, Michaels and Amandas of my generation. No wonder celebrities name their kids Apple or Maxwell (for a girl!) and Bronx. It’s because if they hear that there’s another Bella or Brandon out there just born, they’ll scream. Oh, I forgot to add the 50 million Heathers here on Earth just from my generation alone.

    • Horrid Baby Names

      I’d rather seen an Amanda than a Jayden, Klayden, Kaidence, Remmington or Playton.

  • drmantistoboggan

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

  • girlsf

    Well said. I agree with every point, and I was one of those on-the-fence professionals asking other women what to do. No one said this to me.

  • natasha

    Wondering how these childless women feel once their childbearing days are over and the choice is zapped from them.

    • Mola

      you can always adopt if you change our mind, but you cannot undo the damage done to a child that knows is unwanted.

  • http://twitter.com/EnigmaBabylon Enigmatic Babylonian

    Most people are terrible, boring people with terrible genes who will make terrible children and parent them terribly. Look at the history of the human race: 90+% stupid nobodies with no life or spiritual existence whatsoever beyond trivial socializing and groupthink. Would it be so bad if they’d never been born? It would be better for me, I’ll tell you that.

    • Rosy

      i agree also…….althou i managed to publish a book

  • Pingback: Children | Sick Of Being Single

  • Curious

    What about two people who DO want to have a child (very badly), but have become pregnant five years earlier than they wanted to?

  • Goldenrule

    Sounds like somebody’s “got theirs” and feels justified in telling others not to go for it…terrible advice from someone who, specifically, has no experience in not having children. Easy to talk from your position..and as for over-population I can’t even respond to that comment with the characters I am allotted.

    • Mola

      If you really want children, it doesn’t matter what people tell you, so you don’t need advice. This post was directed to the people who are not sure. I don’t have children, and I fully agree with the author. I know that I do now want children right now, but I might want them in the future in the right circumstances. I do love kids and I feel I can be a good mum, but I don’t have a partner right now. Some people tell me I should get pregnant by anybody before I run out of time, but I want my kids to have a father and a father who wants them too (I know I am asking too much). Like somebody said above, there are few things more emotionally damaging to a child than to learn he/she was not wanted. Even if parents do not say that to their kids, children are perceptive and pick up on those things. So my decision to delay having kids has more to do with the future of that child than with my own feelings.
      So, yes, I do not have children and my advice is, if you are not sure, don’t have them just to try, there are no hassle free returns in this instance.

  • BubbleyToes

    I always wanted kids growing up. I never thought I would not have any. I did, however, always have a sixth sense that it would never be an easy thing for me to do, physically. I knew I would not be the woman who conceives the first time she skips a pill. That said, I AM still surprised and disappointed that after 2 years, I still haven’t conceived. I’ve gone though the anger and depression stages of it and I think I have maybe hit acceptance? I consider myself on the fence now as to whether I even want any. I have a great marriage, a great job, and a masters degree. I enjoy saving money and being able to spend said money on myself and my husband. I also enjoy all of my free time. Another perk is that my husband is totally supportive of either choice. He is fine if we never have kids, and he will be excited if we do. And not “fine if we don’t have kids” as in, “i’m telling you it’s fine but I will leav you for fertile myrtle across the street asap.” Like, really fine either way. I don’t know if i’m actually on the fence or if my mind has convinced my heart that I never really wanted kids anyway so that it hurts less when my 178th friend has yet another baby. I don’t know. I am a therapist, and I think I need a therapist haha…

  • bess

    Thank you for this article…I just turned 35 and as the time to have children is seriously looming I realize just how much stress it would be on me as a new business owner, on my great relationship, on our future travel plans to name a few. Truth is we are happy, we enjoy our lives, and who knows…all that could change with no sleep stress and or worst losing a business I dreamt of having my entire life along with the man who brings me so much joy. The future is uncertain of course but feeling the pressure to have children is always lurking…and seeing our dishevelled/unhappy new-parent friends desperately telling us “no really it’s really amazing” doesn’t help. Thanks for a dose of reality!

  • NoSpingirl

    The only time I ever felt bad about not having children is when I am around people who say, “I didn’t think I would ever like being a mom, but it is the most fabulous thing in the world.” Then two seconds later they can’t wait to get away from those “fabulous things.”

  • Kelley M Gaither

    I’m single and childless,but I have lots of love in my life. Friends,family,and my fur babies(I’m currently owned by 3 dogs and 4 cats). I love children,don’t get me wrong,but with my hang ups,both emotional and physical, I don’t think having a child would be a good idea for me. I’m 35,and I don’t ever see myself having children,and yet,I can never see myself being lonely.

  • RachaelMall

    Kick me in the head if you wish bt I’ve never understood women who were undecided about kids. Either you want them or you don’t. It’s not like you’re choosing between the red shoes or the white shoes…it’s a major life decision. I contend that any woman who said she did not want kids and then ended up with them never really never wanted them. You either want them or you don’t. I never, ever have wanted any.

  • Just Me

    OMG a parent that finally gets it! I’m 100% sure in my choice to not have children. I’ve been chastised, given weird looks, I even had an uncle scold me and then tell my dad to beg me to have children!!! I feel sad for his daughters being raised to believe that their only choice in life is to be broodmares! One thing is to know you want to be a mother, grow up waiting to have a little one(s)…. another one is being pressured by family and society to procreate. Thanks for this refreshing article.

  • Samantha

    Love love love this article/ blog ! Thank you for this! I am so sick of people telling me I need to have kids. I am 26 and married and do not feel any desire to procreate.

  • Sam

    A lot of people are baby crazy. As soon as you have one, they’re like, “when are you having the next one?” Like a character in Raising Arizona says about his wife’s desire for another kid: “I don’t really need another kid, but Dot says these are gettin’ too big to cuddle.”

  • buffalobirdie

    This post is OLD but what the heck; commenting on blogs is free therapy!
    I am amazed that what is never discussed are the infinite variables that affect a parent’s ability to be a parent and to be happy doing it. The constant in the equation just may stop at the uterus. Beyond that, you are looking at aptitude, talent, temperament, energy level, stress threshold, family support, husband support, the temperament of your kids, the overall health of your kids, the money that you have, so on and so on. What may be “easy” for one parent may be numbingly hard for another. One woman may be super suited to raising kids and gets a breeze of a child to take care of, another woman may not handle stress well at all and get a terror for a child that takes every ounce of life force out of her. When people ask me why I don’t want kids I always say that I wanted to be a mom as much as I wanted to be an NFL football player – which is to say – not at all. If you do not have the desire, and/or do not have the aptitude or talent for something, you are going to struggle more than people who do have xyz. And that combination will more than likely equal a great truck-load of ambivalence about the whole affair of having kids. Hence the common response I hear from parents: “Man, I love my kids more than anything in the whole world …but…”